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E’LL go abroad, and I'll be your Flutter, "and to be kept under our mother's wings

leader," said Flutter, as he stood on whenever the cat comes or the owl screeches, as if
the top of an earthenware jar that we were not able to take care of ourselves. And

was carefully closed at the top. And as for the fox she's always talking about, I don't the other chickens stood round and listened as believe there is one. We ought to go into the world these brave words were spoken.

and see things for ourselves. It will be very plea"It's a shame for us to be cooped up here said sant, without doubt ; and I'll show you the way.”


The other chickens were delighted; it would be your way! I thought from your grand manner of very pleasant to go out into the fields by them- talking that you knew everything; and now for all selves; and they ruffled out their feathers, and made I see we shall be trampled down or eaten up by themselves as large as they could.

some of these fierce creatures." The old hen, who was not very far off, heard all “Oh! oh ! oh!” shrieked Speckle, as a great that they said, but made no remark, Presently the gander hissed and flapped his wings close by her. stable door was opened,

“Oh! oh! oh! we shall all be killed !” cried the “Now," said Flutter. And in another moment chickens in chorus. Flutter and half a dozen of the other chickens were “You stupid things,” said a young bantam cock, straggling across the farmyard. But the sights and “who's going to kill you? But you deserve a good sounds to which they were unaccustomed confused fright for running away from home.” and bewildered them ; everything looked so large, Just then the hen, who had followed her naughty and the geese and turkeys made so much noise chickens, gave a motherly cluck, which the and looked so fierce that even Flutter felt he should frightened creatures heard with joy, and forth with not be sorry to be in the stable again. But, alas ! flew to her for protection. he did not know the way back again, and as for Even Flutter was very thankful to find himself the others, they began to cry out lustily for their under the shadow of her wings. He hung his head mother to help them.

and felt somewhat ashamed of himself as the old They also began to reproach Flutter for leading hen said to himthem into danger.

“Ah, Flutter! it is very easy to talk, but it is not “You a leader !" said Twitter, " and not know so easy to act. And this I hope you'll not forget."

once more

herds sang.

HE happy time came round A grand field-marshal's uniform !

How well the gold and scarlet showed !
When angel hosts to shep-

Sword, sash, and plume! His own blue shoe

Had not held half the treasure there ; Small feet went pattering on the floor,

And, joy of joys-a letter too !

A letter folded up with care.
Low laughter through the
chamber rang.

With sweet low chuckles of delight,

Equipp’d, Paul hurries back to bed ; For little Paul, with stealthy The sword befits a Christian knight, glee,

The plume waves proudly o'er his head. While yet the wintry dawn was dim,

THE LETTER. Had stolen from out his bed to see

“My Paul,—the Baby born to-day If kind Old Christmas thought of him.

So many, many, years gone by

Knows all that children do or say With beating heart and flashing cheek,

E’en in the dark when none are nigh!
With tangled curls and shoulders bare,
And finger up that none should speak-

He saw you change your own blue shoe
He stood expectant, arch and fair.

For that big boot at eventide ;

So what Old Christmas wished to do
He thought how clever he had been

Was just to put a rod inside.
That, cautiously, the night before,

But swift your guardian angel came,
Taking good care he was not seen

And stooping down with tender pain,
Whilst sitting cross-legged on the floor,

Promised, white wings adroop for shame, He hid his shoe for baby foot,

That Paul should never cheat again.”
And, very sure that none were by,

Then little Paul took off his sword-
Had put his father's big black boot

Laid by the plume that proudly swept : Within the fender craftily.

Unloos'd the sash without a word--
Yes ! there it was ; his heart grew warm.

And, blushing, hid his face and wept.
The boot was full—it overflow'd !


