dear, your father wants you,” he got up at once, held out his hand to her, saying, “Come too; we can’t get on without you,” and took her back into the study with him.

Then they had a long talk, for the family troubles seemed to warm and strengthen the family affection and confidence, and as the young people listened while Mr. Shaw told them as much of his business perplexities as they could understand, every one of them blamed him or herself for going on so gaily and blindly while the storm was gathering, and the poor man was left to meet it all alone. Now, however, the thunder-clap had come, and after the first alarm, finding they were not killed, they began to discover a certain half-anxious, half-pleasant excitement in talking it over, encouraging one another, and feeling unusually friendly, as people do when a sudden shower drives two or three to the shelter of one umbrella.

It was a sober talk, but not all sad, for Mr. Shaw felt inexpressibly comforted by his children’s unexpected sympathy, and they, trying to take the downfall cheerfully for his sake, found it easier to bear themselves. They even laughed occasionally, for the girls, in their ignorance, asked queer questions; Tom made ludicrously unbusiness-like propositions; and Maud gave them one hearty peal, that did a world of good, by pensively remarking, when the plans for the future had been explained to her,—

“I’m so relieved; for when papa said we must give up everything, and mamma called us all beggars, I did think I’d got to go round asking for cold vittles, with a big basket, and an old shawl over my head. I said once I’d like that, but I’m afraid I shouldn’t, for I can’t bear Indian cake and cold potatoes,—that’s what the poor children always seem to get,—and I should hate to have Grace and the rest see me scuffing round the back gates.”

“My little girl shall never come to that, if I can help it,” said Mr. Shaw, holding her close, with a look that made Maud add, as she laid her cheek against his own,—

“But I’d do it, father, if you asked me to, for I truly want to help.”

“So do I!” cried Fanny, wondering at the same minute how it would seem to wear turned silks, and clean her gloves.

Tom said nothing, but drew towards him a paper of figures which his father had drawn up, and speedily reduced himself to the verge of distraction by trying to understand them, in his ardent desire to prove his willingness to put his shoulder to the wheel.

“We shall pull through, children, so don’t borrow trouble, only be ready for discomforts and annoyances. Put your pride in your pockets, and remember poverty isn’t disgraceful, but dishonesty is.”

Polly had always loved kind Mr. Shaw, but now she respected him heartily, and felt that she had not done him justice when she sometimes thought that he only cared for making money.

“I shouldn’t wonder if this was a good thing for the whole family, though it don’t look so. Mrs. Shaw will take it the hardest, but it may stir her up, so she will forget her nerves, and be as busy and happy as mother is,” said Polly to herself, in a hopeful mood, for poverty was an old friend, and she had learned long ago not to fear it, but to take its bitter and its sweet, and make the best of both.

When they parted for the night, Polly slipped away first, to leave them free, yet couldn’t help lingering outside to see how tenderly the girls parted from their father. Tom hadn’t a word to say for himself, for men don’t kiss, caress, or cry when they feel most, and all he could do to express his sympathy and penitence, was to wring his father’s hand with a face full of respect, regret, and affection, and then bolt upstairs as if the furies were after him, as they were, in a mild and modern form.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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