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The Word Of Praise
by [?]

A LITTLE thing is a sunbeam–a very little thing. It streams through our casement, making the cheerful room still more cheerful; and yet so accustomed are we to its presence, that we notice it not, and heed not its exhilarating effect.

But its absence would be quickly seen and felt. The unfortunate prisoner in his dimly-lighted cell would hail with rapture that blessed stream of light; and the scarcely less imprisoned inmates of the more obscure streets of our crowded cities would welcome it as a messenger from Heaven.

It is even thus with the sunbeams of the human heart. Trifling things they are in themselves, for the heart is wonderfully constituted, and it vibrates to the slightest touch; but without them life is a blank–all seems cold and lifeless as the marble slab which marks the spot where the departed loved one lies.

A gloomy home was that of Henry Howard, and yet all the elements of human happiness seemed to be there. Wealth sufficient to secure all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life, was theirs, and both husband and wife were regarded by their numerous acquaintances as exceedingly intelligent and estimable people–and so indeed they were. The light tread of childhood was not wanting in their home, although its merry laugh was seldom heard, for the little children seemed to possess a gravity beyond their years, and that glad joyousness which it is so delightful to witness in infancy, was with them seldom or never visible.

Life’s sunbeams seemed strangely wanting, yet the why and wherefore was to the casual observer an unfathomable mystery.

Years before, that wife and mother had left the home of her childhood a happy and trusting bride. Scarcely seventeen, the love which she had bestowed upon him who was now her husband, was the first pure affections of her virgin heart, and in many respects he was worthy of her love, and, as far as was in his nature, returned it. Her senior by many years, he was possessed of high moral principles, good intellectual endowments, and an unblemished reputation among his fellow men.

But there was a cold, repulsive manner, at variance sometimes with his more interior feelings, which could ill meet the warm, affectionate disposition of his young wife, who, cherished and petted in her father’s house, looked for the same fond endearments from him to whom she had given all.

Proud of her beauty and intelligence, charmed with her sprightliness and wit, the man was for a time lost in the lover, and enough of fondness and affection were manifested to satisfy the confiding Mary, who had invested her earthly idol with every attribute of perfection. But as months passed on, and he again became immersed in his business, his true character, or, more properly speaking, his habitual manners, were again resumed, and the heart of the wife was often pained by an appearance of coldness and indifference, which seemed to chill and repulse the best affections of her nature.

Tears and remonstrance were useless, for the husband was himself unaware of the change. Was not every comfort amply provided, every request complied with? What more could any reasonable woman desire?

Alas! he knew but little of a woman’s heart; of that fountain of love which is perpetually gushing forth toward him who first caused its waters to flow: and still less did he know of the fearful effect of the constant repressing of each warm affection. He dreamed not that the loving heart could become cold and dead, and that his own icy nature would soon be rejected in the devoted being who now clung to him so fondly.

It was but in little things that he was deficient, mere trifles, but still they constituted the happiness or woe of the wife of his bosom.

The loving glance was seldom returned, the affectionate pressure of the hand seemed unfelt, the constant effort to please remained unnoticed. One word of praise, one kindly look, was all that was desired, but these were withheld, and the charm of life was gone.