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THE RAILROAD. CHARLIE and Ellen Graham were invited by their kind uncle, when he came to see them, to spend a few weeks with him, at his pleasant house in the country. Never were two children more delighted. They could talk about nothing else all the day; and at night the thoughts of it kept them awake for a long time. Ellen even dreamed about it. They had never been so far from home before; and their longest visits rarely exceeded the limits of a day, so that it is not strange, if they looked upon the promised pleasure as one of the most important events which they had ever known. The necessary arrangements for the journey were soon made, and Charlie's happiness was greatly increased, when he found that they were to travel by railroad. Indeed, he seemed to think that would be a greater treat than the visit itself. It is true, he had rode once or twice on a stage coach, when he went with his father to the neighbouring town; and a good natured farmer in the neighbourhood, would often let him have a ride upon his old grey pony; but ponies and stagecoaches alike lost their value, when compared to the wonderful railroad. Charlie felt sure that it must be quite delightful to be whirled over the ground at so rapid a rate, and he wondered very much how any one could choose to travel any other way.
Well, the happy day at last arrived, and Charlie with his uncle and sister, after bidding an affectionate farewell to all at home, proceeded to the railway station. Every thing there seemed well arranged, there was a little bustle, certainly, but no confusion, and our happy party were soon provided with comfortable seats. Ellen was a gentle and timid little girl, and when for the first time, she saw the steam-engine puffing and blowing, she felt rather alarmed, and I am not sure whether she would not really have preferred the "heavy, awkward, lumbering, coach,” as her brother contemptuously styled it. When the train first began to move, she sat as close as she could to her uncle, and put her hand in his, but her fears gradually wore away, and she soon enjoyed this novel mode of travelling almost as much as Charlie. But she did not at all admire the long dark tunnels through which they were obliged to pass. Her cheeks grew rather pale as they entered them, and she felt very glad when they got into daylight again. They soon arrived at
the end of their journey, sooner than even the impatient Charlie had anticipated. He thought it was very nice, not to be obliged to sit still any longer, and as he sprang gaily from the door of the carriage, he was warm in his praises of the railroad.
Their kind aunt welcomed them with smiles, and Betty the maid, had got the tea nicely ready for them. Many inquiries were made respecting the dear friends at home; and Charlie felt glad, when at length a slight pause ensued in the conversation ; as he sadly wanted to have a little talk about the railroad.
“Uncle," said he, “I wonder people never thought of making railroads before ?"
"Perhaps it is rather strange,” replied his uncle, smiling at Charlie's
return to the favourite topic, “that so simple a mode of increasing speed, as that of adopting a railroad, has not been in general use till now. It is very evident, that a smooth wheel will roll along a smooth plane of iron, much easier than it would along a path covered with rough stones, and it is upon this simple principle, that railroads are constructed. But still, you must not suppose, my dear boy, that railroads are altogether new, for, some formed of timber have been in partial use for nearly two hundred years. Railroads of iron, too, have long been used in the collieries, for the purpose of conveying coals to the canals. But it is only within the last few years that they have been employed as a regular means of conveyance between our towns.”
"Well,” replied Charles, “ I should think there will soon be railroads all over the country. I never mean to travel in any other
way if I can help it. Why, a steam carriage is a hundred times better than a stage coach!"
“How very fast we seemed to glide along,” said Ellen. “I can hardly believe now that we really came so many miles.”
“Yes," answered Charles, “it was capital !”
“Does it not remind you, my dear children,” said their uncle, " of the shortness of our lives? our days and years seem to fly along with railroad speed.
Perhaps you fancy that it will be a long time before you grow up to be men and women; but if you live to be as old as I am, you will be surprised to find how
fast the time has slipped away. Your life will appear to you th en, like a journey upon the railroad Let us try to improve each moment as it flies. The great business of life is to prepare for eternity. If we only accomplish this; it will not matter how soon our journey is ended. For we shall think, Ellen, as we did on the railroad to-day, of the happy home, and the kind friends who are waiting for us, and our hearts will be already there."
Ellen looked up, and smiled, for she loved to hear her uncle talk.
“What a great deal of trouble, it must take to make a railroad,” said Charles.
