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ever cherish well the kindly feelings which our Heavenly FATHER has planted in young hearts; bade him—and a smile, dimpling the features of the sleeping child, gave pleasant answer -- bade him love them all; birds, beasts, fishes, and insects; the meanest, tiniest thing that lives; as He has made and cares for, so to love them all.
“ JAMIE MUST BE PATIENT."
The dear old garden—what a secluded spot it wasman oasis in the desert; standing as it did in the midst of a large sunburnt .common, whereon was neither shrub nor tree. Entering beneath a low archway through a narrow gate, the scene changed as if one were suddenly transported to fairy land, by means of an enchanter's wand. High walls of evergreens, dark spreading trees, and thick foliage in all directions; artificial mounds and winding walks, made the small plot of ground appear four times larger than it really was; there was no guessing its dimension, the deception was so complete. Basins of clear water, with slender jets, throwing showers of feathery spray high up into the air, refreshed and invited the wayfarer to repose on the pleasant seats ranged around -perhaps to enjoy a tempting basket of strawberries, the ostensible purpose of a pilgrimage to “ Lewison's Garden, Acquaintances often met here during the summer evenings, their homes being situate at distant points of the surrounding common; and associations which time hallows, -and memories which bring tears to eyes unused to weeping, --were in after years connected with reminiscences of this retreat. Children sported among the flowers and fountains, chased butterflies, and ate fruit; not daring to trespass, from salutary awe of the solemn visaged gardener, Peter Lewison; hence too came those beautiful bouquets, which no band could arrange so tastefully as his.
Peter dwelt in a thatched hut, which nestled in one corner of the garden, renting it from a landed proprietor in the neighbourhood; he was a man verging on middle-age, and elders who remembered his deceased father, declared the son's resemblance to the sire perfect in all respects. Where the parent stock originally sprang from, or had originally been, ever remained a mystery; both father and son were gardeners by profession, the former having given his eldest born a good education, while his youngest, a girl, was comparatively neglected, and at an early age sent out to service. They were motherless children. Peter Lewison was a strict disciplinarian, reserved, and silent; never discussing his past life, or permitting questions to draw him out, for the satisfaction of the curious. When he died, Peter inherited a small and choice library of well-used books; he also inherited a love of learning, quoting Latin names, and using hard words. He also continued a diary commenced by his forefathers, which resembled in style “ White's Natural History of Selbourne;" in short, everything was viewed by Peter as a matter of natural history, or as a medium of obtaining information. Bipeds and quadrupeds, birds, fish, fruit, reptiles, insects, flowers, fungi, all were scanned through the microscopic power of his peculiar organs of intellectual vision. A countenance unruffled by any emotion, pompous jargon, and a stately gait, had obtained for Peter a high degree of consideration with his equals, who pronounced him a “wonderful scholar," while the more educated or discerving smiled at his pedantry. Peter, like his sire, subsisted entirely on wheaten bread and vegetable diet; he had never tasted butchers' meat in his life, nor any other drink than water; whether this simple regimen had not agreed with his constitution, or whether more generous nutriment would have proved unavailing, it was evident that the lonely man did not enjoy good health, though he never complained, or admitted that he was ailing. But the wan cheek, the sunken, dim eye, and the hollow cough, induced humane persons to attempt commiseration, backed by trifling presents of jellies, broth, and such like interior comforts; the intended sympathy, however, was civilly rejected, and the condiments also; for broth was made of meat, and jelly had wine it; and Peter affirmed boldly these things were abominations. Up with the lark, he indulged in but few hours' rest—those few hours even being abridged by his babit of sitting up late to pursue his favourite studies. The rental of his garden was not high, but the produce brought high prices; for no one ever scrupled to give double the amount for flowers and fruit from “ Lewison's garden," to what they would have purchased the same things for elsewhere. There was a prejudice in favour of them : it was a pet place in short; the neighbourhood was a wealthy one, and the Peter Lewisons, father and son, were part and parcel of the favourite resort. Peter's personal expenses were trifling, and people hinted that he was “ worth money :" some even went so far as to joke him about the propriety of taking a wife! But Peter turned a deaf ear to such admonitions, and looked as though he heard or heeded them not; commencing an oration on some subject uppermost in his mind, perchance the loves or wars of insect tribes, of far more importance to him than any other love-making or fighting in the universe. The interior of the hut was impenetrable, for Peter always kept the key in his pocket, and dived into it at those hours and times only when his garden was free of visitors; therefore it caused much surprise and curiosity, when one fine day a singularly beautiful little boy was seen standing on the threshold, and calling Peter“ uncle."
