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colours, bright and cheering. He showed that God was not a hard taskmaster, but a loving, sympathizing parent, and that if any gloom or sadness hung about believers, it originated with themselves, and did not proceed from Him "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," who being Love itself, must necessarily also be the source of happiness. Nat was happy, and he wanted all his fellow Christians to be happy. "And why shouldn't they be?" he would urge. "If you have a good hope for eternity, why carry about a sad countenance with you for time? Why not let your religion commend your Master?" he would contend.
For some minutes silence reigned in the little kitchen, but it was presently broken by Mrs. Cantle's entering the room, saying hurriedly,—
"Father, I'm afeard Ned is in for another attack. Oh, miss, I did not see you," she remarked, as she discovered Miss Day sitting in the arm-chair near her husband's bench.
"Never mind me, Mrs. Cantle," said Miss Day. "But what's the matter with Ned?"
"He's up on the bed, and he's been spitting blood again, miss. Oh, my boy! my poor boy!" sobbed the poor mother, breaking down.
To rise from her seat and place the weeper there was but the work of a moment, and then Miss Day united with Nat in trying to console her.
"It's the Lord's will, Mary," said Nat, with a faltering voice and troubled face; "he's a great comfort to us, and if he's called afore us 'twill be hard work to part with him; but it won't be for long, lass, our journey can't be much longer before we reach the 'city which has foundations.' Let us look up to the Lord." And Nat removed a little black skull cap, which he always wore, from his head, and remained some minutes in silent prayer. When the cap was replaced, Miss Day saw indeed that he had looked up, and, looking up by faith, had gained the needful strength; for the troubled expression had vanished from his countenance, and with a steady voice he inquired, ;' Hadn't I better go for the doctor, Mary?"
"No, Nat; we've got some of the last medicine in the house; I gave him a dose as soon as he could swallow, before I came down. My heart misgives me this time bout him. Ah, he's a good son, miss," she said, turning to her visitor; "he never gave me any trouble, ho always was so kind and thoughtful like; and my poor master will be dreadful cut up when he's taken."
Nat had left the kitchen and gone up to his son, and Mrs. Cantle felt she could unbosom her secret sorrow to her friend when he was not by.
"He may get better again," said Miss Day, encouragingly
Mrs. Cantle shook her head, and only replied, "My heart misgives me this time."
But Ned did get better, so far as to be able to come down stairs and go out for a short walk, and occasionally, when his cough was easier, go to a place of worship; but he could no longer carry about the milk, though he hired a girl to do it in the mornings, and his mother went in the afternoons. His young canaries brought him in a few shillings, and he would willingly have sold the old ones, had his parents allowed him, to eke out supplies. But this proposition was always met by Nat with "Let be, Ned; let be, my lad. If 'tis the will of the Lord for us to part with the wee winsome critters, why we must, but we'll bide a bit and see."
And they did bide, and the cages of the "wee winsome critters," as Nat called them, hung against the kitchen walls, and they sung their sweet songs long after Nat and Ned had passed from earth. The aged couple strove hard to make two ends meet, and the Lord blessed theiF strivings, so that Ned never wanted the food or medicine necessary forJiis complaint. It was a sore trial at first to Nat when he learned for a certainty that Ned's labours were over, and if he should be spared to outlive him, he would never be able to maintain his aged mother. But Nat took this great care and laid it upon Him that is mighty, and soon was able to think upon it calmly. The summer months passed away, and suddenly, in September, Nat Cantle's strength gave way, and the old man fainted at his bench. They carried him up to his room and put him to bed, feeling that the hour of his departure was at hand. It was the 14th of September, 1852, the day the Duke of Wellington died, when Nat was death stricken. From his bedroom window the church tower was visible, and when Nat recovered consciousness he saw the half-masted flag waving from it.
""Who has been called away, Mary?" he inquired.
"The Duke of Wellington," replied his wife.
"Commander and servant will soon have done with earth, Mary. God grant the 'blood which cleanseth from all sin' may have blotted out both of ours," was his immediate reply.
Nat lingered on four or five days, gradually getting weaker and weaker, until at times his voice was scarcely audible. A deep sleep was coming on him, from which no earthly voice would soon be able to waken him; and as Miss Day held the aged hand, fast growing cold, within her own young warm one, she yearned to hear the dying testimony of her aged counsellor and friend.
"Shall I speak to him ?—May I speak to him?" she inquired of his wife and Ned.
They assented, and bending over him she asked—
"Nat—Mr. Cantle, do you know me?"
A slight movement seemed to assure her that he did.
"Mr. Cantle—dear old Nat, you are in the valley and shadow of death. Is it peace with you?"
