Such a speech as this always melted poor Nelly into tears; and, seeing the pain it gave her, he did not often refer to his approaching death. To Lucy, however, he sometimes spoke of his concern for the future lot of his adopted daughter, who was again to be left desolate. Lucy herself had been thinking a good deal about it, and wondering whether she could induce her aunt to take Nelly. Amy, however, arranged the matter unexpectedly. She had been asking Lucy, with great earnestness, what poor Nelly would do when the organ-grinder should die; and when Mrs. Brooke next came into the room, she surprised her with the question, “Mamma, may Nelly come and live here when the organ-grinder dies?”
Mrs. Brooke looked bewildered, until Lucy explained the matter. She hesitated, and would have put Amy off with the promise that she “would see about it.” But Amy was so anxious to have the point settled, that her mother at last gave the absolute promise she asked; and Lucy had the satisfaction of announcing to poor Antonio, the next time she visited him, to his great relief and satisfaction, that Nelly’s future home, so long as she desired it, should be with Mrs. Brooke.
Darkness and Light.
“Tell me the old, old
If you would really be
In any time of trouble
A comforter to me.”
Fred came to town for a few days in his Christmas vacation, just as Stella was beginning to recover from the severe attack which had prostrated her. Mr. Brooke’s house being so full of sickness, Lucy, though very unwilling to leave Amy, thought it best, on Fred’s account, to accept an urgent invitation from the Eastwoods that they should both spend a week at Oakvale. He would thus have a pleasanter vacation than under the circumstances he could have at his uncle’s, where he felt himself in the way, and where Lucy had so many demands upon her time that she could see but little of a brother whose visits were so rare. The change of scene was very much needed by her, for the confinement and fatigue of her sick-room attendance had had a depressing influence on her health and spirits.
It was certainly, in spite of all her anxiety about Amy, a very enjoyable change to the bright, cheerful, Christian atmosphere of Dr. Eastwood’s house, and the bracing influence of the outdoor exercise in which the others made her participate. She felt as if it were wrong to enjoy it so much, when Amy, she knew, was dying, and Stella as yet in so precarious a condition. But God sometimes gives, in very trying circumstances, a buoyancy and cheerfulness of feeling quite independent of the circumstances, which seem specially sent to communicate a strength that will be greatly needed in approaching days of trial,—a pleasant “land of Beulah,” before the watchers stand quite on the shore of “the dark river.” And it can never be right sullenly to close the heart in determined sadness against the cheering influences of God’s light, and air, and bright sunshine; nor can we usually, if we would, act so foolishly and ungratefully. That happy week at Oakvale often seemed to Lucy a sort of oasis of sunshine, as compared with the depressing weeks that preceded and followed it.