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The Lost And Found Post by :Bid-Palace Category :Essays Author :Lydia H. Sigourney Date :November 2011 Read :3635

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The Lost And Found

I have something to say to the young, about the advantage, as well as duty of obeying their parents. My story will be of an interesting boy, by the name of Charles Morton. He had a pleasant temper, and almost always wore a smile. He ardently loved his sister Caroline, who was several years younger than himself; and whenever he came from school, would ask for her, and take her in his arms, or guide her tottering footsteps.

But Charles, with all his kindness of heart, had a sad fault. He would sometimes disobey his parents, when he was out of their sight. He did not remember that the Eye of God always saw him, both in darkness and in light, and would take note of the sin that he committed, though his parents knew it not. At a short distance from his home, was a beautiful river, broad and deep. His parents had strictly charged him never to venture in, and had explained to him the danger which a boy of eight years old would incur, in a tide so strong. Notwithstanding this, he would sometimes seek a spot where the banks, or the trees upon the shore, concealed him, and take off his shoes, and step into the water. He grew fond of wading, and would occasionally stay in the water a long time. Then, he greatly desired to swim. He frequently saw larger boys amusing themselves in this way, and longed to join them. But he feared lest they might mention it to his father, and determined to go alone.

Here was the sin of the little boy, not only in continuing to disobey, but in studying how to deceive his kind parents. One fine afternoon in summer, school was dismissed at an earlier hour than usual. Now, thought Charles, I can make a trial at swimming, and get home, before my mother misses me. He sought a retired spot, where he had never seen his companions go, and hastened to throw off his clothes, and plunge into the water. He did not imagine that it was so deep there, and that the current was so exceedingly swift. He struggled with all his might, but was borne farther and farther from the shore. The sea was not a great distance from the mouth of the river, and the tide was driving on violently, and what could he do? Nothing, but to exhaust his feeble strength, and then give up, and be carried onwards. He became weary of beating the water with his feet and hands to no purpose, and his throat was dry with crying, and so he floated along, like a poor, uprooted weed. It was fearful to him to be hurried away so, with the waters roaring in his ears. He gave up all hope of seeing his dear home again, and dreaded the thought of being drowned, and devoured by monstrous fishes. How he wished that he had not disobeyed his good parents; and he earnestly prayed God to forgive him, and have mercy upon his soul.

At Charles Morton's home, his mother had prepared a bowl of bread and milk for him, because he usually was hungry when he came from school.

At length she began to look from the window, and to feel uneasy. Little Caroline crept to the door, and continually called "Tarle, Tarle!" But when the sun disappeared, and Mr. Morton returned, and nothing had been seen of the dear boy, they were greatly alarmed. They searched the places where he had been accustomed to play, and questioned his companions, but in vain. The neighbours collected, and attended the father in pursuit of his lost son. What was their distress, at finding his clothes in a remote recess, near the river's brink! They immediately gave him up as drowned, and commenced the search for his body. There was bitter mourning in his once happy home, that night. Many weeks elapsed, ere little Caroline ceased calling for her "dear Tarle," or the sad parents could be comforted. And it was remembered amid their affliction, that the beloved child whom they had endeavoured to teach the fear of God, had forgotten that All-seeing Eye, when he disobeyed his parents.

But while they were lamenting their lost son, he was not dead. While faintly struggling on the river, he had been discovered, and taken up by an Indian canoe. He had been borne by the swift current far from the place where he first went into the water. And it was very long after he was rescued, before he came to his senses, so as to give any connected account of himself. Then, he was greatly shocked at finding himself in a boat, with two huge Indians. He shrieked, and begged to be taken to his father's house; but they paid no attention to his cries, and silently proceeded on their voyage. They wrapped a blanket around him, because he had no clothes, and offered him some parched corn, but he had no heart to eat. By the rough tossing of the boat, he discovered that they were upon the deep sea, and the broad moon rose high, and shone long, ere they drew near to land. Stupefied with terror, one of the Indians carried him in his arms to a rude hut, and gave him to his wife.

"What have you brought?" said she, as she loosened the blanket, and discovered the dripping locks and shivering form of the affrighted child.

