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The more you were with Kate, and the more you knew of her, the more her winning ways, sweet temper, and loving affectionate nature would shine about you, just as if the sun were coming out with a double power of light and warmth. She had a good deal to do to please her little brothers and sisters at home-three or four, I think; but as for Tomwhom I could have strangled-there, you have it-many a time-he was such a rough beast to her at times. I never knew a creature so-well, so he was ugly. There must have been something beautiful in him after all, which she alone could find out-I couldn't-for she actually doted on him, and didn't he reward her for it? He loved her in his queer way, and she didn't care, the sweet darling, how rough that way was, so that he loved her at all. He couldn't have helped himself nohow.
I played truant for Kate, and grew so hardened in that appalling depth of criminality that I didn't feel any regret-what do you think of that? I would do it again, but it is too late-not needed now. I have made forays, and foraged for her. I have gathered her baskets of blackberries, and bushels of ripe hazel-nuts. I have caught for her dozens of plump trout, gathered her early violets, and barrow-loads of cowslips. They cooked the trout, and I am sorry to say that "hips and hawes" and raspberries, and much fruit generally, would make Katie ill, and I have been half heart-broken for the share I took in it.
I have torn my clothes to shreds for her-broken my head, scratched my face and hands among the brambles-once I was nearly drowned, in fishing up a trumpery old bracelet that we saw shining in the mill-pond, under the bridge, and at half a wish she expressed I scrambled in for it, and what's more, I got it too; but I shan't forget her white face in a hurry, nor the scolding I got from her-I did so like that. If I could have got the moon, and rolled it at her feet, a regular "cheese" of the very greenest character, I'd have done it, and no mistake. In the deepest dingle, or the highest tree, no nest was secure from me. It was understood at last, I'm greatly afraid, that if I did not show at school I was needs on some predatory excursion, in which she was principal and accessory, bless her! but our old Tinglefinger was a kindly old fellow, and did not massacre us boys, as I've heard they do at some schools.
I suppose you are getting a little tired of me, and think I ought to speak a little more to the purpose about Katie; but, if this is not all about her, who is it about? Me! Nonsense. Besides, without me, you wouldn't know anything of her at all.
Well, there was the summer, and we spent our half-holidays and spare time-a lot of us-in the leafy woods, down in the meadows anywhere, amidst grass and flowers, and sunshine, and the sweet hay. Then the autumn took us into the gardens, or on a nutting expedition; and then came the winter, with howling winds and sheeted snow, and we had our books by the evening fireside, and oh, how happy we were; and then came Christmas, with its pudding, and its presents, and its Christmas tree, the first I had ever seen, but I shant keep you long about that.
It was the merriest and the happiest Christmas party you ever knew, and besides, a number of us smaller folks-I was one of them,-you may be sure, and Katie, of course, was another, and looking in her white frock and her blue sash and ribbons, with her rosy cheeks and her curling brown hair, just like a little angel-besides, about a dozen of us, there were grown up people-grandfathers and grandmothers, and uncles and aunts, and fathers and mothers, and cousins and friends and, if we young ones were the merriest, the old people, with their aged faces beaming with kindness and their great pockets stuffed with presents-they were the jolliest, and the tree was all-ablaze with little lamps and candles, and we had music
and a dance-Sir Roger de Coverley and a minuet-and such feasting, and heaps of toys, and that Christmas tree, with all the pretty stories that a white-haired old gentleman told about it, and its associations, and the angels that brought gifts down, and the beautiful and solemn story belonging to that time, that I couldn't help listening, although he did have Katie on his knee, and though she did put her arms around his neck and kiss him; but she came and sat by me afterwards, when we whispered these rare things over again, or played together at forfeits. I couldn't forget those wonderful things, and then we had funny stories told us, which made us laugh, and one about a tall ghost which made our flesh creep, but, I think, we liked that story as well as any, it was so very astonishing. And so that Christmas passed by, and the long winter nights which followed were pleasantly spent, as beto e, with our books and fairy tales and pictures, until I don't know why, I began to fancy that something very dreadful was about to happen, and, at last, I found it, and oh! the despair and the terror that began to fill my breast.
