NANCY was a little girl who lived many -years ago; in fact, she was a bent and wrinkled old lady when your fathers and mothers were young.  She was a pretty little girl, with dark hair, and brown eyes, and rosy cheeks,—a little girl who was not afraid of the sunshine, who slept soundly_ nights, and who thought bread and milk very good fare for children.  She lived with her grandmother in an old house by the brook. It was a queer old house, as you can see by the picture. There were nice cherry and apple trees in the yard, and on one side, grapevines and rows of currant bushes.  In front of the yard stood a row of poplars, straight and tall.

Nancy was usually quick to mind her grandma, but sometimes she thought her own way best, and so got into a great deal of trouble.  One time the day before the Sabbath had been rainy, and the little brook by the house was very high.  Grandma did not think it best for Nancy to go to church that day, and so she left her at home with Betsey Ann, the hired girl, telling her not to go away, but to stay and learn her verses.  Nancy didn't like this very well, for grandma had brought home a new bonnet for her from town that very week, and she wanted to wear it to meeting to show to the other girls.

It did not take her long to learn her verses, and then she wondered what she would do. Betsey Ann was asleep on the lounge in the sitting room, so Nancy chased a butterfly round the yard, and then came across her kitty curled up on the piazza asleep in the sun.  Kitty waked up when Nancy came near, and scampered after her down the walk.

But Nancy did not stop long to play with the kitten, for she had thought of something to do.  A little way down the road stood a small cottage, where a lame boy lived.  Nancy had been there, with her grandma many times, and had often gone herself to carry a pretty book or some flowers to him.

"Now," thought she, "I have often heard grandpa say that it is right to visit the sick even on the Sabbath; and I guess I'll go down and carry lame Jamie some of the cookies grandma made.  He don't have any, and maybe he would like some of mine today."  So she went up to her little room over the kitchen, and putting on her clean pink dress and her new bonnet, tiptoed down stairs, and filled a little bag with the cakes.

"Don't; don't! Nancy, Nancy!" the old clock ticked, from the corner of the kitchen.  But Nancy was too busy in filling the bag to listen to anything the clock had to say.

"To be sure," said she, as she went through the garden, "grandma told me to stay here; but then I don't believe she would care if I went to see somebody that was sick; because the Bible tells us to visit sick folks."

So quieting the little voice in her that kept telling her it was wrong to go, Nancy went down the garden, over the bridge that spanned the brook, to Jamie's house. Jamie was glad to see her, and showed her some plants that he had growing in his window.  When the little clock on the shelf struck twelve, Nancy started home.  But in going over the narrow bridge, wet and slippery with the long rains, her feet went out from under her, and she fell into the brook below. Down the stream she floated until her dress caught on a bush, and held her fast.

But the water here was so deep that she could not get out herself; so she had to cling to the bushes until some one came for her.

At last she heard grandma calling, and Nancy cried out to her.  By and by, grandpa found where she was, and took her out of the water.  He did not say anything to her, neither did grandma; for they thought she had been punished enough already.  In the evening, grandpa read for worship a chapter in the Old Testament, where it tells about a king who offered sacrifices when the Lord did not tell him to, and how he was punished for it.

And he explained this verse from the chapter to Nancy, and gave it to her to learn: "Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams."  And she never forgot it, but often told this story to her grandchildren as they gathered around her knee.






W. E. L.