|Chapter Title||HOPE ON|
|Newspaper Title||Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)|
|Trove Title||The Best Christmas Box|
The Best Christmas Box.
, CHAPTER I.-HOPE ON.
** OH, auntie ! Please tell us the story now." These words rang out almost simultaneously .from six merry children, Boated in the din- ing room of their aunt (Mrs. Ambrose Harle), who had just entered the well lighted room. Some smaller ones were in a corner, playing with their dolls, that Santa , Claus hod left in their stockings. All were
dressed in holiday costumes, and had enjoyed themselves thoroughly on . this glorious Christmas day. They were the children of Mrs. Earle's brother and sister, ?who both lived in the heart of Melbourne.
Mrs, Harle, though naturally of a cheer-, fal disposition, had grown prematurely old ; ; the result of a eore trial. She lived in the
suburbs of Melbourne, and made a practice of inviting her little guests annually, at this 'season. It was a splendid: treat: to those little , city prisoners ; not as - regards the feasting, indeed ! that was only a second ; arr consideration to them, for their parents
vere very comfortable. A good romp in the freah country air was what they longed ; , for ; and it was in this fashion they passed
the greater part of the day.
Tea had been spread on the lawn for their ««press pleasure, and was just cleared away ' when we find them in the large dining room, . all eager to hear the story which auntie had
promised them. '.' . ,, ?'?!:,
Mrs. Harle hod one companion of nine- teen summers, who was known as Minnie Harle,' and of whom we shall hear more
later OD. ; . ?,;?.-/:..?!,?."; '.;''-'!-,;,,<
It was a lovely,scene au'they wereiall seated round tbe room, which was decorated with flowèrsl'and, a! large banner with the' word WELCOME in1 large letters,' composed of green leaves';, and ,'scarlet.'berries," cleverly arranged by Minnie. In short, to stand outside and'gaze' through the window, one might exclaim with Byron: Ohi'hrirth and innocence! Oh, milk and. water ! Te happy mixtures of more happy,dayB.1'.. ..¡, , ' ,
About half-past seven Mrs. Harle .began. " Well, my dear children, you have evidently lad a'very pleasant day, and I hope the'sad story which l am about,to1,' relate to you ' will not make you loss bright and happy af ter it bas all been told. *1 Just : twenty-four years ago a young married couple, very wealthy and of good reputation, settled down a short distance out of Bellfast (Victoria), and .lived .rory happily together, but their . happiness reached its climax nearly a year'afterwards, when their first child, was born : á dear little boy, who grew so plump and, rosy that he waa quite an attraction to all the neighbors. "He was called Frank, and advanced very quickly in all the usual improvements, Büch as teething, walking, talking, etc., until nearly four years old,..when a little Bieter arrived for him,; which was given the name
of Minnie ; but it proved to be a very fragile ^blosBb'm',. only living two ¡weeks; " About a month after.the baby died, the father and -mother were awakened- early one morning by a Bound at the front door similar to the : wail of an infant ; hurrying out, they found
a . largo parcel on the steps,'. with a note attached to it addressed to the mother. The father carried it in and they opened it, when they beheld a healthy little baby girl, which '.. responded with a lusty cry. ' lt . was evidently
about two months old ; a feeding bottle and some clothes were with it. They opened the note, but it contained no ' information concerning the child's identity. It ran thus : 'Dear madame, I have heard from many how gentle and kind you are, and as I cannot possibly keep this child ? myself, I commend it to your care. Do not blame her for,the abrupt manner in which she hits been thrust upon you, for .it could not be none otherwise ; and do not advertise it, for ' ncr advertisement will ever'bring mo, back to
it or you. Let her bear your own name, and beyond the few neighbours around you . none need ever:be any wiBer. .. As .you .deal
with this child, BO may the Almighty deal ' with you and yours.--Farewell.' The mother
took it to tim kitchen fire, and had just . warmed and fed it when little Frank came
in and said ' Mamma, did Minnie come home again ?' .' 'No,;my boy,' replied his mother ; '^our little; Minnie will never come to us ' kgainj Bhë is in, Heaven.' She then explained
it all to him, and naked ' Shall we keep ber, Frank, and be good to her?' ' Tes, mamma,' he answered,',and may we call her Minnie? ..Then she will be my little sister.' The mother!,hesitated for a moment,' then con- sented to call the . babe Minnie, ; sending Frank, off. for a run in. the garden's before breakfust. When he bad gone, the mother said to the father 'I was afraid:to call, it after bur child, for fear of it'bringing bad ! luck.'. ' Nbhsensel Marion, do not. harbor
such superstition,' he said ; ' remember, also, that it is another person's child, and not ours.' Tho mother agreed to this,-and gaye lip tho thoughts bf bad luck; Her . heart still oohing with the loss of her own child, she clung,moro fondly to the little found- ling, and. (as; the note requested) they kept it from1 the papers, so in a few weeks the
sonsation died out." ... <???