The Fairy Godmothers and Other Tales
Mrs. Alfred Gatty
Part 2 out of 3
_beauties_ of your school, Joachim;--but tell me seriously, are there
no good, pleasant, or handsome faces among your schoolfellows?"
"Plenty, Mother; one or two the Master calls models, and who often sit
to him to be drawn from."
"Draw one of those faces for me, my dear; I am fond of beauty." And
the Mother placed the book in his hands, pointing to a blank page.
Joachim took a pencil, and sat down. _Now_ he thought he should be
able to please his Mother; but, alas, he found to his surprise, that
the fine faces he tried to recall had not left that vivid impression
on his brain which enabled him to represent them. On the contrary, he
was tormented and baffled by visions of the odd forms and grotesque
countenances he had so often pictured. He seized the Indian-rubber and
rubbed out nose after nose to no purpose, for he never could replace
them with a better. Drawing was his favourite amusement; and this
disappointment, where he expected success, broke down his already
depressed heart. He threw the book from him, and burst into a flood of
"Joachim! have you drawn him? What makes you cry?"
"I cannot draw him, Mother," sobbed the distressed boy.
"And why not? Just look here; here is an admirable likeness of
squinting Joe, as you have named him. Why cannot you draw the handsome
"Because his face is so handsome!" answered Joachim, still sobbing.
"My son," said his Mother gravely, "you have now a sad lesson to
learn, but a necessary and a wholesome one. Get up, desist from
crying, and listen to me."
Poor Joachim, who loved his mother dearly, obeyed.
"Joachim! your Aunt, and your Cousins, and your schoolfellows have all
called you clever. In what does your cleverness consist? I will tell
you. In the Reproduction of Deformity, Defects, Failings, and
Misfortunes of every sort, that fall under your observation. A worthy
employment truly! A noble ambition! But I will now tell you the truth
about yourself. You never heard it before, and I feel sure you will
benefit now. A good or an evil Genie, I know not which, has bestowed
upon you a great power; and you have misused it. Do you know what that
Joachim shook his head, though he trembled all over, for he felt as if
awaking from along dream, to the recollection of the Genie.
"It is the power of Imitation, Joachim; I call it a great power, for
it is essential to many great and useful things. It is essential to
the orator, the linguist, the artist, and the musician. Nature herself
teaches us the charm of _imitation_, when in the smooth and clear lake
you see the lovely landscape around mirrored and _repeated_. What a
lesson may we not read in this sight! The commonest pond even that
reflects the foliage of the tree that hangs over it, is calling out to
us to reproduce for the solace and ornament of life, the beautiful
works of God. But oh, my son, my dear son, you have abused this gift
of Imitation, which might be such a blessing and pleasure to you."
 Schiller.--"Der Kuenstler."
"You might, if you chose, _imitate every thing that is good, and
noble, and virtuous, and beautiful_; and you are, instead of that,
reproducing every aspect of deformity that crosses your path, until
your brain is so stamped with images of defects, ugliness, and
uncouthness, that your hand and head refuse their office, when I call
upon you to reproduce the beauties with which the world is graced."
I doubt if Joachim heard the latter part of his Mother's speech. At
the recurrence to the old sentence, a gleam of lightning seemed to
shoot across his brain. Latent memories were aroused as keenly as if
the events had but just occurred, and he sank at his Mother's feet.
When she ceased to speak, he arose.
"Mother," said he, "I have been living in a cloud. I have been very
wrong. Besides which, I have a secret to tell you. Nay, my Aunt may
hear. It has been a secret, and then it has been forgotten; but now I
remember all, and understand far more than I once did."
Here Joachim recounted to his Mother the whole story of her words to
him, and his adventure with the Genie and the bottle; and then, very
slowly, and interrupted by many tears of repentance, he repeated what
the Genie had said about giving him _the power_ of imitation, adding
that the use he made of it must depend on himself and the great Ruler
of the heart and conscience.
There was a great fuss among the Cousins at the notion of Joachim
having talked to a Genie; and, to tell you the truth, this was all
they thought about, and soon after took their leave. The heart of
Joachim's Mother was at rest, however: for though she knew how hard
her son would find it to alter what had become a habit of life, she
knew that he was a good and pious boy, and she saw that he was fully
alive to his error.
"Oh Mother," said he, during the course of that evening, "how plain I
see it all now! The boy that stutters is a model of obedience and
tenderness; I ought to have dwelt upon and imitated that, and, oh! I
thought only of his stuttering. The boy that walks so clumsily, as
well as the great fellow that lisps, are such industrious lads, and so
advanced in learning, that the master thinks both will be
distinguished hereafter; and I, who--(oh, my poor mother, I must
confess to you)--hated to labour at any thing, and have got the boys
to do my lessons for me;--I, instead of imitating their industry, lost
all my time in ridiculing their defects.--What shall--what shall I
The next morning poor Joachim said his prayers more humbly than he had
ever before done in his life; and, kissing his mother, went to school.
The first thing he did on arriving was to go up to the big boy, who
had beaten him, and beg him to shake hands.
The big boy was pleased, and a grim smile lightened up his face. "But,
old fellow," said he, laying his hand on Joachim's shoulder, "take a
friend's advice. There is good in all of us, depend upon it. Look out
for all that's good, and let the bad points take care of themselves.
_You_ won't get any handsomer, by squinting like poor Joe; nor speak
any pleasanter for lisping like me; nor walk any better for apeing
hobbling. But the ugliest of us have some good about us. Look out for
_that_, my little lad; I do, or I should not be talking to you! I see
that you are honest and forgiving, though you _are_ a monkey! There
now, I must go on with my lessons! You do yours!"
Never was better advice given, and Joachim took it well, and bore it
bravely; but, oh, how hard it was to his mind, accustomed for so long
to wander away and seek amusement at wrong times, to settle down
resolutely and laboriously to study. He made a strong effort, however;
and though he had often to recall his thoughts, he in a measure
After school-hours he begged the big boy to come and sit by him, and
then he requested his old friends and companions to listen to a story
he had to tell them. They expected something funny, and many a broad
grin was seen; but poor Joachim's eyes were yet red with weeping, and
his gay voice was so subdued, the party soon became grave and
wondering, and then Joachim told them every thing. They were delighted
to hear about the Genie, and were also pleased to find themselves safe
from Joachim's ridicule. It could not be expected they should all
understand the story, but the big boy did, and became Joachim's
greatest friend and adviser.
That evening our little friend, exhausted with the efforts and
excitement of his almost first day of repentance, strolled out in a
somewhat pensive mood to his favourite haunt, the sea shore. A stormy
sunset greeted his arrival on the beach, but the tide was ebbing, and
he wandered on till he reached some caverns among the cliffs. And
there, as had often been his wont, he sat down to gaze out upon the
waste of waters safe and protected from harm. It is very probable that
he fell asleep--but the point could never be clearly known, for he
always said it was no sleep and no dream he had then, but that, whilst
sitting in the inmost recesses of the cave, he saw once more his old
friend the Genie, who after reproaching him with the bad use he had
made of his precious gift, gave him a world of good advice and
There is no doubt that after that time, Joachim was seen daily
struggling against his bad habits; and that by degrees he became able
to exercise his mind in following after the good and beautiful instead
of after the bad and ugly. It was a hard task to him for many a long
day to fix his flighty thoughts down to the business in hand, and to
dismiss from before his eyes the ridiculous images that often
presented themselves. But his Mother's wishes, or the Genie's advice,
or something better still, prevailed. And you cannot think, of what
wonderful use the Genie's gift was to him then. Once turned in a right
direction and towards worthy objects, he found it like a sort of
friend at his right hand, helping him forward in some of the most
interesting pursuits of life. Ah! all the energy he had once bestowed
on imitating lisps and stuttering, was now engaged in catching the
sounds of foreign tongues, and thus taking one step towards the
citizenship of the world. And instead of wasting time in gazing at the
singing master's face, that he might ape its unnatural distortions--it
was now the sweet tones of skilful harmony to which he bent his
attention, and which he strove, and not in vain, to reproduce.
The portfolio which he brought home to his Mother at the end of
another half-year, was crowded with laborious and careful copies from
the best models of beauty and grace. And not with those only, for many
a face could be found on its pages in which the Mother recognized some
of her son's old companions. Portraits, not of the mere formation of
mouths and noses, which in so many cases, viewed merely as forms, are
defective and unattractive, but portraits of the same faces, upon
which the character of the inward mind and heart was so stamped that
it threw the mere shape of the features far into the background.
Thus with the pursuit of his favourite art, Joachim combined "that
most excellent gift of charity;" for it was now his pride and pleasure
to make the charm of expression from "_the good points_" his old
friend had talked about, triumph over any physical defects. The very
spirit and soul of the best sort of portrait painting. And here, my
dear young readers, I would fain call your attention to the fact of
how one right habit produces another. The more Joachim laboured over
seizing the good expression of the faces he drew from, the more he was
led to seek after and find out the good points themselves whence the
expression arose; and thus at last it became a _Habit_ with him to try
and discover every thing that was excellent and commendable in the
characters of those he met; a very different plan from that pursued by
many of us, who in our intercourse with each other, are but too apt to
fasten with eagle-eye accuracy on failings and faults. Which is a very
grave error, and a very misleading one, for if it does nothing else,
it deprives us of all the good we should get by a daily habit of
contemplating what is worthy our regard and remembrance. And so
strongly did Joachim's mother feel this, and so earnestly did she wish
her son to understand that a power which seems bestowed for worldly
ends, may be turned to spiritual advantage also, that when his
birthday came round she presented to him among other gifts, a little
book, called "The Imitation of Jesus Christ." It was the work of an
old fellow called Thomas a Kempis, and though more practical books of
piety have since been written, the idea contained in the title
suggests a great lesson, and held up before Joachim's eyes, Him whom
one of our own divines has since called "The Great Exemplar."
This part of our little hero's 'Lesson of Life,' we can all take to
ourselves, and go and do likewise. And so I hope his story may be
profitable, though we have not all of us a large Genie-gift of
Imitation as he had. With him the excess of this power took a very
natural turn, for though he possessed through its aid, considerable
facilities for music and the study of languages also, the course of
events led him irresistibly to what is usually called "the fine arts."
And if the old dream of the royal chariot and the twelve jet black
horses was never realized to him, a higher happiness by far was his,
when some years after, he and his Mother stood in the council house of
his native town; she looking up with affectionate pride while he
showed her a portrait of the good young King which had a few hours
before been hung up upon its walls. It was the work of Joachim
DARKNESS AND LIGHT.
_The darkness and the light to Thee are both alike_.
Far away to the west, on the borders of the Sea, there lived a lady
and gentleman in a beautiful old house built something like a castle.
