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her mother of that heavy basket, and if she had taken care to have a nice cup of tea ready to warm her after so chilling a walk. Maggie loved her mother dearly, but she was rather a thoughtless girl; so she did not even help Mrs. Maclaren to pull off those boots, which were so wet through with melted snow that she could scarcely drag them off.
“My feet are like ice," said Mrs. Maclaren ; “ and no wonder, for my very stockings are as wet as if they had been in the wash-tub!”
“Poor little pussy! she has neither stockings nor boots,” laughed Maggie ; " and these velvet paws of hers will be half frozen with cold ! I wonder why she should go struggling on through the snow and wet, when she could have such a warm place by our fire, and a quiet nap on the old brown rug !”
“You forget that pussy has kittens in the loft of the stable opposite,” replied Mrs. Maclaren. “ She cares more, far more, for them than she does for her own comfort. She comes here, indeed, for a little food, but nothing could tempt her to stay here. When the stabledoor had been locked last night, the poor cat waited outside in the bitter cold, mewing and whining, till Joe in pity got up, unlocked the door, and let her in, that she might get to her kittens again.”
“ Ah, pussy is a mother!” cried Maggie. “I wonder if those kittens will ever repay her for the trouble which they give her, and the love which she shows them.”
Mrs. Maclaren shook her head as she replied, “ Pussy is like many a mother, who must look for little return for all that she does for her children, but the comfort of knowing that they have never wanted for anything while she could labour-or suffer—for them.”
Maggie turned quickly round from the window; the gentle reproach had struck on her heart. She looked at her tired parent, cold, hungry, and wet; then on the table, heaped with food for a little girl's eating, and clothes for a little girl's wear—for one who never yet had earned a single meal for herself.
“Oh, mother,” cried Maggie, “ how thoughtless I have been !”
In a minute Maggie was down on her knees by her parent, chafing and rubbing those icy-cold feet, to bring back to them comfort and warmth. Then it was Maggie who ran for dry shoes, and her own warm little shawl to wrap round her mother's shivering frame. Then the girl brought coals, and filled the kettle, and set it upon the fire, put the loaves on the shelf, and the tea in the box, and emptied the sugar into its own brown jar without wasting a crumb; and while she was doing all this, Maggie was turning over in her mind whether she could not coax her mother to turn the good gray linsey into a skirt for herself, and let her own little girl have the pleasure of making it up.
I cannot say that Maggie, with all her coaxing, succeeded in this ; but her mother looked as much pleased at the wish as if the new skirt had been actually given to her. There was nothing that could warm the heart, she said, better than the love of a dutiful child, whether in winter or summer. And never again had Mrs. Maclaren cause to think that Maggie could neglect her best earthly friend, or that she ever could forget what a deep debt of love is due to a tender mother.
Other warning was not needed ;
With a spring and with a bound
She to left, and I to right,
Terror giving wings to flight!
On I sped, till, faint and weary,
Paused I, trembling, and looked back ; Not a hound was following near me—
Not a hunter on my track! From a cruel fate delivered,
Saved from death, alive and free, Yet my frame with terror quivered
Silky-ears—ah! where was she ?
When the evening dews were falling,
Crept I back unto my dell,
Vainly, vainly didst thou fly!”
When I heard a soft reply!—
“ Little feet have safely borne me
O'er the common, far away;