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Well, by-and-by he was enabled to retire from business. He built himself a house, and had a fine garden, and all around him that heart could wish, with no · trivial round and common task' of trade or worldly things to interfere with his higher aspirations. And what do you think followed, Lucy?”

Lucy shook her head. “You must tell me, if you please," she said.

“I will tell you. The poor rich man became a drone, my dear; a selfish voluptuary; a hindrance and not a help to the cause which he yet believed he had more at heart than all things else in the world. And perhaps he had; I will not say that he had not: but it is a sad story to think of-that life of total inactivity and uselessness. Oh, my dear, pray to be " a poor dressmaker' all your life, rather than to get rich and sink into a do-nothing."

CONSENT THOU NOT." “ I've come to thank you, sir, for all the trouble you have taken for me, and to say that I am going to Grey and Foster's on Monday morning.”

The speaker was George Rutherford, a pleasant, interesting looking youth of between fifteen and sixteen years of age; and the words were spoken to Mr. Croft, a Christian minister in a large commercial and seaport town in the north of England. George's mother was the widow of an excellent man, who had now been dead about three years, and who had left her very slenderly provided for, with a family of five children, of whom George was the eldest. Mr. Croft, whose ministry. Mr. and Mrs. Rutherford had attended from the commencement of their married life, had shown the bereaved widow much kindness, and had interested himself greatly in their welfare. It was through his intervention that George had obtained a situation at Grey and Foster's, who were large merchants and shipowners. Both he and his mother were deeply grateful to their kind friend and minister, and George very readily complied with his mother's suggestion that he should call on Mr. Croft a few days before, in order to thank him. to the house, he was shown into Mr. Croft's study, and there the two were now sitting together.

“I am glad to hear it, George,” said Mr. Croft. opening is a good one, and if you are steady and attentive,

On going

" The

as I hope you will be, you have an excellent prospect of success in life.”

* Everybody tells me that who has spoken to me about it,” replied George. “I hope, sir, that I shall not disappoint you."

" It gives me much pleasure, George, to think that before entering on business you have been led to seek salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, and to commit yourself to the guidance of your heavenly Father. Let me remind you, however, that you have still great need for watchfulness and prayer.

I do not know what sort of young men they are at Grey and Foster's, but it is most likely you will meet with temptations entirely new to you. But be encouraged to remember that others, trusting in God, have passed through such temptations unharmed, and that you may do so too."

“ Thank you, sir,” replied George, “I hope I shall.” “Let me recommend you, George," resumed Mr. Croft, “to be very careful in your choice of companions. See what young men are before forming any intimacy with them. Meet every inducement to do not only what is positively evil, but what tends to evil, with a resolute No.' Say it as though you meant it, and stand to it. A resolute decision at first will save you a world of trouble. You need not make a parade of your religion, but never be ashamed of it.”

Such were a few of the counsels which Mr. Croft addressed to his young friend. Before they parted he commended him to God in fervent prayer.

“Decent looking fellow," said Edward Charlton to another of the clerks who stood by him, shortly after George Rutherford had been introduced into the office; “but he looks rather green. Who is he, I wonder ?”

“ His mother is a widow, I believe," was the reply. “I think his father was in the Customs."

“No doubt he is a very good, well-behaved boy; widows' sons generally are, at first. But we must try to take him out of his leading-strings.”

“I don't think he's very promising,” replied the other; « but we shall see.”

At first George's duties took him very much out of the office. Sometimes he had to wait on shippers and tradesmen, and frequently he had to deliver messages to the


captains of ships belonging to his employers. Sailors are a hospitable class of men, and both on board their ships and on shore he was often pressed to partake of intoxicating drink, but he always resolutely refused. It was matter of surprise to those above him that he returned so speedily from the messages on which he was sent; but that was one great reason of

his special promptitude. “Will you come and spend to-morrow evening with me at my lodgings ?” said Charlton to him one afternoon. It will be my birthday. I expect Rogers and two or three more.”

George hesitated a little. He was disengaged on the evening proposed, so that he could not plead that he was not at liberty. As yet, too, he had seen nothing about Charlton and his friends that was positively bad; and they were very pleasant. He felt, too, that it was kind in Charlton to invite them, especially as he was some years his senior. So, though scarcely satisfied that they were the class of young men with whom he should associate, he thanked Charlton for his invitation and accepted it.

His mother looked somewhat grave when he told her what he had done, but she scarcely deemed it wise to advise him to retract his acceptance. It might seem, she thought, uncourteous and distrustful; and, besides, he would have to learn to think and act for himself.

The party met at seven o'clock for tea; and very soon after tea was over, cigars, wine, and spirits were put on the table. " What will you take ?” asked Charlton.

Nothing, thank you."

Nothing! Oh, come, that will never do. It is not social. If you don't care for spirits, you will find this wine very good."

I am much obliged to you," said George, “but I never take either wine or spirits, or anything of the kind."

“You're surely not a teetotaller ?” “Yes, I am.”

The whole party looked at him with something like contemptuous pity.

“ Take a cigar, then,” said Charlton. - Thank you, but I can't smoke.”

“ Everybody smokes now," said one of the party; "you had better learn as soon as you can.”

But he declined, very quietly and firmly, and no one essed him further.


The young men talked for a while on general subjects, but they gradually glided into others, in which George took no interest. The races were approaching, and they were all looking forward to them with high expectation. Every one of the party had betted more or less heavily, and their respective favourites were discussed. There was a dramatic company in the town at the time, and the conversation turned on the merits of the actors and actresses, and on the pieces which were in course of representation. As the evening proceeded, and the drink began to exert its power, some of the party threw out hints of even more doubtful pleasures; the mention of which, however, was promptly frowned down by the rest, for George's presence acted in some degree as a restraint upon them. At length cards were produced, stakes were laid down, and some of them began to play.

George wished himself anywhere rather than in such company, and he resolved to retire as soon as possible. It was his habit to reach home in the evening at ten o'clock, or a few minutes later. He had told his mother that he might perhaps take an hour longer, but he determined that as soon as it struck ten he would take his leave, although he felt that it would require no small effort to do so. ACcordingly, as soon as a neighbouring church clock had given the hour, he rose, and begged Charlton to excuse him.

Loud protestations rose from every side. The evening, they said, had only just begun, and surely, for once, he might take another hour. He stood firm, however, in his refusal to resume his seat, and left the party.

“We have not broken the leading-strings yet," said one of the number to Charlton, when he returned from seeing Rutherford to the door.

“Not yet,” replied Charlton, “and I doubt whether we ever shall. However, we shall see.

"My idea is,” said another, " that it is not the leadingstrings that keep him, he has notions of his own."

The young man had rightly read George Rutherford's character. Thanks to his careful training, thanks to the wise counsels of his friends, but thanks most of all to the grace of God, there were established in his heart principles so strong that all the temptations by which he was assailed proved powerless to lead him astray.

It was with a sense of indescribable relief that he

stepped out into the street from Charlton's lodgings. He thought he had never felt the cool air blow so refreshingly, as he did that night after breathing the close atmospbere of a not very large room, polluted by the smoke of seven or eight cigars, mingled with the fumes of hot spirits.

“ It is the first time,” said he to himself, as he walked quietly homeward, “ that I have ever been in such a company as that, and I will take good care it shall be the last. It shall be a lesson to me for all my life to go into no company that I can avoid, respecting which I have reason to suspect that it is not the right company for me.”

He was confirmed in his resolve by what he saw the following morning of those who had composed the party; for their pallid countenances and bleared eyes told plainly enough that they had sat late, and that they had indulged to excess.

The races came on in due course, and the office was closed on two afternoons for holiday. The young men whom George had met at Charlton's all went, and some of them asked him to accompany them; but they were received with a negative so firm and decided, though still expressed most courteously, that they saw it was altogether hopeless to induce him to go. Of course his refusal was not suffered to pass without a few passing sneers, most of which he left unnoticed. Once, indeed, when it was said to him that he was a poor, spiritless fellow, tied to his mother's apron-string, he replied, that he had so much respect and love for his mother, that even if he saw no harm in going, for her sake he would keep away, if she disapproved of it. But he added, that he had quite as strong an opinion on the subject as his mother had. He then gave some reasons, which, though they did not convince the persons to whom he spoke, were such as they could not well answer. He was equally resolute in his refusal to accompany them on their Sunday excursions, and very soon he was left to take his own way.

George Rutherford saw afterwards great occasion for thankfulness that he had been enabled to take so decided a stand at his first entrance on business. Shortly after the events we have narrated, Charles Elwood, a youth who, like himself, had been carefully and religiously trained, entered the office. He had attended the same ministry as Rutherford; they had sat together in the same class in the Sunday-school; they were both members of Mr. Croft's

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