They had several children, nice little boys and girls, who were far
fonder of their Sea Castle, as they called it, than of a very pleasant
house which they had in a great town at some distance off. Still they
used to go and be very merry in the Town House in the winter time when
the hail and snow fell, and the winds blew so cold that nobody could
bear to walk out by the wild sea shore.
But in summer weather the case was quite altered. Indeed, as soon as
ever the sun began to get a little power, and to warm the panes of
glass in the nursery windows of the Town House, there was a hue and
cry among all the children to be off to their Sea Castle home, and
many a time had Papa and Mamma to send them angrily out of the room,
because they would do nothing but beg to "set off directly." They were
always "sure that the weather was getting quite hot," and "it _must_
be summer, for they heard the sparrows chirping every morning the
first thing," and they "thought they had seen a swallow," and "the
windows got so warm with the sunshine, Nurse declared they were enough
to burn one's fingers:" and so the poor little things teazed
themselves and everybody else, every year, in their hurry to get back
to their western home. But I dare say you have heard the old proverb,
"One swallow does not make a summer;" and so it was proved very often
to our friends. For the Spring season is so changeable, there are
often some soft mild days, and then a cruel frost comes again, and
perhaps snow as well; and people who have boasted about fine weather
and put off their winter clothes, look very foolish.
Still Time passes on; and when May was half over, the Town House used
to echo with shouts of noisy delight, and boxes were banged down in
the passages, and there was a great calling out for cords, and much
scolding about broken keys and padlocks, and the poor Carpenter who
came to mend the trunks and find new keys to old locks, was at his
wits' end and his patience' end too.
But at last the time came when all this bustle was succeeded by
silence in the Town House, for carriages had rolled away with the
happy party, and nobody was left behind but two or three women
servants to clean out the deserted rooms.
And now then, my little readers, who are, I hope, wondering what is
coming next, you must fancy to yourselves the old Sea Castle Home. It
had two large turrets; and winding staircases led from the passages
and kitchens underneath the sitting rooms, up to the top of the
turrets, and so out upon the leads of the house, from which there was
the most beautiful view of the Ocean you ever saw; and, as the top of
the house was battlemented, like the top of your church tower, people
could walk about quite safely and comfortably, without any fear of
falling over. Then, though it is a very unusual thing near the Sea,
there were delightful gardens at the place, and a few very fine old
elm trees near the house, in which a party of rooks built their nests
every year; and the children had gardens of their own, in which they
could dig up their flowers to see if the roots were growing, to their
heart's content, and perform other equally ingenious feats, such as
watering a plant two or three times a day, or after a shower of rain,
and then wondering that, with such tender care, the poor thing should
rot away and die.
But I almost think the children liked the sands on the shore as well
as the gardens, though they loved both. Not that there was any
amusement astir by the water side there, as you have seen in other
places where there are boats and fishermen and nets, and great coils
of ropes, and an endless variety of entertaining sights connected with
the seafaring business going on. Nay, in some places where there is
not a very good shore for landing, it is an amusement of itself to see
each boat or fishing yawl come in. There is such a contrast between
the dark tarred wood and the white surf that dashes up all round it;
and the fishermen are so clever in watching the favourable moment for
a wave to carry them over their difficulties; that I think this is one
of the prettiest sights one can see. But no such thing was ever seen
on the shore by the old Sea Castle, for there was no fishing there.
People thought the sea was too rough and the landing too difficult,
and so no fishing village had ever been built, and no boats ever
attempted to come within many miles of the place.
Nobody cared to ask further, or try to account for the wildness of the
sea on that coast; but I can tell you all about it, although it must
be in a sort of half whisper--_The place was on the borders of Fairy
Land!_ that is to say, many many unknown numbers of miles out at sea,
right opposite to the Castle, there was a Fairy Island, and it was the
Fairies who kept the sea so rough all round them, for fear some
adventurous sailor should approach the island, or get near enough to
fish up some of the pearls and precious stones they kept in a crystal
palace underneath the water.
So now you know the reason why the sea was so rough, and there was no
fishing going on at the Sea Castle Home.
If you want to know whether any body ever saw the Fairy Island, I must
say, yes; but very seldom. And never but in the evening when the sun
was setting, and that under particular circumstances--namely, when he
went down into a dark red bank of clouds, or when there was a lurid
crimson hue over the sky just above the horizon. Then occasionally you
might see the dim hazy outline as of a beautiful mountainous island
against the clouds, or the deep-coloured sky. There is an island
sometimes seen from our western coast, under similar circumstances,
but which you strain your eyes in vain to discern by the brighter
light of day.
 Isle of Man from Blackpool.
It is a very ticklish thing to live on the borders of Fairy Land; for
though you cannot get to the Fairies, they can get to you, and it is
not altogether a pleasant thing to have your private affairs overseen
and interfered with by such beings as they are, though sometimes it
may be most useful and agreeable. Besides which, there was a
Fairy-secret connected with the family that lived at the Sea Castle.
An Ancestress of the present Mistress had been a Fairy herself, and
though she had accommodated herself to mortal manners, and lived with
her husband quite quietly as well as happily, and so her origin had
been in a great measure forgotten, it was not unknown to her
descendant, the Lady Madeline, who now lived in the place. And, in
fact, soon after Lady Madeline first came there, a Fairy named Eudora
had appeared to her, declaring herself to be a sort of distant cousin,
and offering and promising friendship and assistance, whenever asked
or even wished for. In return, she only begged to be allowed to visit,
and ramble at will about the old place which she had known for so many
many long years, and had once had the unlimited run of; and she
protested with tears that the family should never in any way be
disturbed by her. Lady Madeline could not well refuse the request, but
I cannot say she gave her fairy acquaintance any encouragement; and so
poor Eudora never showed herself to them again. And Madeline never
thought much about her, except now and then accidentally, when, if
they were walking on the sands, some extraordinarily rare and
beautiful shells would be thrown ashore by a wave at the children's
feet, as if tossed up especially for their amusement. And it was only
in some such kind little way as this they were ever reminded of the
Lady Madeline's eldest son, Roderick, always seemed most favoured by
the Fairy in the pretty things she sent ashore, and certainly he was a
very nice boy, and a very good one on the whole--cheerful and honest
as the daylight, and very intelligent; but I cannot tell you, dear
readers, that he had _no_ faults, for that was not at all likely, and
you would not believe it if I said so, even although he is to be the
Hero of my tale.
Now I do not want to make you laugh at him, but the story requires
that I should reveal to you one of his weak points. Well then,
although he was six years old, he was afraid of being alone in the
dark! Sometimes when he was in the large dining room with his Father
and Mother at dinner time, she would perhaps ask him to fetch
something for her from the drawing room which was close by; but, do
you know, if there were no candles in the room, he would look very
silly and refuse to go, even though there were a fire sufficient to
see by. He was too honest to make any false excuses, so he used just
to say that the room was so dark he could not go!
Poor Madeline was very sorry, for she wanted her little boy to be
brave, but somehow or other he had got very silly about his fears of
being in the dark, and she could not succeed in curing him of his
"My dear Roderick," she would say sometimes, "if I send in some
candles, will you go into the drawing room?"
"O yes, Mamma."
"Then do you really mean to say you think _the Candles take care of
"Then why won't you go into the room without; you know there is a
"Because it is so dark, Mamma."
Here was a difficulty indeed; for you see he _would_ come back to the
old point, and would not listen to reason.
One day some conversation of this sort having passed between them,
Madeline, as she was wont to do, asked him if God could not take care
of him by night as well as by day; in the dark as well as in light,
for "the darkness and light are both alike to him."
"Oh yes," cried poor Roderick, with great animation, "and I can tell
you a story about that. There was, once upon a time, a little Boy and
a Nurse who went out walking, and they walked so long they got
benighted in a very dark wood, and because it was so dark the Nurse
screamed and was very much frightened; and the little boy said,
'Nurse, why are you frightened? Don't be frightened; I am not
frightened. God can take care of us in the dark as well as in the
"Oh Roderick! what a pretty story," cried his Mamma.
And so thought Roderick; for his eye glistened and his cheek flushed
as he came to the conclusion.
And here, dear readers, was the worst difficulty of all; for though
Roderick's reason was quite convinced that God could take care of him
in the dark, he still could not bear to be in the dark without the
help of candles besides, though he quite knew they could not take care
of him at all. So you see by this that Reason, though it may convince
a person he is wrong, cannot put him right. There wants some other
help for that. And here let me just stop a moment to beg you to beware
of _bad habits_; for you see they become at last more powerful than
I do not know how Roderick first got into his foolish habit, and it
does not much matter. I know he at one time had a fancy there was
something unpleasant about the pipes that carried the water about the
house, and he would not for a long time go by the pipes alone. Now,
how you laugh! well, but he got out of that nonsense; and I hope to be
able to tell you that he got out of the other too: but at the time I
speak of, he made his Mamma full of sorrow for his want of sense and
It must be admitted that there were one or two excuses to be made for
the child. There was a great contrast between the Town House and the
Sea Castle. The Town House was full of lights. All the sitting rooms
were generally lighted, for a great deal of company came there, and
there were always lights along the passages; and the nursery windows
looked into a square, and the square was lighted up by lamps every
night; and it was one of Roderick's greatest pleasures to watch the
lamplighter running quickly up the tall ladder to the lamps to light
them, and then popping down again equally hurriedly, and running along
(ladder and all) to the next lamp post, and so on, till the square was
brilliant all round; and very often, as Roderick lay in his little bed
watching the glimmering thrown by these pretty lamps on the nursery
wall, he used to think and think of his friend the nimble lamplighter,
till he dropped fast asleep. You see, therefore, he had very little to
try his courage in the Town House, and there was seldom or never any
fuss about his fears till the move to the Sea Castle took place; and
then there were no more lamps and lamplighters, and no more
comfortable glimmerings from his bright pets the lamps after he went
to bed; and he used to get silly directly, and declare that he saw
bears whenever he shut his eyes; and he seemed to expect to find lions
and tigers under the sofas, by the fuss he made when he was asked to
go into the rooms. Certainly there was a grand old fashioned lamp in
the hall of the Sea Castle; but the hall itself was so big, and went
up so high, that the light in one part only seemed to make the shadow
and darkness of the other part look blacker still; so that I must
confess there was something gloomy about the house. Then, too, there
were those two turrets with the winding staircases, and as Roderick
had never dared to do any thing more than peep in at the low entrance
doors below, where he saw nothing but four or five steps going up into
complete blackness, he had got a sort of notion there must be
something horrid about them.
Well; it was soon after this little boy's sixth birthday, that the
family arrived at the Sea-Castle, and it so happened, that, on the day
after their arrival, there was some very stormy and dismal weather.
