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The BLIND BOY. 203

hand of the blind, he seldom missed finding anything that Mary wanted. And it was Mary who gave Henry that knowledge of the Being who made him, which was a bright light to his mind, and shed over his spirit a hope more gladdening than the sunshine which cheered all outward things. As soon as pain ceased to rack her joints, and strength was in a measure restored to her limbs, Mary was wont to arise and return thankfully to those employments, in which alone she was permitted to assist the toils of her family. The first warm days of spring were to Henry days of rejoicing. As soon as he felt their breath, he used to hasten into the house crying with a glad voice, “Summer is coming, and Mary will get well!”. To him the first note of the robin told not of the verdure and blossoms waich were soon to cover the face of nature with beauty; but it announced that she whom he loved would be freed from her pain, and come out with him into the pure air, and go into the fields and woods, gathering fragrant wild-flowers, listening to the music of the winds, waters, and birds, and talking to him cheerfully and usefully. Mary was entering upon her seventeenth spring; and before the April snows had melted from the fields, she was already so well, that she sat up as she was accustomed at her little window, plying her needle with a busy and skilful hand. There came a heavy storm of rain with warm south winds, and in one night the snowy mantle of the earth had vanished, and the fields lay bare and brown the next day, beneath a clear sky and a warm sun. It was a beautiful morning, and unseen influences were busy

in the trees that stretched their arms silently to the gentle breeze, and in the very sods that basked in the sunshine. The leaf was preparing to put forth, the green blade to sprout, and the pulses of man beat lightly and happily under the spell of the season. Henry felt the soft west wind on his cheek, and heard the first notes of the spring birds. As soon as the sun rode high in the heavens, he went to summon Mary from her toils, to walk with him as far as the Great Oak, a spot which she loved, because it commanded a wide and beautiful prospect, and which was dear to him, because she loved it, and because it was always the end of their first walk in spring. Mary hesitated, for she feared the dampness of the ground; but Henry had gone with a younger brother all the way up to the Great Oak on purpose, and assured her the path was dry. She stood at the door, and as she looked up at the clear and beautiful sky, around on the landscape, and again on the pleading face of her blind brother, she could not find in her heart to say, “No.” They went out together, and Mary was glad she had gone. Her own heart seemed to expand with quiet happiness as she walked. What invalid is not happy in breathing the open air for the first time, after tedious months of confinement, and feels not as if the simplest act of existence were in itself a luxury? Henry went leaping by her side with short and joyous bounds, pouring forth the exuberance of his spirits in the songs she had taught him, asking a thousand questions, and sometimes stopping to listen when the sound of a sheep-bell, the note of a bird, or the murmur of a distant voice struck


on his quick ear. When the way was rough, he walked closer to her side, holding her hand tightly, and seeming as if made happier by the pensive smiles on that pale face he could not see. He asked her sometimes is the walk was making her cheeks red, for then he knew that his father would say she was well; and sometimes he furnished her with food for reflection, as she wondered what ideas were conveyed to his mind by the terms he had learned to use in speaking of visible objects. At last they came to the Great Oak; and as they sat resting together on a rock under its leafless branches, the gaiety of the blind boy subsided, and he caught something of the same sedate happiness which pervaded the spirit of Mary. They talked together for a long time, and at last sunk into silence. Henry sat musing, and Mary involuntarily gazed upon the varying expressions that passed over his sightless, but eloquent face, sometimes lighting it almost with a smile, sometimes fading into sadness, betraying the changing tenor of his thoughts, which flowed on, guided only by the mysterious laws of association, and unchecked by the movements of outward objects. At last he asked, with a mournful tone — “Mary, do you think it would be a hard thing if I were to die young?” Mary shrunk from a question which seemed so natural for one in his situation; because she did not imagine that such thoughts had ever entered the mind of the gay and laughing boy. She was startled, too, at the coincidence between their reflections; it was as if she had looked into his mind, and found it a mirror of her own. But she asked Henry quietly, if he were weary of the life God had given him. “Oh no,” returned the blind boy; “but it would not frighten me, or make me unhappy, if I knew that I were going to die. I know I must be a burthen all my life to my parents, and I can be of little use to any one — even to you! I think—I know not why—it was not meant I should stay here long. God will soon see whether I am patient, amiable, and pious; he will take me away, when I have been sufficiently tried.” Mary made no answer. She, too, had moments when the conviction that her life was not to be a long one, came upon her most powerfully, and to her, too, it brought that same gentle, melancholy satisfaction which seemed stealing over the mind of her blind brother. He had once asked her, when a very little boy, if she thought he should see in heaven; and the question had made her shed many tears. She wept now, while she listened to his plaintive voice, and heard him talk with humble piety of his willingness to die in the first blossoming of youth ; yet her tears were not tears of bitterness, for she saw that the frame of mind in which he spoke was one calculated to make him happy, living or dying. She told him so at last; and strove to strengthen in his mind that feeling which disarms all vexation and sorrow — a perfect confidence that there is a secret good in every event that befalls us. Her own spirit was so deeply imbued with this conviction, that it gave the coloring to her whole character; it was the idea which occurred to her habitually and incessantly; it was the


secret of that peace of mind which neither trouble, poverty, nor sickness could ruffle. She taught him how to exercise his mind in trying to discover the good shrouded in seeming evil; and how, when the justice and mercy of any event were past finding out, to give up the search in undoubting confidence that all was right, suffering not his soul to be disquieted. The youthful pair rose at last to return home, in the holiest and happiest temper. Their hearts were filled with devotion, and with love for all God's creation, and the pure and beautiful instinct of fraternal love had received an impulse from a conversation, which they felt had made them both wiser and better. The influence of communion on holy topics is happy and salutary, and the glow of renewed confidence and esteem, which succeeds such intercourse between kindred spirits, is delightful. Mary was still an invalid, and soon felt that she had made more exertion than she ought to have done. She paused a moment at the foot of the hill, because there were two ways that led home. They had come by a circuitous path, leading through pleasant fields and lanes; and the road by which they now proposed to return, would conduct them across the mill-brook straight to the village. She was weak and faint, and they took the shortest way. Silently they walked on, till they had almost reached a small rising ground which lay between them and the mill-stream, when Henry suddenly exclaimed, “Sister Mary, where are we ? I hear the water running!” Mary listened a moment with a surprised and anxious countenance, and

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