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The Fairy Godmothers and Other Tales
by Mrs. Alfred Gatty
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What was his surprize to find himself instantly suffocated with a smoke that made his eyes smart and his nose sneeze, just as much as if a quantity of Scotch snuff had been thrown over him! He jumped about and puffed a good deal, and was just beginning to cry, as a matter of course for a little boy when he is annoyed; when lo! and behold! he saw before him such an immense Genie, with black eyes and a long beard, that he forgot all about crying and began to shake with fear.

The Genie told him he need not be afraid, and desired him not to shake; for, said he, "You have been of great use to me; a Genie, stronger than myself, had fastened me up in yonder bottle in a fit of ill humour, and as he had put his seal at the top, nobody could draw the cork. Luckily for me, you broke the neck of the bottle, and I am free. Tell me therefore, good little boy, what shall I do for you to show my gratitude?"

But now, before I go on with this, I must tell you that the day before the little boy's adventure with the bottle and the Genie, the King of that country had come to the fishing town I spoke of, in a gold chariot drawn by twelve beautiful jet black horses, and attended by a large train of officers and followers. A herald went before announcing that the King was visiting the towns of his dominions, for the sole purpose of doing justice and exercising acts of charity and kindness. And all people in trouble and distress were invited to come and lay their complaints before him. And accordingly they did so, and the good King, though quite a youth, devoted the whole day to the benevolent purpose he proposed; and it is impossible to describe the amount of good he accomplished in that short time. Among others who benefited was our little boy's Mother, a widow who had been much injured and oppressed. He redressed her grievances, and in addition to this, bestowed valuable and useful presents upon her. "Look what an example the young King sets," was the cry on every side! "Oh, my son, imitate him!" exclaimed our poor Widow, as in a transport of joy and emotion, she threw her arms around her boy's neck. "I wish I could imitate him and be like him!" murmured little Joachim: (such was the child's name). "My boy," cried the Widow, "imitate every thing that is good, and noble, and virtuous, and you will be like him!" Joachim looked earnestly in her face, but was silent. He understood a good deal that his Mother meant; he knew he was to try to do every thing that was good, and so be like the young King; but, as he was but a little boy, I am not quite sure that he had not got a sort of vague notion of the gold chariot and the twelve jet black horses, mixed up with his idea of imitating all that was good and noble and virtuous, and being like the young King. I may be wrong; but, at seven years old, you will excuse him if his head did get a little confused, and if he could not quite separate his ideas of excessive virtue and goodness from all the splendour in which the pattern he was to imitate appeared before his eyes.

However that may be, his Mother's words made a profound impression upon him. He thought of nothing else, and if he had been in the silly habit of telling his dreams, I dare say he would have told his mother next morning that he had been dreaming of them. Certainly they came into his head the first thing in the morning; and they were still in his head when he walked along by the sea-shore, as has been described; so much so, that even his adventure did not make him forget them; and therefore, when this Genie, as I told you before, offered to do any thing he wanted, little Joachim said, "Genie, I want to imitate every thing that is good, and noble, and virtuous, so you must make me able!"

The Genie looked very much surprized, and rather confused; he expected to have been asked for toys, or money, or a new horse, or something nice of that sort; but Joachim looked very grave, so the Genie saw he was in earnest, and he did a most wonderful thing for a Genie; he actually sat down beside the little boy to talk to him. I don't recollect that a single Genie in the Arabian Nights, ever did such a thing before; but this Genie did: What is more, he stroked his beard, and spoke very softly, as follows:

"My dear little boy, you have asked a great thing. I can do part of what you wish, but not all; for you have asked what concerns the heart and conscience, and we Genies, cannot influence these, for the great Ruler of all things alone has them under his control. He allows us, however, power over the intellect—ah! now I see you cannot understand me, little boy!—Well! I mean this;—I can make your head clever, but I cannot make your heart good: I can give you the power of imitation, but as to what you imitate, that must depend upon yourself, and the great Being I dare not name!"

After saying this, the Genie laid his immense forefingers on each side of Joachim's head just above his forehead, and then disappeared.

Joachim felt no pain, but when he got up and put on his cap to go home, his head seemed almost too large for it.

Perhaps he wanted a new cap, but the phrenologists would tell you he had got the organ of Imitation.

He did not thoroughly understand what the Genie said, but he was convinced that something had been done towards making him like to the young King. As he was dawdling home, his eye was struck by the sight of a beautiful because picturesque dark fishing-boat, which he saw very plainly, because the red sun was setting behind it. Joachim felt a strange wish to make something like it; and, taking up a bit of white chalk he saw at his feet, he drew a picture of the boat on the tarred side of another that was near him. While he was so engaged, an old fisherman came up very angrily. He thought the child was disfiguring his boat; but, to his surprise, he saw that the little fellow's drawing was so capital, he wished he could do as much himself.

"Why, who taught you to do that, young Master?" said he.

Joachim was no great talker at any time, and he now merely said, "Nobody," and smiled.

"Well, you must draw my boat some day, for me to hang up; and now here's a luck penny for you, for you certainly are a capital hand for such a youngster."

Joachim was greatly pleased with the penny, for it was a curious old one, with a hole through it; and he told his Mother all about it; but though it may seem strange, he never mentioned the bottle and the Genie to her at all. That appeared to him to be a quite private affair of his own.

He altered very much, however, by degrees. He had been till then rather a dull, silent boy: now he talked much more, was more amusing, was always endeavouring to draw, and after being at church would try to read the prayers like the parson. His Mother was delighted. She began to think her son would grow up a good scholar after all, and being now well off, owing to the King's kindness, she resolved on sending little Joachim to school.

To school, accordingly, he went; and here, my little readers, there was a great change for him. Hitherto he had lived very much alone with his Mother, and being quiet, and somewhat dull by nature, he had never till quite lately had many acquaintances of his own age.

Now, however, he found himself among great numbers of youths, of all ages, and all characters. At first he was shy and observant, but this soon wore off, and he became a favourite. Nobody was more liked at any time, and he was completely unrivalled in the play-ground. He could set all the boys in a roar of laughter, when, hid behind a bush, he would bark so like a dog that the unhappy wights who were not in the secret expected to see a vicious hound spring out upon them, and took to their heels in fright. He was first in every attempt at acting, which the boys got up; and there was not a cat nor a pig in the neighbourhood whose mew and squeak he could not give with the utmost exactness. If you ask how he got on at lessons, I must say—well, but not very well. His powers of entertaining his companions were so great, that I fear he found their easily-acquired praise more tempting than the rewards of laborious learning. He could learn easily enough, it is true; but while his steadier neighbours were working hard, he was devising some new scheme for fun when lessons should be over, or making some odd drawing on his slate to induce his companions to an outburst of laughter.

There were many excuses to be made for little Joachim; and it is always so pleasant to please, that I do not much wonder at his being led astray by possessing the power.

Time went on, meanwhile; and Joachim became aware at last that he possessed a larger share than common of the power of imitation. When he first clearly felt this, he thought of the Genie and his two forefingers, I believe;—but his school life, and his funny ways, and the constant diversion of his mind, quite prevented his thinking of all the serious things the Genie had spoken. Nay, even his Mother's words had nearly faded from his mind, and he had forgotten the young King, and his own wishes to be like him. It was a pity it was so; but so it was! Poor Joachim! he was a very good fellow, and kind also in reality; but first the pleasure of making his companions laugh, and then the pleasure of being a sort of little great man among them, were fast misleading him. For instance, though at first he amused them by imitating dogs, and cats, and pigs, he next tried his powers at imitating any thing queer and odd in the boys themselves, and, for a time, this was most entertaining. When he mimicked the awkward walk of one boy, and the bad drawl of another, and the loutish carriage of a third, the school resounded with shouts of laughter, which seemed to our Hero a great triumph,—something like the cheers which had greeted the good young King as he left the fishing-town. But certainly the cause was a very different one! By degrees, however, it must be admitted, that Joachim's popularity began a little to decrease; for, though a boy has no objection to see his neighbour laughed at, he does not like quite so well to be laughed at himself, and there are very few who can bear it with good humour. And now Joachim had given such way to the pastime, that he was always hunting up absurdities in his friends and neighbours, and no one felt safe.

It was a long time before Joachim found out the change that was taking place, for there were still plenty of loud laughers on his side; but once or twice he had a feeling that all was not right: for instance, one day when he mimicked the awkward walker to the boy who spoke badly and stuttered, and then in the afternoon imitated the stutterer to the awkward boy, he had a twinge of conscience, for it whispered to him that he was a sneak, and deceitful; particularly, as both these boys had often helped him in doing his sums and lessons when he was too idle and too funny to labour at them himself. In fact, he had been so much helped that he was sadly behind hand in his books, for all the school had been willing to assist "that good fellow 'Joke him,'" as they called him.

