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man’ i fold do mes’ tic pet’ tish ly in grat’ i tude
It was thirteen years since my mother’s death, when, after a long absence from my native village, I stood beside the sacred mound beneath which I had seen her buried. Since that mournful period, a great change had come over me. My childish years had passed away, and with them my youthful character. The world was altered, too; and as I stood at my mother’s grave, I could hardly realize that I was the same thoughtless, happy creature, whose cheeks she so often kissed in an excess of tenderness.
But the varied events of thirteen years had not effaced the remembrance of that mother’s smile. It seemed as if I had seen her but yesterday—as if the blessed sound of her well-remembered voice was in my ear. The gay dreams of my infancy and childhood were brought back so distinctly to my mind that, had it not been for one bitter recollection, the tears I shed would have been gentle and refreshing.
The circumstance may seem a trifling one, but the thought of it now pains my heart; and I relate it, that those children who have parents to love them may learn to value them as they ought.
My mother had been ill a long time, and I had become so accustomed to her pale face and weak voice, that I was not frightened at them, as children usually are. At first, it is true, I sobbed violently; but when, day after day, I returned from school, and found her the same, I began to believe she would always be spared to me; but they told me she would die.
One day when I had lost my place in the class, I came home discouraged and fretful. I went to my mother’s chamber. She was paler than usual, but she met me with the same affectionate smile that always welcomed my return. Alas! when I look back through the lapse of thirteen years, I think my heart must have been stone not to have been melted by it. She requested me to go downstairs and bring her a glass of water. I pettishly asked her why she did not call a domestic to do it. With a look of mild reproach, which I shall never forget if I live to be a hundred years old, she said, “Will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor, sick mother?”
I went and brought her the water, but I did not do it kindly. Instead of smiling, and kissing her as I had been wont to do, I set the glass down very quickly, and left the room. After playing a short time, I went to bed without bidding my mother good night; but when alone in my room, in darkness and silence, I remembered how pale she looked, and how her voice trembled when she said, “Will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor, sick mother?” I could not sleep. I stole into her chamber to ask forgiveness. She had sunk into an easy slumber, and they told me I must not waken her.