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Mrs. Moss
by [?]

“It did not move my grief, to see
The trace of human step departed,
Because the garden was deserted,
The blither place for me!

“Friends, blame me not! a narrow ken
Hath childhood ‘twixt the sun and sward:
We draw the moral afterward–
We feel the gladness then.”

E. BARRETT BROWNING.

“I remember,” said Mrs. Overtheway, “old as I am, I remember distinctly many of the unrecognized vexations, longings, and disappointments of childhood. By unrecognized, I mean those vexations, longings, and disappointments which could not be understood by nurses, are not confided even to mothers, and through which, even in our cradles, we become subject to that law of humanity which gives to every heart its own secret bitterness to be endured alone. These are they which sometimes outlive weightier memories, and produce life-long impressions disproportionate to their value; but oftener, perhaps, are washed away by the advancing tide of time–the vexations, longings, and disappointments of the next period of our lives. These are they which are apt to be forgotten too soon to benefit our children, and which in the forgetting make childhood all bright to look back upon, and foster that happy fancy that there is one division of mortal life in which greedy desire, unfulfilled purpose, envy, sorrow, weariness and satiety, have no part, by which every man believes himself at least to have been happy as a child.

“My childhood, on the whole, was a very happy one. The story that I am about to relate is only a fragment of it.

“As I look into the fire, and the hot coals shape themselves into a thousand memories of the past, I seem to be staring with childish eyes at a board that stares back at me out of a larch plantation, and gives notice that ‘This House is to Let.’ Then, again, I seem to peep through rusty iron gates at the house itself–an old red house, with large windows, through which one could see the white shutters that were always closed. To look at this house, though only with my mind’s eye, recalls the feeling of mysterious interest with which I looked at it fifty years ago, and brings back the almost oppressive happiness of a certain day, when Sarah, having business with the couple who kept the empty manor, took me with her, and left me to explore the grounds whilst she visited her friends.

“Next to a companion with that rare sympathy of mind to mind, that exceptional coincidence of tastes, which binds some few friendships in a chain of mesmeric links, supplanting all the complacencies of love by intuition, is a companion whose desires and occupations are in harmony, if not in unison, with one’s own. That friend whom the long patience of the angler does not chafe, the protracted pleasures of the sketcher do not weary, because time flies as swiftly with him whilst he pores over his book, or devoutly seeks botanical specimens through the artist’s middle distance; that friend, in short–that valuable friend–who is blessed with the great and good quality of riding a hobby of his own, and the greater and better quality of allowing other people to ride theirs.

“I did not think out all this fifty years ago, neither were the tastes of that excellent housemaid, Sarah, quite on a level with those of which I have spoken; but I remember feeling the full comfort of the fact that Sarah’s love for friendly gossip was quite as ardent as mine for romantic discovery; that she was disposed to linger quite as long to chat as I to explore; and that she no more expected me to sit wearily through her kitchen confidences, than I imagined that she would give a long afternoon to sharing my day-dreams in the gardens of the deserted manor.

“We had ridden our respective hobbies till nearly tea-time before she appeared.