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Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Mother And Daughter
Two months had gone by,--two months of steady, fagging work; of cooking, washing,
ironing; of mending and caring for the three children, although Jenny was fast becoming
a notable little housewife, quick, ready, and capable. They were months in which there
had been many a weary night of watching by Aurelia's bedside; of soothing and
bandaging and rubbing; of reading and nursing, even of feeding and bathing. The
ceaseless care was growing less now, and the family breathed more freely, for the
mother's sigh of pain no longer came from the stifling bedroom, where, during a hot and
humid August, Aurelia had lain, suffering with every breath she drew. There would be no
question of walking for many a month to come, but blessings seemed to multiply when
the blinds could be opened and the bed drawn near the window; when mother, with
pillows behind her, could at least sit and watch the work going on, could smile at the past
agony and forget the weary hours that had led to her present comparative ease and
comfort.
No girl of seventeen can pass through such an ordeal and come out unchanged; no girl of
Re- becca's temperament could go through it without some inward repining and rebellion.
She was doing tasks in which she could not be fully happy,--heavy and trying tasks,
which perhaps she could never do with complete success or satisfaction; and like promise
of nectar to thirsty lips was the vision of joys she had had to put aside for the
performance of dull daily duty. How brief, how fleeting, had been those splendid visions
when the universe seemed open for her young strength to battle and triumph in! How
soon they had faded into the light of common day! At first, sympathy and grief were so
keen she thought of nothing but her mother's pain. No consciousness of self interposed
between her and her filial service; then, as the weeks passed, little blighted hopes began
to stir and ache in her breast; defeated ambitions raised their heads as if to sting her;
unattainable delights teased her by their very nearness; by the narrow line of separation
that lay between her and their realization. It is easy, for the moment, to tread the narrow
way, looking neither to the right nor left, upborne by the sense of right doing; but that
first joy of self-denial, the joy that is like fire in the blood, dies away; the path seems
drearier and the footsteps falter. Such a time came to Rebecca, and her bright spirit
flagged when the letter was received saying that her position in Augusta had been filled.
There was a mutinous leap of the heart then, a beating of wings against the door of the
cage, a longing for the freedom of the big world outside. It was the stirring of the powers
within her, though she called it by no such grand name. She felt as if the wind of destiny
were blowing her flame hither and thither, burning, consuming her, but kindling nothing.
All this meant one stormy night in her little room at Sunnybrook, but the clouds blew
over, the sun shone again, a rainbow stretched across the sky, while "hope clad in April
green" smiled into her upturned face and beckoned her on, saying:--
"Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be."
 
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