There were a good many parties given about this time, and one to which Katie went without me. Of course, I could not always be with her to protect and take care of her. I remember how her father roared out, "Oh! oh! oh!" when I told them so. And when she returned, some days afterwards, I noticed that there seemed an anxious look about the household-that Katie was wrapped in shawls, in the parlour, by the fire-that the doctor came, and, with a laugh that gave me joy to hear, it was so full of health, "Well, and how were we to-day?" speaking to Katie, and calling her his "little woman," and that Katie coughed every day, and that a strange light came into her eyes, quite different from the sweet lovely light that used to dance and sparkle in them before; and that on her cheeks, which used to be so rosy, there were two red spots which awed me; and I used to look upon her in a silence so wistful,—with a feeling so strange and awe-stricken to myself, that she would hold out her arms and say, "Frank, dear Frank, don't look at me so-you frighten me!" but how it frightened me, I can't tell you; and then, I remember, how, with a sob, I would sit beside her and lay my head on her lap, and she would smooth my head and kiss it, and say, "Oh! Frank, dear Frank, don't
But, what was the use of telling me that, you know, when a fellow couldn't help it?
It was a heavy time for me, for when alone I thought and moped about Katie; but I always pulled up spirits was cheerful and brisk when I went to see her, which was every day, but our evenings were now sadly shortened, and her cough was become distressing. The poor little darling was dying-dying of one of those slow, yet fierce and horrible fevers, arising from cold on the lungs. Her delicate frame could not stand against the kisses of that fever-demon, which she had met on the night I was not with her, and how changed she was becoming every day! Our evenings were shortened, as I said, because she was obliged to be borne to her little chamber early. She used to kiss me on wishing me good evening, and say :
"Good-night, Frank dear, I shall name you in my prayers. Pray for little Katie, and be a good boy, and cheer up poor Tom."
Tom used to cry dreadfully, and, I think, his heart was tender enough— if his head was soft. I used to say my prayers too, I hope, and if they could have saved her, Katie woud have been alive now. It was better that she should add to the number of the angels. I thought I heard her sweet voice singing when the Christmas angels gathered in my dreams at the next Holy-tide.
I had by this time borne away my little flying island out of the scents of the garden and the orchard, out of the sunshine and chequered shadows, and moored it, with all its wizard and fairy splendours, beside the fireplacebeside Katie's couch, where she now lay daily, and when the winds were making sad complainings and the snow falling fast, and the angry sleet dashing against the faces of the passers-by-then I read to her as before, but we added now to our favourite stock, the sermons on the Mount, the miracles of our Saviour, and the beautiful parables, by which He taught us such sacred lessons of love and goodwill to men; and I saw that Katie, with her eyes half closed and her hands folded together, would wear upon her lips a smile, such as was never there before, and I knew that she felt happy.
I don't mean to say much for myself, when I tell you that I gave up marbles and top, kite and fishing-tackle, cricket and prison-bars, and the rest of the sports our boys engaged in, because the wintry weather was not very favourable for them; but skating and slides I had no time for now, as I was always with Katie when out of school, and in school my thoughts were with her, and, I think, old "Tinglefinger" behaved with kindness and forbearance to the forlorn lad, who saw his little sweetheart dying daily before his eyes, and overlooked many a slip and blunder, and many a neglected lesson.
Did this approach of Death, whose stealthy footfalls seemed to grow daily louder and to arrive nearer, frighten me, you ask? I am inclined to believe that it did; but not quite in the way that one feels usually frightened, at something that is hideous or dreadful. The mystery of Death seemed to be invested in her person, with something that was awful, but also beau tiful. The whisperings that came in the midst of silence, as from unseen presences that were watching over her, were as things which I cannot explain, but clear to some hidden sense within me that made them understood, but not to ear of flesh, to eye of reason, or to any process of thought. She was before me, and beside me, and about me; and if I was at first disposed to murmur and complain, she had in her teachings, her words, and her ways-all now imbued with a loftier and higher character,-made me submissive, if not happy. It was a change, singular enough to me, for they told me many a time that I had not a very tractable temper. Little Katie could calm the wildest storm in my breast-dissipate every trouble, and make me by a word or a sign as quiet as a lamb and as easily led. She could do anything with me.
So day by day passed on, and week by week went by, and the winter was passing into spring, and oh! I hoped, I prayed that she might be able to stray into the meadows once more, that I might gather wild flowers for her, and fetch bundles of the rushes wherewith to make fantastic caps. But the Spring was not to bring her health and strength and renewed beauty. It was only to blossom upon her grave.