“You are quite right, my boy,” replied his uncle, “it is no easy task, I can assure you. Some parts of the road require to be elevated, and others levelled, in order to make it perfectly straight, and sometimes the workmen are obliged to cut a long passage through a lofty hill. But patience and perseverance surmount all difficulties, and the railroad is completed. This shows what may really be done, if people only make up their minds to do it. When we want to accomplish any thing, let us determine, like them, to push on in spite of every obstacle. Suppose the railroad men when they first came to a rising part of the ground, had thrown down their tools in despair, and declared that they would not go on any longer? It's quite impossible,' they might have said, 'that we shall ever be able to force our way through this.' Why, you know, the railroad would never have been done. And yet we often act quite as foolishly." Ellen colored, for she remembered the green purse
which lay unfinished in one of her drawers; and Charlie thought of the tiresome sums over which he had wasted so many lamentations.
“ It is often thus," continued their uncle, “when we first set out in the ways of religion. We fancy all will be smooth and pleasant, and when we begin to meet with trials and difficulties, we are alarmed and disappointed. Perhaps we are even tempted to turn back and give it all up. Did we but press on through every discouragement, we should soon find that they would gradually disappear.”
“How did you like the tunnels, Ellen,” enquired her aunt, after a short pause.
“O not at all, dear aunt. They were so dark and dismal that at first, I felt quite frightened, and I believe I gave Charlie's arm a terrible squeeze. But I shut my eyes the next time, and then
I did not mind them so much. Don't you think they are much more dangerous than the other parts, aunt ?"
“No, my dear: on the contrary, I have been told that they are safer. The extra precautions which are taken about them, are certainly likely to render them less dangerous."
Shall I tell you,” said Mr. Graham smiling, "what they made me think of as we were passing through? They seemed to me like the dark seasons of sorrow and affliction which the Christian meets with in his journey to heaven. He often feels that he is safest then; for when all is bright and prosperous he may perhaps grow proud and forget God. And as the bright gleam of the lamp, every now and then, illumines our dreary tunnel, so does many a sweet promise console and animate the mind of the Christian, and gild his hour of darkness. And however painful and long-continued his trials may be, they will certainly come to a close. The railroad does not always lie through tunnels. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.' But even if it should be otherwise in this world, the journey will soon be over, and then we shall be for ever beyond the reach of sorrow and temptation. With so bright a prospect as this in view, we feel that our affliction is not only light, but that it is but for a moment."
Ellen wished, as her uncle finished speaking, that she could draw comparisons as easily as he did.
“What a great deal of mischief anybody might do,” said Charles, whose thoughts never rested long upon one subject, “if they were to obstruct the road, by putting something into the rails. Suppose only one little stone was just dropped in, it might stop the carriages in a minute, and then, only think what would happen!”
“You see,” replied his uncle, "the importance of little actions. People say sometimes, 'never mind, it's only a trifle.' Ah! who can tell to what that trifle may lead? Who can tell the bitter consequences which may result from one single sin ? Look, for instance, at Adam and Eve. Their eating of the forbidden fruit, might seem to be a matter of very small importance, yet who can calculate the misery which was involved in that single act of disobedience.”
Charlie drew his chair closer to his uncle, for he felt quite in
terested in the conversation. He was a clever, intelligent boy, and few things engaged his attention so easily as “ drawing lessons.” He was trying to find some fresh point for illustration, when his uncle interrupted his thoughts by observing in a cheerful, yet se rious tone, “Now, dear children, do not let us say goodbye to the railroad, without being reminded of the 'way' which leads to holiness and heaven.”
Ellen instantly repeated that beautiful verse, “ Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
“Yes, Ellen, you are quite right," answered her uncle, with an approving smile, “ Jesus Christ is indeed the way. You know that in paradise, Adam and Eve enjoyed intimate communion with their Creator. By their fault, they placed themselves at an awful distance from God. Sin caused the separation. How then could sinners ever draw near to a holy God? Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth. He made a full atonement for sin, and thus became the way, by which we may approach God without fear. “Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say his flesh, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith. But, remember Jesus Christ is the way. When we want to go to any town, there is generally more than one approach to it, and we can travel by which ever way we choose : but it is not thus with regard to God and heaven. No man,' said ou Saviour, cometh unto the Father, but by me.' "There is no other name, given under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved.””
Charlie listened in expectation that his uncle would say something more; but as every body continued silent, he began to think that it would be as well to make another remark or two himself. So he observed, “Don't you think, uncle, that railroads cost a great deal of money? Papa told me yesterday the exact sum which was spent in making ours.”
“ Ours.'” repeated Ellen, laughing.
“And," continued Charles, scarcely noticing the interruption, “ I could hardly believe that it was true ; it seemed such a deal, that at first I thought papa must be joking.”
Mr. Graham smiled. “I do not wonder that you felt surprised,” he said, "for we should fancy ourselves exceedingly rich