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quarrelling; if they went near to warn them, then she felt sure evil would come of it.
And oh the sunshine was so ruddy, flashing over the ice, the skaters, and the waiting earth, clothed in its festive robe of white; surely there could be no danger. Perhaps the man did not know how thick the ice was on the mill-pond. Janie was but ten, a simple little maiden, who would fain stand a peacemaker between her brother and the mean purloiner of his skates, enjoying them so unshrinkingly in their very faces, as if in bravado. Willie, his face now gloomy indeed, said no more of confronting Luke, but watched the skaters flashing over the ice as on winged feet till sunset; then he and Janie left them, still gliding to and fro-grey figures which the last red sun-rays were kissing again and again.
A sweet, holy presence seemed to brood in the old Mill House; but no peace, no welcoming smile was on Willie's face as he and Janie sat again by the fire, twining the holly-wreaths, which must be hung up before they went to bed. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men:" these were the words Janie's skilful fingers had woven out for the dining-room fireplace. As Willie held them up and read them, something pleaded and whispered to his heart the while, and that gentle presence seemed to draw very near indeed-what was it? Willie went out to the front door to hearken, while Janie put up the wreaths. To hearken to what? Were they still skating on the ice? A something-it might have been the sting left by that dark thought of the afternoon-would not let him rest; a voice was whispering to him as from afar to cast out, and put away from him, that which, like a mist, was shutting out all Christmas joy, Christmas love, Christmas forgiveness, forbearing, and bearing of injuries-because it was the birthday coming on of Him, the great Elder Brother, whose life was all love, all forgiveness, enduring of injuries, and still doing good ;-and if wrong had been done or even thought by him, to hasten to set it right, while yet there was time. He was not an ignorant boy, though motherless; he knew what Christmas meant, and what were the lessons it taught. Ha! they were still there on the ice, and their laughter rang out to him on the evening air. He went in, and helped Janie to finish putting up the holly, and then, when the house was quiet, and they all thought he had gone early to bed, he stole out to give the warning of the unsafe state of the ice to the merry skaters, as a first step in the right direction. Yes, if not too late; for as he stepped out into the darkness a scream rang out sharp and clear which thrilled him through, and all the ground under his feet was soft and yielding, the sky gloomy with clouds.
but a short distance, and he was there. Bill and Fred Lester came scudding past him.
"What is it?" he asked, hearkening in his anguish for what he knew would be the answer. "Luke has fallen through the ice; John is with him, and we are running for a rope.”
Ah, children! was that dark thought of the afternoon about to become true? Was Luke-his enemy-about to go down to darkness and death at Christmas-time, because he had not warned him in his cool, wicked resentment of wrong? Ah! how trivial did that wrong now appear! As in a nightmare, he rushed to the edge of the ice. John was there, wringing his hands and crying
"Hold on, Luke! hold on!" too much distracted to try to save him. And Luke wailed out"Oh, 'tis so hard to hold on to ice! I'm slipping!" Ah! Willie, you took your life in your hand that night, and tried to undo, as it were, by a noble deed of daring that which had marred your coming Christmas-tide --that which, but for God's mercy, might have marred your life. Gliding, gliding on hands and knees, he reached him; inch by inch he drew him back, a weary way; but he saved him, and when Bill and Fred returned with the rope, the work was done--the rescue achieved.
"Willie, here are your skates. I said I'd be even with you, but now I never shall," said Luke, when able to speak, putting them into the other's hand, and bursting into a fit of passionate weeping. And Willie whispered
"All right, old fellow; forgive me in turn. 'Tis Christmas, when all debts are settled."
All debts settled and paid at Christmas! The brother and sister wept for very gladness at the thought, as they talked over the events of the day, its errors, and its peaceful ending, and lay down at last with the Christmas peace circling through the holly wreaths their hands had twined.
And when, on the morrow, they walked to church together, the bells chimed out nothing but peacethat grand old song of the angels, "Peace on earth, goodwill toward men." Once during service, when they were singing
"Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
Luke's eyes met Willie's, and Janie's met them both. Ah, children! none but themselves knew what that glancing together meant-none but they and God-that it was a thrilling and knitting together of hearts, a laying down of wrong and strife, by what they had suffered, by what had been vouchsafed to them, and, most glorious of all, by the remembrance of that greatest love and forgiveness which the world ever knew since it first began.