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UCH a merry Christmas surely “ Not to Rookwood, I think, Kitsie ; and I feel

no one ever had as the children sure he will pay you a visit to-night if you shut
up at Rookwood. They were your eyes and go to sleep ; so now good-night all.
quite a party in themselves, One, two, three, and away.”
five golden-haired little girls, " Jane, wherever shall we hang our stockings ? "
and Philip, the only boy, a fine, Katie cried, when they got to the nursery. “Uncle
brave, bonny lad of ten, who John says Santa Claus is surely coming, and if we
gave himself a great many hang them on our cots, he mayn't see them, you
airs, especially over Susie and know."
Agnes, the twin, and baby “I'll put them where he can't help finding them,”

Madge -- Katie and Mamie Jane replied; and then she got a piece of very were better able to hold their own. strong cord, and put a line right across the

Christmas was always a marvel- nursery. “There, Miss Katie, isn't that a good lous time at Rookwood. Mr. and place? Now give me the stockings, and let me

Mrs. Deane were never tired of plan- fasten them on." ning surprises; and, besides, Uncle John Presently there were twelve pretty woollen

always came down from London at stockings, long and short, dangling from the line, for Christmas-time, and that fact was in itself enough Philip had come from his own little room with his. to drive the children fairly wild with delight. Though he pretended not to believe Santa Claus

It was Christmas Eve when he came, and they was coming, he did not like to miss the chance, were all gathered round him-some on his knee, and he feared, if he left his socks in his own room, some on the arm of his chair, and the twin care- they might be forgotten; so he got Jane to hang fully examining his pockets. Outside, the snow them up with the rest, and tried very hard to look was coming down in soft, feathery flakes that froze as if he did not care whether he found anything almost as fast as they fell ; the ground was hard there in the morning or not. and wrinkled, and a keen north wind swept Baby Madge and the twin were soon sound through the tall pines where the rooks lived, asleep in their little white cots. They had not a making melancholy music. But indoors every- single doubt but that there would be plenty of thing was bright and cheery. A glorious wood good things forthcoming in the morning ; but fire blazed on the wide hearth and shone merrily Katie and Mamie lay awake for what seemed a on the wreaths of glossy ivy and crimson-berried long, long time, talking in whispers and eagerly holly; while he shadows ran up and down the watching the door, but no visitor came. Predrawn curtains, leaped and danced on the polished sently the fire burned down and the room became wainscot, and from that to the bright frames of the dark; they could only just see the long row of pictures, and rested last of all on the fair heads stockings hanging on the line, and the great and eager faces of the children as they clustered wreaths of holly and ivy with which Jane had round Uncle John, and begged for just one half- decorated the walls, till the nursery looked almost hour longer to sit up.

like a shrubbery. In spite of all her efforts, Katie's “I am afraid it will not do,” he said, shaking his eyes closed, and Mamie nestled down contentedly, head gravely. “It's all very well to sit up and eat and soon they were both fast asleep. plum cake and mince pies, and be kissed under the mistletoe ; but you young people seem to forget that a certain Mr. Santa Claus is expected to visit Philip ! Philip! come here quickly! Mr. Santa Rookwood to-night, and he positively objects to Claus has been, and he's filled our stockings as enter the house till all the little folk are asleep." full as ever they can be,” Mamie cried, early the “ Does Santa Claus really come, Uncle John ?” next morning. She was the first to open


eyes, Phil asked.

but they were all soon wide awake and dancing “Why, of course ; don't you remember all the round the room, except the twin, who were the beautiful things he brought us last year ?" Katie last to end their sleep. “Do make haste, please, cried. “ Come along, Mamie, and let us put up Phil,” Mamie continued, “and help us to take our stockings first. Why, he never forgot to come them down ; they are so heavy.” yet, Uncle John, did he ?-now, do tell me truly.” “I wonder how he got in ?" Katie said. “ I



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watched for him last night for ever so long. Oh, how good he's been ! Just look, Mamie ; both my stockings are full to the very top.”

“Mine, too,” Mamie replied, her mouth full of chocolate creams. “How could he carry such a lot

of beautiful things ?" “I tell you what, Kitsie, he must be very clever, for he bas brought me the very thing I wanted most. Look, sis, what a lovely pair of skates! They're the nicest present of all."

Katie thought they made but a poor show beside her lovely “lady's companion” and box of paints ; but she was very glad

Philip was pleased, and had got just what he wanted.