"A white pappoose," answered the hoarse voice of the husband. Poor Charles looked up with a cry of horror and despair. The woman regarded him earnestly for a moment.

"He is like my son that I buried," said she, and she folded her dark arms around him, and wept. She kindled a fire to warm him, and pressed food upon him, but he was sick at heart. She laid him in the rude bed of her dead child, and he sobbed himself into a deep, long sleep. It was late in the morning when he opened his eyes. Who can describe his distress! No kind parent to speak to him, no little sister to twine her arms around his neck. Nothing but a dark hovel, and strange Indian faces. The woman, with her husband and father, were the sole inhabitants of the hut, and of this lone, sea-girt island. A dreadful feeling of desolation came over him, and he laid down his head, and mourned bitterly. The red-browed woman pitied him, and adopted him into her heart, in place of the child she had lost. She brought him the coarse garments of her dead son, and he was obliged to put them on, for he had no other.

His heart sunk within him, when on going out of the door, he could see no roof save the one where he had lodged. Some little rocky islands were in sight, but none of them inhabited. He felt as if he was alone in the world, and said, "This is the punishment of my disobedience." Continually he was begging with tears, to be taken to his home, and the men promised "when we go so far again in the boat, we will carry you." But their manners were so stern, that he began to fear to urge them as much as he wished. So every night, when he had retired to sleep, the woman said to her husband, "We will keep him. He will be contented. His beautiful blue eye is not so wild and strained, as when you brought him. My heart yearns towards him, as it did over the one that shall wake no more."

She took him with her to gather the rushes, with which she platted mats and baskets, and showed him where the solitary bittern made her nest, and how to trace the swift steps of the heron, as with whirring wing half spread it hasted through the marshes to the sea. And she taught him to dig roots, which contain the spirit of health, and to know the herbs that bring sleep to the sick, and staunch the flowing blood: for she trusted that in industry, and the simple knowledge of nature, he would find content. At first, she brought him wild flowers, but she perceived that they always made him weep, for he had been accustomed to gather them for his little Caroline. So she passed them by, blooming in their wild recesses, and instructed him how to climb the trees where the grape-vine hung its airy clusters. And she gave him a choice bow and arrow, ornamented with brilliant feathers, and encouraged him to take aim at the birds that sang among the low branches. But he shrank back at the thought of hurting the warbler, and she said silently,

"Surely, the babe of the white woman is not in spirit like his red brother. He who sleeps in the grave was happy when he bent the bow and followed his father to the chase."

Little Charles spent a part of each day in watching the sails, as they glided along on the broad sea. For a long time, he would stand as near the shore as possible, and make signs, and shout, hoping they might be induced to come and take him to his home. But an object so diminutive, attracted no attention, and the small island, with its neighbouring group of rocks, looked so desolate, and the channel so obstructed and dangerous, that vessels had no motive to approach it.

When the chill of early autumn was in the air, the Indian woman invited him to assist her in gathering the golden ears of the maize, and in separating them from their investing sheath. But he worked sorrowfully, for he was ever thinking of his own dear home. Once the men permitted him to accompany them, when they went on a short fishing excursion; but he wept and implored so violently to be taken to his parents, that they frowned, and forbade him to go any more in the boat. They told him, that twice or thrice in the year they performed a long voyage, and went up the river, to dispose of the articles of their manufacture and purchase some necessary stores. They should go when spring returned, and would then carry him to his parents. So the poor little boy perceived that he must try to be patient and quiet, through the long, dreary winter, in an Indian hut. The red-browed woman ever looked smilingly upon him, and spoke to him with a sweet, fond tone. She wished him to call her mother, and was always trying to promote his comfort. After Charles had obtained the promise of her husband and father, to take him home in the spring, his mind was more at rest. He worked diligently as his strength and skill would permit, on the baskets, mats, and brooms, with which the boat was to be freighted. He took pleasure in painting with the bright colours which they obtained from plants, two baskets, which were intended as presents for his mother and Caroline.

