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The Worsted Stocking.

“ Father will have done the great chimney to-night, won’t he, mother ?” said little Tom Howard, as he stood waiting for his father’s breakfast, which he carried to him at his work every morning. “He said he hoped all the scaffolding would be down to-night,” answered the mother, ‘ ‘ and that will be a fine sight; for I never like the ending of those great chimneys, it’s so risky. Thy father’s to be the last up. ” “Eh! then, hut I’ll go and see him, and help ’em to give a shout afore he comes down,” said Tom. “And then,” continued his mother, “ if all goes Tight, we are to have a frolic to-morrow, and go into the country, and take our dinners, and spend all the day among the woods.” “ Hurrah,” cried Tom, as he ran off to, his father’s place of work, with a can of milk in one hand and some bread in the other. His mother stood at the dcor as he went merrily whistling down the street; and then she thought of the dear father he was going to, and the dangerous work he was engaged in ; and then her heart sought its true refuge, and she prayed to God to protect and bless her treasures.

Tom, with a light heart pursued his way to his father, and, leaving him his breakfast, went to his own work, which was at some distance. In the evening, on his way home, he went round to s e how his father was getting on. James Howard, his father, and % number of other workmen had been building one of those lofty chimneys, which, in our manufacturing towns, almost supply the place of other architectural beauty. This chimney was one of the highest and most tapering that had ever been erected ; and as Tom, shading his eyes from the slanting rays of the setting sun, looked up to the top in search of his father, his heart almost sank within him at the apalling height. The scaffolding was almost all down, the man at the bottom were rer moving the last beams and poles. Tom’s father stood alone on the top. He looked all round to see that everything was right, and then, waving his hat in the air, the men below answered him with a' long loud cheer, little Tom shouting as heartily as any of them. As their voices died away, however, they heard a very different sound —a cry of alarm and horror from above : “ The rope 1 the rope !” Tho men looked round, and coiled upon the ground lay the rope which, before the scaffolding was removed, should have been passed over the top of the chimney for Tom’s father to come down by. The scaffolding had been taken down without their remembering to take the rope up. There was a dead silence. They all knew it was impossible to throw the rope up high enough or skilfully enough to

reach the top of the chimney ; <>r, if they could, it would hardly have been safe. They stood in silent dismay, unable to give any help, or think of any • means of safety.

And Tom’s father ! Ho walked round and round the little circle, the dizzy height seeming every moment to grow more fearful, and the solid earth further and further from him. In the sudden panic he lout his presence of mind, and his senses almost failed him. He shut his eyes ; he felt as if the next monteu t he must be dashed to pieces on the ground below..

The day had passed as industriously and swiftly as usual with Tom’s mother at home. She was always busily employed for her husband and children in some way or other, and to-day she bad been harder at work than usual, getting ready for the holiday, to-morrow. She had just finished all her preparations, and her thoughts were silently thanking God for her happy home, and for iall the blessings of life, when Tom ran in. His face was as white as ashes, and he could hardly get his words out: “Mother! mother ! he canna get down !” “Who, lad? Thy father?” asked his mother.

“ They’ve forgotten to leave him the rope,” answered Tom still scarcely able to speak. His mother started up, horror-struck, and stood for a moment as if. paralysed ; then, pressing her hands over her face, as if to abut out the terrible picture, and breathing a prayer to God for help, she rushed out of the house.

When she reached the place where Her husband was at work, a crowd had collected round the foot of the chimney, and stood there quite helpless, gazing up with faces full or horror.

“He says he’ll throw himself down,” exclaimed they, as Mrs. Howard came tip. “ He’s going to throw himself down !’’ * “ Thee munna do that, lad,” cried th« wife, with a clear, hopeful voi6e. “ Thee munna do that. Wait a bit. • ; Tak’ oft’ thy stocking, lad, and unravel it, and letdown the thread with a piece of mortar; ■ Dost hear me. Jem ?”

The man made a sign of assent, for it seemed as if he could not speak ; and, taking off his ■ stocking, unravelled the worsted thread row after row. The people stood round in breathless silence and suspense wondering what Tom’s mother could he thinking of, and why she sent in such haste for the carpenter’s ball of twine.

“ Let down one end of the thread with a bit of stone, and keep fast hold of the other,” cried she to her husband. The little thread came vvaving down the . tall chimney, blown hither and thither by the wind ; but at ■ last it reached the outstretched hands that were waiting for it. Tom held the ball of string while his mother tied one end of it to the worsted thread. “Now, pull it up slowly,” she cried to her husband. And she gradually unwound the string as the worsted drew it up gently. It stopped—the string had reached her husband. “Now hold the string fast, and pull it up,” cried she. And the string grew heavy and hard to pull, for Tom and his mother had fastened the thick rope to it. They watched it gradually and slowly uncoiling from the ground, as the string was drawn higher.’ There was but one coil left. It had reached the top. “Thank God! Thank God!” exclaimed the wife. She hid her face in her hands, in silent prayer, -and tremblingly rejoiced. The rope was up. The iron to which it should be fastened was there all right; but would her husband be able to make use of them ? Would not the terror of the last hour have so unnerved him as to prevent r from taking- -the necessary measures' for his safety ? ■ She did not Know the magic influence which her few words had exercised over-him; she did not know the strength the sound of her voice, so calm and steadfast, had filled him with, as if the little thread -that carried him the hopfe of life once more, had conveyed to him some portion of that faith which nothing ever destroyed or shook in her true heart; she did not know that, as he waited there, the words came over him, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art though disquieted within me? Hope though in God.”

There was a great shout. “ He’s safe, mother ; he’s safe !” cried little Tom.' - “ Thou’st saved me, Mary 1” said her husband, folding her in his arms.■ *»:But what ails thee ? Thou seem’st more sorry than glad about it!” But Mary could not speak ; and if the strong arm of her husband had not held her up, she would have fallen down. The ' sudden joy, after such great fear, had overcome her.

“ Tom,” said his father, “let thy mother lean on thy shoulder, and we will take her home. ”

And in their happy home tl ey poured forth their thanks to God for His ■ great goodness; and their happy life together felt dearer and holier for the peril it- had been in, and for the nearness that the danger hud brought them unto God. And the holiday, the next day—was it hot- a thanksgiving day ? . . .

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Bibliographic details

The Worsted Stocking., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 32, 9 December 1879

Word Count

The Worsted Stocking. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 32, 9 December 1879

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