A child of the heather.
‘What, Milly! Sitting in the dark?’ asked Mr. Penrose, as he entered the chamber of the suffering child, who was gazing through the open window at the silent stars.
‘I were just lookin’ at th’ parish candles, as my faither co’s ‘em; they burn breetsome to-neet, sir.’
‘Looking at them, or looking for them?’ queried the somewhat perplexed divine. ‘Can I bring the candles to you?’
‘Yo’ cornd bring ’em ony nearer than they are. They’re up yon, sithi,’ and so saying the child pointed to the evening sky.
‘So you call the stars “parish candles,” do you?’ smilingly inquired Mr. Penrose. ’I never heard them called by that name before.’
’It’s my faither co’s ’em “parish candles,” not me,’ said the child.
‘And what do you call them?’
‘Happen if I tell yo’ yo’ll laugh at me, as my faither does.’
‘No, I shall not. You need not be afraid.’
’Well, I co ’em angels’ een (eyes).’
‘A far prettier name than your father gives to them, Milly.’
‘An’ what dun yo’ think hoo co’s th’ dew as it lies fresh on th’ moors in a mornin’?’ asked the mother, who was sitting in one of the shadowed corners of the room.
’I cannot say, I am sure, Mrs. Lord. Milly has such wonderful names for everything.’
‘Why, hoo co’s it angels’ tears, and says it drops daan fro’ th’ een o’ them as watches fro’ aboon at the devilment they see on th’ earth.’
‘Milly, you are a poetess!’ exclaimed the delighted minister. ’But do you really think the angels weep? Would it not destroy the joy of that place where sorrow and sighing are no more?’
‘Well, yo’ see, it’s i’ this road, Mr. Penrose. They say as th’ angels are glad when bad folk turn good, and I suppose they’ll fret theirsels a bit if th’ bad folk keeps bad; and there’s mony o’ that mak’ abaat here.’
Mr, Penrose was silent. Once more Milly was, unknown to herself furnishing him with thoughts; for, again and again, from the sickbed of this child had he gone forth with fresh fields of revelation opening before him. True, the idea of heaven’s grief at earth’s sin was not a pleasant one; but if joy at righteousness and repentance, why not grief at wickedness and hardness of heart?
While thus musing in the quiet of the darkening chamber, Milly turned from her contemplation of the stars with the somewhat startling question:
‘Mr. Penrose, dun yo’ think there’ll be yethbobs (tufts of heather) i’ heaven?’
‘That’s bothered her a deal latly,’ broke in the mother, with a choking voice. ’Hoo sez hoo noan cares for heaven if hoo cornd play on th’ moors, and yer th’ wind, and poo yethbobs when hoo gets there. What dun yo’ think abaat it, Mr. Penrose?’