« IndietroContinua »
“Never be weary of them when they are troublesome; and if they are, for a while, a heavy pull upon your earnings, God will repay you, my child; for though they are your own brother and sister, they will be orphans, and what is spent upon the orphan, He will repay. Aye! and all that you gave the widow.”
“Why, what widow?”.
“ Me,” said Mrs. Graham, “ what you have given to me.”
“ Why, you're my own mother.”
“Ah, yes; your own mother, John, but a widow nevertheless. God will remember all you have done, as having been done not only for your mother, but for the widow also.”
A great tear rolled down John Graham's cheek, as he looked at the wasted face before him, but he could not speak.
“ Take care of them, John; and never enter the cursed place, which we have too much reason to remember; and if he should ever appear, work heaven and earth to teach him what we have so often talked about, and make a home for him; if he be not beyond all that man on earth can do, perhaps he may be saved. I have nothing to give you, my child, but this,”—and the dying woman pointed to her wedding ring. " When I am gone, take this and wear it; let it be a remembrance of me, until you
"Tant he couled at thewn John a
meet with him, if that should ever be, and then it must be his."
There was more that the dying woman would have said, but a violent fit of coughing having come on, she deferred the remainder for a little while. She never spoke much more; so exhausted was she after the exertion, that she dropped off into a slumber, and in it calmly died. Eddy and Mary knew nothing of their loss, they were asleep in their little corner, John Graham alone was with his mother as she departed; and when her last breath had passed, he closed her eyes, and laid her hands across her breast, and kissed her cold forehead, and then, overcome with weariness and sorrow, he also fell fast asleep in the old arm-chair.
WHEN morning came, a neighbour or two stepped in and did all that under the circumstances was required. As to John Graham, he was compelled to go to his work, sad as his heart was; but his situation was one of trust, and he could not possibly be spared. One of the neighbours, who had twins of her own, took the children for the day, and the landlady agreed to let them have a spare
garret to sleep in, for a trifle, until the funeral was over.
A dull and heavy day did John Graham spend. True, he was abroad in the bustling streets, and transacting business as usual, but his mind was continually reverting to his mother's death-bed, and to the children at home; every now and then the big tear would gather in his eye, and the choking sensations of grief almost prevent his speaking ; but he knew his business must be done, and so he went through it like a man. As to the dear little ones at home, they were at first frightened at being entirely with a stranger, and they often asked to go to their own mother; but as the day wore on, and every effort was made, by the kind woman that took them, to amuse them, they got on contentedly enough.
At last the evening came, and with it the time for John Graham to come home. The little ones went to the door to meet him as usual, and Mrs. Curtis, their kind care-taker, asked him in.
“I hope they have not been troublesome, Mrs. Curtis,” said the youth ; " they are very young, but I believe they were taught by my mother to be quiet and good.—Have you been good, Eddy ? and you, Mary?” and their brother drew them one to each knee.
The children kissed their brother, and asked to be taken to their mother.
“It will do them no good," said Mrs. Curtis ; “they had better go to bed and sleep, dear little things, they'll soon forget.”
“ We won't ever forget dear mother,” said Eddy Graham, fixing his large eyes halfreproachfully on Mrs. Curtis ; - - Never," echoed Mary, who generally followed her brother in every thing—"we should like to go to her.”
« Not to-night,” said John Graham. • Come up, and we'll all go to bed;" so saying, he took the little ones with him, and all three went up to the garret room.
“ Hadn't you better have some supper ?” asked Mrs. Curtis, as she knocked at the attic, where they had made their temporary abode ; “ I'll bring you up a bit of bread and cheese.”
“ Thank you, I don't want any to-night," said the youth; “I shall be down-stairs presently, and then I'll drop into your room, and tell you what I've done about the funeral.—Come, Eddy; come, Mary ; say your little prayer, the way you used to say it when mother was alive ;” and the youth sat down on the side of the bed, and the little ones put their hands together, and in a few minutes after were in their bed and fast asleep. Then John Graham crept softly down-stairs, and unlocked the back parlour, and went in to say his prayers by the side of his mother's dead body. He felt that there was something hallowing to his mind in the immediate presence of the dead. After a while he came out, and told Mrs. Curtis that he had made arrangements for the funeral, at the latter end of the week, and asked her to walk with it. This she consented to do, and when the day came for Mrs. Graham's funeral, the procession was composed of the man that headed it, and but four followers: viz. Mrs. Curtis, and John, with the little orphan twins. Several people stopped and turned round, when they saw the two children, and three or four found their way into the burying ground; but the majority were too used to sights like these to take any notice, and in a little while they made their way slowly back again. Never did the old street seem so deserted to John Graham as now, and never were the grinding organs so harsh and grating to the ear. Sad, however, as he was, he was not allowed much time to think; a half-day was all that he could be allowed for the funeral, and even that was at considerable inconvenience to his master. Not that Mr. Steel was a hard or unfeeling man; on the contrary, lie was a kind Christian person ; but he had no one to fill John Graham's place who could be depended on, and just now business especially required his presence. As soon as the funeral was over, he went to one of the little toy-shops in the neighbourhood, and spent a few pence in buying something to amuse the little ones, and