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A DAMSEL WITH A DULCIMER.
A Damsel with a Dulcimer.
BY MRS. A. HARPER.
WITH Mr. Crispi they had at least
too,” she said; “and I'm so sorry for sick people.”
The woman looked at her in surprise. don't often hear a soft voice like yours in this rough house. Do you live here?”
"Yes, I do now; Carlo Borghi, and Julia, and Rubino, belong to me.”
“Oh, your name's Borghi, is it? I know—the new children who go out with the cart.”
Tessa did not dare say that her real name was not Borghi, for all the children went by the surname of Carlo and Julia. She only asked if the women were going out for the day.
“Yes, more's the pity-I didn't always have to go out selling things."
“Could I do anything to help while you are
not return, that he took no proper pains for her recovery, and left her in cruel neglect. She was not strong enough to go with the others on their rounds, and had to stay at home to help an old woman, who cooked and cleaned for more than a dozen organboys already belonging to Vago. Tessa had been there for two or three months, before she discovered that there was any one in the house who did not in some way belong to him, but one day she heard the old woman say, “Capitano was very bad indeed.” She inquired which of the boys Capitano was, and found, to her surprise, that he was not a boy at all, but a man who made figures—though he was bedridden and who lived with his wife in the attic.
Tessa remembered having seen a woman on the staircase. The thought of her father made her feel for all invalids; and she resolved to look out for her, and ask how the poor
sick man was. Some days passed before she had an opportunity, but at length fortune favoured her, and she met the woman on the stairs.
“How is Capitano?" she asked timidly.
“ You mean my husband—the boys call him Capitano. He is very bad indeed, thank you. I don't think he'll ever get up any more;
and the woman began to cry.
Tessa was touched directly. “My father is ill
“Oh, if you only would! If you'd just go upstairs at noon, and see if he wanted anything ; I don't suppose he will, but it would be a great comfort to me.”
“I'll be sure to go.”
The woman suddenly stooped down and kissed her. “I'd a little daughter like you once," she said, and was going on, when a door on the landing opened, and she hastily went downstairs. Tessa went down too, and began to wash up and clean as usual, under the constant vociferous grumblings of the old woman.
Her labour was the same; old Justa was more cross even than usual, but the child's heart was lighter than it had been since she came to that dreary house-such magic power is there even in a look or word of love. She worked so quickly that morning, that old Justa left off scolding, and even gave her a little extra macaroni for her dinner. After dinner the old woman hobbled out, as usual, to a public-house round the corner, and Tessa set off to find the attic, with the plate of macaroni held under her pinafore. The top landing was in darkness, but Tessa put out her hand, and encountered, as she had expected, a door.
“Come in,” said a weak voice, and she entered.
A man was sitting, propped up on a sort of couch, modelling a figure.
“Well, miss ?” he said. Tessa produced the plate.
“Ah!” he said, "you've made a mistake-that wasn't ordered here. Mind you don't tumble going downstairs. You 'd better wait a minute, I can hear my wife coming up." And the next moment the woman who had kissed her entered.
“So you ’ve kept your word, my little one,” she said, smiling “ See, Berto, I met this dear child
A DAMSEL WITH A DULCIMER.
on the stairs this morning, and the kind heart offered to look after you. Don't you see she's brought you a plate of macaroni? Doesn't she remind you,” she went on, of our own Maria ?”
The man looked up at Tessa. "Ah, she does," he said.
“ Yes, not so pretty, but the same kind look. She's come to live here. I declare the very sight of her comforts me.” And the ardent Italian woman kissed Tessa again; and Tessa, Italian also, returned the kiss with warmth.
Her new friends did not question her much ; it seemed enough for them that she was like the dear Maria, in whose little chair they placed her.
Berto was hopelessly paralysed, but, when he felt well enough, he modelled figures, and his wife went out and sold them. Tessa must come often to see them. Perhaps she could read-and that would be a comfort.
Tessa felt sorry to have to say that she could not, at least, only a little, but she could lend him books.
