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THE CHAINED BIBLE.
THE CHAINED BIBLE.
Ihe Eighth, an old to lie chained to a desk in a village church. It had been placed there by order of the king, for the use of the people. Not many people, however, dared to open it, for the priests declared that those who read the Bible were heretics; and so it lay for several years almost unnoticed, until one day a stranger came walking through the village. He was a tall, dark, gentle-looking man, dressed not like a soldier, nor as a merchant, nor yet as a priest, but something like the ministers who came from Germany.
At the church door he stopped, and seeing it open he entered. Several persons were within, and others who had noticed his entrance followed him.
After looking about him for a short time, he walked up to the old Bible, and, opening it, began to read in silence. The people watched him in wonder, as he turned over the pages of the book, until one old woman said,—
"Read aloud, good master, that poor folk may hear God's Word once again."
The stranger at once began to read, in a sweet low voice, but so that all in the church could hear him. The people crowded round to listen; but very soon the noise of hasty feet was heard, and the priest, followed by his clerk and the beadle, came hurrying up.
"Now, my masters," said the priest, "what do ye meddling with that book 1 It is not for such as you to read."
"Nay, friend," answered the reader; "it is for us, and for all poor people. The king sent the book for that purpose."
"But I say ye cannot understand it; and without learning ye will lose your souls."
"Nay, friend, thou art wrong again," the stranger replied; "for our Lord Christ saith that 'these things are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed to babes.'"
At these words, some of the people called out," Well spoken, master;" while one, a lad of about fourteen years, cried," I am sure 1 have understood all the words which this good man hath read."
The priest turned angrily to him.
"Claude Rainford, dost thou speak for a heretic? Thy father shall know of this." And then he added to the people, " And his lordship the bishop shall know of your doings. As for this stranger, I will have him—;" but the stranger was gone. Standing near the door, he had quietly passed out, crossed the road, and was lost to sight in the woods.
It was full two hours after he hid left the church, that the stranger was walking towards a large house just outside the village. He heard a light step following him, and in the dusk he saw the same lad who had spoken in the church.
"Master!" the boy cried eagerly, "the soldiers are seeking you! The priest has been up to the castle for help, and they are searching every house. I heard him say that you would be burned for a heretic, if they caught you."
"And why do you come to warn me, my boy?" the other asked.
"Because my mother loved to read the Bible, and bade me always help those who love the Lord's words. I have an uncle over the sea, who will some day bring me a Testament. But hark! the soldiers are here! Come with me, sir, quick."
Taking his young friend by the hand, the stranger suffered himself to be led towards the large house that stood near. The door was open, and entering, they found themselves in a long narrow hall with several doors on either side.
THE PRINCE AND THE PRISONERS.
The soldiers were coming right to the house, and there was not a moment to spare. Claude therefore opened one of the doors, and whispered, "Follow me. I can hide you where none will think of looking. I used to creep in here when nurse sought me, and she could never guess where I was."
He showed a large recess, into which the stranger crept. Claude then left the room, as his father, and the priest, and an officer, entered the house.
"You may search my house, gentlemen," said Claude's father; " but I do not suppose you will find any one here."
The searchers went from room to room, but they did not search very carefully, and soon left the house. When they were gone, Claude came in. "Father," he said, "is it wrong to read the Scriptures?"
"Your mother did not think so, my boy."
"And I don't think so, father; so I have hidden the stranger who read in the church to-day."
"Indeed! Where have you hid him, my boy?"
"In this house, father. Have I done wrong 1"
The father did not answer for a moment; then as his handsome boy put his arms round him, and looked up to his face wistfully, he said, kissing him, "No, Claude, I cannot say that you have done wrong, though it may cause us trouble." But as soon as Claude had received his answer, he ran to the recess in the wall, and opened the door. The stranger stepped out. He took Claude's hand, and walked up to the boy's father. The latter looked earnestly
at him, and then exclaimed, "Miles!" at the same time grasping his' hands.
"Is this Uncle Miles?" Claude asked; and without waiting for a reply, he threw himself into the stranger's arms.
Five days afterwards, the stranger took his departure in secret for the north, leaving a Testament with Claude, who had in this way saved his uncle's life.
THE PRINCE AND THE PRISONERS.
rpHERE was once a prince who now and -*- then paid a visit to the chief prison in the land over which he ruled.
One day he saw in the prison-yard five prisoners, with chains on their wrists, going to their work.
He made them halt before him, and then asked them, one by one, how they came to be in prison.
The first man said that he had done no wrong, but that the chief witness against him had told a lie.
The second said that the judge who had put him in prison had had a spite against him.
The third said that he had been found guilty through a mistake.
The fourth said that he had been taken for another man.
For these reasons they all begged the prince to pardon them.
But he turned to the fifth man, and said, "And why are you here I"
"Alas!" he replied," I stole a purse, and dare not ask your pardon."
"Then," said the prince, "you are not fit to live with such honest men as these, who say that they have done no wrong!"
Turning to the jailer, he said, " Take off this man's chains, and send him away. He has not added to his crime the sin of telling a lie!"