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in her! I wish that that stupid basket had been at the bottom of the sea before ever I set eyes on it!"
Pale, haggard, and looking—as he really was—greatly troubled, poor Bolton entered the house of the Vales, which he so lately had quitted. The family were just finishing their dinner; and not a little astonished were they to see one whom they had believed to be on the wide, wide sea.
"Here I am again, like a bad halfpenny," said the poor sailor; and sitting down wearily on a chair which Katie placed for him directly, Bolton gave a short account of what he called the most unlucky mischance that had ever happened to him in the course of his life.
The Vales felt much for his trouble, and begged him to remain with them until he could get a passage in some other vessel bound for England.
"And don't take your accident so much to heart," softly whispered little Katie; "you know mother's favourite proverb—' Every cloud has a silver lining.'"
"Sometimes, even in this life, we can see the silver edge round the border," observed Mrs. Vale.
Bolton had too brave a heart and too sensible a mind to give way long to fretting, though he did not see how so black a cloud as that which hung over his sky could possibly have anything to brighten its gloom.
Bolton slept very little that night, nor indeed did any one else in the house; for with the close of day there came on a violent storm, which raged fiercely until the morning. Katie trembled in her little cot to hear how the gale roared and shrieked in the chimneys, and rattled the window-frames, and threatened to burst open the doors. The child raised her head from her pillow, and thanked the Lord that her sailor friend was not tossing then on the waves.
But far more thankful was Katie when tidings reached New York of what the storm had done on that terrible night. Bolton was sitting at breakfast with his friends on the third day after the tempest, when Vale, who was reading the newspaper, turned to the part headed "Shipping Intelligence."
"Any news?" inquired Tom Bolton, struck by the expression on the face of his friend.
Instead of replying, Vale exclaimed, "How little we can tell in this life what is really for our evil or our good! You called that accident which prevented your sailing in the Albion an 'unlucky mischance.'"
"Of course I did. My wife and children are impatient to see me—"
"Had you sailed in that ship," interrupted Vale, "they would never have seen you again. The Albion went down in that storm!"
What was the regret of Tom Bolton on hearing of the disaster, and what was his thankfulness for his own preservation, I leave the reader to guess. Often in after days did the little American basket remind him in his own home of what others might have called the chance that led him to turn back on his way to the ship, and so meet with the accident which vexed him so much at the time. If God's children carefully watch the events of their own lives, they will often be able, even here below, to trace the silvery edge of the cloud; but when they are called up higher, to dwell above with the angels, then they will see what they now believe—that the love of their Lord makes all things, even the darkest, to work for good to them that fear Him.
THE BROTHER'S RETURN.
COULD have been sure that John's house stood here," murmured Ralph Daines to himself as he looked around. "I know that it stood by the turn of a road, just as one came sight of the church, and that it had a clump of trees in front, just like these before me. Ah! well, well," he added, "it's more than twenty years since I turned away from my brother's door—turned away in anger—and twenty years will bring changes. Perhaps I've mistaken the place after all. I stayed but a short time with John, so that I never knew his home well. In twenty years one may forget; yes, one may forget a spot, but there are some things which never can be forgotten, however long we may live."
And amongst those things which rested upon Ralph's mind was his quarrel with his brother, Long John—a quarrel so sharp, that, after the two had parted, they had never seen nor written to each other again. For twenty years and more Ralph had dwelt in a distant land, and had never so much as sent a letter to inquire after the welfare of the brother whom he had left in England. But when Ralph at last returned to his native isle, his heart began to yearn towards the only near relation whom he had upon earth. His anger had been softened by time; and Ralph thought that his brother's home should be his home, and that, though they had parted in anger, they might yet meet again in affection.
Ralph Daines, after leaving his luggage at the inn nearest to the place where his brother had dwelt, set out on foot for the house, being sure that he knew the road well enough to enable him to find it without much trouble. But the traveller was perplexed, when he came near the spot where he thought that the house should be, to see only waste land overgrown with thistles and charlock, with bits of a tumble-down fence which could not keep out some sheep that were grazing where once a garden had been.
"Perhaps I've taken the wrong road after all; perhaps I should have turned to the left after passing the mile-stone," mused Ralph. "I wish now that I had inquired the way at the inn, but I thought that I could not miss it. However, it matters little, for here comes a child tripping along the path over yon meadow. She perhaps may be able to tell me the way to the house of John Daines."
Ralph leaned over the rough paling which bordered the meadow, and waited till the little girl whom he saw carrying a bundle of fagots should come up to the place where he stood. The child looked poor, but her dress was neat, and her cheeks were as rosy as the flowers which she had stuck in her bosom.
"I say, my little friend," began Ralph, as soon as the child could hear him, "is there not a lonely house near this place, with red tiles and a porch, and a poultry-yard behind it?"
"I dun no, sir," said the child.
"Was there not once such a house on the plot of waste land behind me?"
"I dan no," repeated the child, who was scarcely four years old.
"I do not seem likely to get much information out of this little one," said Ralph to himself; "but she may know people, though she does not know places.—Does a Mr. Daines live near this spot?" he inquired.
The child looked doubtful for a minute, then muttered, " Dun no ;" and seemed inclined to pass on.
"Wait a bit, little one," said Ralph. "You may perhaps have heard of Mr. Daines as 'Long John,' for he often went by that name!"
A gleam of intelligence broke at once over the rosy young face. "Eh! yes; he be father!" she cried. "Nobody don't call him mister."
"Your father!" exclaimed Ralph in surprise; for the speech and dress of the little girl were those of a poor peasant child—not such as might have been expected in one brought up in the comfortable house of his brother. "Do you mean to say that Long John Daines is your father?"
The child nodded her head.
"And where is he now ?" cried Ralph.
The little girl raised her sunburnt arm and pointed towards the church which appeared at a little distance.
"Can you take me to the place, my little friend? I will help you over the stile, and carry your fagots for you, and you shall have a bright new shilling when we arrive at your home."
The eyes of the child brightened. She let the stranger lift her over the stile, and kiss her, and gaze in her face—saying that her eyes were just like her father's. She then tripped merrily along by his side, and in reply to Ralph's questions told him that her name was Mary, and