Joy departed, amid their tumult of rejoicing, and joined her sister.
The happy family did not miss her for a time; yet when their great and sudden happiness subsided into realization they sought her, but in vain.
They needed her not; for the essence of her life was with them, while she was walking over the earth, carrying pleasure and happiness to thousands; yet doing the work of her father no more than her worn and sad-eyed sister.
There was once an aged man who owned and lived in a large house the height of which was three stories. His only child was a daughter, of whom he was very fond, and who listened generally to his words of counsel and instruction; but no amount of persuasion could induce her to ascend to the highest story of their dwelling, where her father spent many hours in watching the varied landscape which it overlooked. It was an alloyed pleasure as he sat there evening after evening alone, looking at the lovely cloud tints, and rivers winding like veins of silver through the meadows. It detracted from his joy to know that the view from the lower window offered naught but trees thickly set and dry hedges.
“Come up, child,” he called, morning and evening, year after year, with the same result. It seemed of no avail. “She will die and never know what beauties lie around her dwelling,” he said, as he sat looking at the wealth of beauty. It seemed to him that the clouds were never so brilliant, nor the trees and meadows so strangely gilded by the sun’s rays, as on that evening. He longed more than ever to share with his child the pleasure he experienced, and resolved upon a plan by which he hoped to attain his wish.
“I will have workmen shut out the light of all the stories below with thick boards, and bar the door that she may not escape. I will give her a harmless drink to-night that will deepen her slumbers while the work is being done; for by these seemingly harsh means alone can I induce my child to ascend.”
That night, while she slumbered, the work was done, and she awoke not at the sound of the hammer on the nails. When all was completed, the father ascended to await the rays of morning, and listen for the voice of his child, which soon broke in suppliant tones upon his ears:—
“Father! my father! It’s dark! I cannot see!”
“Come up, my child!” still he cried. “Come to me, and behold new glories.”
She gave no answer; but he heard her weeping, and groped his way below to lead her up. She no longer resisted. Her steps, though slow, were willing ones: they were upward now, and the father cared not how slow, so long as they were ascending.
Many times she wished to go back, but he urged her on with gentle words and a strong, sustaining arm, till the last landing was reached, and the light, now streaming through the open windows, made words no longer needful. With a bound she sprang to the open casement, exclaiming, “Father, dear father!” and fell, weeping, on his breast.