The twin and baby Madge were lost in wonder and amazement. There were toys enough to last for a whole

long year-dolls, Noah's arks, railway trains, woolly lambs, jumping monkeys-everything, in fact, that they could possibly imagine or wish for ; and there was a great deal of talking and very little breakfast eaten that Christmas morning in the nursery at Rookwood.

“Do you think it's freezing, Uncle John ?" Philip said, soon after breakfast. “I do so want to try my new skates."

“Yes, it's freezing hard, Phil; but you must not attempt to go on the ice to-day. To-morrow afternoon, if it's fine, I'll take you on the mere. But you must not venture without me ; promise me that, Phil.”

Philip promised readily, and he really meant to keep his word. But when his papa, mamma, and

Uncle John started for church, he began to feel rather lonely. Katie was in the nursery, amusing the babies, while Jane helped the cook ; there was not any one to talk to, and

he did not quite know what to do with himself. Uncle John had promised to take them all to a children's service in the

afternoon; but it seemed a long, long time till three o'clock. Presently, he took up his new

skates and tried them on; then he thought he would just like to show them to Harry Lawson. There could be no harm

in that ; so he put on his hat, and started off for the village, hurrying past the church as if he were afraid Uncle John would hear him. At the entrance to the village there was a pond, and Philip found Harry Lawson sliding on it, and Jack Hill, a school companion, trying to skate with a very bad, old pair of skates that belonged to his father.

Of course, Phil was very proud of his skates, and Harry persuaded him to try them on, just to see how they looked. Come along and have a turn, Phil,” he said ; "the ice is splendid here."

Phil hesitated. He had promised his uncle not to go on the mere, and he would not; but the pond was quite different ; it seemed perfectly safe, and Jack and Harry were enjoying themselves very, very much. So after a few moments' hesitation he went on, and was soon enjoying it too, and having famous fun. His uncle had taught him how to skate, so he had plenty of courage, and he did not mind a fall or two, and soon Jack Hill was completely beaten, and left behind. An hour or two passed quite unconsciously, and Philip forgot all about his promise--forgot everything except the enjoyment of the moment; he was so proud both of his skates and of his skill, and he started off, leaving the others far behind.

“I say, Phil, stop-don't go that way !” Harry Lawson cried, as Philip made for a part of the pond where they had not been. But he took no notice ; now on one foot, now on the other, he went gaily skimming along, till he suddenly came to a part marked “ dangerous.” He tried to stop himself and turn back, but he was going at too great a speed. With a sudden crash the ice gave way, the earth seemed to fly up as his head struck something, and in a moment he was up to his neck in the water, screaming wildly for aid.

“ Don't be frightened— I'm coming ; it's not very deep there. Hold on to the edge,” Harry cried, as he made his way to the spot, followed by Jack Hill. But the ice was crackling and breaking away, and the fright and sudden chill combined made Phil's fingers weak and numb. It was with the utmost difficulty that he kept up till Harry reached him, and then it was a hard struggle to get him out of the water. But they managed it at last, and Jack and Harry carried him safely to the bank and laid him down, when, to their dismay, he fainted. It was quite half an hour before he recovered consciousness, and then he was thoroughly chilled from lying in his wet clothes, and exhausted from fright. The best thing to do was to get home at once; so Jack took off his skates, and Harry took his arm and tried to drag him along.

It was a terrible undertaking to get to Rookwood ; but they reached there at last, all three boys almost fainting from exhaustion. They found the house in a terrible state of commotion; every one in search of Philip except his mother, who ran out to meet them, and when she heard what had happened, she clasped him in her arms. “My darling, we have been so frightened about you. Oh, Phil, how could you !”

" I'm sorry, mamma, I am indeed; I did not mean to be disobedient--"

"It was my fault," Harry interrupted; "I persuaded him to come on the ice, I did, indeed ; so please don't be cross with him because he was nearly drowned. It's all my fault!”

“No, it was mine, mamma. Uncle John told me not to go.”

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