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Home At Last
by [?]

“WE’RE home at last, and I am so glad!” exclaimed a little girl, not over ten years of age, as she paused at twilight with her mother before a small and mean-looking house, one evening late in the month of November.

The mother did not reply, but lifted the latch, when both passed in. There was no light in the dwelling, and no fire on the hearth. All was cold, dark, and cheerless in that place which had been called “home” by the little girl; yet, cold, dark, and cheerless as it was, she still felt glad to be there once more.

I will get a light, mother,” said she, in a cheerful tone, running to a closet, and taking thence a candle and a match.

In a moment or two afterwards the candle was burning brightly, and throwing its light into every corner of that meanly-furnished room, which contained but few articles, and they the simplest that were needed. An old pine table, without leaves, three or four old chairs the paint from which had long since disappeared, a bench and a water bucket, with a few cooking utensils, made up the furniture of the apartment.

A small fire was soon kindled on the hearth, over which the mother hung a tea-kettle. When this had boiled, and she had drawn some tea, she placed upon the table a few slices of bread and a piece of cheese, which she took from a basket that she had borne on her arm. Then the mother and child sat down to partake of their frugal meal, which both eat with a keen relish.

“I’m so glad to get home again!” the little girl said, glancing up into her mother’s face, with a cheerful smile.

The mother looked upon her child with a tender expression, but did not reply. She thought how poor and comfortless that home was which seemed so desirable.

“I don’t like to go to Mrs. Walker’s,” said the child, after the lapse of a few moments.

“Why not, Jane?”

“Because I can’t do any thing right there. Amy scolds me if I touch a thing, and John won’t let me go any place, except into the kitchen. I’m sure I like home a great deal better, and I wish you would always stay at home, mother.”

“I would never go out, Jane, if I could help it,” the mother replied, in the effort to make her daughter understand, that she might acquiesce in the necessity. “But you know that we must eat, and have clothes to wear, and pay for the house we live in. I could not get the money to do all this, if I did not go out to work in other people’s houses, and then we would be hungry, and cold, and not have any home to come to.”

The little girl sighed and remained silent for a few moments. Then she said, in a more cheerful tone,

“I know it’s wrong for me to talk as I do, mother, and I’ll try not to complain any more. It’s a great deal harder for you than it is for me to go into these big people’s houses. You have to work so hard, and I have only to sit still in the kitchen. But won’t father come home soon? He’s been away so long! When he was home we had every thing we wanted, and you didn’t have to go out a working.”

Tears came into the mother’s eyes, and her feelings were so moved, that she could not venture to reply.

“Won’t he be home soon, mother?” pursued the child.

“I’m afraid not,” the mother at length said, in as calm a voice as she could assume.

“Why not, mother? He’s been gone a long time.”

“I cannot tell you, my child. But I don’t expect him home soon.”

“Oh, I wish he would come,” the child responded, earnestly. “If he was only home, you would not have to go out to work any more.”