At last a crisis came. A new boy arrived at the school; very big for his age, and rather surly tempered, but a hard working, persevering lad, who was striving hard to learn and get on. He had one defect. He lisped very much, which certainly is an ugly trick, and sounded silly in a great stout boy, nearly five feet high: but he had this excuse; —his mother had died when he was very little, and his good Father had more important business on hand in supporting his family, of which this boy was the eldest, than in teaching him to pronounce his S's better. It is perhaps only Mothers who attend to these little matters. Well;—this great big boy was two or three days at the school before Joachim went near him. There was something serious, stern, and unfunny in his face, and when Joachim was making the other boys laugh, the great big boy never even smiled, but fixed his eyes in a rather unpleasant manner upon Joachim as he raised them from his books. Still he was an irresistible subject for the Mimic; for, though he learnt his lessons without a mistake, and always obtained the Master's praise, he read them with so strong a lisp, and this was rendered so remarkable by his loud, deep voice, that it fairly upset what little prudence Joachim possessed; and, as he returned one day to his seat, after repeating a copy of verses in the manner I have described, Joachim, who was not far off, echoed the last two lines with such accuracy of imitation, that it startled even the Master, who was at that moment leaving the school-room.

But no laugh followed as usual, for all eyes were suddenly turned on the big boy, who, crimson with indignation, and yet quite self-possessed in manner, walked up to Joachim and deliberately knocked him down on the floor. Great was Joachim's amazement, you may be sure, and severe was the blow that had levelled him; but still more severe were the words that followed. "Young rascal," exclaimed the big boy, "who has put you in authority over your elders, that you are to be correcting our faults and failings, instead of attending to your own. You are beholden to any lad in the school who will do your sums, and write your exercises for you, and then you take upon yourself to ridicule us if we cannot pronounce our well learnt lessons to your fancy! You saucy imp, who don't know what labour and good conduct are, and who have nothing to boast of, but the powers which a monkey possesses to a greater extent than yourself!" Fancy Joachim's rage! He, the admired wit! the popular boy! nothing better than a monkey! He sprang up and struck his fist into the face of his antagonist with such fury, that the big boy, though evidently unwilling to fight one less than himself, was obliged to bestow several sharp blows before he could rid himself of Joachim's passion.

At last, however, other boys separated them; but Joachim, who was quite unused to fighting, and who had received a very severe shock when he first fell, became so sick and ill that he was obliged to go home. His Mother asked what was the matter. "He had been quizzing a great big boy who lisped, and the boy knocked him down, and they had fought." His Mother sighed; but she saw he was too poorly for talking, so she put him to bed and nursed him carefully.

Now, you may say, what had this Mother been about, not to have found out and corrected Joachim's fault before? First, he was very little at home, and as owing to the help of others, his idleness had not become notorious, she had heard no complaints from the Masters, and thinking he did his lessons well, she felt averse to stopping his fun and amusements in holiday hours. Still, she had latterly begun to have misgivings which this event confirmed. In a few days Joachim was better, and came down stairs, and his Aunt and two or three Cousins called to enquire after him. Their presence revived Joachim's flagging spirits, and all the boys got together to talk and laugh. Soon their voices echoed through the house. Joachim was at his old tricks again, and the Schoolboys, the Ushers and the Master all furnished food for mirth. His Cousins roared with delight. "Clever child!" exclaimed his Aunt, "what a treasure you are in a house! one could never be dull where you are!" "Sister, Sister!" cried Joachim's Mother, "do not say so!" "My dear," said the Aunt, "are you dull enough to be unable to appreciate your own child's wit; oh, I wish you would give him to me. Come here, my dear Joachim, and do the boy that walks so badly once more for me; it's enough to kill one to see you take him off!" Joachim's spirits rose above all control. Excited by his Aunt's praise and the sense of superior ability, he surpassed himself. He gave the bad walker to perfection; then imitated a lad who had commenced singing lessons, and whose voice was at present broken and bad. He even gave the big boy's lisp once more, and followed on with a series of pantomimic exhibitions.

All at once, he cast his eyes on his Mother's face—that face so full of intelligence and the mild sorrow of years of widowhood, borne with resigned patience. Her eyes were full of tears, and there was not a smile on her countenance. Joachim's conscience—he knew not why—twinged him terribly. He stopped suddenly; "Mother!"

"Come here, Joachim!" He came.

"Is that boy whom you have been imitating—your Aunt says so cleverly—the best walker of all the boys in your school?"

"The best, Mother?" and the puzzled Joachim could not suppress a smile. His Cousins grinned.

"Dear Mother, of course not," continued Joachim, "on the contrary, he is the very worst!"

"Oh—well, have you no good walkers at your school?"

"Oh yes, several; indeed one especially; his father was a soldier, he walks beautifully."

"Does he, Joachim? Let me see you walk like him, my dear."

Joachim stepped boldly enough into the middle of the room, and drew himself up; but a sudden consciousness of his extreme inferiority to the soldier's son, both in figure, manner and mode of walking, made him feel quite sheepish. There was a pause of expectation.

"Now then!" said Joachim's Mother.

"I cannot walk like him, Mother," said Joachim.

"Why not?"

"Because he walks so very well!"

"Oh,"—said Joachim's Mother.

There was another pause.

"Come, Joachim," continued the Widow, "I am very anxious to admire you as much as your Aunt does. You are not tired; let us have some more exhibitions. You gave us a song just now horribly out of tune, and with the screeching voice of a bagpipe."

"I was singing like Tom Smith," interrupted Joachim.

"Is he your best singer?" enquired the Mother. Another laugh followed.

"Nay, Mother, no one sings so badly."

"Indeed! How does the Singing Master sing, Joachim?"

"Oh, Mother," cried Joachim, "so beautifully, it would make the tears come into your eyes with pleasure, to listen to him."

"Well, but as I cannot listen to him, let me, at all events, have the pleasure of hearing my clever son imitate him," was the reply.

Joachim was mute. He had a voice, though not a remarkable one, but he had shirked the labour of trying to improve it by practice. He made one effort to sing like the Master, but overpowered by a sense of incapacity, his voice failed, and he felt disposed to cry.

"Why, Joachim, I thought you were such a clever creature you could imitate any thing," cried the Mother.

No answer fell from the abashed boy, till a sudden thought revived him.

"But I can imitate the singing-master, Mother."

"Let me hear you, my dear child."

"Why it isn't exactly what you can hear," observed Joachim murmuringly; "but when he sings, you have no idea what horrible faces he makes. Nay, it's true, indeed, he turns up his eyes, shuts them, distorts his mouth, and swings about on the stool like the pendulum of a clock!"

And Joachim performed all the grimaces and contortions to perfection, till his Aunt and Cousins were convulsed with laughter.

"Well done," cried his Mother. "Now you are indeed like the cat in the German fable, Joachim! who voted himself like the bear, because he could lick his paws after the same fashion, though he could not imitate either his courage or his strength. Now let me look a little further into your education. Bring me your drawing-book." It came, and there was page after page of odd and ugly faces, strange noses, stranger eyes, squinting out of the book in hideous array.

"I suppose you will laugh again if I ask you if these are the beauties of your school, Joachim;—but tell me seriously, are there no good, pleasant, or handsome faces among your schoolfellows?"

"Plenty, Mother; one or two the Master calls models, and who often sit to him to be drawn from."

"Draw one of those faces for me, my dear; I am fond of beauty." And the Mother placed the book in his hands, pointing to a blank page.

Joachim took a pencil, and sat down. Now he thought he should be able to please his Mother; but, alas, he found to his surprise, that the fine faces he tried to recall had not left that vivid impression on his brain which enabled him to represent them. On the contrary, he was tormented and baffled by visions of the odd forms and grotesque countenances he had so often pictured. He seized the Indian-rubber and rubbed out nose after nose to no purpose, for he never could replace them with a better. Drawing was his favourite amusement; and this disappointment, where he expected success, broke down his already depressed heart. He threw the book from him, and burst into a flood of tears.

"Joachim! have you drawn him? What makes you cry?"

"I cannot draw him, Mother," sobbed the distressed boy.

"And why not? Just look here; here is an admirable likeness of squinting Joe, as you have named him. Why cannot you draw the handsome boy?"

"Because his face is so handsome!" answered Joachim, still sobbing.

"My son," said his Mother gravely, "you have now a sad lesson to learn, but a necessary and a wholesome one. Get up, desist from crying, and listen to me."

Poor Joachim, who loved his mother dearly, obeyed.

"Joachim! your Aunt, and your Cousins, and your schoolfellows have all called you clever. In what does your cleverness consist? I will tell you. In the Reproduction of Deformity, Defects, Failings, and Misfortunes of every sort, that fall under your observation. A worthy employment truly! A noble ambition! But I will now tell you the truth about yourself. You never heard it before, and I feel sure you will benefit now. A good or an evil Genie, I know not which, has bestowed upon you a great power; and you have misused it. Do you know what that power is?"

Joachim shook his head, though he trembled all over, for he felt as if awaking from along dream, to the recollection of the Genie.

"It is the power of Imitation, Joachim; I call it a great power, for it is essential to many great and useful things. It is essential to the orator, the linguist, the artist, and the musician. Nature herself teaches us the charm of imitation, when in the smooth and clear lake you see the lovely landscape around mirrored and repeated.[5] What a lesson may we not read in this sight! The commonest pond even that reflects the foliage of the tree that hangs over it, is calling out to us to reproduce for the solace and ornament of life, the beautiful works of God. But oh, my son, my dear son, you have abused this gift of Imitation, which might be such a blessing and pleasure to you."

[5] Schiller.—"Der Kuenstler."

