A Wreath from The Woods of Carolina
11 COLOUR PLATES
LITHOS BY SARONY, MAJOR & KNAPP
CHARLES R. SANDERS, JR.
123 Montgomery Street
Raleigh, North Carolina
Personal Address Label
THE HONEYSUCKLE. LUPINE & WILD PINKS
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
A WREATH FROM THE WOODS OF CAROLINA.
Colored Engravings of Native Wild Flowers.NEW YORK:General Protestant Episcopal Sunday School Union,and Church Book Society,762 BROADWAY.1859.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by the General Protestant Episcopal Sunday School Union, and Church Book Society, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
William Denyse, STEREOTYPER AND ELECTROTYPER, 183 William Street, N. Y.
Pudney and Russell, PRINTERS, 79 John Street, N. YPREFACE.
The writer of these stories has always considered Flowers a most happy and charming medium through which to direct the opening minds of children to love and adoration of their great Creator. Prompted by this consideration, and hoping they will afford pleasure as well as profit to the youthful reader, she now presents them in a volume, illustrated with engravings of the beautiful Wild Flowers connected with each story.
PAGEBessie Blue-Bell7May Queen19The Cup of Cold Water27The Magnolia and Violet41The Trumpet Flower52The Triumph of Truth64The Lily of the Valley81The Clematis and Woodbine96Rhene, or the Wild Crab Blossom110Forget-me-Not and Morning Glory143Modesty152
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
THE BLUE JESSAMINEA WREATH FROM THE WOODS OF CAROLINA.
I. Bessie Blue Bell.
“Our Father who art in Heaven.”
On the borders of a small creek, running into the Trent River, just out of New-Bern, dwelt a blind widow, with two small children—a little girl eight years old, and a little boy just three.
This widow was a good woman, and taught her children to love God, and pray to Him, as soon as they could lisp His name.
She was quite young, and, although blind, was very lovely—her countenance being expressive of great gentleness
and benignity. Her children's names were Bessie and Edward.
Little Bessie's thoughts seemed to be centred in one untiring effort to amuse and console her sightless parent. This good girl never rested till she had learned to read, that she might beguile and sweeten the lonely hours of her blind mother, by reading to her from the Bible, and other good books, which she had so much delighted in before she lost her sight. Morning, noon, and night found this young girl on her cricket at her mother's knee reading her chapter—and, oh, what a cordial it was to that mother's heart! In the morning, as soon as Bessie was dressed, she said her prayers, read her Bible to her mother, and then tripped out into a beautiful wood near by, and culled an apronful of flowers; and returning, placed them one by one in her hand, describing the beauties of each in her simple, child-like way, while she inhaled its rich perfume; prattling all the while of the bright blue sky, the soft sweet air, the music of the birds, and the beauty and fragrance of the woods, till her blind mother really seemed to enjoy them all, as much as Bessie herself.
And now, when these precious duties were performed, she partook of the morning's repast, with that dear
mother and her little brother, while the silvery tones of her innocent voice still filled the gentle soul of her mother with the sweet music of joy and thankfulness. The repast being ended, Bessie took another kiss from her dear ones, and then tripped gleefully off to school, where she strove to make herself wiser every day, and more capable of enlivening the spirit and lighting the path of her who sat in her blindness at home, waiting for her return.
At noon, when she entered her peaceful home, the first thing she did, after kissing her dear mother, was to resume her seat at the accustomed place, and read another chapter in the Bible; while her heart swelled with glad praise and gratitude to her “Father in Heaven,” that she was thus enabled to comfort and cheer the lonely hours of that beloved mother.
Thus, day by day, did this good child verify the words of the blessed Saviour—“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise.” And so did she beguile the lonely hours of the patient, pious woman, on whose knees, and from whose dear lips, this little lamb had learned to love “the Good Shepherd.”
“I wish I could see your happy face, my child,” said her mother to her one day, when Bessie was more than
usually joyous, and eloquent in her praises of the surrounding beauties of nature.
“Do but smell this Blue Bell, dear mother,” said Bessie; “just like its perfume is the face of your child, grateful and joyous.”
“Ah, yes!” said her mother, “here is your favorite—the beautiful, the fragrant blue jessamine; there surely is, in its perfume, something so like the purity and innocence of my little daughter—so enlivening, so like incense meet for Heaven—I can well imagine it an emblem of her sweet face. The Blue Bell is really and peculiarly worthy of your guileless love, my child. It is a princess among flowers. It was meet my darling should have chosen it for her favorite.”*
One morning Bessie rose very early, before her mother was awake. She seemed to sleep so very sweetly—a smile played round her placid lips, and the little child wondered if mamma was not in her sleep beholding the dear Blue Bell, and the many beautiful flowers her little daughter
*The Blue Bell.—Petals delicate white, edged with deep fringed violet, shaded gradually into the white centre. Stamens dense, high, delicate straw color. Perfume, delicious—resembling the violet, but more lively. Color, a variety of shades—some delicate blue, some deep purple—violet predominates. An annual.
had placed in her hand, and described to her. And the thought, too, flashed through her guileless heaven-taught mind—
“Perhaps mamma is looking at the beautiful undying flowers of Paradise; it may be that her spirit has ascended to the regions of the blest, and she beholds her Saviour, and ‘Our Father in Heaven.’ I would not for the world wake her from the glorious view. Sleep on, dearest mother, sleep on.”
And the little child dressed herself noiselessly, said in quiet her innocent prayers, read her Bible, and then hastened out into the beautiful wood near by, intent on giving her dear mother a sweet surprise, by guiding her hand into her apron of fresh dewy flowers, just as she woke from her sleep.
Now, the cottage was on a green slope, extending to the margin of the creek, over which was a bridge, and from the bridge extended a causeway over a marsh some fifty yards, to the “Wilderness of Sweets,” as this flowery wood was called.
Little Bessie never feared to cross the bridge or marsh alone, after having said her prayers, for she said to herself, “ ‘Our Father in Heaven’ will take care of me.”
So on she went after she reached the woods, singing
merrily, plucking the choicest and most beautiful flowers of every hue, and filling her apron as fast as she could; but, alas, she found not the Blue Bell!
“Oh, dear!” sighed Bessie, “I must not return without mamma's favorite flower. She will not think she sees me, if she does not smell the dear Blue Bell.” So on and eagerly she advanced, deeper and deeper, amid the tangled vines and dark, thick foliage of the overhanging trees. “Oh,” said she, again and again, “I cannot return without the blue jessamine, just one for dear mamma.”
So, on and still on flew Bessie, her bright, quick, anxious eyes peeping into every mass of bushes, or cluster of vines or flowers, in hopes of finding her favorite. But, alas, she found it not. So intent was she on the search, she did not perceive that the sun had climbed to his meridian, and dried up all the dew, and that all the pretty flowers in her apron were withered and faded; and then, in a short time, the little child found that her tiny feet were aching and swollen, and that she was sick and faint with hunger.
All at once it occurred to her she had lost her way. She stared wildly around, and endeavored to retrace her steps; but, alas, there was no appearance of a path,
and no opening in the dense forest, the thick tangled underwood.
Bessie looked up to the bright blue sky, and thought, as she gazed on the glorious sun—
“Ah! I am not alone; yon bright sun that shines on me, shines too on the cottage of my dear mother. I am not alone; ‘Our Father who is in Heaven’ sees me, and will take care of me.” So little Bessie, being very thirsty, hastened to a clear, bubbling spring, and drank out of the hollow of her tiny hand, and then, seating herself on the grass, bathed her swollen feet. After she had rested herself awhile she arose, and searching about, found some berries, which she ate heartily; and when her hunger was gone, with an innocent, grateful heart, she seated herself to rest and think of her dear mamma and little brother.
“Alas!” said she, “my poor mamma! She will think she has lost her little girl. Perhaps she will think I am drowned in the creek, or some wild beast has devoured me, or some serpent stung me to death. Poor, dear mamma!” And Bessie wept bitterly when she thought of her grief. At length she knelt down on the grass, raised her innocent hands and weeping eyes to Heaven, and prayed earnestly to “Our Father who is in Heaven.” After this,
she became calm, confiding, and even cheerful. Again she searched the bushes for the sweet Blue Bell.
And now the sun went down, and the bright stars came twinkling at Bessie through the moving foliage. She chatted awhile with the little stars, and then, being very weary, she said her prayers, and laid her down on the soft grass, beneath a thick-leaved cedar, and slept as tranquilly as if she were in her mother's cottage.
Nor yet in her slumbers did the Good Shepherd forget this little lamb of His fold. In her dreams she was gathering flowers, and rejoicing amid their fragrance and beauty, while gentle angels, with snowy wings and radiant faces, held each a hand of the innocent child. And, indeed, it was well that Bessie had prayed to “Our Father in Heaven.” An enormous rattlesnake emerged from the thicket, and coiled himself near the sleeper—so near, that had she moved, his fatal fangs might have been fastened in her tender flesh. A sudden noise in the woods startled the terrible reptile, and he instantly darted into the bushes, giving little Bessie's arm a stroke with his tail, and she woke in time to see his fast receding form, as it vanished in the briers.
The good little girl instantly arose, and falling on her knees, before “Our Father who is in Heaven,” poured
forth her gratitude for this escape from death, in the silent night—and then calmly laid herself down again to sleep. Again, in her dreams, she sought for her home. Two gentle angels, holding each a hand of the little wanderer, led her through the thick bushes of the pathless woods, to the arms of her beloved mother.
Just as the rosy-fingered morning was unbarring the gates of light, to let forth the glorious sun, and the mocking-bird, perched on the topmost bough of the cedar, was pouring forth his rich and varied notes of praise, little Bessie awoke; and, with a blithe and trusting heart, joined with that melodious song.
“Sing on, sweet bird, I'll join with thee—Our notes shall fill the rosy sky;Before the morning star, shall weWaft our Creator's praise on high.”
Then she said her prayers, but she greatly missed the beloved Bible she was wont to read each morning, though she sat down and thought over the beautiful beatitudes of the blessed Jesus, and felt a peaceful confidence in “Our Father who is in Heaven,” and a consoling belief that He would send the same bright messengers she saw in her dreams, to guide her footsteps homeward.
Bessie now went cheerfully to work, gathering berries
for her breakfast. As soon as she had eaten, she set off in search of her mother's cottage. She directed her steps toward the rising sun.
All was bright and joyous. The birds singing, the flowers blooming, the zephyrs fanning the leaves gently but cheerily—the dew-drops glittering in the sunbeams, as little Bessie glided on cautiously among the matted vines and shrubbery, hoping soon to find the woods open and see the white cottage appear.
She could not resist her old habit of gathering flowers, as usual at this delightful hour.
“Oh,” cried she, at last, “there is a beautiful Blue Bell!” She bounded forward to pluck the flower, and lo! at that moment, through an opening in the woods, the dear cottage of her mother was in sight!
Oh, how her heart leaped with joy! Her little feet seemed to have wings to them, so rapidly were the marsh, the bridge, the green slope passed over, and then, Bessie was indeed at her own door.
While she was enjoying the rapture of her fond mother's embrace, something seemed to bind her around the knees—and what do you think it was, my dear readers? It was her sweet, affectionate little brother, who was clasping his chubby arms about his darling
sister, while he shouted with joy at her safe return home.
“Let us return thanks to our Father in Heaven,” said the blind widow to her children, “for all His goodness, especially for preserving and restoring my darling little daughter to her home again.”
And then, the pious mother knelt down between her two young lambs of Christ's fold, and poured forth her gratitude to “Our Father who is in Heaven,” for his infinite mercy and goodness, while their little hands and hearts were raised in meek, innocent, and doubtless acceptable devotion to “the Good Shepherd.”
Soon after they had risen from their knees, the mother said—
“I smell the Blue Bell! surely, Bessie, you did not stop to pluck one at such a time?”
“Oh, yes, dear mother,” said Bessie, “it was the darling Blue Bell that showed me the way out of the woods. As I flew to pluck it, there was our sweet cottage just in my view.”
Little Bessie now sat down by her mother, and told her all that had befallen her since she left her side the morning before, and then read her chapter as usual, before breakfast.
“You shall be called Bessie Blue Bell,” said the widow, smiling; and ever after she went by that name, sure enough.
Bessie grew up to be a good and useful woman, and was always a comfort and delight to her blind mother, who had taught her to pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven.”
YELLOW JESSAMINE WILD ORANGE & VIRGIN BOWER
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.II. The May Queen.
“God is love.”
On the first day of this delicious month—in which the woods of our beloved Carolina are radiant with flowers and redolent of sweets—on the May-day of my happy childhood—little children used to assemble in some shady nook, and celebrate the coronation of their chosen Queen of May.
Though to me the summer is past, and the grave autumn of life has crowned my brow with the “sere and yellow leaf,” yet, when I recall the innocent and joyous spring-time of my being, amid delicious shades, and blooming flowers, and singing birds, and murmuring rills, and gentle zephyrs’ soothing whispers, my buoyant spirit is young again, and laughs and gambols through the maze of flowers, mid bees and butterflies, in despite of the gravity of age. In this story, then, my dear young readers,
I shall tell you of our May parties, and of three of our most beautiful native wild flowers—the Virgin's Bower, the Yellow Jessamine, and the Wild Orange.
The Virgin's Bower is one of the most royal-looking of all Dame Flora's sylvan favorites—being a vine of most luxuriant growth, of massy rich green foliage, over whose whole outer surface are dense clusters of purple flowers, glowing and brightening in the sunbeams—appearing like a canopy of purple velvet above the throne of royalty.
It is supposed by some that when Sir Walter Raleigh first visited Carolina, being enchanted with the splendor of these native vines, he gave them the very appropriate name of “Virgin's Bower,” in honor of his royal mistress, Elizabeth, the virgin Queen of England.
Sir Walter Raleigh was a brave knight and accomplished courtier in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was also commander of a fleet of ships sent by that noble sovereign across the wide Atlantic Ocean, with directions to explore this continent, and see if it would be a good and comfortable home for her subjects.
Historians say he landed on the coast of North Carolina, and thence advanced sufficiently into the country to enable him to report satisfactorily to his royal mistress
on his return to England. His account being favorable, the Queen forthwith dispatched other ships laden with emigrants to occupy our beautiful land, and establish her dominion over it.
The Yellow Jessamine, or Golden Climber of Carolina, equally beautiful and luxuriant, often extends to the topmost boughs of the stately Pine; and there, as if jealous of the sunbeams, expands her massy, golden beauties to the skies, crowning the head of her proud supporter, and thus heightening its grandeur.
It is not unusual for these magnificent vines to twine themselves amid the luscious white blossoms of the Wild Orange tree, whose bridal wreaths are often laden too with the splendor of the Virgin's Bower, thus uniting the appropriate emblems of royalty—wealth, splendor, and purity or integrity.
The Wild Orange resembles, both in appearance and odor, the bearing Orange of the tropics. The white blossoms cluster thickly around a long, slender branch, which I have seen as long as my arm, studded from one end to the other with flowers, waving in the breeze and shedding their exquisite perfume.
In one of these natural bowers, we children held the court of our May Queen. We reared a mound of earth
within the bower, and covered it with moss, which became in time like a carpet of rich green velvet. It seemed a real pity to tread upon it, though it was prepared expressly for the feet of our chosen Queen; and from there she pronounced her coronation address, after having received a chaplet of flowers on her fair and beautiful brow.
It was our custom, a few days before the first of May, to assemble in the woods near our sylvan throne, and choose our Queen. What a sweet delight it is, at this distant hour, to reflect how lovingly, how innocently, and how joyously we performed our several parts! And here let me counsel you, dear children, if you would wish in maturer years to look back with unalloyed pleasure on the spring-time of your life, to love one another; for love will protect your tender minds from all unamiable feelings towards your playmates, and infinitely enhance your own happiness. Remember, it was love which brought your gentle Saviour from the bosom of his Father in Heaven, in order to gather such precious lambs as you into his heavenly fold.
There were always two candidates for the throne of May, and we conducted the election in this wise: One little girl sat on the grass, and suggested the flower to
represent each candidate; usually yellow and purple. Each voter then threw the flower which represented her favorite into the lap of the little girl on the grass, who proceeded to count them, while the rest stood around her in a circle, holding hands, with faces beaming with delight, and ready to dance round the chosen Queen as soon as her election was announced.
“The Queen is Purple!” or, “The Queen is Yellow!” soon greeted their anxious ears, and instantly a shout of joyful approbation arose from their innocent voices; the Queen was placed in the centre of the ring, the little girl on the grass took her place, and all danced round her, singing and laughing—every now and then kissing her pretty lips with guileless love, such as the angels know.
After this, our kind mammas went to work making cakes, and other nice things, besides loading us with fruits, nuts, and sugar-plums uncountable; and when the happy day arrived, helped us to arrange our table in the woods.
Our Queen had her maids of honor, her pages and high officers of state, among whom figured most conspicuously the almoner, who bore on her arm a basket wreathed with flowers, from under whose cunning beauties she from
time to time drew forth a liberal handful of sugar-plums, and, tossing them high in the air, was the first to scramble for their possession. In this she was followed by the whole assemblage, not excepting the Queen. This, perhaps you will say, was rather unqueenly; yet I can see no reason why she should have been excluded by such useless etiquette from the participation in every enjoyment of our jubilee. Indeed, the scramble was regarded as the choice pleasure of the occasion, and was accompanied with merry peals of laughter, while every face glowed with innocent delight and good-nature. These joyous occasions were never marred by the presence of the deformed visages of discontent, ill-humor, or fretfulness.