One evening I went to their house-I was almost a part of the household now-and a little later than usual. I saw that she was not down stairs; and I met the clergyman, a good, kind, venerable man, who was passing in from the stairs as I entered. Despite his office and my respect for him, I could not help looking upon him with something of a half-angry, hateful fear. You may guess what he boded.
"Is-is-anything the matter-is Katie worse?" I managed to gasp
He looked down upon me with a tenderness and pity. "You had better not see her," he said, "your little play-fellow is not likely to outlive the night;" and I rushed in with a choking sob, and a great cry just begun which I had the power to suppress.
"Not see her!" thought I, "not see my little darling, and to part so soon-and for ever!" I thought they were cruel and harsh. Tom, blubbering, attempted to comfort me. Katie's mother in her great grief thought of mine. She asked me to remain quietly in the parlour, while she went up stairs for a few minutes. The silence, the heaviness of death reigned in the house. All seemed muffled, stealthy, dark, stifling, airless. Choking as I was, I sat down in sullen rebellion, and waited. I thought she would never return, but she came back at last, her worn fond motherly face streaming with tears. She beckoned me to follow, with a low, trembling hush! and I obeyed.
I don't know how I felt on entering the chamber, but my eyes fastened on the bed at once. The eyes had not now their unnatural lustre, the cheeks had lost their dreadful patches of fiery red. It was white, calm, holy, and I don't know that I shall ever behold a face whose loveliness had so much of a seraphic calm, which I cannot attempt to describe. The eyes unclosed-they beheld me. The lips parted-I surely heard
my name :
"Frank! Frank! dear Frank!" It was only a whisper, but I stooped and kissed her forehead, and knelt and covered her thin worn hands with tears and kisses, and heard the low sweet voice praying-then followed a thrill, a shiver, and a moan, and my little Katie was-dead! my little darling, my play-fellow, my pretty sweetheart Kate-was dead!
I saw my pretty treasure buried, and I thought I should liked to have been laid beside her-the bright blossom that she was. I have seen her grave since, and it lies in a swarded nook, which is as rich and as odorous as a garden, with bird-songs rising around it, and a winnowing as of great white wings all about it.
I always am better--I know I am better when I think of Katie, who loved me, and prattled to me, and prayed for me, and--and I don't think I have any more to tell you.
Only this before the dear face of that angel-child fades out of my memory, I shall be still as she, or a very old man. I am growing ever so old now and I shall then be unable to recollect that I have been a boywhen I shall forget her.
And that's my story-if you like it-about myself and little Katie, and I'm not going to answer any more questions. Its somebody else's turn now, and I'm quite ready for the ghost story that's going to be told. Put plenty of sheet on it, let it be ever so tall, and as white as the moonshine
on the snow.
THERE travels a wasting fire
Thy shadow is not more faithful
I count the dull hours passing,
But to me they bring no changing
THE subject of prison punishment is one in which every individual is concerned, and not, as it is practically regarded, one of importance to criminals only. Society at large is interested in the fact as to whether a due amount of punishment is awarded to those who break our laws, so that our goals may vindicate our wrongs; and those (few, indeed, comparatively as they are,) who give a thought for the true welfare of their fellow-men, are also interested to know that punishment does not degenerate into vengeance. Both of these classes have the same end in view, but they would attain it by somewhat different means; and hence our gaols have ever been regarded in different lights by the honest portion of the community. The one looks for nothing and will admit nothing but punishment, in the belief that that is necessary both to distinguish the criminal from the honest man, and to deter honest men from becoming criminals, the other admits punishment as one element only in this plan of procedure, and proceeds upon the belief that the improvement of the criminal, so as to induce him to leave his evil courses, is that which will most effectually benefit society.
There is no doubt truth on the side of both of these classes, and there is also an evil into which both are likely to fail,-the one will be that of undue severity, and the other of too much lenity; and hence it would be to be regretted if either class obtained exclusive control over our goals. Against the first class may be urged the facts, 1st, That a large part of our criminality is originally due to the misfortunes of men; such, for example, as the want of home and proper parental education of so great a part of the children of our great towns; to the crowding together of both sexes, result ing from poverty, and from that crying evil of the day, the destruction of the poor man's dwelling to make room for the rich man's palace. 2nd, To the frailty of human nature, whereby men not hitherto vicious, by some