|What can be the matter with Walter,| thought Mama Ellis as she sat sewing in her pleasant sitting-room. |He came in so very quietly, closed the door gently and I think I even heard him go to the closet to hang up his books. Oh! dear. I hope he isn't going to have another attack of 'Grippe,'| and Mrs. Ellis shivered as she glanced out at the snow-covered landscape. As her eyes turned once more to the warm, luxurious room in which she was seated, the portieres were pushed aside and a little boy of ten years of age entered. Little Walter was all that remained of four beautiful children, who, only a year ago, romped gaily through the large halls. That dread disease, diphtheria, had stolen the older brother and laughing little sisters in one short week's time, so that now, as the sad anniversary came near to hand, Mrs. Ellis' heart ached for her lost birdlings and yearned more jealously than ever over her remaining little one. Today his usually merry face was very grave and he looked very thoughtful as he gave his mother her kiss and allowed himself to be drawn upon her lap.
|What ails mother's Pet? Is he sick?| she asked anxiously.
|No, Mother dear, I'm not sick, but I feel so sad at heart. You see,| he continued in answer to her questioning look, |Robbie Goodman and I always walk together going and coming from school, and I have noticed that he has never worn any overcoat this winter, but you know its been unusually warm and I thought perhaps his mother did not make him wrap up like you did me, but this morning it was so cold and he was just shivering, but he never had on any overcoat -- just his mittens and muffler and cap were his wraps. Of course I noticed it, for nearly everyone else was all bundled up; but I didn't say anything as I did not want to be impolite. After awhile he said, 'My, I am so cold,' and I said: 'Where's your overcoat?' Then he told me it was too small and his papa can't buy him any this winter so he is afraid he will have to stop school. His mama says she would cut his papa's up for him, only then he would not have any; and of course he must have one to wear when he goes to the chapel and to see sick people. Even that one is thin and patched. He says he and his little sisters have been praying so hard for an overcoat for him and shoes for them, but they did not come at Christmas like they thought they would, and they are real discouraged.
|Tonight, Mother,| continued Walter, |he had an awful cold and coughed just like our Harry did last year,| and the long pent up tears flowed from the child's eyes. As mother and son dried their tears, the child looked up with perfect confidence as he said, |The Lord will answer Robbie's prayer, won't he. Mama?|
|Yes darling,| said Mrs. Ellis; and sent the child off to the play room.
|By the way, my dear,| remarked Mrs. Ellis as they sat chatting at the tea-table after Walter had retired, |what has become of that preacher Goodman who preached for us once on trial?|
|Oh, he has a mission down on the other side of the city, but he lives on this side as Moore gives him the house rent free. I met him the other day. He looked very needy. The man had wonderful talents and might have a rich congregation and improve himself; but he is persistent in his ideas concerning this holiness movement, and of course a large church like ours wants something to attract and interest instead of such egotistical discourses. I, for one, go to sleep under them.| And Mr. Ellis drew himself up with a pompous air as he went into the library, whither his wife presently followed.
He had picked up a newspaper and was apparently absorbed, but Mrs. Ellis had not had her say, so she continued |Walter was telling me about the little boy. He -- |
|Oh, yes,| interrupted her husband, |he met me in the hall and poured out the whole story. The child's nerves were all wrought up, too. He should not be allowed to worry over such things. He wants me to give up buying him the fur-trimmed overcoat and get a coat and shoes for Goodman's children, as they were praying so hard for them, but I have enough to do without clothing other people's children. If Goodman would quit his cranky notions and use his talents for people who could understand him, instead of preaching to those ragamuffins he might now be receiving a magnificent salary and clothing himself and family decently.|
|But Paul,| said Mrs. Ellis, |Surely you would not have Mr. Goodman sacrifice his convictions simply for money and praise, when you yourself, are convinced that his doctrines are sound? Besides he must be doing a good work down among the poor classes of the city as it appears the rich don't want him.|
|Then let the poor give enough to keep him.|
|They do give far beyond their means but the Lord calls on such as us to give. I know it has been an unusually hard year but the Lord has blessed us and He will hold us to an account. I feel very sad as the anniversary of our darlings' departure draws near and I dread to think of any little ones suffering while we could so easily help them.|
|I don't see how you can feel that we have been so blessed. When the house is so quiet and I think of those white graves in the cemetery I confess I feel very bitter.|
|Paul, my dear husband, don't feel that way. Just think of our three treasures in heaven, an added claim to that glorious realm, away from this cold and suffering. Remember also that we have one left, to live for, to train. And, Paul, let us train him for the Master and in such a way that we may never have the feeling that it were better if he, too, had departed when he was pure and innocent. Let us encourage benevolence and gentleness and if he wishes to go without the fur-trimmed coat, why not do as he asks?| Mrs. Ellis kissed her husband and quietly left the room.
Long and late, Paul Ellis sat there and many things, ghosts of the past, rose before him. As the midnight chimes rang out he knelt and prayed. |Oh, Lord, forgive me. I have gone astray and turned to my own way. I have been prejudiced. It was my influence which turned the tide against Robert Goodman. Thou knowest. Now, if Thou wilt only forgive and help me I will walk in the light as Thou sendest it, even consenting to be called a 'holiness crank.'|
A few days afterward Robert Goodman received a large package from an unknown friend containing a warm overcoat and three pairs of shoes. His father also received a present. It came through the mail and was an honest confession of a wrong done him, also a check for one hundred dollars. One year later this church gave a unanimous call to Brother Goodman and the revival which broke out that winter was unprecedented in the annals of that church. Verily, |A little child shall lead them.|
-- Luella Watson Kinder, in Christian Witness