In the May party I now recall to remembrance, a beautiful little girl, called Annie L—, was chosen for our Queen. She came dancing into the ring we had formed for her, her blue eyes sparkling, and her bright, intelligent countenance glowing with pure delight. She had lovely golden hair, falling in rich curls around her fair shoulders, which were always tempting one to kiss them. We all loved sweet Annie L—, and no one dreamed of supplanting her. It was one of our chief pleasures to caress the sweet child, whose little heart was so guileless and so lovely, even as her face was beautiful. “Of
such,” said the blessed Redeemer, “is the kingdom of Heaven.”
Clad in a pure white robe, with her chaplet of white flowers shading a countenance of exquisite loveliness and sweetness, with a glow of health and delight illumining her beauty, she was the express picture of an angel. And Annie was not only a beautiful but a good little girl, obedient to her parents, and always amiable to her dear little playmates.
We conducted our Queen to her throne, singing and strewing flowers before her, and here is our May Song.
Oh, come, let us strew with sweet flowersThe path of dear Annie our Queen,To her throne in these beauteous bowersAwaiting her, fragrant and green.The morning shines brightly; oh, come, let us lead herTo grace with her beauty their shade,And on her fair brow place the chaplet decreed her,Then hail as our Queen the dear maid.Oh, strew there bright buds of the morning,Sweet emblems of beauty and youth,Of every fair virtue adorningHer young heart of goodness and truth.Through life may her pathway be brightened with roses,As this for her feet we now strew;May morn bring her rapture—and eve as it closesBring peace, in the light falling dew.
Little Annie L— grew up a charming and excellent woman, enjoying the esteem and blessing of all who knew her, even as she had been good and lovely in her childhood, possessing the love and admiration of her little playmates. Sweet, lovely Annie L—! she was a child of God—and “God is Love.”III. The Cup of Cold Water.
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name....he shall not lose his reward.—Mark ix. 41.
On a certain bright morning, while the Honeysuckles, Lupines, Wild Pinks, and Roses literally carpeted the forests of our dear Carolina, three little boys set out on a ramble in these flowery wilds—on the borders of the winding Trent. Their fishing-tackle was not forgotten, as they knew that the river abounded in robins and silver perch and others of the finny tribe, meat for their mother's frying-pan, and an acceptable offering to maternal care. Each little boy carried a small tin bucket, within which was his dinner, and which on his return home would contain a goodly number of Honeysuckle apples or strawberries, or at all events a bright nosegay of wild flowers for his mother or sister.
The names of these boys were Tommy Fearless, Sammy Careless, and Harry Heartless. Of course my readers will readily perceive, from the diversity of their names, that
they were not all the children of the same parents. However, they were next-door neighbors. The father of Tommy Fearless was a carpenter, that of Sammy Careless a shoemaker, and of Harry Heartless a day-laborer—all from the humbler walks of life.
Only one of these boys attended Sunday School, and this was Tommy Fearless, being ten years old at this time. Sammy and Harry were a year or two older than Tommy, having advanced thus far in the journey of life without the soul-nurturing care of a Christian mother, or even the occasional teaching of a Sunday School, though this great privilege had been repeatedly offered to them. Their parents were thoughtless, ungodly people, totally unmindful of their responsible office, as representatives of the great Parent and Governor of all, to guide their offspring in the path of duty. Having stated these melancholy facts, you will at a glance perceive what kind of boys these were; particularly as I have no doubt you all are acquainted with the worlds of the blessed Saviour, who said: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit!” and, “Men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.” Therefore rejoice, and be thankful, you who have Christian parents, or faithful teachers.
Well, these three boys had enjoyed their day's ramble—had angled in the river, had filled their buckets with Honeysuckle apples* and other products of the woods, and had turned their faces homeward; when suddenly they heard piercing groans, and at intervals shrieks of agony, mingled with the blithe notes of the never-silent mocking-bird. Our little travellers paused and looked at each other in consternation.
“Oh, what can that be?” said Tommy.
“What can it be?” responded Sammy.
“We must search and find the sufferer,” said Tommy; “perhaps we may give some relief.”
“I can tell you,” answered Harry; “the groans come from a poor sailor in yonder cabin. Do you not see it just beneath that large oak tree?”
“Oh, yes, we see it,” said the other boys; “but who is this sailor?”
“He is a man,” replied Harry, “who was brought from on board a vessel from the West Indies; and he has that dreadful disease, the small-pox. He is placed here to be attended to till he either dies or recovers; for if he were
* Sweet, juicy excrescences on the branches of the Honeysuckle, very cool and grateful to the taste.
suffered to remain in town, a great many persons might take the disease and die. Let us run away as fast as we can, boys, or we shall have the small-pox, too.”
“Oh, how dreadfully he moans!” said Tommy.
“Poor fellow!” said Sammy, though he began to move off after Harry, who only paused a moment till the others should follow him.
“Let us go to the poor man,” said Tommy, who stood still, as if thinking if it were right to leave the sufferer without seeing that he could render him any assistance.
“Come along, boys,” urged Harry, “or we too shall take this terrible disease, and be left out here in the woods to die.”
“Let us run as fast as we can,” said Sammy; yet Tommy stood still.
“You had better come along after us,” said the two boys, “for if you get this disease, even your father and mother will not be permitted to nurse you, or even visit you, and you will surely die out here in these woods.”
“Oh, come along, come along,” urged both the boys. All this while the piteous cries continued, and the boys were near enough to hear the words which issued from the sufferer.
“Oh,” said the voice, “for one drop of cool water on this burning tongue! I shall burn up with thirst. Is there no one who, for the love of Christ, will give me one drop of cold water before I die.”
The boys listened and turned pale with horror, if not with compassion.
“I cannot go on, boys,” said Tommy Fearless; “if you are afraid, go on; I shall give this man a cup of cold water before I leave the woods; and I am sure if you had been to the Sunday School, and heard and read what I have, you could not find it in your hearts to run away from the cries of this sufferer.”
“What was it you heard?” asked the other boys, whom the earnestly compassionate countenance of Tommy had compelled to pause in their heartless flight.
“My last Sunday's Bible lesson,” continued Tommy, “contained words which will be addressed to the wicked at the great day of judgment by our Redeemer and Judge—‘I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was sick, and ye visited me not’—‘Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of my brethren, ye did it not unto me.’ And there is another place where He said, ‘Whosoever shall give a cup of cold water to a disciple, to drink in my name, verily I say unto
you, he shall not lose his reward.’ I cannot deprive myself of this promised blessing, or incur the condemnation of the wicked; so I shall go to the relief of the sick man, and you can go home if you choose.” So Tommy Fearless turned resolutely towards the hut, while Harry Heartless led off Tommy Careless, laughing, and taunting Tommy as they ran.
“Now,” thought Tommy, “they say this is a very terrible and dangerous disease—I may take it and give it to my parents, and brothers and sisters, and if they die, I shall be the cause of their death. If I die myself, that is nothing, because the Good Shepherd will take me into His heavenly fold, when I obey His voice. But ought I endanger others—what ought I to do?” And now Tommy remembered that his good Sunday School teacher had told him always to pray when he needed guidance, and that God would hear him, and direct his steps aright. So Tommy kneeled down, and prayed the Good Shepherd to guide him in this hour of peril and doubt. All the while the little boy was communing with his Saviour, the shrieks of the suffering sailor were piercing his ears and heart. Tommy rose from his knees convinced that he ought to disregard his own safety, and obey the injunctions of his divine Saviour. He was walking firmly towards the
hut, when, the door being wide open, the sailor saw him approaching.
“Little boy,” he cried out, “stop! stop! where you are, and listen to me. I would not, for the world, endanger your precious life for my own relief; therefore listen, and I will tell you how you can give me all I require without danger to yourself. And may God bless and reward you for your compassion and bravery. Take your tin bucket; go to yonder rill; fill it with water; then walk in carefully, touching nothing as you come. I will hold out my mug, and do you pour the water in, and return to the woods as speedily as possible, and rub the soles of your shoes well into the fresh earth before going home. After this there is no danger, and surely you shall not lose your reward in time and eternity, my brave little boy.”
Trusting in his divine Redeemer, Tommy followed the careful directions of the sick man, and relieved his burning thirst amid the outpourings of his grateful heart, and the comfortable assurance of his Master's favor. The face of the sailor was hideous from the disease; quite enough to frighten a less pious and brave boy from a benevolent purpose; but with such motives, and under such guidance, the little Christian is as brave as a lion. So Tommy's
courage did not fail, and his heart was filled with holy joy.
The sick man informed Tommy that he was placed there by the authorities of the town, under the charge of a nurse, who had cruelly left him all day alone, and might not return at all; for he was a man fond of drink, and such are not to be depended upon.
“I will go home and ask my mother to let me return and take care of you through the night,” said Tommy. But the sailor assured him there would be no necessity for this exposure of himself to the fell disease, as it was near the hour for the usual visit of the attending physician, who would provide him another nurse immediately.
“So now,” added the sick man, “give me another draught of water, and a few of those cool Honeysuckle apples, of which I am very fond; then hasten home, lest your parents should be apprehensive of your danger; and remember, that he who gives a cup of cold water to a disciple of the blessed Jesus will surely not lose his reward.” So, with the blessing of the sick sailor, Tommy departed, taking care to follow all his directions for his safety.
Perhaps my young readers may suppose that Tommy kept this adventure from his parents; but not so: his
Sunday School teacher had instructed him to submit his conduct entirely to his parents’ judgment, and never for one moment to deceive them. For although, through their ignorance of the precepts of Christianity, they may not understand or appreciate such motives, they will excuse the action in consideration of the child's confidence and truth towards them. Besides, Tommy knew he was following the commands of his divine Master and Redeemer, who could direct the unruly wills of all sinful men.
As Tommy approached his father's house, he saw one of his little sisters standing before the door, and as soon as she perceived him, she ran in, crying, “Oh, go away! go away, Tommy! you will kill us all—Oh, go away!”
But Tommy stopped, and waving his hand to her, said, “Tell my mother to come to the door, if she pleases.”
His mother immediately made her appearance at the door, pale with affright.
“Mother,” said Tommy, “the boys have told you where I have been; do not be alarmed, mother, I have not touched the man, though I have seen him, and given him water.” So Tommy told his mother how carefully the sick man had instructed him to avoid the dreadful disease, and how cruelly the other boys had run away and left him.
Now Tommy's mother, though not a religious woman, was sensible as well as reasonable, and did not severely reprove her little son, though she could not refrain from expressing her disapprobation and fears; and when Tommy explained his motives and good Christian feelings, she not only did not condemn him, but seemed deeply moved at the sufferings of the sailor, and the truly Christian conduct of her little son.
Although matters proceeded thus far so smoothly with our little hero, there was yet a severe trial awaiting him. His father came home from his workshop that night out of humor, and being a stern as well as an impulsive man, without the grace of Christianity to control his actions, would not listen to his little son's account of himself, but yielded to his angry feelings, and gave the boy a severe chastising. Tommy endured his punishment meekly, nor did he allow any feeling of resentment to take its place in his dutiful heart, but was willing to suffer for well-doing rather than to disregard the injunctions of our Saviour, who had given His life for our salvation. These heavenly seeds had been sown in his infantile heart by the Spirit of grace, through the diligent instructions of his good Sunday School teacher.
All the neighbors, including the Careless and the
Heartless families, for some time shunned the company of Tommy Fearless, but in due time he was looked upon, as all such good boys should be, as a Christian hero. Harry and Sammy, it is true, did not confess it, but it was nevertheless very plainly to be seen that they were both ashamed of their cowardice and unkindness. There is, doubtless, great allowance to be made for the alarm under which they acted, without the possession of Christian knowledge, such as had guided their little companion on the late occasion; yet the utter absence of feeling they displayed, and selfishness, with the ridicule which they poured upon Tommy, evinced a heartlessness and carelessness of disposition at variance with the feelings of common humanity. May the good Spirit guide some faithful Sunday School teacher to the desolate homes of these boys, and draw them into the fold of peace and of heavenly knowledge, which will make them wise unto salvation.
Years passed on, and Tommy Fearless grew up to man's estate. His father died and left his mother with a large family and small means. Consequently, it became the duty of Tommy, as her eldest son, to devote his earnings to her support. This he did cheerfully, like an affectionate and dutiful son; for obedience and devotion to the great heavenly Parent will naturally lead to the same
pious course towards the earthly parent, to whose nurturing care God has confided His children. “Honor thy father and mother,” is the commandment to which our Maker has vouchsafed a promise.
Still, Tommy Fearless was not without trial to strengthen his faith in the blessing of Divine Providence. There was an attachment existing between himself and a certain pretty girl in the town, by the name of Mary Gray—yet, from his obligations to his mother and her young family, there was little prospect of a speedy arrival at the consummation of his earthly happiness—a union with Mary. This was a grievous trial, which the young man bore like the same youthful hero we have seen him before, upheld by faith and love.
On a certain bright morning, the first of May, when our beautiful woods are thronged with admirers of nature's loveliness, the holiday was seized by all the laboring classes as one of the few allowable to them throughout the year. Tommy Fearless with his pretty Mary were among the votaries of the Queen of Flowers.
Our hero had sauntered on by the side of Mary, wreathing her hair with flowers, and plucking another and another for her hand, of every hue—which she continually
pointed out and admired—till suddenly he found they were before the cabin in which he had some ten years before relieved the thirst of the suffering sailor.
He paused and directed the observation of his companion to the tottering ruin—and seating her on a log, and himself beside her, he recounted the adventure. Wholly absorbed with their own affairs, the lovers did not perceive a third person near them, till, on hearing a crackling of the leaves under foot, they looked up and espied an old man approaching them.
“Young man,” said the stranger, “while resting after my long walk, on yonder log, I accidentally heard your little story of the sick sailor and yonder hut. Can you tell me what became of that sailor?”
“Indeed I do not know, sir,” answered the young man; “I was quite a little boy at the time, and I do not remember what became of him, beyond the fact that he recovered and left in the same vessel that brought him here.”
The old man then touched his hat and moved away, while the two young people soon forgot that an old man of so ordinary appearance had ever accosted them.
On the following morning, just as Tommy Fearless was preparing to resume his labors, still trusting in the goodness of Divine Providence, and nothing doubting that in
His own good time his industry and faithfulness would be rewarded by the completion of his heart's desire—a union with his beloved Mary, a note was put in his hand. He broke the seal, and read these words:
“Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
A check on the State Bank for ten thousand dollars accompanied this note, and the blessing of the sick sailor of the log cabin.
Tommy Fearless was thus enabled to marry his beloved Mary, and the two were as happy as they deserved to be by their diligence and good conduct, governed by Christian faith and love.
MAGNOLIA & VIOLET
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.IV. The Magnolia and the Violet.
The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all.—Proverbs xxii. 2.
When I was a little girl, I attended a school in which the high and the low, the rich and the poor, met together, without distinction, save that of merit. Yet there were in this school some pupils who looked with envy or contempt on many of their companions.
There was a beautiful little girl, from the highest grade of society, with bright blue eyes, sunny curls, and features of faultless moulding. Her countenance beamed with innocence, benevolence, and good nature. Charity, like a gentle dove, nestled in her guileless breast. She was the admiration of the whole school, though a few naughty girls envied, and pretended to dislike her
We will call her Magnolia.
And then, in the lowest grade of little girls, there was one, quiet, modest, amiable, and lovely, who soon won the
regard of most of her schoolmates, notwithstanding her plain clothes and humble origin.
We will call her Violet.
As might be supposed, these two little magnets soon attracted each other, and became firmly attached, though occupying such extremes in society. They were in the same class, sat on the same bench, and their loving arms were ever around each other.
There was another little girl, in the same grade with Magnolia, who was very much annoyed at the union of these two little friends. Sometimes she would thrust herself between Violet and her classmate, and endeavor to supplant her in Magnolia's affections; and she has even gone so far as to threaten Magnolia, to tell her mamma of the low company she kept.
One morning, when the roll was called, at Violet's name there was no response. Magnolia quickly perceived the pause, and with glistening eyes she watched the door, with the hope of soon seeing the tardy one enter. But, alas! she was several times reproved for looking off her book, and then for crying.
“What are you crying for, Magnolia?” asked the teacher.
“Because, ma'am,” she replied, “I am sure Violet is ill, or she would not stay away from school.”
“Well, my dear,” said the teacher, “suppose she is, it will do her no good if you spend the morning in crying. It will be far wiser to mind your lessons, and when you return home at noon send and inquire after your little friend. Now wipe your eyes, and come and say your lesson.”
Magnolia did as she was bid; but in spite of her efforts, the tears would trickle down her cheek. She wiped them off quickly, for fear of offending her teacher, who liked to be obeyed by her little pupils in everything
“Do, Annie, just look at Magnolia,” said the jealous and proud little girl I have mentioned before, addressing the little girl who sat next her; “do look at that silly child, crying for a poor creature like Violet. I dare say she has no frock to come to school in, and is now making dirt cakes at home, and not caring one pin for her lady-friend who is shedding so many tears on her account. I am sure if I were Magnolia's mamma, I should wish Violet dead, to rid my child of such a poor, mean companion. Would not you, Annie?”
