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knees, they thrice arrested my progress, you are fairly up; and all this was aggra-
She calls me a sorry marksman,
An awkward fellow -- and still
Sho, sly little witch, knows well enough
It isn't from lack of skill.
Of tearing a butterfly's wing,
- how they darken and flash! Or of beating a lily, or throttling
The first sweet robin of spring,
Or hitting her if I could,
Or harming so much as a tassel
Of her little scarlet hood.
Gay, beautiful Madge! Oh what would she do
If my mouth was half as bold
Do you think she would pout or scold Like pearls among rubies and gold ?
As her feet have trampled the snow?
Are fire to my heart, does she know?
Have printed the downy snow,
In the long, long future before us both,
Anything more to me
And red-rose cheeks in a glow,
Who stands ankle-deep, in the milk-white drifts,
Pelting me with the snow?
From the Sunday Magazine. friendly one,
The interest that she took THE PASTOR'S WIDOW.
in their stalls, her admiration of fine fruit,
her judicious discrimination of the relative A few years ago our market was daily merits of different kinds, and useful hints attended — unless, indeed, the weather was as to storing them, &c., were all pleasant to desperate - by an elderly woman, remark- the sellers, who evidently liked to see her able neither in face, attire, nor anything and to exchange a few good-humoured else. Her dress was always simplicity it- words, as à variety in the monotony of self; she was middle-sized, had rather a marketing. commonplace face at the first glance, but One winter day, when it was bitter cold what drew my attention to her was the reg- and slippery, it so happened that she feli ularity of her attendance, for which there down in going out of the market, and hurt seemed no adequate reason, since she had, her leg, and arms very badly. She was generally speaking, only a very small basket soon raised up and set on her feet. No on her arm, and sometimes none at all. limb was broken. With great suffering she When she had made her purchase she did could contrive to walk, but not alone. not go straight home like other people, but Although I had very little acquaintance regularly made the circuit of the whole with her, I could not do less than offer her market; and when the weather was fine and my arm, which she took gratefully, but the stalls full, osten visited some of them two with all sorts of excuses and apologies, such or three times over. Unconsciously I took to as were customary in my day, when every observing what she was looking for, and silly person had not yet got to believing what it was she bought; she had never that the world was created expressly for come in my way as a bargainer, never him, and that his fellow-creatures were in snapped up a pigeon or fowl I happened to it to wait upon his convenience. It seems
Indeed, her purchases seemed all on to be considered old-fashioned now-a-days a small scale; belonging not to the animal for one man to thank another; but what but vegetable world, and even of vegetables would you have ? If people have left off she chose the cheapest and soonest cooked, graditude to God, why not to each other? and with them almost always a little fruit. I can tell you it was no easy matter to get At times too she would ask the price of the poor creature, who was in terrible pain, flowers, – - a little rose-bush or pot of pan- back to her own part of the town. sies, and I noticed that very often the Her lowly room was indescribably clean market-women would give her a few lettuce and neat, and as I had rightly surmised, leaves unasked, whence I concluded that she there was a bird in the window, who greetkept a lit le bird, and in all probability ed us with cheerful chirps and twittering. lived alone. Now, purchases to this amount “ You poor dear,” she said, “ you think need not have detained her two minutes; you are going to get your salad, and I have there must have been some other attraction none for you to-day.” in the market-place, and when once I began Quite exhausted, she sank down on a chair. fairly to observe her, I soon discovered “ My Heavenly Father!" she murmured, what it was.
" what am I to do now?" Evidently, she took an infinite delight in It seemed that she was quite alone in the the vegetables and fruits themselves, apart world. Only a charwoman came in once a from any idea of eating them. But it was day with wood and water. She did everyorchard-fiuit that most fascinated her eyes thing else for herself. She rented this one and heart. Mere bush-fruit she seemed little room, but had nothing to do with any scarcely to notice, but apples and pears one of the other inhabitants of the house, no were her supreme delight, - there was a acqnaintanceship with them, except a munew exclamation at every kind she discov- tual bow if they chanced to meet in the ered. When the new ones came in, and doorway. Such complete isolation as this new and old lay in the basket together, her may go on pretty well for a time, but earlinew year seemed to begin, and she noted er or later something is sure to happen, and and named every fresh appearance, just as the question “What next?” often gets a field-marshal reviews his regiment. forced upon the lonely with a suddenness
I began, too, to notice how well the that takes away their very breath. market-women knew her tastes.