"You might, if you chose, imitate every thing that is good, and noble, and virtuous, and beautiful; and you are, instead of that, reproducing every aspect of deformity that crosses your path, until your brain is so stamped with images of defects, ugliness, and uncouthness, that your hand and head refuse their office, when I call upon you to reproduce the beauties with which the world is graced."

I doubt if Joachim heard the latter part of his Mother's speech. At the recurrence to the old sentence, a gleam of lightning seemed to shoot across his brain. Latent memories were aroused as keenly as if the events had but just occurred, and he sank at his Mother's feet.

When she ceased to speak, he arose.

"Mother," said he, "I have been living in a cloud. I have been very wrong. Besides which, I have a secret to tell you. Nay, my Aunt may hear. It has been a secret, and then it has been forgotten; but now I remember all, and understand far more than I once did."

Here Joachim recounted to his Mother the whole story of her words to him, and his adventure with the Genie and the bottle; and then, very slowly, and interrupted by many tears of repentance, he repeated what the Genie had said about giving him the power of imitation, adding that the use he made of it must depend on himself and the great Ruler of the heart and conscience.

There was a great fuss among the Cousins at the notion of Joachim having talked to a Genie; and, to tell you the truth, this was all they thought about, and soon after took their leave. The heart of Joachim's Mother was at rest, however: for though she knew how hard her son would find it to alter what had become a habit of life, she knew that he was a good and pious boy, and she saw that he was fully alive to his error.

"Oh Mother," said he, during the course of that evening, "how plain I see it all now! The boy that stutters is a model of obedience and tenderness; I ought to have dwelt upon and imitated that, and, oh! I thought only of his stuttering. The boy that walks so clumsily, as well as the great fellow that lisps, are such industrious lads, and so advanced in learning, that the master thinks both will be distinguished hereafter; and I, who—(oh, my poor mother, I must confess to you)—hated to labour at any thing, and have got the boys to do my lessons for me;—I, instead of imitating their industry, lost all my time in ridiculing their defects.—What shall—what shall I do!"

The next morning poor Joachim said his prayers more humbly than he had ever before done in his life; and, kissing his mother, went to school. The first thing he did on arriving was to go up to the big boy, who had beaten him, and beg him to shake hands.

The big boy was pleased, and a grim smile lightened up his face. "But, old fellow," said he, laying his hand on Joachim's shoulder, "take a friend's advice. There is good in all of us, depend upon it. Look out for all that's good, and let the bad points take care of themselves. You won't get any handsomer, by squinting like poor Joe; nor speak any pleasanter for lisping like me; nor walk any better for apeing hobbling. But the ugliest of us have some good about us. Look out for that, my little lad; I do, or I should not be talking to you! I see that you are honest and forgiving, though you are a monkey! There now, I must go on with my lessons! You do yours!"

Never was better advice given, and Joachim took it well, and bore it bravely; but, oh, how hard it was to his mind, accustomed for so long to wander away and seek amusement at wrong times, to settle down resolutely and laboriously to study. He made a strong effort, however; and though he had often to recall his thoughts, he in a measure succeeded.

After school-hours he begged the big boy to come and sit by him, and then he requested his old friends and companions to listen to a story he had to tell them. They expected something funny, and many a broad grin was seen; but poor Joachim's eyes were yet red with weeping, and his gay voice was so subdued, the party soon became grave and wondering, and then Joachim told them every thing. They were delighted to hear about the Genie, and were also pleased to find themselves safe from Joachim's ridicule. It could not be expected they should all understand the story, but the big boy did, and became Joachim's greatest friend and adviser.

That evening our little friend, exhausted with the efforts and excitement of his almost first day of repentance, strolled out in a somewhat pensive mood to his favourite haunt, the sea shore. A stormy sunset greeted his arrival on the beach, but the tide was ebbing, and he wandered on till he reached some caverns among the cliffs. And there, as had often been his wont, he sat down to gaze out upon the waste of waters safe and protected from harm. It is very probable that he fell asleep—but the point could never be clearly known, for he always said it was no sleep and no dream he had then, but that, whilst sitting in the inmost recesses of the cave, he saw once more his old friend the Genie, who after reproaching him with the bad use he had made of his precious gift, gave him a world of good advice and instruction.

There is no doubt that after that time, Joachim was seen daily struggling against his bad habits; and that by degrees he became able to exercise his mind in following after the good and beautiful instead of after the bad and ugly. It was a hard task to him for many a long day to fix his flighty thoughts down to the business in hand, and to dismiss from before his eyes the ridiculous images that often presented themselves. But his Mother's wishes, or the Genie's advice, or something better still, prevailed. And you cannot think, of what wonderful use the Genie's gift was to him then. Once turned in a right direction and towards worthy objects, he found it like a sort of friend at his right hand, helping him forward in some of the most interesting pursuits of life. Ah! all the energy he had once bestowed on imitating lisps and stuttering, was now engaged in catching the sounds of foreign tongues, and thus taking one step towards the citizenship of the world. And instead of wasting time in gazing at the singing master's face, that he might ape its unnatural distortions—it was now the sweet tones of skilful harmony to which he bent his attention, and which he strove, and not in vain, to reproduce.

The portfolio which he brought home to his Mother at the end of another half-year, was crowded with laborious and careful copies from the best models of beauty and grace. And not with those only, for many a face could be found on its pages in which the Mother recognized some of her son's old companions. Portraits, not of the mere formation of mouths and noses, which in so many cases, viewed merely as forms, are defective and unattractive, but portraits of the same faces, upon which the character of the inward mind and heart was so stamped that it threw the mere shape of the features far into the background.

Thus with the pursuit of his favourite art, Joachim combined "that most excellent gift of charity;" for it was now his pride and pleasure to make the charm of expression from "the good points" his old friend had talked about, triumph over any physical defects. The very spirit and soul of the best sort of portrait painting. And here, my dear young readers, I would fain call your attention to the fact of how one right habit produces another. The more Joachim laboured over seizing the good expression of the faces he drew from, the more he was led to seek after and find out the good points themselves whence the expression arose; and thus at last it became a Habit with him to try and discover every thing that was excellent and commendable in the characters of those he met; a very different plan from that pursued by many of us, who in our intercourse with each other, are but too apt to fasten with eagle-eye accuracy on failings and faults. Which is a very grave error, and a very misleading one, for if it does nothing else, it deprives us of all the good we should get by a daily habit of contemplating what is worthy our regard and remembrance. And so strongly did Joachim's mother feel this, and so earnestly did she wish her son to understand that a power which seems bestowed for worldly ends, may be turned to spiritual advantage also, that when his birthday came round she presented to him among other gifts, a little book, called "The Imitation of Jesus Christ." It was the work of an old fellow called Thomas a Kempis, and though more practical books of piety have since been written, the idea contained in the title suggests a great lesson, and held up before Joachim's eyes, Him whom one of our own divines has since called "The Great Exemplar."

This part of our little hero's 'Lesson of Life,' we can all take to ourselves, and go and do likewise. And so I hope his story may be profitable, though we have not all of us a large Genie-gift of Imitation as he had. With him the excess of this power took a very natural turn, for though he possessed through its aid, considerable facilities for music and the study of languages also, the course of events led him irresistibly to what is usually called "the fine arts." And if the old dream of the royal chariot and the twelve jet black horses was never realized to him, a higher happiness by far was his, when some years after, he and his Mother stood in the council house of his native town; she looking up with affectionate pride while he showed her a portrait of the good young King which had a few hours before been hung up upon its walls. It was the work of Joachim himself.



DARKNESS AND LIGHT.

The darkness and the light to Thee are both alike.

Far away to the west, on the borders of the Sea, there lived a lady and gentleman in a beautiful old house built something like a castle. They had several children, nice little boys and girls, who were far fonder of their Sea Castle, as they called it, than of a very pleasant house which they had in a great town at some distance off. Still they used to go and be very merry in the Town House in the winter time when the hail and snow fell, and the winds blew so cold that nobody could bear to walk out by the wild sea shore.

But in summer weather the case was quite altered. Indeed, as soon as ever the sun began to get a little power, and to warm the panes of glass in the nursery windows of the Town House, there was a hue and cry among all the children to be off to their Sea Castle home, and many a time had Papa and Mamma to send them angrily out of the room, because they would do nothing but beg to "set off directly." They were always "sure that the weather was getting quite hot," and "it must be summer, for they heard the sparrows chirping every morning the first thing," and they "thought they had seen a swallow," and "the windows got so warm with the sunshine, Nurse declared they were enough to burn one's fingers:" and so the poor little things teazed themselves and everybody else, every year, in their hurry to get back to their western home. But I dare say you have heard the old proverb, "One swallow does not make a summer;" and so it was proved very often to our friends. For the Spring season is so changeable, there are often some soft mild days, and then a cruel frost comes again, and perhaps snow as well; and people who have boasted about fine weather and put off their winter clothes, look very foolish.

Still Time passes on; and when May was half over, the Town House used to echo with shouts of noisy delight, and boxes were banged down in the passages, and there was a great calling out for cords, and much scolding about broken keys and padlocks, and the poor Carpenter who came to mend the trunks and find new keys to old locks, was at his wits' end and his patience' end too.

But at last the time came when all this bustle was succeeded by silence in the Town House, for carriages had rolled away with the happy party, and nobody was left behind but two or three women servants to clean out the deserted rooms.

And now then, my little readers, who are, I hope, wondering what is coming next, you must fancy to yourselves the old Sea Castle Home. It had two large turrets; and winding staircases led from the passages and kitchens underneath the sitting rooms, up to the top of the turrets, and so out upon the leads of the house, from which there was the most beautiful view of the Ocean you ever saw; and, as the top of the house was battlemented, like the top of your church tower, people could walk about quite safely and comfortably, without any fear of falling over. Then, though it is a very unusual thing near the Sea, there were delightful gardens at the place, and a few very fine old elm trees near the house, in which a party of rooks built their nests every year; and the children had gardens of their own, in which they could dig up their flowers to see if the roots were growing, to their heart's content, and perform other equally ingenious feats, such as watering a plant two or three times a day, or after a shower of rain, and then wondering that, with such tender care, the poor thing should rot away and die.

But I almost think the children liked the sands on the shore as well as the gardens, though they loved both. Not that there was any amusement astir by the water side there, as you have seen in other places where there are boats and fishermen and nets, and great coils of ropes, and an endless variety of entertaining sights connected with the seafaring business going on. Nay, in some places where there is not a very good shore for landing, it is an amusement of itself to see each boat or fishing yawl come in. There is such a contrast between the dark tarred wood and the white surf that dashes up all round it; and the fishermen are so clever in watching the favourable moment for a wave to carry them over their difficulties; that I think this is one of the prettiest sights one can see. But no such thing was ever seen on the shore by the old Sea Castle, for there was no fishing there. People thought the sea was too rough and the landing too difficult, and so no fishing village had ever been built, and no boats ever attempted to come within many miles of the place.

Nobody cared to ask further, or try to account for the wildness of the sea on that coast; but I can tell you all about it, although it must be in a sort of half whisper—The place was on the borders of Fairy Land! that is to say, many many unknown numbers of miles out at sea, right opposite to the Castle, there was a Fairy Island, and it was the Fairies who kept the sea so rough all round them, for fear some adventurous sailor should approach the island, or get near enough to fish up some of the pearls and precious stones they kept in a crystal palace underneath the water.

So now you know the reason why the sea was so rough, and there was no fishing going on at the Sea Castle Home.

If you want to know whether any body ever saw the Fairy Island, I must say, yes; but very seldom. And never but in the evening when the sun was setting, and that under particular circumstances—namely, when he went down into a dark red bank of clouds, or when there was a lurid crimson hue over the sky just above the horizon. Then occasionally you might see the dim hazy outline as of a beautiful mountainous island against the clouds, or the deep-coloured sky. There is an island sometimes seen from our western coast, under similar circumstances, but which you strain your eyes in vain to discern by the brighter light of day.[6]

[6] Isle of Man from Blackpool.

It is a very ticklish thing to live on the borders of Fairy Land; for though you cannot get to the Fairies, they can get to you, and it is not altogether a pleasant thing to have your private affairs overseen and interfered with by such beings as they are, though sometimes it may be most useful and agreeable. Besides which, there was a Fairy-secret connected with the family that lived at the Sea Castle. An Ancestress of the present Mistress had been a Fairy herself, and though she had accommodated herself to mortal manners, and lived with her husband quite quietly as well as happily, and so her origin had been in a great measure forgotten, it was not unknown to her descendant, the Lady Madeline, who now lived in the place. And, in fact, soon after Lady Madeline first came there, a Fairy named Eudora had appeared to her, declaring herself to be a sort of distant cousin, and offering and promising friendship and assistance, whenever asked or even wished for. In return, she only begged to be allowed to visit, and ramble at will about the old place which she had known for so many many long years, and had once had the unlimited run of; and she protested with tears that the family should never in any way be disturbed by her. Lady Madeline could not well refuse the request, but I cannot say she gave her fairy acquaintance any encouragement; and so poor Eudora never showed herself to them again. And Madeline never thought much about her, except now and then accidentally, when, if they were walking on the sands, some extraordinarily rare and beautiful shells would be thrown ashore by a wave at the children's feet, as if tossed up especially for their amusement. And it was only in some such kind little way as this they were ever reminded of the Fairy's existence.

Lady Madeline's eldest son, Roderick, always seemed most favoured by the Fairy in the pretty things she sent ashore, and certainly he was a very nice boy, and a very good one on the whole—cheerful and honest as the daylight, and very intelligent; but I cannot tell you, dear readers, that he had no faults, for that was not at all likely, and you would not believe it if I said so, even although he is to be the Hero of my tale.

Now I do not want to make you laugh at him, but the story requires that I should reveal to you one of his weak points. Well then, although he was six years old, he was afraid of being alone in the dark! Sometimes when he was in the large dining room with his Father and Mother at dinner time, she would perhaps ask him to fetch something for her from the drawing room which was close by; but, do you know, if there were no candles in the room, he would look very silly and refuse to go, even though there were a fire sufficient to see by. He was too honest to make any false excuses, so he used just to say that the room was so dark he could not go!

Poor Madeline was very sorry, for she wanted her little boy to be brave, but somehow or other he had got very silly about his fears of being in the dark, and she could not succeed in curing him of his folly.

"My dear Roderick," she would say sometimes, "if I send in some candles, will you go into the drawing room?"

"O yes, Mamma."

"Then do you really mean to say you think the Candles take care of you?"

"No, Mamma."

"Then why won't you go into the room without; you know there is a fire?

"Because it is so dark, Mamma."

Here was a difficulty indeed; for you see he would come back to the old point, and would not listen to reason.

One day some conversation of this sort having passed between them, Madeline, as she was wont to do, asked him if God could not take care of him by night as well as by day; in the dark as well as in light, for "the darkness and light are both alike to him."

"Oh yes," cried poor Roderick, with great animation, "and I can tell you a story about that. There was, once upon a time, a little Boy and a Nurse who went out walking, and they walked so long they got benighted in a very dark wood, and because it was so dark the Nurse screamed and was very much frightened; and the little boy said, 'Nurse, why are you frightened? Don't be frightened; I am not frightened. God can take care of us in the dark as well as in the light,'"

"Oh Roderick! what a pretty story," cried his Mamma.

And so thought Roderick; for his eye glistened and his cheek flushed as he came to the conclusion.

And here, dear readers, was the worst difficulty of all; for though Roderick's reason was quite convinced that God could take care of him in the dark, he still could not bear to be in the dark without the help of candles besides, though he quite knew they could not take care of him at all. So you see by this that Reason, though it may convince a person he is wrong, cannot put him right. There wants some other help for that. And here let me just stop a moment to beg you to beware of bad habits; for you see they become at last more powerful than reason itself.

I do not know how Roderick first got into his foolish habit, and it does not much matter. I know he at one time had a fancy there was something unpleasant about the pipes that carried the water about the house, and he would not for a long time go by the pipes alone. Now, how you laugh! well, but he got out of that nonsense; and I hope to be able to tell you that he got out of the other too: but at the time I speak of, he made his Mamma full of sorrow for his want of sense and courage.

It must be admitted that there were one or two excuses to be made for the child. There was a great contrast between the Town House and the Sea Castle. The Town House was full of lights. All the sitting rooms were generally lighted, for a great deal of company came there, and there were always lights along the passages; and the nursery windows looked into a square, and the square was lighted up by lamps every night; and it was one of Roderick's greatest pleasures to watch the lamplighter running quickly up the tall ladder to the lamps to light them, and then popping down again equally hurriedly, and running along (ladder and all) to the next lamp post, and so on, till the square was brilliant all round; and very often, as Roderick lay in his little bed watching the glimmering thrown by these pretty lamps on the nursery wall, he used to think and think of his friend the nimble lamplighter, till he dropped fast asleep. You see, therefore, he had very little to try his courage in the Town House, and there was seldom or never any fuss about his fears till the move to the Sea Castle took place; and then there were no more lamps and lamplighters, and no more comfortable glimmerings from his bright pets the lamps after he went to bed; and he used to get silly directly, and declare that he saw bears whenever he shut his eyes; and he seemed to expect to find lions and tigers under the sofas, by the fuss he made when he was asked to go into the rooms. Certainly there was a grand old fashioned lamp in the hall of the Sea Castle; but the hall itself was so big, and went up so high, that the light in one part only seemed to make the shadow and darkness of the other part look blacker still; so that I must confess there was something gloomy about the house. Then, too, there were those two turrets with the winding staircases, and as Roderick had never dared to do any thing more than peep in at the low entrance doors below, where he saw nothing but four or five steps going up into complete blackness, he had got a sort of notion there must be something horrid about them.

Well; it was soon after this little boy's sixth birthday, that the family arrived at the Sea-Castle, and it so happened, that, on the day after their arrival, there was some very stormy and dismal weather. The wind howled very loudly, and there was a good deal of rain; and Lady Madeline wished they had waited a week or two longer. The sky was so charged and heavy, too, that they found the house very dark, even by day-light; and Roderick, who was a little tired with his journey the day before, began to fancy all kinds of nonsense; talked more about seeing bears than ever; and finally cried tremendously at going to bed, declaring he was sure there was a tiger in the coal-pan. Now you know, my dears, this was a bit of great nonsense; for Roderick knew quite well that there are no wild beasts in England but what are kept in very strong cages; and that the men who take wild-beast shows round the country can by no means afford to let their tigers sleep in nursery coal-pans!

