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OOR fellow, he told of his mother's sickness, but not of his own privations. The kiss of love, or the grasp of friendship, had seldom or never cheered his

lonely years. He knew not what it was, and never expected to know. In childhood the affection he was ready to give had been rewarded with blows, curses, and drudgery. The cruelty of his mother forbad him the companionship of other children. The most repulsive duties were his part, and when his work was over, she would shut him in a halfdarkened room until he might be wanted again. When thus confined, she would take from him his clothes, under the pretence that he spoiled them; and there, hour after hour, the little unclothed wretch starved in loneliness, darkness, and silence. Several times he had fainted from exhaustion, and when restored to consciousness, she rated and punished him severely for not having summoned

her; and at other times when he did call, she beat him cruelly for the disturbance he had made. Sometimes, in spite of her vigilance, he would steal away, and stand wistfully eyeing the play of other children. But no one would have companionship with the little stranger. Their games would stop when he appeared. They would stare at the half naked body, long hair, and hungry eyes of little Tom Wilson, and then slink away without speaking. But, in spite of all his sorrows, in spite of the privations which weighed so heavily upon him, the child's mind rose above them. Perhaps it was good that he had never known the friendship of his fellows. It prevented him from learning their vices. Although he could not tell a letter of the alphabet at twelve years old, yet the child had thought, and, for his extreme youth, had thought much and deeply. He would often wander away into the fields, and gaze for hours at the blue sky, wondering why everything was so happy except himself. And then he would fall on his knees, and, with his bony hands raised instinctively to heaven, would pray, after his own fashion, a prayer of his own making, until the big tears rolled down his hollow cheeks. No one had ever taught him to know God, but the brooks which murmured by him in summer, and the leaves as they rustled in the

woods, told his opening heart more of God than any formal teaching could do.

One day, on a lonely ramble, the child caught sight of a man painting a rough picture on a signboard. The thing had an immediate fascination for him, and he timidly approached and looked on. The man turned rudely round, and asked what he was staring at. Under other circumstances the child would have run away terrified, but now his curiosity mastered his fear, and he said: "If you please, Sir, mayn't I stay and look at you?"

Though rough, the man had some good nature, and answered gruffly: "Yes, if you want to, youngster."

Pleased with permission to stay, little Tom watched the work with delighted eyes, imitating the movements of the painter's body, and following, with his lean finger in the air, the strokes of the brush. So absorbed was his attention, that time and place were soon forgotten. But happiness is fleeting. An unexpected noise behind startled him, and the next instant a cruel blow on the head from a small cane, which wound across his face, and left a deep red mark, followed by several other blows on different parts of his body, aroused him to the unpleasant consciousness that the old woman was at hand.

In order to be sure of her prey, she had crept so stealthily up, that neither of the two had heard her approach. Astonished at the disturbance, the man sprang to his feet, exclaiming: "What the devil are you a hitting the boy like that for, you cursed old hag? He didn't do nothing to you, did he? Let him alone."

"Mind your own business, Sir, will you?" retorted she, in a sharp shrill voice. "He's no child of yours; besides, he deserves all the blows he gets," and down came the cane once more on the boy's "Now be off home, and remember you get no supper to-night. I'll teach you to loiter about in the road again."


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So saying, she seized the child by the neckcloth, and lifting him up so that his toes barely touched the ground, bore him off in triumph.


The painter laid aside his brush, and seemed half inclined to rescue the boy by violence. presently he resumed his work again, muttering : "I don't think it's much use either. If I stop her now, she'll only lick him wus when he's at home. He seems used to it; none of my half-dozen would stand a licking like that young 'un."

And now a new idea completely filled Tom's mind. He felt the most unbounded admiration of the sign-painter, and longed to imitate his skill.

He watched every opportunity to steal away from home and meditate alone in the fields on the best plan to fulfil his wishes. A proportionate number of extra beatings he got for his frequent absence; but that was of little consequence, could he but enjoy uninterrupted the only source of happiness which had ever been opened to him. His chief obstacle was want of materials; but that difficulty was soon overcome. Having cut a number of short pieces of wood, he burnt the ends during his mother's absence, and then hid them away. Not far from the village, in a field by the roadside, was a large block of stone, one side of which was tolerably even. This he soon reduced to the required smoothness by softening with water, and then diligently rubbing with another stone. And now the work began in earnest; but repeated trials produced a very sorry resemblance of the tree he was trying to copy. Besides this, all his pencils were worn down, and he was forced to give up any farther attempt. Disheartened, he returned home and cried long and bitterly with disappointment in his little dark bed-room. Sleep, however, brought comfort to his troubled breast, and with the returning light he leapt nimbly from bed. The air was chill as he opened the window, and he shivered when the light breeze touched him; but the sun shone with


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