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A Bit Of Green
by [?]

“Thou oughtest, therefore, to call to mind the more heavy
sufferings of others, that so thou mayest the easier bear
thy own very small troubles.”–THE IMITATION OF
CHRIST.

Children who live always with grass and flowers at their feet, and a clear sky overhead, can have no real idea of the charm that country sights and sounds have for those whose home is in a dirty, busy, manufacturing town–just such a town, in fact, as I lived in when I was a boy, which is more than twenty years ago.

My father was a doctor, with a very large, if not what is called a “genteel,” practice, and we lived in a comfortable house in a broad street. I was born and bred there; and, ever since I could remember, the last sound that soothed my ears at night, and the first to which I awoke in the morning, was the eternal rumbling and rattling of the carts and carriages as they passed over the rough stones. I never noticed if I heard them in the day-time, but at night my chief amusement, as I lay in bed, was to guess by the sound of the wheels what sort of vehicle was passing.

“That light sharp rattle is a cab,” I thought. “What a noise it makes, and gone in a moment! One gentleman inside, I should think. There’s an omnibus; and there, jolty-jolt, goes a light cart; that’s a carriage, by the way the horses step; and now, rumbling heavily in the distance, and coming slowly nearer, and heavier, and louder, this can be nothing but a brewer’s dray!” And the dray came so slowly that I was asleep before it had got safely out of hearing.

Ours was a very noisy street, but the noise made the night cheerful; and so did the church clock near, which struck the quarters; and so did the light of the street lamps, which came through the blind and fell upon my little bed. We had very little light, except gaslight and daylight, in our street; the sunshine seldom found its way to us, and, when it did, people were so little used to it that they pulled down the blinds for fear it should hurt the carpets. In the room my sister and I called our nursery, however, we always welcomed it with blinds rolled up to the very top; and, as we had no carpet, no damage was done.

But sunshine outside will not always make sunshine shine within, and I remember one day when, though our nursery was unusually cheerful, and though the windows were reflected in square patches of sunlight on the floor, I stood in the very midst of the brightness, grumbling and kicking at my sister’s chair with a face as black as a thunder-cloud. The reason of my ill-temper was this: Ever since I could remember, my father had been accustomed, once a year, to take us all into the country for change of air. Once he had taken us to the sea, but generally we went to an old farmhouse in the middle of the beautiful moors which lay not many miles from our dirty black town. But this year, on this very sunshiny morning, he had announced at breakfast that he could not let us go to what we called our moor-home. He had even added insult to injury by expressing his thankfulness that we were all in good health, so that the change was not a matter of necessity. I was too indignant to speak, and rushed upstairs into the nursery, where my little sister had also taken refuge. She was always very gentle and obedient (provokingly so, I thought), and now she sat rocking her doll on her knee in silent sorrow, whilst I stood kicking her chair and grumbling in a tone which it was well the doll could not hear, or rocking would have been of little use. I took pleasure in trying to make her as angry as myself. I reminded her how lovely the purple moors were looking at that moment, how sweet heather smelt, and how good bilberries tasted. I said I thought it was “very hard.” It wasn’t as if we were always paying visits, as many children did, to their country relations; we had only one treat in the year, and father wanted to take that away. Not a soul in the town, I said, would be as unfortunate as we were. The children next door would go somewhere, of course. So would the little Smiths, and the Browns, and everybody. Everybody else went to the sea in the autumn; we were contented with the moors, and he wouldn’t even let us go there. And, at the end of every burst of complaint, I discharged a volley of kicks at the leg of the chair, and wound up with “I can’t think why he can’t!”