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Johnnie’s Boots

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

Johnnie was pouting. Ignore the fact, if you choose; but pouting he was, and in a way that drove all the sunny brightness from his face and the joyous light from his eyes. His rosy lips were thrust out, and he had just as many wrinkles on his forehead as there was room for; and, being a broad forehead, it held a good many.

The little man had met with something that even we grown-up children do not like. He had met with a disappointment, but was not philosopher enough to face it bravely. His heart had been set on a new pair of boots, and his father had seen fit to refuse them to him. Johnnie’s boots were not worn out by any means; they only twisted over the heel a little, after the manner of boys’ boots, and a white spot or two suggested the breaking through of restless toes; but father thought they could be shined up a while yet. Johnnie differed with him, and took it out in pouting. Was ever a young man of nine years so mistreated? He glowered from his corner, after he had pushed little May and her sympathetic chatter away and had made her crack the white arm of Miss Dolly and cry over it till her pretty eyes were red. He watched his mother, and wondered how she could bear to see him in such trouble. Surely no boy in the round world had ever been treated so badly before; surely no boy was ever so miserable. Lizzie, his eldest sister, had really turned her face away as she left the room, lest he should see her laughing; but he did, and gulped it down with the rest.

He wondered what kind old grandfather thought of the way they all acted toward his grandson; but, being buried in his newspaper, possibly he did not think of it at all.

Suddenly grandpa threw down his paper, and said: “Dear, dear dear! Things were not so in my young days.” Read More

Hymn of the Week – O Sacred Head

Words: Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (12th cen.), translated into German by Paul Gerhardt (1656), translated into English by James Alexander (1830)
Music: Hans Hassler (1601), arranged by Johann Sebastian Bach (1729)
Recording from the annual singing at the Kleinwood congregation

O sacred head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down;
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;
How art Thou pale with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn;
How does that visage languish,
Which once was bright as morn!

What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever;
And, should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.

The Bruised Flower

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

Within my hand lay a beautiful blossom. It was perfect in shape and delicately penciled with the most exquisite coloring, nestling amid the vivid green of its own leaves. With delight I gazed upon it, but how soon was my pleasure changed to disappointment when I found it yielded no perfume! No aroma of hidden sweets greeted my senses; no fragrant breath from its glowing heart perfumed the air. Scentless and valueless, it had grown up in riotous beauty, flaunting its lovely face and hiding in its heart its sweetness.

I wearied of the bright flower, and, mechanically closing my fingers upon it, it was crushed, when—lo!—up from the bruised petals floated an invisible cloud, so sweet, so subtle, that I was silent with astonishment. Then I chided myself for my haste, when I saw the blossom bruised and discolored; but a voice whispered: “Better so than to have lived its brief life and faded away with that ravishing sweetness hidden in its heart.”

It is thus with many a human flower. When friendship smooths the path, love beautifies the life, and health, wealth, and prosperity paint the earth with their rich coloring, the heart too often refuses the homage due the great Giver of all good; but misfortune comes and over the prismatic tints casts a sober, somber hue. Griefs that mar and trials that vex creep in, when—lo!—up from the bruised heart go prayers of penitence, and from the tried soul float songs of love and praise withheld in brighter days.

What Is My Life Like?

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

What is my life like? Some murky river
Swept by wild winds upon its way,
Where willows weep and shrinking aspens quiver
And poisonous vapors cloud the sunny day.

Upon the green banks lie in beauty sleeping
Full many a golden dream, too bright to last;
But, ah! the rapid river, onward sweeping,
Leaves them among the treasures of the past.

Sometimes the sky is blue and birds are singing,
And winds float laden with the breath of flowers,
While in the distance, clearly ringing,
Joy bells are telling out the happy hours.

Again dim clouds come rolling o’er me,
Casting their shadows on my weary soul,
While dim and darker grows the way before me,
Where vivid lightnings flash and thunders roll.

Then is my life most like a river, rushing
In fierce, impetuous haste its course along,
While the wild rain in bitter tears comes gushing,
Swelling its bosom with a sense of wrong—

Wrong, that so oft across the sky come sailing
Dark clouds to hide from me the genial sun;
Wrong, that the breeze should change to wailing;
Wrong, that my hopes should ne’er be won.

Yet in my darkest hours a voice comes stealing
From my soul’s chamber: “Let His will be done.”
Then sweet and low the Sabbath bells are pealing,
And shines again the glorious sun.

The end will come full soon. This restless river
Will some day reach the grand and mighty sea;
This heaving, troubled heart will rest forever
In the still waters of eternity.

“Example Is Better than Precept”

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

“Pa is pretty late getting home.”

It was Mrs. Jackson who spoke, standing in the doorway and shading her eyes with her hand—not because of the strong light, but because her eyes were weak and she had a habit of curving her hand over them. Two children—a boy and girl—were looking out, too, for “Pa,” for that was another of Mrs. Jackson’s habits—calling her husband “Pa.”

“I think I hear the buggy,” said Tom.

“Yes,” Alice chimed in, “and I see old Ball’s white face.”

Mrs. Jackson went back to her supper, which was smoking on the stove; while Tom ran to open the big gate, and Alice went to meet her father.

Mr. Jackson was a cheery, good-humored kind of man, and his coming generally brought the sunshine with it; and now, when he came in laughing, stamping, and laden with bundles, like a great, rough Santa Claus, his good humor was infectious, and his wife bustled smilingly around the table, while the children clamored for a peep into the parcels.

“No, no,” he said; “wait till ‘ma’ gets supper over.” So you perceive he had a habit, too.

Supper was soon over after that, and the dishes cleared away in a hurry; then came the unwrapping of the mysterious parcels.

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