Poor Madeline never liked to see any of her children go to bed in tears. And Roderick was so gay and merry generally, it seemed quite unnatural in him; but though at last he left off crying, she could not persuade him to be cheerful, and smile; for he declared that as soon as ever she took her candle away, he could not help seeing those unlucky bears. Was there ever any thing so silly before! She reasoned with him, but to no purpose. He always said he quite believed in God's presence, and His being able to take care of him; but, as I said before, his bad habit had got the better of his good sense, and he finished off every thing that could be said, by seeing bears, and dreading a tiger in the coal-pan.

"What are we to do with that child?" cried Madeline to her husband, as they were going to bed. "He is beginning as foolishly as ever this year, in spite of being a year older. I really shall at last be inclined to think that in spite of all her fair promises of friendship and assistance, and of never injuring the family, the Fairy Eudora must secretly frighten the child in some way we don't know of."

"No such thing, my dear Madeline; I cannot for a moment believe it;" said her husband. "I have a better opinion of your relations, the Fairies, than you have yourself. I am sure Eudora would not break her word for the world; and there is no mystery about Roderick's folly. He is full of fancies of all sorts,—some pretty, and some silly ones; and we must do every thing we can to cure him of the silly ones. It certainly is a very hard matter to accomplish, for I perceive he admits the truth of every thing you say, and yet is as silly as ever at the end. I heartily wish the Fairy Eudora would interfere to cure him of his nonsense!"

"And so do I, if she could, and would," sighed Madeline; "but she has quite deserted us. Besides, if she were to come, I don't see how she could possibly do any good. Fairies cannot change little boys' hearts; and I must confess I never yet got any good myself from having a Fairy ancestress, and I have no confidence in them.—Still," pursued the good lady, as she laid her head on her pillow, "I am not able, it appears, to convince Roderick myself; and therefore I feel, with you, that I wish the Fairy would come and try."

"I fear it is in vain to say so now, Madeline. We have wished the poor creature out of the way so often for the last ten years, that it is not very likely a single wish the other way will bring her to us."

"No, indeed," murmured the Fairy Eudora, who at that moment was standing on the shore of the Fairy Island; "you are a pretty pair, you two, to think of such a thing! I begged to be allowed to come about the place years ago, and you didn't refuse; but you always kept me away by wishing I mightn't come; and now, because you are puzzled to know what to do with your silly child, you want me with you for the first time these ten years! Oh, you selfish people, don't fancy I'll come near you!" And the justly angry Fairy stamped her foot in indignation, and retired into private apartments in the palace.

Do not be surprised at what you have just heard, my dear children; for though you may have never thought about the power and importance of wishes, there is, I assure you, a great deal of both one and the other belonging to them. Some people talk, indeed, of "mere wishes," as if they were trifles light as air; but it is not so. To prove this, first think what importance is attached to them in the Scriptures. Wishes are a sort of porch or doorway to actions. In the Tenth Commandment we are forbidden to wish for what belongs to our neighbour;—for who is so likely to break the Eighth Commandment, and steal, as the man who breaks the Tenth, and wishes for any thing that is not his?

And so, all the evil in the world begins by wishing something wrong; and if you can cure yourself of wishing wrongly, you will very seldom do wrong.

Now you see, I am sure, how important wishes are for evil; but they are equally strong for good. For, if you wish well to any one, you have opened the first door to doing him a kindness. And if you heartily wish to be good, you have opened the first gate on the road of becoming so. Of course, wishes will not do every thing; but they do a great deal.

And there is another thing. They never fall to the ground unnoticed. Though you and I cannot look into each other's hearts, or hear the wishes breathed there, there is One who hears them all. Good wishes, my dear children, all ascend upwards to the throne of Grace, like sweet perfume. They are all accepted and remembered; and, I fear I must add, that bad wishes go up too, and are noted in His book who takes account of all we do.

Be sure, therefore, that you encourage your hearts in a habit of good, and kind, and charitable wishes; and if ever the bad ones come into your head, pray against them, and drive them away.

Meanwhile do not be surprized that in Fairy tales, Fairies are supposed to hear wishes concerning themselves. And so Eudora heard those about her coming and curing the child of his folly; and as I have told you, she was very indignant at the selfishness of both Lady Madeline and her husband.

A few days after the family had taken up their residence in the Sea Castle, the weather began to improve; and, though the wind lasted, the sun came out; and all the children and the nurses went walking on the sands. As it was the first time that year, you may guess what shouting and delight there was; how the little spades dug away at holes for the sea-water to come up in, and how the children caught at the sea-weeds that were scattered on the lands to carry home to their Mamma; how they picked up shells, and gambolled about in all directions, declaring that they had never known the Sea Castle Home so delightful before. By degrees they had strayed to a considerable distance along the sands, with the nurses, when, alas! the latter perceived that a storm was coming on, and it caught them long before they reached home. A strong wind blew off the sea, and they had difficulty in keeping their feet, and at last two or three of the children were almost hidden in a cloud of sand, which a violent gust suddenly drove against them. All the little party cried lustily, because the sand had blown into their eyes, and made them smart, and sad work there was in getting them home again. But they reached home at last, dripping with wet from hailstones, and their eyes all red and disfigured by the sand and wind. None, however, were so bad as those I have mentioned, who had been so covered over by the sand that it had even got down their necks, and made them uncomfortable all over. Among these was Roderick, who cried a great deal more than he ought to have done, as the nurses thought, and did not stop and declare himself comfortable as the rest did, after the sand had been washed out of his eyes with rose water. In fact he kept crying more or less all the afternoon, saying his eyes hurt him so, and at last he could get no relief but by holding them shut.

Now it is just possible you may have heard of a complaint of the eyes called Ophthalmia, which comes on sometimes in very hot countries, India for instance; and sometimes in travelling across the deserts of Arabia, where the sand gets into the eyes, and irritates them very much; it can very often be cured, but not always, and when it cannot, it ends in blindness. Lady Madeline knew all about the complaint; and, therefore, you will not be surprised to hear that when she found her little boy's eyes did not get better, and that he persisted in keeping them shut, because they then became easy, she thought it right to send to some miles' distance for a doctor, who accordingly arrived at the Sea Castle before nightfall. But when he came he shook his head very much, for he could not understand what was the matter; and when he persuaded Roderick to lift up his eyelids, to let him see his eyes, he could perceive nothing amiss but a little redness, which the wind and sand quite accounted for. Still the child was uneasy, and would keep his eyes shut; so the Doctor thought he must try something, and he used some lotions common in such cases; but, as they did no good, the kind old gentleman, at Madeline's request, consented to sit by the little boy's bedside at night; when, all at once, as he was carefully dabbing his eyes with rosewater, he perceived that the child was fast asleep.

The Doctor was delighted, and went to his mother, who was then with her husband, and said that as Roderick had gone to sleep so nicely, he had no doubt that his eyes would be well when he awoke in the morning, and so he took his leave, for he had other patients to visit.

It was then between twelve and one o'clock, and Lady Madeline, much comforted in heart, went to bed. At an early hour next morning, however, she went to Roderick's bedside, and perceived he was just waking.

To the question of "How are you, my darling?" his cheerful joyous voice made answer, "Oh, quite well, Mamma, and I've such a funny dream to tell you, and my eyes don't hurt me a bit, not a bit! but I'm afraid to open them for fear they should. I can tell you something so funny the Doctor said last night, Mamma." "Never mind about the doctor, you rogue," cried Madeline, "I see you are all right, only just open your dear old eyes, that I may tell Papa I have seen them when I go back to dress."

"Then I will, Mamma, to please you!" and up sat the pretty child in his bed, and opened wide his blue eyes. There was no redness—it was all gone—but

"Mamma! where are you," cried Roderick, "I have opened my eyes, and they don't hurt—but it is quite dark: isn't the night over?..."

Oh, my dear readers! there was a stream of sunshine on the lovely face and bright hair of little Roderick as he spoke, and the poor blue eyes were turned up to his mother, looking vainly for her face. You cannot wonder if I add that she sank down fainting on the bed; and when Roderick's scream of terror brought the nurses to them, she was carried away insensible from the room.

Her darling was utterly blind.

* * * * *

And now imagine to yourselves how the afflicted parents sent for the best doctors the country afforded, and how one thing after another was tried—but, alas! every thing in vain, for the medical men were all quite puzzled. Still some people gave them hopes, and in spite of many disappointments, they went on trying to hope for several months. At last they settled to leave the sea castle and go to the great town sooner than usual, thinking some of the doctors there might be cleverer than the country ones. But they had no better success. Perhaps now you would like to know how Roderick behaved. When his Mamma fell on his bed, at first he thought she was dead, and it was with the greatest difficulty he could be made to believe any thing else, and he cried, and cried, and was very sad till his Mamma was well enough for him to be taken to her, and then do you know, poor fellow, he was so much pleased to hear her speak, and be kissed by her, that he still had no time to think about himself. Only he begged to sit close to her, and have hold either of her hand or gown, and make her say something to him every now and then. And so it was that the fright and shock he had had about thinking she was dead, had made so strong an impression on him that for several days the making himself sure she was alive was a constant occupation and interest; and so much did he think about it that it was considered best for his little bed to be brought into the room where his Mamma slept, and put near hers, so that he could talk to her when he awoke and got frightened about her again. And thus passed many days in which every body thought a great deal more about his eyes than he did himself. Besides from the cheerful things they said to him he quite expected to be better some day; and so weeks and months passed, and by the time the hope of recovering his sight began to fade away, and nobody any longer dared to say they expected it, he was beginning to get used to his condition, and to find out amusements in new ways. Thus mercifully does a kind Providence temper people's minds to the afflictions He sends. They are often more dreadful to think of than to bear; for God can give patience and cheerfulness and comfort to those that do not grumble and repine.

