The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII_ No. 356, October 23, 1886.
|Vol. VIII.—No. 356.||OCTOBER 23, 1886.||Price One Penny.|
[Transcriber's Note: This Table of Contents was not present in the original.]
A DREAM OF QUEEN'S GARDENS: Part 2.
HINTS ON MODELLING IN CLAY.
LOVE ON, LOVE EVER.
DRESS: IN SEASON AND IN REASON.
THE SHEPHERD'S FAIRY: Chapter 4.
A PRINCESS WHO LIVED TWO LIVES.
MERLE'S CRUSADE: Chapter 4.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
A DREAM OF QUEEN'S GARDENS.
A STORY FOR GIRLS.—IN TWO PARTS.
By DANIEL DORMER, Author of "Out of the Mists."
A QUEEN'S DREAM.
Yet the recollection of that bookis helping to soften Hazel. Thereis a tender bit of writing at theclose of the lecture which canhardly fail to reach any woman'sheart, unless it be wholly hardened;and Hazel's is not a hard heart.So she muses on it, growing graduallycalmer and happier. Afterall, she might be of some use in theworld if she were to try, and if OneDivine would be with her.
She stoops down to throw somecoal on the fire. She is too muchexhausted physically to make it upcarefully; but with an effort pileson large blocks and small indiscriminately,then throws in a handfulof matches from a box withinreach. What strange chaos thereseems to be in the grate after alittle while! One after anotherthe matches go off with a phizand short-lived flare, and eachseems to light up a more curiousscene than the last. From beingmere piled-up blocks of coal in agrate, they grow to be a halfblocked up entrance to some unknownplace. There is a largeshining black portal, half ruined,surrounded with débris. By degreesHazel's languid curiosity isexcited, and she wonders whitherit leads. Why should she notexplore?... The nextmatch which takes fire lights upthe slight form leaning far back inthe big chair, with the soft, goldenbrown hair half loosened, and thedark, shadowed eyes fast closed.And Hazel has passed throughthe dark gateway, and is in awonderful world.
What a strange black gateway to have ledinto so fair a garden! Hazel pauses at theentrance, her eyes glistening, her breathtaken away with delight at the beauty of thescene before her. A paradise of fresh greenshade and exquisite light and colouring.Wide-spreading chestnuts, graceful, featherybirches, and a hundred other trees, clothedand robed in their tender young leaves,mingle with a glory of pink and white springblossom, which seems to fill the air like asnowstorm in the clear, blue sky. TheSouth wind blows and fans Hazel's cheek, andwafts delicious breath of flowers and sweet-brieraround her. Beneath the shower ofsnowy blossom stretches smooth, greengrass, and masses of brilliant flowers glow,expanding their petals up towards the sun.
After a while Hazel wanders forward in adreamy intoxication of delight, every momentdiscovering fresh beauties. She finds abeautiful grotto, where are large rocks andcascades and running streams and fountains.She enters by a low archway of stone, coveredwith drooping ferns, and there, right beforeher, is a large clear pool at the foot of a hugerock. She flushes with the prettiest of shypleasure and frank admiration at sight of herown reflection.
How beautiful! A girl in a long, whiterobe, with a sweet, dark-eyed face, which sheknows to be her own. She is leaning slightlyforward, and the eyes—so often heavy andweary—are brimming with happiness, thelips parted in a smile. Her hair, with itspretty, sunny ripples, is unbound, and thewind blows it slightly back from her shoulders.And, most wonderful and striking of all, acirclet of pure gold rests upon the shapelyhead, and a second circlet is clasped roundthe waist. Then she is a queen? No doubtof it. And then comes, to the joy of admirationof all she has seen, the added joy ofcertainty that all is her own. This is aqueen's garden, and she is the happyqueen!
More and more dawns gradually upon her.There are those near at hand dear to her, towhom she is also dear, whose queen she is.Oh the joy of it all! She clasps her hands inecstasy, and the pretty reflection in the poolis more than ever lovely, only she has forgottenit now.
A serious thought must have come intoHazel's mind, for suddenly a differentexpression appears in her eyes; a look ofperplexity and shade of sorrow. The consciousnessin her new life is growing, and,alas! it is not unmixed with pain. Thisgarden is not all the world, then? She putsher hand to her brow, trying to recall something.Slowly it comes back to her in words,noble words, spoken by one whose face is adarkness to her. And she listens—
"It is you queens only who can feel thedepths of pain, and conceive the way to itshealing."
Ah! that is enough. She has lost herdesire to recall more. She would fain turnback to the former delight and forget theexistence of pain. But the steady voicepersists, and will not be quenched.
"Instead of trying to do this, you turnaway from it; you shut yourselves withinyour park walls and garden gates; and youare content to know that there is beyondthem a whole world in wilderness, a world ofsecrets which you dare not penetrate, and ofsuffering which you dare not conceive."
Hazel looks round on the garden. Howpleasant it is! Why should she leave it?Why should she concern herself with whatmay lie outside this home-kingdom of hers?She tries again to banish the voice, yet sheknows in her heart, if she would only look forits knowledge, that, outside of that little rose-coveredwall, the wild grass, to the horizon, istorn up by the agony of men, and beat levelby the drift of their life-blood.
Yes, it is useless; there is no escaping thetruth the voice tells. So Hazel yields herselfto listen as it goes on.
"I knew you would like that to be true;you would think it a pleasant magic if youcould flush your flowers into brighter bloomby a kind look upon them; nay, more, if yourlook had the power, not only to cheer, but toguard.... This you would think a greatthing! And do you not think it a greaterthing that all this (and how much more thanthis) you can do for fairer flowers than these,flowers that could bless you for having blessedthem, and will love you for having lovedthem; flowers that have thoughts like yours,and lives like yours, and which, once saved,you save for ever? Is this only a littlepower? Far among the moorlands and therocks, far in the darkness of the terriblestreets, these feeble florets are lying, with alltheir fresh leaves torn and their stems broken;will you never go down to them, nor set themin order in their little fragrant beds, nor fencethem, in their trembling, from the fiercewind?"
Engrossed with the voice, Hazel has beenwalking on, little heeding whither she goes,when, as its tones die away, a groan startlesher. How terrible its sound; how incongruous,interrupting the soft harmonious chorus ofthe soaring, singing birds! So painfullynear it seemed, too, it could but have been avery little distance off outside that gate whichshe sees before her. Her first impulse is todraw back and retire, shuddering, far into thegarden. But, behold! the gate swings backof its own accord, and in the face of that fact,and with the remembrance of the words shehas heard, she dare not do other than passthrough the open way.
What a strange, wide world, and howdreary! A great, mad battle is raging; thegrass, sloping up to the horizon, is scorchedwith the heat of the sun—the sun which onlymade a pleasant warmth in the shady garden.There is the fierce galloping of horses, andwrestling and fighting of men. Shouts andgroans fill the air and drown the song of thebirds. There are heaps of dying and wounded.Ah! there is one man not a stone's throwfrom her; his must have been the voice thatreached her within her gates. How remarkablethat she should have heard nothingbefore of all the great din. Another groan,followed by some inaudible words, causesHazel timidly to approach the wounded man.He is evidently one of the very poorest of the"common" soldiers; and there is a look inhis face which speaks the word death with ashudder in the girl's heart. A gleam lightensthe agony in the man's eyes as he sees thewhite form and gentle face above him. Hegazes steadily a moment, as though to makesure his vision is not a passing illusion; thenHazel catches the words, "Were you sent tome?"
Very quietly she tells him in whose nameshe comes. Then, with a long, strugglingsigh of satisfaction, without a shadow offurther questioning in the dying eyes or voice,he whispers—"Hope even for me in Him,then, since He sent you!"
So the low, flickering flame of life, set free,leaps up to its source; and the forsakenhome rests in unbroken peace.
Saddened, and yet peaceful, too, Hazel turnsslowly away from the battle-field, and walkson, not noticing whither she goes. Jarringsounds recall her, and she finds herself in anarrow valley, surrounded by noisy childrenand brawling women. No one seems consciousof her presence. A lot of men arelounging against the wall of a public-house.The low building is conspicuous by its beingin good repair, while its neighbours are all ina shattered condition. The window-framesare painted and varnished, and the openentrance discloses a smart interior. A fewdoors beyond this the houses reach theclimax of desolate disorder. The whole placeis tumbling down; the window is broken;the battered door is off its hinges, proppedup against the wall. A cripple girl is sittingon a broken box, turned upside down,immediately outside this miserable hovel.Her face is a greater shock to Hazel than anyof the other wretchedness around. Thereis a desperation of bitterness in that set,white face, with its hollow eyes and cheeks,which is absolutely appalling. Hazel hadalways imagined that suffering must ofnecessity, by its own inherent nature, bringwith it a patience which would be reflected ina sweet face. Slowly, as she scans thoseimmovable features, full of pain, and stillmore full of dogged rebellion, this idea has tobe abandoned. Here obviously is a humanbeing in the midst of a noisy squalor, whosephysical disease and torture is unlightened byone softening ray of hope; whose misery istoo sullen and dull to rise even to the hope ofputting an end to itself.
One moment and the deformed girl startsapprehensively. A sob has sounded in herear, and some one, unlike any she has everseen heretofore, stands beside her, taking herhand in mute, unspeakable compassion. Shecowers back against the wall and drags awayher hand; Hazel's purity and loveliness raisesin her only a shrinking dislike and dread ofcontact.
It is long before the pleading, loving voicegains any hearing; but at last, before thetwo part, some faint expression of intelligentthought has dawned on the lame girl's brow;and in her mind a question has been raised,"Can it be that there is one who loves meand has need of me?"
The evening sunlight is falling through thebirches in the beautiful garden; the air is fullof fragrance and harmony; the queen isreturning. Wearily she opens the gate toenter. She is filled with pain, for the manysadnesses to which she has drawn near havetouched her own soul with the shadow ofsuffering.
Suddenly, in the chequered shade of thetrees at the entrance of the garden, she stopsand turns round, for a bright radianceenvelops her. And, lo! there stands One, inglorious light—One in whose Divine facelove is shining. Hazel bows down, herwhole soul overwhelmed with reverent awe.Then her hand is taken and held with a touchwhich thrills her with exquisite rapture, and avoice in her ears says—
"Come, see with Me My garden."
And the air, which is filled with light,grows buoyant, and, while her hand is stillclasped by the Divine Guide, she is wafted upwards.
Stretched out below, the hills and vales ofthe earth are one vast garden. All is indistinctat first; expanses of misty colour andtint; but by degrees the scene resolves itselfinto more definite form. The whole is intersectedand watered with