1108 A PICTURE-BOOK WITHOUT PICTURES
the hen-house, pushed back the bolt, and slipped into the apartment of the hens and chickens. They cried out loudly, and came fluttering down from their perches, and ran about in dismay, and the little girl ran after them. I saw it quite plainly, for I looked through a hole in the hen-house wall. I was angry with the wilful child, and felt glad when her father came out and scolded her more violently than yesterday, holding her roughly by the arm : she held down her head, and her blue eyes were full of large tears. " What are you about here ? " he asked. She wept and said, " I wanted to kiss the hen and beg her pardon for frightening her yesterday; but I was afraid to tell you."
' And the father kissed the innocent child's forehead, and I kissed her on the mouth and eyes/
1 In the narrow street round the corner yonder—it is so narrow that my beams can only glide for a minute along the walls of the house, but in that minute I see enough to learn what the world is made of—in that narrow street I saw a woman. Sixteen years ago that woman was a child, playing in the garden of the old parsonage in the country. The hedges of rose bushes were old, and the flowers were faded. They straggled wild over the paths, and the ragged branches grew up among the boughs of the apple-trees ; here and there were a few roses still in bloom—not so fair as the queen of flowers generally appears, but still they had colour and scent too. The clergyman's little daughter appeared to me a far lovelier rose, as she sat on her stool under the straggling hedge, hugging and caressing her doll with the battered pasteboard cheeks.
' Ten years afterwards I saw her again. I beheld her in a splendid ball-room: she was the beautiful bride of a rich merchant. I rejoiced at her happiness, and sought her on calm quiet evenings—ah, nobody thinks of my clear eye and my sure glance ! Alas ! my rose ran wild, like the rose bushes in the garden of the parsonage. There are tragedies in everyday life, and to-night I saw the last act of one.
' She was lying in bed in a house in that narrow street;