The child was attired in deep mourning for “ his mother," Peter said, the young sister who had been sent out to service, and “ who had married a, sea-faring man, supposed to have perished in a Northern Expedition.” This was all the explanation to be gained. Peter made no comments, answered no questions, took scarcely any notice apparently of the poor little fellow, who, however, showed much love for his solemn relative. Jamie had many friends; every one noticed and caressed him, for he was a fair, gentle creature, and seemed to have dropped from the skies into that quiet garden. If asked about his mother, tears filled Jamie's blue eyes, and he whispered, she was
up there," pointing to the skies; but no further information could be obtained. Jamie had nothing to tell, no brothers or sisters, and “mother had lived in bed a long, long time, and was very white and thin.” When asked if he remembered his father, the boy shook his head, and always repeated, " Papa will come back when the lilacs blossom."
“ But why will be, Jamie?” urged the curious.
“Because he said so," replied Jamie decisively, and nothing more was gathered.
Jamie seemed astonished at being talked to so much; he had evidently been unused to it, and rather shrank from notice; but when the exquisite lilac flowers appeared, the child grew restless, and was always clambering up a sloping eminence, from whence a view of the distant hills could be obtained through a break in the trees.
“ Are you looking for your father, Jamie ?" said folks kindly.
“ Yes, I am," he replied gravely; “ but he mayn't come this time perhaps, but the next time the lilacs bloom, and Jamie must be patient.”
Poor little fellow, for five or six seasons successively he carefully watched the budding and blossoming of the lilac trees; and every season of disappointment he plaintively repeated, “Father mayn't come this time perhaps, but next time the lilacs blossom, and Jamie must be patient.”
Jamie must be patient! who had taught him that expression, which was not only on his lips, but engraven on his childish heart? It was a mother's teaching surely: and may we in times of sorrow, darkness, and suspense, also treasure a similar lesson taught by the beloved ones, now perhaps no more, the lesson that in trials and disappointments, “ Jamie must be patient."
Quietly and unostentatiously, Peter Lewison had devoted a portion of his time to impart the rudiments of knowledge to his nephew; well and faithfully the task had been performed, and the docile little scholar was a “prodigy," the ladies said. But his childish smiles had flown, and his sweet face was as solemn, and his steps as composed and slow, as uncle Peter's; for with the
learning, Jamie had imbibed a portion of his master's spirit; childish sports and healthful recreations were neglected ; the tender sapling was overshooting its strength, and an expression of thoughtful age was creeping over the once sunny countenance of the interesting boy.
Jamie was ten years old, when after enduring intense suffering, (as it was afterwards proved he must have done,) Peter Lewison took to his bed for one week, and on the evening of the seventh day called Jamie to his side, and placing a letter in the child's hand, desired him to cross the common, the way they used to go to Church, inquire for the post-office, and carefully drop the letter into the box, taking heed that no human eye scanned the direction on the envelope. The diligent messenger was not long in fulfilling the lask imposed, for he ran all the way, with eager affectionate anxiety, returning to his uncle's sick-room. Was Peter Lewison sleeping that he lay so very still? the fading western glories lit up his while face, and Jamie could not hear the faintest breath. Not a leaf was stirring; the moon arose in full glory, and Jamie after listening, and looking at the sick man intently, came to the conclusion that he was indeed sound asleep!
