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VERA'S HOLIDAY TASK.

CHAPTER II.

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HE following afternoon Mr. Lindsay and the children were all sitting on the shore when Ella suddenly asked:

"Are you going to make Vera have a holiday task, Mr. Lindsay?"

The tutor smiled as Vera looked up with rather an indignant face.

"You see, Vera," he began, "that holidays are very good things indeed, and so we must not throw them away. Your cousins have each a holiday task; they chose them themselves; but, having once been chosen, I do my best to see that they are properly done. And then at the end of the holidays we have good work to look back upon, and the happy feeling that we have not misused the good gift of playtime which God means all His children to thoroughly enjoy."

"My task is to keep my temper," said Hugo. "I'm such a passionate fellow generally. And it is a pretty hard one too."

"And mine," piped in Billy, "is to be obedient. That is the worst part of being the youngest, everybody is older than you. I've loads of 'betters'!" added the little girl with a sigh.

"So you have, Billy; never mind!" said Mr. Lindsay, amid the general laugh.

"And what is yours, Ella?" asked Vera, whose breath was taken away by this novel kind of lesson.

"To be unselfish. It is a frightful one for never getting done."

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And mine," said Jerry, "is not to be idle. I wish I had never settled on it, because it means other learning and reading too. I hate books, you know!"

"So, Vera, you can tell me what yours is to be," said Mr. Lindsay; "and then we will all try and help you to learn it."

"I cannot think of one," said Vera, doubtfully. "What do you generally get punished for?" asked Billy with interest.

"I never am punished," answered her cousin, smiling scornfully.

"Lucky for you," exclaimed Jerry. do when you are naughty?"

But what do you

"I never am naughty. You seem to take me for a baby."

The children opened their eyes wide; and Mr. Lindsay said quietly:

"I think, Vera, that babies are less naughty than everybody else. Your cousins are only thinking of you as one of themselves."

Vera's proud little face went crimson.

"I think you are all talking nonsense," she said, petulantly; "and I'm glad that I am not one of yourselves. Hugo may have a horrid temper, and Ella be selfish, and Jerry idle, and Billy disobedient-what do I care? But I am none of these things, so why should you bother me?"

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"Because, my child, it is a good thing to do some definite work for Christ in every circumstance of life. In schooltime there is much fixed work for children to do for Himindustry, obedience, doing hard things with all one's might, cheerfully and honestly, and a hundred other things. But in the holidays it is different. You have few rules and restraints; everything to please you, nothing to do but enjoy yourselves. And so I have tried to teach your cousins not to let this bright holiday be a worthless time: but in it to do some special work for Christ's sake, and as a sacrifice to offer it to Him. And this chance I now lay before you; take it or not as you like. It would lose its worth and beauty if it were not a free choice."

"I am not religious," said Vera with a funny tone of selfimportance. "We hardly ever go to church at home unless the music is to be special."

The tutor smiled.

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'My child, you are too young and ignorant to know what being religious means. But you have a Father in Heaven, whatever you are, dear; and He is willing to help you in every effort that you make for Him."

"I've no special thing that I could do," said Vera. "Indeed!" answered Mr. Lindsay, drily. "I should have thought that you had a good many."

"I don't know what you mean!" she flashed out angrily. "I am not bad tempered like Hugo, or selfish like Ella,

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"Excuse me," interrupted the tutor. "I think that you have a worse temper than Hugo, and are much more selfishi than Ella; as idle probably as Jerry-nobody could be more so-and certainly far more defiant than Billy. So don't deceive yourself, Vera. You have a great deal to do, whether you decide to do it or not."

"You are a horrid, untruthful, cruel man!" she sobbed, "and I wish I had gone abroad with my dear kind father and mother instead of coming to this hateful place!"

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Hush, hush! You forget what you are saying. But as you are alone, and a long way from home, suppose I forget it too? There, wipe your eyes, and we will go down to the others. They will show you all the wonderful things that are to be found on the rocks."

"They will see that I have been crying," grumbled Vera sullenly," and the boys will laugh."

"You are mistaken. Hugo and Jerry are little gentlemen, and they will not take notice of anything which you wish to conceal. Come along. Here is Ella running to meet us." "Oh, Vera!" she shouted eagerly. "Do come and help us to look for anemones. It is such fun!"

