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قراءة كتاب The Elm Tree Tales

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‏اللغة: English
The Elm Tree Tales

The Elm Tree Tales

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

distressed on not finding you, and begged me to send you immediately to them when I should see you."

"I can not stop, now, dear mother," said he, as she pressed him to remain but one moment for refreshments. "I fear I am already too late," and he turned quickly away from the contemplation of the glories of nature, and passed again through the silent avenue, and on to the village, to wrestle with the sorrows of this weary life, where there was poverty, and suffering, and death.


CHAPTER VIII.

Who that saw the little Jennie on the first Sunday morning, in her summer home, would have imagined that but a few months before she was sweeping the dirty crossings of Broadway, a thin, meager, half-clad child, scorned by the passers-by, and loved only by two wretched ones, as pitiable and unsought as herself!

As Mrs. Dunmore, at early dawn, entered the pleasant room, once Bella's, but now appropriated to the newly-found, the child lay with her dimpled arms thrown over her head, upon the soft pillows, and her sweet mouth half parted with a smile at some innocent but illusive fancy that filled her happy dreams.

Old Nannie had stolen into the chamber, and stood peeping over the shoulder of her mistress at her young charge. She had put her finger upon her lip, as if to hush her to deeper slumbers, when, suddenly, a glad sunbeam shot from the east, and fell upon the sleeper's face. With one bound she freed herself from the bedclothes, and stood by the window, pointing toward the glorious vision that had so long been hidden from her sight. Never had she seen the blessed sun rise since a wee child of four years, in the home of her birth, which had almost from that early age been the possession of strangers, and now, as she stood in her simple night-dress, with her long curls loosened and floating in the pure breeze, she seemed some new-born spirit wondering at the display of the Creator's mighty power. Her face was flushed with a hallowed emotion, and as the sun stood forth above the horizon in its full splendor, she sank upon her knees, and expressed her gushing feelings in the simple yet sublime words first uttered by Divine lips, amid the consecrated scenes of the Holy Land.

Mrs. Dunmore instinctively knelt while the child poured forth her humble adoration, and she prayed most earnestly, that the deep feeling of reverence she had just witnessed in her adopted one, might never be displaced or blunted by contact with an impious and careless world.

Jennie had been so wholly absorbed in her joy at the beauteous vision before her, that she had scarcely noticed the presence of her mother, until Mrs. Dunmore approached her and said, "My darling is up betimes on this hallowed morning, and I am glad to see that she is not unmindful of Him who giveth us all our blessings." Then the little girl looked up with a happy smile, and giving her accustomed kiss, hastened to prepare for family devotions, and for the services of the village church. It was a pleasant little church, and in former years, many a good old saint had gone from its portals to the Church triumphant in Heaven; but now few came to her solemn feasts, and there was a languishing, sleepy aspect about it that often sickened the hearts of the little band of zealous ones who were striving to keep it alive. Many a time was its faithful minister almost ready to faint in his apparently useless labors; but on this day one little soul gazed earnestly on him, as if thirsting for the spiritual nourishment he was imparting, and his heart was revived and strengthened. In the afternoon was the funeral of poor Bessie Lisle, and as the small group of mourners moved away from the place of burial, Mr. Colbert, Mrs. Dunmore, and Jennie, lingered in the peaceful cemetery to gather lessons of wisdom for their own summons to another world. This cemetery was on a high hill overlooking the village. Here and there drooped a willow over some loved tomb, or a rose-bush bent to scatter its burden of perfume and petals. On one new-made grave—the quiet resting-place of a mother and her daughter, snatched from their friends by some sudden and terrible casuality—were strewn fresh and beauteous flowers, the fragrant offering of a gentle girl, who daily sought that sacred spot to weep over the loved and lost. Near this, beneath a shady yew, was the lowly bed of the poor man's daughter, whose remains had just been placed therein.

Mrs. Dunmore leaned thoughtfully against the tree, and sighed as she recalled her own bereavements, and her Christian heart was busy in suggesting some means of consolation for the stricken parents. Mr. Colbert was stooping by a distant tomb reading its epitaph to little Jennie, who listened with the deepest interest. There was no sound to mar the stillness of that peaceful retreat, the whispering winds went, dirge-like, through the waving grass, and the leaves rustled softly above the quiet sleepers.

Even the child felt the awful solemnity of the place, and crept nearer to the kind minister, as he told her of the dear lamb that was so early called away to the green pastures. The stone at her head was somewhat like that at Bella's grave, and violets grew all over the turf, too, and Jennie gathered a bunch of the sweetest and took them to her mother, who crushed them in her bosom and moistened them with her tears. Slowly and regretfully they left the spot so fraught with sad yet chastening influences, and sought their happy homes, yet not without leaving their prayers and their sympathies at the mourner's humble cottage.


CHAPTER IX.

The summer went joyously on, and the minister and child roamed about amid the green things of the earth. All the loveliest haunts of that pleasant spot had echoed the grave, but gentle tones of the man of God, and the answering prattle of the little one who went tripping on by his side, sometimes thoughtful and earnest, sometimes merry and glad; and now the time had come for Mrs. Dunmore to return to her city residence, and they must bid their kind friends at the Rectory good-by. Mrs. Colbert sat with her son upon the rustic bench, and the child was between them holding a hand of each. Mr. Colbert pushed her dark hair from her forehead, and said, as he looked in her tearful eyes; "Jennie is sorry to part with her old friends, but perhaps she will forget them before another summer?"

"I fear we shall not be able to return to —— for several years to come;" said Mrs. Dunmore. "I have just received a summons from my husband's mother, who is in very feeble health, and as I shall devote myself to her during her life, I must forego the pleasure of my summer home for awhile. Jennie will be placed at Madame La Blanche's school during my absence, and my separation from her will be another pang added to that which I feel on leaving you all for an indefinite period." A shade passed over the face of the young minister; but it gave place to a smile as the child said, "But you promised that I should come back some day, and keep house for you in this good old place, and then you know"—she added, smiling through the tears that had bedimmed her eyes, "I should go away no more, but we could be always happy here together."

Jennie could not understand Mrs. Colbert's earnest manner as she pressed her fondly to her bosom, and said "God grant it, my sweet child!" but she returned the caresses so lavishly heaped upon her, and then jumped down to play with old Skip, the house-dog, who was leaping about her as if to share in the adieus. Mrs. Dunmore took the vacant seat, and the three friends conversed long and seriously upon the former years of happiness spent in each other's

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