On this occasion it was I who put it, and would beckon to her to show her new kinds, not the half-fainting sufferer. What next, and ask their names. There was, in short, indeed? There I was, all alone; the chara quite peculiar tie between this good wo- woman would not come till six,
it was onman and the market-wives, and a very I ly ten' now. Had I been at home I could
have sent for help; but I was afraid of leav- Upon which the lady explained that the ing her alone, and then, whom was I to call allusion was to the charwoman who came in this strange house? There was not even once a day, and that the widow thought a bell in the room. In the midst of my per- that would be attendance enough. But this plexity, however, there was a knock at the the doctor would not hear of. The case redoor, and a merry childish face peeped in quired far more treatment, and he proposed and said
to have the patient carried at once to the “ Mamma sent me to see if she could be hospital, where all the townspeople had a of any use to the old lady. She heard that right to be received gratis. Ile was physishe had come back poorly."
cian there, he said, and he could promise Here was an angel in time of need. She that she would be perfectly well cared for. came in, and in the most compassionate way But, to our great astonishment, the pastor's began to stroke the poor sufferer, who could widow positively refused; she could not vennot reply for coughing.
ture into such a large house, could not en“Could your mamma come here herself?” dure to be amidst numbers; it was impossisaid I, not noticing the shaking of the old ble to live in a large room where there was lady's head, and the child was off before she no rest or sleep day or night; a little room could get out a word.
was such a comfort in sickness. We all " Dear me !” she said at last, “what can tried to overcome her objections, told her a you be thinking of! Such a dištinguished few hours would reconcile her to the change, lady!”
and vaunted the comforts of the institution; But the lady herself soon entered, dis- even Lisette, the lady's maid, taking a livetinguished no doubt, but a sweet-looking ly part in the argument, for she feared her creature as well, who approached the inva- mistress's kindness would give her some lid in the most sympathising manner, but trouble. bowed very stilliy to me. I set it down for The good soul knew and felt that this repride, and thought to myself, “ Ay, ay, they pugnance of hers must strike us all as childare all alike;" but later I found out it was ish and unreasonable, and therefore her agisbyness.
tation became very great, when all at once And now, what next ? Why, first of all the sheriff's lady interposed : we decided that we must get her to bed, and “ Never mind, my dear madam, don't disthen I would go and fetch my own doctor. tress yourself; there is no necessity for anyThe lady said she would have sent for hers, thing of the kind. I can easily understand only he was rather too much run after, and your liking better to be alone than with a when once he had laid out the order of his dozen others: when you want to sleep, day, nothing could get bim to depart from somebody else is sure to begin coughing. I it: if they ran after him with the intelli- should feel just the same. We shall be sure gence that his own wife was dying, she be- to find a good nurse.” Lieved he was capable of saying, “ She must The doctor was not one of those who are wait, for I have still four patients down on incapable of placing themselves in another my list.” Meanwhile I fully expected the person's situation, and get angry at the lady to send for her maid ; but no, she took least difference of opinion. the matter in hand herself, to the inexpressi- “Very well, my good laly," he said, " I ble confusion of the worthy widow.
have not another word to say. If only we Impossible — out of the question — the get Mrs. X. (he meant me) to look about sheriff's lady - Madam, I beg, I entreat- for us, depend upon shall I shall die of shame."
ble nurse." And when we came to her left foot we “ Thank you for your confidence in me," were nearly the death of her, for as the la- said I; and the thing was settled. I went dy tried to draw off the stocking, she in the off to seek a nurse, who was, in the first inintensity of her distress and anxiety to pre- stance, to call upon the doctor for further vent it, lost her balance and nearly fell off instructions, and the lady undertook to sit the chair. To be sure I caught her and with the patient in the meantime. broke the fall, but still the wrench she gave Thus, then, a so-called accident bad herself made her scream, and brought tears brought together, and into friendly relainto her eyes. We had the greatest diffi- tions, persons who else would never have culty to get her into bed, but at last it was known each other; and but for it I should done, and she might have rested quietly but have been poorer in kindly memories and for her politeness and her scruples.
richer in prejudices. " And if I only knew what to do, and
The consequences of the accident were she is not put out with me. She can do far more serious than the good woman at everything for me that I want.”
