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Miss Halidane's Family

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'Well. it'a a curious assortment, JSIis Halidane'a fanaily, and 1 don't wonde y ou were s truck by it; most people are that see itfor the tirst time as you did to-day at meeting. All sorts and size.s of young ones as you say. No resem' blance bet ween thera, or to lier? No, 'taint in nature that thore sbould le.' 'But do explain, ilvs. Bce'ue; this Mrs. HíUidaiKi is a very disungiushed looking wouian, and her children are so - incongruous,' I sa'd, pausiog ïoi the right word. 'Well. tliey be,' said ïny landlady, w liose 'slimmer boarder' 1 liad just become; and sbesmoothed out the strings of her Sunday bonnet, grasped a p:Uuileaf fan, and settled lier plump proportions in her rocker for a good long story, such as onlv the day of rest cüuld aflord her time to relate. 'ïo begin witb, slie's Miss Halidane, not Missis; bom Mary Halidane she was, and üie old Squire her father, was considerable of a man in these parts ; had mowey, ard built thut big house with columns that you notieed as we Ciime home - the on e with the big shady yard and the iiice garden. 'I went up the night her pa died - took iu a few pies for the watchera - and there she sat by the winder. 'My house is lelt unto me desolate,' was what she said, and it did seem kinder appropriate; for lier mother had died joung; and he only brotlier, Captain iialidane, was killed in the war. And tliere she sat in her desolate house ; for none of the relations hadgottherothen, und oíd Jane and Martha. the servant girls, were iaking on so tha.t tbey were neither comfort nor company. Others came in, of course, but I stayed the evenlng ;tnd talked about her pa. I'd known him old and young; aud I think it was on account f my being in there that night tiiut sho took to me afterward. 'it was all the talk that she'd go to New Yoik and live with ber friends there, and perhaps sell the place. 1 know ht;r friends urged it; lor I stay ed uwhile alte; tbe fuñera! to help set the chairs back and make tilinga leok more natural, and I heard her unclt t.ilking to her. Says lie, 'Mary, we can'tleave you to such a lonesome life. 'Taint natural at y our age, and as süon as it can be arranged, you must come to us. You have devoted yourself to your fittber ior the past few jears; but when our lirst grief is over. you will enjoy going iuto society asuii, and staying here, you will grow morbid. Yon must not think of it. But Miss Halidane she only said 'Wait iwhile, u;:cle, bjfore making iiny plans for me. I casi nut part with my home y et, and I hope the Lord will find me some work to do fchat may be done here. lier uncle only bowed at this, not bein' used to . consulting tlieLord much.'as I sbould judge. Uut Mif-s Halidane was, and 1 saw plainly that she was waiting and looking for a leading iïoin him. 'Üneby one her relatives went home, and she came to meeting Sundays all alone in her pew, but looking as calm in her mourning elothes as iL the Lord was beside her in hor fatber's place. botneüow, at trie luneral Unit verse oi Scripture came into my inind. 'The b( iiiary hath heset in families;' and 1 fouud myself thinking what a pity it was Mi? Halldane hadn'tmarried, and wondering if she ever wou'.d; and tLat brought to my mind the old story about her cousin Jack. '1 dou't know but I may as well teil you tliat too. Se was a haudsoine yttung man, Jack Halidane, when lie eame here to atudy !aw with the niuiie, and only a little older than Mary. I used to think they were like i picture in the " Souvenir of Friendship"lhad, wben I saw them riding horseback togeiher, so gay and laughing tliey were, and both so handsome and f uil of Jif e. Folkssaid they were ngaged, but 1 don't knowhow it was. only Iknow Mary was un willing to go i New York that winter, whereas had always gone with the greatest (iclight before. But her friends kept liüng of the p.irties they wanted her for, and her fatber was soproud of her being admired, that he insisted she should go. But it was a bad thing for Jick llaliti;;iie; for be was inclined to be f ast when he came here f rom college, but for Murv's s.ike he"d seemed to steady down. Ui was just at the age when heiieuled good influencea, and after sbe lelt, I htavd .sonie things l was sorry to hear about him; 1 worried eonsiderably when 1 i, how mueh ho v.;s ttnie Blake, bt-headed little pieoe, the blackti'e daughter. Martha told me about it, audsiie's livtd at the squire's ever si nee nis wife dicd. She Mary hadn't been home an hour, before Jack ■ v pale s death. Mary came üy ing down 8 iiappy to stje h ; nd he n spoke one word, but itd her into the parlorand shut the door. 