“No,” said Annie, “for my mamma says it is a sin to wish any one dead; and besides, I like Violet—she is a good little girl, and a pretty one, if she is poor. I do not wish her dead.”
“At any rate, I do,” said the proud and now cruel girl; for pride and jealousy are very apt to make little girls think and say cruel things of their playmates.
Magnolia hastened home at noon, and acquainted her mother with her fears for her friend. So after dinner this good lady, with her little daughter, visited Violet in her humble home.
Although rich and elevated, Magnolia's mamma was of a meek and humble spirit, and ever strove, both by precept and example, to impress her children with the truth that the poor, alike with the rich, are the creatures of a kind Providence, equally beloved and cared for; and, moreover, that the Divine Redeemer of mankind had, in an especial manner, sanctified that lowly station, by being born in its midst.
So came this good girl to disregard station in choosing her favorite friend.
Magnolia and her mamma found Violet indeed very ill; so ill as to be wholly unconscious of the presence of her friend.
Magnolia's mamma sent at once for a physician, and supplied abundant means to render the little sufferer as comfortable as possible, and to gratify every wish she might express.
Every day these benevolent visits were paid. Violet's pillow was smoothed, and her every pain soothed by the endearing attentions of her little friend. The oranges were more delicious, the lemonade more refreshing, because these delicacies were held to her fevered lips by the gentle hand of her beloved playmate.
And then, when Violet was pronounced convalescent—when the burning fever, the racking pains, the appalling delirium, were past—how delightful to little Violet were the silvery tones of her friend's voice, as she sang her restlessness into calm repose!
How pure, how heavenly was the joy of Magnolia, while thus attending the suffering couch of her humble friend! Children! beloved of the meek and lowly Jesus, go you and do likewise! Magnolia had been taught that her gentle Saviour loved young children that tried to please Him.
It chanced the next Saturday, that the proud little girl who was so jealous of Violet, came to spend the holiday with me; so we re-arranged the doll-house, dressed all the dolls, gave them a handsome entertainment of fruits, sweetmeats, nuts, and cakes, which we very obligingly ate for them, as they could not do this for themselves
Several times in the course of our feast, my little companion
spoke fretfully, unkindly, and scornfully of Magnolia, on account of her low propensities, as she called her intimacy with Violet, particularly since her frequent visits at her friend's lowly home. Nay, she again expressed the unchristian wish that Violet might die, because Magnolia loved her.
The closet in which our doll-house was arranged, opened into the chamber of my mother, and she overheard our whole conversation. After dinner my mother mentioned Violet, and asked my little visitor if she was not grieved to hear of her extreme illness.
“No, indeed, ma'am,” answered my little playmate, “I never trouble myself with such low people; and I am sure my mamma would be very angry if I were to put my foot within such a dirty hovel as Violet lives in.”
“Yet, like all good-hearted little girls,” insisted my mother, “I should think you would be sorry for your playmate.”
“She is no playmate of mine, and I am not at all sorry for her, for mamma says such people are always pretending to be sick; and besides, they are accustomed to it, and do not feel it as we do.”
“I think, my dear,” replied my mother, “there is somewhat of a contradiction in what you say; how do they get
accustomed to sickness, if they are only ‘always pretending?’ and I should be obliged to you to inform me by what means your mamma discovers that the poor pretend to sickness. Does she visit them, and witness their duplicity?”
“No, indeed!” she replied, “mamma would not for the world be seen in such a place, or allow me, either. She despises such mean, dirty people.”
“I am sure, my dear little girl,” my mother replied, “you must do your mamma injustice, and besides, I must beg you never to express such ideas and feelings in the hearing of my children. I assure you, they are not accustomed to think or feel so uncharitably. I was very sorry to hear you say, this morning in the doll-house, that you wished little Violet might die, because she was so low and mean, and Magnolia loved her.”
My playmate really did blush at this; and when my mother saw the color mount to her face, she added kindly—
“I am glad you are ashamed of it, my dear little girl, and I hope it was said thoughtlessly. You cannot have meant what you said.”
My playmate turned on her heel, and with a proud toss of her head, shaking back her curls, she stepped out
on the piazza and danced, as if utterly regardless of my mother's admonitions (though I really think it was all thoughtlessness). In the cool of the evening, my mother invited us to take a walk with her in the woods. We, and all the children, were delighted with this proposition, and with hearts and eyes dancing with joy, were soon in the midst of the “Wilderness of Sweets,” as our favorite woods were called. My mother, who always took pleasure in joining in our childish sports, assisted us in gathering flowers and twining wreaths for our hair, and at length paused beneath a superb Magnolia tree, which was then in full bloom.
Nature decreed it no easy task for such rash little hands as ours to pluck flowers from this queenly tree. We could only admire their regal splendor, which we did by clapping our hands with ecstacy, while the little birds sang with our merry hearts from out the bright, green, glossy leaves of the glorious Magnolia.
My little sister Sue did not seem to admire the Magnolia flowers as we did, or enjoy their luscious perfume, but busied herself gathering Violets from the borders of a little rill that rippled over its roots, and then ran noiselessly away among the lowly grass. “See here! mamma,” cried she, after we had all seated ourselves on a
mossy bank, near the Magnolia tree; “see what a handful of Violets I have gathered! I love them far better, and think them far sweeter, than the Magnolia, though they cannot be seen as far, and may not be as splendid.”
“They are indeed very sweet, my dear, and pretty, modest, little flowers,” replied my mother, “and lovely emblems of modest, lowly worth, not to be despised by good children who know that humility is approved, while pride is condemned, by the great Father of all. You all know, my dear children,” continued my mother, “who has created all these beautiful flowers, and scattered them around our dwellings, to fill our hearts with joy and gladness?”
“Oh, yes!” cried every one, “it is God who is so good.”
“And it is God, too,” said little Sue, “who made the birds, that sing so sweetly.”
“Surely,” said my mother, “all our blessings and delights come from God. The same gracious hand which formed this splendid Magnolia, made these modest Violets beneath it, though they are meek and lowly, while the other is lofty and glorious in her apparel. The delicate perfume of the Violet is as grateful an incense to Heaven as the luscious breathings of the Magnolia. Each, in its way, exhibits the wonder-working hand of the great Creator. His care, His love, is over all the creatures He
has formed, however exalted, however lowly; and you must remember, dear children, there is no respect of persons with God.
“And now, my dear children, see how the flowers of the forest can teach you a lesson of love and charity! See how the Creator has endowed each with peculiar beauty; the humblest, as well as the most exalted! And so it is with the human family. The rich and elevated may possess the charms of gratitude to God, humility, compassion, benevolence and amiability; the poor may be patient, contented, diligent, and obedient to their Creator, under privations, sufferings, and neglect; and, above all, in Heaven they may shine with the angels, while those who scorned them here may desire to sit at their feet.
“Many children, whose parents are wealthy, imagine that it lessens their consequence to be seen with the poor and plainly clad; but they are vastly mistaken. It is only the company of the wicked that can really produce this humbling effect, in the eyes of the virtuous and good. Why should we dread the scorn of the wicked?”
All the children listened attentively to my mother, and all readily acquiesced in the sentiments she uttered; all, save my proud little friend, who hung down her head and remained silent. It was easy to be seen that her heart
was touched. My mother had struck the right chord in that heart, naturally of fine sensibilities, yet undeveloped by careful, generous training.
On Magnolia's next visit to her sick young friend, what was her astonishment to find by her side, and reading the Bible to her, that very little girl who had wished her dead!
Violet recovered, and returned to school, amid universal rejoicings and congratulations.
My proud little friend learned a valuable lesson of love and charity. She is no longer proud and haughty, but amiable, kind, and generous—a thousand times happier than she ever was in her whole life before.
Love one another, dear children, if you would be beloved and happy. Love one another, whether rich or poor, remembering your blessed Redeemer, while on earth, had not where to lay His head.
V. The Trumpet-Flower, or Gertrude and Alice.
Obedience is better than sacrifice.—1 Samuel xv. 22.
A lady, with her two little daughters, came from her Northern home to visit her brother, who had married a Southern heiress, and resided on a beautiful estate on the Roanoke.
Mrs. Livingston was an excellent as well as an accomplished woman; a love of flowers was, with her, almost a passion. The lavish profusion of spring flowers had ceased when she came, yet numbers that were beautiful brightened, in their order of succession, the fields, the woods, and meadows; many that the strange lady and her little daughters had never seen, except it be in a greenhouse.
At the breakfast table, the very first morning after their arrival, the theme of conversation was flowers, as it might be supposed; and the lady inquired eagerly which of the lovely handmaids of Flora were out in their court attire—in actual service of their Queen, at this time.Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
THE TRUMPET FLOWER
Many were named and described, though none seemed so much to excite her admiration as the gorgeous Trumpet-Flower, which she expressed an anxious desire to see.
“Oh, mamma,” cried Gertrude, “let us children take a walk out in the woods, and get you these beautiful flowers. Cousin Charles will show us the way, will you not, Cousin Charles?” looking at a handsome, intelligent boy, who sat silently watching his two pretty little cousins, in their innocent delight.
“Yes, surely I will,” the little boy answered; “so let us set out as soon as breakfast is over. I know where there are a great many Trumpet-Flowers; the hedge around the orchard is covered with them.”
“Do you not remember, my son,” said Charles's father, “that I have told you the dew on the Trumpet-Flower is poisonous? It is too early; you had better defer your walk till your aunt and cousins are sufficiently rested after their long journey, and then we will take a delightful evening stroll to the orchard-hedge, and see it in all its glory, without danger. You would not, I know, like to see the hands and faces of your dear little cousins covered with dreadful sores, and swollen till not a trace of their beauty remained? I know you would not.”
“Not for the world, sir!” the little boy exclaimed, with
enthusiasm; “not for the world, papa. We will wait, children, till evening.”
Gertrude cast down her eyes, and looked the restless picture of discontent, while the gentle little Alice readily and sweetly acquiesced.
“Cousin Charles,” whispered Gertrude, as they left the breakfast-room, “let us steal out, and fetch mamma one of those beautiful flowers.”
“Oh, no!” cried Charles, astonished, “I could not do such a thing. Besides the danger to our hands and faces, we should be disobeying, to touch the flower while the dew is on it.”
“Your father did not tell you not to touch it,” said Gertrude, “he only said we had better not go till evening.”
“It is all the same,” replied Charles; “that was what father meant, and I cannot go, because it will be wicked.”
“Well, you are a disobliging boy,” said Gertrude, as she ran up the stairs to her mother's room.
In the evening, company came just as all were preparing for the proposed walk. Ladies called to see Mrs. Livingston, accompanied by their little daughters. So the children also were obliged to defer their walk.
By sunrise the next morning Gertrude and Alice were awakened from their slumbers by the little merry singing
birds, in the trees that surrounded their uncle's dwelling. And, indeed, one daring mocking-bird perched himself on a branch close to the window, over the children's bed, and seemed to be saying to the little slumberers, as he turned one eye and then the other towards them, with saucy inquisitiveness—“Get up! get up! get up! you drowsy ones! Come out and sing with me the praises of our Maker. Get up, ye thankless ones! it's time to rise and thank Him, for His care through the night, and the return of this bright morn, this sweet, invigorating air. Up with you, up with you, lazy ones!”
And sure enough, the children awoke, and, springing out of the bed, cried with delight—
“Oh, look, mamma! look at that sweet bird; he has come to wake us!” But, alas, as the children, in their ecstasy approached the window, birdie flew off to a higher branch, and looking down defiantly with one eye turned saucily at them, chirped—
“Catch me, if you can! I have waked you, and that is all I wanted. Now make haste, and join me in the woods.”
So the little girls dressed themselves as fast as they could, and, with mamma's permission, hastened after Cousin Charles and Cousin Helen, to walk on the river bank.
As the children were about to run down stairs, Mrs. Livingston called to them—
“Now remember, my dears, not to go near those Trumpet-Flowers, if they should chance to be in your way—remember.”
The eager Gertrude was on the last step when the latest “remember” was pronounced; still it reached her ear.
“I shall remember,” answered the calm and quiet Alice, with whom her mother's word was law.
“Oh, children,” cried the impulsive Gertrude, “look how beautifully yonder boat seems to fly over the water! I wish I were in it, it would be so delightful. Oh, Cousin Charles, how I will love you if you will only call the boatman to take us in!”
Now the boat was rowed by a black man belonging to his father's plantation, but Charles knew they had no permission to enter the boat, and feared to displease his father; so, after hesitating some time through diffidence and fear of offending his little cousins, he at last was brave enough to say—
“I am sorry, dear cousin, to refuse you, but I know papa would be displeased if we should enter the boat without permission.”
“And I am sure our mamma would be displeased, Gertrude,” said Alice.
“Oh, you never wish to do anything that pleases me,” said Gertrude, impatiently, “and so now I shall not mind either you or Charley.” With this she called as loud as she could to the boatman—“Come here, Mr. Boatman, that's a good fellow! we wish to take a row up and down this river. Pray come and take us!”
But the breeze was whispering something more agreeable as well as profitable in the boatman's ear, doubtless, for he continued his steady strokes with the oars, while showers of sparkling diamonds seemed to fall from them as they rose in the light of the rising sun.
“I am very glad the man does not hear you,” said Alice, “for, Gertrude, you know mamma gave you no permission to go on the river.”
“What of that?” answered Gertrude; “we did not ask her, and cannot tell whether or not she would have consented; I dare say she would, though.”
“It is much better as it is, Gertrude,” said Alice, “and so now let us be content to walk on this pretty shore, watch the boats on the river, and listen to the birds. Come, sister, you will fall in the water.”
But Gertrude heeded her not; she had taken another
fancy, and the next thing Alice saw, she was sitting on a log, pulling off her shoes and stockings.
“What are you going to do, Gertrude?” asked Alice in alarm. “For pity's sake, take care what you do.”
“I shall take care to have a nice time of it, wading in the water, and making the print of my feet in this beautiful white sand,” replied the little wilful child.
“Oh, Gertrude, Gertrude!” beseechingly cried Alice, “pray do not. Mamma will be so much displeased with you. And are you not ashamed to take off your shoes and stockings before Cousin Charles?”
At this Gertrude blushed, for in truth she was a modest child, though sometimes so much the slave of impulse as to forget who were looking on.
“Come, put them on again,” said Alice; “see what pretty flowers are yonder on the bank! and it will soon be time to return to breakfast.” But while she was speaking, the shoes and stockings were left on the log, and Gertrude was intently watching her little white feet as they left their print in the sand.
Alice, Charley, and Helen sat on the bank, in despair of persuading the wilful child, till she was tired of walking in the water. At last she came out, and, putting on her shoes and stockings, followed the other children in
their walk. It chanced that a Trumpet-Flower was blooming by the bank, and as soon as Gertrude espied it, she cried out in ecstasy—
“Oh, there is a Trumpet-Flower! I am sure it is exactly like a trumpet. Oh, how beautiful! how beautiful! I must have it for dear mamma!” and Gertrude darted forward to seize the flower.
“Oh, Gertrude!” exclaimed Alice, in consternation; “pray do not touch the flower; you heard what uncle said, and you remember what mamma said the very last moment before you left her this morning.”
“Well, I do remember what uncle said, and I do not believe it.”
“Not believe my father?” said Charles, coloring instantly.
“Oh, I do not mean that I do not believe uncle, but I mean that I cannot believe that anything so splendid can be poisonous. It must be a mistake—these flowers are too pretty to harm any one.”
“But mamma,” said Alice, “will you disobey mamma?”
“Oh, mamma will forget that she forbade me, when she sees one of these beautiful flowers. She will never think of being angry with me for plucking it.”
“Pray do not touch it,” said Charley, addressing the rash little girl.
“I must have it,” said Gertrude, and so she climbed up to the flower, and, although she saw it wet with the poisonous dew, she did not hesitate to pluck it, while her face and hands were sprinkled all over.
“So now I have you, Master Trumpet, in spite of those cowardly children, and mamma shall not be long without the pleasure of beholding you. Come along, sister, and see how happy I shall be when mamma gives me a kiss for my pretty offering. Will you not envy me?”
“I do not at all envy you, Gertrude,” said Alice; “and as for the kiss, I think you will be far more apt to receive some punishment for disobedience. But come, we shall soon see who is the happiest girl; though to tell you the truth, I shall not be very happy to see my sister in disgrace or pain, for she is in danger of both.”
“Nonsense, I have no fear of either,” said Gertrude.
Charles and Helen walked on quietly, not feeling themselves well enough acquainted with their little cousins to speak their minds fully. As soon as they all reached home, Gertrude flew up to her mother with joy dancing in her bright eyes, and exultingly cried—
“Oh, mamma! see what a beautiful flower I have brought you. Are you not glad?”
When her mother first beheld the flower, her countenance
brightened with delight, but the very next moment it grew sad, as the reflection of her little daughter's disobedience, and consequent danger, came to her mind.
“I am sorry my little daughter so soon forgot to obey her mother,” she said; and the pleasure she might have felt on seeing this splendid blossom was entirely destroyed. “I should feel it my duty to punish you, Gertrude, were it not that I know your fault will punish itself. Already I see signs of your self-inflicted chastisement—your face and hands are covered with spots.”