The dead and the living were found side by side next morning, for the weary child had stretched himself beside his uncle, and when the truth became clear, after the first burst of sorrow, meekly exclaimed, “ Jamie must be patient.”
What was to become of him ? the neighbours said-had he no kin--had Peter left no money for the purpose of placing his nephew out in the world? But on the fourth day conjecture was at an end, for a respectable elderly man arrived, who looked like a confidential servant; after defraying the expenses of a decent funeral, requesting a private interview with the pastor of the parish, and leaving the garden in the care of competent people, he carried Jamie away with him. Who he was, and where he had gone to, no one save the Rev. Joseph Howard could tell, and he resisted all entreaties to explain the matter, saying that he had been requested not to divulge the secret.
For many years little Jamie's humble home continued in its original condition, and when all remembrance of the former proprietors had passed away from the minds of men, still the domain was known as “ Lewison's Garden.” Eventually a change took place; a dashing young gardener of speculative principles, among other innovations, gave it his own name, painted up in staring letters on a board fixed on the narrow gateway, purporting this to be the entrance to “Dobson's Nursery Ground.”
Mr. Dobson also enlarged the hut, adding a wing here, and a gable there, until it assumed an architectural appearance, puzzling to the learned in such matters, and defying all classification. Mrs. Dobson let. “ apartments” during the summer season—and
very well she let them too at an exorbitant price; doubtless the fountains, and flowers, and birds proving an attractive lure to the smoke-dried dwellers in large towns. Mrs. Dobson boasted of the “gentry” who honoured her lodgings with their patronage ; and the bouquet purchasers and fruit-eaters, on the summer evenings, had many pleasant gossipings with Mrs. Dobson.
“And whom have you now in your apartments, Mrs. Dobson ?" quoth old Admiral Collings, as he regaled himself beside the fountain on fresh-gathered strawberries; “ this fruit isn't so fine as it was in Peter Lewison's time, in spite of all your new fangled ways."
Mrs. Dobson was used to the grumblings of Admiral Collings, but as he was her best customer, she took no heed, meekly saying, very sorry,” and so on.
“ But about our present party, sir,” she added more briskly; "he is the sweetestest, affablestest, comeliest young gentleman I ever did come near.”
“But who is he?" inquired the veteran snappishly; “cannot you answer a plain question, Mrs. Dobson ?"
“Oh! yes, sir, to be sure I can," replied Mrs. Dobson, evidently bursting with some great piece of information—" why, sir, he's no less a person, sir, than grandson and heir to Sir Marmaduke Stratton."
“Sir Marmaduke Stratton !" cried the Admiral in a loud voice, and greatly excited, “Sir Marmaduke Stratton ! why, he's an old ship-mate of mine; and if my memory serves me right, there was a queer story afloat some years ago. Sir Marmaduke's third son was in the naval service, and was sent on the fatal Northern Expedition, from which none have returned, or, I believe, ever will return, seeing it is nigh twenty years ago. He had been a wild, harum-scarum sort of chap, and contracted a marriage greatly beneath him, though the poor young girl was as virtuous as lovely. Of course Sir Marmaduke and Lady Stratton were enraged and unforgiving; but when their eldest son died soon after his marriage with a high-born lady, leaving no heir, and when the second son was killed by a fall from his horse, dying unmarried, then the parents yearned towards the offspring of their ill-fated missing child. Hitherto they had refused to acknowledge its legitimacy, but there was proof positive of that, folks said. So, after a while, the little grandson turns up, though where he had been concealed no one could tell. However the orphan, for he had lost his poor mother when a mere infant, was a miracle of learning, I heard. But Sir Marmaduke was a regular tyrant, and a hard man to live with. And what is his grandson called, Mrs. Dobson, and why in wonder's name is he here? for his grandfather is rich enough to give him a palace to get change of air in.”
Mrs. Dobson did not like her lodgings to be disparaged even by Admiral Collings, so she bridled up a little, and replied that the young gentleman seemed “ very comfortable.”