The rudiments of a kind of drawing were taught there, and although nothing but circles, squares, triangles, and ovals were practised, the teacher saw, by the borders of William’s slate, which way his talent led; and pitying the boy who would be obliged to make shoes for a living, while gifted so far above the ordinary standard, he would gladly have taught him for nothing had his friend the baker permitted. But Mr. Herman knew the opinion of his parents on that subject, and he felt that it would be wrong for him to encourage that which they did not. William, however, although he took no lessons, learned a great deal of the, to him, forbidden art, and went on contentedly, knowing nothing of the teacher’s proposal or his protector’s objection.
William at his mother’s grave.
As the time appointed for his departure drew near, William’s heart became very sad. The prospect of being separated from his friend George gave him no little pain. He shrunk, too, from the idea of living with perfect strangers.
Time, however, waits for no one. The day but one before that on which he was to set out arrived; and having gone around to say farewell to his acquaintances, he made his last visit to the church-yard where his parents lay buried. His mother had been peculiarly fond of flowers, and when obliged to give up her garden, had beautified and planted her husband’s grave with some of the choicest of her treasures. Her only recreation was this labour of love; for she took a mournful pleasure in thus decorating the little hillock, and she spared no pains to keep it in order. It is a well-known custom of the Germans to adorn graves with flowers; and inheriting this feature of her country’s usages to the fullest extent, she had ornamented the little space allotted for their burial-place with taste and beauty.
Now she was herself sleeping among the flowers she had planted and tended, but no want of care was yet visible about the spot; kind hands had made up the grave, and William had removed the roses she nourished in pots, sinking them in the earth; and now, in the full bloom of summer beauty, they were shedding their fragrance and leaves over the little mounds.
The orphan boy came for the last time to visit the spot where his dearest earthly treasure was buried. He knelt down beside the graves, and wept as he prayed that God would go forth with and protect him in the new station which he must now fill.
When calmness was again restored, he seated himself on a grave at a little distance, and taking a piece of paper and a pencil from his pocket, he drew a sketch of the little square where his loved ones slept. There were no stones to mark the spot, but there was no need of any; the adornment of the place would have told the traveller that no memorial of that kind was necessary, for true affection was keeping the record. The little drawing was finished, and once more he broke into a violent fit of weeping, from which he was suddenly disturbed by the sound of a footstep near him. He turned, and saw a stranger standing behind him, whose countenance was not only most prepossessing, but now wore an expression of sympathy that operated at once upon the heart of the desolate boy.