Short Stories » An Hour with the Lowly

An Hour with the Lowly

WHEN about twelve years of age, I attended a day-school nearly a mile from home. The walk was a pleasant. one, bordered with luxuriant fields, and wild flowers grew in abundance by the way. Such a merry group were we, ofttimes singing all together some favorite song.

Upon our way home I sometimes stopped at the door of a humble dwelling, inhabited by Aunt Harriet, a colored woman, to get a cool drink. One afternoon she very respectfully asked if I would read aloud to her a hymn; she had heard it sung and had learned part, and although she had bought a handsomely- bound hymn-book, she could not read it. " I bought the best binding to show my respect for the insides, honey, and because I like to have it in the house along with the Bible. I know I've got the good Lord's words with me, whether I can read it or not; and if I can get someone to read to me once in a while, I'll get the whole good of it by and by." So I would sit in the easy-chair, and read a chapter or a hymn to the good woman, who would fan away the flies as I read.

Sometimes we would sing the hymn together, to make sure she had the words right. Once in a while Aunt Harriet would sing for me a mournful plantation melody, and I appreciated it very much. I rejoiced with her that she was in a "free State," after she had told me of the sorrowful separation she had suffered in her native State. " I had one baby, honey, and they sold him out of my arms when he learned to dance so pretty." I told her how Harriet Beecher Stowe had written "Uncle Tom's Cabin, "and how through it the Northern people felt about slavery. At last I brought it to her house, and read a few pages to her every night until it was finished. " Honey, it's next to the Bible," she would say; and, oh, how many blessings the author had from the lips of Aunt Harriet ! If I was behind the others on the way home, I lost nothing by it; my heart was always happier, and did not Aunt Harriet always put into my hand a cake or a large piece of the nicest pie to eat on the way home? Now and then I think of the pretty little adobe house so neat and clean, the garden glowing with hundreds of flowers, and all so comfortable without and within. Uncle Grief was a real gentleman at heart, and the couple were respected by all who knew them. Father had Southern ideas, and my mother the opposite, but they both approved of my visits to the little cabin.

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