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A DAY came when the whole current of my life was to undergo a change a change, however, by no means trivial or of ordinary nature, but one that involved me in circumstances altogether different from those I had been accustomed to. My father's house to me had always been a home-it was to continue so no longer. I was to be an alien even to my nearest kinsmen, and the places of my youth were to know me no more. How it came to pass that these changes were wrought, it would be of little avail to inquire. I was for a moment overcome by the bitterness of my misfortune, but in a little while I became composed, and looked upon my altered condition, if not with satisfaction, at least with resignation. If I regarded the years that were gone with a kind of mournful tenderness, I may surely be pardoned for doing so, for they were linked to many endearing recollections. A sister, whom I had lost in early childhood, and a mother, who had died before I had yet attained to manhood, were both associated with those early years; their gentle spirits I think sometimes hover around me with their protecting influence, sustaining me in my efforts and directing my steps as I journey along.

I travelled forth. The sun had just risen above the distant hills as I crossed the threshold of that home never to be entered by me again. I threw many a lingering glance behind at objects which had been so long familiar to me: the orchard and the babbling brook, whose pleasant murmurs used to greet us as we sat in our antiquated home, awakened in me a feeling of sadness which could only find relief in tears. I wept freely wept as I have not wept since, nor shall weep again. I wept like one who had as yet only encountered his first sorrow, and to whom the realities and disappointments of life were almost unknown. I knew not (happy ignorance!) that before many years had passed away the fountain would become dry, and the relief which I now experienced in my sorrow should be denied me in similar seasons of distress. It was some time before I recovered sufficiently to proceed; but in spite of all my efforts I could not drive from my mind the conviction that I was leaving a home endeared to me by innumerable ties. I knew little, perhaps, of the world before me. I was young and full of hope, but still there came a misgiving that the happiest period of my life had passed away for ever. And so it was.

There was an exhilarating freshness in the morning air, and the earth was clothed in her brightest colours. It was the season of the year that is the most pregnant with hope, but, despite its genial influence, a sadness weighed upon my spirits which it was impossible to shake off. It was not because I was leaving friends and home-it was not that I was wandering forth a stranger and unknown. These circumstances, no doubt, conduced to my present state of mind, but they were not the only influences in operation. A stain had fallen upon my name, and I was despised and rejected even by my own kindred.

What most immediately concerned me was, how should I provide for my future necessities. I possessed neither money nor friend in the whole

world, and I knew not what occupation I should betake myself to that would be likely to yield me a fair return for my labours. These thoughts regarding the future caused me no little uneasiness. I felt myself alone. Is there not sometimes in that word a deeper meaning than at first appeareth? I felt it in all its force. Whither should I turn for counsel ? What friendly ear would listen to my tale of distress? The idea of a perfect isolation is altogether irreconcilable with happiness. I felt the need of a friend in my present adversity, but my spirit spurned the idea of allowing myself to sink under it.

I wandered on, paying little attention to the road I was traversing. I came, at length, upon a thick wood, which extended over a considerable surface of ground. I entered it with the intention of seeking a comfortable spot where I might rest myself a little, and afterwards resume my journey. I penetrated a considerable distance within it, and upon a little knoll, overshadowed by a venerable beech, I seated myself. The forest, I discovered, made a slight descent for some little distance, and again, on the other side, ascended in an equal degree. A small rivulet coursed its way along its base, and could be seen winding through the adjacent country for many miles. Upon the opposite bank of the stream I could perceive primroses and violets growing in rich luxuriousness. I lay myself down, and hushed, as it were, by the waters murmuring at my feet, fell into a profound sleep. I slept, I dare say, an hour, and awoke considerably refreshed. When I looked around me, I was astounded at what I beheld on the opposite bank of the little stream before spoken of: upon its margin there was seated a young girl of most marvellous beauty-she was, indeed, but a child, for I do not think that her age could exceed eight years. I was, perhaps, a little precipitate in my conclusions. Was she a girl or a child, or was she a human being at all? She was like a fairy-a spirit of the woods-a being whom we read of in nursery tales, but seldom meet in the real and actual world. She was occupied in decorating her hair with the primroses and other wild flowers that grew around her, and the crystalline stream which flowed at her feet served as the mirror in which she saw herself reflected. Her dress appeared to be a kind of muslin of light blue, and so made as to leave the neck and arms altogether uncovered. This extraordinary vision was the most beautiful I had ever witnessed. I doubted at first whether it was real, for the attendant circumstances imparted to it such a tinge of romance that it was difficult to believe in its reality. I rose from the little bank on which I had been lying, with the intention of approaching this little maiden who had so deeply riveted my attention, but my change of attitude was only the signal for a rapid and hasty retreat on her part. I have no doubt she observed me, and fancying that she was better alone, she fled from the spot where she had so recently amused herself. I was angry with myself for having disturbed her, for the scene was one which would, perhaps, not occur to me again. I was very curious to know who this fascinating young creature was, and could not bring myself to believe that she was other than an inmate of the wood, for both her dress and appearance betokened that she was no town-bred maiden.