"Do you have fun on Sundays?" asked Vera, whose mind was running on the fact that her cousins were

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"Oh, you know!" and her voice dropped a little; "just living in Christ every day. It is not the things we do that make us good, but when Jesus Christ is with us, He sort of shines in us, you see.'

"Then what is the good of your holiday task if what you do does not matter?" persisted Vera.

"You don't understand. My holiday task is knocking down the barrier of selfishness which comes between Him and me. And besides, I like doing something for His sake; and though it may be only a little thing when I do it, when He accepts it, He makes it great."

"Come, Ella, look sharp!" shouted the boys. "We have found a good one."

"Oh no, stay and talk to me," said Vera. "I shall get my frock wet if we go over there."

Ella hesitated for a moment.

"I must go," she said as the boys repeated the summons. "We can talk another time."

Ella," said Mr. Lindsay, who was standing near enough to hear what was going on, "stay with your cousin. The anemone will keep, you know, but the opportunity will not." And he stroked her dark hair, and smiled encouragingly.

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Very well," she answered quickly. along the sands or sit down?

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"Shall we walk

"Walk." Then after a pause. "Should you have come with me if Mr. Lindsay had not told you to?"

"I hardly think I should," answered her cousin, frankly; "but that is how he helps us so much. We should often forget if it was not for him."

"I should not obey him if I didn't want to," boasted Vera.

"That is silly talk!" exclaimed Ella; "and you don't really mean it. So don't pretend to, because it makes people think about you what can't be true."

66 "What?"

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‘Oh, that you are awfully conceited and stupid; but of course you are not really. Look, there is a crab! Let us watch it crawl down to the sea."

And Vera became so engrossed with the progress of the crab, and then with the excitement of taking one home in a bucket for her very own, that she thought no more of her talk with Ella until she was in bed. Then she wondered what made her cousins look at everything so differently from herself. She thought it so grand to be disobedient and spirited; but Ella called it conceited and stupid. She had always imagined that for people to look pretty was the only thing that mattered; but these children seemed to think much more of whether people were nice. Her pride had been in successfully shirking her lessons; but Ella and Hugo spoke of ignorance as "so dull." And above all she had shrunk from the idea of being religious as something only fit for the poor, the old, and the sick; a prim, tiresome restraint, with which she would have nothing to do; but her cousins took it as a happy matter of course, and talked

as simply and naturally of Jesus Christ, as if He were with them in their homes and in their play, instead of only being preached about in church on Sundays. "But that can't be real!" she thought to herself as she settled off to sleep.

And there is nothing real without it. Poor, ignorant, little Vera!

SCRIPTURE EXERCISES.

QUESTIONS ON THE PROPHETS.

HAGGAI AND ZECHARIAH.

1. When these prophets appeared, who was the ruler of Judah, and who the high priest?

2. Who was the king of Persia at this time? Where else is he mentioned ?

3. What great work was just undertaken ?

4. What made the people slack in this work? 5. What evil result followed?

6. Under what designation does Haggai speak of Christ? What other prophet uses similar language?

7. What was Haggai's prophecy about the second temple?

8. What other prophet was named Zechariah?

9. How does Zechariah describe a city in time of peace? 10. Find in Zechariah passages that are applied to the following events in our Saviour's life, and give the places where they are alluded to in the New Testament:— (a) Christ's riding into Jerusalem.

(b) Judas' betrayal of Christ.

(c) The scattering of the disciples at that time.
(d) The crucifixion of Christ.

11. Whom does Zechariah intend by "The BRANCH"? 12. Find the following well-known expressions in this prophecy-"He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye":"Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit"; "The day of small things."

ANSWER TO ELLIPSIS EXERCISE.
No. II. p. 176.

If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.2 Cor. v. 17.

ANSWER TO EXERCISE II. p. 206.

(1) Matt. i. 21; (2) Mary, Luke i. 46, 47; (3) Prince, Acts v. 31; (4) Paul, xiii. 22, 23; (5) 2 Peter i. 1, 11; ii. 20; iii. 2; (6) Isaiah; (7) Jer. xiv. 8; (8) Jacob, Gen. xlix. 18; (9) Zech. ix. 9; (10) When visiting Zacchæus, Luke xix. 9; (11) Samaritans, John iv. 40-42; 1 John iv. 14; (12) Simeon, Luke i. 67, 69, 71, 77; (13) Acts ii. 36.

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