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Of gold and purple were their tint;,
And scarlet bright, and green;

Such pebbles as in fairy realms
Of magic might have been.

He from the water lifted one,
And on his palm 'twas laid;

One moment it was beautiful,
The next began to fade.

When dry upon his hand it lay,

Its beauty all was gone: The wondrous pebble from the stream

Was but a common stone.

Another, and another still,
Was lifted from the stream;

For aye the pebbles lying there
The loveliest did seem.

'Twas all in vain his childish task,
For, choose them as he may,

Each pebble was a common stone
When in his hand it lay.

He learned the lesson at the last,
Beside the clear deep pool,

That 'twas the water of the stream
That made them beautiful.

O thus with all our earthly hopes
Untouched that seem so fair;

We hold them in our hand and find
The beauty vanish there.

Hope after hope in turn is sought,
When found in turn it fails;

The glory that it had is lost—
The beauty of it pales.

Then let us seek more precious hopes
Than earth has to bestow;

For treasures nobler than the best
That can be found below.

For hopes that are to earthly hopes

Of glory's brightest dream As sapphires, pearls, and amethysts,

To pebbles of the stream.

Hopes that within the light of God

In radiant beauty shine;
Hopes that shall never fade nor fail,

Hopes glorious and divine.

Hopes that rely in perfect trust
Upon the Saviour's name,

That never can prove false to us,
And never put to shame.

Hopes founded on our Father's word,
And on our Saviour's grace,

That by His Spirit sanctified
We yet shall see His face.

R. t. THOM.

[graphic]

Cave any of you heard about Thompson, the grocer, in Sandgate?"

The speaker was George Moffatt, an upholsterer, in the employ of Robinson and Girdwood, the great house-furnishers, of Nottingham; and he asked the question of three of his fellow-workmen, who, along with himself, were seated in a railway carriage, on their way home from a day's work in the country. They had been fitting up a gentleman's house about eight miles from the town, and they had gone out and returned every morning and evening for more than a week past.

It was evident from the way in which George spoke that he had something to tell his shopmates which was well worth hearing.

"No," they said; "what about him?"

"Why," replied George, "he was up before the magistrates yesterday, and they fined him 10/. and costs for giving short weight. Ned Trotter was in the Court all the time the case was going on, and I saw him last night at the Belvoir Arms, and he told us all about it."

"Aye, indeed?" asked Peter Holdsworth, one of the

group; "and how did they find it out?"

"I don't know," replied Moffatt; "and Ned did not know. The police always take precious good care not to tell who puts them on the scent of such things. I reckon they got a hint from somebody that all was not square; and one day, when Thompson had no idea what was coming, they walked into his shop, and tried all his scales and weights."

"And what did they find?" said Holdsworth.

"They found," replied Moffatt, "most of the weights short. They were not much short, just a little bit j but then we have a saying in Scotland, ' Mony littles mak' a mickle;' and as Thompson had a large trade, a twelvemonth's 'littles' would make a good big 'mickle.'"

"And what then?"

"They took away all the short weights," replied Moffatt, "and then they summoned him; and, as I told you, he was brought up and fined yesterday."

"I'll see," said Harry Gregson, another of the men, "that he gets no more of my money. My wife has gone to his shop ever since we went to live in Morley Street, and that will be three years come August. My word ! he's got a rare lot out of us that he had no business to get. I wonder my wife never found it out, for she's a tolerably sharp one."

"I would not have thought so much about it," said Moffatt, "if his customers had not been most of them poor folks ; some of them as poor as poor could be."

"That," said Gregson, vexed, as we may well believe he would be with the thought that he had been so largely cheated ; "that's the worst of it. And then, too, he put out such flaming bills, saying how much cheaper he could sell his stuff than anybody else, because he gave no credit, and what first-rate articles he sold, and how much we should save by buying at his shop."

"To my notion," said Holdsworth, "he was no better to be liked for that. When a man puffs in that fashion, I give his shop a wide berth, and go to somebody else who does not make such a spread."

"And I have heard," said Will Hopwood, the only one of the party who had not yet spoken, "that Thompson is a great man at a chapel of some sort or other where he goes."

"I have heard that too," said Moffatt; "but there are only too many of the same sort; and I would not trust a man a bit better for reckoning to be ever so religious."

And we are sorry to say that all his companions chimed in with this.

So the talk went on. Very strong things were said about Thompson and his short weight; and other cases of the same kind were mentioned. Indeed, there was not one of the party who had not heard of somebody who professed to be religious who had not done something wrong. If the men of whom they spoke had not been fined in a police ■ court for giving short weight, they had done what was just as bad.

It so happened that the train was kept waiting at a junction for at least half an hour, and that gave time, not only for the talk we have reported, but for some other talk which followed.

Seated in a corner of the carriage when the men entered it was a staid-looking, elderly man, whom none of the party knew, though one or two of them thought they had seen him before. His name was Bowen. He was a good man, who having retired from business on a small competency, had found occupation for his leisure in various works of Christian usefulness; and, amongst other things, he had taken an active part in conducting a mission, set on foot by the church to which he belonged, in the very district in which Thompson's shop was situated.

Of course Mr. Bowen could not help hearing what passed; but for some time he said nothing. At length the subject on which the men had been speaking seemed to be talked out, and they were all silent. Then he spoke.

"I beg your pardon, friends," he said; "but will you

excuse my saying a word or two on the matter of which

you have been talking? I make a point of not listening to

talk which is private, and which people don't want me to hear; but you have spoken so loudly that I could not help hearing; and I don't think you wanted to make any secret of it."

They looked at him with some surprise; but they all said, as with one voice, "Yes, sir;" and Moffatt, at greater length, added: "There can't be much of a secret about a thing that has been brought up in a police court."

"Thank you," said Mr. Bowen. Well, then, let me say how sorry I am to hear what you have said about Mr. Thompson; and then, too, some of you have spoken of other men, who, professing like him to be religious, have done things just as bad, if not even worse."

"Yes," said Hopwood; "and there are a good many more that some of us could tell about."

"Well," replied Mr. Bowen, "even admitting that all you have said, and all the stories of the same kind that you could tell, are quite true, I should like to ask you a question. Did the men do those bad things because they were religious? I might put it another way; Is there anything in the Bible that either commands or encourages them to do such things?"

"May be not," replied Moffatt; "but this is what I say: that when people reckon to be religious, they set themselves up to be so much better than other folks; and they are no better after all."

"I don't think," replied Mr. Bowen, " that is exactly the way to put it. So far as I know, religious people—and I know a good many—they don't set themselves up to be better than others who are not religious. All they say is, that they believe it to be their duty to do everything that is right, and that, seeking God's help, they are trying to do it. Still, any good man would tell you very humbly that he often comes far short of what he aims at. But I should like to ask you another question. Are all the Christian people you know, and all you have heard about, such as you have described?"

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