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guests, who seemed inclined to dispute his entrance until he was introduced in form by one of his friends. The rattling of dice, the sharp exclamations of the players, the muttered oaths of the losers, with many other kindred circumstances, convinced Herbert that he had spent some time in a gaming house ; that he had lent money-not his own—to his friends ; that he had staked it on his own account, and, strange to say, had won! These conjectures were confirmed beyond question when, as he was proceeding to his employer's counting-house, he met one of his last night's companions, who congratulated him on their mutual good luck, and proposed an early repetition of the visit. Poor Herbert !
In a small village in the south of England, is a neat cottage, inhabited by an
aged couple, who are said to have seen better days, and by a middle-aged mantheir son. Deep lines of sorrow are marked on all their countenances; but on that of the son, there are also strong indications of premature old age. Little communication passes between the villagers and these strangers; but there are sharp ears, nevertheless, which have heard, and busy tongues which do not hesitate to whisper, the following tale.
“ The old folks,” say they, “ were well to do in the world once, far away from here; and their son was sent to London to be a merchant. But he went on very badly, and was turned out of one or two situations ; and at last was caught robbing his master-such a drunken, extravagant, gambling, dishonest fellow he became. So he was tried, and transported across the seas for fourteen years, though his
poor father begged hard for him to be forgiven, and would have parted with all he had, so that his son might not be exposed and punished. Then things went badly with the old man: he lost heart, and came almost to ruin, only that he had an annuity, or something of that sort, coming in, that could not be touched. So they sold off everything, and came to live here ; and when their good-for-nothing son came home from transportation, they brought him down here too. And oh, to see how kindly they treat him!”
This is the village story; and it is nearer the truth than many village stories are. That returned convict is Herbertthe boy who could not bear to be laughed at—who had not the courage to say no.
Dear young readers, be warned by this example, and “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Never fear to be singular-never dread the mockery of the foolish and sinful, because you will not go in their ways. It is better, far better, to be laughed to scorn by men, than to be frowned upon by God: and He has said, “ Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished;" that “ He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy;” and that “ As righteousness tendeth to LIFE : so he tha pursueth evil pursueth it unto his own DEATH,” xxix. 1; Prov. xi. 19—21.