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How's the world used you since this morning?
Where's mamma? The kettle boiling, eh?"
The running fire of hilarity that always
ANImated him seemed to throw sunshine and a
new life into the house, when he came in.
The children this evening rushed out into the
hall, and crowded round him with such a
number of " I say, pa's," and " Do you know,
pa? " and " Don't tell him now, Mary,—let
him guess. Oh! you'll never guess, pa!"
that he could only hurry them all into the
sitting-room before him like a little flock of
sheep, saying, " Well, well, you rogues,—well,
well,—let us have some tea, and then all
about it."

The fire blazed bonnily, as it was wont, in
the bright grate, and that and the candles
made the room, with light and warmth, the
very paradise of comfort. Mrs. Tattenhall,
a handsome woman of five and thirty or so
she might be more, but she did not look it
was just in the act of pouring the water from
a very bright little kettle into the equally
bright silver tea-pot, and with a sunny, rosy,
youthful, and yet matronly face, turned
smilingly at his entrance, and said, " Well,
my dear, is it not a very cold night?"

"Not in this room, certainly, my dear,"
said my brother Uriah, " and with such
a snuggery before one, who cares for cold
outside."

Mrs. Tattenhall gave him a brighter smile
still, and the neat Harriet coming in with
the toast, the whole family group was speedily
seated round the tea-table, and the whole
flood of anticipated pleasures and plans of
the younger population let loose, and
cordially entered into, and widened and
IMproved by my brother Uriah. He promised
them an early night at the very best
pantomime, and they were to read all about all the
pantomimes in the newspapers, and find out
which was the best. He meant to take
them to see all sorts of sights, and right
off-hand on Christmas Eve he was going
to set up a Christmas-tree, and have
Christkindchen, and all sorts of gifts under
it for everybody. He had got it all ready
done by a German who came often to his
warehouse, and it was somewhere, not far off
just now.

"Thank you, papa,—thank you a thousand
times. Oh! what heaps of fun! " exclaimed
the children, altogether.

"Why, really, my dear," said Mrs. Tattenhall,
delighted as the children, "what has
come to you? You quite out-do yourself,
good as you always are. You are quite
magnificent in your projects."

"To be sure," said Uriah, taking hold of
the hands of little Lucy, and dancing round
the room with her. " To be sure; we may
just as well be merry as sad; it will be all the
same a hundred years hence."

Presently the tea-table was cleared, and, as
they drew round the fire, my brother Uriah
pulled out a book, and said, " George, there's a
nice bookbegin, and read it aloud: it will
be a very pleasant book for these winter evenings
before all the dissipation begins. It is
Pringle's Adventures in South Africa, and is
almost as good as Robinson Crusoe. I knew
Pringle well; a lame, little man, that you
never would dream could sit on a horse,
much less ride after lions and elephants in
that style."

"Lions and elephants! " all were silent,
and George read on. He read till eight
o'clock, their bed-time, and the whole group
parents and childrenwere equally
delighted with it. As they closed the book
—" Now," said the father, " would it not be
grand fun to live out there, and ride after
the lions and elephants?"

"Ah! grand fun! " said the boys, but the
mother and the girls shuddered at the lions.
"Well, you could stay in the house, you know,"
said Bob.

"Right, my fine fellow," said the father,
clapping him on the shoulder. " So now
off to bed, and dream all about it."

When the children were gone, my brother
Uriah stretched out his feet on the fender
and fell into a silence. When my brother's
silence had lasted some time his wife said,
"Are you sleepy, my dear?"

"No; never was more wakeful," said
Uriah; "really, my dear, I never was less
inclined to be sprightly: but it won't
do to dash the spirits of the children. Let
them enjoy the Christmas as much as they
can, they will never be young but once."

"What is amiss? " asked Mrs. Tattenhall,
with a quick apprehensive look. " Is there
something amiss? Good gracious! you
frighten me."

"Why no, there is nothing exactly amiss;
there is nothing new; but the fact is, I have
just taken stock, and to-day finished casting
all up, and struck the balance."

"And is it bad? Is it less than you
expected? " askqd Mrs. Tattenhall, fixing her
eyes seriously on her husband's face.

"Bad? No, not bad, nor good. I'll tell
you what it is. You've heard of a toad in a
mud wall. Well, that's me. Twenty years
ago, I went into business with exactly three
thousand pounds, and here I have been
trading, and fagging, and caring, and getting,
and losing, business extending, and profits
getting less and less, making large sales, and
men breaking directly after, and so the
upshot is,—twenty years trade, and the
balance the same to a pound as that I began
with. Three thousand I started with, and
three thousand is precisely my capital at this
moment."

"Is that all? " said Mrs. Tattenhall,
wonderfully relieved. "Be thankful, my dear
Uriah, that you have three thousand pounds.
You have your health wonderfully, we have
all our health; we have children, as good
and promising children as anybody is blest
with, and a happy home, and live as well and

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