'Marha said she couldn'L it'lp listening, it Beemed bo queer (and ehe is m little curious, iiartba is,) and i.he flisr she heard was a little ci.y frnm May, as if she had heard bad news. By-andiiy she heard him sobbing just like a girl, and twire hesaid, 'O Mary, 1 wish i were dead!' She said they were talkinji n.ore'n an hour, but she only made out to hear that much.till the last, when Mary said quite distincUy, Tbere is only one thing lo do; you must marry hei ; and may God haye ruercv on U3 all.' 'That same day Jack Halidane married Jennie; but it was no match for him, and he started off for California, leaving her well provided for, they say. But she never saw him again; and what's become of him 1 don't-know, it' anybody do s. 'Well, you see thia was the story that came into my mind iu meeting, and how I d heard the day before that Jennie Halidane was running down with quick consumption, leaving her little one to no better care than that drunken father's ; and Bomehow i couldu't t'orce myself to forget it all and listen to the minister. He was improving the occasion of thesqnire's death, witl il most the sime serinoa he preachet whi'ii Mr. Beebe dled :und I am sure uaght to have attended to that. Bu as 1 couldu't get Jennie Hlake out o iuy mind. i begufi to think, 'Perhaps ihe Lord is iigoing to use me ;ih ; guide-bourd to Mary H.ilidaue, since i Uou't make any differencehow batterec iml worthleaa the board is, if only tlie Guiding Hand has been put upon it.' So that night, tliough uot in the habit oC making Simday visite, I slipped ttround to sit awhile with Miss Halidane, and as soon as l'd got rny breath I said, plump. 'Did you know jour cousin Jack's wife was a-dving?' 'Sbe was still a minute, and thf-n slie said, Tve never geen her since- No 1 don't know it. Tliere was a cliild, Mrs. Beebe: what wili become of it?'. 'The Lord knows,' said I, and I said it rt'verently. 'It'salittlegirl - Jennie she named her ; and she's got eyes as blue as any Halidane that ever lived.' '1 know I was blunt, but I thought the Lord would explain it to lier better than [ could. And so He did in the conrse of the rúglit; for the next ilay Miss Halidane stopped a minute at my door, on lier way over to Mr. Blake's. There was a look in 'her eyes L lmdn't ever seen in 'eru before, hut I's been there ever since, as ii there was a iR'w light in her soul showing through 'em somehow; for it couldn't a, been a ligbt or easy thiug for one of Iary Halidaue's spirited nature to do, specially when she remembered what a cruel wrong Jennie Bi ike had done lier. But perhaps she'd been able to understand how Jennie had sufferec too; anywiiy, sbe had heard the Lorc say to her, 'If thine enemy hunger feed hiin,' and so she was on her way to i'-or Jennie.' 'Öhe stayed with her till she died, ofl' and ou ; and Miss Sanford, who took care of her nights, told me that Jennie said, 'liow 1 believe the Lord will forgive my sins. I ain't a bit af raid of Him any longer, forMary says Hesent. her. So He must be good and kind as she says.' 'Shtf died quite peaceful and happy, poor thing, lenving her little girl to her 'Aunt Mary,' as she was taught to cali her; and when ifc was all over, Miss Halidane broughtthe prelty littie girl liome with her, and that was the bezinning of Miss Halidane's family. 'It wasu't long af ter that the railroad accident happened down here at Huiitonville, and the brakeniau that was killed lelt two little motherless children, a boy and a girl, and no friends to speakof. '1 here was a great deal of sympathy feil for 'em, and some talk of a sub scription paper, but nobody led off in j it. Some went over to see the children, and took clothes and thiugs. But some foïks dun't use judgment if they do mean kindly. Ihere was Mis. James, she took a stove-plpe hat of her hushand's, and an old crape veil- she said j 'twa3 all she had in the house to spare, and they inight beuseful - and she was quite provoked to find they had on as good shoes as her ehildren wore. She Lhought they wa'n't needy, after that. 