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THE WIDOW AND HER SON. THE parents of the deceased had resided in the village from childhood. They had inhabited one of the neatest cottages, and by various rural occupations and the assistancel of a small garden, had supported themselves creditably, and comfortably, and led a happy and blameless life. They had one son, who had grown up to be the staff and pride of their age.2 “Oh, sir !" said the good woman, “ he was such a comely lad, so sweet-tempered, so kind to every one around him, so dutiful 3 to his parents ! It did one's heart good to see him of a4 Sunday, dressed out in his best, so tall, so straight, so cheery, supporting his old mother to church—for she was always fonder of leaning on George's arm than on her goodman's, and, poor soul, 6 she might well be proud of him, for a finer lad there was not in the country round.”
Unfortunately, the son was tempted, during a year of scarcity and agricultural hardship, to enter into the service of one of the small craft that plied on a neighbouring river.? He had not been long in this employ when he was entrapped by a press-gang and carried off to sea. His parents received tidings of his seizure, but beyond that they could learn nothing. It was the loss of their main prop. The father, who was already infirm, grew heartless 9 and melancholy, and sunk into his 10 grave. The widow, the produce.'
* On éprouvait un plaisir déli2 l'appui et l'orgueil de leur cieux en le voyant le. vieillesse. The figurative expres- 5 celui de son mari. sion bâton de vieillesse is French; 6 femme. but, on account of the common 7 de se louer et de travailler sur idea called forth by the word bâton, un (or, simply, de se mettre aux which, in its proper sense, is of so gages d'un) des petits bâtiments qui extensive application, meaning, as desservaient une rivière voisine. it does, staff,' stick,' "cudgel,' 8 pris par la presse (enrôlement &c., bâton and orgueil would form forcé, levée de matelots en Anglea somewhat ungracious association terre), et entraîné loin de son vilof terms.
lage pour servir sur mer. See page 3 un si digne garçon, si aimable, l, note 3, and page 38, note 5. si dous avec tout le monde, si res 9 languissant, in this sense. perturux.-'to;' see page 36, 10 'to sink,' here, descendre.note 9.
"his ;' use the definite article,
left alone in her age and feebleness, could no longer support herself, and came upon the parish. Still there was a kind feeling toward her throughout the village, and 2 a certain respect as being one of the oldest inhabitants. As no one applied for the cottage in which she had passed so many happy days,she was permitted 4 to remain in it, where she lived solitary and almost helpless. The few wants of nature were chiefly supplied from the scanty production of her little garden, which the neighbours would now and then cultivate 5 for her. It was but a few days before the time at which these circumstances were told me, that she was gathering some vegetables 6 for her repast, when she heard the cottage-door which faced the garden suddenly opened.? A stranger came out, and seemed to be looking eagerly and wildly around.8 He was dressed in seaman's clothes, was emaciated and ghastly pale, and bore the air of one broken 9 by sickness and hardships. He saw her, and hastened toward her, but his steps were faint and faltering; he sank on his knees before her, and sobbed like a child. The poor woman gazed upon him with a vacant and wandering eye. “Oh my dear, dear mother ! 10 don't you know your son ? your poor boy George ?" 11 It was indeed the wreck of her once noble lad ; who, shattered by wounds, by sickness, and foreign 12 imprisonment, had at length dragged his wasted limbs homeward, to repose among the scenes of his childhood.
mother.' See page 21, note 9.
11 “your son,' &c.; simply, ‘your 5 See page 45, note 4.-' now (ton) poor George.'-'to know,' in and then,' de temps à autre, or, de the sense of 'to recognise,' is retemps en temps.
connaître, not connaître. 6° légumes, in this sense; and 12 'foreign,' à l'étranger, and végétal, only in the more general after the noun.
I will not attempt to detail the particulars of such a meeting, where joy and sorrow were so completely blended. Still he was alive! he was come home! he might yet live to comfort and cherish her old age ! Nature, however, was exhausted in him ; and if anything had been wanting to finish the work of fate, the desolation of his native cottage would have been sufficient.1 He stretched himself on the pallet, on which his widowed mother had passed many a sleepless night, and he never rose from it again.
The villagers, when they heard 2 that George Somers had returned,3 crowded to see him, offering every comfort and assistance that their humble means afforded.4 He was too weak, however, to talk; he could only look his thanks. His mother was his constant attendant ; and he seemed unwilling to be helped by any other hand.
