J LIFE AMONG THE L0WLY 361
of a lily, with its buds, stood, ever filled with flowers. On its table lay Eva's books and little trinkets, with an eleL , atly wrought alabaster writing-stand, which her father ha 7 supplied to her when he saw her trying to improve herself in writing. There was a fireplace in the room, and on the marble mantel above stood a beautifully wrought statuette of Jesus receiving little children, and on either side marble vases, for which it was Tom's pride and delight to offer bouquets every morning. Two or three exquisite paintings of children, in various attitudes, embellished the wall. In short, the eye could turn nowhere without meeting images of childhood, of beauty, and of peace. Those little eyes never opened, in the morning light, without falling on something which suggested to the heart soothing and beautiful thoughts.
The deceitful strength which had buoyed Eva up for a little while was fast passing away; seldom and more seldom her light footstep was heard in the veranda, and oftener and oftener she was found reclined on a little lounge by the open window, her large, deep eyes fixed on the rising and falling waters of the lake.
It was towards the middle of the afternoon, as she was so reclining, — her Bible half open, her little transparent fingers lying listlessly between the leaves, — suddenly she heard her mother's voice, in sharp tones, in the veranda.
" What now, you baggage! — what new piece of mischief ! You 've been picking the flowers, hey ? " and Eva heard the sound of a smart slap.
" Law, Missis ! — they 's for Miss Eva," she heard a voice say, which she knew belonged to Topsy.
" Miss Eva! A pretty excuse ! — you suppose she wants your flowers, you good-for-nothing nigger! Get along off with you ! "
In a moment, Eva was off from her lounge, and in the veranda.
" Oh, don't, mother ! I should like the flowers; do give them to me; I want them ! "