La Terrasse

These struggles with the natural character, the strong native bent of the heart, may seem futile and fruitless, but in the end they do good. They tend, however slightly, to give the actions, the conduct, that turn which Reason approves, and which Feeling, perhaps, too often opposes. They certainly make a difference in the general tenor of a life, and enable it to be better regulated, more equable, quieter on the surface; and it is on the surface only the common gaze will fall. As to what lies below, leave that with God. Man, your equal, weak as you, and not fit to be your judge, may be shut out thence. Take it to your Maker; show Him the secrets of the spirit He gave; ask Him how you are to bear the pains He has appointed; kneel in His presence, and pray with faith for light in darkness, for strength in piteous weakness, for patience in extreme need. Certainly, at some hour, though perhaps not your hour, the waiting waters will stir; in some shape, though perhaps not the shape you dreamed, which your heart loved, and for which it bled, the healing herald will descend, the cripple, and the blind, and the dumb, and the possessed will be led to bathe. Herald, come quickly! Thousands lie round the pool, weeping and despairing to see it, through slow years, stagnant. Long are the “times” of Heaven; the orbits of angel messengers seem wide to mortal vision; they may enring ages; the cycle of one departure and return may clasp unnumbered generations; and dust, kindling to brief, suffering life, and, through pain, passing back to dust, may meanwhile perish out of memory again and yet again. To how many maimed and mourning millions is the first and sole angel visitant him Easterns call Azrael!

I tried to get up next morning, but while I was dressing, and at intervals drinking cold water from the carafe on my washstand, with design to brace up that trembling weakness which made dressing so difficult, in came Mrs. Bretton.

“Here is an absurdity!” was her morning accost. “Not so,” she added; and dealing with me at once in her own brusque, energetic fashion—that fashion which I used formerly to enjoy seeing applied to her son, and by him vigorously resisted—in two minutes she consigned me captive to the French bed.

“There you lie till afternoon,” said she. “My boy left orders before he went out that such should be the case, and I can assure you my son is master, and must be obeyed. Presently you shall have breakfast.”

Presently she brought that meal—brought it with her own active hands—not leaving me to servants. She seated herself on the bed while I ate. Now it is not everybody, even amongst our respected friends and esteemed acquaintance, whom we like to have near us, whom we like to watch us, to wait on us, to approach us with the proximity of a nurse to a patient. It is not every friend whose eye is a light in a sick-room, whose presence is there a solace; but all this was Mrs. Bretton to me—all this she had ever been. Food or drink never pleased me so well as when it came through her hands. I do not remember the occasion when her entrance into a room had not made that room cheerier. Our natures own predilections and antipathies alike strange. There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid, though reason confesses that they are good people. There are others with faults of temper, etc., evident enough, beside whom we live content, as if the air about them did us good. My godmother’s lively black eye and clear brunette cheek, her warm, prompt hand, her self-reliant mood, her decided bearing, were all beneficial to me as the atmosphere of some salubrious climate. Her son used to call her “the old lady:” it filled me with pleasant wonder to note how the alacrity and power of five-and-twenty still breathed from her and around her.

“I would bring my work here,” she said, as she took from me the emptied teacup, “and sit with you the whole day, if that overbearing John Graham had not put his veto upon such a proceeding. ‘Now, mamma,’ he said, when he went out, ‘take notice: you are not to knock up your god-daughter with gossip;’ and he particularly desired me to keep close to my own quarters, and spare you my fine company. He says, Lucy, he thinks you have had a nervous fever, judging from your look. Is that so?”

I replied that I did not quite know what my ailment had been, but that I had certainly suffered a good deal, especially in mind. Further on this subject I did not consider it advisable to dwell, for the details of what I had undergone belonged to a portion of my existence in which I never expected my godmother to take a share. Into what a new region would such a confidence have led that hale, serene nature!

  By PanEris using Melati.

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