Графични страници
PDF файл

bring Nature home to her as God's wonderful revelation, vital with sentiment and divine truth. Sitting upon the ground, with one child on either side leaning upon his knees and looking up into his face, he began :


“Once upon a time, a little leaf was heard to sigh and cry, as leaves often do when a gentle wind is about. And the twig said, • What is the matter, little leaf?' And the leaf said, “The wind just told me that one day it would pull me off, and throw me down to die on the ground !' The twig told it to the branch on which it grew, and the branch told it to the tree: and, when the tree heard it, it rustled all over, and sent back word to the leaf, 'Do not be afraid; hold on tightly, and you shall not go till you want to.' And so the leaf stopped sighing, but went on nestling and singing. Every time the tree shook itself, and stirred

up all its leaves, the branches shook themselves, and the little twig shook itself, and the little leaf danced up and down merrily as if nothing could ever pull it off. And so it grew all summer long till October. And, when the bright days of autumn came, the little leaf saw all the leaves around becoming very beautiful. Some were yellow, and some scarlet, and some striped with both colors. Then it asked the tree what it meant. And the tree said, “ All these leaves are getting ready to fly away ; and they have put on these beautiful colors because of joy. Then the little leaf began to want to go, and grew very beautiful in thinking of it, and, when it was very gay in color, saw that the branches of the tree had no color in them; and so the leaf said, ' Q branches! why are you lead-color, and we golden ??

We must keep)on our work-clothes, for our life is not done; but your clothes are for holiday, because your tasks are over.' Just then, a little puff of wind came, and the leaf let go

without thinking of it; and the wind took it up and turned it over and over, and whirled it like a spark of fire in the air; and then it fell gently down under the edge of the fence among hundreds of leaves, and fell into a dream, and never waked up to tell what it dreamed about."

How charming it is to narrate fables to children! How daintily do they carry on the conscious dramatic deception! They know that if the question were once got in upon them, “ Are these things true?” the bubble would burst, and all its fine colors would disappear. Children are unconscious philoscphers. They refuse to pull to piecus their enjoyments to see what they are made of. Rose knew as well as her father that leaves never

talked ; yet Rose never saw a leaf without feeling that there was life and meaning in it. Flowers had stories in them. The natural world stole in upon her with mute messages; and the feelings which woke in her bosom she attributed to Nature; and the thoughts which started she deemed a revelation, and an interpretation of truths that lay hidden in creation waiting for her. What is one story?

ai mere provocation of another. “Do tell us another, father. That was so short !”

“Yes, doctor; do tell us some more,” said Alice. And then, coloring a little, she said, “ Rose can have them every day; but I can not, — only once in a great while.” “ Alice, you must make

father tell


stories." , “He does sometimes ; but they are always out of books, and almost always Bible-stories; and I know them by heart already."

After Dr. Wentworth had regaled himself enough with the children's charming arts of coaxing, he began another story :


“Once there was a little girl whose name was Clara. She had a very kind heart; but she was an only child, and had been petted so much that she was like to become very selfish. Too late her mother lamented that she had indulged her so much, and strove to repair the mischief, and to make Clara think of other people's happiness, and not solely of her own. On some days, nothing could be more charming than Clara’s ways. She was gentle and obliging, and sang all day long, and made every one who came near her happy by her agreeable manners. Then everybody admired her, and her mother and aunt were sure that, she was cured of her pettish dispositions. But, the very next day, all her charming ways were exchanged. She carried a moody face. She was no longer courteous; and every one who came near her felt the chill of her manner, as if an east wind were blowing with her breath. One summer night, after such a miserable day, Clara went to her room. The moon was at its full, and poured through the window in such floods that she needed no other light. Clara sat down by the window very unhappy. She thought over the day, and wondered at herself, and tried to imagine why it was that on some days she was so happy, and on others so wretched. As she mused, she laid her head back on the easy-chair. No sooner had she shut her eyes than a strange thing happened. An old man, very feeble, came in; and in his basket, which he seemed hardly able to bear, was a handful of flowers and two great stones. He came to Clara, and said, “My daughter, will you help me? for I am too old to carry this load.


Please make it lighter.' Then Clara looked at him with pouting, and said, “Go away!? Then he said, 'I am poor and suffering. Will you not lighten my load ?' Then Clara condescended to take the flowers out of his basket. They were very beautiful ; and she laid them in her lap. 66 The old man said,

My daughter, you have not lightened my basket: you have · only taken the pleasant things out of it, and left the heavy, heavy stones. | Oh, please lift one of them out of the basket !'

“ Then Clara was angry, and said, “No: get you gone! I will not touch those dirty stones.'

“No sooner had she said this than the old man began to change before her, and became so bright and white, that he looked like a column of crystal. Then he took one of the stones and cast it out of the window, and it flew and flew and flew, and fell down on the eastern side of a grove, where the sun shone first every morning; and close by it ran a brook that laughed and loitered and sported all day and all night, and played with every thing that would come to it.

“ And then the crystal old man took the flowers out of her lap, and they were wet with moisture; and he shook them over her head, and said,

“Change to a flower! Go and stand by the stone till your shadow shall be marked upon the rock.'

