“Is the heart a living
Self-entwined, its strength sinks low;
It can only live in loving,
And by serving, love will grow.”
As Lucy passed in under the acacias which shaded the gate, she was met by a pretty, graceful-looking girl about her own age, who, with her golden hair floating on her shoulders and her hat swinging listlessly in her hand, was wandering through the shrubbery.
“Why, Lucy,” she exclaimed, “what a time you have been away! I’ve tried everything I could think of to pass the time; looked over all your books, and couldn’t find a nice one I hadn’t read; teased Alick and Fred till they went off for peace, and pussy till she scratched my arm. Just look there!”
But Lucy’s mind had been too much absorbed to descend at once to the level of her cousin’s trifling tone; and having been vexed previously at her refusal to accompany her to Sunday school, she now regretted exceedingly that Stella had not been present to hear Miss Preston’s earnest words.
“Oh, Stella,” she said eagerly, “I do so wish you had been with me! If you had only heard what Miss Preston said to us, it would have done you good all your life.”
“Well, you know I don’t worship Miss Preston,” replied Stella, always ready to tease, “she looks so demure. And as for dressing, why, Ada and Sophy wouldn’t be seen out in the morning in that common-looking muslin she wore to church.”
“Oh, Stella, how can you go on so?” exclaimed Lucy impatiently. “If you only had something better to think of, you wouldn’t talk as if you thought dress the one thing needful.”
“That’s a quotation from one of Uncle Raymond’s sermons, isn’t it?” rejoined Stella aggravatingly.
Lucy drew her arm away from her cousin’s and walked off alone to the house, obliged to hear Stella’s closing remark: “Well, I’m glad I didn’t go to Sunday school if it makes people come home cross and sulky!” And then, unconscious of the sting her words had implanted, Stella turned to meet little Harry, who was bounding home in his highest spirits.
Lucy slowly found her way to her own room, her especial sanctuary, where she had a good deal of pleasure in keeping her various possessions neatly arranged. At present it was shared by her young visitor, whose careless, disorderly ways were a considerable drawback to the pleasure so long anticipated of having a companion of her own age. Just now her eye fell at once on her ransacked bookcase all in confusion, with the books scattered about the room. It was a trifle, but trifles are magnified when the temper is already discomposed; and throwing down her gloves and Bible, she hastily proceeded to rearrange them, feeling rather unamiably towards her cousin.