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The New-Year’s Gift
by [?]

I would not wish to have been required, on oath, to give in my undisguised opinion as to the number of stitches the little one really put into her present, but she had a most genuine and firm conviction that she worked every stitch of it herself; and when, on returning from a scamper with pussy, she found one or two letters finished, she never doubted that the whole was of her own execution, and, of course, thought that working book marks was one of the most delightful occupations in the world. It was all that her little heart could do to keep from papa and mamma the wonderful secret. Every evening she would bustle about her father with an air of such great mystery, and seek to pique his curiosity by most skilful hints, such as,–

“I know somefing! but I s’ant tell you.”

“Not tell me! O Ally! Why not?”

“O, it’s about–a New ‘Ear’s pes—-“

“Ally, Ally,” resounds from several voices, “don’t you tell.”

“No, I s’ant–but you are going to have a New ‘Ear’s pesant, and so is mamma, and you can’t dess what it is.”

“Can’t I?”

“No, and I s’ant tell you.”

“Now, Ally,” said papa, pretending to look aggrieved.

“Well, it’s going to be–somefin worked.”

“Ally, be careful,” said Emma.

“Yes, I’ll be very tareful; it’s somefin– weall pretty–somefin to put in a book. You’ll find out about it by and by.”

“I think I’m in a fair way to,” said the father.

The conversation now digressed to other subjects, and the nurse came in to take Ally to bed; who, as she kissed her father, in the fulness of her heart, added a fresh burst of information. “Papa,” said she, in an earnest whisper, “that fin is about so long”–measuring on her fat little arm.

“A fin, Ally? Why, you are not going to give me a fish, are you?”

“I mean that thing,” said Ally, speaking the word with great effort, and getting quite red in the face.

“O, that thing; I beg pardon, my lady; that puts another face on the communication,” said the father, stroking her head fondly, as he bade her good night.

“The child can talk plainer than she does,” said the father, “but we are all so delighted with her little Hottentot dialect, that I don’t know but she will keep it up till she is twenty.”

* * * * *

It now wanted only three days of the New Year, when a sudden and deadly shadow fell on the dwelling, late so busy and joyous–a shadow from the grave; and it fell on the flower of the garden–the star–the singing bird–the loved and loving Ally.

She was stricken down at once, in the flush of her innocent enjoyment, by a fever, which from the first was ushered in with symptoms the most fearful.

All the bustle of preparation ceased–the presents were forgotten or lay about unfinished, as if no one now had a heart to put their hand to any thing; while up in her little crib lay the beloved one, tossing and burning with restless fever, and without power to recognize any of the loved faces that bent over her.

The doctor came twice a day, with a heavy step, and a face in which anxious care was too plainly written; and while he was there each member of the circle hung with anxious, imploring faces about him, as if to entreat him to save their darling; but still the deadly disease held on its relentless course, in spite of all that could be done.

“I thought myself prepared to meet God’s will in any form it might come,” said Winthrop to me; “but this one thing I had forgotten. It never entered into my head that my little Ally could die.”