“ In a second, Clara was growing by the side of a wide, flat stone; and the moon cast the shadow of a beautiful flower, with long and slender stem, upon the rock. She was very wretched; and the dew came and comforted her; and in the morning she could not help looking at herself in the brook that came close up to the stone, and she saw how beautiful she was. All day her shadow fell on the rock; and, when the sun went away, the shadow went away too. All night she threw a pale shadow on the rock; and in the morning, when the moon went away, the shadow went

And the rock lay still all day and all night, and did not care for the flower, nor feel its shadow. And she longed and longed and longed; but what could a tender flower do with a hard rock? And the flower asked the brook, “Can you help me? And the brook laughed out louder than it was laughing before, and said, “Ask the birds. And so she asked a bobolink; and he came frisking to her with a wonderful speech, in Latin, Greek, and Syriac, with some words from the great language that was before all other languages. And he alit upon the flower, and teetered up and down till she thought her back would break; but nothing could she learn how to make her shadow stay upon the rock.

“Then she asked a spider; and he spun a web from her bright

away too.

upon a rock.'

blossoms, and fastened it to the rock, and bent her over, and tied her up, till she feared she should never get loose. But all his nice films did her no good, and her shadow would not stay upon the rock.

“ Then she asked the wind to help her. And the wind blew away the spider's web, and blew so hard, that the flower lay its whole length upon the rock; but when the wind left her, and she rose up, there was no shadow there!

“ And she said, What is beauty worth if it grows by the side of a stone that does not feel it nor care for it?'

“ Then she asked the dew to help her. And the dew said, “How can I help you? I live contentedly in darkness. I put on my beauty only to please other things. I let the sun come through my drops, though I know it will consume me.'

“ The flower said, “I wish I were dew. I would do some good. Now my beauty does me no good, and I am wasting it every day

When the flower breathed this benevolent wish, there were flutters and whispers all around; but the flower thought it was only the brook.

“ The next day came that way a beautiful girl. She was gathering ferns and mosses and Aowers. Whenever she saw a tuft of moss, she said, “Please, dear moss, may I take you?' And, when she saw a beautiful branch with scarlet leaves, she said, “Dear bush, may I take these leaves ?' And then she saw a beautiful columbine growing by the edge of a rock; and she said, “O sweet columbine! may I pluck you ?' And the flower said, 'Please, I must not go till my shadow is fastened on the. rock.' Then the young lady took from her case a pencil, and in a moment traced the shadow of the columbine upon the rock; and, when she had done, she reached her hand and took the stem low down, and broke it off. Then Clara sprang up from her chair by the window, and there stood her mother, saying,

“My dear daughter, you should not fall asleep by an open window, — not even in summer, my child. How damp you are ! Come, hasten to bed.'

" It was many days before Clara could persuade herself that she had only dreamed. It was many months before she told the dream to her mother; and, when she did, her mother said,

666 Ah, Clara! would that all girls might dream, if only it made them as good as your dream has made you !'”

The doctor seemed quite interested in his own story, and sat silent for a moment, that the good impression might settle in the girls' minils. He was awakened to attention by some little flutter, and saw Rose nodding in a gravely humorous way to Alice, as if she meant to say,

“I hope, Alice, that you will take this lesson to heart, and never be naughty again."

She was,

“Ah, rogue Rose !” said the doctot. “Is that the way you pay me for my trouble ? You shall”

Rose, without waiting for the whole sentence, darted off: and in an instant the doctor was in full chase; while Alice, hesitant, followed in the distance, half laughing, and quite uneasy lest some harm should come to Rose. Harm did come. after nimble turns and skillful evasions, so amused at her father's mishap in rushing upon a sweet-brier when he thought to have seized her, that her strength dissolved in laughter. caught, and her hands tied with honeysuckle-vines, and her neck was bound with flowers; and so she was carried away captive, smothered with sweets, to be punished under the great tree. There her father pronounced the sentence, — that, for irreverence and rebellion, she should be doomed to hear another story, which he called

She was


“Once came to our fields a pair of birds that had never built a nest nor seen a winter. Oh, how beautiful was every thing! The fields were full of flowers, and the grass was growing tall, and the bees were humming everywhere. Then one of the birds fell to singing; and the other bird said, 'Who told you to sing ?' And he answered, “The flowers told me, and the bees told me, and the winds and leaves told me, and the blue sky told me,


told me to sing.' Then his mate answered, “When did I tell you to sing?' And he said, “Every time you brought in tender grass for the nest, and every time your soft wings fluttered off again for hair and feathers to line the nest. Then his mate said, 'What are you singing about ?' And he answered, “I am singing about every thing and nothing. It is because I am so happy that I sing.' :

“By and by, five little speckled eggs were in the nest; and his mate said, “Is there any thing in all the world as pretty as my eggs ?' Then they both looked down on some people that were passing by, and pitied them because they were not birds, and had no nests with eggs in them. Then the father-bird sang a melancholy song because he pitied folks that had no nests, but had to live in houses.

“In a week or two, one day, when the father-bird came home, the mother-bird said, 'Oh! what do you think has happened?'.

What?' — "One of my eggs has been peeping and moving !' Pretty soon another egg moved under her feathers, and then another and another, till five little birds were born.

“Now the father-bird sung louder and louder than ever. The mother-bird, too, wanted to sing; but she had no time, and so she turned her song into work. So hungry were these little birds,

« ПредишнаНапред »