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“Well, sir, while you were lying flat on your back, and the rest of us were hurraing, hauling, and pulling hither and thither, working for dear life against the winds and waves, the pretty creature was rolling about the cabin floor, clapping her hands. When I tumbled down to my locker for five minutes' rest, I found her on her knees in her little night-wrap, saying, 'Our Father;' and I felt sure no storm would sink the ship with her in it.”
Poor mother of Mittie! how her heart was wrung at sending her blind, trusting child from her arms ! But her brother in America had written, telling her that he would provide for Mittie,-poor sightless Mittie, who could learn little in that uncivilized land. So, with many tears and prayers, that missionary mother had packed her Mittie's small trunk and placed her in care of a friend,- the English lady before mentioned to be transported to our country. What but a mother's prayer guarded the helpless darling in her lonely wanderings ?
On arriving at New York, Captain I -- and Mr. Lmade inquiry everywhere for Mr. Wythe. Directories were searched, streets ransacked, and questions repeated hundreds of times to no purpose. No relative of the poor blind Mittie could be found.
“Leave her with me, captain,” said Mr. L-;"I am soon to return to London, but before sailing I will place her in an asylum for the blind, and see that she is comfortably cared for."
Instead, however, of placing Mittie in the State Asylum of New York, her friend took her to a southern city, where he had business connexions, and left her in one of those beautiful retreats which nature and art have combined to adorn for those whose eyes tell not night from day, nor beauty from deformity.
Kind voices welcomed the little stranger : but they were voices she had never heard, nor hoped to hear. For the first time since she sobbed good-bye on her mother's lap, her hope and faith faltered. She felt she was alone in the world, and sought out a corner to cry. Had the superintendent particularly interested himself in the child, he would have found out her history, and probably have sought some communication with her parents; but setting down her name as a charity scholar, he forgot that she was not an orphan.
And Mr. L- ? His sympathies had been strongly enlisted, and he really intended to find out the mystery; but he was a man of the world, and immersed in its busy cares. Having placed a sum of money for her use in the hands of the director, with permission to apply to him in any other emergency, he returned to his English home,and only remembered the blind child of the voyage at moments when his own laughing Carrie climbed into his lap. One among a hundred children ; Mittie
was well educated in all that the blind can learn. She was taught how to read the Bible, from which her mother had read to her, by passing her small fingers over curiously raised letters. She learned to sew, to braid, and to write. Strange thoughts that young head used to frame, for that unsteady hand to jot down in its crooked wanderings over the paper. She learned to sing the sweet hymns of her schoolmates, and to touch for herself the keys of the piano; whose melodies had almost made her fancy herself in heaven, only she had been told in heaven she should see,
like other children. Sometimes, in her dreams, she would find herself on a soft couch, with strange perfumes and sounds about her, and would feel warm tears dropping, one by one, on her forehead, while a dear arm pressed her closely.
“Mother! dear mother !” Mittie would cry, and awake --to find no mother.
Years had passed, when again a ship was nearing the forest of masts in New York harbour. On the deck sat a pale lady in deep mourning, with traces of tears upon
her cheeks. Her children clung about her, with wonder in their faces.
“Oh, beautiful America ! the America you have so often told us about,” cried a sweet-voiced girl of twelve Mamma, does it look as it did when you went away ?”
Mamma, did you live in any of those great houses ?" “Mamma! plenty Pagodas' here ?" chimed in the youngest boy, whose eyes had taken in the numerous church spires. All spoke at once, but the mother answered neither. . Her heart was too full. She had gone from that shore a happy bride, and hopeful ;
she was returning a widow, broken in health and spirits, to place her children with her relatives, and then as she believed, to lay her bones in the tomb of her kindred. One hope only made her heart bound; and her pale cheek grew paler, as she looked on the shore of her nativity, for the first time in twenty years.
“Oh, God! could I see all my children before I die ;" she faltered.
I pass over the scene of her landing, and welcoming to the house of her brother. I will not stop to tell how many wonders the India-born children found in American city customs and sights ; for I must hasten to the end of my story.