UST for one moment I want you to leave the stories and the pictures, and the poetry and the puzzles, and let me ask your attention whilst I speak about a matter in which your assistance is wanted. It is something that will tend to make the world better and happier, for it is a work of love in which I am going to ask you to engage ; and all of you, even the very youngest, can give his or her grain of help, so that in time, through many little grains, a great result for good can be obtained. An old song says, "It is love that makes the world go round," and a greater authority than the old song has said that "love is the fulfilling of the law;" and we can all understand this. So that you see love for all those who are around us is a very great power in the world for good, and the more of this love that we have in our hearts, and that we send forth in every direction, the better it will be for others and for ourselves. And wherever there are the poor, the sorrowful, the down-trodden, the weak, the defenceless, we must be ready to give them our care and consideration.
Amongst these latter we may reckon some who, though not weak and defenceless in one sense, are yet powerless to help themselves in another, and these are the creatures which the Creator in His great goodness has given for the use and service of man; and it is for these creatures that we wish to enlist your help and sympathy.
Not only do the animals afford us food and clothing, but they help us in our labours. What should we do without the horse to draw our burdens, or the patient ass? Or what would Eastern nations do without their camels? How much we should lose if we had not the faithful dog to show his devotion to us and to guard our property! Ah! if we should sit down and calmly consider what would become of mankind if all the animals
and birds and fishes were to die, we should find that we should be indeed in an unfortunate plight.
Now if the animals are of so much importance to us it is surely right that we should treat them properly, not only as a matter of justice and gratitude, but as a matter of benefit to ourselves, though this latter motive is not a very high one. Still there is no doubt that the better animals are treated the better work they will do for us, and the longer they will live; also the happier they will be. How much more invigorating to the willing horse the kindly word of encouragement than the angry blow! How much pleasanter to see the faithful hound bound forth to meet us joyfully than to see him crouch at the sound of our voices! We may be assured that the love and care that we bestow will be amply repaid, and we shall not only be doing our duty in the world, but we shall be doing God's work also. For in His commands to the Israelites of old He did not forget the animals. He commanded for them a day of rest as well as for man. He commanded also that if an ox, or an ass, or sheep should go astray, it should be taken care of by others until its owners should seek it out; and not only over mankind, but over every one of His creatures does He exercise a jealous care.
Therefore we learn that care for and kindness to animals is a work that finds favour with Him as well as with all good and thoughtful men.
Now it has always been desired in conducting this Magazine to encourage in all of you a spirit of kindness and thoughtfulness towards others. Hence it is that, in the various competitions, the Painting Books, the neatly-dressed dolls, the needlework, the toys, the scrap albums, and the many other articles which you have sent have been given to the little ones in the Children's Hospitals. With this object subscriptions have been raised by you for the two LITTLE FOLKS Cots that are now established in the East London Hospital for Children. And now it is proposed to do something for the
animal world, and to try to raise in the heart of each girl and boy who reads this Magazine that kindly consideration of the claims of all living creatures that are useful to man, that will not only benefit the dumb creation, but be of benefit to ourselves. For those who are merciful will find that mercy
"is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes;" and, moreover
""Tis mightiest in the mightiest."
It is well for us all to take especial notice of thisit ennobles even those that are noble and great. Now too many boys are apt to think that the virtue of mercy and kindness is rather derogatory to manliness, and they would be almost ashamed to be seen abstaining from stoning frogs, or to be caught in the act of saving a drowning kitten, or rescuing some snared and wounded bird, or in any way to show a tender-heartedness that might lay them open to the charge of being womanish and wanting in spirit. But it is nothing of the kind; the bravest hearts have generally the most tenderness in them. Cruelty and courage are by no means necessary companions; it is far oftener cruelty that goes hand in hand with cowardice. Who does not know that the bully, who pinches the smaller boys and pulls their hair, and cuffs them when opportunity offers, is the one to roar the loudest when he gets the thrashing that he well deserves?
We all know this well enough, and that to care for the down-trodden and defenceless raises a brave true spirit; and, therefore, as all of you will like to grow up to be brave, noble, thoughtful men and women, with courage to do right (and it sometimes wants a good deal of courage to take part with the animals, as theirs is the weak side), it is my desire to lead your minds in this direction by forming an association which I propose to call "THE LITTLE FOLKS' HUMANE SOCIETY."
And now, it will be asked, in what way is it intended to form this Society. I will tell you. First of all, I invite every reader of this Magazine and every other boy or girl who is willing to co-operate with us in our undertaking, to copy out on half a sheet of note-paper the following form of promise:To the Editor of LITTLE Folks. [Here insert full name]
hereby undertake, as far as it lies in my power, to be kind to every living creature that is useful and not harmful to man.
Having signed this, and the signature having been duly attested by a parent, minister, teacher, or other responsible person, I ask you to forward the written undertaking, addressed to "The Editor of LITTLE FOLKS, La Belle Sauvage Yard, Ludgate Hill, London, E.C.," with "LITTLE FOLKS Humane Society" written in the left-hand top corner of the envelope; and on its receipt by me, the name of the sender, who will now have become a Member, will be inscribed in the Register of the Society; and each Member's name (with his or her number) will also be printed in LITTLE FOLKS, as showing they belong to the Society.
Besides printing these names in the Magazine, I shall be prepared to furnish Certificates of Membership. These will be on small cards [size four inches wide and three inches deep]; and any member who may desire to possess one will be enabled to do so by sending to me a stamped addressed envelope-which, by the way, should be rather larger than the card referred to.
Next it is intended to offer from time to time-to Members of the Society-Prizes in Books and Medals of the LITTLE FOLKS Legion of Honour for Essays on given subjects in the direction of Kindness to Animals; you are invited also to send brief Anecdotes of Animals, descriptions of especial pets either of your own, or others, &c.; and, as soon as you are able to do so, I shall be glad to receive short letters offering suggestions as to carrying on this good work, or narrating incidents in your own experience either in regard to the progress and working of our Society or in connection with the subject of Kindness to Animals generally. The first, and sometimes the second, Prize Essays, as well as selections from the other communications to which I have referred, will be printed in LITTLE FOLKS. The subject of, and the Prizes offered for the opening Essay are indicated on the next page; and for other contributions that are printed-such as Anecdotes, &c.-bronze Medals of the LITTLE FOLKS Legion of Honour, and in special cases Book Prizes, will be awarded.
Further, in order that the efforts of such of my readers who may desire to take a more prominent and active part than others in promoting the cause of Kindness to Animals may not be unrecognised, it is proposed to confer the rank of "Officer" of the Society on every boy or girl who shall by his or her individual endeavours induce not fewer than fifty others to join it; and to each of these subject to his or her forwarding to me their own and the fifty written promises by other boys or girls, with the signatures duly attested, and satisfying me that they have been obtained by their influence-the Officer's Medal of the LITTLE FOLKS Legion
of Honour, and with it a small Book, will be awarded.
For our first Prize Essay-open only to those who shall have enrolled themselves as Members of the Society-the following subject is chosen : "The Uses and the Benefits of the LITTLE FOLKS Humane Society;" and the Prizes offered are a Guinea Book, and a Medal for the best Essay, and a Seven Shilling and Sixpenny Book and a Medal for the best Essay (on the same subject), relatively to the age of the Competitor, so that no Member will be too young to try for this Second Prize. The Essays must not exceed 500 words in length, and all Competitors must be under the age of 17 years. Essays must be certified as strictly original by a parent, minister, teacher, or other person of responsible position, and must reach me on or before the 10th of January (the 16th of January for Competitors residing abroad). In addition to the two prizes and medals, some of the most deserving Competitors will be included in a Special List of Honour.
The first list of Members of the LITTLE FOLKS Humane Society-which will include all those who have enrolled themselves, and forwarded their written promises, up to the 10th of January-will be printed in the March Number of LITTLE FOLKS; the second list-comprising those enrolled between the 10th of January and the 10th of February-will appear in the April Number; and so on month by month-thus forming a record of the progress of the Society.
The plan and scope of the LITTLE FOLKS Humane Society-which will of necessity develop in its various features as time goes on-are now before you, and I ask all of my readers, young as well as old, who would like to take part in our great undertaking, to send in their names, as well as to
induce others to join, as soon as possible; and as I have already said, you can do so with the assurance and the knowledge that you are engaging in and organising a grand and good work. It is, we all know, never too soon to begin to do good in the world; to enlist ourselves as soldiers, and fight as hard a battle against evil as though we were armed with "pike, and gun, and bow." The dumb creatures around us need all our help; they suffer greatly at the hands of man, and have many wrongs that we can aid in redressing. Some of these cruelties and wrongs come from ignorance, and it is by forming such societies for the young as that which is now proposed to you that much ignorance will be taken away, much knowledge gained, and much benefit will result to the animal world at large. And so I ask you to consider the new Society, and to decide whether you will join us in helping those who cannot help themselves, who cannot even speak of their wrongs, since the gift of human speech is not theirs. You are asked to succour those who, in spite of the ill-treatment they too often receive at the hands of man, are still his willing patient helpers, whose faithfulness, love, and gratitude may often put ours to shame.
As I began, so I end, by telling you that Love is the greatest power in the world for good; and the more we have of it in our hearts for all living creatures, the more shall we be drawn to love and reverence their Maker, for,
"He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
All things, both great and small;
(See Coloured Frontispiece.)
O you're caught at last, you careless cat!
Why, you've smashed my plate, and spilt my cream,
So high in every one's esteem,
Would prove such a monster; and yet I deem
You thought you would like just one sly taste
Now, pussy dearest, what can I do,
I'll put you in print in a tale that's true ;