Madeline only exacted one promise from her husband, namely, that he would not allow the doctors to use any very severe and violent measures with her little boy, and this being settled, she struggled to bear the trouble with resignation. After the first alternations of hopes and fears were over, the Mother's mind took a new turn. "It is our chief duty now," she said, "to make our child's life as happy as it is possible to be with blindness, and therefore," added she to the elder children, "we must try our best to teach him to do all the nice things he can without seeing." That day she asked him to come and hold worsted for her to wind, and he was quite delighted to find that with some blunders, and once or twice slipping it off his fingers, he could manage it very well. Then the children undertook to teach him how to play at ball, and you cannot think how clever he became. At first certainly they had always to pick up his ball for him when it fell, and who was not glad to do it for poor brother Roderick? but by degrees he could judge by the sound in what direction it had tumbled, and he would often succeed in finding it before any one could come up to it. Then there was laughing and scrambling without end. Reading aloud to him was the easiest thing of all, but the little folks were not satisfied with that alone. They made a sort of pet of the blind brother, and were as proud of teaching him to do any thing fresh, as you would be of teaching your dog to sit up and shake hands, or perform any wonderful feat. It was their constant amusement; and by degrees Roderick could play at all sorts of games with them, ay, and run after them, and catch them too as well as you could do, for he soon got to remember how the furniture in the great hall and all the rooms stood, and he could run about without hurting himself in a wonderful manner. And when it was evening and grew dark, he got on better than they did, for, if they couldn't see, they were clumsy, whereas he was learning to do without seeing at all.

Such of my readers as have seen one of those excellent institutions called "blind schools," will not wonder at any thing I have said, but on the contrary, will know that I have not told half or a quarter of what may be done to teach blind children a variety of employments. At those schools you may see children making beautiful baskets of various-coloured strips of osier arranged in patterns; and they never forget on which side of them the different colours are laid, and this work they can go on with quite fast, even while you stand talking to them—and they learn to do many many other nice things also besides basket making.

Of late years too they have begun to read in books made on purpose for them, with the letters raised above the rest of the paper, so that they can feel the shapes with their fingers. Is not this wonderful? And they can be taught all these things much more easily than you would imagine, for it is really true that when one of the senses has been taken away, the others by having all the exercise thrown upon them, become so sharp and acute, they do twice their usual work, if I may so express it. This is a merciful dispensation of Providence, which renders the loss of the one that is gone much less hard to bear. And does it not teach us also, what a valuable thing constant practice is? Neither you nor I can feel or hear half so clearly as blind people can, who practise feeling and hearing on so many occasions where we save ourselves the trouble, by using sight instead.

To return to Roderick. You perhaps expected to hear that he fretted and petted very much after he was first blind, but really it was not so; and though occasionally he may have grumbled a little, it was only when he was slightly peevish, as children will sometimes be, and I believe he would have found something to grumble about then, even if he had seen as well as you do.

Besides, as I said before, the knowledge of his misfortune came upon him by degrees; and after he had got used to it, he did not think much about it. When the family moved to the great town, Roderick had as it were to begin his blind lessons over again, for he had to learn to remember all about the rooms and the furniture there; but with a kind little brother or sister always at hand to help him he soon became expert in the town house too, and could run up and down the long flights of stairs with the nimblest of them. I believe the only melancholy wish he ever uttered was heard on the first day he reached the town house. When his Mamma came to see him in the nursery that evening, she found him kneeling in a chair against one of the windows—and on going up to him he threw his arms round her neck and said, "Oh, Mamma, if I could but see the lamplighters!" Do not laugh, dear readers, if I add that the tears trickled over his cheeks as he spoke. His mother was much distressed, as she always was when she saw him thinking of his affliction, but she sat down and said, "Never mind, dear Roderick, I will tell you all they do to-night." And so she did, and she made her account so droll, of how the lamplighter ran, and how he seized his ladder in such a hurry, and all the whole business, that by the time she got to the end, and said, "and now he has come to the last lamp-post,—ah, he's up before I can tell you! and pop! the lamp is lit, and down he runs, and off with his ladder to the next street—and now the lamps are shining bright all round the square, and I must go to dinner,"—Roderick was clapping his hands and laughing as merrily as ever, and he got down from the chair quite satisfied. Still for a few weeks he used always to get one of the children to tell him of the lamps lighting, and this was the only sad little fancy the poor child ever indulged in.

The great town gave him various new amusements. His Parents used every now and then to take him to some fine conservatory, where flowers are shown even in winter, and where he could smell various new and rare ones, and be told all about their beautiful colours. Then sometimes in the parks and gardens there was a band playing, which was a great delight. And besides that, they took him occasionally to morning concerts for an hour or so; for though it is not usual to take children to those places, he was deprived of so many enjoyments, they let him have all they could: and especially musical ones, for it is a very common thing for blind people to become very fond of music, and Roderick was so, and among other employments learnt to play. I cannot, however, I am sorry to say, add that the great doctors in the town were able to do him any good, though they tried very much, and some of them were so much charmed and interested by his cheerful manner and sweet disposition, that they got quite fond of him, and would often have him come and see them, and play with their children, who were instructed to amuse him in every possible way, and as children are naturally kindhearted, this was generally a pleasant task, and many of them quite looked forward to the visits of the little blind boy.

And so passed on a long and rather severe winter, and presently Roderick's birthday came round, and there was great wondering as to what Mamma could do to keep it. And when the time came it turned out that she had got a band of musicians to come and play—and the children danced, and Roderick among them, for some sister was always ready to take him under her especial charge. And then some older children acted a little play, which he could hear and understand, and his Mamma described to him who came in and went out, and in this manner he enjoyed it nearly as much as the others.

Well, the spring-time came once more, and with it the season for returning to the old Sea Castle, and the children went through their usual round of impatience, and I cannot say that Roderick at all forbore, for his Papa had promised to teach him to climb a ladder like the lamplighter when he got back, and he was by that means to go up one of the very old elm trees, and get on to a great branch there was, which was curled into a sort of easy chair, and there he was to sit and play at being judge, and hold trials, and I know not what. There were besides so many schemes for his instruction and amusement, and among other things, there was to be a band established in the neighbouring village, which should come and play to them in the old Sea Castle—that the child was more wild with hurry and impatience than ever, and said more absurd things than the rest, for he used every day to declare the flies were becoming so numerous and troublesome he was plagued out of his life by their walking over his face and nose! But as none of his brothers and sisters ever saw the flies, we are obliged to conclude the tickling he talked of was only an effect of his excited imagination.

At last, however, they went, and in compliment to Roderick's wishes it was a week or two sooner than usual. The return to the Sea Castle home rather oppressed poor Lady Madeline's spirits. The doctors in the great town had failed—it was now clear that nothing could be done, and in spite of all her sincere endeavours to be resigned, she could not help feeling this coming back to the original scene of her misfortune very much. One day—it was the anniversary of the day on which her poor child became blind, the Lady Madeline was working in her sitting-room that faced the Sea,—Mothers' memories are very acute about anniversaries, and days, and even hours marked by particular events. They may not talk much about them perhaps, but they recollect times and circumstances connected with their children very keenly, and therefore it is not surprizing that on this day the poor lady was sitting in her room working, or trying to work, but thinking of nothing in the world but of that day year and her blind child. It was a beautiful evening, and the window was thrown wide open, and the fresh but soft breeze from the Sea blew pleasantly on her face as she sat at her work-table by the casement—but lovely as the scene outside was, she seldom lifted up her eyes to look at it. She had been all her life a great admirer of beautiful scenes, and of all the varieties the changes of day and night produce—but now the sight of any thing particularly lovely brought so painfully before her mind the fact that her child's eyes were closed to all these things, that she often forbore to look again, and so spared herself a repetition of the pang. Madeline's eyes therefore remained upon her work, or on her knee when she ceased working,—for ever and anon there was a burst of noise and merriment about the old house, which startled her from her painful thoughts. It was, however, the happy voices of her children, and again and again she sank into her melancholy mood, and so continued till the red hue of a very red sunset burst as it were suddenly into the room, and lighted up the portrait of Roderick, which hung over the mantel-piece. Involuntarily Madeline's eyes glanced from the lovely countenance of her then bright-eyed boy, thus illuminated, to the sun beyond the Sea. She was too late, however. He had just descended behind the waves in a perfect flood of crimson glory, but as she gazed, (for she could not withdraw-her eyes,) a haze—yes, the softest and most etherial cloud-like haze, showing the outline of a beautiful mountainous island, rose in the far off distance, just on the verge of the horizon. It was the Fairy Island. It recalled to the mother's remembrance the existence of her Fairy cousin once more. "Cruel, cruel Eudora," she exclaimed, "you offered me friendship and assistance, and in the hour of trouble and affliction you have never been near to help or even to comfort me."

