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The Little Heroine

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" Morning again !" and 'he weary, wasted invalid lifted hie bead trom the pillow and loiikod pitifitlly over the dim room. ' Oh, thttt the night had been ! To the wretehed, sleep i.s dear ! My poort wife - my darltog bubes - must tliey freze and starve ! O, God! it is tno miich !'' And with tears gusbing froto nis eyes, the pale man buiïed his head in t'is soanty covering, and groaned aloud. It was uo wonder he was out of heart on that coid, dark, Dec inber dav. At best, he liad a hard Mxuggle to get i'ood and elothes for his fainily, and for the past six months the struggle had been almo.-t desperate, for his wife had been uimble to assist hira in the least, being coiitined to the bed with aslovv, wasting diseaee, His littie daughter Marie, a pretty cl -ild of twelvo, kept tho one room tidy. and herself and tvvo little brottiers like wax. By tho uid of iier mothèr's whispered directions, she ali-o cnoked iho tseuiity meals, and even managed to do up the weekly wtshing and ironing " My little sunboaro,'1 the iather londly called her, wfile the mothor would sa}-, in her low , sweet tones " our angel -' Oi.e tiigbt the y ung housekeeper waited tilï it va# pileh dark for her f; the! to come home to his frugal supper, and tbea with teuríul forebc i insti ai her heart, undressed the little boys and put them to bed and tied on her bood and uloak to go for him. A crowd met her at the very ihreHhhold With a vvild ory,she rusbed townrds the inanimate lonn tiiey cai ried upon a board. It was her iather, brought home to them with a.broken leg. A week had passed -incethis misfortune. By the sala oí' their few pieces of lurnilure, the wolt liad beorí kept lnmi the door. But now, notliing remained savti tho coarse bed on which the dUtreesed ones lept. Nocoalsior the litilu grate; no tea for the feverish chilüren. VVhat shuld be done ? It was a question little Marie asked herself agaiu ai.d Bgain, as she lay there Watcbrug the few pale sunbeumB that stiuggled through the wiodöws. And she usked it oftenar alter she had ariscn and clressed herself and broth ers, and smoothed the two. beiJs. Bread they must have bat day. Thev were uil faint even now, and the boys elamoring for their breakfast. Öuddenly a bright thought carne to the liltle daughter .-he remembured baving mea in some coffeo-houses yvtmg girlf, no talier tbao he, -WHiüBg on euntomeiH. Perhaps they would tiy her. llf tiiey would,11 she mormúrtíd sohlv, " lam liandy, quiek, and patiant, and I would tiy bwd to oblige." Í am pretty, too, bemighl have added, had Hiere been a epark of va;.it, in her heart; lor she was a sweet child, witti a brow like a sminy miow drilt, and eyea like the spring violeta, that nes:lo in the wooulaiuls. " I vvill try, at leas, and see what I can do;" and alte: watching a lew moment the weary sleep of i her parents, she whispered to the littlo I boys that she was going out to get some bread for them, and hurried avvay. Bbe did go to the baker's, but her pitiful story failed to touch his hard heart, and thero were tears on her cold cheeks as she turned away. Even if ehe secured a place, she could hope for no wages till tíaturday, and thore were four weary days between this and that. Bread would be too latj if she waited till then. What ehould she do- beg Í Sbe asked herself the question with a quívering lip. Never before had their poverty dl iven them to that strait, and it was hard, even now, with ttie picture oí that wretched home fresh in her v.siou, to picad for charity. But she did it. Again and again slïe said to the passer by, " Please sir, please, ina'ara, give me a penny to buy bread for my sick purents.' But the gentlemen had their oyercpatg buttoned to Ü, and the ladies were etiveloped in furs, and it was too much trou' Ie to find their pocket books or puree?, just to eupply a beggar's wantf , ' Go to the soup-house," snid one, at ]iist.. more churlish than the rest. - " The city próvidos for such as ynu." It was :i néw dea t" lier, and fast as her Feet could car'ry tier she wout, and entering in breathl ss liaste, told her storv to the attendant niatron. "I ] report the case to the commitleo," said (lie vvoman quiotly, making n memorandum of the name nnd nnmher of the stret. " üorae in to morrow, and I wil] do whut I can for you." To-morrow ! Sha wonld ho to weak to walk so f ir by that tim, and what wóuld become of' the rest? With a heavy heart she went home, having no oonrüge to present herself as a waifor tn any of ihe coffeo liousea she passed on her way " Did you pret snrae ?" cried the boys. and they gathered ironnd her, puiling off hor cloak to eee ïf it was bidden itnder her apron nr lifrëer her arm. " Did you get some ?" said two fuint voices trom tlie bed in the corner, and the coverlet was thrown off utld two pair öf lliiu white put f'ortb, " N.. no," sho ansu'eri; .1, plaintively ; " bul I ill try ttgain Keep up good hope. There wi.l be plenty out of the oven now. Yes, plenty,' she s;.ii to herself as she buttoned her clo&k on the thrishold ; " plenty and I'll have some too thy shall uot starve. Men and vvoim:n forsakn me ; God doeao't hJeur me any ionger; there ia netbiag !eft for me to do bnt s''aL" Her face paltid as t,he spoke it, and for b êbw naomeüta thwe was a wretle n her liear . Then went on quiet ly, paiisiiifj: an instant before each bakerV wind v, and lookiag anxiously vvithin. Hy and by stio fouud one tliat suemed ein ly A wln.le üe of steain iog Idivt's hiy upon tlie emmter. Sho rushed in, and seizing one, and hidiog it under her cloak, Hed madly up the street. But the baker had ween hor frum the httle S(Uing rco . duo:-, and was after her, crying lustily, ''.stop ihief " A crowd foilo.vcd her, and tlie poor cfiild was soou ran down " A clear case," said tlie poiice officer who took her in hand - " proporty lound on her. She must goto the court-room." In vain she pleaded with them and told her story. " They must do their dut}7 ; she might have begged ; she migbt have gone to the soup house ; there was no excuse for stealing, at auy ra te." No excuse, and hor mothcr was Atj mg for food ! An important trial was just closing, and all the avenues to the court-house were thronged. "They will be tlirough soon," said the oficer to the baker; " we'll wait here a few moment. No d..ngerof her gettiag awa while rny grip is on her," and he tightened his hold on her shiinking arm, till the flush quivtsred with p,'un. " Take ne home first," she said sadly ; " hey will worry aöt)Ut meso. My poor Enother will die if io thinks I'm lost" " They will soon fiüd out where you are,'' sai I he, gr.itfiv. " B:td news is lilce Kghtaing; it truvels fut." "O, dear! What will beuorne of them ?'' and she sobbed aloud. A li tin jir, about lie" own age was passing by - a ricli man'schild; you would knoiv i, by the einbroidered diess and eloak, the rich velvet hood and the costly fur tippet and niufl. Bilt there vvas no f;ilse pride hiddeq under the expeusive raiment; a warm Leart was beati:;g there, umi its syra patines went out largely toward the poor little pris ner. l''r a raomenL, she paused, as if irresolute tipnn her plan of Bction ; then laying lier mittened hand geiitiy on tho otfiéer's, she siiid, politely : " Muy I speak with her?" "O, yes; t-he's not committeed yet." Putting her soft, rosy cFieek close to tbc purple-col'd one, shewhispered vory earnestly. Marie !o!d lier touubing story, a: d begge i she would, by the love she bore herown tnothur, find out thtir humble home, and comfort thu distressed ones." '■ I will, I vvill," the stranger replied earnestly ; "and don't you ory any more; my father knows the judge, and he'li . et you away to-morrow. Good bye - keep up a good beurt ;" and off she ran. Sho knevv her mother to bc one of the most eharitable of Wöttïen, and iiusU'iied