NOVEMBER winds were blowing wildly, scattering dry, dead leaves before them, whirling the dust into people's faces, and moaning round the houses as though they were lamenting for the dead and gone summer. It was the day before Thanks-giving. Most families in Hillsdale were getting ready to keep it merrily; but there homes in which there were no sounds of cheerful preparation, and to which the returning holiday brought no joy. One was a stately mansion on the square, where the richest and finest citizens of the place resided; the other a little cabin on the outskirts, where Mrs. Le Mont, a French widow, took in washing and ironing. Both Mrs. Lowell in the mansion and Mrs. Le Mont in the cabin were fully agreed upon one thing, namely, that God had not been good to them, and that they had nothing whatever to thank him for.

"What shall I order for dinner tomorrow, Hannah?" said Mr. Lowell, as he buttoned his overcoat, and drew on his gloves, before going to his office. "I thought perhaps you would like to invite Sister Louise and her boys, and have something extra, as we used to in old days."

The lady hardly looked up from the sewing, which was in her hands. The expression of her face was sad and severe.

"I want nothing more for dinner tomorrow than we have every day, James; and as for asking Louise, I cannot do it. Since little Jessie died, I have not felt that there was any pleasure left in life, and I cannot assume what I do not feel."

"But, my dear, we might at least try to make somebody else happy, if we have little happiness ourselves. I have thought a great deal this week about that passage in Nehemiah which our minister read last Sabbath morning. Do you remember it?"

"No; I was not listening. There is a little girl in our church who looks like Jessie, and the last three Sabbaths she has sat just where I could see her sweet, dimpled face. It is a sorrowful sort of comfort to gaze at her. Have you observed the resemblance?"

"Yes, dear, it is little Elise Le Mont; she is in the class just higher than the infant class. 

Her teacher tells me that her mother is very poor, though she has seen better days. 

But now for the verses."

Turning quickly to Nehemiah 8:9, 10, Mr. Lowell read these words, his wife stopping her busy needle to attend, for she, too, honored the good book: 

"This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord. Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

If any of my little friends want to know why grand old Nehemiah, as brave a hero as ever walked the earth, read the law to the people, and if they want to know where he read it, and why the devout Jews were moved to tears, they must just read the whole book. It is a book for boys to read, boys who like to hear stories of great men, and of dangers and fights. But I have not time to tell them more about it now.

When Mr. Lowell had closed the Bible, his wife said, in a softer tone than she had formerly employed,"Do as you please about tomorrow, dear. I don't think I can enjoy the day, but you may order what you like, and send home enough to make a Thanksgiving feast for that child and her mother. I'll see that it is nicely cooked and packed, and so we'll keep one part of Nehemiah's counsel. If you wish, I'll have them here, and Louise too."


Meanwhile in the bare little cabin where Elise lived there was not much pleasure. 

Elise herself was seated close to the fire, with her little New Testament in her hands. Her mother was ironing, fluting aprons, pressing collars, crimping ruffles, doing it all beautifully, and rebelling in her heart against God, who had let her   become so poor that she had to do it. She ought to have been glad that she knew how, and had the opportunity to exercise her skill, but she did not look at it in that way. Holiday gladness was a mockery to her. When she remembered the days, not so long ago, when her husband was living, and his ample salary supported them in luxury, and then thought of the good times other people were having, it caused anger and discontent to burn in her breast.

Yet the little bit of a home would not have been so bad, if there had only been heart's-ease in it. It was clean. It was warm. It was shining. Morning-glories had wreathed it for weeks on the outside, and even now, great clumps of white and crimson chrysanthemums were blooming cheerily in the cold air, and tossing their heads gayly, as the first snow of the season came sifting down. By and by, Mrs. Le Mont, having spoken harshly to Elise, began to feel sorry, and so she told her to put on her bonnet and shawl, and run out to gather some flowers.

Elise lifted her sweet face from the Sabbath-school lesson she had been studying. 

"Will you hear me say my verses first, mamma?" she said.

Had the passage been chosen to reprove her for her want of trust in the Father, and for her jealousy of his way of dealing, Mrs. Le Mont wondered. No, it was simply in the course the little girls were committing to memory from the Sermon on the Mount.

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"

Thus, over the gentle words of the great Teacher, the clear voice went on, gathering strength as it proceeded, till it came to the climax "For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. "Elise tripped away, satisfied that she could repeat her task perfectly. Mrs. Le Mont finished the baby's dress she was fluting, the evil spirit in her heart driven out by the wisdom which was from above. 

She determined that though she could not rejoice as women did who had husbands to live and work for them, though the few dollars in her little worn pocketbook would not do much more than pay the rent, and though there was no song of gratitude in her heart, she would try to be amiable and kind to Elise. There was comfort in the assurance, though she was not willing to believe that it was fully meant for her: "Your Heavenly Father knoweth. "Elise came in loaded with flowers, their breath filling the little room with aromatic perfume. She filled the big china bowl, the blue pitcher, and both the glass vases, and then there were plenty left. 

She put these all together in a tin pan. Toward evening a thought came to her.

"Mamma," she said, "if you please, I'd like to take a nice large bouquet of our flowers to that lady who wears the long crape veil, and who looks as if she had forgotten how to laugh. Her husband is our superintendent."

"Well," said the mother," you may; but hasten, it's getting late, and it will be dark early."

So, her hands full of white and red blossoms, the child went down the little garden path; but at the gate she stopped, for there stood the very lady she was thinking of, and beside her a stout Irish girl carrying a package and a heavy basket. The lady's face had a new brightness, as of one interested in the world again. She came in, saying, as she took an offered chair,

"Pardon me, Mrs. Le Mont, if I intrude; but two years ago, I buried a sweet daughter just the age of your little girl. Jessie was the idol of my heart, and I have been, oh, so lonely, so rebellious, since she went away! But I don't know how or why,   exactly, today there has come a change. I seem to feel again that God cares for me, and that I have something to praise him for. I have brought some of my darling's things to your little one, and I have decided to have what we have not had in two years, a Thanksgiving dinner. My sister will be there with her sons, and I want you and Elise to come, too. Meanwhile may I leave you something to please Elise?"

Out of the basket the maid brought sugar, rice, preserves, and pumpkin pies golden brown. The closet was filled, each empty shelf laden. The lady herself opened the package and took out a red cloak, a winter dress of rich, bright plaid, a hat and shoes, for the wondering and delighted little Elise. And though it cost the stricken mother a pang to part with these mementoes of her lost darling, yet her heart was filled with a strange, peaceful pleasure.

And on the morrow, as a merry party, after worship in the church, surrounded the dinner-table at Mr. Lowell's, all united in spirit in the words of thanksgiving he uttered: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." 

Margaret E. Sangster.