And Madeline, in the bitterness of her heart, closed the window hastily and angrily, and sat down. Soon, however, the noises she had several times heard of the children playing, became louder and louder, and the whole party burst at last into the room. "Mamma, Mamma," they cried, scarcely able to speak, "guess where Roderick has been." "I cannot." "Oh, but do, dear Mamma!" cried a little thing with fairy curls, "do guess." "I cannot." "I'll tell Mamma," cried a stout sturdy fellow, a little older; "Mamma! he's been up the winding staircase of one turret, and all along the leads and down the winding staircase of the other turret, and he has done it three times, and he has seen to do it better than I can."

Here there was a burst of laughter and a violent clapping of hands at the little fellow's Irish account.

"But why don't you do it as well?" asked an elder girl, "you that are going to be a soldier too!"

"Yes; I know I'm going to be a soldier; and I'll try and do it as well as Roderick;" and off ran the eager child, followed by the rest of the party, all but Roderick. He lingered behind, and edging his way easily and quietly as usual to his Mother, having asked her where she was, he sat down on a footstool at her feet. The slight answer she had occasion to make, revealed by its tone, to the now acute blind child, that his Mother's mood was serious, and therefore he did not talk and laugh of what he had accomplished, as he otherwise might have done. There was a silence of some minutes: at last, "Mamma," said Roderick gravely, "a light has broken in upon me to-day."

Lady Madeline started, and with difficulty suppressed a groan. Roderick felt the start: "Oh Mamma, Mamma," cried he more cheerfully, "you must not do that! I wasn't thinking about earthly light in the least, but of a light which I know, when you come to hear of it, you will say is a great deal better."

"Indeed! dear Roderick," said Lady Madeline, trying to seem interested.

"Yes indeed. Mamma. Why, do you remember, (I had never thought about it till it came into my head to-day;) but do you remember the silly time when I wouldn't fetch you any thing from the drawing room, unless there were candles in the room?"

"I recollect something about it," said his Mother.

"Oh, I'm so glad you do; because now you can laugh with me over the nonsense I used to talk and feel then: I remember I used to tell you I saw Bears when I shut my eyes, and wouldn't go by the pipes in the passage, and more such foolish stuff! How odd it seems that I should never have thought about this before, but I never did, and it never came into my head distinctly till to-day." And here Roderick fell into a kind of dream for a few minutes, but he soon began again. "You know what I have done to-day, Mamma. They told you quite right; but they forgot to tell you I have been practising walking across the leads for two or three days, that I might be able to go the great round to-day on purpose to tell you of it; because I thought you would be so much pleased to know I could go alone all over the house on the day year when I was first blind. So now, Mamma, if ever, when I am grown up to be a man, an enemy comes and attacks the old Sea Castle, I shall be able to run about and give the alarm, for you know I could hear them, if I could do nothing else."

There was another pause, for Madeline could not speak: the often restrained tears for her son's misfortune had this day burst forth, and could not be kept back; but Roderick did not know, and went on.

"Certainly those old foolish fears were very wrong, Mamma. And I can't think how it was, for you used to remind me always that God could take care of us by night as well as by day, in darkness as well as in light; and still somehow, though I knew it was true, I didn't believe it,—at least, not so as not to be afraid in the dark: how very wrong it was! Still I had quite forgotten all about it till this evening. But, as I was going the last of the three rounds, I sat down on the leads for a few minutes to enjoy the air. The sun was just setting, I am sure, for it felt so fresh and cool; and it was, as I sat there, that it came into my head how strange it was that, since the day I was first blind, I had never thought any more about being afraid in the dark! or by night any more than by day! Indeed it has been quite a play to me ever since to do different things, and find my way about in all the rooms and all over the house, without seeing; and I have only known night from day by getting up and going to bed. So that you see, Mamma, being always in the dark, has quite cured me of being afraid of it: and is not this a very good thing indeed?"

"Very," murmured Madeline.

"I knew you would say so! But that isn't all I have got to say. A great deal more than that came into my head when I was out upon the leads."

And Roderick nestled closer to his Mother, and laid his arms across her lap.

"Something to comfort you still more, Mamma."

She could not speak.

"Mamma, you are crying! I feel your tears on my hand. Do not cry about me."

"Go on, dear Roderick."

"Don't you think," continued the child, "that people who wont listen to what is told them, and wont be cured of being foolish and wicked, are very like the old Jews you told us about yesterday, who had God among them, and Moses teaching them what God wished them to do, and still were as disobedient as ever?"

"It is true, Roderick, we are all apt to resemble the Jews in their journey through the wilderness."

"Yes, Mamma; and particularly people who can't trust in God, though they know He is everywhere. The Jews knew He was in the cloud and the pillar, and still were always afraid He couldn't take care of them. And what came into my head was, that I used to be as bad as those old Jews once; knowing that God was present everywhere to take care of me, and still not feeling it so as really to believe it, and not be afraid. But the blindness has quite cured me, and is it not very likely that it came on purpose to do so, and to make me trust in God; for I have done so more and more, dear Mamma, as I groped about this year, for I have all along hoped He would take care of me, and keep me from falling; and, therefore, I think the blindness has done me a great deal of good, and I hope I shall never be like the naughty old Jews again! This is what I had to say; and I hope you will be as glad as I am."

"I will try, my darling," cried poor Madeline.

The tenderest love, the bitterest grief, mixed with earnest struggles for resignation to the will of Heaven, contended in the Mother's bosom, as she clasped her innocent child to her heart. He was almost frightened. She lifted him on to her knees, and buried her face on his shoulder. He put his young arms round her neck, and almost wondered why she sobbed so bitterly; but he felt he must not speak.

There was a painful pause. Suddenly, however, a strange faint light began to creep into the room, which had hitherto been gradually darkening in the twilight. It was a mysterious gleam, like nothing that is ever seen. It increased in strength and brilliancy, till at length the whole place became illuminated.

Roderick's head was against his Mother's breast; and, besides, he could not see.

She, however, suddenly started up; the light had become so powerful, it had forced her from her grief. She sprung up in terror, and a faint shriek burst from her lips.

"Mamma, what is the matter?" cried Roderick, holding her fast.

"Oh, the light—the light, my child! there is such a light!" answered Madeline.

"Mother, you are not afraid of Light!" exclaimed the bewildered Roderick.

"Oh, but this light! it is like no other;—it is awful!"

"Mother,—it is not the light of Fire, is it," cried poor Roderick, now at last turning pale. "But even if it is, remember that I can help you now; I can go everywhere,—all over, and fear nothing. I can go and fetch my brothers and sisters, one by one! Oh, send me; send me, Mamma! I shall be less afraid than any of you, for I cannot see the horrid light that frightens you!"

As he finished, a gentle, prolonged "Hush!" resounded through the room; like the soothing, quieting sound of lullaby to an infant. And in the midst of the beaming light, the form of the long-forgotten Fairy Eudora appeared before the eyes of the astonished Madeline.

"The Sea Castle is not on Fire, you dear, brave child," cried the Fairy; "and your Mother has no cause for fear. I am a friend."

"Cousin!" cried the bewildered Madeline, "why are you here?" and a terrible suspicion flashed through her mind: and she pointed to her boy, and added, trembling with agony—

"Is that your doing?"

"What if I say it is, Cousin Madeline. There is a long story about that, but we shall have time for it hereafter.—Dear little Cousin Roderick," pursued the Fairy, seating herself, and drawing Roderick to her. "You have been a good boy, and got light out of darkness. Mind you hold it fast. You did not use the light well, though, when you had it, Cousin Roderick."

"I know I didn't," was his answer.

"If you could live the light time over again, you would be wiser, Roderick."

"I hope I should indeed," he murmured fervently; "but it is not likely I shall ever see the light again."

"Little boys shouldn't say things are not likely, when they don't know any thing about them," cried the Fairy gaily, to cheer them up.

"I dare say, if I were to ask you, you would tell me it was a bit of sand that got into your eyes last year, that made you blind; but it was no such thing, clever Master Roderick. Your naughty Cousin Eudora had something to do with that; but, luckily, she can put her own work straight again. Cousin Madeline, what do you think of my pretty light?"

"Eudora, it is dreadful."

"Then shut your eyes, poor thing, we don't want to blind you. But Roderick and I have not done talking yet. Come, little boy, lift up your face towards me, and open those pretty eyes wide, that I may see if I can't do them some good. Why, they are as blue as the water round our island! There, now, they are looking at my face. Mind you tell me if you think me pretty."

"Eudora!" exclaimed Madeline.

"Sit down, sit down, and shut your eyes, good woman. Now, Roderick, wont even my Fairy light break through your darkness?"

"I think it will," sighed Roderick; "there is a white light all round me, as if I had gone up into a bright white cloud. You frighten me, Fairy! Take away the light, and put me back into the darkness again."

"Not so, my pretty Roderick; but I will soften it a little;" and she waved her wand, and the brilliancy subsided.

"Fairy, I see you now," screamed Roderick, springing up, for he was sitting at her feet; "and oh, how beautiful you are!"

"Roderick!" cried a voice from behind him. He turned; and Mother and Son were locked in each other's arms.

