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LOWLY AND WISE.
,UT I will have it!"
The loud, angry words, were followed by the sound of a '^5^ struggle, which brought Mrs. Clare out of her room in haste, to see what was the cause of the strife between her little son Maitland and his cousin Frederick Grey.
The two boys had both hold of the staff of a flag, and were pulling and tugging at it, each trying hard to wrench it out of the hand of the other. Both their faces were red with passion, and they hardly stopped their struggling even when the lady entered the room.
"Boys! what are you quarrelling about?" exclaimed Mrs. Clare with displeased surprise.
"Mamma, we're going to play at soldiers, and I want to carry the flag," answered Maitland, scarcely able to speak from passion.
"I must have it—I shall have it!" cried Fred, still trying to wrench it from his cousin.
"Give it to me!" said the lady, in a decided tone, taking it from the grasp of both the boys. "See, you have torn the pretty flag in your struggle! To which of you does it belong?"
"Uncle gave it to us both," replied Fred; "but I choose to carry it, because I am the elder."
'• I must have it—because my father is a soldier, and I am going to be a soldier myself!" cried Maitland, still looking very fierce.
"I am sorry, boys, to see that you have less sense than four-footed beasts."
"What do you mean, mamma?" said Maitland.
"Your quarrel reminds me of a story of two goats which I have heard," replied the lady, seating herself on a chair, still holding the flag in her hand. "On a wild mountain in the Tyrol two goats met on a ledge just over a precipice—a ledge which was so narrow that there was neither room for them to pass each other nor to turn round and go back! A steep rock rose straight above them; a deep dark chasm lay below! What do you think the two goats did?"
"I suppose," said Maitland, "that if they had horns, like my two little goats, they pushed, and butted, and fought, till one or both of them were tossed over the precipice and killed!"
"You suppose that they were as proud, and silly, and quarrelsome as two little boys whom I need not name," said Mrs. Clare, shaking her head. "No; the goats were more lowly and more wise. One of them quietly and carefully laid himself down on the narrow ledge; be bent first one leg under his body, then another, pressing as close to the rock as he could. Then the second goat gently and softly stepped over his companion, till, safe on the further side, he could lightly bound away. The goat that had lain down then drew himself up from his lowly position, safe and uninjured, free to spring again from rock to rock, and crop the sweet herbage, instead of lying, as he might otherwise have done, at the bottom of the precipice, with all his bones broken by a fall!"
"What a wise goat he was!" exclaimed Fred.
"I did not know that goats had such sense," cried Maitland. "I wonder if my two little Billys that I drive in my go-cart would have done just the same as these creatures?"
"If so," observed Mrs. Clare with a smile, "they would have shown much more sense than their master."
"I don't see that one is bound always to give up one's rights!" cried Maitland, glancing at the flag; for he saw that his mother was thinking of his conduct in fighting for it.
"The right of way belonged to the one goat just as much as to the other," remarked the ladv; "but the wisest was the lowliest: with him to stoop was to conquer; by letting another be first, he saved the lives of both. Oh, my child, if instinct taught this to a poor four-footed beast, shall beings with reason fight and quarrel; and, above all,"— the mother gently laid her hand on the head of her child as she added, "shall Christians dispute about trifles, when they know where it is written, Blessed are the meek, and, With the lowly is wisdom I"
Maitland looked doubtfully at.his mother, pride was having a little struggle within; but Fred cried out frankly at once, "Let him have the flag! I'm sorry that I quarrelled about it."
"No, no; you shall have it!" exclaimed Maitland, more moved by his cousin's kindness than by even the lesson of his mother.
"You shall both carry it by turns, my boys!" said the lady, "when I shall have mended the rent which you tore. Let this little incident impress on you the truth that we often gain most by yielding; and that he is the wisest and noblest who can stoop, for the sake of conscience, to take the lowest place!"
HAPPY New Year to you, Miss Dora, and many of them!" were the words with which Dora Sinclair was awakened on the 1st of January, from sweet slumber and pleasant dreams.
"Oh, Janet!—I hope—I hope that the morning is fine!" exclaimed the eager little girl almost before she had time to open her eyes. "Shall we be able to go to Mount Blane? Oh, don't shake your head and say no! It is not raining, I'm sure that it is not, or I'd hear the pattering against the pane!"
"No, miss, the snow makes no noise! It is coming down thick and soft, as if the clouds were all made of feathers; and it lies quite deep on the ground: it must have been falling all night."
Dora would not believe the bad news, till she herself had thrown open the shutters and looked out on the lawn and drive, all clothed in a robe of spotless white.
"Horrid snow!" cried Dora impatiently. "But perhaps," she added, " it will stop, and we shall go to Mount Blane after all."
"Put that from your thoughts, my dear. The road through the valley wouldn't be fit for travelling after such a fall. Your papa would never think of driving that distance through the snow. Besides, Miss Mary's cold is worse—she has been coughing half the night; she could not venture out now, even if the snow were to stop." "We could go without her!" cried Dora.
"No; your mamma said last night that all would depend on your sister losing her cold; and now the snow has come on, so there is not a chance of your going."
Dora knew only too well that what the nurse said was true, but she did not choose to believe it. All the time that she was getting ready for breakfast she spoke of nothing but the certainty that the snow-storm would soon be over, running every five minutes to the window to see if the flakes still fell. Dora went on hoping, until a message came from her father which settled the question at once. The trip must be put off, he said, till the days were longer and the weather more mild. Dora was so bitterly disappointed that she burst into a passion of tears.
"It is always so !" cried the angry little girl; "whenever one hopes for a pleasure, the weather is sure to spoil it! Tiresome snow! tiresome cough! tiresome day! What a wretched beginning is this to the year that I thought would be so happy!"
And so, with tears in her eyes, discontent in her heart, and murmuring words on her lips, the ungrateful girl sat down to the plentiful meal provided for her comfort! Dora never thought of the love which year after year had spread her table, and filled her cup, and richly supplied all her need. A single disappointment was enough to make her forget a thousand blessings which she never had earned, never deserved, but which her heavenly Father had showered on her from her birth!
"Oh! Miss Dora, I wonder you are not ashamed!" cried the nurse. "Just hear that robin redbreast singing outside in the cold! Poor