He knew it; but he had promised to water the plant, even though he himself was to die of thirst; and he was faithful to his word. One evening, when Louisa and her parents were questioning him, he thus answered in a feeble voice, ’You are right; I die of thirst, that my charge may live—it is my duty.’ And saying these words, he laid his parched lips upon its withered leaves, as one would kiss the hand of an expiring friend, and continued: ’You have all promised to love me: if I do not live, be careful of this coffee-plant, which held out to us such brilliant prospects. I ask it of you as a favour, and bequeath to you the distinction I hoped to have gained by it.’ At the moment they were distributing the scanty portion of water, and though he was perishing, he threw the whole of it upon the shrub—Louisa did the same. It was, as it were, a sacred bond between them—an indissoluble tie. I am convinced that many of my readers have frequently felt a lively and almost inexplicable pleasure in watering a flower dried up by the scorching sun, and, in seeing it revive, have felt as if benefited themselves. What pleasure, then, it must have given to Desclieux and Louisa to see their plant raise its sickly leaves once more!
At length the wind began to rise lightly, and the vessel moved, though slowly. Desclieux was ill—in a burning fever; but he continued to share with the plant his allowance of water; and Louisa added hers. It increased their happiness that it owed its recovery to their mutual self-denial; and it seemed as if their household life had begun in a common endurance of suffering.
The breeze still freshened: and when the vessel anchored in the port of St Pierre, there was not a single drop of water on board. But the coffee-plant was saved; the colony enriched by it; Desclieux’s pledge redeemed; and, three months after, Louisa was his wife.
THE TREE AND THE FOREST.
A STORY WRITTEN FOR THE YOUNG, BUT WHICH MAY BE READ BY THE OLD.
‘What splendid trees!’ said Monsieur D’Ambly, as he was passing by a fine forest of oaks.
‘What a splendid fire they would make!’ replied his son Eugene. Eugene had read a few days before in a book of travels the description of a wood on fire, and he could think of nothing else. He was an admirer of everything that was uncommon, everything that produced an effect or a commotion, and, like most children, he seldom carried his ideas beyond what he saw.
‘If it would not injure any person,’ said he, ’I would be very glad this forest would take fire; it would be a glorious sight. I am sure, papa, that its light would extend as far as the chateau.’
‘Would it then be such a pleasant thing to see a tree burning?’
‘Oh, a tree,’ said Eugene, ’that would be hardly worth the trouble; but a forest would be magnificent.’
‘Since we are on the subject of burning,’ said Monsieur D’Ambly, ’I think it would be well to cut down that young lime-tree on the lawn opposite the chateau; it grows too fast; and if it should spread much more, it would quite intercept our view; I will therefore cut it down for fuel.’