The Indian woman often entertained him with stories of her ancestors. She spoke of their dexterity in the chase, of their valour in battle. She described their war-dances, and the feathery lightness of their canoes upon the wave. She told of the gravity of their chiefs, the eloquence of their orators, the respect of the young men for those of hoary hairs. She related instances of the firmness of their friendship, and the terror of their revenge.

"Once the whole land was theirs, said she, and no white man dwelt in it, or had discovered it. Now, our race are few and feeble, they are driven away and perish. They leave their fathers' graves, and hide among the forests. The forests fall before the axe of the white man, and they are again driven out, we know not where. No voice asks after them. They fade away like a mist, and are forgotten."

The little boy wept at the plaintive tone in which she spoke of the sorrows of her people, and said, "I will pity and love the Indians, as long as I live." Sometimes, during the long storms of winter, he would tell them of the Bible, in which he had loved to read, and would repeat the hymns and chapters which he had learned at the Sabbath school. And then he regretted that he had not exerted himself to learn more when it was in his power, and that he had ever grieved his teachers. He found that these Indians were not able to read, and said, "Oh that I had now but one of those books, which I used to prize so little when I was at home, and had so many." They listened attentively to all that he said. Sometimes he told them what he had learned of God, and added,

"He is a good God, and a God of truth, but I displeased him when I was disobedient to my parents."

At length, Spring appeared. The heart of little Charles leaped for joy, when he heard the sweet song of the earliest bird. Every morning he rose early, and went forth to see if the grass had not become greener during the night. Every hour, he desired to remind them of the long-treasured promise. But he saw that the men looked grave if he was impatient, and the brow of his Indian mother became each day more sad.

The appointed period arrived. The boat was laden with the products of their industry. All was ready for departure. Charles wept when he was about to take leave of his kind Indian nurse.

"I will go also," said she; and they made room for her in the boat. The bright sun was rising gloriously in the east, as they left the desolate island. Through the whole voyage she held the boy near her, or in her arms, but spoke not. Birds were winging their way over the blue sea, and, after they entered the river, poured forth the clearest melodies from shore and tree, but still she spoke not. There seemed a sorrow at her breast, which made her lip tremble, yet her eye was tearless. Charles refrained to utter the joy which swelled in his bosom, for he saw she was unhappy. He put his arm round her neck, and leaned his head on her shoulder. As evening approached, they drew near the spot, where she understood she must part from him. Then Charles said eagerly to her,

"Oh, go home with me to my father's house. Yes, yes, come all of you with me, my dear, good people, that all of us may thank you together for having saved my life."

"No," she answered sorrowfully: "I could not bear to see thy mother fold thee in her arms, and to know that thou wert mine no more. Since thou hast told me of thy God, and that he listened to prayer, my prayer has been lifted up to Him night and day, that thy heart might find rest in an Indian home. But this is over. Henceforth, my path and my soul are desolate. Yet go thy way, to thy mother, that she may have joy when she rises up in the morning, and at night goes to rest."

Her tears fell down like rain, as she embraced him, and they lifted him upon the bank. And eager as he was to meet his parents, and his beloved sister, he lingered to watch the boat as it glided away. He saw that she raised not her head, nor uncovered her face. He remembered her long and true kindness, and asked God to bless and reward her, as he hastened over the well known space that divided him from his native village.

His heart beat so thick as almost to suffocate him, when he saw his father's roof. It was twilight, and the trees where he used to gather apples, were in full and fragrant bloom. Half breathless, he rushed in at the door. His father was reading in the parlour, and rose coldly to meet him. So changed was his person, and dress, that he did not know his son. But the mother shrieked. She knew the blue eye, that no misery of garb could change. She sprang to embrace him, and fainted. It was a keen anguish to him, that his mother thus should suffer. Little Caroline clung around his neck, and as he kissed her, he whispered "Remember, God sees, and punishes the disobedient." His pale mother lifted up her head, and drew him from his father's arms, upon the bed, beside her. "Father, Mother," said the delighted boy, "forgive me." They both assured him of their love, and his father looking upward said, "My God, I thank thee! for this my son was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

(The end)
Lydia H. Sigourney's essay: Lost And Found

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