Surely I need say no more about this? though perhaps nobody but a Mother can quite know how happy and thankful Lady Madeline was. And as to Roderick, he was delighted too! Not but what he had been very happy and contented before; but sight was a new pleasure to him now; a sort of treat, like a birthday or Christmas present, which puts every one into high spirits. It was so charming to him, poor fellow, (for he was very affectionate), to actually see his Mamma again; and this put something else into his head, and off he ran out of the room.

"Eudora," Madeline began, "how am I to thank you! Can you ever forgive my old unkindness?"

"Cousin Madeline," replied the Fairy, "I bear no malice to any one, least of all to you, who come of a race I love, and of a family I consider my own. No, no, good soul. I have never borne you ill-will, though my kindness has been severe. Look! I know you love me now. Love me always, Cousin Madeline, and let me ramble undisturbed about your earthly home; but, mind! no more unkind wishes, however slight. They come like evil winds to our Fairy island. You kept me away long enough by those; and when you wished me with you, to get your child out of his folly, I was very angry, and thought I wouldn't come; but your, and your husband's wish was so strong and earnest, it haunted me day and night; and I had no comfort till I had resolved to help you. And here, Madeline, you have something to forgive me. My remedy has been a harsh, a very harsh one for so slight a fault; but at first I intended it to last only a few days. Afterwards, however, seeing how it was acting upon him, and upon you all, for good, I let it work its full effect: and I think it has been greatly blessed! Now, farewell! Time is flying, and I must begone."

And thus the Fairy and Madeline walked to the window, which the latter reopened, and there was the full moon sailing in the cloudless sky, and lighting up the lovely, and, this evening, calm and unruffled sea.

The cousins embraced; and in a few minutes the Fairy had disappeared in the distance. Madeline lingered awhile at the casement, thinking tenderly of the gentle-hearted Fairy, and watching the horizon. At last the outline of the Fairy's home appeared clear and bright against the dark blue heaven, and then subsided gently by degrees. And Madeline closed the window, grateful and happy, and went after her boy. But she had not far to go; for he was coming along the passages with all his brothers and sisters, wild with delight. And oh, how Roderick chattered and talked about all their faces, and how he loved to see the fat cheeks of one near his own age, and how some had grown, and their noses improved, and what beautiful curls another had! In short, if he had gone on long they would all have got quite conceited and fancy, and fancied themselves a set of downright beauties. But you see it was love that made poor Roderick admire them all so much; and, above all, he was charmed when they smiled. Ah, how little do brothers and sisters know how tender their recollections of each others' faces would become, were a separation to take place among them! Then all the sweet smiles and pretty looks would be recalled, that in every day life are seen with such indifference. "Little children, love one another," during the happy days when you live together in health and comfort.

Can you guess, dear readers, what a joyous evening it was, that day at the Sea Castle Home? How the poor Father rejoiced, and how the old Hall was lighted up for the Servants, to share in the joy by a merry dance; and how all the children danced too; and how a barrel of good ale was tapped, for every one to drink to the health and happiness of Master Roderick, and all the family. But you never can guess how Roderick teased all his brothers and sisters that evening, by constantly kissing them. In the midst of a country dance he would run right across to the ladies, when he ought to be standing still and polite, and kiss two or three of his sisters as they were waiting to dance in their turn, and tell them how nice they looked! Or he would actually run right away from his place, to his Papa and Mamma;—jump on their knees, and hug them very hard, and then run back again, perhaps, into the middle of the dance, and put every thing into confusion. But the happiest scene of all was, when the Father and Mother thanked God that night for the blessing that had returned to their little boy.

And do not ask me, I beg, if he ever was afraid of being in the dark again. No, dear Readers, his temporary misfortune had taught him the best of all lessons;—A LIVING FAITH AND TRUST IN THE PROTECTING OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD.



THE LOVE OF GOD.

PREAMBLE (FROM LIFE.)

Van Artevelde. These are but words. Elena. My lord, they're full of meaning! Van Artevelde.

Grace had been said, and Mamma was busy carving for the large party of youngsters who sat around the comfortable dinner-table, when a little voice from among them called out,

"Mamma, do you think a giant could see a carraway seed?"

Now there was no sweet loaf on the table, nor even on the sideboard—neither had there been any plum cake in the house for some time—nor were there any carraway seeds in the biscuits just then. —In short, there was nothing which could be supposed to have suggested the idea of carraway seeds to the little boy who made the enquiry. Still he did make it, and though he went on quietly with his dinner, he expected to receive an answer.

Had the good Lady at the head of the table not been the mother of a large family, she might possibly have dropt the carving knife and fork, in sheer astonishment at the unaccountableness of the question, but as it was, she had heard so many other odd ones before, that she did not by outward sign demonstrate the amusement she felt at this, but simply said,—"Perhaps he could"—for she knew that it was out of her power to speak positively as to whether a Giant could see a carraway seed or not.

Now dear little readers, what do you think about this very important affair? Do you think a Giant could see a carraway seed or not?—"Oh yes," you all cry,—"of course he could!"

Nay, my dears, there is no "of course" at all in the matter! Can any of you, for example, see the creatures that float about and fight in a drop of water from the Serpentine River? No, certainly not! except through a microscope. Well, but why not?—you do not know. That I can easily believe! But then you must never again say that "of course" a Giant could see a carraway seed.

It is entirely a question of relative proportion: so now you feel quite small, and admit your total ignorance, I hope. Yes! it all depends upon whether the giant is as much bigger than the carraway seed, as you are bigger than the curious little insects that float about and fight in the drop of water from the Serpentine river—for if he is, we may conclude from analogy that a giant could not see a carraway seed except through a microscope. You see it is a sort of rule of three sum, but as I cannot work it out, I tell you honestly that neither do I know whether a giant could see so small an object or not, and I advise you all to be as modest as I am myself, and never speak positively on so difficult a point.

But enough of this! Turn we now to another point, about which I can speak positively—namely, that in one sense the world is full of Giants who cannot see Carraway seeds.

"It must be in the sense of Nonsense I should think then!" observes somewhat scornfully the young lady who is reading this story aloud—"as if we could believe in there being giants now!"

Very wittily remarked! my dear young lady, for your age.—I take you to be about seventeen, and I see by the compression of your pretty mouth that you consider yourself quite a judge and an authority. Only take care you don't grow up into one of those Giants yourself! There is something very suspicious to me in the glance of your eye. "Ridiculous!" murmurs the fair damsel in question.

Not at all so: only you travel too fast; by which I mean you speak too hastily. You learn Italian, I dare say? Oh yes, of course, for you sing. Well then, Ombra adorata that is "beloved shadow;" aspetta that is, "wait"—"wait, my beloved shadow" (of a charming young lady), give me breathing time, and I will explain myself. As you are an Italian student, I presume you have heard of the great Italian poet Dante. Now Dante in his Convito or "Banquet" tells his readers that writings may be understood, and therefore ought to be explained in four different senses or meanings. There is first the literal sense; secondly, the allegorical; thirdly, the moral; and fourthly, the anagorical. Now I know you can't explain this last word to me, for I would wager a large sum that you never tasted of Dante's Banquet—no, not so much as the smallest crumb from it; and therefore how should you know what he means by the anagorical sense? Give me leave to have the honour of enlightening you, then. The anagorical is what the dictionaries call the anagogical sense. A sense beyond this world; a sense above the senses; a spiritual sense making common things divine. It is hard to be arrived at and difficult of comprehension. Now in the matter of the nice little boy's question about the Giant and the carraway seed, (for none but a nice little boy could have excogitated any thing so comical), I have set my heart upon talking to you about it in the four above mentioned senses. And having already descanted on the literal sense, I had just made an assertion which appertained to the allegorical sense, when you so inopportunely interrupted me, My Ombra Adorata, with your sharp observation about nonsense: so now we will go on in peace and quietness, if you please.

In an allegorical sense the world is full of giants who cannot see carraway seeds.

For what are Giants but great men and great women? and the world abounds with people who consider themselves as belonging to that class. And a great many of them—Giants of Cleverness, Giants of Riches, Giants of Rank—Giants of I know not how many things besides, who are walking about the world every day, very often feel themselves to be quite raised above the point of attending to trifles; so that you see I may (in an allegorical sense) say strictly of them that they cannot see carraway seeds. Oh my dears, however elevated you may be, or may become; however great or rich or learned, beware, I pray you, of being a Giant who cannot see a carraway seed!

For, as my explanation of the moral sense now goes on to show you; it is so far from being, as these Giants suppose, a proof of their superiority that they cannot see or notice things they consider beneath them—that it is, in fact, an evidence of some imperfection or defect in either their moral or intellectual structure. Just as it is a proof of our eyes being imperfect, that we cannot see the little water insects as well as a great big elephant. I am sure you will allow there is nothing to boast of in this, and so if the contemplation of great things makes you incapable of attending to small ones, do remember that 'tis nothing to boast about or be proud of. And take very great care you make no mistakes as to what is great and what is insignificant. With which warning I close my remarks on the moral lesson, and proceed to that anagogical or spiritual meaning, which will I hope be my justification for dwelling so long on the subject, and my best introduction to a story of a serious though not of a melancholy character. But first, my dear little readers, let me call upon you in the words which you hear in church:

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