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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesBebee; Or, Two Little Wooden Shoes - Chapter IV
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Bebee; Or, Two Little Wooden Shoes - Chapter IV Post by :abrahams Category :Long Stories Author :Ouida Date :April 2012 Read :1552

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Bebee; Or, Two Little Wooden Shoes - Chapter IV

Bebee ran home as fast as her feet would take her.

The children were all gathered about her gate in the dusky dewy evening; they met her with shouts of welcome and reproach intermingled; they had been watching for her since first the sun had grown low and red, and now the moon was risen.

But they forgave her when they saw the splendor of her presents, and she showered out among them Pere Melchior's horn of comfits.

They dashed into the hut; they dragged the one little table out among the flowers; the cherries and cake were spread on it; and the miller's wife had given a big jug of milk, and Father Francis himself had sent some honeycomb.

The early roses were full of scent in the dew; the great gillyflowers breathedout fragrance in the dusk; the goat came and nibbled the sweetbrier unrebuked; the children repeated the Flemish bread-grace, with clasped hands and reverent eyes, "Oh, dear little Jesus, come and sup with us, and bring your beautiful Mother, too; we will not forget you are God." Then, that said, they ate, and drank, and laughed, and picked cherries from each other's mouths like little blackbirds; the big white dog gnawed a crust at their feet; old Krebs who had a fiddle, and could play it, came out and trilled them rude and ready Flemish tunes, such as Teniers or Mieris might have jumped to before an alehouse at the Kermesse; Bebee and the children joined hands, and danced round together in the broad white moonlight, on the grass by the water-side; the idlers came and sat about, the women netting or spinning, and the men smoking a pipe before bedtime; the rough hearty Flemish bubbled like a brook in gossip, or rung like a horn over a jest; Bebee and the children, tired of their play, grew quiet, and chanted together the "Ave Maria Stella Virginis"; a nightingale among the willows sang to the sleeping swans.

All was happy, quiet, homely; lovely also in its simple way.

They went early to their beds, as people must do who rise at dawn.

Bebee leaned out a moment from her own little casement ere she too went to rest.

Through an open lattice there sounded the murmur of some little child's prayer; the wind sighed among the willows; the nightingales sang on in the dark--all was still.

Hard work awaited her on the morrow, and on all the other days of the year.

She was only a little peasant--she must sweep, and spin, and dig, and delve, to get daily her bit of black bread,--but that night she was as happy as a little princess in a fairy tale; happy in her playmates, in her flowers, in her sixteen years, in her red shoes, in her silver buckles, because she was half a woman; happy in the dewy leaves, in the singing birds, in the hush of the night, in the sense of rest, in the fragrance of flowers, in the drifting changes of moon and cloud; happy because she was half a woman, because she was half a poet, because she was wholly a poet.

"Oh, dear swans, how good it is to be sixteen!--how good it is to live at all!--do you not tell the willows so?" said Bebee to the gleam of silver under the dark leaves by the water's side, which showed her where her friends were sleeping, with their snowy wings closed over their stately heads, and the veiled gold and ruby of their eyes.

The swans did not awake to answer.

Only the nightingale answered from the willows, with Desdemona's song.

But Bebee had never heard of Desdemona, and the willows had no sigh for her.

"Good night!" she said, softly, to all the green dewy sleeping world, and then she lay down and slept herself.--The nightingale sang on, and the willows trembled.

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