home to teil her tstoty of Mu ne ; but, untorluiuitely, she had just go:ie tn riilo, and would not ha buck till near dinner time. " What can I do ?" .'he oried, and roikg liur bands. " They want èoai, and bread, and tea, and so many tliings; and I liave otily ten cents in my pocket." She sat down on the marbie steps and pondered All ut once her eyes brightened, and a beuutiful color ilushad her face. " I'll do it," she raid reolutelv ; " maniina v II me, when she knous all Wiihout tire, without tood, neurly ntiked, quite stxrved. O, sho wil. be glad 1 thmight hu far;" and he bouhdi d down the street and rushed around lliu corner. Pur-hing opmi tho plate-plo8 dr-or of the most hishiiHKibir hair-dret-ner ot the city, he uent quietly up to au attendi ant, and asked to see Monsieur IJ. : ITu otihered her into the inner room. aaying that hu would cali hiin. Her beart tluttered ehe wa ted, but ber röBolutioti did not lail lier. "Ah! c'est mi belU ThereB" and Monweur B. look her hind kinuly. " Good morning, dear. Come to hava your ringlets dressed ior the buil tonighi, ! - no,' as sha shook her baad i " et fuurquoi 1- you go certainly ; you 1 are oue ot monsieur's best pupils. - What is it ihen ma prtite ?" For a moment her lips quivored ; tben ha spoke up quiokly. " You Buid once, sir, you would givo me an eaglo ior my curls. Will you do it iKjw - to-day - this minutt ?" Tho hair-dreswer was astounded. What could the child mean 'i To cut I off those eurls, long, silken and gpld eolored, the pale gold of a stray nuti! beam - t would be Kacrilege uhnost for a Fnotber to have dono it; to sell thein was surely a crime. " Doea s;he, votre mere - doe3 she know you come here ?" " No, sir; but sho will not blame me when I teil her how it was. O, no, tibe is too good." " And how is it, ma helle - mako a I i fiiend of me, and teil me how it comes you ask me to bny your hair ? " and ' he stroke the glossy aurls as tenderly as a father might. Sho besítated, and then oponed her haait to hun. Tböre was a mist on his evos wbaa she fiaished he: plaintive story. Ho walked tbofloora moment as ií' rreaolute, then stopping before lier. he took out hi pocket-book, and baaded hor two half eagles, She put ihein in hor purso, and quietly took ofl" her bood. "!Not now, ma prtsc mere ange.'" he said, huskily; ' not odw, I am too busy ; to -morro w wil] do as well ; or. stay, 1 will come in this eveniog. Tul thon, do Dot uiention it to any nne. Go novy on your mission, ma swur de ckar ite," and he lod hor to tho door. How quiok her little feet flew over tho pavomonts. She ooúld hardty epeak vvhon sho had reachod a baker 'fc shop. " Tivo loavps, sir - large ones, too," she graspod. and throw douii one oí' the gold piecea. Ttie man stared at her ooriously. Tho color roso to hor brovv, but sha said oothing, a d hurried away witb üor wánn fragrabt hundió. " ís it yon, Murió? What kept you so long, üaughtor 'í Quiok, break me a crumb, I am laint." Liko an angel tho littlo stranger looked to the:i) as sho glided in. ht-r chueks liko upple blossoms, and her h.iir fiilhug over her ehouldar like rippies of suusbine, " Mario canaot come home yet," she said, in a voico that was gweet as a obliin's in May timo. ' But sbe will return tO-fnuriow; perhaps this evonni(. tího has sunt me witb tho bread. 8oe tho two muí! (pavea t'vo brought you," aud sho broke them ip fragineuts 'l'ears co'urutíd down hor cheeks as sho saw how eagerly they elutehed them Slio had never dieamed of pnvertv hke this; never known how hungry folks can be, and live. ' I niut go," sho said, opening the door; butl will come agwh bdoo aad raukeyou comfortable," mul she hurried to tho nearest grocer and brought a bask lull of provihioDs, and engagod him to send in soine kiudlings and coaf. '1 ho Hule boys holped horbuild a fitv. in tho cold stove, and vvhen il bl'azed merrily, she put over the kottles, aud liiiil boot] a roírehhing cap of tea for oach invalid, and a platter of smoking potatoes lor the children. " Wlieie is Marie, do you know, little angel ?" asked the sick moihor, as she gave bauk the cup. 11 Oh, yes, I know," she answored, chéerl'ully " Didn't I say she wonkí be home early to-morrow ? Doo't wor ry. JJeiter days are coniing. i'll bring her in the inorning. Good-by." It was as inought a tairy had come and vani-hed ; a kind 'leartod f'airy, too - for bosides the supply ol coal and food, a halí' eagle lay iu tho sick í'ather's hand. Murmuring to himself all the tender a jcc'.ivos in the French language, the good hair-dros.-er hastuiied to th.e co irt-room. The Judge was a friend of his, too, and he hopd to savo the child trom prison. blio liad not yet heen brought in, the court having adjourned iar half an hour. lio sked for a private interview witb the judge. As soon as it was granted, ho told bira all - Marie's dÍBtress, and the generous kindness of tho littte Thertese. " Poor child ! good child ! " sa'nl his listener, wiping his glaseas. íShe must go to prison, 1 supposu ; bu itshall bo a ehamber in iny own house. Go ato eourt and teil the same story over. lt will be betiei than a lawyer's plea." i!e did eo and there was not B dry evo n tho audiense w lien he ceased. Even the baker Imng his head, and seemed to muse. Bet'ore the breathies silenee had been bricen, he looked up :.nd s .id to the judge, " I withdl'uw my eomplaint ; let her go vcith me and take all she wants," The simcious room rang with applauue, and wiiilo tliu othusuiism was at its height, a tboughtful old man went about the crowd with his hat. People's fingers found their poeketbooks as by intjition, and when he rjoured the collection itito Maric's lap, the sereamed with joy. No more eold, mi mora hunger, no moro nakedness that winter; they ere rioh. The bauor took her home himolf, and told her at tho door not to worry about bread ti 11 spring, for hi.s wagon would leave tlieni all tlicy neectéd every rnorning. Huw liglitly she buuuded up the staifcase ! It was üke a bfrd's i'oottall, a singiug bird's iu the time of liowers. " Have you come, Marie?" Two voices spoka at oncBt '■ Yes, molher; yes father - and we are rioh, see !" And he emptied her aproa on tho bed. How merrily the siher and gold óóios jingled. It was üke the echo of a harvest song, the dis.ant eeho brought back by sumiller breezeji, " iiless you, my little sunbeam; bless you, my angel child v And two banda 'ere laid on her head, aod tear.-s and áinües strungely mixed toguiher. " What does it mean, Thtrese ? " And the mothèr looked Wonderingfy at her beautitul littlo dauglitc-r, as she came iuto the parlar, i,i obedieneo to a message brought by a servant. "Monsieur li. says you promised to see him to-night." " l did, mamma. Did you bring your scissors, sir ?" And sbe carried a footstool to the sofa npon which he Bat, and quiotly nestled at liis feet. " Ves, ma belle, see ! " And he took from his pocket a shiniog pair, ' Therese ! What means th3 ? " The molher spok-o sternly. " I i.ave oíd my hair to him, mamma, and he has come to out it off." " Sold your hair - cut it o il - were you crazy-rare you in earnest ? " And she gathered her to her sitie, and laid uer hands protectingly over the preciou.s curls. " Teil her how it was, sir. She won't be angry then. Picase, sir, .ell her." He did so. Closer and cl.iser to her heait was the child drawu bv he teari'ul molhur, as the narrator proceeded with his touching story. And when it was fin.shed, she covered her face with feiesea, and sai.i, with broktn yuioe, " Of suoh is the kingdpmoi heaveu." A singlo i ingiet was severed lrom the beautiful head that Dtgbt ; on long, Bolft, golden curl, which tho b airdr ossor carried home reverenlly as j though it had been down lrom an i angels wing. On the morrow, he hiwl : it woven into a heart's-ease. and the sunny, shining, human flower was uvor ufterwards worn next his beart - a talisraaB agaittst besettiiigsina.


Old News
Michigan Argus