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The Little Lame Angel
by [?]

In the field so wide and sunny

Where the summer clover is,

Where each year the mower searches

For the nests of wild-bee honey,

All along these silver birches

Stand up straight in shining row,

Dewdrops sparkling, shadows darkling,

In the early morning glow;

And in gleaming time they’re gleaming

White, like angels when I’m dreaming
.

There among its handsome brothers

Was one little crooked tree,

Different from all the others,

Just as bent as bent could be.

First it crawl’d along the heather

Till it turn’d up straight again,

Then it drew itself together

Like a tender thing in pain;

Scarce a single green leaf straggled

From its twigs so bare and draggled–

And it really looks ashamed

When I’m passing by that way,

Just as if it tried to say–

“Please don’t look at such a maim’d

Little Cripple-Dick as I;

Look at all the rest about,

Look at them and pass me by,

I’m so crooked, do not flout me,

Kindly turn your head awry;

Of what use is my poor gnarl’d

Body in this lovely world?

Once I wrote[1] about two little, boys who played together all through the heats of the Dry Summer in a garden very beautiful and old. The tale told how it came to pass that one of the boys was lame, and also why they loved one another so greatly.

[Footnote 1: Jiminy and Jaikie ( The Stickit Minister ).]

Now, it happened that some loved what was told, and perhaps even more that which was not told, but only hinted. For that is the secret of being loved–not to tell all. At least, from over-seas there came letters one, two, and three, asking to be told what these two did in the beautiful garden of Long Ago, what they played at, where they went, and what the dry summer heats had to do with it all.

Perhaps it is a foolish thing to try to write down in words that which was at once so little and so dear. Yet, because I love the garden and the boys, I must, for my own pleasure, tell of them once again.

It was Jiminy’s garden, or at least his father’s, which is the same thing, or even better. For his father lived in a gloomy study with severe books, bound in divinity calf, all about him; and was no more conscious of the existence of the beautiful garden than if it had been the Desert of Sahara.

On the other hand, Jiminy never opened a book that summer except when he could not help it, which was once a day, when his father instructed him in the Latin verb.

The old garden was cut into squares by noble walks bordered by boxwood, high like a hedge. For it had once been the garden of a monastery, and the yews and the box were all that remained of what the good monks had spent so much skill and labour upon.

There was an orchard also, with old gnarled, green-mossed trees, that bore little fruit, but made a glory of shade in the dog-days. Up among the branches Jiminy made a platform, like those Jaikie read to him about in a book of Indian travel, where the hunters waited for tigers to come underneath them. Ever since Jaikie became lame he lived at the manse, and the minister let him read all sorts of queer books all day long, if so he wished. As for Jiminy, he had been brought up among books, and cared little about them; but Jaikie looked upon each one as a new gate of Paradise.