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SCARLET SPANGLES.

A STORY OF THE COLOSSEUM.

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N the days of the Emperor Caracalla, the Colosseum had ceased to be used for terrible conflicts between man and beast. But the young student Valentinian could not forget that eighty thousand spectators at a time had looked down from its seats, only a few years before, to see Christian martyrs given to the lions to be torn in pieces.

And Valentinian was a Christian. The persecutions had ceased. No more cruel Emperor than Caracalla had ever occupied the throne of Rome; but his cruelty found its victims in his own family and among his political enemies, and the Christians were overlooked and forgotten. Even Caracalla may have been sick of the blood spilled in assassinations, executions, and battle, and so, as a mere change of scene, ordered that the sports at the Colosseum should be of a bloodless character. At any rate, chariot races were now the vogue, the population of Rome were now all "horsy" men, and betting was the popular way of gaining or losing their fortunes.

The Emperor, as reigning over and above all like the air, chose white to mark his horses; the steeds of the soldiers were designated by red badges and trappings-red, the appropriate colour of Mars, of blood and flame; the sailors of course chose blue; and the landed proprietors, farmers, citizens, &c., grouped under green. When the enthusiasm extended thus to all classes, it was impossible that Valentinian should not feel it too. He was a soldier's son, and though he felt that it would be a crime even to enter the building in which the martyrs had been murdered, he could not repress a throb of exultation when the scarlet-spangled horses were led out with shoutings as victors in the race.

Valentinian loved a fine horse, and, boy though he was, he owned one that had long been the envy and admiration of the different racing fraternities of Rome. Those who knew the animal's history did not wonder that Valentinian and his mother, the stately lady Placidia, had refused a noble's ransom for the magnificent creature. It was the beginning of the warm season, and Placidia had removed to her summer villa in shady Præneste. Valentinian still remained in Rome to prorecute his studies, but in the cool of the evening the youth would frequently drive out to see his mother, and the horse on every such visit was certain to return decorated with garlands by the fair hands of its mistress.

On one of these occasions Rufinus accompanied his friend. Valentinian knew that the visit was not prompted by any fondness for his mother, for the lady Placidia did not regard Rufinus as a sufficiently refined companion for her son, and the dislike was mutual. He gave Rufinus credit for a feeling of good-fellowship toward himself, and for an appreciation of a moonlight ride to Rome. But Rufinus had a deeper motive on this occasion; he had determined to persuade Valentinian to join in the races, and he thought wisely that the long, solitary ride would give him a good opportunity for persua sion. He began skilfully by praising his friend's horse, and then spoke with some surprise of the affection that Placidia lavished upon it.

Valentinian replied that Carus deserved all the love and distinction that he received, for he was indeed a hero; and then he told how, as a war-horse, he had followed the Roman standards with honour throughout all the late disastrous campaign in Britain, and though he had fled with the legions from the battle on the river Carun, where Fingal and his Caledonian troops sang their exultant chant of victory in the ears of the cowardly Caracalla, it was not his fault, for he was only a horse. When Carus had felt his master, Valentinian's father, fall wounded upon his neck, the feeble hands entwined in his mane, and the warm life-blood bathing his glossy side, the faithful animal, who until then had rushed on inflamed

with all the fury of conflict, joined the general retreat, and paced swiftly but carefully from the battle-field. The Captain of the Legion, whose stiffening fingers were tangled in Carus's mane, did not hear the loud boast of the Britons, and when Carus knelt at the door of his tent, and other soldiers of the great King of the World" (as Ossian calls the Roman Emperor) lifted the rider from the steed, the Roman heart had poured out all its blood on British soil; the brave Centurion was dead!

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At the death of his father, the Emperor Severus, Caracalla gave up the war in Britain, and, impatient to assume his new dignities, hurried back to Rome. The war-horse Carus was brought back too, and entered the imperial city marching riderless at the head of its dead master's troop. As the army approached the gates of Rome, the broad imperial highway became more and more crowded. The return of the army was known, and the citizens of Rome, small and great, swarmed out in vehicles, on horses, or on foot, soldiers and slaves, the aristocracy and the beggars, old families of Rome and foreigners.

Painfully the army forced its way through the surging crowd, attending Caracalla, who so little deserved this enthusiastic welcome, to the porch of the imperial palace-"the house of Cæsar." Then the cohorts, with the exception of the imperial body-guard, returned to the great Prætorium camp outside the city walls. One knight, a member of the Equites that the master of Carus had so lately commanded, led the Centurion's horse to the aristocratic street of the Carinæ, which ran along the slope of the Esquiline Hill, until he reached a house whose portal was decorated with laurel, and where, from the swarms of entering guests, pastry-cooks, and musicians, one might judge a feast was in progress. As the knight paused at the door, a boy bounded into the street, and sprang upon the back of the war-horse, lavishing upon the noble creature the most eager caresses. At the same moment a stately Roman matron appeared at the door, and greeted the knight, while a glad eager light shone in her eyes.

