Page images

English slave children in the city of Rome. Their fair and beautiful countenances are said to have made such an impression as to lead to the sending

of Augustine and his colleagues to rescue the inhabitants of this country from the chains of Pagan idolatry.

[ocr errors]

OW I lay me down to sleep,” began little

May Bridgeman, kneeling on the bare floor beside her bed, two chubby hands covering her face, and two tiny, dimpled feet, at other times so restless, lying quietly on the cold boards; for

May had been taught that she must 1 wолг

behave very reverently when speaking

to her Father in heaven, who was now her only father



had been instructed to ask heaven's blessings upon her friends, and the forgiveness of her sins. But May was only three years old, and not knowing the meaning of that sad word sins, she always called it “sense." Her mother had never corrected her mistake, or told her the meaning of sin, for she often thought; with a sigh, that her little girl would learn it all too soon." But on the evening of which I am telling you, little May prayed :

(6 O Lord !" bless my dear mamma and all my good "friends, and my pretty flowers in the window; and forgive me'all my sense-all you can, all I can have! "Amen."

And then she sprang into her mother's arms, a happy light beaming in her blue eyes; and, after many good-night kisses, was snugly, tucked in bed, and soon fell sound asleep.

Mrs. Bridgeman' returned to her work with a heavy heart. She was a dress-cap maker, Dress-caps, I suppose you know, are those pretty caps worn by old ladies. There are many young girls, and older women, 190, who earn their living by making them. Sometimes there is plenty of this work, and good prices are paid. But at the time of which I am telling you, there was very little work to be had of any kind, for it was during the War. Besides being very poorly paid, Mrs. Bridgeman had but little to do. Still

, she was thankful for any work, and was glad to fill up

her spare time by making soldiers' shirts for sixpence apiece, and knapsacks for threepence. But matters were daily getting worse, Sometimes the man for whom she made dress-caps was not able to pay her, and she had to wait till he could get the money. She had now been waiting a long while, and might not be paid for weeks to come. The man who had given her the soldiers' shirts to make had gone away without paying her, and she knew, not where to look for him. She had only one dollar left, and there was but little food in the cupboard--not enough to last two days longer. Then her month's rent would be due, within a fortnight. To be sure, it was not much that she paid for her one room, on the top-floor of a tenement-house-only four dollars a month; but where was she to get that much, and how were she and her little May to live, meantime?

The hours passed by, and Mrs. Bridgeman worked steadily on, a tear now and then falling on the lace and ribbon in her hands. She thought of her noble husband, who had died on a distant battle-field. She thought of her girl. hood's happy home, and of her parents now lying side by side in the country churchyard ; and then of her merry childhood, and of the brother who had shared it with her. Her brother! Oh! if he were but living!. Would he not make her comfortable and happy--that dear brother whom she had never seen since he left his father's house fourteen years before? A light-hearted, brave, impulsive fellow of twenty-five, he had joined a small band of adventurers, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

started for California. At that time it was a long, perilous, overland journey; and the only tidings they had ever heard of him since his departure, was that he and his companions had perished on the way.

The nexť morning, while they were at breakfast, little May enjoying it immensely, her mother said :

• What do you mean, my darling, when you ask God to 'forgive you all your sensc?""

“Why, cents, ' mamma-money! Don't you know? Pennies !"

“And do you ask Him every night to give you money, May?"

"Yes, mamma. Don't we want money? Can't He give it to us?”

Mrs. Bridgeman was silent, thinking whether it would be best to explain her little one's mistake. She concluded to wait till May was old enough to understand something of the nature of sin and forgiveness. The child's faith was wonderful ; but the mother was anxious to know if it was as strong as it was simple, and she said: “But, May, God doesn't give you any money."

No, but He will, mamma? He will when I get big And then I'll give it all to you !"

When the breakfast-things were washed and put away, the room swept and dusted, and the bed neatly made, Mrs. Bridgeman put on her bonnet and shawl, telling May that she was going to try to get some sort of work,

“And you may polish the window, my darling, and put a very little water your powers while I am gone,” she said as she kissed the little girl and bade her good-bye.

When obliged to leave her alone, Mrs. Bridgernan always gave May 'some work to keep her out of mischief and danger. The nicest thing that May could do was to rub the lower window-panes with dry paper; and this was done so often that they always shone like clearest crystal. Then the care of her Howers took up much of May's time.

[ocr errors]

When her mother went out in search of work, leaving her alone, the little girl went at once to her task, and standing on tip-toe, polished the window-panes till they shone like diamonds. Then she carried some clear, cold water in the milk pitcher and carefully watered her flowers, giving each a little at a time.

Among them was a beautiful, half-open rose, as white as the snow when it first falls from the sky. Near by stood a large rose-geranium, with its fragrant dark green leaves. May looked first at one, then at the other. She-remembered having seen a little girl-only a little bigger than herself-sitting at a street-corner selling flowers. ' A gentleman had bought a bunch and put it in his buttonhole, and the little girl had put the money in her pocket.' And that bunch of flowers was a white rose with geranium-leaves and so'on, all around it.

May stood looking at her treasures,' hér tiny mouth wide open, and her blue eyes growing bigger and bigger. It was like cutting off one of her own golden curls to cut her white rose from itş stem. But her mamma wanted money: and tying on her little hood, May took the scissors from her mother's work-box and cut off her white rose and four large geranium leaves. Of course she cut the stems so short that she could hardly hold them with her little fat hands; and of course she didn't know enough to tie them together with a bit of thread. Grasping the white rose and four green

leaves in one hand, she clung to the banisters with the other, and soon' made her way down the long, long stairs and into the street. Then she hurried on, straight on, till she came to Broadway. Standing there in the busy crowd, bewildered with the noise, and frightened to find herself alone among such a multitude of people, she looked across the street, and there at the opposite corner stood a little girl with Aowers for sale! May was sure this was the very little girl whom she had seen selling flowers, and thought she must go 'right over there and stand beside her. So she

[ocr errors]


started across. " Carriages, carts, stages, waggons, and vehicles of all kinds were rushing up and down that narrow way which is soi unjustly called Broad. * But May was not afraid. She thought of nothing but her flowers, and the money they would bring, and how glad her mamma would be.

She had gone about a dozen steps of the way, her tiny. feet burried in the mud, and her eyes fixed on the white rose and green leaves in her hand, when suddenly a policeman's whistle sounded sharp and shrill, and several men shouted aloud, and there was a great commotion all around her. The next instant dittle May was thrown down under the horses' feet, and the next she was snatched up and carried away by a strong man who had seen her just-in time to save her life, nje greits

A crowd gathered around him as soon as he reached the sidewalk with the little girl in his arms, Everybody began talking at once.

“If you'll hold on a minute, I'll question her," said the man, looking pitifully at the frightened, weeping child. “ Perhaps she can tell something about herself. What's your name, my little girl???

May answered between her i sobsstelling not only her name, but where she lived, and why she was out alone, and all about it. The tall, strong man, keeping her in his arms, quietly told those around him that he would take her home, and started off with her, followed by a number of halfgrown boys, who one by one dropped off after a little while, leaving him to pursue his way alone, - It was not long before he stood at the street-door of the house where May lived. Then he perched her upon his shoulder, and went up the long flights of stairs without stopping till he came to the door of May's home. He put her down, and she opened the door. Mrs. Bridgeman had not yet come home, so the kind man who had saved May's life seated himself by the table to wait for her, and began to look over the family

« PreviousContinue »