PRINTED FOR THE
Society for promoting Christian knowledge;
Sold at the depository,
Great Queen Street, LINCOLN’S inn Fields;
And 4, Royal Exchange.
* * * * *
R. Clay, Printer,
Bread Street Hill.
It was a fine evening in the beginning of autumn. The last rays of the sun, as it sunk behind the golden clouds, gleamed in at the window of a cottage, which stood in a pleasant lane, about a quarter of a mile from the village of Ryefield. On each side of the narrow gravel walk that led from the lane to the cottage-door, was a little plot of cultivated ground. That on the right hand was planted with cabbages, onions, and other useful vegetables; that on the left, with gooseberry and currant-bushes, excepting one small strip, where stocks, sweet-peas, and rose-trees were growing; whose flowers, for they were now in full bloom, peeping over the neatly trimmed quick-hedge that fenced the garden from the road, had a gay and pretty appearance. Not a weed was to be found in any of the beds; the gooseberry and currant-bushes had evidently been pruned with much care and attention, and were loaded with fine ripe fruit. But the most remarkable thing in the garden was an apricot-tree, which grew against the wall of the cottage, and which was covered with apricots of a large size and beautiful colour.
The cottage itself, though small and thatched with straw, was clean and cheerful, the brick floor was strewed with sand, and a white though coarse cloth was spread on the little deal table. On this table were placed tea-things, a loaf of bread, and some watercresses. A cat was purring on the hearth, and a kettle was boiling on the fire.
Near the window, in a large arm-chair, sat an old woman, with a Bible on her knees. She appeared happy and contented, and her countenance expressed cheerfulness and good temper. After reading for some time with great attention, she paused to look from the window into the lane, as if expecting to see some one. She listened as if for a footstep; but all was silent. She read again for about ten minutes longer, and then closing the Sacred Volume, rose, and, having laid the Book carefully on a shelf, opened the door, and went out into the garden, whence she could see farther into the lane, and remained for a considerable time leaning over the little wicket gate, in anxious expectation.
“What can be the reason that Ned is so late?” she said, half aloud, to herself. “He always hastens home to his poor old grandmother as soon as he has done work. What can make him an hour later than usual? I hope nothing has happened to him. But, hush!” she continued, after a few minutes’ pause, “surely I hear him coming now.”