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"Just what I've been saying," put in Mrs. Ryder; "my husband's been trying to get a holiday to take the poor things out for the last month; but there's no chance of getting it now, he says, there's such a press of work come in."
"That's true enough," said Collins, who worked at the same place, and had likewise been trying for a holiday, although his wife did not know it; "none of us will get a holiday now."
"That's just it; and so we've made up our minds to go out a bit on Sunday."
Collins shook his head. "A bad plan, Mrs. Ryder, take my word for it," he said, seriously.
Mrs. Ryder knew that it would be useless to press the matter further now; but she was none the less determined to go herself, although she had failed to persuade her friends to go with her; and so, tying her bonnet, she muttered something about people being "over righteous" and went home to make preparations for the holiday.
The young Ryders could scarcely understand the setting out for a day's pleasure, instead of going to school the following Sunday; but the thought of a run down the hills in Greenwich Park filled them with delight, and made them so boisterous that, before they had fairly left home, Mrs. Ryder was quite cross, and her husband had to sp ak very sharply to Tom before they reached the railway-station.
Here they met a crowd of people—pleasure-seekers like themselves—and, hemmed in by this noisy multitude, they had to wait for the train, and finally push and squeeze before they could reach the platform. Hot, tired, and cross, they at length reached the Park; but instead of the calm quiet scene they had expected, they found that many had already preceded them here, and the whole place was alive with noise and bustle. It pleased the children well enough— Tom especially; a boy about fourteen, who had often wished to come to Greenwich, but would never have thought of coming on Sunday if his mother had not proposed it.
The parents, however, were not so well pleased. They did not care to run about after the children; and Ryder complained of being very thirsty.
"We'll go and get some tea by-and-by," said his wife, with a sigh.
"I can't wait till tea-time," said Ryder, crossly; "I must go and get a drop of beer now. You stay here and look after the children; and I'll just go outside the gates and get what I want."
"You won't be gone long?" said Mrs. Ryder, beginning to wish she had not come out.
"No, I shan't be long," he said, as he moved away. His wife watched his retreating figure as long as she could, and then, with a deeply-drawn sigh and scarcely repressed tears, she turned to look after the children, who were clambering up the hill. A dim, undefined sense of impending trouble stole over her as she sat and looked at the grand old trees and the moving crowds of people passing before her; and recalling the words of her neighbour on the duty and value of hallowing God's name and day, she heartily wished that she had attended to the warning and advice. But it was too late now. The tears stood in her eyes as she thought of this; and then she began to wish that her husband would return. He had been gone more than an hour now, and she wondered that he and the children had not come back before this. She got up to go in search of them, but suddenly remembered that they might come in a different direction to look for her; and so with a weary sigh she sat down again to wait in anxious suspense for another hour. By that time her anxiety had grown intense, and she resolved to go in search of the children. There was little hope of her husband coming now, she feared. The habit of drinking, broken a year or two before, had again been indulged in, and what the end might be she was afraid to think.
Up and down among the giddy laughing crowd, Mrs. Ryder walked in search of her children; but it was some time before she saw any of them. By that time they had grown tired and cross, and the two younger ones were
I crying for their tea. Their mother promised they should have it as soon as she had found their father; and leaving Tom in charge of the rest, she told him to wait by the Park gates, while she went to inquire for her husband.
How weary and wretched she felt as she set out on this second search! and the sound of the bells ringing to summon God's people to worship in His house increased her misery. She vowed never to come out for a Sunday excursion again, and heartily wished that she could at once return home.
After going into one or two places where she saw men drinking, she at length found her husband; but he positively refused to leave his companions. He had already taken too much; and the miserable wife knew it; but she was obliged to leave him to return to the children; and after taking them to have some tea, she resolved to come back again to her husband. But, alas! he was nowhere to be found, and after a weary search she was obliged to return home with her children alone.
The Sunday excursion was over; but, alas! not the effects of it. It had been a day utterly miserable in itself to Mrs. Ryder; and unfortunately its misery was protracted through months and years afterwards. The eldest boy, Tom, could never be persuaded to settle at Sunday-school afterwards. All his mother's words of warning against joining with idle companions in sabbath-breaking was thrown away; for he would instantly retort that she herself took him the first Sunday excursion. These pleasures of course involved expense; and a year or two afterwards Tom lost his situation and character for attempting to rob his master.
Upon the husband, too, the effects of that one day's work had not been less disastrous. He again gave himself up to drink, and for a time seemed to lose all fear of God and man. His lost his employment, and could not get any more, and his family were reduced to great straits. Upon the wife and mother these trials fell with accumulated weight and agony. At length, however, brighter days dawned for the Ryders. The loss of his situation awoke Tom. He saw the error of his ways, and once more turned to seek God as the guide of his youth. By his influence, his father shortly afterwards gave up drinking, and the family, once more joined in the service of God, prayed with deeper earnestness and truer humility, " Hallowed be Thy name."
:l Fear not, ye are of more value than many sparrows.'
ON a lowly pallet,
Faint, and weak, and poor.
Had her steps been led;
And she wanted bread.
Often in distress,
What had been their store;
All the day before.
To herself she'd say,
Feeds the birds each day,
From His throne on high,
Leave us here to die?"
Smooth the wretched bed,
'Neath that aching head,—
Say "Fret not, dear mother,
Whilst I am away:
Ask for bread to-day."
Then in the far distance
"Watercress! Fresh watercress! Watercress ! who'll buy S"
Poor folks knew her mother
One and then another
Gave a friendly greeting
Asking ever kindly
One day courage failing,
As she answered meekly,
"And this morn I left her
All alone in bed; May-be she is dying.
Whilst I seek for bread.
"Yet 'tis wicked of me
Christ is up in heaven,
Tatient was her listener
And when Jane ceased speaking
"In my corner cupboard
Fret not, little lassie,
Food she took and clothing,
And with Jane beside her