"Welcome, my good Galerius," said the lady. "Where is my husband? Is he detained at the palace with the young Emperor?"

"Nay, madam," replied the knight, gravely, "thy husband was happy in knowing no Emperor but Severus."

Then the unhappy lady knew that her husband would never come to the welcoming feast which she had prepared, and the young Valentinian slipped from his father's horse to hide the tears which would come, but which he, as a Roman, felt were womanish and shameful. with very

Rufinus, though a mere cub of a young man, little susceptibility, seemed touched by this story. "Where did your father get Carus?" he asked. "He is certainly not of the common Italian breed, neither does he resemble the light, swift African barbs."

"No," replied Valentinian; "he is a much heavier and more powerful animal. My father captured him from a Goth at the battle of Lyons, where his own horse had been killed under him. Some of our Roman jockeys affect to despise the Gothic horses as big and lumpish, but they are swift.'

"They are the best horses for chariots," replied Rufinus. "The Equites have one set of four which they will enter for the next race. They are as black as night, like Carus, there, and are, so far as I know, the only other Gothic horses in Rome. How fine they will look in their red trappings! They are sure of winning. I have invested all my ready money in bets, and I shall quadruple them all."

A few days later the following note was handed to Valentinian :

"LOVED VALENTINIAN,-I am ruined! The races are lost beforehand. One of the Gothic horses has fallen lame. The team is pledged for the race; we can only supply its place with a Roman beast, for we know not of another Gothic horse to be obtained in Rome, and there is no time to send to the provinces, else would we do it, for the entire military order are interested; some, like myself, have staked their all, and now

see ruin stare them in the face. We have sent in a petition, through the Empress Julia, to have the races postponed until we can obtain another horse from Gaul, but there is very little hope.

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Later. The Emperor has refused to postpone the races! He sees here an opportunity to curb the rising power of the army, which he has long feared. If many are in my desperate condition, the tyrant may tremble. Does he not know that in Rome it is the army that creates or dethrones the Emperor? Meantime I am lost. Farewell! Thy frantic RUFINUS." A wave of pity swept across Valentinian's compassionate heart, and he sat down to write a hopeful, encouraging letter to Rufinus. When he had finished it, a sentence from a letter written to the Roman and other Churches, when persecution had scattered the members of the first Christian Church at Jerusalem, flashed through his mind: "If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding he give them not those things which are needful, what doth it profit?" Valentinian pushed the letter from him impatiently. How could he give Rufinus the things which were needful? He could not pay his betting debts and those of the whole army. "What am I to do?" he asked aloud, and as an answer a gentle neigh floated up from Carus's stable. If he lent his horse to the military club, the reds would probably gain the race. What could be plainer? He would have nothing to do with bets and bribes; he would not even see the race; surely every brotherly and Christian instinct called upon him to rescue his friend's honour and fortune, and that of the class to which his father had belonged. Was it because he was so very sure of his duty that he did not drive out and consult his mother? Perhaps, instead, it was a haunting suspicion that she might not consider this a call of duty. He gave himself no time to doubt, or even to think, but went at once to the Prætorian Prefect with his offer.

behind is drawn by black horses too. The merchant-men will lose the profits of their last voyage, for it was their chariot that halted at the outset.

Now the two that are leading the way are just in front of him, and Valentinian realises that they are really tearing along at a fearful rate. It is only the distance which made them appear to move slowly. The Emperor is bending far forward, lashing his white coursers terribly. He is driving them across the track of the blacks at his side, and is striving he inside of the track. What a cloud of dust! He can make out nothing but a general scramble. Another loud roar echoes from the massive walls. What a frantic waving of scarves, and eager movement on the seats below! Valentinian cannot understand it at all, and a slave at his side explains that Caracalla has cut across the track of the other chariot, and overturned it on his way. Yes, there he emerges from the whirlpool of dust, and sweeps swiftly along alone toward the goal.

