“But it won’t be home,” replied Clarence.
“True,” replied Mr. Balch, a little touched, “it won’t seem so at first; but you’ll soon like it, I’ll guarantee that.”
Clarence was not permitted to indulge his grief to any great extent, for Mr. Balch soon succeeded in interesting him in the various objects that they passed on the way.
On the evening of the next day they arrived at their destination, and Clarence alighted from the cars, cold, fatigued, and spiritless. There had been a heavy fall of snow a few days previous, and the town of Sudbury, which was built upon the hill-side, shone white and sparkling in the clear winter moonlight.
It was the first time that Clarence had ever seen the ground covered with snow, and he could not restrain his admiration at the novel spectacle it presented to him. “Oh, look!—oh, do look! Mr. Balch,” he exclaimed, “how beautifully white it looks; it seems as if the town was built of salt.”
It was indeed a pretty sight. Near them stood a clump of fantastic-shaped trees, their gnarled limbs covered with snow, and brilliant with the countless icicles that glistened like precious stones in the bright light that was reflected upon them from the windows of the station. A little farther on, between them and the town, flowed a small stream, the waters of which were dimpling and sparkling in the moonlight. Beside its banks arose stately cotton-mills, and from their many windows hundreds of lights were shining. Behind them, tier above tier, were the houses of the town; and crowning the hill was the academy, with its great dome gleaming on its top like a silver cap upon a mountain of snow. The merry sleigh-bells and the crisp tramp of the horses upon the frozen ground were all calculated to make a striking impression on one beholding such a scene for the first time.
Clarence followed Mr. Balch into the sleigh, delighted and bewildered with the surrounding objects. The driver whipped up his horses, they clattered over the bridge, dashed swiftly through the town, and in a very short period arrived at the dwelling of Mr. Eustis.
The horses had scarcely stopped, when the door flew open, and a stream of light from the hall shone down the pathway to the gate. Mr. Eustis came out on the step to welcome them. After greeting Mr. Balch warmly, he took Clarence by the hand, and led him into the room where his sister was sitting.
“Here is our little friend,” said he to her, as she arose and approached them; “try and get him warm, Ada—his hands are like ice.”
Miss Ada Bell welcomed Clarence in the most affectionate manner, assisted him to remove his coat, unfastened his woollen neck-tie, and smoothed down his glossy black hair; then, warming a napkin, she wrapped it round his benumbed hands, and held them in her own until the circulation was restored and they were supple and comfortable again.
Miss Ada Bell appeared to be about thirty-five. She had good regular features, hazel eyes, and long chestnut curls: a mouth with the sweetest expression, and a voice so winning and affectionate in its tone that it went straight to the hearts of all that listened to its music.