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At last she came, leaning heavily on Mary's arm, and so tired out that she could hardly stand, and was glad of Charlie's help as well, across the room to the armchair by the fire. Then Mary whispered to her brother that father was very bad, and the doctors did not think he could ever get over it. You may guess that it was evening for them all.

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A week passed, and Charlie's father had fortunately begun to mend, but so very slowly that the doctors said it would be months before he could work again.

It was a hard winter: both food and coals were dearer than they had been for years, and without her husband's earnings Mrs. Davies found that she could hardly make both ends meet, though she and Mary worked harder than ever at their washing; so on the Saturday week after her husband's accident, she told Charlie that she feared he must leave school, and try if he could earn something to help her. Charlie was very much pleased at the idea; he felt as if it would be getting nearer to being a man to go to work, and he imagined halfa-dozen times in the course of the evening, how he should give his first week's wages to his mother, and what he would say.

"You must not be disappointed, Charlie, if you cannot find work directly," his mother said, interrupting him in his fancies. "There are not very many people who will give wages to a boy as young as you are."


'Why, mother, I'm twelve; and if I'm not so tall, I'm very strong I'm sure."

"I do think I heard this very morning," cried Mary," that Jackson, the stationer, wanted a boy to take out parcels, and do odd things in the shop; you must try there, Charlie."

"I'll go first thing; I wish it was Monday now.” Leaving school was the first thing Charlie thought of when he woke next morning. He was so full of the news, that he could not help telling it to some of his companions at the Sunday-school, and thus got several reproofs for talking from his teacher. This was a very unusual thing, the only fault about which he had often been spoken to being that sad habit of being late; and when his mother reminded him at dinner time, that the Sunday-school would now be his only time for improvement, he felt very much vexed that he had allowed himself to be so inattentive, and tried by the greatest diligence, in afternoon school, to make up for it as much as he could.

Monday morning came at last, and away Charlie ran to Jackson, the stationer's, as soon as he had had his breakfast, When he reached the door he found a schoolfellow of his, a boy about a year older than himself, come on the same errand, and they went in together. A stranger would certainly have expected Mr. Jackson to choose Charlie, who was a very bright, active-looking little fellow, rather than his companion, an awkward dull-looking boy; but directly that Charlie rather shyly

began to ask for his place, Mr. Jackson interrupted him with a disagreeable laugh.


'No, no, youngster, you needn't think anybody would choose you for an errand boy; haven't I seen you, day after day, idling about the streets here, when you ought to have been in school? You'd be doing the same with the newspapers in the mornings, I suppose; and people are always particular to have them in time."

"Indeed, sir, I would always take them as fast as I could," said Charlie; "I would never play at all."

"I would sooner believe my own eyes, lad; I know you are always loitering and playing about." "I haven't done so for a long time, sir," said Charley, indignantly; "ask the master of our school, and he'll tell you so."

"Well, I wouldn't trust you anyhow, so you needn't stop here any longer. Dick Winter will suit me better, I've never seen him at play in the road."

It was hard that Dick, who was such a stupid boy, so much below Charlie in school, should get a place before him, and he looked very proud and disagreeable about it. But Charlie, who did not like to show how disappointed he was, ran off without saying anything more. He spent the whole morning in going about the town trying to find work, but he could hear of none, and at dinnertime was obliged to go home and tell of his want of success.

“And why would not Mr. Jackson have you, Charlie ?" asked Mary.

Charley hung his head down very much as he answered, "'Cause he said he'd so often seen me idling about, when I ought to have been in school." "But you haven't done so lately; didn't he know you'd cured yourself of that ?"


"No, and he said he wouldn't believe it anyhow, though I told him to ask the master of our school." · Eh, Charlie, lad," said his mother as she put her hand on his head, and stroked his curly hair. "I hope thee will be a better man all thy life dear, for having found out now how far easier it, is to earn a bad character than to lose it again.”


One-two days more passed, and Charlie was almost in despair, he thought he should never be able to find any work at all, but on Thursday he was so fortunate as to get a place as errand boy in a shoemaker's shop, on the other side of the town from where he lived.

No boy could have been more quick or careful in carrying home the parcels than he was; and though he was often very tired when he came home at night, he never complained. As often as Saturday came, he found it as great a pleasure as he had fancied it would be, to give his wages to his mother, and hear what a help they were to her through the week. His father was still in the infirmary and getting better, though not nearly so fast as his children expected him to do. Now and then they went to see him for a little while,

for though he was too weak to talk much himself, he liked to hear what his children were doing; and Charlie's praise of Mary, who took such care of Mother, and Mary's of Charlie, who had grown so thoughtful, and was so careful never to be late at work, were equally pleasant to him.

Late in the winter there came a few days' hard frost, and then a rapid thaw set in. As Charlie turned out of the lane into the high road, on his way to work in the morning, he stopped to look at the pond on which he and Willie had been having a famous slide during his dinner hour, only the day before. He thought it looked very tempting still, though the thaw would be sure to have made it unsafe long before noon, and very likely there would not be another good frost again this winter. He did not believe he should be late if he took one slide; and as he thought so, he sprang over the paling and stood at the edge of the pond. But there he stopped, for his conscience told him that he was going to do wrong, and that he would find it much harder to stop sliding after he had once begun, than to run away from the temptation now. Still he hesitated, it was so hard; but that good saying, which everybody should remember, "First do what you ought, and then what you like," came into his head. With a sigh, he resolutely turned away from the pond, and jumping over the paling again, ran quickly along the road to make up for lost time. It had been a hard struggle; how hard only those

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