“Oh, mamma, I do not mind the spots, so you are pleased with your flower—it is so beautiful! Only forgive me, dear mamma, for forgetting your command, and I shall not care how sore my hands are—forgive me and kiss me—I plucked it for you—for I love you so dearly, mamma.”
Mrs. Livingston, though deeply touched by her little daughter's affectionate ardor, was nevertheless too much displeased with her to give her either a kiss or a smile, but taking her by the hand she led her to her chamber, where she bathed her face and hands with pure water, in the hope of removing the poison; but it was too late. Gertrude's face began to swell, and her beautiful large eyes were in a short time almost closed, and, at last, her
lovely features were hideous to behold. Her fingers became double their natural size, and the pain was intolerable. Poor girl, how bitterly did she repent of her rashness and disobedience when it was too late! This was her punishment.
Mrs. Livingston did not aggravate her sufferings by reproaches while she remained ill, but as soon as she recovered she said to her—
“Now, my dear little daughter, since you have experienced such painful effects from your waywardness and disobedience, I trust you will always remember that nothing can give your mother pleasure which is obtained through your wrong-doing. The implicit and sweet obedience of your sister Alice was far more acceptable to me than that splendid flower, which was obtained at such a fearful sacrifice to yourself. ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice;’ and more acceptable to your heavenly Father, as I assure you it is to me, whom God has placed over you, for the purpose of having His divine precepts inculcated upon your tender mind.”
This was a severe lesson for poor Gertrude, but it was one she never forgot, and from that time the ardor of her disposition was directed to a better and a happier, a more innocent and excellent way of pleasing her mother by
obedience, sweet obligingness, and diligence; for Gertrude was in truth a noble-hearted little girl, erring only from thoughtlessness, and a want of control over her will.
The Trumpet-Flower became to her like a talisman; the thought of it never failed to check any rising impulse to rashness or disobedience. Whenever she saw it, almost it seemed to sound into her ear, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.”
VI. The Triumph of Truth.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord; but they that deal truly are his delight.—Proverbs xii. 22.
Hugh Grenville was a boy worthy to be imitated by my young readers. From his infancy he was remarkable for truth and obedience to his parents—two most estimable traits, the very best foundation for “that noblest work of God, an honest man.”
Hugh was about ten years old, when, on a calm summer evening, his father took him, and his almost baby-brother, to walk on the borders of a creek that ran through a beautiful wood, near his dwelling. There was a lovely green meadow near the creek, too, bespangled with delicate White Lilies, and many other flowers, which attracted a multitude of butterflies, whose aerial motions gave life and cheerfulness to the scene.
Mr. Grenville was a wise as well as a good man, andPASSION FLOWER & MEADOW LILY
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
seldom suffered an occasion to pass unimproved, for the benefit of his children's minds and hearts. After leading them along the creek, to admire its sparkling waters, as they rippled among the tufts of grass and over the projecting roots of the overhanging trees; to watch the little silver perch as they timidly stole along, in the shallow water, to catch the tiny minnows that sported there in multitudes; or listened to the tapping of the crimson-tufted woodpecker, or the carols of the mocking-bird, or the shrill cry of the kingfisher, as it darted upon the little hunter perch, that had just devoured a hapless minnow; he at length seated himself upon a mossy bank, beneath the trees, while his little boys amused themselves chasing butterflies and gathering flowers.
Little Eddie came bounding up to his father, almost out of breath from running, with innocent joy sparkling in his bright blue eyes. “Look, papa! look here,” cried he, “at these beautiful flowers! will not mamma love to see them in her pretty vases? Oh, I will take them to her.”
“Yes, my darling, take them to mamma—they are beautiful indeed; but first let me look at them for awhile,” said his father. “Hugh, come here, Hugh; you are old enough to learn a lesson from these lovely Lilies. See
how pure, how delicate their texture! how wonderfully beautiful! See, too, the bright golden stamens, in the midst of these petals of exquisite purity!”
“And now tell me, papa,” said Hugh, “what lesson you can draw from these pretty White Lilies? I am sure I have not sufficient wisdom to perceive in them anything but beauty and sweetness.”
“Think again, my son,” said Mr. Grenville; “you say you can perceive beauty and sweetness; and do not these delightful qualities suggest to you some religious thought?”
“Oh, yes! papa,” said Hugh; “I now remember you have often told me that every good and perfect gift was from God; and that these pretty flowers were made to gladden the hearts of His children.”
“Right, my son,” was his father's answer; “and yet another and more special lesson may be learned from this flower—the White Meadow Lily. See these delicate petals, so easily marred by a careless or rude hand! So it is, my son, with the innocent heart of a child; a wicked companion, or an unfaithful guide, may mar and deform that innocency in which its Maker formed it; and when once that heart is contaminated by evil, only the divine grace of Christ can wash out the stain, as nothing could
restore the perfection of the injured Lily but the hand of God.”
“And now, father,” said Hugh, “tell me what these golden stamens in the centre of the Lily teach.”
“The golden stamens,” said Mr. Grenville, “convey to the thoughtful mind a lesson of wisdom also. See how these pure and delicate petals surround, and are exalted above the golden stamens! So are purity of heart, innocency of life, and holy truth exalted above the treasures of this world.”
At this moment little Eddie came flying up to his father, and with childish haste thrust into his hand a purple flower, known as the emblem of the Crucifixion.
“Ah, my children,” said Mr. Grenville, with emotion, “here is the grandest, the most awful lesson, of all that is taught by the flowers of the field! This is the Passion-Flower. See here these pale green leaves, that form the outer circle around the flower—these we will suppose the timid disciples of our Lord! Then here are the three cruel nails which pierced His blessed hands and feet, and in their centre is the ponderous hammer which dealt the agonizing blows—and underneath these are the five mortal wounds endured by the great Redeemer! See the glory surrounding the whole, and the crown of thorns!
See the crimson spots sprinkled on the leaves, memorials of His blood-shedding! And here, at the base of the stem, is attached a tendril, representing the cruel cord with which the blessed shoulders of the Redeemer were lashed, and his beneficent hands confined—those hands so untiringly active in doing good to sinful, ungrateful man!”
Even little Eddie, struck by the unusual solemnity of his father's countenance, paused at his knee, and listened with awe-struck expression to the mournful lesson of the Passion-Flower. Tears glistened in his beautiful eyes for awhile, and then he darted off again, in chase of the butterflies that led him a merry dance among the myriad flowers that brightened and perfumed the meadows.
But Hugh, the contemplative Hugh, still looked intently at the Passion-Flower, as if deeply weighing its mournful significance.
“I hope I shall never forget what you and these beautiful flowers have taught me this day, dear father,” at length he said. “I hope the White Lily will always remind me of the holy beauty of purity, innocence, and truth; and I shall always look on the Passion-Flower with reverence, as nature's memorial of the Redeemer's sufferings and death.”
By this time Eddie had filled his apron with flowers
for his dear mamma, and Mr. Grenville, still conversing with Hugh, led the children home.
On the following morning Hugh was at school punctually, and there gained the approbation of his teacher for correct deportment and industry. This excited the jealousy of his classmates, I am sorry to say, and they determined by some means or other to bring disgrace upon him.
When school was over, these wicked boys proposed to Hugh to take a walk with them, before going home. This he was permitted to do by his kind parents, whose confidence in him was unbounded. So Hugh accompanied his classmates on their walk, and they soon arrived at the little stream in which the boys were accustomed to bathe, and sometimes angle for silver perch.
“Look here, boys!” shouted Harry Reckless, “look here! a boat! a boat! Let us take it, and go over the creek and get plums and berries; and besides, there are birds’ nests in abundance in yonder wood. Let us go, boys.”
“But,” suggested Hugh Grenville, “the boat is locked fast to this post, and we cannot take it.”
“Oh, we will soon manage that matter,” said Harry;
and with this he picked up a great stone and advanced towards the boat.
“Hold!” said Hugh, “you are going to break old Joe's lock, and you know, boys, he is a poor man, and a new lock will cost him a day's fishing; and besides, it is wrong to take his boat without leave.”
“Who cares for leave?” shouted Harry—and “Who cares for leave?” responded all the boys save Hugh. And so, with a few strokes of the great stone the lock gave way, and the boat was free. All the boys were soon in the boat except Hugh, who stood hesitating on the bank.
“Come along, Hugh!” shouted the boys. “Don't stand there, grieving over old Joe's lock; you did not break it, and we can bear the blame; so come along.”
“Yes, come along!” shouted Harry Reckless, “or we shall call you coward; or perhaps you are mean enough to tell upon us.”
“Yes!” shouted another, “he means to be a tell-tale. Well, go along, tell-tale, we will have our fun, blame or no blame, tell-tale or no tell-tale.”
But the brave and honest Hugh scarcely heard their taunts, so earnestly was he arguing with himself on the propriety or impropriety of accompanying the boys. At
last he concluded to go, with the hope that he might induce them to purchase a new lock for the poor old fisherman, and take his boat back safely to its mooring, instead of letting it drift away and be lost to its owner.
Hugh stepped into the boat, and then, amid shouts of triumph and merry peals of laughter, the party were soon in the woods on the opposite shore, enjoying a pleasant ramble in the refreshing shade, amid the perfume of innumerable flowers, and the melody of birds. During the ramble, Hugh several times surprised the boys holding a consultation, which on his appearance ceased, and mysterious glances passed among them. Still the innocent boy suspected no evil to himself, but continued to converse with frankness and good-humor.
On their return, just as they approached the landing, the conspiring boys began shaking and rocking the boat from side to side, till at last it was upset, and all were thrown into the water. After they had scrambled out, Harry Reckless exclaimed, “It was you, Hugh, that upset the boat, while we were off our guard. Now you will get a good whipping, and that is a consolation.”
“I?” said Hugh, with astonishment; “why, Harry, I did not move of myself while I was in the boat. Are you not ashamed?”
“That makes no difference, Mr. Demure; we all intend to say you did it, on purpose to make us sick. We are too many for you this time. We shall be believed, and you will have the rod upon your fool's back. Ha! ha! ha!”
“So be it, boys,” said Hugh, “yet I shall tell the truth.”
“That will do you no good, as we are five against one. We shall be believed. There is no fear, boys,” said Harry.
“But what you say will be a falsehood,” returned Hugh.
“Who cares for that?” shouted this wicked boy; and “Who cares for that?” echoed all the rest, “so you get the whipping, and we escape it.”
“Do not be so sure of that,” said Hugh, calmly, “for I have never told an untruth in my life, and my father will never believe you till he himself detects me in a lie—and a lie I hope never to tell while I live. And how about the broken lock?” asked Hugh, addressing Harry.
“Of course you broke it,” said the false and daring boy.
Still calmly Hugh looked this bad boy in the face, and said, “Harry, if I were you, I should fear the thunders of heaven would strike me dead! And as to the punishment you threaten me for your offences, I would much rather
bear it for truth than for falsehood. I shall tell the truth, and be far happier with my whipping, than you will be with your guilt—though the whipping I shall never feel, if my father is to give it to me. He is too just, and knows me too well.”
“Then we will whip you ourselves,” said Harry Reckless, “will we not, boys?”
“Yes! yes!” shouted all, save one. This was Willie Kindheart, who, though accidentally thrown among bad companions, was really better disposed than they.
“I should be sorry, boys,” said Willie, “to see Hugh beaten for nothing. I cannot join you any longer. I am ashamed of what I have done.”
On the following morning Mr. Grenville was waited on by the fathers of these wicked boys, with a demand that Hugh should be punished for upsetting his playmates in the creek, and endangering their lives.
“My dear sirs,” answered Mr. Grenville, “immediately on Hugh's return home, yesterday evening, he came and told me the whole affair; and I know his account is true, for this one reason—he has never told me an untruth in his life; and if you can all declare the same of your boys, then I will take the pains to inquire into the guilt or innocence of my son. If you cannot conscientiously place them
on the same footing as Hugh, in this respect, I must of course decline whipping him, or even making further inquiry into the matter.”
The fathers of the dishonest boys, one after another, were compelled to own that their sons had not always adhered to strict truth, and after hearing Mr. Grenville's testimony to his son's undeviating truth, unanimously agreed that such a boy ought not to be condemned for the first alleged offence without more certain evidence than now existed against him. At Mr. Grenville's suggestion, these gentlemen joined with him in purchasing a new lock for the poor fisherman, and rewarding him for the use of his boat, to the great delight of Hugh, and the confusion of his enemies.
After this, you may be sure, Hugh went on no more pleasure excursions with his classmates; but one evening, as he was passing by a neighboring orchard, not dreaming of evil, suddenly his wicked classmates came bounding over the fence with their hats full of apples and peaches; then hastily throwing a quantity of them at Hugh's feet, and at the same time shouting “thief!” as loud as they could, they made off with speed behind a high fence.
The farmer came out with his great bull-dog, and seeing Hugh in the midst of piles of peaches and apples, called
to him, and pointing to the great dog forbade him to move at his peril. So Hugh waited till the farmer and his dog came up.
“Dear, dear me!” said the dismayed farmer, “is this you, Hugh Grenville—the son of a good and honorable man, whom but yesterday I heard declare that his son Hugh had never told a lie in his life, or done a dishonest act? Oh, how sorry I am for your poor father! What a deal of trouble is in store for him! Come, pick up your apples and peaches and follow me. I must undeceive your father, before it is too late to reform so wicked a boy.”
Hugh saw the full difficulty of his situation, and burst into tears.
“Ah, well you may weep, child,” said the farmer, “to grieve so good a father. Pity you cannot grieve for your deceitful heart. But come along, come along.”
“Stop one moment, sir,” cried Hugh, “and hear me.”
“No, no, not a moment; not a word will I hear—these are my witnesses,” pointing to the fruit on the ground. “Come, fill your hat, and follow me.”
“That I cannot do, sir,” said Hugh, “as I have never touched this fruit in my life, and if I were to do so now, it would seem indeed as if I had been the thief, when, in
truth, it was thrown at me by four boys, who came over your fence just as you heard them shout ‘thief,’ and they then quickly ran behind yonder fence.”
“But you see,” returned the farmer, “I have no proof of this, and therefore shall consider you the thief, as I have certainly found you with my apples and peaches.”
Hugh calmly raised his honest countenance to the face of the farmer, and said, “But, sir, you must admit you heard the cry of ‘thief?’ ”
“Yes,” said the farmer, “I do.”
“Then, sir, how can you believe it, since you do not see the person who cried thief?—he is not here.”
“True, boy,” said the farmer, “and you are a shrewd fellow, with an honest face, or you are a great deceiver. But come along, at any rate, we will hear what your father will say.”
Hugh remained perfectly silent, while the farmer accused him to his father of theft. But his face had the same calm, honest expression as when he left his home at noon. Mr. Grenville's confidence was still unshaken in Hugh, and he concluded that the same wicked boys had laid another plot to destroy his good name.
“Well, sir,” said Mr. Grenville, “I have heard all you have to allege against my son, and my answer is, that
nothing can shake my confidence in a child that was never known to depart from the truth, or otherwise to deceive his father, or any one else in his family. You must convince me that he was over your fence, or that he was seen to receive the fruit voluntarily from some one coming from over the fence, before I can consent to punish him. With his religious training, and his correct, conscientious habits, sir, the thing is impossible!”
The farmer departed, determining to seek further into the matter, and Hugh gave his father a faithful account of the plot against his character.
That very night, after playing this heartless trick upon Hugh Grenville, Harry Reckless was taken extremely ill, from the quantity of unripe fruit he had eaten. His life was almost despaired of.
On the following morning, while he continued in great danger, Willie Kindheart came and begged to see him. Willie had attended a Sunday School, and had learned somewhat of the graces and virtues of our holy religion, though these salutary lessons had not been confirmed or enforced at home; still, the good seed had taken sufficient root to make him repent having joined a plot to injure the innocent, as well as to desire the salvation of his wicked
companion Harry. This little boy approached the bed of his classmate with tears in his eyes.
“Oh, Harry!” said he, “I am so sorry for you. What has made you so ill?”
“Oh, Willie,” he replied, “I ate too many apples and peaches yesterday afternoon. I wish I had not eaten them. Oh, I shall die, and, Willie, I am so much afraid to die!”
Just at this moment the boys were left alone, and Willie said to Harry, “And now you are sorry for what you have done to Hugh Grenville, are you not, Harry? I am sure I am. And if you are afraid to die, you will be much less afraid if you own your faults and do justice to Hugh, who is a good boy, and never did us harm.”
Poor Harry was extremely ill and in terror at the near view of death in his wickedness, yet his pride and obstinacy were sadly in his way. “Oh, I cannot, Willie!” he cried, “it will so distress my father and mother to know of my guilt. Will I be lost, Willie, when I am sorry for injuring Hugh? will not that be enough, without confessing?”
“No, Harry,” said Willie, “not if the Bible is true; for it teaches that you must own your faults to your
brother, as well as to God. Own them, Harry; be just to Hugh, and then you may hope that the good Saviour will pardon your sins, and take you into Heaven if you die.”
Willie had time to say no more, as Harry's attendants returned to the sick room, and so, shaking hands with his unhappy companion, little Willie Kindheart bade him good-bye.
