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patently picking up something with great eagerness.

For a moment I was too much startled to Bpeak; then, gaining courage as I looked at the little creature, I sprang up, exclaiming at the same time,

"Why, who are you f and where did you come from! and pray what are you doing heret"

The little old woman straightened herself as I thus abruptly addressed her, and made a queer little ancient courtesy. Then with great gravity, in a shrill fine voice which almost seemed to prick one's ears with its peculiar sharpness, she answered,

"I am the Pin Ghost, and my mission has ever been to gather up in all parts of the world the pins that are dropped by so many hasty or careless hands. Especially do I follow in the wake of dress-makers, because then and there have I always found my richest harvest, and that is why I am here to-night."

"Dear me VI interrupted; "this vooation of yours explains a mystery which has long puzzled the curious. This is the answer to that oft-repeated question of'Where do the pins go t'"

"Yes," said the sprite, with a queer little smile on her withered face—" yes, and you may congratulate yourself on having fathomed a secret which has baffled wiser heads than yours."

"But tell me," I began, eagerly—"tell me what yon do with all the pins you gather, and to what use you can put them. Come, sit down and let us talk comfortably."

"Sit down, indeed!" said the old woman, with a look of disdain. "Why, I'm neither bent nor crooked, that you should ask me to sit down. No; I always stand, as you might perceive."

Seeing that she was really offended, though I did not know why, I hastened to apologize, and at last the smile returned to her face, and she began her story thus:

"As I have told yon, my mission is to pick up the pins that every one scatters, and this work keeps me very busy. By day and by night, in town or country, in the houses of the rich or the poor, I gather my pins, and having gathered, I proceed to use them. Whenever I see a rich man, with more money than brains, building an elegant house and furnishing it in the most costly manner, I begin my work on him. I put pins in his luxurious sofas, pins in his softest easy-chairs, pins in his bed of down; I even put pins in his favorite dishes, until they cease to gratify his palate—yes, and pins in the elegant dresses of his wife and daughters too, until the whole family become uneasy and discontented.

"Then, finding no pleasure in their possessions, they sell or rent their fine house on which they had so prided themselves, and

try change and travel. In nine cases out of ten they go abroad and make the tour of Europe, but they do not escape me. No, indeed! I follow them in their journeyings, keeping them continually on the move, putting a few pins in every new purchase or new place, just to keep them from too much tranquillity. Finally our rich man turns his face homeward again, under a vain impression that among the old familiar scenes the old rest and comfort may yet be found. Delusion! I put pins in his old pleasures, his old pursuits, until he can glean nothing restful from them, and is fain to become a dissatisfied grumbler for the rest of his life.

"Then sometimes I find a clergyman who is too happy, too comfortably settled; he loves his people, they love him, and he finds real delight in his duty. Well, I can soon change all that. I stick pins in his sermons, and they prick and vex some sensitive hearer. I stick pins in elder or deacon, warden or vestry-man, as the case may be, until their very hand-shakings only sting the more. I put a few pins in the sewing society, the missionary meeting, the social gatherings, until nearly every one gets a prick or a scratch, and is indignant accordingly. Byand-by the poor harassed minister and his perplexed people are mutually glad to sever their uncomfortable relations.

"Then, again, I amuse myself with lovers' quarrels: and let me tell you in confidence that they are the most foolishly sensitive people in the world. A well-placed pin is quite sufficient to make any man absurdly jealous or any girl unreasonably exacting, and I have often known a broken engagement to follow a few good hard pricks.

"Sometimes I stick a pin into an orator just as he is rising to address an audience; and then how the poor man will stammer and hesitate and fidget, and make all his hearers as nervous as himself.

"But my most effective work is done when I can put a few sharp pins into a married man, and then send him home yet smarting from the effect.

"Of course he thinks that his business perplexities have irritated him, and lays his ill humor to some rise or fall in stocks or merchandise; but I know better. Naturally he vents 6ome part of his vexation upon his wife, and this saves me a great deal of work, since no thrust of mine, however sharp, could equal the pain her husband's ill temper can give her.

