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GEORGE AND HIS RABBIT. GEORGE RUSSEL had once a happy home. It was a white-washed cottage by the sea-side, where the winds sang their melodies and the big waves beat time. But it was not the winds, nor the waves, nor the whitewashed cottage, but the kind faces and true hearts that used to gather round the home fireside, that made George love the spot so well and miss it so much. He remembered the time when his father, who was captain of a ship, used to return laden with presents from distant lands. He recollected how the sorrow of separa. tion was brightened by the prospect of those days to which his mother looked so eagerly forward, when her husband might resign his sea-faring trade and live at home on the savings he had so hardly earned. She felt the more anxious about this, as her own health, never robust, was gradually declining, and she dreaded the thought of leaving her only child to the care of those who might not bring him up, as she had sought to do, for God and heaven.
But the last parting in this world was over. Captain Russel had devoted all his savings to the purchase of some shares in a vessel built for the West Indian trade ; had taken her on the trial trip, but never returned ; for on her homeward journey the brig struck on a rock and went suddenly down with her valuable cargo, and far more precious burden of human life. The severity of this blow was too much for the widow's failing strength, and, leaving her dear child little else except the priceless legacy of a mother's example, her instructions, and her prayers, she was laid in the still grave-yard, in the good hope of a glorious reunion with those she loved, on that morning of joy when both grave and sea shall give up their dead.
A poor woman took George to her humble dwelling, and treated him as one of her own children, until the
arrival of an uncle who resided in a distant county. And gladly would the orphan boy have remained among the friends of his childhood, instead of going away with a strange man, rough in his looks, and most unlike what he had fancied a brother of his own dear father could be. A few days were sufficient to dispose of all the property left at the widow's death, which consisted only of the neat, well-kept furniture of her house. However, small 28 was the sum got by the sale, it would have been quite enough to supply George's wants until he was able to earn for himself, if it had been placed in honest hands. But “ honest hands were what Michael Russel did not possess; for honour and honesty soon leave the man who loves strong drink, and instead of planning how he might lay out the money for the orphan's benefit, he spent it on his own indulgence. So, with many a tear George left the house where he had been born, the garden where he had played, and his mother's grave.
It was Saturday evening when George arrived at his new home, after a very long railway journey, which had not been made pleasanter by his uncle's company. While daylight lasted he amused himself by watching the passengers who got in and out of the train ; and even when the last ray of sunshine was gone he had still his little rabbit, the beautiful white rabbit his father had brought him, on which he might pour out the warm love that no one seemed to value now. Yes, and he had one more relic of home : just when leaving, an old sailor, who had known his family, thrust a small well-worn Bible into the little bundle he carried in his hand, telling him it was his mother's, which he had bought at the auction to give him, that by its blessed light he might steer across life's stormy sea to the quiet haveri where his parents had already gone.
George was a sensible boy, and tried to make the best of everything; but though he did not expect to find his uncle's house like the one he had just left, he was little prepared for the scenes of misery that awaited him. His aunt was a careworn woman,
and cold indeed was the welcome the poor boy received. But on the evening of his arrival George was tired, and, scarcely tasting the supper placed before him, he was glad to retire to the garret where he was to sleep. After kneeling in prayer beside the coarse bed, as he used to do near the little white couch where a mother's soft hand smoothened every fold, and her lips were ready with the good-night kiss and blessing, the burden of sorrow seemed lighter, and he fell asleep repeating to himself the Saviour's own sweet words, " I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
The sabbath dawned on hall and cottage, and George waked up refreshed by the night's sleep, and fearing, from the quietness of the house, that his uncle and aunt had gone to the house of God without him, hurried down stairs. He waited what seemed hours to him, and though the pealing bell told him it was time to go to Divine worship, no one appeared in the disordered kitchen. By and by his aunt came out of her room and began to bustle about for a late breakfast, and George heard a hoarse voice, which he knew was his uncle's, telling him to go to a public house at the corner and fetch him some ale. George was stunned by such an order, for he had always been taught to regard sabbath-breaking in any form as a dreadful sin, and gently urged that “perhaps uncle had forgotten that it was Sunday.”
“Go this moment,” said his aunt, with a blow : “ do you fancy you have come here to be an idle gentleman ?" “ I will work as hard as you please on weekdays," replied George, “ but I will not, I cannot buy on Sundays.” “Then go up to your bed, you bad boy; you shall not taste a bit this day.”
A long, quiet, hungry day George had up in his little garret; but still, it was better than the company and the feasting down stairs. He had his white rabbit, which he rejoiced to think was not hungry, though its master was, for he had brought a good supply for it from home. He had his Bible, where he read the sweet promises of his Father in heaven to all those who trust in him through Christ, and with a full heart he asked his forgiveness and help.
Day after day passed on, and George's position was little improved. However, he bore up with a brare spirit, and never murmured at the constant work his aunt gave him to do, though sometimes it overtasked his strength, and he longed for a little leisure, or a cheering word. Many a time he was tempted to run away and look for work among strangers; but duty told him that would not be right. At last, however, he resolved to ask leave to
and one evening, when his uncle was more sober than usual, he told him how he had often wished to be a sailor like his father, and thought if he went to a seaport some captain might give him a berth as cabin-boy. Quite unexpectedly, his uncle agreed that it would be the best thing