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Beside Still Waters

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I wa3 troubled, 1 awoke early with a pain in my templos and eyes. I looked out of the window while I was dressing; the pines in tho distance wore a funeral aspect anl the round hill tops lay cold and and bleak and bare in the November morning. ïho faint smoke uprose from the viüage smithy, and the smith stood in the low, sooty door tying on his tattered apron. A Hoek of wild geese curved round thobend in the river, following the line of fog and sailïng just above the tops of the willows. lerything seemed gloomy and in harmony with my feelings. I never rise and lctó out of the window p.arly in the niorning that I do not think of one, a dear old man, to whom death carne softly and quierly. He rose in good health, went to the window, lifted the sash and leaned out, fully gazing upon tne oeauiy oí uíb dawn ; then he sighed and lay down upon bis pilïow, and in the twinkling of an eyo nis soul had flown from the body. On this morning, while tho pain ran riot through our eyos and temples, our thouo-hts went out to that silent scène and we wondered if he were troubled that moraing; if his head was pained; if '„he skies were beautiful in that last mournful, searching gaze; if the sleepy birds twittered in his hearing; if the door-yard flowers sent up their sweetest incensé, and if the soul, in its nearness to eternity, loved the beauty of earth more or less Everything went wrong that I touched with my hands or essayed to do. Well, there was one remedy. The world is wide. It is filled with human beings constituted alike. Each heart bas its own bitterness. We would compare our trouble with tho grief of our neighbor. We piled tip the breakf ast dishes and spread the table cloth over them, swept, after the fashion of a sick woman, drew the ourtains, closed the damper, put on a comfortable wrap, and went out, lettino- our footsteps tend whither they would. The crisp November air is a panacea for headache and low spirits, and measuring one's sorrows with the sorrows of other people generally lightens our own or leaves them shorn of half their bitterness. How spicy seemed the fresh, clean woodland! How lightly the dry, brown leaves rustled under our feet! How sweet the song of the speckled thrush and the quick, short, scolding note of the jay, tilting on the bare twtg of a fragránt sassafras! How cute the 6prmging rabbit, with itstnm tail aloft, and as airy as a plurne, on my lady's hat! The moss lay like velvet tapestry on the sloping banks, and the stones were transformed into heavily cushioned ottomans by the marvelous plush that covered them. The throbbing of the pheasant that was in the ravine below us; the chattering scold of thesquirrol above usamong the high oaks ; the babble of the brook anear as it wound away " to join the brimming river," and the resounding strokes of the woodchopper's ax from an adjacent knoll - all were pleasant sounds and feil soothing as music upon the ear. Already was the sting of gloomy discoutjnt rob bed of half its pain. We always find solace when close to the heart of Nature, for "When the heart Is iretted with worldly cares, It is well to the eweet, wild woods to go." At the foot of the hill is a lowly cottage. A widow and her family reside theie ; it is their own home ; their own hands planted the trees and vines, which have grown with the growth of the sons and daughtfirs. The eldest son, a lad o fperhaps seventeen 3'ears of age, has never looked upon the light of day or seen the face of his devoted mother ; his babbling speech cannot frame the word which is so dear like all childrcn ; he is blind, weak, idiotie. " How is Johnny to-day?" we asked, as we drew near the tire. And the mother, a f air-f aced, middleaged wonian, brushes back her hair more in embarrassment than of need, and answers with wholesome cheer: "Oh! Johnny is well to-day ; Pbelieve he feela better than he did while the summer heat was upon us." Just then a draning, song-y noise is heard in the little room adjoining - a noise like nothing earthly. That is Johnny singing. "I would like to see the boy this morning," I reply. The mother, Mary Ann, folds one hand over the other as though introduoing them to each other, puckers her mouth in a soothing way, seems to put back the stray hairs of her smooth, placid forehead, and crosses the room, and, with a little clearing of the throat - a polite hint that some persons always give to herald their coming- she opens the door, Poor Johnny ! Why he is thus is one of the mysteries that Nature fast locks up in her own keeping. Not thus from inheritance, imtemperance, anger, fright, neglect, poverty, nor any of the subtle causes known to often produce such pitiablo results. As we enter he is sitting doubled up on the fioor, his knees drawn up and his finsrers locked over-them, swaying to andfrojina swinging, rocking motion, an attitude which is most restful to the poor bey. A handful of strings and bits of bark and chips Ke beside him. "Well, Johnny, did you make a nice wagon, son? Can mamma's little man just begin to make sleds and wagons? Why, yes, he can I" said the mother, as she laid a hand softly on the back of his head and smoothed down his really fine soft hair. "Yah, yah, yah!" was the