"With a strength that they could scarcely believe he possessed, he distinctly replied—
"Young lady—it is—the peace—of God—which—passeth all—under—standing."
They were his last words. Surely Nat Cantle, in helping others to trim their lamps, had not forgotten to trim his own. In less than an hour after he had borne his testimony to the all-sufficiency of grace, he went forth to meet the Bridegroom, and with him entered into rest, and " the door was shut." Reader, was not his lamp burning? How is it with your own? Ned and Mary have both, we trust, joined Nat Cantle in the realms of bliss. Ned died a fortnight after his father, rejoicing in the Lord. Mary sur* vived her husband ten years: her last days were days of peace. Her daughter in Wales, and a few members of the church to which she belonged, united together in providing her with a small weekly allowance sufficient for her humble requirements. The old house in which the Canties lived still stands, and others have filled their vacant places in the rooms; but no one yet has supplied the place of Nat Cantle, the oracle.
Dear readers, Nat Cantle "being dead yet speaketh" to each of you, "Neighbour, whilst helping others to trim their lamps, do not forget to trim your own."
THE "WISHING CAP.
"I Wondek what Arthur has found so deeply interesting. Here, for more than an hour, some of us have been playing at bagatelle, and others have been rattling the piano, and one thing with another we have been about as noisy as we well could be; but all the time Arthur has scarcely looked up from his book. What can it be that has taken his fancy so wonderfully?"
It was the Christmas holidays, and all Mr. Pringle's family were at home. The eldest two, indeed, had done with school, and George was in his father's office in the city; whilst Mary was of great service to her mamma both in the management of the house and in the care and education of the youngest children. Next came Jane, Thomas, and Arthur, all of whom had been at boardingschools in the country; and then followed three younger ones. Their ages ranged from eighteen down to five. Along with their father and mother, they were all in the room, and a very pleasant family group they formed. Mr. Pringle had determined to give as much time as possible to his children during the vacation; and both he and Mrs. Pringle had been with them in the drawing-room ever since tea.
It was Mary who, having noticed Arthur's complete absorption, called her papa's attention to it in a tone quite low enough to be heard by nearly all the party. A good many eyes were immediately directed to Arthur, who, seated in a low chair by the fire-side, was quite unconscious that he was the object of special attention.
"Arthur," said Mr. Pringle.
"Yes, papa, what is it?" replied Arthur, as though he had just been aroused from a dream.
"We can't allow that in the holidays, Arthur," said Mr. Pringle, "at all events in the evenings."
A somewhat amused expression passed over Mr. Pringle's countenance, as he replied, "Well, Arthur, such hard study. According to the reports which you have brought home, you must have been very diligent all the half-year; and l hope, should you be spared to go back to school, you will be quite as diligent next half-year; but I think you had better not. study so hard during the vacation. Let geography and grammar and Euclid alone for the present. You know, 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.'"
Arthur laughed out loudly and said, " Now, papa, you're chaffing me. You know very well I'm not so fond of geography and Euclid as all that."
So saying, he held up his book, which, as Mr. Pringle had suspected, proved to be one which his uncle Bradshaw had sent him as a present. Perhaps a better book might have been selected for the purpose; but there can be no doubt that for a boy of Arthur's age it was deeply interesting. It was a collection of very romantic stories, some old and some quite new. It made them all the more attractive that each story was illustrated by a splendid picture.
"Capital Euclid that," said George, good-humouredly; " I should think you would not have much difficulty in standing an examination."
"Well, let us see," said papa. "Come, tell us, Arthur, what you have been reading about."
With a little pressing Arthur complied. The story he had just finished, he said, was about a very wonderful cap which a fairy had given to a youth called Fortunatus, and which had this remarkable property, that whatever anybody wished while it was on his head, he was sure to get it almost immediately. And so Fortunatus had wished and wished—wished for money, for fine horses, for servants, for beautiful palaces, for a great kingdom, till at last he became so rich and powerful that he scarcely knew what more to wish for.
"A wonderful cap that, Arthur," said Mr. Pringle. "I dare say we should most of us like to borrow a cap like that for a little while."
"Yes, that we should," exclaimed several voices at once.
"Let us make believe we have a wishing cap, and have a game at wishing," said Nelly, a merry little body, about eight years old.
Everybody entered heartily into the proposal, the juveniles expecting some capital fun; whilst papa, who was always ready to engage in anything harmless which would afford pleasure to his children, thought that possibly something better than mere amusement could be got out of it.
"But we had better have a real cap," said Mary. "I'll make one in half a minute." So saying, she produced a sheet of paper from under the sofa-cushion, and in a minute