Harry became very silent after this, though he was extremely restless, and it was very evident that his mind was severely exercised—most especially to the watchful and anxious eye of his mother, who earnestly besought him to tell her what it was that distressed him. Harry burst into tears, and, burying his face in his mother's bosom, told her all. His mother was pained exceedingly, and shed a flood of tears over the depravity of her child, though, to tell the truth, she had herself to blame, for neglecting his moral and religious training. Soon after this, Harry's father came in, and shared the grief of his wife and child, bitterly lamenting their neglect of their own and their children's highest interest.
At Harry's request, Mr. Grenville and Hugh were sent for, and ample justice done to the innocent victim of falsehood and wrong. Harry Reckless was spared to prove
the sincerity of his repentance, having learned the value of truth and Christian love, by the benign influence of Christian example, in the forgiving and honest Hugh, and the pious efforts of Willie Kindheart. See what children can do for the Triumph of Truth!LILY OF THE VALLEY & BLUE IRIS
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
VII. The Lily of the Valley.
A TRUE STORY.
I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you, for His name's sake.—First Epistle of St. John, ii. 12.
The beautiful village of Aye is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, from whose green slopes descend the crystal waters of a gentle stream, murmuring its music of praise in unison with the grateful voices that daily ascend from this peaceful valley.
Within these circling hills the scene is pastoral and serene; enlivened at evening by bleating flocks, and lowing herds, and tinkling bells, “the plough-boy's whistle and the echoing horn.” The inhabitants, too, are simple and rural in their tastes and pursuits. Removed in a great degree from the turmoil and strife of the busy world, their lives glide peacefully on in the exercise of kindly offices and feelings, even as one loving family.
From the centre of this quiet village ascends the simple white spire of the House of Prayer, as if pointing the way to a more dear and enduring home even than this.
The minister at this simple altar is one of the excellent of the earth; and his wife was indeed “a help meet from the Lord.” This pious couple were blessed with two sweet children, Lily and Rose; the former seven, the latter five years old, when my story commences.
Lily was a fair, beautiful, yet delicate child; her father's “Lily of the Valley,” as he called her; Rose, a blooming contrast to her fragile sister, a dear, affectionate little heart, relying on that sister for support and guidance through all their sports and rambles, as in their infant cares and troubles; for Lily was a child of uncommon mind, and prudence beyond her years; though, alas! of too sensitive feelings, as will appear in this narrative. Like most first-born children of promise, the education of Lily was commenced at an early age; so early, that at three years she could read very well.
As Lily led her little sister about the garden, she used to tell her all the pretty stories she had read and heard; and often, as they went hand in hand along among the blooming flowers, beneath the shady trees, and by the
murmuring waters of the rivulet, this little disciple, with a heart of pure and earnest devotion, would speak of all these pleasant things as bountiful gifts from “Our Father in Heaven.”
“See! darling sister,” she would say, “see what beautiful flowers, blue, and white, and pink, and yellow, and purple! How sweet they are, too! God made them all for our good papa and mamma, as well as for all good children that love and obey Him. Must He not be good and kind? Listen to those sweet birds! Look at that bright sky, and see how gayly this pretty water flows among the pebbles and the grass, and then dances away to make some other garden as beautiful as ours. Is not our Father in Heaven good, say, darling?”
“Oh, so very good!” the little listener would respond.
“And we ought to love Him, and say our prayers, and mind our papa and mamma like good children, so that He will love us.”
“Oh, yes, yes! and we will be good, won't we?” the little Rose would say.
Now at the foot of the big rock was a spring of clear, delicious water, overshaded by noble elms, beeches, and chestnuts, which almost entirely excluded the rays of the sun, rendering this spot a delightful retreat when the
duties of the day were over; and here it was that the minister and his wife led their little children, as the most favorable spot to converse with them on the goodness and mercy of their Maker and Redeemer. Yet do not suppose, my little friends, that these parents were grave or gloomy because religion was their theme. These faithful lessons were ever mingled with pleasant sports and pastimes.
A favorite dog, called Beauty, was always of this family party. Mamma joined the children in wreathing his neck with flowers, and papa threw sticks far upon the water, so that Beauty was obliged to swim beyond his depth to get them, with only his nose out of the stream—and then, when he came triumphantly up the bank, almost laughing with his knowing eyes, shaking the water out of his shaggy hair, rolling over the grass, and barking with delight at the merry children—then they cheered and clapped their hands, dancing around their saucy favorite.
Pretty flowers grew around the little rivulet, among which were numbers of Blue Iris and Lilies of the Valley, the latter being the good minister's peculiar favorite. To please his dear little girls, he had formed a pool, from the waters of the spring, and transplanted around it his favorite flowers, besides filling it with gold and silver fishes,
which, morning and evening, Lily and her sister visited and fed. By shaking their hands in the water, and calling their little finny pets, they brought them all fluttering around them, like a brood of chickens, for their accustomed meals. Pet birds, too, they had, though not in cages, for these good children preferred seeing them flitting among the green branches, and hopping about the grass, picking up seeds and crumbs, which were thrown them by their little benefactresses.
At the age of seven years, Lily knew every word of her catechism, and many hymns and Scripture lessons, which were recited in Sunday School. Lily had a great fondness for poetry, and consequently took peculiar pleasure in learning hymns.
“Softly now the light of day,”
was her favorite, and often at the close of day, when this happy family were about to leave their pleasant seat beneath the shadow of the great rock, Lily would say—
“Oh, please, papa, let us first sing—
‘Softly now the light of day,’
before we leave the garden.” And so the hymn was sung by all, not excepting little Rose, who strove and loved to do all that her sister did.
I have just told you, my dear friends, that Lily always knew her lessons. It was a very common thing for her teacher to say to other scholars,
“Why do you not get your lessons like Lily Dale?”
One Saturday, two circumstances transpired most unfortunate for Lily. Her new bonnet came home from the milliner's, and a little friend came to spend the day with her. Now you will doubtless ask how these two circumstances could be unfortunate for our little friend. I will tell you how. Lily had not yet learned her Sunday lessons, for her visitor arrived just after breakfast. So Lily, not knowing her intention to spend the whole day, thought she would defer getting her lessons till after she had left. Lily took her out into the garden, and showed her the flowers, and the gold and silver fishes, and from one thing to another, the children continued to amuse themselves till the close of the day. The little visitor was so well entertained she remained till bed-time, and then Lily had to say her prayers and go to bed, according to her mother's established rule.
Lily was very much troubled, though she resolved to rise earlier in the morning, and commit her lessons. Alas! her unusual exercise the day before, caused her to sleep beyond her time, and then, just as she was about to
take up her books, the maid came into her little chamber with her new bonnet, which she had not yet seen. This new temptation sealed the fate of the lessons, and Lily's mind was for once effectually drawn off from her duty. Now, the prayer-bell rang, and then, after prayers, she was obliged to read her accustomed chapter to her father, before breakfast. Immediately after breakfast she was compelled to prepare for Sunday school and church, so there was an end of her study.
Such a thing as Lily's not knowing her lesson was never thought of by either father or mother, and so no questions were asked her, and Lily set out for church, leading her little sister as usual by the hand. After walking some time in silence, Rose said to Lily, “Why don't you talk, sister? you never walk with me without talking;” and, looking up into her sister's face, the child perceived that her eyes were full of tears.
“Oh, don't cry, dear sister,” said the little comforter. “What is the matter with you?”
“I have been a naughty girl, dear Rosie,” Lily replied, “and have let a love of play and a new bonnet prevent me from getting my Sunday School lessons. My teacher will be displeased with me, and, more than all, my Saviour will not love me, and that is what makes me cry.”
“Oh, don't cry, sister,” answered little Rose; “our Saviour is so good, He will forgive you this time; you know it is the first. So don't cry any more, sister,” and little Rose threw her arms around the weeping Lily, and strove to kiss away her sorrow.
As Lily feared, her teacher was very much troubled when, in the simplicity and ingenuousness of her heart, the dear little child told her sorrowful story. She thought it necessary to speak gravely on the occasion of this first omission of duty, though in her heart she sorrowed with the repentant Lily far more than she blamed her.
“And now, my dear little girl,” said the kind teacher, “when you retire to-night, do not forget to add to your usual prayer a petition for pardon, and grace to enable you to resist the like temptations.”
But Lily's own heart did not so easily excuse her; no penitent of maturer years could have been more sincerely or more deeply grieved for a deliberate sin, than was this little child for her first fault. She determined not only to pray earnestly for forgiveness, but to perform some act of self-denial or penitence in proof of her contrition.
After spending many sleepless hours in determining what punishment to inflict upon herself, she finally fixed upon a resolution to go out in the rain, kneel down, and
pray for forgiveness. This she accordingly did, and in consequence of remaining in her wet clothes several hours she took a severe cold. In the middle of the night Lily's mother was awakened by hearing her breathe in a most alarming way, and immediately rising, she applied every remedy within her knowledge, but without avail. The physician was then called, without a minute's delay. A violent attack of croup had seized the child.
As soon as her father had gone for the physician, Lily said to her mother, “Mother, do you think I shall die?”
“I trust not, my darling,” her mother replied; “God is so merciful and kind to us, I trust He will spare our dear daughter.”
“But, mother,” whispered the poor child, “God is angry with me now. I have sinned against Him.”
“Oh, my daughter! you do not say so? pray, tell me what you have done,” her mother answered, weeping, while she beheld the streaming eyes of her darling. So Lily, as well as she could, with her choking voice, poured her penitent soul into her mother's ears.
“If you had only come at once to your mother, dear child, or to your father, we could have shown you a more effectual way of regaining your Maker's favor than the dangerous one you have chosen. Your good and gracious
Saviour does not require of His servants a sacrifice of their lives. It does not please Him. He is so kind as only to require sincere sorrow and amendment. You should have come at once to your parents; they are given you by your heavenly Father as guides and guardians for your tender, inexperienced years. Why did you not come at once?”
“Because, mother,” Lily answered, “I did not like to make you ashamed of me, and I hoped not to do wrong any more, for I thought I should have the help of the Lord, if I prayed for it.”
Lily continued very ill throughout the night; the good physician did not leave her side till morning, when the child's breathing became better. Lily was very patient in her sufferings, never murmuring or complaining, though many tears flowed from her bright blue eyes.
At a convenient time, Mrs. Dale took her husband out of the room and acquainted him with the cause of the child's weeping and illness. She entreated him to endeavor to soothe her wounded little spirit, as only he could do, for it was agony to behold her thus.
“Alas, my love,” said the good pastor, “our physician tells me there is little hope for our darling. The disease had taken fast hold on her before the remedies were applied.
Our Father is wiser than we, and knoweth what is best for us; our child is of a mind sufficiently mature to appreciate the teaching of our holy religion, and I shall endeavor to prepare her precious soul for the great and solemn change.”
“Thy will be done,” was the mother's only reply, as she devoutly raised her eyes to Heaven.
When Mr. Dale re-entered the chamber of little Lily, she raised her hand and beckoned to him, for she could not speak aloud. The father bent over the dear child and kissed her pale forehead, already moistened with the dews of death.
“My precious lamb,” he said, “do not be alarmed, your mother has told me all. Your sincere sorrow for your fault, together with your unshaken faith in your Redeemer, convinces your father that you are truly a child of God, and an heir of His blessed kingdom in Heaven. Rest assured your sins, whatever they are, are forgiven. No punishment you could inflict on yourself could atone for sin, but Christ, the Lord, has redeemed you. Trust only in Him—I know you love Him and wish to serve Him. And now join with your father and mother in prayer to that gentle Saviour who calls little children to His breast—”
“He folds them in His gracious arms,Himself declares them blest;”
responded the little Christian child, in a low, whispering voice, when a sweet smile of ineffable joy illumined her lovely countenance; after which she joined in the offered prayer with fervor and evident delight, though no sound issued from her voiceless lips. And when the prayer was ended, a song of praise arose on the astonished ears of all from those hitherto silent lips—sweet and low, like music of softest zephyrs. It was the hymn which she had last learned in the Sunday School.
“Glory to the Father give,God, in whom we move and live,Children's prayers He deigns to hear,Children's songs delight His ear.”
After this, Lily turned her eyes upon her little weeping sister, her darling companion, her baby-charge.
“Come here, sweet sister,” said she; and then throwing her arms around Rose, for the last time, and kissing her fondly, she said, “Darling sister, your Lily is going to live with the Lord Jesus and the lovely angels; so you comfort papa and mamma, and take care of Beauty, and the birds, and the fishes, and the flowers. All this I know you will do, dear Rose, for you are so kind, and tell all our little playmates in the happy valley ‘farewell,’ till we
meet in the Saviour's home. You will do all this for poor Lily, precious sister, and when Lily is with her Saviour and the angels, she will still remember and love her sweet little Rose.”
Lily bore all her illness with the sweetest patience, endeavoring to conceal her sufferings as much as possible from her afflicted parents.
Lily's chamber window looked out on the setting sun, and when his last bright beams vanished, and the rosy twilight veiled his brightness and spread its softened radiance over the happy valley, little Lily said to her father,
“Dearest father, it is time to sing
‘Softly now the light of day.’ ”
So her father, mother, nurse, and little Rose joined with Lily, for the last time on earth, in singing her Redeemer's praise.
“Softly now the light of dayFades upon my sight away;Free from care, from labor free,Lord, I would commune with thee.“Thou, whose all-pervading eyeNaught escapes without, within,Pardon each infirmity,Open fault and secret sin.
“Soon for me the light of dayShall forever fade away,Then from sin and sorrow free,Take me, Lord, to dwell with thee!”
And just as the last word died on the lips of dear little Lily, her spirit was borne away to rest, we trust, in Paradise.
On the following morning all the little children, in the now sorrowing valley, came clad in white to pay their tribute of love to their lost playmate, with streaming eyes and hearts bursting with their first grief. They approached the bier of their little friend, who, with an expression of almost angel beauty, seemed to smile upon them as they laid upon her snowy couch their offerings of flowers—roses, and jessamines, and valley-lilies. Some were placed on her tranquil breast, some around her curling hair, and others in her cold, white little hand; the rest lay in beautiful profusion around her silent form.
As the procession of villagers passed through the grove of elms and willows, around the church, to the open grave of the little believer, a sweet chorus of birds broke the solemn stillness of the air, as if chanting the requiem of their lost benefactress, while ever and anon the solemn service arose from the voice of the man of God, as he slowly approached her last earthly resting-place; and
many were the tears that fell that morning on the grave of sweet little Lily Dale, her father's Lily of the Valley.
’Neath the mold of the valley she sleeps,In her loveliness waits for the morn,An angel the precious one keeps,Till the day of redemption shall dawn.There roses and lilies, sweet flowers,With the evening dew seem to weep,As they blossom and wave ’mid the bowersThat shade our darling one's sleep—Seem to weep for the light of that eye,Ever beaming with innocent glee,When their petals first oped to the sky,And she smiled on them joyously.But now, their fair Lily is goneTo bloom in the bowers above,And their perfume to Heaven is born,Fond breathing of sorrow and love.
VIII. Mary Morris; or, the Clematis and Woodbine.
The hand of the diligent shall be made rich.—Proverbs x. 4.
There was once a little girl whose name was Mary Morris. Her father was a carpenter of very superior skill, and therefore fully capable of maintaining his family in independence and comfort, but that he was both indolent and profligate. His wife was a pious, industrious woman, who made every effort to preserve a respectable appearance among her neighbors, as well as to do her duty to both husband and children. But, alas! this vast responsibility, together with the sense of her husband's degradation, was fast benumbing her energies, as it was breaking her sensitive heart. Nine small children looked to her feeble hand for bread as well as shelter from the chilling winds of winter. Many a night had this despairing mother gone to her wretched pillow without a morsel of food, that her children might be relieved of the pain of hunger.
Mary was the eldest of these nine children, herselfLith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
THE CLEMATIS AND WOODBINE
barely eleven years old, and quite small for that age, apparently very delicate, yet possessing a degree of nerve and energy astonishing for so fragile a form. This child had racked her brain for many sleepless nights and anxious days to discover some mode of giving relief to her mother, her little sisters and brothers. At last, one night, she sprang up from her pallet upon the floor, exclaiming, “Oh, mother! I have it! I have it, at last.”
“Why! what is the matter with you, Mary?” cried out her mother, “are you crazy?”
“Yes, mother,” the child replied, “almost with joy. I now know how I can help you.”
“You, Mary?” exclaimed her mother; “how can a child like you help me?”
“Oh, you must not ask me, mother; I cannot tell you my plan till I have tried it. But I am sure I shall succeed.”
“You are dreaming, poor child!” insisted her mother; “so go to sleep. What can a child of eleven years do to support a family of the like number?”
“Oh, I know I can do it,” persisted Mary, “I feel it here!” and, striking her child's breast with the energy or a determined mind, she cried, “only let me alone, mother, and all will be well.” But Mary's mother still insisted
she was dreaming, and bade her go to sleep again, and not wake the children, who would straightway cry for bread.
Such was the miserable state of this family when it pleased Providence to rescue them by the hand of a little child.
Little Mary's mother was a Christian woman, and amid all her sore trials was patient, uncomplaining, and ever praying for help from on high. Her trust was yet unshaken in her Maker and Redeemer.
In the morning Mary was up at the peep of day, and after assisting her mother in dressing the younger children, in gathering chips, and preparing their scanty breakfast, she put on her bonnet, and taking a little basket on her arm—by permission of her mother—she set out on her secret expedition. Such was the established character of this little girl, her mother was not afraid to confide in her correctness.