No, not alone, for though one set of black horses lie kicking and struggling upon the sand in inextricable confusion, the exploit has consumed time, and the other set of blacks come skimming serenely along, their driver standing erect and motionless as a statue, the steeds gaining, gaining upon the Emperor without any apparent effort. The imperial jockey looks behind him, and again leans forward and lashes his own horses more furiously: evidently he fears for the result. They are neck to neck now, and the goal is only a few yards off. The white horses are galloping frantically, but the steady pace of the blacks carries them ahead by more than three chariot lengths, and the race is won. And won by black horses. How the sun glares, for the awning does not extend over this part of the amphitheatre. If he could only tell whether Carus is one of the victorious four, or one of the four that are being led away after that ignominious tumble! What a noisy hubbub! The spectators are starting to their feet and leaving Carus was accepted, the Prefect in his first burst of gratitude their seats. "I've lost!" "I've won!" shout the slaves offering Valentinian an important post in the army. This the around him. "How do you know whether you have lost or youth declined; his education had another aim, and he knew won?" he shrieks. "Have you no eyes?" bawls a sturdy that it would break his mother's heart to see him a soldier. Ethiopian; "there is the colour of the winners," and ValenThe morning of the races dawned at last. Valentinian had tinian, at the end of the course, sees a flag displayed-a scarlet determined not to attend them, and when Rufinus came with a flag. As he hurries down the staircase a soldier's hand is band of gay young knights he refused to see them. From his clapped upon his shoulder, other soldiers seize his legs, and he window he could see the populace flocking toward the Colos-is lifted to a seat upon their shields, and borne unwillingly, in seum; and finding at last that he could not read, he deter- the midst of loud acclamations, to the course. His giddy mined to take a walk to the suburbs. As he passed over the brain reels with all this excitement: if he can only once get Palatine Hill, he turned to enjoy the beautiful prospect- Carus and lead him away, he will never, never enter this "with palaces adorned, porches and theatres, baths, aqueducts, place again. What is this?-a crowd of men about a fallen statues and trophies, and triumphal arches." Alas! the most horse. Someone is wiping drops of blood from the animal's prominent object of all was the "gladiators' bloody circus," nostrils with a sponge; there are more red drops upon his just at the foot of the hill; and, forgetting all his resolutions, foam-flecked sides-no, they are only the scarlet spangles. he hurried to it, and entered among the last. "Sunstroke?" asks one of the men. "Perhaps so," replies the man with the sponge. "He wasn't used to racing," remarks the driver; "I had to hold him in all the way, and when we stopped, he just dropped: lucky thing he didn't do it two minutes before."

He was so late that he could not find a seat in the circle near the front, where he properly belonged, and he mounted to the upper tiers, where he sat, crowded by such companions as beggars and slaves. He looked for the first time upon the place where so many martyrs had poured out their lives for their faith. He could just make out the openings, closed with gratings, through which the wild beasts had been turned loose on their victims.

His thoughts were snatched suddenly from the martyrs and the past. At the extreme left of the arena stood four fourhorse chariots ready for the start. He could tell the colours of the horses, but not at this distance that of the trappings which distinguished the class to which they belonged. The four milk-white steeds prancing impatiently before the gilded car must be the Emperor's, ard now, as the driver mounts and takes the reins, the roar of applause that circles around the seats tells that Caracalla is to drive in person. There are four bay horses; these he knows have been imported from Asia by the sailors' club; but the horses attached to both of the remaining chariots are black, and he cannot tell which belongs to the land-holders and which to the soldiers. The signal for the start is given. The horses will be going away from him for the first quarter of the race, then they will approach him for half the distance. They keep nearly the same pace, and it seems to him, at this distance, a very slow one. chariot has fallen behind; it stopped suddenly; there must have been some accident. One of his neighbours suggests that a wheel has come off; but now they cannot even tell the colour of the horses. The other three chariots are approaching, but how slowly! Surely, if he were driving Carus there, he could outstrip them all. Nearer, nearer, and now he knows that the chariots just abreast are drawn, the one by black and the other by white horses. The chariot gradually falling

Ah! one

Valentinian pushed them all aside, and fell in an agony of grief upon the neck of the dead horse. It was Carus!

There is little left to tell. Valentinian's mother did not mourn over the death of the horse as much as her son had feared. "He has died in a good cause," she said, "if he has taught you the evils of racing and betting. Oh, that all the youths of Rome might learn the same lesson!"

Harper's Young People.

A BIRD'S NEST IN THE HEART OF A TREE.-A correspondent writing to a London contemporary, says: "I have had brought before my notice an elm tree, which on being sawn into plank, exposed to view in its heart, at this point some 6 feet in circumference, the nest of a bird, containing three eggs, small in size, and in colour, so far as could be made out, white, with small brown spots: the shells were soft, due to their great age, which could not have been less than thirty-five years, as ascertained from the layers of wood interposed between the nest and the tree bark. The bird had evidently, while the tree was young, built at the junction of a bough with the trunk ; this bough had then been either blown or cut off, and the natural growth of the wood had by degrees surrounded the nest. I had before seen strange things embedded in elm trees, but never before encountered an object so remarkable for its position."

