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rather satisfied with the picture himself, and had expected, at all events hoped, she would praise it. He could not understand whether her silence meant praise or disapprobation.

"Well," she said, at length, quietly laying the picture aside, and looking at him, "you haveby the way, what is your name?"

"Tom, Ma'am."

"Tom what?"

"Wilson, Ma'am."

"Well, Tom, you have done that. Now go and do some more. Whatever you like, trees, landscapes, animals, and bring them me from time to time, will you?"

"Yes, Ma'am," said Tom.

"But don't tear any of them. Keep every one. I want to see how you get on."

"Yes, Ma'am," said Tom again.

"Now go into the kitchen, and get something to eat; good-by," she said, as the boy left the

room.

Tom knew not exactly what to make of it. He was sadly disappointed that the lady had not praised his performance; but still her injunction to paint again was comfort and encouragement to him. "If she didn't think I could paint, she wouldn't let me waste my time by trying," thought he.

H

Months flew by, and Tom worked diligently in the shop, and at his art. His fame as a signpainter had now spread to the neighbouring villages, and all the country inns, for some miles round, hung out bright boards painted by the Tom's income had become respectyoung artist. able, and he had, besides, more time on his hands, as the rough work he formerly did was now given over to less skilful workmen.

All the pictures which Tom painted he carried, from time to time, to his patroness. She seldom or ever praised them; but always encouraged him to persevere.

One day, as Tom was painting a head on a signboard, it occurred to him that he would attempt portrait-painting. He, accordingly, induced his master's little daughter to sit to him, and, after several trials, completed a portrait, which satisfied him beyond his brightest hopes. With this novelty he hurried away to his patroness, who received it with an air of surprise.

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Tom," she said, at length, "you have painted a good many things for yourself, now I want you to paint something for me. I want you to take the likeness of my little girl."

Tom stammered, and blushed, and would have declined.

"No, Tom," said she, laying her hand on his head, "to oblige me. I wish it. You will, to please me, won't you, Tom?"

"I'll go through fire and water to please you," said Tom, eagerly.

"Well, I don't want that," she returned; " but I wish you to come and paint the child's picture ; will you do it? I think you can do it!"

"Oh yes, Ma'am, if you think I can do it." Tom's bright eyes glistened with delight.

"Have you painting materials enough left?" she asked.

"Not much, Ma'am," said Tom.

"Well, go to Ashton's, and buy whatever you want, and tell him to put it down against me. Here is the name and address," she continued, as she pencilled it down, and gave it him.

The boy took the writing, and, holding it before him upside down, looked perplexed.

"Can you not read it?" she said.

Tom answered nothing, but blushed deeply. "Can you not read it?" she continued, looking at him earnestly; "I wrote it plain enough."

Tom blushed crimson with shame and grief, his lips trembled, and the tears started to his eyes. "You cannot read my writing, perhaps," she said, kindly; touched by his grief.

"No, Ma'am, nor anything else either," sobbed

Tom.

66

Impossible! a boy of your age not able to

read?"

"Please Ma'am, I couldn't help it," bursting out more violently than ever, "indeed, I couldn't. I'm sure I wish to learn; but I never could go to school, because I never had any money."

"Did you never earn any money?"

66 Yes, Ma'am, I earn a good deal," replied he; "but I always give it to mother."

"But does not she spend part of it in sending you to school?" asked the lady.

66

No, Ma'am," replied Tom, innocently; gets sugar, and tea, and new bread with it.'

"she

"Poor boy, poor boy," said the lady, patting his head; “I'll take care you learn to read, and write, too.

Now, go and buy your paints, and

come again to-morrow.”

Tom went down on his knees.

"Dear lady,

kind lady," he said. His heart was too full to say more. Tears choked him. He put his hands before his face, and sobbed convulsively.

"There, there, get up, get up; don't cry, don't cry," said she. Tom rose. "Now smile; don't be unhappy."

Tom smiled accordingly, and sobbed as well.

"Oh, I'm not unhappy, I'm too, too happy,"

replied he.

"You'll come to-morrow,

won't you?"

"Oh yes, Ma'am, I will, I assure you," answered he, eagerly.

"Good-by, and go and buy your paints," said the lady.

Tom now became a frequent visitor at her house; and after a few weeks the portrait was finished, for he worked slowly and carefully.

"Thank you, Tom, very nice," said she, as he put it into her hand. "And now I want to speak to you. I intend you shall go to school; but you must pay for it yourself."

Tom looked disheartened, as he thought of his empty pockets. "I want you to know, Tom," she continued, "that you must never look to others, but must depend upon yourself, and yourself only, for the good things you may get. If you happen to find friends, why, so much the better; but you must not expect it. Therefore, I say again, you must begin a life of independence at once, and pay for your own schooling."

Tom was bewildered. His right hand wandered mechanically into his pocket, but there was nothing there. The lady's seeming confidence in his power to pay had inspired him with a sort of hope that

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