ALICE‚ÄôS TALENT.



ALICE sat with her Bible on her lap. She had been reading, but now she sat very still, with a troubled look on her face. "Oh dear!" said she after a while, "I don't believe I have got any talent. Now, there's Emma, Miss Wilson says she certainly has a talent for music, and Lou Benson can draw anything she sees, and is going to take painting lessons; but I don't seem to have a talent for anything. Maybe it only means grown people; but then the verse says, 'He called his own servants,' and oh, I do want to be one of the Lord's servants!" 

And one or two tears fell on Alice's open Bible.

Aunt Bell happened to pass through the room just then, and noticing Alice's downcast face, stopped to ask, "What is the matter with this little girl?"

"Because, oh, because I don't seem to have any talent, Aunt Bell."

"Let us read those verses over together, dear," said Aunt Bell. "It is a good thing to think about what we are reading, Allie, even if we cannot discover at once what our talent may be."

So Alice and Aunt Bell read the parable together.

"Do you notice, Alice, it says to every man according to his several ability? What does that mean, do you think?"

"As much as he was able to have, or to do; don't it, auntie?"

"Yes; and I do not think the Bible anywhere tells us we must do any more than we are able to do. God gives each one of us talents according to our several ability. You are only a little girl, and he requires of you only a little girl's work."

"But what can I do, auntie? I can't sing in the choir, as Emma does; 

I can't give to our mission society, as Lizzie Barr does, for her father gives her more for her monthly spending money than I can have in a whole year; I'm not smart about writing compositions, as Nellie Grifford is. 

So what can I do?"

"All those things are talents, certainly. But, Allie, did you ever think about opportunities. There's a great talent given to all." Somebody called Aunt Bell just then, and with a hasty kiss to her little niece she left the room.

"Opportunities!" said Alice, going slowly down stairs, "I believe I'll go over to Nellie Gifford's, and talk with her about it. Maybe we can find some opportunities to do good."

She was taking her hat from the rack when brother Will came whistling through the hall. 

"O Allie!" said he, "you're the very girl I'm looking for. I want these gloves mended, please, and a button on my overcoat, and I'm in a hurry. Alice was about to say, "I'm in a hurry, too;" but she kept back the disobliging words, and only said, "Wait till I get my basket."

Then she sat down and mended the gloves, replaced the missing button, and neatly sewed a ripped place in the overcoat lining.

"I wonder if this can be called an opportunity," she said aloud, as she worked, forgetful of her brother Will's presence; for he had taken up a newspaper, and was half hid behind it.

"To be sure it can," said Will, laughing. "A very good one for me too. 

I advise you, Allie, always to make the most of opportunities, when you can help people as nicely as you are doing now."

"I was thinking about the talents," said Alice, simply. "What is yours, Will?"

"It seems to be to make work for a dear little sister. Really, I'm afraid I don't think as much about that as I might or ought. Is that done? I'm much obliged." And Will kissed her, and went off in a quick way, as if he feared she would say more.

Dear little Alice! She did not know how she had improved two opportunities, and that her words were stirring her brother's conscience uneasily.

"It's too near lunch-time to go to Nellie's now," thought Alice.  I can read my' Life and Adventures in Japan' until the bell rings." But as she went into the sitting-room, where she had left her book, grandma, who was engaged in knitting, said: "Can my little girl stop long enough to pick up these stitches for grandma? 

My old eyes won't let me see to put them on just right."

So Alice patiently took up the dropped stitches in grandma's knitting, and the lunch-bell rang just as she finished. She could not help giving a little sigh as she thought of her book; but grandma stroked the curly hair, and thanked her in a way that made Alice feel that grandma knew of the small self-denial. Somehow grandma always seemed to know about things without any one's telling her. In the afternoon Alice had to go to her drawing-class. When she came home and was laying off her wraps in the hall, she heard mother and Aunt Bell talking in the parlor.

"I was in to see Mrs. Elton this morning," said Aunt Bell; she has been so shut up all winter; she has no nurse, and cannot leave her baby."

"I have missed her from church and prayer-meeting," said mother; "she used to go so regularly."

Alice went into the next room and sat down with her book, but some way she kept thinking about Mrs. Elton and the prayer meeting.

"Oh dear!" said she to herself, "this isn't my opportunity. I want to go to prayer-meeting myself."

"You could stay one evening with Mrs. Elton's baby, just one evening" said a voice in her heart. Alice put away her book, and went to find her mother.

"Mamma," said she very slowly, and coloring a good deal, "would you care if I went over to Mrs. Elton's and took care of her baby, so she could go to prayer-meeting?"

"Certainly not, my dear. I think it would be a very kind, neighborly thing for a little girl to do; but be very careful with baby."

"Indeed, it's very good of you, Allie," said Mrs. Elton, when Alice made known her errand. "I have wanted to go so much."  Alice took faithful care of her little charge, and felt not a little weary when the mother returned. But Mrs. Elton's brightened face and heartfelt thanks were a sweet reward for her hour's work, and her own heart told her it was more blessed to give than to receive.

"Has Allie found any opportunities today?" asked Aunt Bell, as she told Alice goodnight.

"So many, auntie, that I feel almost afraid of such a great talent. Though, to be sure, I have done only very little things."

"Your Bible says,' Despise not the day of small things.' There are few of us, dear Allie, who do realize what a great talent opportunity is. In the meanwhile, look for it, and try to trade talents." 




S. S. Times.