When night approached, I found shelter in the hut of an old shepherd upon the borders of the forest. I arose in the morning refreshed and in

vigorated, but I had dreamed of the beautiful girl whom I had seen on the preceding day; my thoughts, in fact, dwelt perpetually upon her, and I was bent upon discovering the place of her retreat and becoming acquainted with her history. I was gratified with another sight of her: she appeared about the same time, and in the same spot, as on the preceding day, and occupied herself as usual in wreathing her hair with flowers. I attempted again to get nearer to her; but she detected my movement, and again took to flight. I succeeded, however, on the next day in obtaining an interview; and if I were charmed by the occasional glances I had caught of her at a distance, I was so to a much greater degree when I became acquainted with her engaging and artless manners. There was something particularly refreshing in conversing with this young girl. She was unacquainted with the world; she scarcely, indeed, knew that there was any other world than that in which she moved herself; nature had unfolded to her her richest stores, and each hill and valley and murmuring stream afforded her ample delight and sufficient matter for contemplation. I scarcely think she knew that there was such a place as town, or, if she did, she was less artless than I suspected, and a perfect adept at concealment. It was not without some difficulty that I succeeded in obtaining this interview. When she saw me, she began to retire as usual, but, perhaps, not so precipitately as on the former occasions. In her haste, however, she lost some flowers from her basket, and I at once hastened to gather them for her.

"See! you

have lost your flowers," I said to her.

She paused for a moment hesitatingly, as if in doubt whether she should wait for the flowers or go without them.

"If you will stay a moment I will bring them to you,” I said.

When I had picked the flowers up, I advanced towards her, and she was evidently somewhat assured either by my manner or appearance, for she did not offer to move from the place where she stood. As she took the flowers she smiled.

"Thank you," she said.

"You are very fond of flowers," I observed.

"Oh, yes! I pluck fresh ones every day for grandfather."

"And tell me, if you please, who your grandfather is."

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Oh, he is a very old man-three or four times as old as you are."

"Does he live far from here ?"

"Close at hand. We live in a small cottage at the outskirts of the forest, and grandfather has lived there for I do not know how many years."

"I should like to see your grandfather."

"If you will come with me I will show you him; and although he is not very anxious to see strangers, I think he will not object to see you." "I should be very sorry," I said, " to intrude upon your grandfather's privacy, if it were not agreeable to him."

"I dare say he will see you, if I request him to do so."

I felt encouraged by the kindly manner of the child, and without further hesitation proceeded with her towards the cottage in which her grandfather lived. I was much amused with her conversation, and soon discovered that she possessed intelligence far beyond her years.

"And what occupation does your grandfather follow ?" I said to her. "He is a sculptor," she replied. "Oh! he carves such beautiful figures."

"I am fond of sculpture, and I hope he will permit me to see some of his works."

"I am sure he will, for he likes gentlemen to examine them."

It occupied us only a few minutes to reach the cottage of the old man, and by that time a strong feeling of friendship had sprung up between this exceedingly interesting child and myself, and I scarcely knew whether to admire her more for her beauty or her intelligence. The cottage was very neat, with a small garden in front, which was bounded by a stone wall. A little iron gate admitted us within the inclosure, where we discovered an elderly man seated beneath an overspreading tree in front of the house. He was attired in good but simple garments, and his appearance was venerable and dignified. His grave countenance indicated a person who had devoted a very considerable portion of his time to the severest studies. He was evidently much surprised, and, I fancied, a little displeased, to see me in the company of his granddaughter.