There is something in sickness that breaks down the pride of manhood, that softens the heart, and brings it back to the feelings of infancy. Who that has languished, even in advanced life, in sickness and despondency, who that has pined on a weary bed? in the neglect and loneli. ness of a foreign land, but has thought on the mother " that looked on his childhood,” that smoothed his pillow,8 and administered to his helplessness ? Oh! there is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to ao son that transcends all other affections of the heart. It is neither to be 10 chilled by selfishness, nor daunted by danger, nor weakened by worthlessness, nor stifled by ingratitude. She will sacrifice every comfort to his convenience; she will surrender every pleasure to his enjoyment; she will glory in his fame and exult in his prosperity: and if misfortune overtake him, he will be the dearer to her from
1 aurait suffi pour l'anéantir. 40, note 17,-'to break down,'
2. When the villagers had abaisser.-' manhood,' here, l'homheard.' See page 27, note 15. me.
3 était de retour; and use they' 7 lit de douleur. before 'crowded.'
8 faisait mollement reposer su 4 " allowed them to give him.' tête sur le duvet. 5 See page 6, note 5. 6 See page 14, pote 5, and page 10 ne saurait être ni.
misfortune ;1 and if disgrace settle upon? his name, she will still love and cherish him in spite of his disgrace, 3 and if all the world beside cast him off, she will be all the world to him. 4
Poor George Somers 5 had known what it was to be in sickness, and none to soothe ; lonely and in prison, and none to visit him. He could not endure his mother from his sight;7 if she moved away, his eye would follow her. She would sit for hours by his bed, watching him as he slept. Sometimes he would start from a feverish dream and look anxiously up until he saw her bending over him, when 10 he would take her hand, lay it on his bosom, and fall asleep with the tranquillity of a child. In this way 11 he died.
My first impulse, on hearing this humble tale of affliction,12 was to visit the cottage of the mourner, and administer pecuniary assistance, and, if possible, comfort. I found, however, on inquiry, that the good feelings of the villagers had prompted them to do everything that the case admitted, and as the poor know best how 13 to console each other's sorrows, I did not venture to intrude.
The next Sunday I was at the village church, when, to my surprise, I saw the poor old woman tottering down the aisle to her accustomed seat on the steps of the altar.
She had made an effort to put on something like 14 mourning for her son; and nothing could be more touching than this struggle between pious affection and utter poverty:1 a black riband or so, a faded black handkerchief, and one or two more such humble attempts to express by outward signs that grief which passes show.3 When I looked round upon the storied monuments, the stately hatchments, the cold marble pomp, with which grandeur mourned magnificently over departed pride,5 and turned to this poor widow, bowed down by age and sorrow at the altar of her God, and offering up the prayers and praises? of a pious, though a broken heart, I felt that this living monument of real grief was worth them all. 8
i par ses infortunes mêmes ; 6 See page 90, note 7. and leave out 'the,' before 'dearer.' 7 Il ne laissait pas sa mère 2 une tache flétrit.
s'éloigner de lui. 3 Leave out these last five 8 See page 45, note 4. words.
goto start' (from sleep), se 4 elle lui tiendra lieu de l'uni- réveiller en sursaut. vers. This expression, tenir lieu 10 alors ; see page 18, note 10. de, means, 'to be as much as a' 11 It is thus that.' 'to be equivalent to :' as in this 12 histoire simple, mais déchiwell-known line of Racine,
13 In such a case, 'how' is not “Un bienfait reproché tint tou
expressed in French, and no prejours lieu d'offense.”
position is used between savoir and See the LA FONTAINE, page 86, the next verb. note 8
14 to take a kind of;' and leave 5 See page 117, note 13.
out 'for her son.'
I related her story to some of the wealthy members of the congregation, and they were moved by it. They exerted themselves to render her situation more comfortable and to lighten her afflictions. It was, however, but smoothing a few steps to the grave. In the course of a Sunday or two after she was missed from her usual seat at church, 10 and before I left 11 the neighbourhood I heard, with a feeling 12 of satisfaction, that she had quietly breathed her last,13 and had gone to rejoin those she loved in that world where sorrow is never known and friends are never parted.—(WASHINGTON IRVING, Sketch-Book.)
1 See page 25, note 16.
9 but they only spread (page 2 or something similar ; page 5, note i2) a few (quelques) flowers 9, note 4.
on the little (le peu de) way which 3 to manifest by outward signs remained to her to make towards.' one of those griefs that cannot be The adverb peu is often thus used expressed (page 8, note 6) out substantively, in the sense of the wardly (au dehors).'
small quantity,' just as le trop 4 ces tombeaux gravés d'inscrip- (literally the too much') means tions.
'the excess ;' but we do not say 5 those pompous marbles which le beaucoup." a cold sorrow has raised to de- 10 • There elapsed one or two parted pride (l'orgueil qui n'est Sundays without her appearing plus).'
(page 14, note 7, and page 21, ' 6 and when (page 17, note 6) note 3) at church at her usual from there I (page 23, note 9) car- place.'-—'usual,' here, accoutumée, ried my looks upon.'
or as directed at page 45, note 11. i encens ; in the singular.
11 See page 7, note 7. 8 était bien au-dessus de tous ces
12 a kind.' vains mausolées.
13 rendu le dernier soupir.