"In fact, that is the easiest way to reach a married woman; for all the pins I can put in the domestic machinery, all the sharppointed frictions of social life, are as nothing compared with the smart a husband's looks and words can inflict.

"Very often, too, I make one at a dinner or evening party, and slyly put a few spare pins in here and there. Have you never been

thoroughly uncomfortable at a social gathering where you expected to And only enjoyment 1 Ah! that -was owing to some of my pins."

"Alas!" I exclaimed, as the old woman paused for a moment, " what a list of vexations and annoyances is this! How much real misery you are responsible for, and how complacently you speak of it all I Tell me, do you never do any good, never further any right purpose V

The sprite looked at me, as I asked this question, with a new expression—a look from which the malice had faded, and was replaced by a gentle gravity.

"I think I may say," she replied, "that my vocation gives me many opportunities of doing good, which I embrace very gladly. Whenever I catch people saying unkind things, repeating foolish gossip, showing selfish disregard for the happiness of others, I never fail to prick them severely. Want of honor or honesty, extravagance, wasted opportunities—all these and countless other causes provoke me to sharpest pricks and thrusts, given with unceasing vigilance."

"But how is it that all these pricks and stings you give don't make the world any better f Unkindness, selfishness, and falsehood abound in every direction, to say nothing of graver errors; and so of what use are your pins, after all f"

"Ah, that is only too true," said my companion, sadly. "I have wondered at that same fact very often, and it is dreadfully discouraging, I can tell you, though I know it is not my fault. Bat then I sometimes think," she added, brightening visibly as she spoke, " that people get used to my reminders after a while, and so disregard them. For instance, there are the politicians. Now I have tried faithfully to prick and sting some of those men into being honest; but though I have used up nearly all my reserve pins in the effort, I can't say I have ever met with the slightest success. Indeed, it has often seemed to me that the more I disturbed and tormented them, the moro they engrossed themselves in schemes of fraud and corruption. Why, I have sometimes been quite in want of pins because of the myriads I have wasted on these people."

"What do you do when you find your supply running low t" I inquired.

"Oh, I practice a little more economy for a time, and then, too, I make use of substitutes."

"I don't see what you can find that would answer the purpose."

"Well, the best of all I employ are the bore*, and they are really very effective. Why, bless you, with one first-class bore I can make a dozen people uncomfortable, not to say wretched, and, in consequence, I take the bores of all sorts under my special protection. Nothing less powerful than my

care could have saved them from the vengeance of their victims long ago."

"Well, notwithstanding all you have said about your efforts for improving people, I must still think that yours is a cruel and a useless occupation, for you cause much needless unhappiuess to many innocent people, while, by your own showing, you are unable to do any real good," I said, warmly; for I was, I could hardly tell why, somewhat cross.

The old woman smiled more maliciously than ever as I spoke, and thon making a sudden motion toward me with finger and thumb, as if about to prick me with a pin, Bhe exclaimed, sharply,

"There, take that, and see what it is to be rude to the Pin Ghost I" and the next instant she had vanished from my sight and from the room as completely as if she had never existed. At the samo moment my husband called me, and, with my mind still occupied with my strange visitant, I returned to the parlor and told him the whole story, which he heard with incredulous laughter, declaring that I must have dreamed it all.

But there is one fact which assures me that I really saw the old woman; for ever since she made that parting thrust at me with finger and thumb—ever since that moment, I say—I have been suffering from a vague uneasiness, which has culminated at last in a restless desire to put this narrative in print. Perhaps this was the consummation the malicious old woman intended, and my punishment may consist of sharp criticism, or total unbelief, or—sharpest pin of all—I may be coolly classed among the bores, and thus find myself at once the weapon and the victim of the Pin Ghost.


The sea is blue, the world Is fair.
The happy robins course and sing;

Midsummer never seemed to wear
Such grace In every thing.

Fair Lillian's days are nearly sped;

She may not connt what hours remain; But every earthly hope Is dead.

And heaven's she would attain.

How few the years since, lithe and young,
A maid just turned a happy wife!

The robins then no gayer sung,
Nor summer gave more life.

Now, when her children bird-like poise
And chatter round her cottage door,

To her frail sense that is but noise
Which music was before.

She has no voice to bid them cease,
No power to curb their youthful strength;

She thinks,"I soon shall be at peace,
The discord done at length."

Lying alone upon her bed,

Her motherless years she lives again, And rises, half as from the dead,

To kiss her babe with pain.

She looks abroad—the fields are sweet,
The bowers are gay, the trees are green.

"Alas!" she says, "can these eyes greet
More love than they have seen?" A. I

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Scanning the shop-man with deep wondrous eyes, Full of unspeakable great thoughts. "How much?

This leather fellow at your Midas-touch
Should turn to gold; and gold I need, Heaven

Over the counter, spectacles on nose,
Old Richard stooped: "Ah, Burely; so it is!
I ought to find a purchaser for this:"
And named a price that touched the stranger's

"What! sell a life-long friend so cheap f" he


"I'd sooner seek an air-hole in the ice And drown myself!" he vowed—and took the price.

Then, with a smile so quaint it well might move Another's tears: "Who knows but this may prove

The nucleus of a fortune? Thanks !" he said, Flung the black cape once more above his head, And went his way.

In dark and silent mood,
Aside, meanwhile, the second stranger stood:
A tall fair youth, but anxious-eyed and wan;
Brows nobly arched, but all their freshness gone,
Withered and parched by fires that raged within—
The hidden fires of suffering and of sin.

Why he had entered there I scarce can telL
He neither came to purchase nor to sell;
But, as a hunted wretch, in desperate strait,
Remorse and terror knocking at his gate,
Seeks any corner, Maurice Allanburn,
Harassed, beset, not knowing where to turn,
Had paused at Richard's door. If all were told,
Perhaps he would have clutched the old man's

For Allanburn, a pious widow's son,
Affianced, loved, even to the verge had run
A secret course of ruinous excess,
Till he was ready, in his dire distress,
To fling himself on any frantic deed,
To mount unbridled violence as a steed,
And leap the abyss, or perish utterly.

"Dishonor I will never live to see:
When all has failed, then this!" he said, and

A hidden vial sewed into his vest.
"The swift news of my death shall overtake
The rumor of disgrace, and kindly break
Their poor hearts first."

What hope is there f Suspected
Already by the house he serves; detected,
He fears, and tracked by spies this night; the

Is menacingly nigh. And now the friend, With whose forged name he has been forced to borrow

Some thousands in his absence, comes to-morrow.
Gold, only gold, much gold, this very night,
Or ignominious and precipitate flight—
Naught else can save him; and he will not fly.
"There's none so wretched, so insnared, as 11"

So Maurice stood and watched, aloof in shade,
The shop-man and the stranger at their trade.
"What furious need of gold to such as he?"
He mutters. "I could laugh at poverty,

And welcome toil, no matter where or what,
With but a crust by honest labor got
Has he staked all upon some reckless game—
The hopes of youth, an honorable name?
Is life itself, and more than life, at stake—
A mother's love, a young girl's heart to break?
If not, let him be happy."

With the air

Of one who had a common errand there,
Maurice drew near, and cast an absent look
Over the pages of a little book
Which lay upon the counter, till by chance
A single sentence riveted his glance.

Turn back, turn back; it is not yet too late:
Turn bad, O youth 1 nor »eclc to expiate
Bad deeds by worse, and save the hand from shame
By plunging all thy soul into the flame.

He started, read again, and still again,

With a strange fascination. But just then—

"An admirable book," the old man said;
"Right Thinking and Right Living: 'twill be read,
And, I predict, be famous, centuries hence.
The author is a man of wit and sense—
Charles Masters. Out of print, I think, just now.
Only a shilling. Thank you," with a bow.
"A merry Christmas to you, and good-night;"
And Richard Ray once more turned down the

And with a quick glance up and down, to learn
If he is spied and followed, Allanburn
Goes forth again into the whirling storm.

The crowd sweeps by: the shop-girl's flitting form;

The brisk mechanic coming from his work;
The prosperous merchant, and the honest clerk;
The happy poor man, with his pack of toys,
The Santa Claus of his own girls and boys;
The fatherless apprentice lad, who stops
To feast his eyes before the glittering shops—
No Christmas gifts for him, but he can fill
His dreams with presents, and be happy still;
The sleighing parties, in their fairy shells,
The muffled drivers and the jingling bells;
The cheery newsboy, shouting through the storm
(Blowing his finger-tips to keep them warm)
The last great forgery, the awful crime.
"Whose turn," thinks Maurice, "will it be next

And hears in fancy, "Shocking suicide!"—
His own dread fate by all the newsboys cried.

In groups, or friendly couples, or alone,
Each with a hope and purpose of his own,
He sees them pass; and thinks what pleasant

The season to the humblest fireside brings,
Happy alike who give and who receive;
And all his memories of Christmas-eve—
The expectant stockings by the chimney hung;
The sweet conspiracies of old and young;
The Christmas-tree, with its surprising fruits—
Toys, candies, picture-books, the boy's first boots;
The days of innocence and hope and joy;
The fond proud mother, and the proud fond boy:
And many a fault and many a broken vow
Rush over him; and he beholds even now
In their suburban home that mother wait,
And listen for his footstep at the gate,

While with light hand some graceful task she

plies, Preparing still for him some sweet surprise. And Maurice Btitles in his throat the cry, "There's none so wretched and so base as I."

Her image haunts him, waiting there in vain, And conscience urges with its stinging pain; And Maurice, entering at a well-known door, As on like errands, many a time before, Snatches a pen and sets himself to write:

"Mother, do not expect me home to-night; Important business."

Flashing through the wire, The words will find the widow by her fire; And she will sigh, "His work is never done. Ah, Laura, what a husband you have won I

The wondrous eyes and the great soul within
Glow with deep fervor as he calls for gin.
He lifts with nervous hand the glass and drinks,
And pays with Richard's coin. And Maurice

thinks: "Was this his fearful need, his mad desire, To quench a fiery thirst with fiercer fire? No hope for him! but I may yet restore All I have periled, by one venture more."

Straight to a gaming palace he repairs;
Climbs with quick step the too familiar stairs;
The hot hope mounting to his head like fumes
Of maddening wine, he walks the gilded rooms,
The scene of half his losses. Seated there,
To Heaven, or Chance, or Fate, he breathes a

To look with favoring eyes upon his sin,

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So faithful, so industrious, so sedate!
No wonder he is pale and worn of late,
With so much business on his hands"—the while
He hastens to a bar-room to beguile
His misery for a moment, and impart
Fresh resolution to his faltering heart.

He meets a friend; puts on an easy air

Of gayety, and sees through his despair

A sudden gleam. "Ah, Murdock, you're my man!

Lend me a trifle—any thing you can;

For Christmas gifts have ruined me, and I

Have still to purchase"—forging lie on lie.

The loan obtained, they chat and clink their

glasses; And Maurice notes a short slight man who passes, Advancing to the bar with eager pace, In short black mantle, with a strange bright face.

The last, he vows, if he may only win.
Not for his own, but for his mother's sake,
For Laura's, he implores; and his last stake
On the green cloth with trembling hand lets fall,
Wins, loses, wins again, and loses all.

And all is over. Mother's eyes no more
Shall greet him with glad welcome at the door.
No more for him the rose of love shall bloom,
And trance the senses with its charmed perfume;
Beauty delight, or social pleasure blow
The heart's dull embers to a heavenly glow.
The world its myriad industries shall ply,
And all its vast concerns full-sailed sweep by;
And Friendship shall endure, and Hope shall trim
Her deathless lamp, but never more for him.

So Allanburn upon that Christmas-eve,
His ruined youth despairing to retrieve,

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