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from his broad-brimmed hat, and divested himself of his rough witney coat.
“ What old woman do you mean, Tatty?" asked merry little Katy Brown, from the chimney corner.
“Oh, it is all nonsense, Katey," said her mother. “It is only a saying, that, when it snows, an old woman is in the clouds, plucking her geese, and letting the feathers fall. But it is only a joke."
“ No, my Kate, only a joke; and rather a foolish joke too, come to think of it. There's a better account given in the Psalms about snow, and where it comes from, and who makes it,”-the farmer had taken his seat in his cosy armchair by this time, and Katey had sprung upon his knee, and was amusing herself by brushing off the half melted flakes from her father's bushy whiskers." He giveth his snow like wool, he scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes, he casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold ? There are some verses I learned when I was a boy, my mother taught them me; and I was humming them over to myself when I was smoothing down old Colley." 1 “Oh, father, how is poor Colley-cow ?" Katey broke in, regardless of the verses.
“ Colley-cow is better, Katey; she will do very well now, and give us lots of milk again.”
“ And the verses, father?” asked an elder daughter who sat sewing at the table, which was drawn up very near to the blazing wood fire; “the verses, father, what were
" These, pretty Polly
• The changing seasons He ordains,
And thus the springing corn defends.'
• With hoary frost He strews the ground;
That dares defy his dreadful cold?' Who is it that does all this, little Katey ?” added the farmer.
“The great God who made us," whispered the child into her father's ear.
“Right, my pretty one; and
May you live to know and fear him,
See his face, and sing his praise.' Here for a few minutes the conversation stopped, but presently it was renewed again.
• What dreadful weather to be out in!” said Mrs. Brown, who, as the thought crossed her mind, hugged
closer to her bosom the half-sleeping infant which rested in her arms.
“ Terrible! Mary. It is no small thing to be thankful for that we have got a good roof over our heads, anyhow; though it is a poorer one than we used to have; eh, my dear?"
“ It is a very comfortable roof, John; and we have a good deal to be thankful for," said the wife.
“That's true, Mary; and I don't mean to be unthankful, and I don't think I am. But, for all that, I cannot think of what we had only five years ago, and how we lost it, and how we have been struggling on ever since, scarce able to hold our heads above water, and how you, my dear, have had to slave at work, when you were not brought up to expect such hardships--I say, I cannot think of all this without feeling it, Mary; though I do not often talk about it.”
“ Then I would not think about it, John," responded Mīrs. Brown, cheerfully and persuasively. “ It does not do any good you know, my dear.”
No, it does not do any good; and it does not altogether bear thinking about,” said Mr. Brown. Better to think of our mercies, I know."
But for all this, John Brown did go on thinking of something very different from mercies; at any rate, he could not think it a mercy that he had been almost ruined, five years ago, by the misconduct and crime of his brother Thomas, who had robbed him, traduced him, forged upon him, and I know not what beside; and then, having done as much mischief as he was permitted to do, went off with the spoils of his injured brother, nobody knew where. Yes, John Brown did go on thinking of this; and no wonder, for it was on a Christmas eve that the knowledge of his brother's deeds and of his own ruin came to his knowledge; and it was on the following Ladytide that he was compelled to turn out of his great and flourishing farm,
where he had prospered exceedingly, and others had prospered before him, and to take a small farm of fifty acres of poor land, where no one ever had succeeded, and where it was said nobody ever would or could succeed. Nevertheless, Mr. Brown had put his shoulder to the wheel, manfully; and Mrs. Brown had done the same with hers; and for four years and more they had paid their way, and perhaps had begun to recover themselves a little; but their former prosperity was gone. They had had a great deal of pity from their neighbours and former friends, but very little help; and it was looked upon as a settled thing that the Browns were down in the world, and were to be. Do you wonder then that as John Brown sat thinking over the fire, on this bitter cold night, of these severe trials, his face assumed a graver aspect than usual, that his brow was contracted, his upper lip elongated, and his tongue silent, so that at length his wife stirred him up, with
Come, John, you must not, you know; and you have promised me you would not dwell on these things so. There, teach Katey that hymn of Dr. Watts : do, please,
• Not more than others I deserve,
Yet God hath given me more. “I know it all, mother, so father hasn't any occasion to try to teach it me; have you, Tatty ?”
