Joseph in the Snow, and The Clockmaker In Three Volumes. Vol. I.

Language: English
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"Mother, is it morning yet?" asked the child, sitting up in bed.

"No, not nearly—why do you ask? Lie still, and go to sleep."

The child was quiet for a short time, but then repeated in a low voice:—

"Mother, is it morning yet?"

"What is the matter, Joseph? do be quiet—don't disturb me, and go to sleep. Say your prayers again, and then you will fall asleep."

The mother repeated the child's night prayers along with him, and then said, "Now, good night, Joseph."

The boy was silent for a while; but on hearing his mother turn in bed, he called to her in a whisper, "Mother!"

No answer.

"Mother! mother! mother!"

"What is it? what do you want?"

"Mother, is it not daylight yet?"

"You are a naughty child; very naughty; why do you persist in disturbing my night's rest? I am weary enough, for I have been three times in the forest to-day. If you wake me up again, the Holy Child will bring you nothing to-morrow but a birch rod."

The boy sighed deeply, and said, "Good-night, then, till to-morrow," and wrapped himself up in the bed-clothes.

The room where this dialogue took place, was small and dark; an attic under a thatched roof. The panes of glass in the little window were frozen over, so that the bright moonlight could not penetrate through them. The mother rose, and bent over the child; he was sleeping sound, and lying quiet. The mother, however, could not go to sleep again, though she had once more laid down and closed her eyes; for we can hear her saying distinctly, "Even if he some day asks me to share his home—and in spite of everything I firmly believe he will one day do so—he cannot do otherwise—he must—but even then, how cruelly he has slighted both me and our child! The years that are passed come no more: we can have them but once in life. Oh! if I could but begin life again; if I could only awake, and feel that it was not true, and that I had never sinned so heavily! but the weight of one sin is a burden for ever; no one can bear it for another. Can it be true that I was once so gay and happy as people say? What could the child mean by calling out three times, Is it morning yet? What is to happen in the course of this day? Oh, Adam! Adam! you don't know all I suffer; if you did, you could not sleep either."

The stream that ran past the house was frozen over, but in the silence of the night, the gurgling of the water was heard, under the covering of ice.

The thoughts of the wakeful woman followed the current of the brook, in its distant flow, when, after traversing pathless valleys and deep ravines, its course was checked by the forest mill; the waters rushing, and foaming, and revolving over the mill wheels, just as the thoughts of this watchful mother revolved dizzily on her sorrows at dead of night. For within that mill dwells the dreaded object on whom the eyes of Adam's parents were fixed. The forest miller's Tony had always been thought a good-hearted, excellent girl, and yet now she seemed so cruel:—what has the forest miller's daughter Tony to do with you?...