There was a large hotel very near, from the kitchen of which the family had sometimes obtained such morsels of meat and bread as the charitable cook felt disposed to bestow. Thither Mary repaired, and presenting herself before the bustling cook, as she fretted over her unruly fire, she proposed to fetch baskets of chips for her from a neighboring lumber-yard.
“Only say yes, cook,” entreated Mary, “and I will answer for it, you have no more trouble in getting your breakfast ready in good time.”
“Very well, child,” the cook replied; “I am sure I will gladly employ you, if you can promise me this. But what do you expect in return?”
“Do you think a cent a basket too much?” asked the modest little girl.
“No, indeed; on the contrary it is very moderate,” said the cook; “so now make haste, and get your basket of chips as soon as possible, for my fire is very obstinate this morning.”
So, off set Mary, and soon returned with her basket full of nice pine chips, which were very soon blazing and crackling under the pots and pans of the delighted cook.
In this way little Mary not only secured five cents a day, but a full basket of provisions every evening for her famishing little brothers and sisters. On Saturday evening (for Mary had commenced her labors on Monday morning) she found herself the mistress of thirty-five cents, for she had made great exertions on Friday and Saturday to gather the five baskets for Sunday. This good Christian child could not on any account be induced
to break the sacredness of the Lord's day by gathering chips.
The next week Mary took her two little brothers with her, introduced them to the kind cook, and induced her to accept their services, as she had found a more speedy way of assisting her mother. And we find our little heroine very busily engaged in the little yard round her mother's cottage. Her own little hand, some two or three years before, had planted the Clematis and Woodbine by the side of the door. They had grown luxuriantly, and now completely embowered the little space between the house door and the fence, which was about as wide as a porch would have been. Underneath this shade she nailed against the fence a bit of board, which she called a shelf, and on it she placed a clean sheet of white paper, and then covered it with sticks of nice white candy, which she had learned to make at a kind neighbor's.
Little Mary now seated herself patiently under her little shelf at her knitting, with one eye on her work and the other on a little opening in the fence—from which she could see the passers-by. Presently her sweet, modest voice was heard offering her candy for sale. You may suppose, my dear young readers, it was not long before the gentle voice of little Mary, from her novel candy-shop,
attracted the passers-by, and that before the day was over her candy had disappeared from her little shelf, while seventy-five cents jingled in her pocket. It needs not to tell how proudly the little shop-keeper displayed the rewards of her industry to the admiring eyes of the little group within doors.
You will not be surprised, my dear friends, to learn that no great length of time elapsed before Mary was the happy possessor of a sufficient sum to furnish a real and nice little shop of candy and other confectionery, or that so good and dutiful a child enjoyed the patronage of all the worthy people of the village in which she lived. Little Mary Morris was one of the happiest of children, because one of the best. Providence blessed her, her parents blessed her, amid the smiles of prosperity and peace. Very soon the family removed to a more comfortable house, while want and its attendant anxieties were banished from their peaceful fireside.
When Mary arrived at her sixteenth year, a severe calamity befel the family, involving the little shop-keeper in total ruin. Her father, who for several years past had apparently applied himself to business, and contributed to the general prosperity of the family, was suddenly found to have run heavily in debt at the tavern for drink, besides
having incurred a considerable debt at the gaming-table. The sheriff seized poor Mary's shop and all its contents, and grief and disappointment in consequence wellnigh broke the buoyant spirit of this heroic little girl. But Mary was a Christian girl, and did not faint in well-doing, but at once set her ready wits to work devising another way to assist her broken-hearted mother.
One morning she appeared before her mother, with the brightness of hope and a resolute purpose beaming from her intelligent eyes.
“What now, daughter?” asked her mother, “for I see your heart is full of some noble design.”
“Dear mother,” said the affectionate child, fondly kissing her, “do not despair—God has again opened a way for me to help you.”
“How, my daughter?” asked her mother.
“This time, mother,” Mary replied, “I must acquaint you with my plans, to accomplish which it will be necessary for me to leave home—I must go to the distant city.”
These plans were forthwith disclosed, and preparations made. In another week Mary Morris was on board a vessel bound for the distant city. The captain was a kind-hearted man, and gave the young girl her passage, in consideration of some slight services rendered on board the
vessel, and, in addition to this, when arrived in port, allowed her to retain her berth in the vessel during her continuance in the city, so as to avoid the expenses of a boarding-house.
The vessel arrived at night, and at an early hour in the morning this enterprising, though timid and modest little girl, presented herself before one of the prominent wholesale merchants of the city, and with an air of modest self-possession, made him the following address: “You see before you, sir, a young girl, who is the only hope of her mother and eight needy brothers and sisters. She does not come to solicit charity, save only in credit for goods, to establish herself in the milliner's business, so that she may seek for herself and family an honorable support.
“She has no money, and no friends to stand her security. Her only trust is in God, to incline your heart to confide in her honesty. Will you kindly lend her your aid in the way she proposes?” And now the trembling girl awaited the merchant's reply, with a countenance glowing with anxiety and hope.
The merchant was at once struck with the enthusiasm and honesty of her countenance, and without a moment's delay replied, “Your face, little miss, is sufficient security.
There are my goods; make your selections to any amount you desire. Your word is sufficient guarantee.”
The benign expression of this good merchant's countenance, together with his kind, benevolent words, so melted the grateful heart of Mary, that she burst into tears, and was thus unable to thank her benefactor for his extraordinary goodness. Her selections were made, and now the joy of the delighted Mary was damped by the sudden appearance of a new difficulty—she had no money to pay for the packing and drayage of her goods to the vessel. As she was threading her way through the intricate streets and lanes to her little berth in the vessel, it suddenly occurred to her, in the midst of her trouble, that she would ask the good captain to inquire at the post-office if there was a letter for her from home. It so happened that the captain was just leaving the deck of the vessel to visit the city, and readily assented to this request. What was the delight of Mary, on his return, to receive a letter, as she supposed from her beloved mother! She immediately went to her little state-room, and, closing the door, sat down, with a beating heart, to read the letter. But what a new and extraordinary emotion was awakened in her young heart when she found that the letter was not from her mother, but from that
profligate father who had caused her recent overthrow; and, to add to her surprise, it actually contained a ten-dollar bill.
Tears again came to the relief of the full heart of this young adventurer, so signally assisted by the good providence of the God in whom she trusted; and when her tears began to subside, her spirits arose to such a height, the child actually clapped her hands and shouted for joy and gratitude. The next impulse was to throw herself on her knees and thank her heavenly Guardian, the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
The letter perhaps you would like to read, my young friends, and so here it is.
“My beloved Child:
“God has seen fit, in His infinite goodness, to touch this hardened, wicked heart, by the instrumentality of the best and noblest of daughters, and to fill it with the deepest contrition and self-abasement. As soon as I had learned from your excellent mother your departure and purpose, I went to work at once like an honest man, and the inclosed ten dollars, my first earnings, I dedicate with the first pure delight I have ever experienced in all my reprobate life, to the partial payment of the great debt
due you, both temporally and spiritually, from your most unworthy, but now repentant, father. No doubt God has heard your innocent prayers for your father. Pray for him still, beloved daughter; such prayers will surely be heard and answered, for the salvation of your unworthy, but loving father,
And now little Mary Morris returned to her beloved home with a grateful and joyous heart, to embrace her restored father, her dear mother and sisters and brothers, and to enjoy that delightful repose of mind which only a pious heart and sterling integrity can give.
Mary then rented one of the best stands in the village for her purpose, and her father, who was an excellent workman, remodelled the shop, painting and papering it, and thereby rendering it neat and airy in appearance. This greatly enhanced the beauty and attractiveness of the numerous bonnets, ribbons, and flowers which the young milliner, with great taste and ingenuity, displayed to the admiration of her customers.
The industry, amiability, and obligingness of the youthful milliner attracted the best patronage of the village, and she was soon enabled to place the family in a moderate independence, and all her brothers and sisters at school.
At the expiration of six months it became necessary to pay a second visit to the distant city, and on collecting her bills, Mary very soon discovered that she would not only be enabled to pay to the kind merchant the stipulated instalment upon the goods she had bought, but sufficient would remain in her hands to make all necessary purchases, without again resorting to credit. This was a matter of rejoicing and thankfulness in the family, particularly as it was in part produced by the effectual reformation of its head, and his steady, persevering industry and carefulness. With a grateful, buoyant heart, and the sweetest voice imaginable, our young heroine made her second appearance before the benevolent merchant, her creditor, and thus addressed him:
“You see before you, noble and generous sir, the little girl whom you have enabled to rescue a large family from penury. She has succeeded even beyond her hopes, and, with a grateful and joyful heart, appears before you a second time with the fruits of your generosity in her hands. Here is the stipulated instalment, besides sufficient to make my next purchases, without again resorting to credit. And may God forever reward and bless you, my noble friend, for your great kindness to me in the day of my need.”
The good merchant instantly recognized the honest face of little Mary Morris, and, with a most benignant smile, and many hearty shakes of the hand, greeted and congratulated her like an affectionate and warm-hearted father. He then insisted on her accompanying him on a visit to his family, with whom he said he would take a pride as well as pleasure in acquainting her.
In another year Mary had purchased the house in which the family resided, and furnished it in a neat and comfortable style. The blessing of a dutiful daughter had descended upon her head, bringing peace and prosperity to all around her.
After having purchased her house, and made several pretty and convenient improvements around it, Mary resolved to accomplish a long contemplated design, which was to seek a removal of her beloved Clematis and Woodbine (under whose shade her first efforts were made) from the door of the humble cottage to that of the neat and pretty dwelling of which she was now mistress. The proprietor of the cottage made no objection, and with the assistance of her clever brother, the cherished vines were speedily transplanted, and still afford a delightful bower, under which this now happy and prosperous family assemble at evening to acknowledge the mercies and
blessings bestowed upon them, since it had first shaded their humble door.
My dear readers, this is a true story—and now see what piety, duty to parents, honest industry, and perseverance may do, and if you should ever find yourselves in the circumstances of little Mary Morris, go resolutely to work, trusting in your gracious Saviour, who will not fail to bless your faithful efforts, though your only shelter be a bower of Clematis and Woodbine.
IX. Rhéné; or, the Wild Crab Blossoms.
A child left to himself, bringeth his mother to shame.—Proverbs xxix. 15.
When Rhéné was an infant, she was as lovely as an angel; and every one who beheld her wondered if she was mortal. Her parents idolized her, seeming to anticipate a glorious future for so exalted a specimen of human nature. As she grew, no expense was spared in her adornment, no bounds set to her indulgence. Every wish was gratified, almost before expressed, and the child knew not the feeling of disappointment.
Now, my reasonable little friends, you who have enjoyed the benefit of parental discipline and Christian care, do you not already anticipate sorrow for this spoiled child? You, who have been taught to expect and endure disappointments, surely must pity poor little Rhéné, who had never, from her infancy, been accustomed to anything but flattery and boundless indulgence, till her naturally lovelyLith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
WILD CRAB BLOSSOMS.
disposition had become sour, and extremely irritable at the slightest delay in the gratification of her wishes. As soon as she had obtained one object of desire, she eagerly reached after another, till everything attainable became unsatisfying, and the miserable child began to cry after impossibilities. The moon and the stars were objects of desire to this unhappy child.
If a pretty bird happened to perch near her for a moment, and then fly away, Rhéné would scream and scold, till every one in the house was perfectly miserable. When Rhéné was seven years old, her faultless features were almost ruined by the frequent distortions occasioned by passion and caprice, so much so that persons who had once thought her an angel, now wondered if it could be the same child. All this sad change, my dear young readers, was caused by the weakness and morbid affection of Rhéné’s misjudging parents; who were still, it is strange to say, as much infatuated as ever.
At this important period of childhood, when the restraints of wholesome discipline are so necessary, and the force of habit becoming so strong, poor little Rhéné was deprived of her indulgent mother by the hand of death. Rhéné cried passionately at first, but she was not so much afflicted at her loss as one might suppose, considering the
excessive affection of her mother for her, and her unceasing care and kindness. The fountains of love and gratitude are choked, if not dried up, by that all-absorbing thought of self, which is the inevitable consequence of excessive indulgence. If another procured her the same enjoyment, without ever crossing her wishes or whims, Rhéné was as well satisfied, and soon forgot her tender parent, who had only lived for her.
Rhéné’s father was overwhelmed with his loss, and the double care of his darling child, to whom he was more devotedly attached than ever, more entirely enslaved. His child, instead of becoming a blessing and comfort to him, was the torment of his life, for in a short time it became impossible to please her, and despair took possession of this weak man's heart.
Fortunately Mr. Linden had an intelligent, pious, and prudent sister, who soon came to the conclusion that it now became her duty to save her brother from the utter ruin of his happiness, and his child from misery, if not destruction.
She therefore proposed that Rhéné should be intrusted to her care till she had attained to that age and discretion which were necessary before she could be placed at the head of her father's house; representing that the child
was now of an age that required female guidance, as well as affection, and that the beauties of her nature would fail to develope themselves without that influence which a man could neither exercise nor comprehend; and stating that every care and attention should be bestowed on the child that her own children enjoyed. Than this, no more could be reasonably expected by her confiding brother. After long delay and much hesitation, the reason of Mr. Linden was convinced of the advantages offered his child, and a day was appointed for her transfer to the care of her aunt.
Several days elapsed before this fond father could bring himself to bear his own painful feelings or his child's tears on the announcement of his determination; but, in the mean time, his more judicious sister had taken Rhéné on her lap, and while busily engaged in the mysteries of doll-dressing, had talked the child into an impatient desire to live with her two little cousins, Lionel and Leucé; who would make two such nice playmates, and who, Rhéné added, “would never contradict or disobey her.” Which most amiable inducements the good aunt did not make it convenient to hear; knowing that a controversy on the subject would put a total end to the plan so much at heart. She would wait a more favorable time. Such were the delightful anticipations of Rhéné, at her aunt's
descriptions of her happy home, she sprang from her knee, and, tossing down her beautiful doll, flew into her father's library to say—“Oh, papa! I am going to live with my aunt and cousins, and then I shall be so happy. I do not wish to stay with you; there are no children here to play with me, so I am going now, this moment—good-bye, papa; you can come and see me, and bring me all the pretty things, and all the nice things you can get. You hear, pa?”
Poor papa was so deeply grieved at this total absence of affection in his cherished darling, he was for some time unable to speak; but big drops of sorrow fell from his eyes upon the little hand of the thoughtless child. “Why, pa! what are you crying for?” asked little Rhéné, in surprise. Her father replied, “To think that my only little child, whom I have loved so well, and been so kind to, should be willing to leave her poor papa all alone. Oh, Rhéné, you do not know, poor child, what pain you give me.”
Just then Mr. Linden's sister came in, when he said to her—
“Do you see how unhappy I am, my dear sister, to think that all my love and tenderness for this child has failed to secure her affection? Is it not surprising?”
“No, my dear brother,” she replied, “it is not at all surprising to me; for I well know you have never allowed a wish of hers ungratified, and therefore have taught her only to love herself. If, on the contrary, you had accustomed her to restrain her unreasonable wishes, and to keep her feelings under control, she would have been constrained to esteem as well as love you. I have always found those children most devoted to their parents who have been subjected to wholesome discipline. Yours has been the most effectual mode of making your child love herself supremely, and look upon you as only an agent to procure her gratification. Henceforth the difficult task of undoing what has been done must be resolutely undertaken.”
The weak but kind parent sighed as he looked at his idol, who was busily gathering up her numerous playthings, wholly insensible to everything but the near prospect of additional and new gratification. He saw the truth of his sister's reasoning more and more clearly, and wisely determined to yield to her the sole and whole management of the little girl, till she should attain a responsible age. Rhéné was forthwith conveyed to the house of her good aunt, in the best of humors, for she could remain gentle and pleased while anticipating enjoyment. And in those rare moments the faultless mouldings of her features
would appear almost as if an angel might indeed inhabit their fair proportions. But, alas! those moments were fleeting and transient. As soon as she arrived, her little cousins, Lionel and Leucé, came smiling up, offering to kiss her, when she rudely pushed them off, saying—
“I do not wish to kiss you; I wish you to draw me in that little carriage. You two will make a nice pair of little horses for me—so come along.” And with this Rhéné ran off, and springing into the carriage screamed out, “Come along, I say, both of you, and draw the carriage; that is what I came for, and you shall do what I want.”
But Lionel, who was a proud, although an obliging boy, when kindly dealt with, felt wounded at the unkind repulse of his naughty cousin, and was slowly walking off in another direction, when Leucé ran after him, entreating him to come back, and humor their little cousin for this one time, as she had come away from her poor papa and her dear delightful home.
“If she has just left her home and her papa,” replied the indignant Lionel, “that is no reason for her treating us as if we were her inferiors, and I shall not humor her.”
“Oh, but, dear brother,” insisted the little warm-hearted
Leucé, “just this once, for my sake and mamma's, and you will see how soon your kindness will make Rhéné sorry for what she has done.”
Now, my dear readers, it was very natural little Leucé, educated as she had been, according to the law of Christian love and kindness, should suppose her cousin capable of the same generous impulses as herself; but Leucé was ignorant of the neglect of Rhéné’s parents, and the selfishness and hardness of her little heart.
After a good deal of persuasion, Leucé prevailed with her brother to return to where the tyrannical little Rhéné sat storming in the carriage.
