Stanza from Gray’s “Elegy."
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deigned in’ va lid lone’ li ness smoothed med’i cine be wil’dered gen’ ius riv’ et ed soul-sub du’ ing
In a humble room, in one of the poorer streets of London, little Pierre, a fatherless French boy, sat humming by the bedside of his sick mother. There was no bread in the house; and he had not tasted food all day. Yet he sat humming to keep up his spirits.
Still, at times, he thought of his loneliness and hunger, and he could scarcely keep the tears from his eyes; for he knew that nothing would be so welcome to his poor invalid mother as a good sweet orange; and yet he had not a penny in the world.
The little song he was singing was his own,—one he had composed, both air and words; for the child was a genius. He went to the window, and, looking out, saw a man putting up a great poster with yellow letters, announcing that Madame Malibran would sing that night in public.
“Oh, if I could only go!” thought little Pierre; and then, pausing a moment, he clasped his hands; his eyes sparkled with a new hope. Running to the looking-glass, he smoothed his yellow curls, and, taking from a little box an old, stained paper, he gave one eager glance at his mother, who slept, and ran speedily from the house.
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“Who, do you say, is waiting for me?” said the lady to her servant. “I am already worn out with company.”
“Only a very pretty little boy, with yellow curls, who says that if he can just see you, he is sure you will not be sorry, and he will not keep you a moment.”
“Oh, well, let him come!” said the beautiful singer, with a smile; “I can never refuse children.”
Little Pierre came in, his hat under his arm; and in his hand a little roll of paper. With a manliness unusual in a child, he walked straight up to the lady, and, bowing, said: “I have come to see you, because my mother is very sick, and we are too poor to get food and medicine. I thought that, perhaps, if you would only sing my little song at one of your grand concerts, some publisher might buy it, for a small sum; and so I could get food and medicine for my mother.”
The beautiful woman rose from her seat; very tall and stately she was;—she took the little roll from his hand, and lightly hummed the air.
“Did you compose it?” she asked,—“you, a child! And the words?—Would you like to come to my concert?” she asked, after a few moments of thought.
“Oh, yes!” and the boy’s eyes grew bright with happiness; “but I couldn’t leave my mother.”
“I will send somebody to take care of your mother for the evening; and here is a crown, with which you may go and get food and medicine. Here is also one of my tickets; come to-night; and that will admit you to a seat near me.”