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was over, I inquired of Mary if she had been able to fulfil her desire of visiting little Jane's family; to which she replied,
Oh, yes; but we were not wise in the time we chose for our visit; they were all so busily engaged, that Isabella could not get a sight of them all together.
I saw Jane and her father together, Mary, in the garden, but I was disappointed; they looked so grave and busy, and were talking so seriously all the time. I thought that if little Jane loved her father so, she would have been hanging about him, and saying tender things to him. I never liked to let my dear papa's hand go out of mine, and he used to pat my cheek and look at me so sweetly! but now, I cannot hold his hand any
A rising sob stopt the utterance of the last word.
Mary, who was an affectionate girl, was affected by these words of her friend, and went up to her to kiss away her tears; and her father remarked,
You should not give way to such strong feelings, my dear Isabella ; remember, the test of love is obedience. I had rather Mary obeyed all her rules, than that she should be spending her time in useless expressions.
This remark put a check upon the flow of feeling Isabella turned away her head to avoid further observation, and Mary, as though called to recollection, returned to the engagement from
which I had interrupted her ; but a change of complexion, which rapidly passed over her face, from a sudden blush to a pale hue, indicated that it was not without a struggle that the emotion was so immediately subdued. Her father, however, looked satisfied; and her mother, rising from her chair, said,
Now, my dear girls, if you are not tired with your early walk, you may go out with me into the garden.
The proposal gave pleasure, as an evident relief of mind, and whilst they were preparing, I said to my friend,
As you have been confined some hours with your young pupil, you would most probably enjoy the air yourself, and to me nothing is more agreeable than to be out.
I thank you, if you really prefer it, as it is my custom at this time to walk, I will avail myself of your permission.
Being agreed, we were all together in the garden at once, and drawing most at that time to the company of the young people, I took one in each arm, and endeavored to communicate a little cheerfulness to them, by setting off down one of the wide walks with a brisk step.
O, stop! said Isabella, let us stop here ; I am out of breath! O, what a delightful smell here is ! What does it come from? O, I see, that beautiful woodbine which is running up that lilac tree.
Our attention being directed to this object of
admiration, I took an advantage from it, saying,
I do, I always admire the woodbine.
Ah! it is like me and my papa ; dropping her voice as she made the comparison, seeing Mary's parents drawing near.
Isabella, it is worth your minute inspection; trace its windings from the root upwards.
She began to do so. It is difficult, she said, it is so intermixed with the branches of the lilac; and putting her hand to it, she continued, I actually cannot distinguish it here from the lilac. O, she exclaimed in an extasy of sentimental feeling, how like to me and my dear papa ! they are like one !
Do not stop there, Isabella, observe further.
O, it now begins to be less luxuriant; here are a few fine young twining branches without support, but the head of the plant is thick and short, and bushy.
You perhaps do not see the reason. Observe, there is above this strongly united part an evident decay of both the lilac and the woodbine. They have twined lovingly together, but the end will be the destruction of one or both. Now remark, there is no sentiment or true love in this strict union. The woodbine seeks that which is natus rally needful for its own support, whilst its shoots are young and tender ; but then they strengthen and thicken, and whilst increasing, it occupies the room necessary for the growth of the branch
on which it hangs itself, till they each penetrate into the other, and a mutual decay ensues.
Then it is no longer like papa and me!
Isabella, what must be done to save the life of these trees ?
It should ; and had the gardener been attentive, he would not have suffered it to have remained so long undone. By untwisting the shoots occasionally, and disengaging them when they are too close, they will strengthen of themselves, and yet remain in the kindly shelter and support of the stronger tree without injury to it or itself; and by pruning away some superabundant shoots, the health and luxuriance of both will be preserved.
But that does not now apply to me, she said, sighing; my papa is taken away, but my heart will always be entwined about his
memory. Isabella, learn a lesson. Such love is idolatry, and the thing so loved is the idol. Your heavenly father perhaps designed to save you both by taking away one; perhaps you were each to the other an idol, and then were you both idolators, and then would you each have been the destroyers of the other, and of yourselves. My dear girl, listen as to a lesson from God, with reverence and silence. What must be now done for the woodbine? We must cut down the branch of the lilac below the cause of the mutual disease.
Oh, do not give me such a pain at my heart !
Not wantonly, Isabella. There is this comfort, --whilst the woodbine is preserved by this stroke, the lilac has a life in the root, which will make it spring up again. Look, my dear Isabella, to that blessed hope, that if your
dear taken away from the evil to come, and sleeps in Jesus, he shall rise again to eternal life.
She fixed her eye steadfastly upon me, and I proceeded : You have yet a mother,--see once more the woodbine ; it grows between two lilacs ; it has inclined all its shoots to one, and the other stands desolate, without the ornament of the beautiful fragrant flowers which decorate the other.
She colored deep, and her hand trembled.
My dear child, now turn to your hitherto forgotten mother, and be willing to let the great Gardener lead your young shoots that way, and direct them to your mutual comfort and support; be willing that He should untwine
you tend to idolatrous love ; and teach you carefully to watch your tender mother's happiness, who never refused your endearments.
Our whole party had become intensely interested, and there was a silence of some minutes. At length my friend said,
I can also teach a lesson from the garden. See, here is a plant which is always inclining to grow crooked, and spoils the order of the shrubs. I put beside it this strong stake, which I call Order ; and I tie it up straight to it with these bands, which I call Discipline : and the plant will then lean peither to one side or the other.