Grandmother's Letter Box
Yes here it is, scratched, battered and worn, but very precious still. We carefully draw it from its hiding place and look beseechingly into grandmother's face. She slightly nods an assent, and we gently lift the cover and glance at the precious documents within —these sacred relics of by-gone days. Some of them are faded and torn and the lines where they are folded scarcely legible, but there is enough which we can read to tell us of the wondrous power of love and friendship, and the many changes time brings to the children of earth.
Here is one from laughing cousin Kate, who carelessly writes on, now telling the news, now describing a beautiful lake from which a picnic party had just returned, now a "love of a bonnet" just purchased, and closes with a comic description of a young man just entering the gate, and in fancy we hear her merry laugh as she leaves the letter half folded and runs down the walk to meet him.
Here is one in a fine, delicate hand from a daughter residing in the far west. How glowingly she describes their quiet home where she has just gone, a beloved and loving bride and the happy hours that glide so sweetly by when he is near. But farther down we find another, in a bold manly hand, but blotted by tears which tells that the fair hand that traced those delicate lines is lying motionless on the still and pulseless breast. And the devoted husband mourns the loss of a loving wife and a motherless child calls in vain for mamma's care.
Here is one from Italy's sunny clime, painting in glowing colors the beauties of that sunny land. It tells of its bowers of myrtles and groves of citron, of its sunny bays and winding streams flashing with golden light. It speaks too of manhood's happy morn, and a few more days of wandering amid the beautiful and grand, then a joyful meeting with her who he knows is anxiously awaiting his return ; then in fancy he sketches their lovely home in a quiet dell among the beautiful scenery of his own native land. —But alas! how fleeting are all life's fond imaginings for here is another in a strange unknown hand all edged with black, the sign of which is death; we read the worn and faded missive and learn the end of all life's history how in the midst of joyful hope and fond anticipation he died in a distant land, afar from the friends he loved so well and thought so soon to meet.
And hère is another with a silvery edge, betokening a soul full of pure and starry hope, breathing words of love fresh from the heart's pure fountain, no wonder it is dim, for twice has it crossed the ocean and many times been wet with tears, but another which says, " Mother, come as soon as possible, for Mary is fast passing away." Physicians said it was consumption that had seized her fragile form, but ah, well we know why that beautiful flower withered away so soon. He who died in a foreign land was all the world to her. Another package, still older and the writing more dim than any we have yet seen precious letters from a dear friend of grandmother's girlhood days, they tell us how bright and beautiful was life to her, how sweet and unchanging friendship like theirs must ever be; how beautiful the "air castles" she builds for herself and the friends she loves so well. If they fall it matters not, others are quickly built upon their ruins, for the pleasure is in the building, not in residing in them, for but few in reality ever dwell there and thus the years glide sweetly by, richly fraught with hope and mirth till love brings the crowning joy and her life is merged in that of another. But as we read on we learn that "all is not gold that glitters," for here are sad, sad words, telling how the tempter has lured her husband from his home and he is going down and down, dragging those he once loved so well to the depth of poverty and woe, while he moves slowly on to a drunkard's grave. Her heart, though crushed and bleeding, still clings to him till death, and then bravely struggles on for the three helpless babes entrusted to her care. Other letters there are of which we have not time to speak, but now we come to a large bundle tied with a band of blue which grandmother says it would be sacrilege to open. Ah, well we know whom they are from, and why she wipes a tear from her wrinkled cheek as we take these sacred mementoes from their hiding place and we know, too, that she will soon meet the loved one who wrote them in that land where partings never come, and that our lives may be as true and as pure as hers has been, is our prayer as we gently shut the lid of grandmother's letter box.
( Originally Published 1887 )
Sunny Side Sketches For Young & Old:
The Beggar Boy
The Drunkard's Home
Intoxicants In The Home
Out In The Storm
Grandmother's Letter Box
Rest At Last
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