The wind howled very loudly, and there was a good deal of rain; and
Lady Madeline wished they had waited a week or two longer. The sky was
so charged and heavy, too, that they found the house very dark, even
by day-light; and Roderick, who was a little tired with his journey
the day before, began to fancy all kinds of nonsense; talked more
about seeing bears than ever; and finally cried tremendously at going
to bed, declaring he was sure there was a tiger in the coal-pan. Now
you know, my dears, this was a bit of great nonsense; for Roderick
knew quite well that there are no wild beasts in England but what are
kept in very strong cages; and that the men who take wild-beast shows
round the country can by no means afford to let their tigers sleep in
Poor Madeline never liked to see any of her children go to bed in
tears. And Roderick was so gay and merry generally, it seemed quite
unnatural in him; but though at last he left off crying, she could not
persuade him to be cheerful, and smile; for he declared that as soon
as ever she took her candle away, he could not help seeing those
unlucky bears. Was there ever any thing so silly before! She reasoned
with him, but to no purpose. He always said he quite believed in God's
presence, and His being able to take care of him; but, as I said
before, his bad habit had got the better of his good sense, and he
finished off every thing that could be said, by seeing bears, and
dreading a tiger in the coal-pan.
"What are we to do with that child?" cried Madeline to her husband, as
they were going to bed. "He is beginning as foolishly as ever this
year, in spite of being a year older. I really shall at last be
inclined to think that in spite of all her fair promises of friendship
and assistance, and of never injuring the family, the Fairy Eudora
must secretly frighten the child in some way we don't know of."
"No such thing, my dear Madeline; I cannot for a moment believe it;"
said her husband. "I have a better opinion of your relations, the
Fairies, than you have yourself. I am sure Eudora would not break her
word for the world; and there is no mystery about Roderick's folly. He
is full of fancies of all sorts,--some pretty, and some silly ones;
and we must do every thing we can to cure him of the silly ones. It
certainly is a very hard matter to accomplish, for I perceive he
admits the truth of every thing you say, and yet is as silly as ever
at the end. I heartily wish the Fairy Eudora _would_ interfere to cure
him of his nonsense!"
"And so do I, if she could, and would," sighed Madeline; "but she has
quite deserted us. Besides, if she were to come, I don't see how she
could possibly do any good. Fairies cannot change little boys' hearts;
and I must confess I never yet got any good myself from having a Fairy
ancestress, and I have no confidence in them.--Still," pursued the
good lady, as she laid her head on her pillow, "I am not able, it
appears, to convince Roderick myself; and therefore I feel, with you,
that I wish the Fairy would come and try."
"I fear it is in vain to say so now, Madeline. We have wished the poor
creature out of the way so often for the last ten years, that it is
not very likely a single wish the other way will bring her to us."
"No, indeed," murmured the Fairy Eudora, who at that moment was
standing on the shore of the Fairy Island; "you are a pretty pair, you
two, to think of such a thing! I begged to be allowed to come about
the place years ago, and you didn't refuse; but you always kept me
away by _wishing_ I mightn't come; and now, because you are puzzled to
know what to do with your silly child, you want me with you for the
first time these ten years! Oh, you selfish people, don't fancy I'll
come near you!" And the justly angry Fairy stamped her foot in
indignation, and retired into private apartments in the palace.
Do not be surprised at what you have just heard, my dear children; for
though you may have never thought about the power and importance of
_wishes_, there is, I assure you, a great deal of both one and the
other belonging to them. Some people talk, indeed, of "mere wishes,"
as if they were trifles light as air; but it is not so. To prove this,
first think what importance is attached to them in the Scriptures.
Wishes are a sort of porch or doorway to actions. In the Tenth
Commandment we are forbidden to _wish_ for what belongs to our
neighbour;--for who is so likely to break the Eighth Commandment, and
steal, as the man who breaks the Tenth, and wishes for any thing that
is not his?
And so, all the evil in the world begins by _wishing_ something wrong;
and if you can cure yourself of wishing wrongly, you will very seldom
Now you see, I am sure, how important wishes are for evil; but they
are equally strong for good. For, if you wish well to any one, you
have opened the first door to doing him a kindness. And if you
heartily wish to be good, you have opened the first gate on the road
of becoming so. Of course, wishes will not do every thing; but they do
a great deal.
And there is another thing. They never fall to the ground unnoticed.
Though you and I cannot look into each other's hearts, or hear the
wishes breathed there, there is One who hears them all. Good wishes,
my dear children, all ascend upwards to the throne of Grace, like
sweet perfume. They are all accepted and remembered; and, I fear I
must add, that bad wishes go up too, and are noted in His book who
takes account of all we do.
Be sure, therefore, that you encourage your hearts in a habit of good,
and kind, and charitable wishes; and if ever the bad ones come into
your head, pray against them, and drive them away.
Meanwhile do not be surprized that in Fairy tales, Fairies are
supposed to hear wishes concerning themselves. And so Eudora heard
those about her coming and curing the child of his folly; and as I
have told you, she was very indignant at the selfishness of both Lady
Madeline and her husband.
A few days after the family had taken up their residence in the Sea
Castle, the weather began to improve; and, though the wind lasted, the
sun came out; and all the children and the nurses went walking on the
sands. As it was the first time that year, you may guess what shouting
and delight there was; how the little spades dug away at holes for the
sea-water to come up in, and how the children caught at the sea-weeds
that were scattered on the lands to carry home to their Mamma; how
they picked up shells, and gambolled about in all directions,
declaring that they had never known the Sea Castle Home so delightful
before. By degrees they had strayed to a considerable distance along
the sands, with the nurses, when, alas! the latter perceived that a
storm was coming on, and it caught them long before they reached home.
A strong wind blew off the sea, and they had difficulty in keeping
their feet, and at last two or three of the children were almost
hidden in a cloud of sand, which a violent gust suddenly drove against
them. All the little party cried lustily, because the sand had blown
into their eyes, and made them smart, and sad work there was in
getting them home again. But they reached home at last, dripping with
wet from hailstones, and their eyes all red and disfigured by the sand
and wind. None, however, were so bad as those I have mentioned, who
had been so covered over by the sand that it had even got down their
necks, and made them uncomfortable all over. Among these was Roderick,
who cried a great deal more than he ought to have done, as the nurses
thought, and did not stop and declare himself comfortable as the rest
did, after the sand had been washed out of his eyes with rose water.
In fact he kept crying more or less all the afternoon, saying his eyes
hurt him so, and at last he could get no relief but by holding them
Now it is just possible you may have heard of a complaint of the eyes
called Ophthalmia, which comes on sometimes in very hot countries,
India for instance; and sometimes in travelling across the deserts of
Arabia, where the sand gets into the eyes, and irritates them very
much; it can very often be cured, but not always, and when it cannot,
it ends in blindness. Lady Madeline knew all about the complaint; and,
therefore, you will not be surprised to hear that when she found her
little boy's eyes did not get better, and that he persisted in keeping
them shut, because they then became easy, she thought it right to send
to some miles' distance for a doctor, who accordingly arrived at the
Sea Castle before nightfall. But when he came he shook his head very
much, for he could not understand what was the matter; and when he
persuaded Roderick to lift up his eyelids, to let him see his eyes, he
could perceive nothing amiss but a little redness, which the wind and
sand quite accounted for. Still the child was uneasy, and would keep
his eyes shut; so the Doctor thought he must try something, and he
used some lotions common in such cases; but, as they did no good, the
kind old gentleman, at Madeline's request, consented to sit by the
little boy's bedside at night; when, all at once, as he was carefully
dabbing his eyes with rosewater, he perceived that the child was fast
The Doctor was delighted, and went to his mother, who was then with
her husband, and said that as Roderick had gone to sleep so nicely, he
had no doubt that his eyes would be well when he awoke in the morning,
and so he took his leave, for he had other patients to visit.
It was then between twelve and one o'clock, and Lady Madeline, much
comforted in heart, went to bed. At an early hour next morning,
however, she went to Roderick's bedside, and perceived he was just
To the question of "How are you, my darling?" his cheerful joyous
voice made answer, "Oh, quite well, Mamma, and I've such a funny dream
to tell you, and my eyes don't hurt me a bit, not a bit! but I'm
afraid to open them for fear they should. I can tell you something so
funny the Doctor said last night, Mamma." "Never mind about the
doctor, you rogue," cried Madeline, "I see you are all right, only
just open your dear old eyes, that I may tell Papa I have seen them
when I go back to dress."
"Then I will, Mamma, to please you!" and up sat the pretty child in
his bed, and opened wide his blue eyes. There was no redness--it was
"Mamma! where are you," cried Roderick, "I have opened my eyes, and
they don't hurt--but it is quite dark: _isn't the night over_?..."
Oh, my dear readers! there was a stream of sunshine on the lovely face
and bright hair of little Roderick as he spoke, and the poor blue eyes
were turned up to his mother, looking vainly for her face. You cannot
wonder if I add that she sank down fainting on the bed; and when
Roderick's scream of terror brought the nurses to them, she was
carried away insensible from the room.
Her darling was utterly blind.
* * * * *
And now imagine to yourselves how the afflicted parents sent for the
best doctors the country afforded, and how one thing after another was
tried--but, alas! every thing in vain, for the medical men were all
quite puzzled. Still some people gave them hopes, and in spite of many
disappointments, they went on trying to hope for several months. At
last they settled to leave the sea castle and go to the great town
sooner than usual, thinking some of the doctors there might be
cleverer than the country ones. But they had no better success.
Perhaps now you would like to know how Roderick behaved. When his
Mamma fell on his bed, at first he thought she was dead, and it was
with the greatest difficulty he could be made to believe any thing
else, and he cried, and cried, and was very sad till his Mamma was
well enough for him to be taken to her, and then do you know, poor
fellow, he was so much pleased to hear her speak, and be kissed by
her, that he still had no time to think about himself. Only he begged
to sit close to her, and have hold either of her hand or gown, and
make her say something to him every now and then. And so it was that
the fright and shock he had had about thinking she was dead, had made
so strong an impression on him that for several days the making
himself sure she was alive was a constant occupation and interest; and
so much did he think about it that it was considered best for his
little bed to be brought into the room where his Mamma slept, and put
near hers, so that he could talk to her when he awoke and got
frightened about her again. And thus passed many days in which every
body thought a great deal more about his eyes than he did himself.
Besides from the cheerful things they said to him he quite expected to
be better some day; and so weeks and months passed, and by the time
the hope of recovering his sight began to fade away, and nobody any
longer dared to say they expected it, he was beginning to get used to
his condition, and to find out amusements in new ways. Thus mercifully
does a kind Providence temper people's minds to the afflictions He
sends. They are often more dreadful to think of than to bear; for God
can give patience and cheerfulness and comfort to those that do not
grumble and repine.
Madeline only exacted one promise from her husband, namely, that he
would not allow the doctors to use any very severe and violent
measures with her little boy, and this being settled, she struggled to
bear the trouble with resignation. After the first alternations of
hopes and fears were over, the Mother's mind took a new turn. "It is
our chief duty now," she said, "to make our child's life as happy as
it is possible to be with blindness, and therefore," added she to the
elder children, "we must try our best to teach him to do all the nice
things he can without seeing." That day she asked him to come and hold
worsted for her to wind, and he was quite delighted to find that with
some blunders, and once or twice slipping it off his fingers, he could
manage it very well. Then the children undertook to teach him how to
play at ball, and you cannot think how clever he became. At first
certainly they had always to pick up his ball for him when it fell,
and who was not glad to do it for poor brother Roderick? but by
degrees he could judge by the sound in what direction it had tumbled,
and he would often succeed in finding it before any one could come up
to it. Then there was laughing and scrambling without end. Reading
aloud to him was the easiest thing of all, but the little folks were
not satisfied with that alone. They made a sort of pet of the blind
brother, and were as proud of teaching him to do any thing fresh, as
you would be of teaching your dog to sit up and shake hands, or
perform any wonderful feat. It was their constant amusement; and by
degrees Roderick could play at all sorts of games with them, ay, and
run after them, and catch them too as well as you could do, for he
soon got to remember how the furniture in the great hall and all the
rooms stood, and he could run about without hurting himself in a
wonderful manner. And when it was evening and grew dark, he got on
better than they did, for, if they couldn't see, they were clumsy,
whereas he was learning to do without seeing at all.
Such of my readers as have seen one of those excellent institutions
called "blind schools," will not wonder at any thing I have said, but
on the contrary, will know that I have not told half or a quarter of
what may be done to teach blind children a variety of employments. At
those schools you may see children making beautiful baskets of
various-coloured strips of osier arranged in patterns; and they never
forget on which side of them the different colours are laid, and this
work they can go on with quite fast, even while you stand talking to
them--and they learn to do many many other nice things also besides
Of late years too they have begun to read in books made on purpose for
them, with the letters raised above the rest of the paper, so that
they can _feel_ the shapes with their fingers. Is not this wonderful?
And they can be taught all these things much more easily than you
would imagine, for it is really true that when one of the senses has
been taken away, the others by having all the exercise thrown upon
them, become so sharp and acute, they do twice their usual work, if I
may so express it. This is a merciful dispensation of Providence,
which renders the loss of the one that is gone much less hard to bear.
And does it not teach us also, what a valuable thing constant practice
is? Neither you nor I can feel or hear half so clearly as blind people
can, who practise feeling and hearing on so many occasions where we
save ourselves the trouble, by using sight instead.
To return to Roderick. You perhaps expected to hear that he fretted
and petted very much after he was first blind, but really it was not
so; and though occasionally he may have grumbled a little, it was only
when he was slightly peevish, as children will sometimes be, and I
believe he would have found something to grumble about then, even if
he had seen as well as you do.
Besides, as I said before, the knowledge of his misfortune came upon
him by degrees; and after he had got used to it, he did not think much
about it. When the family moved to the great town, Roderick had as it
were to begin his blind lessons over again, for he had to learn to
remember all about the rooms and the furniture there; but with a kind
little brother or sister always at hand to help him he soon became
expert in the town house too, and could run up and down the long
flights of stairs with the nimblest of them. I believe the only
melancholy wish he ever uttered was heard on the first day he reached
the town house. When his Mamma came to see him in the nursery that
evening, she found him kneeling in a chair against one of the
windows--and on going up to him he threw his arms round her neck and
said, "Oh, Mamma, if I could but see the lamplighters!" Do not laugh,
dear readers, if I add that the tears trickled over his cheeks as he
spoke. His mother was much distressed, as she always was when she saw
him thinking of his affliction, but she sat down and said, "Never
mind, dear Roderick, I will tell you all they do to-night." And so she
did, and she made her account so droll, of how the lamplighter ran,
and how he seized his ladder in such a hurry, and all the whole
business, that by the time she got to the end, and said, "and now he
has come to the last lamp-post,--ah, he's up before I can tell you!
and pop! the lamp is lit, and down he runs, and off with his ladder to
the next street--and now the lamps are shining bright all round the
square, and I must go to dinner,"--Roderick was clapping his hands and
laughing as merrily as ever, and he got down from the chair quite
satisfied. Still for a few weeks he used always to get one of the
children to tell him of the lamps lighting, and this was the only sad
little fancy the poor child ever indulged in.
The great town gave him various new amusements. His Parents used every
now and then to take him to some fine conservatory, where flowers are
shown even in winter, and where he could smell various new and rare
ones, and be told all about their beautiful colours. Then sometimes in
the parks and gardens there was a band playing, which was a great
delight. And besides that, they took him occasionally to morning
concerts for an hour or so; for though it is not usual to take
children to those places, he was deprived of so many enjoyments, they
let him have all they could: and especially musical ones, for it is a
very common thing for blind people to become very fond of music, and
Roderick was so, and among other employments learnt to play. I cannot,
however, I am sorry to say, add that the great doctors in the town
were able to do him any good, though they tried very much, and some of
them were so much charmed and interested by his cheerful manner and
sweet disposition, that they got quite fond of him, and would often
have him come and see them, and play with their children, who were
instructed to amuse him in every possible way, and as children are
naturally kindhearted, this was generally a pleasant task, and many of
them quite looked forward to the visits of the little blind boy.
And so passed on a long and rather severe winter, and presently
Roderick's birthday came round, and there was great wondering as to
what Mamma could do to keep it. And when the time came it turned out
that she had got a band of musicians to come and play--and the
children danced, and Roderick among them, for some sister was always
ready to take him under her especial charge. And then some older
children acted a little play, which he could hear and understand, and
his Mamma described to him who came in and went out, and in this
manner he enjoyed it nearly as much as the others.
Well, the spring-time came once more, and with it the season for
returning to the old Sea Castle, and the children went through their
usual round of impatience, and I cannot say that Roderick at all
forbore, for his Papa had promised to teach him to climb a ladder like
the lamplighter when he got back, and he was by that means to go up
one of the very old elm trees, and get on to a great branch there was,
which was curled into a sort of easy chair, and there he was to sit
and play at being judge, and hold trials, and I know not what. There
were besides so many schemes for his instruction and amusement, and
among other things, there was to be a band established in the
neighbouring village, which should come and play to them in the old
Sea Castle--that the child was more wild with hurry and impatience
than ever, and said more absurd things than the rest, for he used
every day to declare the _flies_ were becoming so numerous and
troublesome he was plagued out of his life by their walking over his
face and nose! But as none of his brothers and sisters ever saw the
flies, we are obliged to conclude the tickling he talked of was only
an effect of his excited imagination.
At last, however, they went, and in compliment to Roderick's wishes it
was a week or two sooner than usual. The return to the Sea Castle home
rather oppressed poor Lady Madeline's spirits. The doctors in the
great town had failed--it was now clear that nothing could be done,
and in spite of all her sincere endeavours to be resigned, she could
not help feeling this coming back to the original scene of her
misfortune very much. One day--it was the anniversary of the day on
which her poor child became blind, the Lady Madeline was working in
her sitting-room that faced the Sea,--Mothers' memories are very acute
about anniversaries, and days, and even hours marked by particular
events. They may not talk much about them perhaps, but they recollect
times and circumstances connected with their children very keenly, and
therefore it is not surprizing that on this day the poor lady was
sitting in her room working, or trying to work, but thinking of
nothing in the world but of that day year and her blind child. It was
a beautiful evening, and the window was thrown wide open, and the
fresh but soft breeze from the Sea blew pleasantly on her face as she
sat at her work-table by the casement--but lovely as the scene outside
was, she seldom lifted up her eyes to look at it. She had been all her
life a great admirer of beautiful scenes, and of all the varieties the
changes of day and night produce--but now the sight of any thing
particularly lovely brought so painfully before her mind the fact that
her child's eyes were closed to all these things, that she often
forbore to look again, and so spared herself a repetition of the pang.
Madeline's eyes therefore remained upon her work, or on her knee when
she ceased working,--for ever and anon there was a burst of noise and
merriment about the old house, which startled her from her painful
thoughts. It was, however, the happy voices of her children, and again
and again she sank into her melancholy mood, and so continued till the
red hue of a very red sunset burst as it were suddenly into the room,
and lighted up the portrait of Roderick, which hung over the
mantel-piece. Involuntarily Madeline's eyes glanced from the lovely
countenance of her then bright-eyed boy, thus illuminated, to the sun
beyond the Sea. She was too late, however. He had just descended
behind the waves in a perfect flood of crimson glory, but as she
gazed, (for she could not withdraw-her eyes,) a haze--yes, the softest
and most etherial cloud-like haze, showing the outline of a beautiful
mountainous island, rose in the far off distance, just on the verge of
the horizon. It was the Fairy Island. It recalled to the mother's
remembrance the existence of her Fairy cousin once more. "Cruel, cruel
Eudora," she exclaimed, "you offered me friendship and assistance, and
in the hour of trouble and affliction you have never been near to help
or even to comfort me."
And Madeline, in the bitterness of her heart, closed the window
hastily and angrily, and sat down. Soon, however, the noises she had
several times heard of the children playing, became louder and louder,
and the whole party burst at last into the room. "Mamma, Mamma," they
cried, scarcely able to speak, "guess where Roderick has been." "I
cannot." "Oh, but do, dear Mamma!" cried a little thing with fairy
curls, "do guess." "I cannot." "I'll tell Mamma," cried a stout sturdy
fellow, a little older; "Mamma! he's been up the winding staircase of
one turret, and all along the leads and down the winding staircase of
the other turret, and he has done it three times, and he has seen to
do it better than I can."
Here there was a burst of laughter and a violent clapping of hands at
the little fellow's _Irish_ account.
"But why don't you do it as well?" asked an elder girl, "you that are
going to be a soldier too!"
"Yes; I know I'm going to be a soldier; and I'll try and do it as well
as Roderick;" and off ran the eager child, followed by the rest of the
party, all but Roderick. He lingered behind, and edging his way easily
and quietly as usual to his Mother, having asked her where she was, he
sat down on a footstool at her feet. The slight answer she had
occasion to make, revealed by its tone, to the now acute blind child,
that his Mother's mood was serious, and therefore he did not talk and
laugh of what he had accomplished, as he otherwise might have done.
There was a silence of some minutes: at last, "Mamma," said Roderick
gravely, "a light has broken in upon me to-day."
Lady Madeline started, and with difficulty suppressed a groan.
Roderick felt the start: "Oh Mamma, Mamma," cried he more cheerfully,
"you must not do that! I wasn't thinking about earthly light in the
least, but of a light which I know, when you come to hear of it, you
will say is a great deal better."
"Indeed! dear Roderick," said Lady Madeline, trying to seem
"Yes _indeed_. Mamma. Why, do _you_ remember, (_I_ had never thought
about it till it came into my head to-day;) but do _you_ remember the
silly time when I wouldn't fetch you any thing from the drawing room,
unless there were candles in the room?"
"I recollect something about it," said his Mother.
"Oh, I'm so glad you do; because now you can laugh with me over the
nonsense I used to talk and feel then: I remember I used to tell you I
saw _Bears_ when I shut my eyes, and wouldn't go by the pipes in the
passage, and more such foolish stuff! How odd it seems that I should
never have thought about this before, but I never did, and it never
came into my head distinctly till to-day." And here Roderick fell into
a kind of dream for a few minutes, but he soon began again. "You know
what I have done to-day, Mamma. They told you quite right; but they
forgot to tell you I have been practising walking across the leads for
two or three days, that I might be able to go the great round to-day
on purpose to tell you of it; because I thought you would be so much
pleased to know I could go alone all over the house on the day year
when I was first blind. So now, Mamma, if ever, when I am grown up to
be a man, an enemy comes and attacks the old Sea Castle, I shall be
able to run about and give the alarm, for you know I could hear them,
if I could do nothing else."
There was another pause, for Madeline could not speak: the often
restrained tears for her son's misfortune had this day burst forth,
and could not be kept back; but Roderick did not know, and went on.
"Certainly those old foolish fears were very wrong, Mamma. And I can't
think how it was, for you used to remind me always that God could take
care of us by night as well as by day, in darkness as well as in
light; and still somehow, though I knew it was true, I didn't believe
it,--at least, not so as not to be afraid in the dark: how very wrong
it was! Still I had quite forgotten all about it till this evening.
But, as I was going the last of the three rounds, I sat down on the
leads for a few minutes to enjoy the air. The sun was just setting, I
am sure, for it felt so fresh and cool; and it was, as I sat there,
that it came into my head how strange it was that, since the day I was
first blind, I had never thought any more about being afraid in the
dark! or by night any more than by day! Indeed it has been quite a
play to me ever since to do different things, and find my way about in
all the rooms and all over the house, without seeing; and I have only
known night from day by getting up and going to bed. So that you see,
Mamma, being always in the dark, has quite cured me of being afraid of
it: and is not this a very good thing indeed?"
"Very," murmured Madeline.
"I knew you would say so! But that isn't all I have got to say. A
great deal more than that came into my head when I was out upon the
And Roderick nestled closer to his Mother, and laid his arms across
"Something to comfort you still more, Mamma."
She could not speak.
"Mamma, you are crying! I feel your tears on my hand. Do not cry about
"Go on, dear Roderick."
"Don't you think," continued the child, "that people who wont listen
to what is told them, and wont be cured of being foolish and wicked,
are very like the old Jews you told us about yesterday, who had God
among them, and Moses teaching them what God wished them to do, and
still were as disobedient as ever?"
"It is true, Roderick, we are all apt to resemble the Jews in their
journey through the wilderness."
"Yes, Mamma; and particularly people who can't trust in God, though
they know He is everywhere. The Jews knew He was in the cloud and the
pillar, and still were always afraid He couldn't take care of them.
And what came into my head was, that I used to be as bad as those old
Jews once; knowing that God was present everywhere to take care of me,
and still not _feeling_ it so as really to believe it, and not be
afraid. But the blindness has quite cured me, and is it not very
likely that it came on purpose to do so, and to make me trust in God;
for I have done so more and more, dear Mamma, as I groped about this
year, for I have all along hoped He would take care of me, and keep me
from falling; and, therefore, I think the blindness has done me a
great deal of good, and I hope I shall never be like the naughty old
Jews again! This is what I had to say; and I hope you will be as glad
as I am."
"I will try, my darling," cried poor Madeline.
The tenderest love, the bitterest grief, mixed with earnest struggles
for resignation to the will of Heaven, contended in the Mother's
bosom, as she clasped her innocent child to her heart. He was almost
frightened. She lifted him on to her knees, and buried her face on his
shoulder. He put his young arms round her neck, and almost wondered
why she sobbed so bitterly; but he felt he must not speak.
There was a painful pause. Suddenly, however, a strange faint light
began to creep into the room, which had hitherto been gradually
darkening in the twilight. It was a mysterious gleam, like nothing
that is ever seen. It increased in strength and brilliancy, till at
length the whole place became illuminated.
Roderick's head was against his Mother's breast; and, besides, _he_
could not see.
She, however, suddenly started up; the light had become so powerful,
it had forced her from her grief. She sprung up in terror, and a faint
shriek burst from her lips.
"Mamma, what is the matter?" cried Roderick, holding her fast.
"Oh, the light--the light, my child! there is such a light!" answered
"Mother, you are not afraid of _Light_!" exclaimed the bewildered
"Oh, but _this_ light! it is like no other;--it is awful!"
"Mother,--it is not the light of _Fire_, is it," cried poor Roderick,
now at last turning pale. "But even if it is, remember that I can help
you _now_; I can go everywhere,--all over, and fear nothing. I can go
and fetch my brothers and sisters, one by one! Oh, send me; send me,
Mamma! I shall be less afraid than any of you, for I cannot see the
horrid light that frightens you!"
As he finished, a gentle, prolonged "Hush!" resounded through the
room; like the soothing, quieting sound of lullaby to an infant. And
in the midst of the beaming light, the form of the long-forgotten
Fairy Eudora appeared before the eyes of the astonished Madeline.
"The Sea Castle is not on Fire, you dear, brave child," cried the
Fairy; "and your Mother has no cause for fear. I am a friend."
"Cousin!" cried the bewildered Madeline, "why are you here?" and a
terrible suspicion flashed through her mind: and she pointed to her
boy, and added, trembling with agony--
"Is that _your_ doing?"
"What if I say it _is_, Cousin Madeline. There is a long story about
that, but we shall have time for it hereafter.--Dear little Cousin
Roderick," pursued the Fairy, seating herself, and drawing Roderick to
her. "You have been a good boy, and got _light out of darkness_. Mind
you hold it fast. You did not use the light well, though, when you had
it, Cousin Roderick."
"I know I didn't," was his answer.
"If you could live the light time over again, you would be wiser,
"I hope I should indeed," he murmured fervently; "but it is not likely
I shall ever see the light again."
"Little boys shouldn't say things are not likely, when they don't know
any thing about them," cried the Fairy gaily, to cheer them up.
"I dare say, if I were to ask you, you would tell me it was a bit of
sand that got into your eyes last year, that made you blind; but it
was no such thing, clever Master Roderick. Your naughty Cousin Eudora
had something to do with that; but, luckily, she can put her own work
straight again. Cousin Madeline, what do you think of my pretty
"Eudora, it is dreadful."
"Then shut your eyes, poor thing, we don't want to blind you. But
Roderick and I have not done talking yet. Come, little boy, lift up
your face towards me, and open those pretty eyes wide, that I may see
if I can't do them some good. Why, they are as blue as the water round
our island! There, now, they are looking at my face. Mind you tell me
if you think me pretty."
"Eudora!" exclaimed Madeline.
"Sit down, sit down, and shut your eyes, good woman. Now, Roderick,
wont even my Fairy light break through your darkness?"
"I think it will," sighed Roderick; "there is a white light all round
me, as if I had gone up into a bright white cloud. You frighten me,
Fairy! Take away the light, and put me back into the darkness again."
"Not so, my pretty Roderick; but I will soften it a little;" and she
waved her wand, and the brilliancy subsided.
"Fairy, I see you now," screamed Roderick, springing up, for he was
sitting at her feet; "and oh, how beautiful you are!"
"Roderick!" cried a voice from behind him. He turned; and Mother and
Son were locked in each other's arms.
Surely I need say no more about this? though perhaps nobody but a
Mother can quite know how happy and thankful Lady Madeline was. And as
to Roderick, he was delighted too! Not but what he had been very happy
and contented before; but sight was a new pleasure to him now; a sort
of treat, like a birthday or Christmas present, which puts every one
into high spirits. It was so charming to him, poor fellow, (for he was
very affectionate), to actually _see_ his Mamma again; and this put
something else into his head, and off he ran out of the room.
"Eudora," Madeline began, "how am I to thank you! Can you ever forgive
my old unkindness?"
"Cousin Madeline," replied the Fairy, "I bear no malice to any one,
least of all to you, who come of a race I love, and of a family I
consider my own. No, no, good soul. I have never borne you ill-will,
though my kindness has been severe. Look! I know you love me _now_.
Love me always, Cousin Madeline, and let me ramble undisturbed about
your earthly home; but, mind! no more unkind wishes, however slight.
They come like evil winds to our Fairy island. You kept me away long
enough by those; and when you wished me with you, to get your child
out of his folly, I was very angry, and thought I wouldn't come; but
your, and your husband's wish was so strong and earnest, it haunted me
day and night; and I had no comfort till I had resolved to help you.
And here, Madeline, you have something to forgive _me_. My remedy has
been a harsh, a very harsh one for so slight a fault; but at first I
intended it to last only a few days. Afterwards, however, seeing how
it was acting upon him, and upon you all, for good, I let it work its
full effect: and I think it has been greatly blessed! Now, farewell!
Time is flying, and I must begone."
And thus the Fairy and Madeline walked to the window, which the latter
reopened, and there was the full moon sailing in the cloudless sky,
and lighting up the lovely, and, this evening, calm and unruffled sea.
The cousins embraced; and in a few minutes the Fairy had disappeared
in the distance. Madeline lingered awhile at the casement, thinking
tenderly of the gentle-hearted Fairy, and watching the horizon. At
last the outline of the Fairy's home appeared clear and bright against
the dark blue heaven, and then subsided gently by degrees. And
Madeline closed the window, grateful and happy, and went after her
boy. But she had not far to go; for he was coming along the passages
with all his brothers and sisters, wild with delight. And oh, how
Roderick chattered and talked about all their faces, and how he loved
to see the fat cheeks of one near his own age, and how some had grown,
and their noses improved, and what beautiful curls another had! In
short, if he had gone on long they would all have got quite conceited
and fancy, and fancied themselves a set of downright beauties. But you
see it was _love_ that made poor Roderick admire them all so much;
and, above all, he was charmed when they smiled. Ah, how little do
brothers and sisters know how tender their recollections of each
others' faces would become, were a separation to take place among
them! Then all the sweet smiles and pretty looks would be recalled,
that in every day life are seen with such indifference. "Little
children, love one another," during the happy days when you live
together in health and comfort.
Can you guess, dear readers, what a joyous evening it was, that day at
the Sea Castle Home? How the poor Father rejoiced, and how the old
Hall was lighted up for the Servants, to share in the joy by a merry
dance; and how all the children danced too; and how a barrel of good
ale was tapped, for every one to drink to the health and happiness of
Master Roderick, and all the family. But you never _can_ guess how
Roderick teased all his brothers and sisters that evening, by
constantly kissing them. In the midst of a country dance he would run
right across to the ladies, when he ought to be standing still and
polite, and kiss two or three of his sisters as they were waiting to
dance in their turn, and tell them how nice they looked! Or he would
actually run right away from his place, to his Papa and Mamma;--jump
on their knees, and hug them very hard, and then run back again,
perhaps, into the middle of the dance, and put every thing into
confusion. But the happiest scene of all was, when the Father and
Mother thanked God that night for the blessing that had returned to
their little boy.
And do not ask me, I beg, if he ever was afraid of being in the dark
again. No, dear Readers, his temporary misfortune had taught him the
best of all lessons;--A LIVING FAITH AND TRUST IN THE PROTECTING
OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD.
THE LOVE OF GOD.
PREAMBLE (FROM LIFE.)
_Van Artevelde_. These are but words.
_Elena_. My lord, they're full of meaning!
Grace had been said, and Mamma was busy carving for the large party of
youngsters who sat around the comfortable dinner-table, when a little
voice from among them called out,
"Mamma, do you think a giant could see a carraway seed?"
Now there was no sweet loaf on the table, nor even on the
sideboard--neither had there been any plum cake in the house for some
time--nor were there any carraway seeds in the biscuits just then.
--In short, there was nothing which could be supposed to have
suggested the idea of carraway seeds to the little boy who made the
enquiry. Still he did make it, and though he went on quietly with his
dinner, he expected to receive an answer.
Had the good Lady at the head of the table not been the mother of a
large family, she might possibly have dropt the carving knife and
fork, in sheer astonishment at the unaccountableness of the question,
but as it was, she had heard so many other odd ones before, that she
did not by outward sign demonstrate the amusement she felt at this,
but simply said,--"_Perhaps he could_"--for she knew that it was out
of her power to speak positively as to whether a Giant could see a
carraway seed or not.
Now dear little readers, what do _you_ think about this very important
affair? Do you think a Giant could see a carraway seed or not?--"Oh
yes," you all cry,--"_of course he could!_"
Nay, my dears, there is no "of course" at all in the matter! Can any
of you, for example, see the creatures that float about and fight in a
drop of water from the Serpentine River? No, certainly not! except
through a microscope. Well, but _why_ not?--you do not know. That I
can easily believe! But then you must never again say that "_of
course_" a Giant could see a carraway seed.
It is entirely a question of _relative proportion_: so now you feel
quite small, and admit your total ignorance, I hope. Yes! it all
depends upon whether the giant is as much bigger than the carraway
seed, as you are bigger than the curious little insects that float
about and fight in the drop of water from the Serpentine river--for if
he is, we may conclude from analogy that a giant could _not_ see a
carraway seed except through a microscope. You see it is a sort of
rule of three sum, but as I cannot work it out, I tell you honestly
that neither do I know whether a giant could see so small an object or
not, and I advise you all to be as modest as I am myself, and never
speak positively on so difficult a point.
But enough of this! Turn we now to another point, about which I _can_
speak positively--namely, that in _one_ sense the world is full of
Giants who cannot see Carraway seeds.
"It must be in the sense of _Non_sense I should think then!" observes
somewhat scornfully the young lady who is reading this story
aloud--"as if we could believe in there being giants now!"
Very wittily remarked! my dear young lady, for your age.--I take you
to be about seventeen, and I see by the compression of your pretty
mouth that you consider yourself quite a judge and an authority. Only
take care you don't grow up into one of those Giants yourself! There
is something very suspicious to me in the glance of your eye.
"Ridiculous!" murmurs the fair damsel in question.
Not at all so: only you travel too fast; by which I mean you speak too
hastily. You learn Italian, I dare say? Oh yes, of course, for you
sing. Well then, _Ombra adorata_ that is "beloved shadow;" _aspetta_
that is, "wait"--"wait, my beloved shadow" (of a charming young lady),
give me breathing time, and I will explain myself. As you are an
Italian student, I presume you have heard of the great Italian poet
Dante. Now Dante in his _Convito_ or "Banquet" tells his readers that
writings may be understood, and therefore ought to be explained in
four different senses or meanings. There is first the literal sense;
secondly, the allegorical; thirdly, the moral; and fourthly, the
_anagorical_. Now I know you can't explain this last word to me, for I
would wager a large sum that you never tasted of Dante's Banquet--no,
not so much as the smallest crumb from it; and therefore how _should_
you know what he means by the anagorical sense? Give me leave to have
the honour of enlightening you, then. The anagorical is what the
dictionaries call the _anagogical_ sense. A sense beyond this world; a
sense above the senses; a spiritual sense making common things divine.
It is hard to be arrived at and difficult of comprehension. Now in the
matter of the nice little boy's question about the Giant and the
carraway seed, (for none but a nice little boy could have excogitated
any thing so comical), I have set my heart upon talking to you about
it in the four above mentioned senses. And having already descanted on
the _literal_ sense, I had just made an assertion which appertained to
the _allegorical_ sense, when you so inopportunely interrupted me, My
Ombra Adorata, with your sharp observation about _non_sense: so now we
will go on in peace and quietness, if you please.
In an allegorical sense the world is full of giants who cannot see
For what are Giants but great men and great women? and the world
abounds with people who consider themselves as belonging to that
class. And a great many of them--Giants of Cleverness, Giants of
Riches, Giants of Rank--Giants of I know not how many things besides,
who are walking about the world every day, very often feel themselves
to be quite raised above the point of attending to trifles; so that
you see I may (in an allegorical sense) say strictly of them that they
cannot see carraway seeds. Oh my dears, however elevated you may be,
or may become; however great or rich or learned, beware, I pray you,
of being a Giant who cannot see a carraway seed!
For, as my explanation of the _moral_ sense now goes on to show you;
it is so far from being, as these Giants suppose, a proof of their
_superiority_ that they cannot see or notice things they consider
beneath them--that it is, in fact, an evidence of some imperfection or
defect in either their moral or intellectual structure. Just as it is
a proof of our eyes being imperfect, that we cannot see the little
water insects as well as a great big elephant. I am sure you will
allow there is nothing _to boast of_ in this, and so if the
contemplation of great things makes you incapable of attending to
small ones, do remember that _'tis nothing to boast about or be proud
of_. And take very great care you make no mistakes as to what is great
and what is insignificant. With which warning I close my remarks on
the moral lesson, and proceed to that _anagogical_ or spiritual
meaning, which will I hope be my justification for dwelling so long on
the subject, and my best introduction to a story of a serious though
not of a melancholy character. But first, my dear little readers, let
me call upon you in the words which you hear in church:
"Lift up your hearts!"
and I would have you answer,
"We lift them up unto the Lord."
For it is indeed of Him--the Lord of all Lords, that I now wish to
speak to you. He made the Sun and Stars and the great mountains of our
earth; but He made also the smallest insects that crowd the air and
water, and which are invisible to our imperfect eyes.
He rules the nations by His word, and "binds kings in chains, and
nobles with links of iron," as the psalm expresses it; but also not a
sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge and consent. Angels
and Archangels worship around His throne, but His ears are equally
open to the prayer of the youngest child who lifts up its little heart
The universe is at His feet, but the smallest events of our lives are
under His especial superintendence and care. Yes! nothing, however
small and insignificant, that is connected with the present or future
welfare of the smallest and most insignificant of his creatures, is
_beneath the notice of God_!
Ah! here is indeed a lesson for the fancied Giants of the world!--For,
in this picture of Almighty greatness combined with infinite
condescension, we see that real Perfection requires no Pride to
But I said this anagogical sense was hard to be attained to and
difficult of comprehension.
And is it not so? Is it not very difficult to believe thoroughly that
the great God whom we hear about, really and truly cares how we behave
and what we do--really and truly listens to our prayers--really and
truly takes as much interest in us as our earthly Fathers and Mothers
Ah, I am sure it must be very difficult, because so few people do it,
although we should all be both better and happier if we did. We should
say our prayers so much more earnestly, try to keep out of sin and
naughtiness so much more heartily, and, above all, always be contented
with whatever happened; for who could be anxious, and discontented
about their condition or circumstances, if they _quite_ believed that
every thing that happened to them was watched over and arranged for
their good, by the wisest, kindest, and most powerful of Beings? If
you, my dear children, who have been reading the fairy tales in this
book, were to be told that a most wise, most kind, and most powerful
Fairy had suddenly taken you for life under her particular care, and
that she would never lose sight of you by night or by day, how
delighted you would be!
Yet just so are you under the particular care and watchful concern of
But now, say you, you begin to feel the difficulty of believing it
possible that the great God of the Universe takes this tender interest
in such insignificant and sinful creatures as men and women.
Consider, then, that we are told that "God is Love;" and if He loves
us, there is no difficulty in believing that He feels all this
interest in us. Do not judge Him by earthly Kings and Potentates.
These are Giants who cannot see carraway seeds. We do not blame them,
for it is impossible they should be interested for every body. But
very very different is both the power and the feeling of the King of
Still we have not got over the difficulty yet, for of all the
wonderful truths we are commanded to believe, no one is so wonderful
and so incomprehensible as _the Love of God_ to the sinful human race.
And yet it is a truth, and of all truths the most important and most
comfortable; and therefore it is much to be desired that we should
thoroughly believe it: and _I think_ I can make you understand that it
is possible, _by something which you feel in your own hearts_. I think
God has placed even in our own hearts a witness of the possibility of
this great Truth.
My idea is this. We _know_ that God has been merciful to us--(His very
creation of man was an act of mercy), and _therefore_ we know that He
loves us. _He loves us because He has been merciful to us_. If you
cannot see why this should be, I refer you to the following story, and
advise you to _try for yourselves_. Only be kind to any living
creature, whether a human being, or an irrational animal, and see if
you can keep your heart from _loving_ it! Certainly it does not become
us to try to search out the unsearchable mind of God, but I think it
is permitted us to hope, that the remarkable fast of _Kindness
engendering Love_, which we experience in our own hearts, is intended
to lead us upwards as by a holy guiding thread, to some comprehension
of the Love of that God, who in Christ Jesus actually _gave Himself
Lift up the curtain!
In a baronial hall, not of the size and grandeur of that at Warwick
Castle, which those who have never seen should try to see before they
die: but still in a hall as antique and interesting in style, fits a
young man reading.
It is evening, though the sun has not yet set, but it is evening, and
the young man is sitting at a small oak table in a recess in one of
the ancient windows, and before him lies open a book, and on the book,
which he touches not with his hands, but on which his eyes, blinded by
tears, are fixed, there lies a faded primrose.
The book is the Bible, and the faded primrose lies on that verse in
the Psalm, "Oh that men would therefore praise the Lord for his
goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of
men!" and some hand had placed a slight pencil mark before these
This scene brings before you a story of distress, and yet this young
man is the possessor of a large estate;--the baronial hall and house
are his own, and he is young and amiable, and till within the last few
months had led a life of almost uninterrupted comfort and prosperity
from his cradle upwards. Two years ago he became the betrothed lover
of a young lady no less interesting than himself, and as no obstacle
prevented their union, both had for these two years looked forward to
it, as the one certain and sure event of their lives. The young man's
parents had died when he was very young; but, in compliance with the
wishes of his Guardians, he deferred his marriage till he should have
come of age.
Meanwhile, as the time of probation drew near its close, it had been
his delight to sit up the old place in such a manner as should become
his bride, and the alterations had, in many cases, been made under her
eye and according to her wishes, for she was already by anticipation,
and in the heart of its owner, the mistress of the place.
At last the wedding day was fixed; but a few weeks before the time
came, one of those sad diseases which steal mysteriously into the
vitals of the young and wear away life long before its natural period,
fell upon her:--and _now_, nothing remained to him, who had hoped to
have her as his companion through life, but the Bible she had used
during her sickness, and which was found on the table by her couch
after her death, open and marked at the very place I have told you
about; together with the faded primrose which he had gathered for her
on the last morning of her life.
This was a very sad event for those who were left behind to lament the
loss of one whom they had loved so dearly. The Mother indeed, who had
known other trials of life, bent her head submissively to this one,
and cherishing sweet recollections of her daughter's piety and
goodness, looked forward to a time of reunion in a happier world. But
the poor young man, whose name was Theodore, never having known a care
or a sorrow before, was stupefied and overpowered by this sudden
destruction of all his hopes and happiness. Seeing, however, that
_her_ last thought had been the mercy and goodness of God, he tried to
make it _his_ thought too; and he would sit for hours looking at the
verse which she had marked in the Bible.
But unfortunately he made no effort besides, and having no kind
relatives or friends near him to rouse him from his melancholy stupor
to some of the active duties of life, he spent many many weeks in
listless sorrow, not caring much what became either of himself, his
dependents, or his property. And though he had become, by degrees, so
far resigned as to believe that every thing was for the best--even
_her_ death--he now took up a strange and dismal fancy, that though
the Almighty was a God of goodness and justice, it was quite
impossible that He should _love_ any beings so sinful and ungrateful
as the human race. This vain distinction of a morbid imagination was
the result of that solitude, inactivity, and the constantly dwelling
upon himself and his own troubles, to which he had unfortunately given
himself up, and which had brought his mind into such an unhealthy
state, that he could neither reason nor think properly.
In this condition of feeling, having one day wandered to a
considerable distance from home, he sat down on the greensward to
rest; when lo! after he had remained there for some little time
musing, as usual, he saw approaching him two shining creatures, who
looked like spirits or angels, and as they came up to him they looked
at him very earnestly, and one said to the other,
"He is doubting the goodness of God!?"
Then Theodore shuddered, and said, "I am not! once perhaps I did, but
not now: all things happen for the best." Yet the Spirit repeated, "He
is doubting the goodness of God!" Theodore shuddered again, and cried
out "I am _not!_" for he felt as if it was a heavy accusation.
Whereupon the Spirit continued, "To disbelieve the love of God is to
doubt His goodness."
"No, no," exclaimed Theodore eagerly, "it is not! I do not doubt His
goodness--His compassion even for the wretched creatures whom He
formed out of dust. But I--thoughtless in my youth; self-confident in
prosperity; ungrateful and rebellious under affliction; how can such a
wretch as _I_ have been, believe in the _love_ of God to me! God is
good and just, but do not talk to me of His Love to man, as if it were
possible He could feel for them the tenderness of kind affection! Who
Without noticing this question, the Spirit repeated, in emphatic
tones, "To disbelieve the Love of God is to doubt His goodness, and
deny the perfection of His nature!"
"I tell you, No!" shouted Theodore, wildly: "It is _because_ of His
goodness and _because_ of the perfection of His nature, that I
disbelieve the possibility of His Love to the wretched race of man!"
"Judge by your own heart!" exclaimed the Spirit who had not yet
But when Theodore raised his eyes to look upon her, both had
disappeared. He felt grieved, he knew not why. "_My own heart!_" he
murmured; "ah! my own heart has been the witness against me. It has
taught me the dreadful truth."
"Truth never yet was found of him who leads a life of selfish misery,"
whispered a soft voice receding into the distance; "Theodore! Judge by
your own heart. Even it may teach you better things!"
Theodore started up and looked hastily around. He felt as if he could
have followed that soft receding voice into eternity. But there was no
one near. That sound, however, had been like an echo from hopes buried
in the grave; and the poor youth sank to the ground on his knees, and,
hiding his face in his hands, wept bitterly. Suddenly one thought took
possession of him out of what had been said. And it was one (as usual)
of self-reproach. The Spirit had reproached him with leading a life of
selfish misery! Vividly impressed by this idea, he started off
hurriedly for his home, crying aloud--"Oh, the wasted time; the lost
hours; the precious moments that might have been employed in
usefulness!" And thus he pursued his way till he had left the outer
country behind him, and had entered the gates that bounded his
extensive domain when, all at once, his course was stopped by
something he struck against as he was walking quickly along.
Looking down, he perceived that a sickly, hungry-looking child was
stretched across the road asleep, and that by its side sat a woman,
the picture of misery and want. Theodore felt a strong sensation of
compassion seize him as he gazed at the child, and he stooped and
lifted it from the ground.
The woman observed Theodore's eye, and said, "Ay, without help we
shall neither of us be here long!"
"I will help you," said Theodore, "tell me what I can do!"
"What can you or any one do, for a dying woman and a half-starved
child?" groaned the poor creature. "Food, food! medicine and help!"
These words burst from her in broken accents--I am dying!"
"Are you so _very_ ill?" asked Theodore, turning deadly pale; and he
murmured to himself--"Death again! I dare not see it again so soon!
Here!" continued he, thrusting gold into her hand, "now you see that I
will help you! Look, I will send you food, and you shall be brought
to the house: but let me take the child, he cannot do you good, and I
will see to him." "He must not see her die;" was Theodore's inward
"Ay, take him," muttered the woman gloomily, "and send me cordials. No
one wants to go even an hour before their time!"
Theodore obeyed almost mechanically, and lifting up the little boy, he
made a shift to carry him to the house. On arriving there, he called
for his housekeeper and desired her to take food and wine to the woman
he had left, and to bring her to the house. Then he sent another
servant for a doctor, and afterwards undertook himself the care of the
forlorn child. He placed him on a sofa in his study and sat down by
"Are you ill?" was his first question.
"I don't know," was the answer.
"Are you hungry?"
Here Theodore got up and went to the next room, where preparations
were being made for dinner, and fetched bread and gave it to the boy,
who ate it greedily, without once lifting up his eyes. "Poor child,"
thought Theodore, "life has no _mental_ troubles for him!"
"Are you sorry your mother is so ill?" was his next inquiry.
"She's not my mother," muttered the boy.
Theodore started--"What do you mean? Are you not that woman's
"No! She told me I wasn't."
"Who are you, then?"
"I don't know. She told me she had stolen me to beg for her."
"And do you remember nothing about it?"
"No, its too long ago."
Theodore now fetched him more bread, but whilst he was eating it he no
longer sat by him, but walked up and down the room. Every now and then
as he stopped and looked at the thin, sickly looking object he had
brought into the house, he was overtaken by a strong feeling of pity
for his miserable condition.
This child was as desolate as himself, only in another way. Stolen
from his parents to beg for the strange woman, he had lived with her
so long that he had forgotten his real home altogether! Bound by no
ties of kindred and comfort to this world. "He is more desolate than I
am myself!" repeated Theodore, again and again.
After a time he approached the boy again.
"The woman will say you are her child, and make you go back and beg
for her if she gets better, will she not?"
"She doesn't want me now."
"She says, I'm too hungry, and eat all the bread away from her, and
don't get enough for us both."
A curious expression passed across Theodore's face as he turned away
and sat down in his chair once more. It looked like a gleam of
satisfaction. The boy, meanwhile, sat quite still, looking round the
room. He had a grave and somewhat interesting face, but that the dark
eyes looked a little too keen and restless to be quite pleasant.
Still, when he smiled, and he had smiled brightly when he first saw
the bread, his countenance improved; and there was, besides, something
about his open forehead which redeemed the covert expression of his
eye. He was about seven years old, and precocious in quickness of a
particular kind, as is very often the case with vagrant children.
Theodore's reverie was broken at last by the arrival of his good old
housekeeper, who came in, flurried and indignant, to inform him that
the woman she had been in search of was no where to be found. She had
been, "she was sure," up and down all the carriage roads, and made
enquiries at all the lodges, and finally discovered that a beggar
woman had passed out at one of them upwards of an hour before, very
hurriedly, and indeed almost at a running pace.
Theodore glanced at the child, but his countenance never changed. Only
he sat eying the housekeeper as she spoke, apparently indifferent to
the result. The housekeeper now began to ejaculate in broken
sentences, "The base creature! To think that you should have taken all
this trouble, Sir! and had the child actually into the house!
and--gracious me," added she in a half whisper, "hadn't I better call
the butler, Sir; hadn't he" (nodding significantly towards the child)
"better be taken to the workhouse at once, Sir?"
"I think not," answered Theodore slowly--"not yet, I think. The truth
is, I find he's not her own child, but has been stolen; and--and--in
fact, we can send him to the workhouse to-morrow. Perhaps, after all,
the woman may come here for him. But, at any rate, there is time
enough. You see this is an odd affair; and, as the boy is not _hers_,
we don't know who he may not turn out to be some day." And, as
Theodore thus concluded his sentence, he got up and looked at the old
housekeeper with a smile--a melancholy one it is true, but still it
was a smile--the first that had been seen on his face since his
And the faithful servant was so much pleased that she forgot every
thing else in a desire to keep up the interest that had lured her
young master so unaccountably from his misery.
"Well, to be sure, Sir, what you say's quite right, and we can make
the poor thing comfortable for to-night, and then you can do as you
please to-morrow. Shall I take him with me, Sir, and make him clean,
while you dine? I can borrow some tidy clothes from the bailiff's
wife, I dare say; and after he's made respectable, you can see him
again, Sir, if you think proper."
This proposition was more grateful to Theodore's mind than he cared to
acknowledge to himself. Indeed he had no clear ideas of his feelings
about the little accident that had interrupted the dismal course of
his life; and he studiously avoided questioning himself too closely.
Only there came across him, every now and then, a sensation that there
was some special providence about it all, and that there was some
mysterious connection between this adventure and the words of the
apparitions who had spoken to him in the morning.
But "let be, let us see what will happen," was the ruling feeling, and
as he felt less miserable than usual, he did not wish to disturb the
pleasing dream by enquiries, why?
After his solitary dinner, as he was seated alone in his arm chair, he
was relapsing fast into his usual unhappy state of mind, for this was
at all times the most trying part of the day to him, when a knock at
the door aroused him.