queer response, "and the tall iigure, with a blunderiug stumble, loosed his long, narrow, cotton frock from about his legs and, with the help of his hands on the floor, then on a chair, rose to his feet with an unsteaüy, swaying movement, and with a shambling jait carne with outstrotched arms toward his mother, and, as he z-eacbed her, tipped his head sidgwise and kissed her, quite af ter the appi-oved fashion. His oyes were white and sunken ; his hands long and bony ; his shoulders broad, and his body siender and tapering. His hair was beautiful, and the proflle of his nosc and mouth very fine, but in every sense the boy is a hopeless idiat. "Does he Ioyo his poor mamma? Yes, he does lovo her, so he does. He's mamma's boy ; yee, mamma's nice boy knows how to make funny little wae-ons," said the poor rnother, as she hele! the thin, white face between her palms and wressed, now one dear cheek to it, thentho other, with all the rapture of a tender mother' s unselfish affection. The sight was too affecting. We wept. We covered our face with our hands and cried in shame and sorrow as we thought of the blessings that encompassed us about, shielding and comforting and sustaining and helping us in all eouditions and under all circumstances. We had complained, Our head had ached. We had been despondent. Everything had worn an aspect of gloom. We had forgotten thát real sorrows- sorrows enough to break the heart and doom this fond mother to utter distraction- were within a half-hour's walk from our door. "Poor Johnny !" said the mother, "hc has a good deal of comfort, after all. He is so fond of cookies with raisins in them, and if he has all of them that hc wants to eat and a few strings and shavings and flat chips to play with, you would be surprised to see what a sight o' comfort the poor dear does find ! JSfou sec, he can kind of wind a string ar and one of these things- he can't tie a ;vnot, poor soul ! f or 11e hasn' t that muck mind- and tben he can teel ie as it uaove3 alone; when he pulls it, and the way my Johnny does laugh wanna my heart and does me good"- and her brown eyes brighteuen with real delight. Sho put a string in his fingers clasp, a shaving in the bther hand, and then, by a df-erity sharpened by love, she holped him to "niake a niee wagon." He piilled with on? liand and feit the wagon move along with the other. His joy was supremo. His cup of happiness was f uil to the brim. After she had played a while with him she kissed him, took a cookie out of her pocket and slipped it into his hand, and we went out, while his one note of rejoicing was filling the room - a jubilant music that was sweet to the ear of the compassionate mother. As we walked adown the lane, wlucn lay in the lovliest part of the river ley, thinking, wmie oursen was arraigned: "What wo have been makes us what we are" - we met two ladies out driving in a carriage. What a contrast was the mother we had left compared to the wealthy one in the pretty turnout! She, Eleanor Harvey, was the only child of wealthy parents, both dead. ïhe property she inherited was immense; but she had nothingto do. Life had held out to her no sharp discipline of pain;no rege.nerating flrc had burned for her f eet a erystal pathway; no wandermg woo had visited her; - she had escaped all these strange purifiers of the nature that needs to be thwarted, bruised, broken, bowed down, until the "fruity must of soundest wine" pervades the whole. She was, in a spiritual sense, unwomanly, unregenerated, for "Mercy has a human heart; Pity has a human face, And Love, the human form divine, And Peace, the human dress." And so she thought only of herself,_ of the Lady Eleanor, and went on taking medicines ; going South for her health; East, to the great, world-wide healer of all known Siseases; West, tothe wonderful elimate that is like the fabled spring that giveth the youth perpetual and that robbeth age of its terrors, its wrinkles, and its aches and pains. And as we bade her an affectionate good-bye and saw the spar kling wheels of the beautiful carriage go spinning away in the clear November sunshine, we drew the comparison between the three women- Lady Eleanor,üpoor Mary Ann, and our own debatable self. We kept on thinking and thinking until we had reached homo. We founcl a good fire, ready, house tidy as a band-box, our fresh mail laying on the writing-desk bcside our chair, and everything so cozy and charining! Our headaehe was gome. Our early morning's dower, the blues, had faded into the glowinc; and the rosy; our sense of shaine and feeling of ingratitud?, overwhelnied us "most powerfully," as our old darkey barber would say, and if we bad been a judge sitting on a like case we would have sentenced the woman offender to forty days in the workhouse on bread and water! We sick? we miserable? We were rieher than the Lady Eleanor, happier than poor Mary Ann, with her long life burden of sore sorrow - that she feit not in the ecstasy of the fuliillirunt of mother-love, with its recompenses and remuaerations, its heavenlv coffipensiitions - such as only a true mothor knows and understands. Yes I was well, happy: "For unto me the past, with all its store Of untold wealth, belongs ; To me the singers and the saintB of vore Repeat their prayers and songs.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat