In the centre of the town stood the old church, antiquated in its appearance, but venerable and holy in its associations. In that old-fashioned church have been settled three successive ministers of the gospel. In those high-backed, square pews were other generations wont to sit. Those pastors and their flocks now sleep in the grave. Their sons occupy their places in the sanctuary, and another herald of the cross proclaims to them the word of life. It was in this pleasant place, which I have briefly described, that Charles Duran was born.
THE BIRTH OF CHARLES.
The birth of Charles was an occasion of great joy in Mr. Duran’s family. Blessings long withheld are frequently more highly prized when at length received. Mr. Duran had no children, and was now past the meridian of life. To him this child seemed like one born out of due time.
It was amusing to see the effect produced on the parents by this, till recently, unexpected event. “Well, Molly,” said Mr. Jones,—a neighbor of Mr. Duran, whose wife had just been to see the strange visitant, and who had reared a large family of children,—“how do Mr. and Mrs. Duran act with the boy?” “Act? why just like two grown-up children. And they think it is the most wonderful child that ever was born. But they don’t know what it may live to be!”
These last words were spoken in a tone of voice which told of hidden springs of sorrow. One of Mrs. Jones’ own dear children, a promising, lovely boy, had early become intemperate, and was now sleeping in a drunkard’s grave!
Having passed through the ordinary nursery incidents of the first months of infancy, Charley—for so he was familiarly called—became a fine fat child. “Sweet boy,” said his mother, as she rather clumsily patted his cheeks, and felt of his tender limbs, “you will be a comfort to your parents in their old age.”
“I was just thinking of that,” added the father. “What a blessing he will be to us! He will manage the farm—administer to our comfort, and inherit our estate.”
Many a bright sunny morning has been followed by a dark cloudy evening. Our supposed blessings often prove to us a source of disappointment and sorrow. I have seen the mother clasp her lovely infant to her breast, and fondly and dotingly caress it, and press its little hands and feet, soft as velvet, with her lips. And I have seen that child, the rainbow of promise, and the cause of so much joy, bring down that mother’s head, ere it was gray, with sorrow to the grave.
Thoughts like these, however, never crossed the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Duran. They dreamed not that sickness and death might blast their hopes, and leave them more lonely than they were before. So staid and uniform had been their own life, that they never once supposed that Charles, if he should grow up, could pursue any other course.