“Oh, cousin!” said Leucé, “dear cousin, only be patient, and you will see what kind cousins we will be for you. Just stop crying; here is Lionel, and here am I, ready to draw you in the carriage.”
“You shall not draw me in your horrid carriage. I will not ride in it now.” And springing out of it, she kicked it over so violently the wheels came off, and the carriage was otherwise broken.
“Now,” said the little virago, “I have broken your shabby carriage to pieces, and the next time I bid you draw me I think you will do it.” So, bridling herself up, she marched haughtily into the house, still swelling with
rage, while her little gentle cousins looked on with astonishment and disgust.
All this time Rhéné’s aunt had been putting away her clothes and numerous playthings, and therefore knew nothing of her improper behavior in the yard; but as soon as she saw her flushed face, her beautiful blue eyes flashing with anger, and at the same time streaming with tears, she thought to herself, “Well, already the contest must begin—the passion of this child must be conquered at once.” So she called her to come, saying, in a mild, calm voice, “Oh, my dear Rhéné! what has happened to you? Have your cousins cruelly left you to the fury of the bull-dog in the barn-yard, or the impudence of the old turkey gobbler in the poultry-yard? Naughty children! I thought I saw them kissing you when I entered the house. Come here, and tell me your troubles.” And now Rhéné’s good aunt took her on her knee, wiped her eyes, kissed her, and entreated her to tell her what was the matter.
“There is enough the matter!” screamed the naughty child. “I have not seen your dog or your turkey gobbler; but those hateful children would not draw me in their carriage, and I hate them, so I do; and I am going straight home to my papa—he makes everybody mind me. I will
be minded, and I will have what I want. So now let me alone.” And springing out of her aunt's lap, and running towards the door, she cried, “I am going this moment to my papa.”
Mrs. Clayton instantly arose and closed the door; then looking the excited child calmly in the face, said, “Oh, Rhéné, I am deeply grieved to see you such a naughty child; and you must know your papa has given you to me, that I may, if possible, make a good child of you; therefore I have no intention of parting with you so soon. I think you are old enough to understand whatever is said to you, being fully eight years of age. Listen, then, and I will tell you what my intention is.”
At this Rhéné threw herself on the floor, and screamed so loud that she could not possibly hear one word her aunt said.
Mrs. Clayton expected nothing less, so taking her in her arms she carried her into an adjoining room, placed her on a sofa, walked out, and closing the door locked it, and put the key into her pocket. Rhéné cried for a long time, at first passionately, then gradually more sorrowfully and less violently; at last, to her aunt's relief, she became silent, having yielded to the composing influence of that sweet soother of woes—“balmy sleeep.” Lionel
and Leucé, who had from their infancy been accustomed to obedience and propriety of demeanor, had no sympathy with their naughty little cousin, yet they could not help pitying her. They well knew their mother was acting for her good; yet it made them so sad, they could not bear to listen to her cries, and they ran into the garden, out of hearing, till they were assured Rhéné had ceased crying; then they entered the house on tip-toe, and found their mother seated calmly at her work.
Lionel gave his mother an account of the difficulty with Rhéné, and Mrs. Clayton knew she could rely on what he said, for he was always a boy of truth. “Now, my dear children,” said she, “you see a sad example of what I have always told you respecting spoiled children. They are utterly miserable themselves, and the cause of unhappiness to all around them. Is it not much more for your happiness that you have been taught to restrain your tempers and desires?”
“Oh, yes, indeed!” they both exclaimed, fondly kissing their mother. “We are a thousand times happier than Rhéné, with all her fine clothes and hundred playthings.”
“Still, for all this, my darlings,” said this excellent mother, “you must love your poor little cousin, and continue to have patience with her ill-humors and caprice;
remembering that she has hitherto been a stranger to contradiction or control, let us hope that in time, with the blessing of God, she may become an obedient and self-denying little Christian girl. And I trust, my dear children, your good example will greatly assist me in accomplishing this most desirable change. It will not be long before she will perceive the contrast, and must give the preference to that course of conduct which procures the greatest happiness. Her own life is certainly one of restless discontent, while yours is peaceful and joyous. She is a bright, observing child, and one of noble traits of character, needing only firm and regular discipline.”
“Oh, mother!” said Leucé, “will it not be dreadful when she wakes? Oh, oh, I am afraid she will die of passion.”
“No danger of that, my dear,” her mother replied; “my first lesson has had some effect. Rhéné has already learned that the power is in her aunt's hands, and that she intends to keep it. Hark! I hear her sobbing—she is awake.”
“Oh, mother!” said the little kind-hearted Leucé, with tears already glistening in her pretty black eyes, “oh, mother, pray give her a sweet kiss, and forgive her this time. She has no kind mother to teach her to be
good; and now she must be so hungry after crying so much.”
Mrs. Clayton smiled at this compassionate speech of her little daughter, and consented to consider all these extenuating circumstances in dealing with her little charge. Then entering the door of the apartment in which Rhéné was, closed it, and approached the sofa on which she still lay sobbing, though in a softened mood.
“You will be a good girl now, I hope, Rhéné, and then aunty and everybody will love you. But, then, if you should ever get into such another passion, I shall be obliged to shut you up again, till you are good. I do not spoil my children, and if I were to allow you to behave in this way, I am afraid they might expect me to bear with them, too, should they take an evil turn of the sort. So you must not expect me to bear more from you than from them, as I have promised your father to treat you precisely as my own. My children are very happy, because they are good and obedient to me, and kind and obliging to all. They will love you dearly, if you will let them, and be ready to share all their sports and pastimes with you, if you are good-natured and obliging; but otherwise you will have to keep to yourself, for they can take no pleasure in your society. So, now, I hope you will
make up your mind to be pleasant, and we will forget all that has passed. Kiss me, and come into the next room and get some supper, for I am sure you must be hungry by this time.”
So Mrs. Clayton placed the little girl on the floor, and led her from the room. All this while Rhéné was silent, though showers of tears fell from her eyes. The child really seemed awed into submission by the, till then, unimagined presence of superior will. Mrs. Clayton now kindly led the child to a table, on which were placed some cakes, bread and butter, and milk; and Rhéné, after some effort, suppressed her tears, and ate with her usual appetite. While she was eating, Mrs. Clayton talked cheerfully to her of the flowers, Leucé’s pet birds, and her pretty little white kitten. After a while her countenance relaxed, and she seemed interested, though the same immoveable silence was preserved. As soon as her supper was ended, Mrs. Clayton took her to her chamber, heard her say her prayers, and then resigned her to the care of her old nurse for the night.
On the following morning all the good effects of the previous evening's discipline had vanished; and Rhéné came down stairs with quite a scornful and lofty air. It was very evident that nurse had sympathised with her, to
the disadvantage of her aunt's mode of training. However, no notice was taken of this at present, and the children came forward, in their usual cordial way, to play with their little cousin.
Rhéné said nothing while her aunt was present; but as soon as she had left the breakfast-room, as she saw Leucé caressing her little white kitten, she darted towards her, and seizing the kitten, said,
“This is my kitten, now. Aunt gave it to me last night, so you shall play with it no more.”
“Oh, no, cousin Rhéné,” said Leucé, “I am sure mamma could not have given you my kitten—she would not have done such an unjust thing; though I am willing you should play with it sometimes. But pray do not squeeze it so, poor kitty has been used to nothing but kindness.”
“Well,” said Rhéné, “I had been used to nothing but kindness till I came here, and you have treated me like a dog. I shall tell my papa, and nurse says he will not suffer me to remain here, when he knows all.”
“Oh, Miss Rhéné,” said the nurse, “you promised me to say nothing of this—you have broken your word.”
“Well, I do not care if I have broken my word,” said the naughty child; “I shall break my word when I please, and you may help yourself if you can.
Just at that moment Mrs. Clayton returned to the breakfast-room, and every one was silent—the old nurse from fear; Rhéné from awe of that same superior will, the power of which she had felt the night before, and Lionel and Leucé from the pure motives of peacemakers; hoping that their little cousin would think better of what she had said, and be more agreeable and rational.
Mrs. Clayton plainly perceived that something was amiss, but determined to let it pass, as she well knew that abundant opportunities would occur for the discipline of her little niece, without her seeking. Lionel and Leucé now prepared to go to school, and after kissing their mother set out.
“Well, well!” said Lionel, as they walked on, “I do not see what mamma wants with such an unprincipled girl in her house. She is a story-teller, and boasts that she will break her word whenever she pleases. I cannot associate with such a girl.”
“I know it is very dreadful, brother,” said little gentle Leucé, “but then, you know, she is our poor little orphan cousin, and mamma thinks in time to make her a good Christian girl. Remember, Lionel she has not had such a good Christian for a mother as we have had, and she does not know any better. Let us pray for her; who
knows but her gentle Saviour will make her a good child after all?”
“Well, I hope so, I am sure,” said Lionel, “and I am very willing to pray for her; but I do not wish to associate with her till she is changed for the better.”
“I shall do just as mamma says,” quietly observed Leucé.
“What a beautiful creature she would have been,” said Lionel, “if mamma had taken her when she was an infant!”
“Yes, indeed,” Leucé replied, “for when she first came smiling up to the door, I thought her the prettiest little girl I ever saw. But how that terrible anger spoils her beauty!”
“She is the exact picture of a thunder-storm all the while, as far as a little girl can be. I shall be very glad when mamma can change her into a gentle zephyr, but I am afraid it will be a long time first; but, ah!” continued the thoughtful Lionel, “what a blessing it is to have a good Christian mother, such as ours!”
“Oh, yes!” said Leucé; “I would not exchange our mother for any other in the world.”
Now, my dear readers, you perhaps will think this conversation rather out of the way for such young children;
but when you come to reflect that Lionel and Leucé had been accustomed to act and think as Christians, you must acknowledge it is natural they should express themselves in rational Christian language. With parents it rests to guide the tender, susceptible minds of their offspring into right modes of thought, speech, and action; and if commenced in infancy, it is quite as easy, relying on the grace of God, to direct the current of their minds in a right channel as a wrong one. So that unchristian parents must receive a double condemnation at the great day of accounts, inasmuch as by the neglect of their own soul's salvation, they were incapable of bringing up their children for the kingdom of Heaven.
Lionel was at this time ten years old, and Leucé eight; both of them quite old enough to be sensible of the advantage they possessed over their little spoiled cousin.
As soon as the children had gone to school, Mrs. Clayton took little Rhéné by the hand and walked around the garden, pointing out the various beautiful flowers, and directing the child's attention, through them, to the gracious Giver of all good. This was a favorite mode of this excellent woman to awaken the feelings of gratitude and love towards the bountiful Creator; and well it might be, for she had found it most efficacious in the education of
her own promising children. Their innocent love was easily transferred from these beautiful objects to their great, wise, and beneficent Maker, while through their rich and varied beauties they saw the impress of His hand.
Rhéné still preserved an unbroken silence, though she could not withhold her attention from her aunt's interesting conversation. When Mrs. Clayton returned to the house, she resigned the little girl to the care of her nurse for a time.
When the children returned from school, after kissing their mother as usual, they hastened to join their little cousin in the play-room; but as soon as they approached her, she turned her back upon them, and threw herself into her nurse's arms. Lionel, who had sought her company at the entreaty of his kind-hearted little sister, instantly turned and walked out of the room, saying, “You see how it is, Leucé—next time, listen to me.”
“Oh, Lionel,” whispered Leucé, “do you not see it is all the fault of that old nurse. If cousin Rhéné was only away from her, I am sure she would soon be a good girl.”
“Perhaps so,” said Lionel, “but you must not ask me to play with her again. I shall keep my distance in future.”
“I do not know but Lionel is right,” said his mother, who now entered the hall where the children stood conversing. “I think, in your cousin's present mood, Leucé, she is best left to herself. Her imagined importance will be lessened, to her great and real advantage, by an appearance of indifference on your parts to her company. So go on, my children, in your usual duties and pastimes, without any reference at all to her being in the house. I did not take her for the purpose of embittering the lives of my children. I have formed my plans, which I shall pursue firmly and regularly; so forget, as far as you can, that she is here, till I request a change, or Rhéné herself desires it. In either case it will be time enough to interrupt your usual course of action.”
“Oh, mamma,” said Leucé, “I am sure it is all the fault of that cross old nurse that our little cousin dislikes us so much. I wish she was away, and then all would be well.”
“What makes you think so, my dear?” asked her mother.
Leucé did not like to be what is called a mischief maker, and therefore for some time remained silent, for she had spoken without reflection: at last she answered—
“Somehow I think so, mamma.”
“You must not indulge in suspicions, my daughter,” said Mrs. Clayton; “they can only render yourself uncomfortable, while they may make you unjust to others.” No more was said on the subject, and the children ate their dinner and returned to school. However, it was not long before Mrs. Clayton discovered that Leucé’s suspicions were well founded, and she did not hesitate to dismiss the nurse of her little niece.
Rhéné, of course, was in another rage at this; but her aunt paid no attention to her screams, leaving her, as before, to exhaust her anger in sleep.
From this day forward a regular system of wholesome discipline was pursued; though some months elapsed before the little Rhéné’s naturally noble traits of character were rescued from the deadly influence of erroneous training. After a while the child became wearied of her perverseness, and the consequent loneliness to which it subjected her, for every one was glad to escape from such disagreeable company, as you must suppose. If an occurrence was stated by any one of the family, great or small, Rhéné instantly contradicted it, though the moment any one presumed to retaliate, no matter how truly, a raging storm would quickly overspread her countenance, destroying for the time every trace of comeliness. Every morning,
when the family assembled for prayers, Rhéné’s seat was vacant.
“Where is your cousin, Leucé?” Mrs. Clayton would ask.
“In bed, ma'am.”
“Why did you not wake her, my child, and tell her it was time to come down stairs?”
“I am afraid to, ma'am.”
“Because she is always sure to strike me, or scream till she is hoarse.”
“Why did not you awake her?” again said Mrs. Clayton, addressing the chamber-maid.
“Because, ma'am, Miss Rhéné would throw her shoes in my face, or tear the clothes off me. I am afraid, ma'am.”
Again Mrs. Clayton said to the housekeeper, who slept in the room with the two little girls—“You should have called her!”
“Me, ma'am? Bless your soul, ma'am, I would not attempt such a thing for the world! I am afraid of the child also, ma'am,” was the answer.
Now, my dear young readers, was not this a terrible reputation for a little girl to bear? and was she not really
to be pitied? And was not her good aunt to be pitied, who had imposed such a difficult task upon herself? Surely; but, then, when you reflect that this misguided, neglected little girl had an immortal soul, for which her Saviour died, which soul, if left to its ungovernable wilfulness, must be lost eternally, would you not rejoice that a kind friend was found who would undertake her reformation, difficult though it was? And it gives me the sincerest pleasure to assure you that this excellent friend effected her benevolent purpose at last.
Lionel and Leucé attended school regularly, and advanced rapidly in their education, while their little cousin yet remained in ignorance; for whenever her aunt proposed that she should go to school, an outbreak of temper was sure to follow. So she fell upon a very judicious plan, and said no more about school to Rhéné, but called up the children every day, and gave them a pretty book to read out aloud, commending them for their good reading, and now and then bestowing some pretty reward upon them for diligence and correct deportment.
One day Rhéné was unusually quiet, and remained quite near her aunt for a long time. At last it occurred to her aunt that perhaps Rhéné wished to ask some favor of her, and she thought she would give her an opportunity.
So she said to her, “Do you wish for anything, my dear?”
Rhéné colored quickly—hesitated for a moment, and then said—
“I wish I knew how to read, and I should like to go to school with the children.”
“Do you think you could control your temper, and submit to the government of the teacher, Rhéné? for, unless you can, there is little use in your going; for nothing like resistance is allowed at school. The teacher insists on obedience, and if not yielded, she punishes instantly; and then, if punishment has not the desired effect, she dismisses the naughty girl from her school. And now do you still wish to go?”
The sudden desire to be able to read pretty books had taken such fast hold on her mind, Rhéné did not well weigh the consequences presented by her aunt, or did not believe in their reality, and still desired to go with the children; so her aunt consented with apparent indifference, for she knew that if she appeared at all anxious for the little girl to go to school, she would be very apt, for contradiction's sake, to decline going. Rhéné, it is true, had improved vastly since under the care and discipline of Mrs. Clayton, yet she was by no means entirely
docile or obedient. At times outbreaks of her old temper would occur, and restraint and correction become necessary.
To her aunt's question, “Do you still wish to go?” Rhéné had hesitated for a while, but the new impulse prevailed, and she answered—
“Yes, aunt, I really do wish to go.”
“Very well, my dear; then to-morrow morning you shall accompany the children, and I hope soon to write your father word how much you have improved, both in your learning and deportment. And then only think how happy you will make your kind father! If you really will try to be a good girl, I know you will succeed. You must pray to our Father in Heaven to assist your efforts with His grace, and then there is no fear of your failing.”
The next morning there was great rejoicing in the house, when it was known that Rhéné had herself requested to be sent to school.
For a few days Rhéné seemed quite delighted with the novelty of going to school; but she very soon began to come home with a sour face, or crying, with various complaints to her aunt.
“The children did not like her, and would not play with her. The teacher was cross to her, and partial to all
the scholars but herself. The room was too close—the water disagreeable—and her lessons were too hard. She would like to change her school. Let her go somewhere else?”