"Dear grandfather," said the little girl, running up to him, "this gentleman I met in the forest, and he has been so kind as to accompany me home. He has expressed a wish to see some of your beautiful pieces of sculpture."

As my little companion made the last remark, I perceived a smile of satisfaction play for a moment upon the countenance of the aged sculptor. He rose at once from his seat and shook me by the hand.

"I will have great pleasure," he said, "to show you some of my humble efforts, but I think you had better first partake of some refreshment."

I thanked him, and would have declined, but he pressed me so earnestly that I at length acceded to his proposal. We went into the interior of the house, and a slight repast was quickly prepared for us by an elderly female, who seemed to act in the capacity of a servant. During the meal some conversation ensued, in the course of which the sculptor elicited from me the circumstances under which I had so recently departed from the parental home, and finding that I was so utterly devoid of all prospects of a future maintenance, he gave me permission to take up my abode with him, until some determination should be come to with respect to my subsequent career. I believe I should have accepted of his offer, were it not that I should be depending upon the bounty of an old man, whose means were, perhaps, very limited, and whose age and infirmities rendered him almost incapable of work. I think he suspected the reasons which prevented me from acquiescing in his proposal, for he at once said:

"Nay, my young friend, do not hesitate to become our guest for a little while at least; for although I am not rich, we have sufficient for our own support and that of any visitor who may honour us with his company."

"Oh! do, sir,” added my little friend; "I am sure we will do all that we can to make you comfortable."

"I am quite convinced of that," I said.

"Well, then, you must stay with us," said the old man; "and I have no doubt we will find some employment for you whilst you are here."

I yielded at length to their entreaties, for in my position they were difficult to resist. There was, perhaps, another reason which led to my being so easily moved. I felt a strange interest in the concerns of these people, and my little friend of the morning had scarcely engaged me more by her smiling countenance and winning manners than the old sculptor by his grave and patriarchal deportment. After our meal, the old man, accompanied by his granddaughter, conducted me to the studio, which was in a detached building at the back of the cottage. I was at once captivated with the beauty of the various groups and figures, cut in marble, which burst upon my astonished vision; for I did not suspect that my aged friend was so great a proficient in sculpture as the works which I now beheld would seem to imply. In the grouping, the most cultivated taste was apparent, and the elegance of form and attitude given to some of the isolated figures at once awakened my unqualified admiration. It was quite apparent that the sculptor had carefully studied the works of the most eminent Greek and Italian masters, and had made himself acquainted with the art in the most minute particulars. At the further end of the building there was an object that greatly attracted my attention, and I was curious to know what it was. It was covered so effectually by a large sheet of cloth that it was impossible to see any portion of it.

"What is that you have covered up?" I inquired.

"and is not yet

"It is one of my latest works," replied the old man, even finished. Indeed, there is much to do at it still. I will take off the cloth and you shall see it. It is my greatest effort, and has occupied me a long time in its execution; it is fully ten years since it was commenced, but I have done two or three little things during its progress."

As soon as the cloth was removed, one of the most exquisite pieces of sculpture I had ever witnessed was immediately displayed. It is true, I did not understand the nature of the composition, but the attitudes, drapery, and countenances of the figures seemed, so far as I could judge, to evince the most extraordinary beauty of design and finished workmanship in the execution. In the front stood a kind of couch, on which lay a sleeping child, with a loose robe thrown carelessly over it, but permitting a large portion of its symmetrical form to be fully exposed; at the head of the couch there stood a female figure with a benignant countenance, and who, leaning over the child with outstretched arms and open hands, seemed to be shedding over it an influence at once healthful and soothing; at the foot of the couch stood another female figure, whose countenance was also benignant, but not so much so as that of the other, for there was a mixture of sternness and melancholy in it that gave it somewhat of a repulsive cast; the figure in the centre, and, as it were, at the back of the couch, was that of an old man with a flowing beard, and who, as his gaze was bent upon the face of the child, held in his hand a sand-glass.

When I had examined this beautiful piece of sculpture for a few minutes, I turned to the artist, and said,

"What do you call this work?"


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