'But there was no orphan asylum in 'hese parts, there was notbing to do but seud them to the poor-house; for me ioiKs w)io hart them were too pooi 10 keep them without pay, and they fiad 110 kin. "VVhen Miss ílalidant heard about it, sbe ttiought 'nobody's business' was hers, I suppose; for síie went straight down to the city to see if the raüroad company would not provide for the orphans. But they said they were not bound to, the brakeínan bfing in sorue sort responsible for the accident. Some thought going to law would compel them to pay, and Dhat they could not prove he was to blame: but instead oí setting a dozen lawyers to settle it, Miss Haíidane did it herself. I don i cali her an impulsive person, 1,.l Ae goea' straight up to a thing, Viitbout any hanging around ii, and so it was in this case; they wen strangers and shetookthem in. 'It. was not long before she regularly adopted them. Rob and Annie Halidane they ai e called now ; and it was then, I think, that Mary Halidane began to see the kind of work the Lord ïad cut out for her to do. She did not set about it deliberately, aa you might s::y, nor make auy plan for herself, but bhe was rea'ly for the Lord's leading, and se she was lead. From this time she seemed to see her way elear. IL was not six months after the Squire died when she had these three to love and care for. 'She stopped at my garden wall one morning that spring, I remember. I was setting out my early tom atuses, and she drove up in her rockaway witb the three children. 'We are goiug out a-Maying, Mrs. Beebe,' they called mfc, f uil of excitement; and sure nougli, they all had baskets to briug ïome stuff froin the woods. 'I said to her, 'Ain't your hands bout f uil?' -Ko,' she said, 'nor my leart, nor my house.' Nor the carriage, either, Auntie,' poke up Jennie. 'There's plenty ootn for another on thia seat.' 'That pleased me, for Jennie liad een a selfish, spciled little tlaing, ormerly. ''Yes,' said Miss Haiidane, lookinir rit them all as fond and proud as a nother, 'the more the better.' 'So I see the idea she's worked on had come to her then. I might have forgotten what she it it hadn't been for the baby coming so ;-oon liter- that chubby l! pear-old you s;uv. Well, that child was left at her door in a basket! Just like a stray, wasn't it? I suppose some poor creature knew Miss Halid;me wouldn't let it suffer. 'She was a little dashed at. first, I reckon. She sent down for me early in the morning. ' 'Mrs. Beebe,' says she, 'I want vou to teacb ine how to handle and dress this litüe thing.' Now the Lord knows I ain't hardhearted. yet 1 could not help sayiug 'Be you going to keep it?' 'She laughed. 'Unless you want it, Mrs. Beebe. You are better fitted tiian I am to take care of it.' ' 'But think what it may grow up to be! It's an heir of wickedness - no doubt about that. Ain't you afraid, being a boy, it'll turn out bad, spite of its bringing up? Inherited tendenties' - ■ 'But she stopped me right there. 'I am not responsiblo for them,' Bhe said, 'and the Lord will not hold me so, but only for what I can do, and that 1 will do.' 'Some say he'll give her tronble some day. and mebbe he will; but trouble comes in one way or another to all of us. . We can't shirk that, even if we shirk responsibility. 'There are seven of em' now in Miss Halidane's family. Yon only saw six at meeting ;one is a cripple, and a ratlier peevish, irritable boy, poor Mlow, but it'spretty to see hov all theotlitrs wait on luw tnd amuse him. 1 was up there the day before you carae, to get Miss Halidane's rulefor loafcake, and 1 was sitting awbile (it was after tea, and somehow it maile me thiuk of the evening the Squire died), I sald, 'Tour house wasn't lelt to you desolate long, was it?' 'Slie smiled, and stopped a minute tí listen to the childrea outside;for i was early.and they were all out in Uk orchard, eveu the smallest. He was briaging lus fat little bands iull of flowers to Jiminie, whose rolling chaii they had wheeled out ander ah apple tree, and tlieir shouts and laughtei came in throughtlie open window. 'There isn't a house in the wide world that need be desolate,' said she, 'while there are still hundreds of aren s voicea whose weeping might be turned into laughter to cheer and flil tlie vacant rooms and bearts.' 'She'Ji have hars full as long as she lives. I reckon when these gruw up slie'll take more in, and the Lord- only le - kiiüws how inany men and wonen niay be saved tro i lives of sin ind suffering and given a good starl n the wt rld by that one home. Hei incle saysshe's a great loss to society ; but I dunno but society could' beai more such losses.and tlie world be none the worae.'


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat