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as I am needs the wherewithal to do good work, I shall have helped him as Thou hast helped me." And according to his promise so he did, and the pieces of richly curled maple, of sycamore, and of spruce began to accumulate. They were cut from the sunny side of the trees, in just the right season of the year, split so as to have a full inch thickness towards the bark, and a quarter-inch towards the heart. They were then laid for weeks under one of the falls in Wine Brook, where the musical tinkle, tinkle of the stream fell on the wood already wrought upon by years of sunshine and choruses of singing birds.This boy, toiling not alone for himself, but with full and conscious purpose for posterity also, was he not worthy to wear the mantle of Antonius Stradivarius?"That plain white-aproned man who stood at work Patient and accurate full fourscore years, Cherished his sight and touch by temperance And since keen sense is love of perfectness, Made perfect violins, the needed paths For inspiration and high mastery."And as if the year were not full enough of glory, the school-teacher sent him a book with a wonderful poem in it.That summer's teaching had been the freak of a college student, who had gone back to his senior year strengthened by his experience of village life. Anthony Croft, who was only three or four years his junior, had been his favourite pupil and companion."How does Tony get along?" asked the Widow Croft when the teacher came to call."Tony? Oh, I can't teach him anything."Tears sprang to the mother's eyes."I know he ain't much on book learning," she said apologetically, "but I'm bound he don't make you no trouble in deportment.""I mean," said the school-teacher gravely, "that I can show him how to read a little Latin and do a little geometry, but he knows as much in one day as I shall ever know in a year."Tony crouched by the old fireplace in the winter evenings, dropping his knife or his compasses a moment to read aloud to his mother, who sat in the opposite corner knitting:"Of old Antonio Stradivari--him Who a good century and a half ago Put his true work in the brown instrument, And by the nice adjustment of its frame Gave it responsive life, continuous With the master's finger-tips, and perfected Like them by delicate rectitude of use."The mother listened with painful intentness. "I like the sound of it," she said, "but I can't hardly say I take in the full sense.""Why, mother," said the lad, in a rare moment of self-expression, "you know the poetry says he cherished his sight and touch by temperance; that an idiot might see a straggling line and be content, but he had an eye that winced at false work, and loved the true. When it says his finger-tips were perfected by delicate rectitude of use, I think it means doing everything as it is done in heaven, and that anybody who wants to make a perfect violin must keep his eye open to all the beautiful things God has made, and his ear open to all the music he has put into the world, and then never let his hands touch a piece of work that is crooked or straggling or false, till, after years and years of rightness, they are fit to make a violin like the squire's, a violin that can say everything, a violin that an angel wouldn't be ashamed to play on."Do these words seem likely ones to fall from the lips of a lad who had been at the tail of his class ever since his primer days? Well, Anthony was seventeen now, and he was "educated," in spite of sorry recitations--educated, the Lord knows how! Yes, in point of fact the Lord does know how! He knows how the drill and pressure of the daily task, still more the presence of the high ideal, the inspiration working from within, how these educate us.The blind Anthony Croft sitting in the kitchen doorway had seemingly missed the heights of life he might have trod, and had walked his close on fifty years through level meadows of mediocrity, a witch in every finger-tip waiting to be set to work, head among the clouds, feet stumbling, eyes and ears open to hear God's secret thought; seeing and hearing it, too, but lacking force to speak it forth again; for while imperious genius surmounts all obstacles, brushes laws and formulas from its horizon, and with its own free soul sees its "path and the outlets of the sky," potential genius for ever needs an angel of deliverance to set it free.Poor Anthony Croft, or blessed Anthony Croft, I know not which--God knows! Poor he certainly was, yet blessed after all. "One thing I do," said Paul. "One thing I do," said Anthony. He was not able to realise his ideals, but he had the angel aim by which he idealised his reals.O waiting heart of God! how soon would Thy kingdom come if we all did our allotted tasks, humble or splendid, in this consecrated fashion!CHAPTER III"Therein I hear the Parcae reel The threads of man at their humming wheel, The threads of life and power and pain, So sweet and mournful falls the strain." EMERSON'S Harp.Old Mrs. Butterfield had had her third stroke of paralysis, and died of a Sunday night. She was all alone in her little cottage on the river bank, with no neighbour nearer than Croft's, and nobody there but a blind man and a small boy. Everybody had told her it was foolish for a frail old woman of seventy to live alone in a house on the river road, and everybody was pleased, in a discreet and chastened fashion of course, that it had turned out exactly as they had predicted.Aunt Mehitable Tarbox was walking up to Milliken's Mills, with her little black reticule hanging over her arm, and noticing that there was no smoke coming out of the Butterfield chimney, and that the hens were gathered about the kitchen door clamouring for their breakfast, she thought it best to stop and knock. No response followed the repeated blows from her hard knuckles. She then tapped smartly on Mrs. Butterfield's bedroom window with her thimble finger. This proving of no avail, she was obliged to pry open the kitchen shutter, split open the screen of mosquito netting with her shears, and crawl into the house over the sink. This was a considerable feat for a somewhat rheumatic elderly lady, but this one never grudged trouble when she wanted to find out anything.When she discovered that her premonitions were correct, and old Mrs. Butterfield was indeed dead, her grief at losing a pleasant acquaintance was largely mitigated by her sense of importance at being first on the spot, and chosen by Providence to take command of the situation. There were no relations in the village; there was no woman neighbour within a mile: it was therefore her obvious Christian duty not only to take charge of the "remains," but to conduct such a funeral as the remains would have wished for herself.The fortunate Vice-President suddenly called upon by destiny to guide the ship of state, the soldier who sees a possible Victoria Cross in a hazardous engagement, can have a faint conception of Aunt Hitty's feeling on this momentous occasion. Funerals were the very breath of her life. There was no ceremony, either of public or private import, that, to her mind, approached a funeral in real satisfying interest. Yet, with distinct talent in this direction, she had always been "cabined, cribbed, confined" within hopeless limitations. She had assisted in a secondary capacity at funerals in the families of other people, but she would have revelled in personally conducted ones. The members of her own family stubbornly refused to die, however, even the distant connections living on and on to a ridiculous old age; and if they ever did die, by reason of a falling roof, shipwreck, or conflagration, they generally died in Texas or Iowa, or some remote State where Aunt Hitty could not follow the hearse in the first carriage. This blighted ambition was a heart-sorrow of so deep and sacred a character that she did not even confess it to "Si," as her appendage of a husband was called.Now at last her chance for planning a funeral had come. Mrs. Butterfield had no kith or kin save her niece, Lyddy Ann, who lived in Andover, or Lawrence, or Haverhill, Massachusetts--Aunt Hitty couldn't remember which, and hoped nobody else could. The niece would be sent for when they found out where she lived; meanwhile the funeral could not be put off.She glanced round the house preparatory to locking it up and starting to notify Anthony Croft. She would just run over and talk to him about ordering the coffin; then she could attend to all other necessary preliminaries herself. The remains had been well-to-do, and there was no occasion for sordid economy, so Aunt Hitty determined in her own mind to have the latest fashion in everything, including a silver coffin-plate. The Butterfield coffin-plates were a thing to be proud of. They had been sacredly preserved for years and years, and the entire collection--numbering nineteen in all--had been framed, and adorned the walls of the deceased lady's best room. They were not of solid silver, it is true, but even so it was a matter of distinction to have belonged to a family that could afford to have nineteen coffin-plates of any sort.Aunt Hitty planned certain dramatic details as she walked down the road to Croft's. It came to her in a burst of inspiration that she would have two ministers: one for the long prayer, and one for the short prayer and the remarks. She hoped that Elder Weeks would be adequate in the latter direction. She knew she couldn't for the life of her think of anything interesting to say about Mrs. Butterfield, save that she possessed nineteen coffin-plates, and brought her hens to Edgewood every summer for their health; but she had heard Elder Weeks make a moving discourse out of less than that. To be sure, he needed priming, but she would be equal to the occasion. There was Ivory Brown's funeral: how would that have gone on if it hadn't been for her? Wasn't the elder ten minutes late, and what would his remarks have amounted to without her suggestions? You might almost say she was the author of the discourse, for she gave the elder all the appropriate ideas. As she had helped him out of the waggon she had said: "Are you prepared? I thought not; but there's no time to lose. Remember there are aged parents; two

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