Many years ago, two visitors were sent from realms above, to enter the homes of earth’s inhabitants, and see how much of true happiness and real sorrow there were in their midst. Hand in hand they walked together, till they entered a pleasant valley nestled among green hills. At the base of one of these stood a cottage covered with roses and honeysuckles, which looked very inviting; and the external did not belie the interior.
The family consisted of a man and wife somewhat advanced in years, an aged and infirm brother, and two lovely young girls, grandchildren of the couple.
The pleasant murmur of voices floated on the air,–pleasant to the ear as the perfume of the roses climbing over the door was to the sense of smell. It chimed with the spell of the summer morning, and the sisters knew that harmony was within.
“Let us enter,” said Joy.
Sorrow, who was unwilling to go into any abode, lingered outside.
Within, all was as clean and orderly as one could desire: the young girls were diligently sewing, while before them lay an open volume, from which they occasionally read a page or so, thus mingling instruction with labor.
Joy entered, and accosted them with, “A bright morning.”
“Very lovely,” answered the girls, and they arose and placed a chair for their visitor.
“We have much to be grateful for every day, but very much on such a day as this,” remarked the grandmother.
“You’re a busy family,” said Joy.
“Yes, we all labor, and are fond of it,” answered the woman, looking fondly at the girls. “We have many blessings, far more than we can be grateful for, I sometimes think.”
“Yes, I tell mother,” broke in the husband, “that we must never lose sight of our blessings; in fact, they are all such, though often in disguise.”
At that moment Sorrow looked in at the open door. It was so seldom that she was recognized that she longed to enter.
“You have a friend out there: ask her in,” said the woman.
Joy turned and motioned her sister to enter. She came in softly, and sat beside Joy, while the woman spoke of her family, at the desire of each of the sisters to know of her causes of happiness.
“Yes, they are all blessings in disguise,” she said, “though I could not think thus when I laid my fair-eyed boy in the grave; nor, later, when my next child was born blind.”
“Had you none other?” asked Joy.
“One other, and she died of a broken heart.”
Sorrow sighed deeply, and would rather have heard no more; but Joy wished to hear the whole, and asked the woman to go on.
“Yes, she died heart-broken; and these two girls are hers. It was very hard that day to see the hand of God in the cloud when they brought the body of her husband home all mangled, and so torn that not a feature could be recognized; and then to see poor Mary, his wife, pine day by day until we laid her beside him.”
“But the blessing was in it, mother: we have found it so. They have only gone to prepare the way, and we have much left us.”
The words of the old man were true, and it was beautiful to see the face of his wife as it glowed with recognition.
At that moment the sisters threw back their veils. Such a radiant face was never seen in that cottage as the beaming countenance of Joy; while that of her sister was dark and sad to look upon.
“Oh, stay with us,” exclaimed the girls to Joy, as the sisters rose to depart.
“Most gladly would I, but I have a work to perform in your village; and, beside, I cannot leave my sister.”
“But she is so dark and sad, why not leave her to go alone?” said the youngest girl, who had never seen Sorrow nor heard of her mission to earth before.