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20

CHRISTMAS NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS.

[Conducted by

country lad, barely ten years older than my-
self, whom I had left behind in England. So,
turning, I said, " Well, Joe, you don't seem to
remember me; I am Charles Barnard."
"Lord, sir!" he answered, in a whining tone,
"I beg your pardon. You are a great gen-
tleman; I always thought you would be.
So, you are going to dine with Mr. John 1
Well, sir, I hope you won't forget a Christ-
mas-box, for old acquaintance sake? " I was
repelled, and wished myself back in Australia;
my mind began to misgive me as to the wisdom
of my unexpected visit.

It was bright moonlight when we drove
into the village. I had a mile to walk; I
would not let chattering Joe drive me; so left
him happy over a iiot supper, with no
stinted allowance of ale. I walked on quickly,
until approaching the old house–––the mansion-
house, once, but the estates had long been
divided from it–––I paused. My courage
failed as I passed through the gate; their
clang disturbed the dogs they began to bark
fiercely. I was a stranger; the dogs that
knew me were all dead. Twice I paced
round, with difficulty repressing my emotion,
before I could find courage to approach the
door. The peals of laughter, the gay music
that rang out from time to time, the lights
flying from window to window of the upper
rooms, filled me with pleasing-painful feelings,
long unknown. There was folly in my mys-
terious arrival; but romance is part of a life
of solitude. Unreasonably, I was for a mo-
ment vexed that they could be so merry; but
next moment better thoughts prevailed. I
stepped to the well-remembered door, and
rang a great peal; the maid opened it to me
without question, for many guests were ex-
pected. As I stooped to lay aside my cloak
and cap, a lovely child in white ran down the
stairs, threw her arms round my neck, and,
with a hearty kiss, cried, " I have caught you
under the mistletoe, cousin Alfred." Then
she started from me, and loosening her hold,
and staring at me with large timid brown eyes,
said, "–––Who are you? you are not a new
uncle, are you? " Oh, how my heart was
relieved! the child saw a likeness; I should
not be disowned. All my plans, all my pre-
parations were forgotten; I was in the midst of
them; and after fifteen years I saw again the
Christmas fire, the Christmas table, the
Christmas faces, that I had dreamed of so
often! To describe that night is impossible.
Long after midnight, we sat; the children
unwillingly left my knees for bed; my bro-
thers gazed and wondered; my sisters
crowded round me, kissed my brown-bearded
cheeks, and pressed my sun-burned hands.
Many new scenes of blessed Christmas may
I have; never one like that which welcomed
the wanderer home!

But although England has its blessed sea-
sons and festivals, in which Christmas-day
stands first; and, although that Christmas
meeting will often and again be before my

eyes, I cannot stay in England. My life is
molded to my adopted country; and where
I have earned fortune, there I will spend it.
The restraints, the conventionalities, the
bonds created by endless divisions of society,
are more than I can endure; care seems to
sit on every brow, and scornful pride in
imaginary social superiority on too many.

I have found the rosy English face, and the
true English heart! Some one who listened to
the Australian stories of my Christmas week,
which my friends were never tired of hearing,
is ready to leave all and follow me to my
pastoral home. I am now preparing for
departure; and neither society, nor books,
nor music, will be wanting in what was,
when I first knew it, a forest and grassy
desert, peopled with wild birds and kanga-
roos. Nearly twenty relations accompany
me; some of them poor enough. In a few
years you may find the Barnard-town settle-
ment on Australian maps; and there, at
Christmas time, or any time, true men and
good women shall meet with welcome and help
from me , for I shall never forget that I once
began the world, a shepherd in a solitude,
and gazed on the bright stars of a Christmas-
night, shining in a hot and cloudless sky.

WHAT CHRISTMAS IS IF YOU OUT
GROW IT.

THE floods round the little classic town of
Bulferry were frozen. The trees round the
meadows of St. Agnus Dei de Pompadour
were the same. Dons went to chapel regularly,
but the Dean of St. Agnus appeared in an
extensive funeral-looking cloak, and the Sub-
Dean coughed louder, and made more mis-
takes in the responses, by reason of deafness,
than heretofore. Coal and Blanket Societies
were talked of. In few words, Christmas was
fast approaching, and University men were
looking forward to spending that season in
town or country, according to their residence,
inclinations, or invitations.

Among the many young men who stood
on the platform, awaiting the blazing dragon,
which in two hours' time was to convey them,
to London, perhaps to take a chop at the
"Cock," a little dinner at Verrey's,and a three-
and-sixpenny cab-fare to some other station,
was Mr. Horace De Lisle, a freshman, who
had come "up" in the preceding October,
and was now hastening back to the paternal
hearth at St. Maurice, a charming little
vicarage in Warwickshire, just large enough
to be the best house in the village, just small
enough to be sociable, allowing of half-a-dozen
spare beds. Practically religious, without
any morbid affectation of any " isms,"
the Rev. Augustus De Lisle was the best
and most popular parson for miles round.
His income might be some four hundred a
year, besides a little property in the funds;
but judicious economy, and a little success i
"gentleman farming," made it go very far,

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