“ What do you know, Kate? demanded the absentminded man.
"I was thinking of something else, and did not quite hear what your mother said.” " Why, that hymn, Tatty
Not more than others I deserve,
Yet God has given me more;
Or beg from door to door.' “ That's right, Katey; always think so, and pray God to keep you in that mind. We ought to be very thankful, Kate; don't you think so, Polly? especially on Christmas eve, may be ; when we are somehow expected to be put in mind of One, who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.' Yes, we ought to be thankful; and so we will be, Polly and Katey both."
“ And forgiving too, John; say forgiving too,” added his wife, in a low, pleading tone. Forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.' Is it not our duty to do so ?”
" Don't press me too hard, Mary, please. You know that I don't want to talk about that—that rascal; there, it would come out; and it's a true word, though an ugly one. And you know what I have always said ; and I cannot go
from it, I can't, anyhow."
“ Not on Christmas eve, John ? Not at Christmas time?”
No, not at Christmas time, even. I am sorry for it, Mary, if it distresses you; but I-never-can-forgive-him.' Farmer Brown uttered these last words very slowly. It seemed as if he was trying to keep them in, and couldn't.
“ You may forgive him if you like,” he presently added, " and I would if I could; but when I think of all his wickedness, and fancy him, wherever he is, living perhaps on what he robbed me of—no, I can never forgive him ; I would if I could, but I cannot. Don't say any more about it, my dear.”
And Mrs. Brown, being a wise woman and a true wife, said no more about it. She was sorry, no doubt, as a Christian would necessarily have been, that her husband was, on this one point, so apparently implacable, and she could not help thinking of what the Lord had said, “ Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy;" and, “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. These last are solemn words, as Mrs. Brown knew and felt, and her sorrow was deep when she thought that her husband came so near to such condemnation. But she knew where to carry this sorrow; and she did not believe that, in his heart, John was so unmerciful and unforgiving as he professed to be and fancied he was. And she had firm faith that, some day or other, his tone would be altered, though by what means she could not even guess.
So Mrs. Brown not only held her peace on this Christmas eve; but she dismissed the painful subject from her mind, as almost the only one on which she and her husband did not think alike. Meanwhile the snow continued to fall, accompanied by a keen, cutting north wind; and once and again as Mr. Brown stirred up the fire, or heaped on fresh fuel, his utterances of thankfulness were repeated that he and his had a comfortable roof over their heads ; and then, before his two little girls were taken upstairs by their mother, to be put to bed, the kind-hearted farmer begged to listen to the lispings of Katey who “knew it all" :
Not more than others I deserve,
Yet God hath given me more ;
Or beg from door to door.
Half naked I behold;
And covered from the cold.
While some poor wretches scarce can tell
Where they may lay their head,
And rest upon my bed.”
Nine o'clock came, and the snow still continued to fall, and the wind to blow in heavy gusts which shook the casement windows, and threatened terrible snow-drifts, as Mr. Brown said, as he once more came in from his stable this time, where he had been littering down and feeding his single team of two horses, for the night. The time had been when the farmer had five times or six times the number of horses in his large stables at Upper Beech farm, and men enough to attend to them without any labour on his part. But now he must do this work himself, or leave it undone; for he employed only one man and a boy on his fifty-acre farm, and it was not their business to take care of their master's horses. Indeed, they had left work hours before-their work at that time being threshing corn in the barn--and gone to their home in the village; and! as the next day would be a holiday, he expected to see nothing more of them till the day following.
Mr. Brown was reading aloud to his wife, as they sat together; the baby being asleep in the cradle, when a knocking was heard at the kitchen door.
“ Don't be dazed, master; 'tis only me,” said a rough but kindly voice, as the farmer unlocked and opened the door. It was the voice of David Carter, the farm-servant just mentioned.
“ You here at this time of night, Davey? Why, I should have fancied you would have been asleep by this time. But come in and show yourself. But, David, there's nothing the matter, is there ?” Mr. Brown said this when