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- Two Festivals - 2/7 -
them. You could not see him, and it seemed as if you were listening to the song of a spirit.
Alas! Harry was not happy; God's glorious world was all around him; his soul was tuned to the harmony of heaven, and yet his young heart ached; and tears--bitter, scalding tears--often ran down his smooth, round cheek, and then he would run and hide his head in his mother's lap, that blessed home for a troubled spirit.
One day, I discovered the cause of Harry's melancholy. I was returning from a walk, and saw him at a little brook that ran behind my house, washing his face and hands vehemently, and rubbing them very hard. I then remembered that I had often seen him there doing the same thing. "It seems to me, Harry," I said, "that your face and hands are clean now; why do you rub your face so violently?" "I am trying," he said, "to wash away this color. I can never be happy till I get rid of this color. If I wash me a great deal, will it not come off at last! The boys will not play with me; they do not love me because I am of this color; they are all white. Why, if God is good, did he not make me white?" And he wept bitterly. "Poor dear little boy!" I said, and took him in my arms and pressed him to my heart! "God is good; it is man that is cruel." The little fellow was soothed and strengthened by my sympathy, and the counsel I gave him.
Not long after this, it was May-day, and all the children of the village went out into the fields to gather flowers, to dress themselves for a little dance they were to have in the evening. Every boy and girl in the village, except Harry, was of the party. They set off early in the morning, and they ran gayly over hills and meadows, and hunted busily for flowers; but the spring had been cold, and they could not find many. They were returning home, wearied, and rather chilled and disheartened, when they saw Harry coming out of the woods with a large bunch of flowers in his hand. One of the boys called out to him, "Well, nigger, where did you get all your flowers?" Harry went on and made no answer. "Come, stop, darky," said the hard-hearted boy, "stop, and let's have your flowers; here's three cents for them." "I don't wish to sell them," said Harry; "they are all for my mother." "A nigger carry flowers to his mother! that's a good one! Come, boys, let's take them from him; they are as much our flowers as his; he has gathered more than his share; "and he approached Harry to seize his flowers.
"For shame, Tom, for shame!" cried out many of the children, and one of the larger boys came forward and stood by Harry. "Touch him if you dare, Tom. You have got to knock me down first." The cruel boy, who was, of course, a coward, fell back, and some of the little children gathered around Harry to look at the flowers. "Don't mind that naughty boy, Harry," said one little girl, and slid her little hand into his. Harry's anger was always conquered by one word of kindness. "Where did you get all your flowers?" asked the children. "I will show you," replied Harry, "if you will follow me." They all shouted, "Let's go, let's go; show us the way, Harry;" and off they set. Harry ran like a quail through bush and brier, and over rocks and stone walls, till he came to a hill covered with a wood. "On the other side of this hill," said he, "we shall find them." In a very few minutes the children were all there. There they saw a warm, sunny hollow; through it ran a little brook, and all around were massive rocks and pretty nooks; and there were the birds singing loudly, and there were cowslips, and anemones, and houstonias, and violets, and all in great profusion. The boy who had insulted Harry hung back ashamed. Harry quietly said to him, "Here, under this little tree, is a beautiful bed of violets, and there are anemones." Harry tasted of the pleasure of doing good for evil. The boy who had defended him walked by him, and talked kindly to him. "How good it was in you to show us the flowers!" said the little girl who had taken Harry's hand, and whose apron he had filled with flowers. How happy now was poor Harry!
All the children gathered that morning as many flowers as they desired. Some carried home only perishable earthly flowers in their hands; others, immortal flowers in their hearts. The village children went to their dance, and were very happy. Harry spent the rest of the day and the evening in his mother's cottage, alone with her, and amused himself with making wreaths of his flowers. But he said he had never passed so happy a May-day. A loving heart, like Una's beauty, 'can make a sunshine in a shady place.'"
The clouds had now passed away. One of the boys proposed to pass a vote of thanks to the old barn, for the hospitable shelter it had afforded during the shower. This was received and passed with acclamations. Frank and Lizzy, or rather the king and queen of the May, declared that they had no thanks to offer to the old barrel or the milk stool. It was too wet to go into the woods again; so they formed a procession, and with their flowers in their hands, and such music as they had, returned gayly home.
The children all enjoyed the dance in the evening; but there were some hearts there, young and merry as they were, that made a solemn vow never to forget those of whom they had heard that day,--"them that are in bonds."
It is New Year's eve. Frank and Harry are sitting with their mother by the pleasant fireside. The boys were full of chat, but their mother was looking fixedly into the fire, and had been silent for a long time. She was thinking of the past; they, of what was to come.
"Mother," said Harry, "will you tell me tonight what my new year's gift will be?"
"Don't speak to mother now," said Frank.
"O, because mother looks as if she did not want to talk."
"But mother told me that, if I would be silent till she had done reading, I might talk as much as I pleased to her."
"So I did, Harry," said his mother; "and now I am ready to hear you. What did you ask me?"
"Only, Mother, whether you meant I should know what my new year's gift is, before tomorrow morning."
"No, dear; I think you had better have it all new and fresh to- morrow; the surprise is a part of the pleasure of a new year's gift."
"What can it be? I know what I hope it is."
"What do you hope it will be, Harry?"
"I do hope it will be a magic lantern," said Harry, without a moment's hesitation. His mother made no answer.
"What do you wish for?" asked Harry.
"I don't know," said Frank; "there are so many things I wish for, that I hardly know what to say first."
"I wish," said their mother, "that I could grant all your wishes; that I could give you every good thing you desire; but my means, as you know, are limited. I am sorry, dear, that you have so many wishes ungratified."
"O Mother, it is not for such things as you can give that I most wish for. You are very kind to me, and give me more good things than you ought to give me; you are too generous to me. I wish for what no one can give me."
"We all have many such wishes, my dear child; but we must not think even these quite unattainable. There are few things that a reasonable being earnestly desires, that some day or other may not become his."
"Do you think so, Mother?"
"Yes, Frank; perhaps he may not attain them in this life, but I think the very desire is a prophecy, and even promise, that we shall at some stage of our being possess what we wish."
"I know what I shall wish, then," said Harry, "and keep wishing it as long as I live till I get it, though I am afraid I shall never have it. I'll tell you what my wish is, Frank, if you will tell me yours."
"Agreed, Harry," said Frank; "and you shall tell your wish first, and I last."
"I wish," said Harry, "that I had a flying horse that was perfectly gentle, and would go all over the world with me, and do just as I told him to, and never be tired; but I guess I never shall get one. Come, Frank, what do you wish?"
"I wish that I had a great deal of strength and courage, more than any one else, and was never afraid of any thing, and that I could do whatever was to be done, and become, at last, a great man, and do some good in the world. I don't want to sit still in a corner half of my life, and never use my faculties. Now, Mother, Harry and I have told our wishes; will you tell yours?"
"First," said the mother, "let me show you how near you may, even in this life, come to your wishes, and then I will tell mine. Harry will not continue to wish for a flying horse, because he will know he can never have it in this world; but his wish will change into a desire of travelling and seeing all that is beautiful and wonderful in God's glorious world, and then he will find his flying horse in a rail carriage or steamboat. And you, my dear Frank, if you continue to wish to be strong and brave, and truly great, will have, perhaps, more than you ask for; for, if you do not have a strong body, you will have a brave spirit, and you will be what is better than a strong man--a good, great man. True greatness does not depend upon physical strength; for instance, a brave and noble woman may be greater than a man."
"How is that, Mother?"
"Because, from the weakness of her body she has more obstacles to overcome. Her power arises from an inward strength that lasts long, and shines most brightly in the darkest hour of trial. Mere bodily strength, without this power of soul, is often cowardly and useless.
I will tell you a true story that I heard the other day, which will show you what I mean. Somewhere in the State of Maine there is a beautiful little lake, on the banks of which are a number of farms and pleasant dwelling houses. There are boats on the lake, and the people are in the habit of allowing the children to learn early the management of a boat; girls and boys together are allowed to go out on the lake, without any man to take charge of them. One day, a little party went out. They had been rowing about for some time, and
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