IN the hush of a soft June twilight, Fergus Lane was walking slowly home from the post-office. He felt tired, and looked moody, for it had been a long, busy day on the farm, and Fergus hated farm-work. It was his delight to read and study; but after such a hard day's work, he had felt too tired even to read, and too restless to stay in the house. Hence his stroll to the office. 

Suddenly his face brightened, as the door of the Rays' house opened, and a tall, graceful figure came down the garden-walk, and waited till he came up. 

"Good evening, Fergus!" 

"Good evening, Miss Ray," returned Fergus, lifting his hat and making his best bow. Miss Ray was his Sabbath-school teacher, and there was no one in the world whom he loved quite so well as she,—for Fergus was an orphan, and after the death of his mother he had felt, for several years, that there was no one who cared anything about him. But when he was put into Miss Ray's class, her interest in him was so evident, and sincere, that the boy's heart was warmed and cheered. 

"Can you spare me a few moments, Fergus?" asked Miss Ray, in that pleasant way of hers. 

"Oh, yes, indeed!" 

"You received the little card and note I sent, two weeks ago; didn't you?" 

"Yes, ma'am. Here is the card in my pocket now. I was just thinking about it as you asked me to in your note." 

He took it from his pocket as he spoke, and looked at it. It was a little printed card, which read as follows :-





We will try to be brave, gentle, generous, pure-minded, and true. 


We will try to be obedient and reverent toward parents and teachers, and loving and unselfish toward our companions. 


We will try to learn some useful thing, and do some helpful act, every day. 


Every day we will ask God to teach us what his will is. 


We will take Christ for our example in doing God's will, and will love and follow him. 

All this I will try to do. 

"Well, Fergus, what do you think about signing it?" asked Miss Ray. 

Her face was full of tender earnestness, and Fergus hesitated. His eyes sought the ground, which he smoothed with his foot, and carefully watched the process. At length he said,— 

"I don't know what to think." 

"What is the trouble, Fergus?" 

"Well, Miss Ray, it's going to be so hard for me, that I'm afraid I sha'n't hold out if I begin. It will take every particle of bravery that I have, I can tell you. Uncle Jonas will make fun of me, and Harley will tease me; and then I shall get mad,—and I mustn't, of course, if I sign this card. 

And Aunt Lucy won't—won't care, as my mother would if she were here." 

"But I care very much, and I will tell you of some one else who cares,—your friend Frank's mother. She loves you for your own sake, and then she thinks that you can help Frank. If you decide to sign your card, she thinks he will sign his, and after that, you can help him in a great many ways." 

"Did she say that?" cried Fergus, his eyes sparkling. 

"She certainly did." 

"But, O Miss Ray, supposing I do begin, how shall I be sure that I can keep on?" 

"You began Latin last winter; didn't you?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Did you ever fail in a lesson?" 


"What did you do then—give it up?" 

Fergus laughed. "No, indeed. I learned that lesson over again, and then tried harder on the next." 

"How soon do you expect to master it?" 

"Oh! Not for several years. You know I don't have so very much time to study." 

"But you intend to keep on?" 

"Indeed I do. Why, don't you know I'm going to college?" 

"How do you know that you are going to college?" 

"Know? Why, I'm just bound to, if I live. 

Uncle Jonas won't give me my time till I'm twenty-one, but after that I'm very sure that I can work my way through, if I have my health." 

"Well, Fergus, your life as a Christian must be very much like your life as a student; don't you see? If you fail one day, you must try harder the next; you must not expect to be perfect all at once, any more than you can expect to go through your Latin grammar in a day. Learn a little bravery, a little gentleness, a little kindness and helpfulness each day, just as you learn a little Latin, algebra, spelling, etc. • And there is one Teacher, you know, who will help you about every hard lesson. You must be 'just bound' to be a Christian, and then keep on trying." 

Tears filled Fergus's eyes. He thought he saw how he might begin. He knew how earnest his resolve was to go to college, and he saw how he might put this same earnestness into a life of Christian endeavor. He stood thinking a moment, and then said earnestly,— 

"I believe I'll sign my card, and try, Miss Ray." 

Miss Ray was unspeakably thankful; for she knew Fergus well enough to feel sure that when he had once made up his mind, there would be no going back nor faltering. 

"O my dear boy, I am so glad!" she said, laying her hand kindly on his shoulder. "And I know your mother would be glad too. Now may I tell you the first thing that I would like to have you do? See Frank on your way home, and try to persuade him to do the same." 

"I will," said Fergus, giving Miss Ray his hand. 

She took it in both of hers, and said, "God bless you, my dear boy!" in a tone which went to his heart. 

He stopped to see Frank, as he had promised to do, and after a long talk, Frank, too, was persuaded to sign the little covenant, and the two friends were united by a happy tie. 

It was not a great while after this, before Aunt Lucy began to notice that Fergus was more thoughtful of her comfort. She never had to ask now for extra wood or water; the box and pail were always kept filled. It was Fergus who placed the most comfortable chair near the light for her, when she was ready to sit down in the evening; who saw what she wanted before she started to get it; who even offered to wash her dishes, or scour her knives, when she was unusually busy,—a thing he had never done before, thinking it "girl's work." 

She was a hard-working woman, and these little attentions were grateful to her. Her tone gradually 

and involuntarily softened towards her young nephew, and once she actually said, "Why, child, you really are growing polite." 

Oh, how much that pleased Fergus! "This comes of trying to be gentle," he said to himself. 

"I never thought before that trying to be a Christian would make me more of a gentleman!" Miss Ray, too, when she invited her class to her house, as she frequently did, could not help noticing how thoughtful and kind Fergus was to the' boys who were not so fortunate, or so much liked as the others. 

And it occurred to Harley that it was not so easy to tease his cousin in these days as before. It must be confessed that Fergus did sometimes fail in his lesson, and get exceedingly "mad" when Harley was in a merciless mood,—and this was not seldom, for he redoubled his efforts when he found that Fergus was trying to do better. Poor Fergus frequently said to himself, "Oh! It is hard to be loving and unselfish towards Harley when I want to hate him so, but Jesus was more cruelly treated than I have ever been, and he prayed for his enemies; so if I am going to try to be like him, I suppose I must pray for Harley." 

By and by these prayers were answered. Harley, too, was persuaded to sign one of the cards; and from that time on, Fergus noticed a gradual change in his treatment of him. 

I think it must have been because Fergus was so earnest in his life of Christian endeavor, that Uncle Jonas said to him, on his eighteenth birthday,— 

"Well, Fergus, so you want to go to college; do you?" 

"O yes, sir!" 

"Well, Harley and I have been talking it over, and we think that you have worked for us pretty faithfully up to this time, and we propose now to let you off, so that you can begin your college course. We shall expect you to teach school in vacations, and help yourself along as far as possible; but whatever else is needed we will supply. 

Your Aunt Lucy wishes it, too,—decidedly.  "Fergus was completely overcome; he could only grasp his uncle's hand, and stammer out his thanks. 

Then he rushed up to his own room, and fell on his knees, to thank God who had granted him the desire of his heart. 

We may hope to hear from Fergus some day, among the earnest workers for his Master, for he that is "faithful in that which is least," is quite sure to be "faithful also in much." 

Elizabeth Winthrop,

 in S. S. Times.