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with Frank. It will be an advantage to both of you; and whenever you can find leisure from more important avocations, come and see us. I trust I shall be able, during the coming year, to pay you a visit, with Frank, and make the ac. quaintance of your mother and sisters.”
When the boys parted, Frank said, “ Do you know Joseph, that this is my birthday ? '
“ I did not.”
“It is ; I am just seventeen ; and I should be perfectly happy were I not obliged to part with you. But let us try to meet every year on this anniversary, and then we shall be sure to keep up our friendship."
Brandon's heart was so full that he could hardly reply. He thought it unmanly to shed tears, and brushed away the intruders from his eyes. Tears that flow from gratitude are no mark of weakness in man or woman; to either, they are the natural expression of genuine sensibility.
BRANDON pursued his way homeward as fast as steamboats and locomotives could convey him ; yet, to his eager wishes, they seemed to move but slowly.
When he reached Boston, the associations connected with that place were painful and mortify. ing.
• What a silly boy was I, to parade about these streets, trying to make people think I was somebody! And what consequence was it what these passing strangers thought of me? O, it was too ridiculous," thought Joseph.
He now walked across the city quite unconcernedly, in his sailor's dress, not fearing " the world's dread laugh,” and took passage in a stagecoach for his native village.
As he rode along, sad forebodings filled his heart. What changes might have taken place! As the well known spire of the village church came in sight, it was impossible to restrain those tears which appeared to have burst from a long time sealed up fountain ; tears of penitence for his undutifulness as a son, his unkindness as a brother. They were as refreshing to the soul as evening dew to the delicate flower.
Joseph alighted at the well known gate. The roses were in full bloom ; the grass, fresh and nicely cut; every thing bore the air of comfort.
With a trembling hand he raised the latch, opened the door, and walked into the parlour. It had undergone an entire change; not one familiar object met his eye among the new and handsome furniture that adorned the apartment.
A lady, an entire stranger, entered; and, seeing a sailor thus unceremoniously surveying the room, she was about to scream with alarm, when Joseph, very politely bowing, said,
“Excuse me, Madam, does not Mrs. Brandon live here?"
“ She does not,” replied the lady ; "she has removed to the small cottage on the other side of the green."
“Do you know if she and her family are well ? " inquired Joseph, with a tremulous voice.
“ Mrs. Brandon is well, I believe, but one of her daughters has been very ill for some time past," was the reply.
Joseph could scarcely articulate, “ Which
The lady did not know. Joseph hurried across the green to the small cottage, knocked at the door, and it was opened by Susan.
“Joseph ! Joseph !” she screamed, and threw her arms about his neck.
Immediately recovering from her surprise, she motioned her brother to remain silent, and whispered in his ear, 66 Our dear Fanny is ill ; so very ill that there is but little hope of her recovery. Come in softly.”
She led him into an humble little parlour, where were crowded the familiar movables for which he had looked in vain at his mother's own house. Mrs. Brandon sat by the bedside of her precious child, who seemed to be insensible. She watched
“Her breathing soft and low,
Suddenly, the apparently dying girl started, opened her eyes, and faintly articulated,
“ I heard Susan call Joseph. Has he come home?"
“ I will go and see, dearest,” replied Mrs. Brandon.
She hastened to the parlour. “ Mother!"
It was all that Joseph could utter, but the word came up from the depth of a penitent heart, and volumes could not have expressed to that mother all which the tone of voice conveyed. Never, since she held her first-born an infant in her arms, had such an appeal been made to her
the past was all forgiven. Mrs. Brandon soon hastened back to Fanny.
“Mother, has brother indeed come home?" said the invalid.
“He has, Fanny. Do you wish to see him ? "
“I do, immediately, for I fear I shall remain but a very short time."
Wasted by long illness, Fanny was but the shadow of herself, - pale even 'to ghastliness ; she seemed already to have approached the confines of the world of spirits. She reached out her thin white hand to Joseph, and a lovely smile passed over her wan face.