“It is impossible, sister,” said her brother to the pale lady, one morning, in answer to some expression ; "the child could never have reached this country. We never, as you know, have traced her farther than England; and if she had been brought here, she could not have failed to find me, or I her."
The widow sighed. “ God's will be done!” and she said, “But it is hard to feel that my little helpless innocent, my eldest born, was sent from me to perish alone. Often I feel as if it could not be, as if she were yet alive, and I should find her at some day.”
Providentially, as it proved, the mother was led to search the catalogues of various institutions for the blind ; long in vain. At length she obtained a catalogue from a distant city, and glanced over it indifferently, so often had she been disappointed. Her heart sprung to her lips as she saw the name “Mittie W. Hamilton.”
“ Brother ! ” she gasped, extending the paper to him.
He looked, and shook his head. “I am afraid you are expecting too much, my poor sister. Matilda was your darling's name ; and then how should she stray to that corner of the United States ?"
But the mother's hope was stronger than her fears. She scarcely ate or slept, weak though she was, until she reached the southern city whose name the catalogue had borne.
“Hamilton! yes, we have one pupil of that name,” replied the bland superintendent, in answer to her first question of trembling eagerness. “But she is an orphan, madam.”
Are you sure, sir. Oh, I must see her at once ! ” She followed him to a door of a large room, where fifty girls sat busied with their books and needlework. The buz of conversation died, as they heard the sound of strange footsteps, and a hundred sightless eyes were turned towards the door.
Near a table on which lay a bunch of delicate straw filaments, sat Mittie Hamilton. She had been braiding a bonnet, but her fingers had ceased their work, and buried in a sort of reverie, she was the only one who did not notice the entrance of a stranger.
“Was there any distinguished feature, by which you could recognise your daughter, my dear madam ?” asked the gentleman.
The mother's eyes wandered over the group, as though she dreaded the confirmation of her fears to lose her last hope.
"Show me the child of whom you spoke,” she faltered.
"Mittie Hamilton”—but he stopped; for at the lady's first word, Mittie had sprung from her position, and throwing back the curls from her face, turned wildly from side to side.
"Who is that ?" she cried, with outstretched arms. “That voice speak again !”
“Mittie, my child !" cried Mrs. Hamilton, springing to her side, and sinking overpowered upon her knees.
“Mother, oh, mother!”—and Mittie fell in the arms that had cradled her in infancy.
That was a moment never to be forgotten !
Uncle Wythe Harris (for the mistake which had clouded so many years of the lifetime of mother and child, was that of Mittle in substituting, -child she was,—the first name of her uncle for the last) found a pleasant cottage on the banks of the Hudson for his sister and her now happy family. What a loving welcome the dear girls and boys whom Heaven had blessed with the power of seeing their sister, gave to the wandered Mittie ! How she comforted her mother's heart, making her forget to sorrow that she had a blind child, in her joy at feeling that she had another living darling!
The sunshine of Mittie's girlhood came back to her spirit. The dear blind girl was the joy of the house.
How could any body cherish a feeling of discontent or peevishness, when that glad voice was pouring out its songs of thankfulness from morning until night! Oh, dear blind Mittie never more,-happy spirit that she was,-mourned that God had not given her eyes to see. “He has given me back my mother,” she once said, “and these precious brothers and sisters, and He will let me see them all in heaven!”
THE EYE THAT SEES IN DARKNESS. A LITTLE boy, called Jacob, was once alone in the house with his little sister, who was called Anna. Jacob said to Anna, 'Come, let us go down, and find something to eat, and let us enjoy ourselves very much.'
Anna replied, 'If you can take me to a place where no one will see us, I will go with you.'
"Well, then,' said Jacob, come with me into the dairy, and then we can eat up a dishful of sweet cream.'
Anna replied, “Our neighbour, who is cleaving wood in the street, can see us there.'
'Come with me, then, into the kitchen !' said Jacob, 'for there is a pot full of honey, and we will dip our bread into it, and eat it all.'
Anna said, 'Our neighbour, who sits spinning at her window, can look in there.'