"Oh, that God would give me something great and good to do for him!"

Thus mused the young Count Conrad, as he knelt one night at the oak-paneled window of his own old, gray castle. No more beautiful place was there than that same castle, with its broad, shady paths and soft, green sward. The box hedges, cut into many fanciful shapes, were the pride of the gardeners, while the masses of silvery birch, copper beeches, and hoary oaks, were the admiration of the surrounding country. The Count von Edelstein was not thinking of his broad possessions as he leaned with his little hands clasped, and his chin resting on them. Still less did he think of what a pretty picture he made there, with the moonlight burnishing his fair hair and glinting in his blue eyes. He, like many other boys in different positions in life, was longing for some "great and grand event" of his life to happen.

But just then it was a small thing that happened.

A snow-white dove, wheeling overhead, was pounced upon by a hawk, and fell into the shining mere below. Heedless of the fact that he was half undressed (he was preparing for bed), his velvet doublet off and only in "hosen," he bounded out. Down to the lake he rushed, but no boat was on the bank. Lying near, however, was an empty barrel, and one or two small planks left by some careless workmen. Quickly Conrad rolled the cask into the water, and using a plank as a paddle, propelled the insecure bark into the center of the little lake. Crazily it rocked about, as he reached the dove, and leaned over and seized it.

Poor little thing! Its pinions were broken—every feather was drenched and draggled. Carefully

Conrad placed it in his bosom; and then, freighted with its precious burden, the frail boat was urged back. Frau Trudchen, his nurse, watched it with sickening anxiety, only shown by the severe rebuke she administered to her young master as he landed safe and whole.

"Don't scold, Trudchen, now the little dove is safe," pleaded the boy; and as he walked back, he gently smoothed the white feathers. Frau Trudchen paced behind him, muttering, "He's made for something great!—such care and tenderness, in spite of his willfulness!"

Conrad did not muse any more that night on the grand things he wanted to do, but fell asleep, glad to have saved the dove. His hand had found something to do, and he had done it with all his might.


It is forty years after. The same old castle is little altered. A few more mosses on the stones, a broader expanse of gray lichen on the oak bark—that is all. But inside—what a change.

No dreamy boy now is Count Conrad. Middle aged, and very happy. "Happy are these thy servants, who stand continually before thee,"—happy with a joy not of this world. He who was faithful in little has also been faithful in much. The beautiful house is now an orphanage, where Conrad delights to teach old children that they have a Father in heaven. The broad, shady walks are pressed by the feet of once sad, sickly children.

The carved walls echo with their shouts of joy or hymns of praise. "Mein vater" (my father) the children love to call their benefactor. Fair-haired Elsie and eager Fritz, sober Joan and bright-faced little Eva, all unite in returning him the love he showers upon them. But it is at night, when the merry voices are hushed and the pattering feet still, that the Count von Edelstein reaps his richest reward. Then, on his knees at the mullioned window, where he leaned as a boy, with his head laid on his clasped hands as of yore, he thanks his Lord for the work given him to do. In reply he hears the whisper, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my little ones, ye have done it unto me."