Ah, it was the good old housekeeper again! She who, with the acute
instinct of sorrow-soothing which women so eminently possess, had
purposely come at this the young master's "dark hour," to try if it
could be kept back by the charm she had seen working a short time
before. "The little fellow is quite fit to come in now, Sir, if you'd
wish to see him before he's put to bed." And her efforts were rewarded
by seeing a look of interest light up poor Theodore's eye. The boy was
now ushered in, and his improved appearance and cleanliness were very
striking. Theodore took hold of his hand--"There, you need not be
afraid; you may sit down upon that chair. Are you comfortable?" "Yes."
"Have you had plenty to eat?" "Yes, plenty." And the child laughed a
"I hope you are a good boy."
He looked stupid. "Can you say your prayers?"
"Ah! I was afraid not. You never heard about God?" "Yes; but the woman
used to keep that to herself." "Keep what?"
"Why," _for God's sake_, when she begged. She didn't let me say it, but
she always said it herself; and then, when people wouldn't give us any
thing, she used to say--"
"No, no! I will not hear about that;" interrupted Theodore, "but I
hope some day you will learn about God."
"In the begging? must I say it in the begging next time?"
"No, I don't mean that; not in begging bread of people in the road,
but in praying."
"What's that?" "Begging." "Then I am to beg?" "No, not on the road,
but of a great good Being, who will never refuse what you ask."
"Is that _you_?"
"No, my poor boy; not me, but the great Being, called God, who lives
in the sky. You must beg all you want of Him."
"I don't know Him."
"No; but you will learn to know Him when you have listened to me and
prayed to Him."
"I don't know praying; I know begging."
"Well, then, when you have begged Him--"
"What am I to say?"
"First, you must say, 'Our Father--'"
"Father's dead," interrupted the boy;
"Ah, but I do not mean _that_ father," answered Theodore; "and how do
you know even that _that_ father is dead?"
"The woman said so. One day she told me Father and Mother were both
dead, and there was nobody left to love me, so I must mind her."
"The woman was wrong," cried Theodore compassionately. "You have
another Father, who never dies, and who loves you always!--"
A knock at the door interrupted Theodore's _lesson on the Love of
"It's about time the poor thing was put to bed," suggested the
housekeeper, looking in. "I dare say he's tired."
"I dare say he is," said Theodore mechanically. "Good night, little
boy. What used they to call you?"
"Good night, little Reuben." And he was taken away.
_You have another Father who never dies and who loves you always_!
founded like an echo through the room. Theodore arose and looked
around, but there was no one there. He resumed his feat, and wondered
how he had got involved in teaching the beggar boy religion. He
lamented his awkwardness and unfitness for the talk; but still he
thought he had done right. As to his last assertion, how else could he
make the child comprehend God at all? Besides, how cruel it would be
to infect him with his own miserable convictions. They would come time
Such was the current of his thoughts. The next morning he told the old
housekeeper of the boy's ignorance and his difficulty with him, and
engaged her to help him in his talk, which she readily undertook.
It is not my intention to describe the many endeavours Theodore made
to impress the first great truths of Christianity upon Reuben's mind;
but I can assure you he felt all the better for them himself. How it
was that he never sent the little boy to the workhouse you can guess.
For the first few days he kept him to see (as he said), if the woman
would come back for him. Then he wished him to stay till he and the
housekeeper had sufficiently impressed him by their lessons. And
then--why then--by degrees, all mention of the workhouse ceased, and
better clothes were bought for him; and the housekeeper, who was one
of the by-gone generation of warm-hearted old family servants, became,
for her master's sake, a perfect mother to him; and to Theodore he
involuntarily proved an object of daily increasing interest, and
finally, of strong personal affection.
And thus nearly a year passed over, during which time Theodore's
health and activity in a measure returned; but the cheerfulness of a
happy mind was still wanting. Reuben often lured him temporarily into
it, but he would again relapse, and had never given up his unhappy
theory, though now he dwelt upon it much less frequently than of old.
At the end of the year, however, Theodore was much distressed by
fancying that he detected Reuben in lying; and he was, besides, by no
means sure that little trifles were not taken from him by the child
for his own use and amusement. He communicated his suspicions to the
housekeeper, and alas! found his worst fears confirmed. The pain and
sorrow he felt at this discovery were of a kind totally new to him.
But the strongest feeling of all was, that he would not give up the
boy to vicious habits without a struggle (cost what it might) to save
him! The housekeeper told him, with tears, that she had observed
Reuben's habit of petty lying and taking any thing he fancied, very
soon after his admission to the house; but she confessed that she had
not had the heart to inform her young Master, lest he should send the
boy away who had seemed to take him so out of his trouble! This was
what she most thought about. So she had tried to correct the child
herself, but not with the success she had desired. "How little she
knows the heart," thought Theodore, "his evil propensities would have
been an additional claim upon my kindness!"
I will pass over all that Theodore said to the boy himself. No father
could have been more earnest, more solemn in his warnings, or more
kind in his expostulations. Reuben, by this time, could understand all
he said, and shame and repentance burnt in his face during a painful
interview. It is right to remind you, dear children, of the many
excuses that were to be made for him. He had been brought up, till
seven years old, in total ignorance of God, and without ever having
heard one duty commanded or one sin forbidden. The woman lied daily
and hourly in his sight, and made him do the same; and she took all
she could lay hold of in any way, and beat him if he did not follow
her example; and although Theodore's instructions had opened a new
world on the child's mind, the _evil_ HABITS were not so soon got rid
of. So there the mischief was; and now the great difficulty Theodore
felt, was to know what to do for the best. And, after much
consideration, he decided to send him to school, as the likeliest
means of eradicating the bad habits the boy had acquired. I say
_habits_, rather than dispositions, for there was indeed nothing mean
or sneaking about his character. On the contrary, he was both
courageous and generous in the turn of his mind, and, after his health
improved, his manners partook of the same freedom and candour.
To school therefore poor Reuben went; and Theodore was almost
astonished himself at the blank which his absence created.
But having desired that continued reports should be sent to him of his
conduct, he meanwhile began seriously to think what was to become of
him hereafter. At last it occurred to him that he might employ him in
some way or other about his property; and with a view to this,
Theodore himself began to take more interest in his estate than he had
had the energy to bestow before, and made himself more intimately
acquainted with the wants and modes of life of those under his
Thus another year passed away in quiet but constant occupation; and
the many opportunities Theodore now had of doing good, softened and
cheered his mind. But he was not quite cured. For of all things in the
world whims are the very hardest to cure, because, reason as you will,
people still stick to their whims. Reuben was not allowed to return
once during that year to the old hall. During the last few months,
however, his progress had been most satisfactory, and the Master
considered that the evil was overcome; and so, at the end of the year,
Theodore wrote word to Reuben that he wished him to come "home" for
his holidays. Poor Reuben cried bitterly again when he read the
letter; for, as he said to the Master, "It is _not_ my home, though he
has been very good to me. I have no home!"
Theodore's heart overflowed with pleasure and almost pride when he saw
the boy again. Every turn in the expression of his face was improved;
and when Theodore first took his hand, the lad bent his face over it
and sobbed out an entreaty for pardon for his dreadful wickedness.
"Reuben," cried Theodore, "never say that again. All is forgotten
since your conduct is changed. Forget the past as soon as possible. It
will never be remembered by me."
Time went on during the holidays very happily on the whole. In fact
there was no drawback; but that now and then Theodore, who would often
sit looking at his adopted child's face, noticed a painful expression
which he could not account for. His conduct was irreproachable and his
respect for Theodore seemed, if possible, increased; but he would not
be frank with him, and no encouragement beguiled him into the ease of
trusted affection. Theodore did not choose to notice this for some
weeks, but, as the time of Reuben's return to school drew near, he was
unwilling to let him go without some expostulation.
"Reuben," said he one day, "you are going back to school. Your conduct
has quite satisfied me: but tell me, before you go, why you so often
look unhappy? It is a poor return (though I now touch on this subject
for the first time in my life), it is a poor return for the interest I
have taken in you; and for the real love you know I feel towards you!"
For a moment Reuben's large dark eyes glanced up at Theodore's face;
but they sank again as quickly: his cheeks grew crimson, and tears
rolled over them which he could not conceal.
"What is the matter, Reuben; what is the meaning of this? Am I loving
one who does not love me in return?"
"You _cannot_ love me, Sir!" ejaculated the boy so earnestly that it
quite startled his companion.
"Reuben, what _can_ you mean? Have you forgotten how I have taken you
and acted by you as if I had been your Father. I _cannot love_ you?
What else but _love_ for you has made me do what I have done?"
"That was all your goodness and the kindness of your heart, Sir. You
couldn't love me when you picked me up in the road. It was pity and
kindness, and it has been the same ever since; not _Love_--" and the
tears again struggled to his eyes.
Theodore rushed suddenly from the room and into his private apartment,
and falling on his knees, spread his hands over his head in prayer.
"My Lord and my God!" cried he solemnly, "what means this echo from my
own heart? Am I awake, or do I dream?" A profound silence was around
him; but, as he arose and opened his eyes, he beheld before him,
though fading rapidly from his sight, the angelic visions he had seen
two years before.
* * * * *
He returned to Reuben, who was sitting at the table, his face buried
in his arms.
Theodore laid his hand upon him. "Reuben, look up! You are under a
great mistake. You are but a boy, and must not fancy you know the ins
and outs of the human heart. Reuben, I do love you, and have always
"You cannot, Sir!"
"Again? and why not?"
"You are too much above me; I am an outcast, and was a beggar. It
wasn't likely you could _love_ me at any time. Besides, there has been
"You told me to forget it, Sir, but I cannot. After all your kindness
and goodness, and trying to make me happy and do me every good, I was
all along (during the first year), doing what was wrong, deceiving you
and injuring you. I am not only an outcast, but I have been wicked and
ungrateful, and made you unhappy by my misconduct. Indeed I cannot
bear to think of it; but I dare not deceive myself about your _Love_,
Sir! I know you _cannot_ love me; but I am so grateful to you for your
goodness, I hope you will not be angry with me for speaking the truth:
only, though I am grateful and try to be contented, I cannot be as
_happy_ as if you _did_ love me."
As Theodore gazed on poor Reuben's face, he saw standing behind him
the beautiful visions once more.
"Now judge by your own heart!" murmured the Spirits, as smiling they
And Theodore did so. Going up to Reuben, he put his arms around him,
and wept over him tears of love and gratitude for the blessing which
he felt stealing into his own mind. "Reuben," cried he, "my child
Reuben! There have been but two human beings in the world on whom I
have bestowed my love; for, like you, I lost my parents young. These
two were--her I lost and yourself!"
"If I thought you _loved_ me, I would die for you!" cried Reuben,
springing up and gazing earnestly on Theodore's face.
"My God!" murmured Theodore, "may I be able to feel this to Thee!"
* * * * *
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