WILLIE HARDING sat in a big armchair before the open grate where a bright wood-fire was burning. Everything in the room seemed pleasant and cheery, but Willie was not happy, and his face showed it plainly enough, as he sat leaning his curly head on his hand and looking steadily into the fire.

The fact was, Willie thought he had a pretty hard time of it. Two weeks before, as he was at play on the ice, he had sprained his ankle, and since then he had had to stay in the house, and have his foot and ankle bandaged. He could not even walk without the help of a crutch. His mother spent all the time she could spare in reading to him, and trying to amuse him in various ways. But Willie was not very patient, and this afternoon he felt out of sorts. The boys were all going coasting over to Bald Eagle Hill, and he had so much wanted to go; but now he must sit in that "poky old house" all the afternoon while the boys were having a good time. So instead of making the best of what could not be helped, Willie seemed trying to make himself and everybody else as unhappy as he could. 

He felt angry with his mother and little sister, and angry with himself, and even the poor cat purring so quietly by the fire shared his spite. 

Altogether, he had made up his mind that he was the worst abused boy in the world.

Just then Willie was started from his pouting by a knock at the hall door; and in a moment Mrs. Harding came into the sitting-room, bringing with her the strangest looking little body, but whether a boy or a girl Willie could not at first tell; for the child was wrapped in an old tattered shawl, and had on its head the queerest looking thing, half cap and half bonnet. Mrs. Harding unpinned the faded bit of a shawl, and leading the child to the fire, bade it sit down, and warm the red toes, which were peeping from the old ragged shoes. When the shawl was taken off, Willie saw that the child was a little cripple boy. 

He was hunch-backed, and his poor hands and feet were badly out of shape. From his neck hung a basket, in which were a few bunches of matches.

So far, the little fellow had been silent, but soon he found words to say: 

"And please ma'am, wouldn't you like to buy some matches? My mother is sick at home, and she and my little sister have nothing to eat. I tried to sell the matches to get them bread, and I got so cold;" and there he burst out crying. But all at once he stopped, and straightening up his crooked little body as best he could, said, "I must go now; mother will worry about me."

But kind Mrs. Harding would not let him go until he had eaten a lunch, and she had dressed him in a pair of boots and a warm coat and cap of Willie's. She bought all his matches, and filled the basket with food for his mother and sister at home; and Willie begged so hard to give some of the pennies from his bank that his mother let him do so. So the match-boy went away much more comfortable and happy than he came.'

When the door had closed upon the poor little dwarf, Willie sat very quiet, and looked into the fire a long time; at last he said, "Mother, I don't believe I shall ever be cross and unhappy, and think I have a hard time, again; I did not know before how many things I had to make me happy."

And Willie did learn a good lesson from what he saw that afternoon; and this summer when I was visiting his mother, he told me about it, adding: 

"And now, when you go home, if you want to write out the story of how bad I was, you may, so other little boys and girls may learn from it what I did." 

E. B