Berto said if he used her books he must teach her to read—that was only fair—the dear Maria could read perfectly. Could she stay now?
“ No,” Tessa said, “not now.” She was afraid she had already stopped too long.
She must come again to-morrow then, they said ; and the woman lit a farthing candle to light her
to choke it, but at length with him also repentance began its blessed work, to be followed by faith, and, last of all,—by peace.
But just as this light had begun to brighten the humble room of the modeller, a fresh sorrow fell upon him. He had a second paralytic stroke, and, though his mind was still bright and clear, his hand had lost its cunning, and his poor wife felt sure that the end was drawing near. In this time of trouble it seemed as though Tessa had been sent to minister to them in the place of their lost child.
Roberto grew rapidly worse, however, and was sometimes very unhappy. It was now too late, he said, to ask forgiveness of some whom he had wronged, and the thought of dying without it weighed upon his mind. So much did he suffer, that neither his faithful wife nor Tessa could grieve, as they otherwise would have done, whenvery suddenly at last-the end came.
Two or three weeks after her husband's death the widow returned to Italy; and thus Tessa lost both her friends—a sharp sorrow to her loving heart. She needed them, too, more than ever, for the tyranny of the children's master had become so great, that Julia's high spirit could bear it no longer, and she ran away. Only Carlo knew what had become of her, and he obstinately refused to say. Vago found even his worst beatings powerless, to compel the boy to tell.
“She is happy; I can tell you that,” said Carlo, unwisely, after one of these beatings. This so infuriated his master, that he gave him another blow, and, in so doing, upset a paraffin lamp. Carlo stooped to pick it up, and in doing so his clothes took fire. The lad was so badly burnt that he ought to have gone to the hospital; but Vago feared that some account of his cruelty might leak out if he sent him there, so he put him into a little room, away from the other boys, and placed him under the care of an Italian of his acquaintance who called himself a medico (doctor), although he was really nothing but a quack. The agony of Carlo's burns was great. The medico dressed them, and then left him for the night. Rubino did not dare come to him without leave, and though Vago had told Justa to do what was needful for him, the selfish old woman would not stay up to wait upon him. He lay miserable and untended, and parched with thirst. He had been cruel and selfish while he was well and strong, and in the hour of his suffering no heart cared for him. At least, he thought so, and sullen, despairing feelings possessed him.
“Will the night never be gone!” he cried at last.
What a pleasure it was that evening to tell Less
Rubino of her new friends. He had become a sort of little father in his care of Tessa since the fire, and he went up next day to see, as he said, if he approved of them. When he came down he told her, with a grave air, that she might go again if she liked ; and Tessa went up almost daily. Berto was intelligent, but without religion ; he had given up Popery, he said, and found nothing better. He was pleased to read the Psalter and Testament which the signora had put into Tessa's hands, and she noticed that he was often silent after reading them, and lay with closed eyes. The signora had marked certain passages, and these were Tessa's first lessons.
It was a pleasure to the sick man to teach, and after some weeks Tessa was enabled to repay him by reading aloud to him while he worked. The woman loved to listen, when she could; and presently the good seed sown began to spring up in the hearts, not only of husband and wife, but in that of the child who read to them from Maria's chair. It bore fruit first, as was natural, in the softer natures of the woman and child; with the man it lay buried longer, and thorns threatened
A DAMSEL WITH A DULCIMER.
The door opened gently as he spoke, and some one said, “ Wait a moment, Carlo, I've got a drink for you.”
'Poor dear Carlo,” said Tessa's soft voice, as she offered him a cup of water.
“Go away,” cried the boy, roughly; “I don't want you to give me anything." She did not answer, but stood for a moment shading her lamp.
“ I won't bother you, only you 'll know I'm here if you want anything, and you mustn't send me away, it would grieve Mother Rosa.”
To whom is not his mother's name a talisman ?
The fierce words upon Carlo's lips died away unuttered. He pushed his head under the bedclothes, and Tessa thought she could hear a sob.
“Why do you come?” he said at last, in a gruff voice. “Don't you know I got you beaten and called a thief ?"