I first anticipated. The human frame is pret
get a suita
ty much like a bottle of wine, which will | expressly for her knowing them to be fakeep clear and beautiful to the eye for years vourites. The example being once set, so and years if you let it stand undisturbed, many came to offer me similar tokens of but a rude shake or two will so completely remembrance, that I should have wanted a change its aspect, you would hardly believe maid to carry them; but I begged that they it was the same wine; nor will it soon clear would not all give at once, but from time to again. And, in the same way, let an elderly time send a little present to the poor lady, person, who has long led a quiet uniform who would not be among them again, i life, meet with any untoward accident that feared, for a long time, if ever. But, to be shakes the frame and changes the course of sure, the ecstacy of delight to the good soul habit, ten to one some latent mischief will was to think of being remembered ; and develop itself, so that the original accident then the beauty of the apples ! - in short, becomes a secondary thing, and not unfre- every time I took her anything she used to quently results in death. The widow had cry with sheer happiness. So childish a hoped to be up and about in the course of spirit I never had met with in all my life. the next week, but she was sadly mistaken; And what a precious treasure this childlike she had to put off her hope from week to spirit is, the world little understands ; 'tis week, and meekly, though with many a sigh, one that passes understanding, like the peace had to resign it as each week came round. of God. The so-called happiness that most The injuries would not heal properly; the of us are chasing, strays beyond the confines limbs seemed to lose their power, and by de- of both these, and is nothing but a will-o'grees a general debility set in. The doctor the-wisp or a haunting spectre. did what he could, but gradually took to an It will be easily understood that we ominous shake of the head. The nurse was wished to know whether she had any relac very kind; I had been fortunate in my tions or friends whom she would like to ap; choice; not only was she skilful in her of- prise of her condition; but we were afraid fice, but she got fond of the invalid, who of asking her abruptly, for fear she might suffered so patiently, never ordered her fancy we wanted to get rid of our services about, but humbly asked for what she abso- to her. To our individual inquiries on this lutely required, and as much as possible re- head she replied, that there was no one but spected her sleep.
the guardian of the Orphans' Institute who The nurse, however, could not give up knew her at all, and she would gladly let her whole time to one patient; she had sev- him rest as long as ever she could. Not eral valuable clients whom she could not that he was ill-intentioned, but he was a afford to loose, and therefore arrangements rough over-bearing man who could not tolhad to be made to prevent the invalid being erate the least opposition to his will; and left alone. The sheriff's lady and myself, would, if put out, run on as though life and between us, contrived that the solitary in- death were in his hands. She actually tervals should be very short indeed, and I trembled in speaking of him. But what was must say that it was this lady who took the her consternation and alarm when she found greater part of the responsibility, and that out that this said despotic guardian was my not by sending Lisette or any other deputy, cousin ? I had all the work in the world to but in her own person. Nay, even when compose her, and convince her that I was she knew that I was there, she would come in no way offended. I was fond of my cousdown with her work; and help to while the in, indeed, but far too well accustomed to
his infirmity to mind it being commented on What struck us most of all about our wid- or laughed at.
was her entire and singular isolation. He was a man of the old-fashioned stamp, She asked for no one, sent to summon no honourable and upright at heart, and in one, nor were any inquiries made for her. private matters gentle and pleasant enough; Her bird seemed her only friend, and he but once let him get on official ground, and would go on ruthlessly chirping till he got clouds of majesty encompassed him about ; to her; and no lettuce leaves seemed thor- contradiction was high treason; he became oughly to please him but those he pecked harsh, haughty, magisterial; in short, I from her hand. I must also except the mar- could well understand the impression he had ketwomen, who were greatly surprised at made on the quiet widow, though I wonher absence, and expressed much concern dered how the two had chanced to come in when they heard of her accident, and some- contact. times sent her presents; and here and there Everything combined to make me anxone gave me a flower, another an apple, to ious to raise the curtain of her past, and to take to her, saying they had put them aside learn how she could possibly be the lonely
creature she was. But it was not I alone who herself launched upon her history: and once felt this curiosity; the sheriff's lady shared fairly off, she forgot her scruples. it to the full. One day I met her outside “When I was young,” she began," I litthe room, and she began :
tle thought of ever becoming a citizen of “Do tell me whether you really know as B- I belonged to one of the small little as I do about the history of our good towns in which, as the proverb says, you widow; I would give anything to have some may pour out a quart of cream at the highinsight into it. She never makes the least er gate and gather it again at the lower allusion to it, which increases my wonder.” | without losing a drop. My father was the “ Just so with me,” replied I.
gate-keeper, and had besides to look after “Now look here," she went on; “ you are the town clock, and to see that it kept good a person of courage and resolution; do de- time. It was an important post, but a diffivote this afternoon to finding out. It is cult one too, for the clock was old and had such thoroughly bad weather, that we are a trick of standing; and if my father did sure that no one will disturb us, and 'tis just not find this out at once, the mayor, or the the time for listening to a story, and she lawyer's lady, or some other of the first is so kind I don't think she will refuse ; and quality in the little town, were sure to be whatever she tells us, she can trust us to down upon him, and send bim flying off with keep to ourselves.”
a threat that if the time were not better So I consented; and as soon as we were looked after, a change would have to be both comfortably seated and the knitting made. Just under the gate my father bad going on, I began:
set up a little shop, both as a source of profit “What would you have said, Mrs. -, if and amusement. There the very best I had brought my cousin in here to see you? matches were to be had, as well as other I stumbled upon him almost at your door, things, – tobacco, for instance, and coffee; and had half a mind to tell him he was but and in winter, walnuts and chestnuts too. a sorry guardian after all, and looked very My father was a widower, and had no child ill after his ward. What a face to be sure but me, nor could be afford to keep a maid. he would have pulled !”
He was not one of those who fuss themBut I soon repented of my mischievous selves about time. He ate his dinner when speech, it threw the poor soul into such a it was ready, and did not expect it to be state of alarm.
always to a minute, like the lawyer's lady, “Oh!” she cried, “if only I may be with her pointed nose. I often was rather spared that! I do believe if I were to see perplexed what to do to make the two ends him suddenly look in, the shock would kill meet, but I was contented. It never oc
What things he would say to me for curred to me that we were badly off, and not having announced my illness to him, the Sundays were always beautiful days. and for refusing to go to the hospital; he There was church in the morning, and time would have me carried off there upon the for the most delightful meditations; and spot."
when Monday came, I began to look forAfter we had quieted and comforted her ward to the next Sunday. And so I lived as well as we could, I went on to beg that on, quite happy, though quietly so. I had, she would tell us why she had such a dread indeed, very few playfellows, and was genof the worthy guardian, and also to give erally at home, where there was more than us some insight into her past life; we knew enough to do; but my father was very kind nothing about her but her name, and in our to me, and what better did I want? To be town the custom was to get full possession sure, I had my troubles every now and then, of a person's family history as far back as --if a flower I was fond of died, or my father their grandparents before we could feel ac- gave me a slight reproof. One day — but quainted with them. At first she excused really I do not know how to tell you
this herself on the score of having really no his- part; I must skip this,” said the old lady, tory to tell
positively blushing “O dear!” she said. “ How could such But we were well aware that this would an insignificant creature as I am have met turn out the most interesting part of her with anything remarkable ? "
story, and therefore we never ceased begging When we told her that this fact alone, of and coaxing till she began again. "One her knowing no one, and seeming to have day — one day but she stammered over dropped down out of the sky, was in itself it a good deal, and it was some time before truly remarkable, she said it was perfectly we could get her fairly started. natural. She did not belong to our town, “ One day, then it was on a Thursday, but to
; and so she suddenly found and getting on to evening — a short gentle