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I.-AUGUST 5.

BY REV, R. H. LOVELL, Bromley.

What rest and peace it would ever give us, especially in

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." times of trouble, if we could realise what it means to have

PSALM xlvi 1.

HE Bible seems to me to set forth some truths with a special delight. Most of us have our favourite authors, pursuits, and very special pleasures. However carefully we may discharge our general duty, we find in these special delights our highest joy. So the Bible is always earnest in every truth it sets forth, but one class of truths is its great joy to proclaim. What is this? That our God is not cold, heartless, unfeeling, a god of marble, or simply a great ruler, but that He is a loving Father, and especially delights to help and succour in our times of deepest need. If we have not filled our minds with this view of God we have as yet missed one of the chief features of His character and relationship to us. "He delights in mercy;" "He is a very present help in trouble." This is the key of the whole Bible, and the very essence of God's character.

Have we, further, learnt that all the arrangements of Nature, and every old law and plan and economy of God, is intended, very faintly and dimly, to set forth some greater view of what God Himself is to the soul? Every star and flower, every breeze and rain-drop, every fact in history and life, are designed to teach us something of God's love and His desire to do us good.

"The outward part is not the whole,
But every part is moulded

To image forth an inward soul,
Which dimly is unfolded."

These cities of refuge, how much they teach us of God's love and pity! Who provided them? Who thought first of their need? Who planned all their arrangements? Who even ordained that the roads to them should be kept in order, the better to speed the flight of him who sought refuge in them?

How much more a living God is than a city. He thought out and planned our salvation. He provided the Living Way. He has taken away all barriers. But then God Himself comes right down to us where we are-no long journey to Him, no tedious way to Him. The Way is Living, that is, it feels our every step, and is in most perfect sympathy with us all through the journey of life.

God is more than any city. He is not only close to us -easily reached, but He is a delightful refuge. Hiding places are not generally pleasant. However pleasant the natural situation, if a man feels he is obliged to remain within a certain limited enclosure, he begins to want more liberty. When the magistrates of a Dutch city made a law that people must not go beyond the walls, it is said one old person, who had never been outside them, felt an immediate wish to go beyond their confines. God is a most free and delightful refuge. There is full liberty in Him and no sense of restraint, because when once He is our refuge we would not go beyond Him if we could. The wish to do so is unknown to the Christian.

Then He is far more than a refuge, He is all-sufficient Strength and living Help. I do not find that the cities of refuge did more than offer protection. It is far more to give joy, strength, and help to those who flee for safetyGod can do nothing in a poor, little, mean way. All He does must be like Himself, bountiful, generous, largehearted, and royal. So His refuge is a royal palace, where all needs for full enjoyment are provided in rich and spontaneous abundance.

GOD for our refuge and help. A few years since, a menagerie of wild beasts was passing through one of the northern towns. A man who had a small terrier dog was very angry with it because it had failed to win some contest in which he had been staking money. In his anger the man put his dog into the lion's den, supposing the lion would destroy it. It soon became the talk of the town that the lion might be seen caressing the little dog, and the owner of the dog, when he had cooled in temper, went to the proprietor of the show and demanded his dog. "Take it," said the proprietor. But the lion had so taken the part of the little pet that the very sight of the once owner of the dog roused the lion's anger. The measure of the dog's strength was now the extent of the lion's interest in him. If God be our refuge who shall harm us? "Who shall separate us from the love of God in Christ ?" Nothing in the universe, says Paul. The swallow leaves us in the winter; the rose fears the frost; father and mother even cannot always help; but "God is a very present help" in our deepest hours of need.

How many lips have uttered these words? How many hearts felt their solace? How varied have been the trials and sorrows they have ministered to? What a procession we should see if we could know all the sorrows these words have helped to comfort. It was Luther's wont when the work of the Reformation was not as cheering as he could wish, and when he felt depressed, to go to Melancthon and say, Come, Philip, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm." But what use is a remedy for others unless we use it and find benefit? Can we all really sing this Golden Text for

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seedling. But a good old man can talk to you, and nothing is more delightful than to have the privilege of listening to his stories and experiences of bygone days, specially is this the case when old age is strong with wisdom and sunny with love.