It was Carlo, then, who had stolen the money and accused her of taking it! The hot blood of anger and revenge
rushed to Tessa's cheek, and she could not answer.
Suddenly, in the glow of angry feeling, the words of the English lady seemed to fall upon her ear as distinctly as when she heard them spoken“ If we would be forgiven, we must ourselves forgive. The Lord Jesus Himself said so." Ah! since Tessa had read her Testament, she knew that the Lord Jesus not only said, but did. Even when hanging upon the bitter cross He forgave.
“Do you hear?” repeated Carlo, more gruffly still.
• Never mind that, Carlo," she replied, “I forgive you."
“Oh, no,” said he, “you don't, you only pretend."
“I do," she said, and as she spoke, not only forgiveness, but love seemed shed into her heart.
She stooped down and kissed him. Love always conquers sooner or later, and it conquered now.
- I don't deserve it,” he said, in such an altered voice that it did not seem like his.
Old Justa was glad enough to give up the care of the injured boy to Tessa; but she expected to be helped in the house-work as usual; and by the time Carlo was well, Tessa was ill herself, though no one except Rubino seemed to notice it.
Some one had noticed it, however, and this was the quack doctor.
“Do you know what you ’re about, Vago?” he said to Tessa's master.
“ You're throwing money overboard."
• What do you mean?” asked the man, fiercely. “Well," said the medico, "you're just killing
that girl with the voice; and she might be worth scores of pounds to you if you took care of her.”
“ She's lost her voice.”
“No, she hasn't; I heard her singing the other day to the boy that was burnt.”
“What must I do?” said Vago, with interest.
“Send her off into the country,” replied the miedico. “ Don't let her go walking through the outskirts, but put her into the train, and let her go right out of London.”
“But I should have to send Rubino with her."
“Bless you, they 'll want nothing but the fare and a few pence over. They'll keep themselves.”
“And you really think her voice will come back if she gets stronger?”
“I don't think at all; I'm sure of it.”
Vago adopted the medico's advice. The astonished children were taken by him to a railway station. Rubino had his flute, Tessa her cymbal, but these were put out of sight. He gave them instructions, and booked them to Sutton. They were to keep in the country till Tessa felt quite strong and could walk home again.
• The medico was right. I shall make something out of her yet,” thought he, as he saw Tessa's eyes brighter already. She even gave him a gay little nod as the train whisked away.
“I think this must be the place we ought to get out at,” said Rubino, after an hour's travelling.
“This? O dear no!” laughed Tessa ; "why, we don't seem to have been going a minute! I should be sorry to have to get out.”
“ If you please," said the boy, after some time, the guard, we want to get out at Sutton.” “ Sutton!” cried the man,
why, we're miles past it—we're at Dorking!”
The guard said they could go back if they liked. But it was late in the afternoon, and they would have to wait a long while for the “up” train.
Rubino settled that, at all events, they had better get something to eat first. They bought some bread and cheese, accordingly, at a little wayside inn, and creeping into one of the outhouses at its rear, were soon sleeping soundly on some loose straw.
They agreed next morning to walk back instead of going in the train, and for two or three days they lingered about the pleasant country roads. It was wonderful how soon Tessa seemed to revive under the influence of freedom and fresh air. Already she was no longer like the same girl who had crept up and down the dingy lodging-house.
Thus two or three weeks passed away, and it was now the middle of summer.
“We can't get to another place to-day," said
DOUBLE SCRIPTURE ACROSTIC. (1) The name of a tract of country that Jesus went into
after one of His greatest miracles. (2) A Jewish month. (3) A town that obtained help and protection by deceit.
Here a wonderful miracle was performed. (4) The way by which the heathen gods were supposed
to speak to the people, (5) One of Abraham's brothers.
The initials give a Philistine god, and the finals the greatest general that opposed David's claim to the kingdom.
F. H. A.
ANSWERS TO BIBLE QUESTIONS.
29. Num. XX. 1, 28.
Tessa, “and this is such a pretty village. Let's stay till Monday.”