“Come here, Lionel,” said Mrs. Clayton; “you are one of Mrs. Ross's scholars; tell me, is Rhéné really treated unkindly by both teacher and scholars; that is, I mean, do you think so? Because I shall certainly not permit my dear brother's child to be treated with injustice or cruelty.”
“Mother,” answered the noble boy, “you know you have always told us to say nothing of what happens in school, and therefore I have never done it; but as you yourself require it, and the good name of the school is called in question, of course I must speak, and cousin Rhéné must not be angry with me. Cousin Rhéné does not like to be contradicted, you know, and the children at school have found this out, and find it very disagreeable to play with her, because she gets angry if they do not submit to her in all things; and Mrs. Ross will not take sides with Cousin Rhéné, when she sees she is in the wrong. This is exactly what I think of the matter.”
At this Rhéné said, angrily, “Oh Lionel! are you not ashamed? It is not the truth, aunt, not a word of it.
Lionel treats me as unkindly as the rest. And now I will never go back to that school again, and I'll never speak to you again, Master Lionel.”
“Very well,” quietly replied Lionel, “I can do very well without you.” And he walked out of the door with Leucé, leaving the angry Rhéné with his mother.
“I am very sorry, Rhéné, that you cannot yet see the true cause of all your unhappiness—sorry that I have not yet succeeded in enabling you to control your temper. Temper, Rhéné, and pride, are at the root of all your troubles. Until you make up your mind that others have rights as well as yourself, and are entitled to respect, you will always be in difficulties, for you will find no one submit to your commands. If you wish to leave the school, you can do so; but then you must remember how unhappy you were at home without companions, and besides this, you are growing a great girl in ignorance, while your little cousins are rapidly advancing in learning, and deriving so much pleasure as well as profit from this advancement. I give you till to-morrow morning to determine respecting this matter; and then you will remain at home for several months, without companions, and your education must cease. Just think how this will mortify your dear father and aunt!”
Rhéné left the room pouting, and Mrs. Clayton said no more to her on the subject that day.
On the next Saturday, a little friend came to spend the day with Leucé and Rhéné. Their sports went on pleasantly for a time, and Mrs. Clayton was congratulating herself on the improvement of her little niece's temper, when, alas! as she sat composedly at work in her room, in rushed Rhéné, with lowering brow, flushed face, and her voice discordant with passion, complaining of Leucé and Mary. “Neither of them would allow her to play with them. They had gone off by themselves, and she had to be all alone. Would not aunt Clayton make Leucé let her play with Mary?”
“Certainly, my dear,” said Mrs. Clayton; “Leucé shall not do any such selfish, unkind thing to you. Call her here.”
When Leucé came in, her mother said to her, “Why, my daughter, is it possible you can be so unkind to your cousin, and so unjust to yourself, as to take your little guest off, and leave Rhéné alone? Surely there must be some mistake!”
“No, indeed, mamma!” said Leucé, with an expression of surprise on her face, “I did no such thing. Cousin Rhéné quarrelled with Mary, and ordered her about, till
she declared she would go home if Cousin Rhéné stayed with us. Of course I asked her to stay, and when she insisted on leaving Cousin Rhéné, I was obliged to follow her. It would not have been civil to leave her, would it, ma'am?”
“Certainly not, my dear—and I am glad to hear you were not guilty of such unkindness and selfishness.” Just as Mrs. Clayton said this, and Rhéné was preparing to contradict her little cousin, Mary Clare came in, and confirmed all Leucé’s statement. The two little girls left the apartment, and Rhéné stood confounded and silent, though still swelling with passion. Her aunt now said to her—
“Oh, my dear Rhéné, when will you leave off these naughty ways, which make you so very unhappy, besides losing you so much real enjoyment and so many nice little friends? I am truly sorry for you, my dear. There is but one thing to be done to remedy this evil, and that you must do yourself—that is, control your temper, and respect the rights of others. You cannot expect to command everybody, and so long as you quarrel with your little friends, they must dislike and shun your company.”
Rhéné burst into a flood of tears; not of passion this time, but of real sorrow; and after listening to her aunt's
salutary advice and counsel for some time, she said, “Aunt, I know I have done wrong, and if you will tell me how to get command over my temper, I will try.”
Mrs. Clayton's tears flowed too, at this most favorable turn in the mind of her little charge; and she drew her to her arms, and, kissing her fondly, assured her what joy she had caused her to feel; and promised to pray for her, as well as direct her, in the right way. “And now, my darling,” said this good aunt, “just go at once, and join your little playmates; mingling in all their sports, while you resolutely preserve your amiability. You will soon find them glad of your society.”
“I do not like to go,” said Rhéné, sorrowfully, “after they have left me, and Mary was so angry with me.”
“Go, my dear,” insisted Mrs. Clayton; “the very act of going, while under this unpleasant impression, will help greatly towards that self-control so necessary for your peace. Go now, that's a good girl.”
“You go with me, aunt, if you please.”
“Oh, no, my dear; the sacrifice of feeling you will make, in going forward alone, will be a great step towards the victory over yourself; take it then, my dear, resolutely, if you really desire to be a good and happy little girl. Come, now, let me see a bright smile illumine that
sweet countenance, and all will be over.” Mrs. Clayton turned up the little girl's face to hers by placing her hand under her chin, and the wicked spirit flew away, leaving an angel in his place. Away bounded Rhéné, the happiest child she had ever been in all her life, in this one moment.
Mrs. Clayton kept her eye on the little girls all that day, and had the satisfaction to find that Rhéné controlled her temper throughout, and was the happiest child she ever saw. The children were delighted with her company, for she was an intelligent child naturally, and greatly assisted in all their amusing pastimes.
From this day Rhéné’s temper began to improve, and her aunt's beneficial influence to be established over her mind. The more she felt the happiness arising from her reformation, the more she strove to reform.
The proud and distant Lionel acknowledged a charm in her society, and dear little kind-hearted Leucé was all the while in ecstasies at the happy and delightful change in her beautiful cousin.
One lovely evening, in the spring of the year, Mrs. Clayton, with her children, walked into the woods, now perfumed with the odors of a thousand flowers. She had seated herself on a green bank, under the shade, and was
deeply interested in a book, when the merry voices of the children told they were approaching her. In another moment all three came bounding towards her, laden with flowers.
“Oh, aunty! see here,” said Rhéné, “what beautiful Crab Blossoms! Oh, are they not the brightest and sweetest flowers in the whole woods?”
Mrs. Clayton admired the blossoms and enjoyed their delicious perfume, while the children busied themselves forming wreaths for their hair.
“Is it not strange, aunt,” said Rhéné, “that a blossom so beautiful, and so sweet, should produce so sour and unpleasant a fruit as the Crab? I should think, if I did not know the Crab, that the fruit would be beautiful as well as delicious.”
“Just as one would suppose,” said her aunt, “that as an infant is beautiful and sweetly amiable, as it grew, it would advance in those exquisite qualities, to the most delightful perfection; but, alas! how often is the reverse observed. I knew once a beautiful babe, almost the wonder of beholders, and yet, because not subjected to proper cultivation, its temper became sour and disagreeable, so much so as almost to deform its features. It was difficult to recognize it as the same beautiful child. Trained properly, this
same child might have been a blessing and delight to its parents and friends—just as the sour, knotty Crab, by cultivation, is changed into one of the most delicious, as well as beautiful fruits—the Apple, you know.”
During this speech of Mrs. Clayton, the two children, Lionel and Leucé, could not help exchanging a glance, while Rhéné blushed and turned her face away, conscious of her aunt's meaning.
Rhéné had been with her aunt one year, when, according to agreement, her father paid his first visit. He was in raptures with his little daughter, and amazed at the wonderful change effected by the judicious management of his excellent sister. He was entirely convinced that those who subject their children betimes to Christian discipline are their truest friends, and in enabling them to control themselves, secure for them the power of rendering themselves agreeable to their companions, and worthy (through Him who died for them) of the exalted destiny for which they were created.
Lith. of Sarony, Major and Knapp. 449 Braodway, N. Y.
FORGET ME NOT & MORNING GLORY.X. The forget-me-not and Morning Glory;
OR, THE TWO LITTLE GRAVES.
Can a mother forget her sucking child.—Isaiah xlix. 15.
I WAS once journeying through a retired part of the country, and stopped to rest and refresh myself at a small moss-covered cottage by the road-side. While my simple meal was preparing, I was tempted to stroll in the grounds surrounding the house. A little way removed from its side I perceived, in an orchard, a small inclosure, embowered with vines. On approaching nearer, I discovered within it two little graves, of precisely the same length. They were covered with smooth, green moss, reminding me of a pall of green velvet—intended as a symbol of undying love. At either end of the graves was a White Rose-bush, over whose branches twined luxuriantly the White Morning Glory, covered with blossoms. Perhaps each morn the heart of a sorrowing mother was
thus reminded of that joyful resurrection when those dear little tenants of the moss-covered graves would arise and flourish in eternal youth and beauty. Around the margin of the graves, on observing closely, I beheld the modest Forget-me-nots, peeping up with their soft blue eyes, as, hand in hand, they lovingly encircled the silent abodes of the innocent dead.
The space between the graves and the vine-covered inclosure was thickly planted with ivy, interspersed with the two favorite flowers of the country people—the Heartsease and Sweet William. The vine which covered the inclosure was the Bamboo, whose deep-green, glossy leaves waved cheerily in the breeze, as if to preserve the grateful idea of life even on the confines of the grave.
The Bamboo is an evergreen, which, doubtless, was the reason why it was chosen to encircle these little clay tenements of the loved and lost ones—an expressive token of the sorrowing survivor's undying love. This was truly a lovely spot—speaking in beautiful though silent language the purity and elevation of a Heaven-directed mind, though animating the simple, rustic form of a plain, untutored woman. She was a tall, thin woman, whose features bore the marks of age, cut in by the cares and sorrows of some forty years. Her full gray eyes were shaded by long,
black lashes, which imparted an expression of pensive melancholy when at rest, but when animated by conversation, they lighted up with a beam of enthusiasm, which unmistakably revealed the soul of genius, although untutored and unrefined.
To my inquiries respecting the two little graves, at first she listened with averted eye and reluctant manner, though gradually she became won to confidence, probably by my tone of sympathy and interest, rather than curiosity.
Seating herself beside me, she first wiped her eyes with the corner of her homespun apron, and then paused as if collecting her thoughts and controlling her rising emotion. At length she said—
“Those two little graves, ma'am, contain all that remains now of two dear children. They are not both mine. One is my dear little Ellen, and the other is her playmate, who died just two weeks to a day after her. So I begged of the parents of little Mary to let her come and lie by my Ellen, for company. She did look so lonesome-like out there in the orchard, all by herself! And so they consented; and the two little friends sleep side by side. They were never parted in their lives, and I could not bear to see them parted in their cold graves.”
Tears came streaming now down the swarthy face of the bereaved and sorrowing mother, compelling her again to pause before completing her story.
“My little Ellen was ten years old when she died, and little Mary one month younger. Alas! she followed her playmate in half that month to the grave.
“Now you must know, ma'am,” continued the pensive mourner, “the cottage of Mr. Mosely, little Mary's father, stands just a quarter of a mile beyond the next fork of the road, only a stone's throw from here, and the neighboring school-house is half a mile on the main road; so my little Ellen and little Mary Mosely, from the time they were five years old, have met at the fork every morning, and gone on, hand in hand, lovingly and joyously, together to school.
“They sat on the same bench, said their lessons out of the same book, and when the school was out, spread their little napkin on the grass under a tree, and ate their dinner out of the same basket. Then, in the evening, hand in hand, as lovingly as ever, they walked back to the fork of the road, and parted to meet again in the morning.
“The master used to say they were two of the best and nicest little children he ever saw in all his life. They
always obeyed him, always knew their lessons, and set a good example to the school in every way. At home, too, they were affectionate and obedient to their parents, and kind and obliging to every one.
“My little Ellen was taken ill with the fever, and her beloved playmate never left her side till she died. When she stood by the open grave of the friend she loved so well, and saw the little coffin for the last time, she wept as if her heart would break.
“Just before the earth was thrown on the coffin, the weeping child dropped a bunch of the little flowers called the Forget-me-not into the grave, saying, ‘Good-bye, dear Ellen. Oh, forget me not.’ And, ‘Oh, how I do wish I was going with you, to where the flowers never fade or die, and where we shall never be parted more, and never weep!’ ”
Tears choked the utterance of the sorrowing mother for a while, and then she said—
“It was only the next day when little Mary, too, fell ill of the fever; and when she saw her parents weeping around her, she said to her mother—
“ ‘Oh, mother, what makes you weep around my bed? Am I going to die, too?’ The mother could not speak, though the dying child could read the answer to her question
in her silence and unceasing tears. ‘Oh, I am so glad! I am so glad!’ the child repeatedly cried. ‘Oh, Ellen, dear, I am coming to your happy home in the beautiful skies at last. Oh, I am so happy! I am so glad! Dear father and mother, do not cry. God and the gentle Saviour will be so kind to us till you come to share our happiness, and dear Ellen will be no longer alone, among strangers; her own Mary will be there to love her, and bear her company.’
“Well, so the dear child died; and that is her grave on the side farthest from the house; for I love to sit at the window, and talk with my own little Ellen while I am at work, as I used to do when she slept in her little bed at my side, to soothe her to her slumbers.”
So the story was ended—and the simple-minded narrator gave way to uncontrollable weeping, while I sat by her side, silently musing on the inextinguishable love of the mother.
“There is one question I would like to ask of you, ma'am,” said the weeping mother, wiping her eyes as before with the corner of her apron.
“Did you see the little blue-eyed Forget-me-nots around the graves?”
“Oh, yes!” I replied, “a lovely memento.”
“They were the favorite flowers of little Mary! And the Morning Glory on the White Rose-bush?”
“Oh, yes!” I answered; “how pure and lovely they are!”
“They were the favorites of my little Ellen. Every morning in the summer, after she had said her prayers and read her Bible (she dearly loved her Bible), she would go out into the garden, and return with the White Morning Glory in her hand, and say—
“ ‘See, mother, again they bloom!’ And ever they bloom afresh each morning, as if to remind us that, though we, too, must wither and die in this world, we shall live again when the bright morning of the Resurrection shall dawn; and we shall there, like these snowy blossoms, be clothed in a pure robe of righteousness.
“My little Ellen, ma'am, was a child of wisdom beyond her years, and it was her Bible that made her so. That is the only comfort left me, now that she is gone—that I kept her reading her Bible, while she was with me. It was there she was prepared to die, and made fit for the company of angels.”
I asked how long the children had been dead, and she answered ten years. Ten long years had this fond mother preserved in beautiful quietude these two little graves,
surrounding them with summer flowers and winter-greens, that their freshness and loveliness might be perpetual!
And now, my gentle readers, let the love and harmony of these two little friends inspire you with the same heavenly affections—love, gentleness, kindness to all; obedience, gratitude and reverence to parents, teachers, pastors, and, above all, devotion to your Maker and Redeemer!
Think what unchanging, undying love and tenderness for you inhabit the breast of the mother, and never, while you live, do aught to bring a pang to yours. Rather strive to comfort and cheer their hearts, as they pass through this world of trial and uncertainty.
My dear children, believe me, it is pure Christian love which inspires your parents to strive so earnestly to incline your young hearts to the path of truth and holiness. Give ever heed to their faithful, affectionate counsels; love and venerate them, and then the Great Parent of all will bestow his unspeakable grace and love on you, so that when your bodies rest in the silent tomb, your joyous spirits will rise, on angels’ wings, to live forever in the presence of your dear Redeemer.
Read your Bibles, children, morning and evening, and prize them as your greatest earthly blessing, like those two little children who now sleep beneath the moss-covered graves, amid flowers and evergreens.
A sweet little Violet, bloomingBeneath her fair sovereign, the Rose,Though all the bright parterre perfuming,Yet humble and modest she grows.The beautiful Rose, proudly blushing,Beholds herself mirrored in dew;And while the rich moisture is flushingHer cheek with a brilliancy new,She smiles in her pride and her beauty,As round her fair votaries throng,Her queenly head bends to each fair one,As her eye o'er them passes along.First in snowy array comes the Lily,As next in refinement and grace;Then the Tulip, in gaudiness silly,Aspires to that same envied place.
The Jasmine, Carnation, and Woodbine,For favors of royalty vie;The Dahlia, in hues rich and varied,Exalts her proud head to the sky.The meek little Violet retiringBeneath her thick heart-leaves unseen,Unambitious, ne'er dreams of aspiringTo a place in the heart of the Queen.Now, it chances a Butterfly passesIn gambols of heedlessness by,Takes a sip from the lip of each calix,Whose bright color pleases his eye.As the flowers their perfume now scatter,He fans them with rich silken wing:The gay beauties cunningly flatter,While enchantments around him they fling.Yet their witcheries fail in securingThis gay rover's homage or love,Though their wiles they exhaust in alluring,No Nymph his fine fancy can move.
The breath of sweet incense exhalingFrom out the thick heart leaves so green,Revealed where true worth, meekly veilingHer beauties, sat calm and serene.There straight flew the gay dainty rover,Well taught by Dame Nature to knowThat sweets the most exquisite everFrom meekness and modesty grow.