In looking back over many days and experiences two or three events, as a rule, stand out prominently on the field of memory. Jacob remembered in his last days with vivid recollection three events. The first and most important, that night, the first out from his father's house, the old home, when God appeared to him as he lay upon the ground, with only a stone for his pillow. That night, and that first appearance of God, Jacob never, never could forget. Then he remembered his one most loved companion Rachel, and her early death, and where he had buried her. So here Joshua, at the end of a long life, full of enterprise, and battles, and sieges, and marches, seems to say, "The one thing of all others most important in life is this, be honest in your dealings with your God, and do not be deluded with the glittering promise of serving others. That is the advice which in my old age I most earnestly press upon you to remember."

If we could always see at the beginning of our lives and plans what we see often at the close, how many, many things we should plan differently and arrange otherwise. How often already in life have we, although warned of our error, been quite sure we were right, and the event has proved that we were altogether mistaken. Young people especially have an idea, at least they often so act, as if their fathers, mothers, and teachers, were always wrong, and they alone were right. How frequently, even as to matters of clothing and food, the young declare "they will get no hurt," when older heads assure them that they will; and though the young are invariably mistaken, yet how few will lay the matter to heart, and believe that older people only really wish for their best interest; and heed their counsel.

This, at least, is one of the special values of the Bible. The advice given there is never a mistake. It never proceeds on a shallow, imperfect view of the facts. It is advice which can never be slighted without injury. Hence the value of an old man's testimony like Joshua, and the prominence of the topic which he talked about in his last days. "Be sincere and true in your service of God." We each do well to gather round the old man's pillow, and reverently heed and lay to heart his advice. It is as true and as important now as in Joshua's day.

Joshua had led the Israelites through a long journey. At every turn they came upon some new people whose idol worship, either in its novelty, or promise, or grandeur, had some fascination for some of the Israelites. Life is a journey, in which we each one daily shall find some new and untried temptations. It is somewhat like a long railway journey with the train stopping at many a station. Some of our fellow-travellers leave us at one station and some at another. Few go on and resolutely pursue the journey to the end. How many have we known who started well and went some part of the journey with us? Where are they now? It needs, therefore, resolution and perseverance to put aside the many invitations to leave the narrow path. Choose well, says Joshua. I believe there is no person who, if he would calmly and intelligently think over for an hour with prayerfulness all that serving God meant and would be to him, but must decide that "whatever others may do, he would serve the Lord."

Joshua knew that he was leaving the people he had so long led and cared for. He was most anxious before he left them to counsel and warn them. He feared, when he was no longer with them to speak, that, unless their choice was well and thoroughly made, what their future might be, when left to themselves. Young friends here, many look on you now that you are in the eircle of home and school, and wonder with prayerful and anxious solicitude what your future will be when your dear old friends are gone, and their loving voices can no longer counsel and warn you. To-day they urge

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"And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt."-JUDGES ii. 12. ISTENING to a speaker at one of our religious anniversaries at Exeter Hall, I heard him affirm, "that people only needed the good and true, the pure and beautiful, to be set before them, and such was the charm of these things they would be immediately chosen and preferred to things evil." The speaker used as an illustration the case of two ships lying in the docks, one filled with fruit, the other with nothing but ballast, and he said the rats would swim from the ship with ballast to the ship with fruit.

True, I thought, as to rats, they obey the instincts God has given them, but not true as to people, even God's people, for I thought of that passage," My people have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn out to themselves broken cisterns, which can hold no water."

Then I thought of such passages as our Golden Text, and the sad frequency with which they occur. How often Israel is represented as leaving God. How often, from the time of Moses to Manasseh, that people left God. How often we read, "He departed not from the sin of Jeroboam." Then I thought of two preachers who were preaching in Edinburgh. One said "that truth was se beautiful, if men could only see its loveliness all men would at once worship it." The afternoon preacher said "that men were so corrupt, that even if truth became incarnate, men would be so blind to its loveliness they would either neglect or murder truth," which, indeed, men did in the person of our Incarnate Lord. Whatever, then, God's other creatures may do, this is at once the folly and sin and shame of man: he is more prone to choose the evil than the good.

Only think what a blessed thing in life it would be for each of us if we were thoroughly persuaded that this was a weakness of ours, and if we each one, on our guard against pride and self-conceit, should cry daily, "Wherewithal shall we guide our steps?" Only by taking heed thereto according to Divine teaching and guidance. We need not look far around us to see many choosing the unwise and perilous and evil course, rather than the wise and safe and good one. And we may be sure that individually we are no exception to this common weakness.

It is no easy task to improve the condition of any plant or animal, any business, or enterprise. But when we have

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