“And have you always lived here in our town,” asked Julia.
“Oh, no! I am from Italy. When my child was but two years old, I left my native shores, and with my only relative, my father, followed my young husband, who is an American, to his own land. We settled in the State of Virginia, and a short time ago he died and left me with a charge to take care of our dear Elise. She had her father’s hair and complexion, and inherited his delicate constitution. We were poor and I labored hard, but I cared not, if I could only make my child comfortable and happy. She was not like me—her mind was full of thoughts of beauty—she would often talk of things with which I could not sympathize—the world seemed to her to be full of voices, and she would often say ’How beautiful heaven must be.’ Her nature was purer and gentler than mine, and I felt that she was a fit companion of the angels. But she is now gone to be with them, and I hope soon to meet her.”
Julia bid the lady good bye and went towards her home. As she walked slowly along, she thought to herself, “Elise with the angels!” and she dwelt on the theme till her mother, seeing her rather different in her conduct, asked her the cause, when she replied, “Oh, mother! I want to dwell with the angels.”
“And was there never a portrait of your beautiful child,” said Anne Jones to a lady whom she met at the grave where her child had been lain a few weeks.
“Oh, yes! but I may never have it,” replied the woman, as she stood weeping at the grave.
Anna did not understand the mother’s tears, but in a few moments she became calm, and continued to explain.
“Not many weeks before my child’s illness, as we were walking together in the city, an artist observed my daughter and followed us to our humble home. He praised her countenance to me, and said her beauty was rare. In all his life he had never seen face to compare with it, nor an eye so full of soul—and begged to have me consent to his drawing her portrait. After many urgent entreaties, my dear child consented. For several mornings I went with Flora to the artist’s room, though I could ill afford the time, for our daily bread was to be earned. When he was finishing the picture, Flora went alone. One day she returned, and flinging into my lap her little green purse, she said:—’The picture does not need me any more, and I am very glad, for my head aches badly. They say the portrait is very like me, mother.’
“I resolved to go and see it the day following, but when the time came that I first looked upon it, my dear child began to fade in my arms, until she died. And here she is buried. Since then I go to the artist’s room to see her portrait, and there, full of life and beauty, she stands before me, and I have permission to see it every day.
“But I am about to leave this country for our native land. My aged father has long wished to return to his own country, and we shall soon sail with our friends for Italy. I must leave the dear child here. But if I can purchase the picture of the artist, I shall be happy. We are poor; but by the sale of some little articles, we have raised money enough to buy the picture, at the price which the artist demands for a similar picture.