“I must take my flute and earn something," said her brother. “ You can stop by this wood till I come back.”
He was gone longer than Tessa expected, and, tired of sitting still, she thought she would walk a little way along the road. By-and-by she passed the end of a lane, and tempted by the flowers on its banks, she turned down it. In front of her was a gate leading into a garden so dazzling with its wealth of roses and verbenas, that the Italian child stood as if entranced, and then, after a moment's hesitation, entered. At some distance up the walk was a large hothouse, and through the open door she could see the roof covered with hanging clusters of purple grapes. A strange ecstasy came over the vine-dresser's child, for they were the first she had seen growing since she left her native land.
Grapes !” she cried, “oh, how beautiful! how dear! What joy to behold you !” Tears came to her eyes as memory carried her swiftly back to the old happy days, when the vintage was the great festival of the year. How well she recollected the vintage song! Almost involuntarily she began to hum the tune; then in a low voice to sing it. At first her tones were weak, but ere long strength was added to their surpassing sweetness, and she sang, forgetting all besides. Then, trembling with the unwonted effort, she stood leaning against the hothouse door.
Hardly had she so placed herself, when quick footsteps were heard the other side of the hedge, and the next instant a severe face looked over.
“Get away!” cried an angry voice. “ So you're come to steal my grapes again, are you, you young thief ! I'll have you taken up and sent to jail !”
ANSWER TO HIDDEN BIBLICAL ACROSTIC.
Answers to the above Puzzle and QUESTIONS should be sent to reach the Editor of the Boys' and Girls' Companion, not later than June roth.
The total Number of Marks given for Bible Questions for May was 25, of which Mary Irby obtained 25, Williel Irby 25, Ellen M. Bergman 25, Mabel P. FitzGerald 25, Catherine P. FitzGerald 25, Gertrude Humphreys 25, Joseph Peachell 25, G. Barter 25, (Nottingham) 24, Sarah Lesar 23, Mabel Beardsley 23, John H. Price 22, Louie Macdonald 22, H. E. Lang 22, Lucy Pidcock 22, Annie Stephens 22, R. Wealthy 22, Alexander McArthur 22, Jane Burch 22, H. W. Heyes 22, Mousey 22, H. Armstrong 22, Agnes L. Rasey 22, Annie A. Fox 21, Alice E. Milliner 20, Ernest L. Collins 20, Constance Bligh 20, Gertrude M. Robinson 19, Ethel H. Robinson 19, Georgina E. Robinson 19, E. R. Barker 18, Edith M. Dickers 18, Sissie Houghton 18, Joseph W. Morris 17, Willie Hobby 17, James H. s. Costello 17, John Heyes 16, Kate M. Hatton 16, A. V. Houghton 16, Beatrice Heyes 15, Caroline Potts 10.
Bible Questions. 36. How old was Caleb when he went to spy out the land
of Canaan ? 37. What command was given as to the conduct of the
kings of Israel with regard to horses ? 38. What king disregarded the command ? 39. And what did David say on the same subject in the
Psalms ? 40. Why did God choose the Israelites to be a “special
people unto Himself”? 41. When was the Book of the Law to be read in the
hearing of all the people ? 42. Give two instances in the subsequent history of the
command being obeyed ? 43. Give a short account of the circumstances connected
with the building of the altar of Ed.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. A. V. Houghton. The competition is open to boys and girls of 14 and under. The papers are marked in order of merit, and the marks obtained by each competitor printed in the Magazine. The prizes for the first six months of 1883 will be awarded in July, when a fresh set of Questions will begin.
J. Lilly.-We are glad you like the Magazine. Your verses contain very important truths, but we fear we cannot make use of them. Next time try and put the same number of syllables in each line.
J. H. Price.-Thank you for your Acrostics. We hope to print one of them. Try and be a little more definite in your questions. “The name of a city” or “a prophet' might have a dozen answers and none of them the one you intended.
It is better when only one answer is possible.
A Friend's offer is accepted.
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