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BETTER THAN DIAMONDS.
1. I was standing in the broad, crowded street of a large city. It was a cold winter's day. There had been rain; and although the sun had been shining brightly, yet the long icicles hung from the eaves of the houses, and the wheels rumbled loudly as they passed over the ground. There was a clear, bright look, and a cold, bracing feeling in the air, and a keen northwest wind, which quickened every step.
2. Just then a little child came running along-a poor, ill. clad1 child; her clothes were scant2 and threadbare; she had no cloak and no shawl, and her little bare feet looked red and suffering. She could not have been more than eight years old. She carried a bundle in her hand. Poor little shivering child! I pitied her. As she passed me her foot slipped,
and she fell with a cry of pain; but she held the bundle tightly in her hand, and, jumping up, although she limped sadly, endeavored to run as before.
3. " Stop! little girl, stop!" said a sweet voice; and a beautiful woman, wrapped in a huge shawl and with furs around her, came out of a jeweler's store close by. "Poor little child," she said, "are you hurt'? Sit down on this step and tell me.'
How I loved her, and how beautiful she looked!
"Oh, I can not," said the little child, "I can not wait-I am in such a hurry. I have been to the shoemaker's, and mother must finish this work to-night, or she will never get any more shoes to bind."
4. "To-night' ?" said the beautiful woman, "to-night' ?" "Yes," said the child, for the stranger's kind manner had made her bold, "yes, for the great ball to-night; and these satin slippers must be spangled; and-"
The beautiful woman took the bundle from the child's hand and unrolled it. You do not know why her face flushed, and then turned pale; but I, yes I, looked into the bundle, and on the inside of a slipper I saw a name—a lady's name written, but I shall not tell it.
"And where does your mother live, little girl?"
5. So the child told her where; and then she told her that her father was dead, and that her little brother was sick, and that her mother bound shoes that they might have bread; but that sometimes they were very cold, and that her mother sometimes cried because she had no money to buy milk for her little brother. And then I saw that the lady's eyes were full of tears; and she rolled up the bundle quickly, and gave it back to the little girl; and, turning away, went back into the store from which she had just come out. As she went away I saw the glitter of a diamond pin. Presently she came back, and, stepping into a handsome carriage, rolled off. The little girl looked after her a moment, and then, with her little bare feet colder than they were before, ran quickly away.
6. I followed the little girl to a narrow damp street, and into a small dark room; I there saw her mother-her sad,
faded mother, but with a face so sweet, so patient-hushing and soothing a sick baby. And the baby slept, and the mother laid it on her lap; and the bundle was unrolled, and a dim candle helped her with her work; for though it was not night, yet her room was very dark. Then, after a while, she kissed her little girl, and bade her warm her poor frozen feet over the scanty fire in the grate, and gave her a little piece of bread, for she had no more; and then she heard her say her evening prayer, and folded her tenderly to her bosom, blessed her, and told her that the angels would take care of her.
7. And the little child slept and dreamed-oh! such pleasant dreams of warm stockings and new shoes; but the mother sewed alone, and as the bright spangles glittered on the satin slippers, came there no repining3 into the heart? When she thought of her child's bare, cold feet, and of the scant morsel of dry bread, that had not satisfied her hunger, came there visions of a bright room and gorgeous clothing, and a table loaded with all that was good, a little portion of which spared to her would give warmth and comfort to her humble dwelling?
8. If such thoughts came, and others, of a pleasant cottage, and of one who had dearly loved her, and whose strong arm had kept want and trouble from her and her babes, but who could never come back-if these thoughts did come repiningly, there also came another; and the widow's hands were clasped, and her head bowed low in deep contrition, as I heard her say, "Father, forgive me, for thou doest all things well, and I will trust to thee."
9. Just then the door opened softly, and some one entered. Was it an angel? Her dress was spotless white, and she moved with a noiseless step. She went to the bed where the sleeping child lay, and covered it with soft, warm blankets. Then presently a fire sparkled and blazed there, such as the little grate had never known before. Then a huge loaf was placed upon the table, and fresh milk for the sick babe.
10. Then she passed gently before the mother, and, drawing the unfinished slipper from her hand, placed there a purse of gold, and said, in a voice like music, "Bless thy God, who
is the God of the fatherless and the widow!" and she was gone, only as she went out I heard her say, "Better than diamonds-better than diamonds!" Whom could she mean? I looked at the mother. With clasped hands and streaming eyes she blessed her God, who had sent an angel to comfort her.
11. So I went too; and I went to a bright room, where were music and dancing, and sweet flowers; and I saw the young, happy faces of those who were there, and beautiful dresses sparkling with jewels; but none that I knew, until one passed me whose dress was of simple white, with only a rose-bud on her bosom, and whose voice was like the sweet sound of a silver lute. No spangled slipper was on her foot; but she moved as one that treadeth upon the air, and the divine beauty of holiness had so glorified her face, that I felt, as I gazed upon her, that she was almost an angel of God.
14 GOR-GEOUS, showy; splendid.
5 CON-TRI-TION, penitence; sorrow.
3 RE-PIN'-ING, complaining; murmuring. 6 LUTE, an instrument of music with strings
1 ILL-CLAD, poorly clad.
2 SCANT, too small.
ABRAM AND ZIMRI.
1. ABRAM and Zimri owned a field together—
A level field hid in a happy vale.
They plowed it with one plow, and in the spring
2. One night, before the sheaves were gathered in,
And counted in his mind his little gains,
And yet we share the harvest sheaves alike:
Down to the field, and add to his from mine."
3. So he arose, and girded up his loins,
Went down the mountain path, and found the field,
4. Now, that same night, as Abram lay in bed,
5. So he arose, and girded up his loins,
And went down softly to the level field.
The dark leaves waved and whispered in the breeze. So Abram, guided by the doubtful light,
Passed down the mountain path, and found the field,