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True Stories from History and Biography By Nathaniel Hawthorne Characters: 5537

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


When Edward Temple was about eight or nine years old, he was afflicted with a disorder of the eyes. It was so severe, and his sight was naturally so delicate, that the surgeon felt some apprehensions lest the boy should become totally blind. He therefore gave strict directions to keep him in a darkened chamber, with a bandage over his eyes. Not a ray of the blessed light of Heaven could be suffered to visit the poor lad.

This was a sad thing for Edward! It was just the same as if there were to be no more sunshine, nor moonlight, nor glow of the cheerful fire, nor light of lamps. A night had begun which was to continue perhaps for months,-a longer and drearier night than that which voyagers are compelled to endure, when their ship is ice-bound, throughout the winter, in the Arctic Ocean. His dear father and mother, his brother George, and the sweet face of little Emily Robinson, must all vanish, and leave him in utter darkness and solitude. Their voices and footsteps, it is true, would be heard around him; he would feel his mother's embrace, and the kind pressure of all their hands; but still it would seem as if they were a thousand miles away.

And then his studies! They were to be entirely given up. This was another grievous trial; for Edward's memory hardly went back to the period when he had not known how to read. Many and many a holiday had he spent at his book, poring over its pages until the deepening twilight confused the print, and made all the letters run into long words. Then would he press his hands across his eyes, and wonder why they pained him so, and, when the candles were lighted, what was the reason that they burned so dimly, like the moon in a foggy night. Poor little fellow! So far as his eyes were concerned, he was already an old man, and needed a pair of spectacles almost as much as his own grandfather did.

And now, alas! the time was come, when even grandfather's spectacles could not have assisted Edward to read. After a few bitter tears, which only pained his eyes the more, the poor boy submitted to the surgeon's orders. His eyes were bandaged, and, with his mother on one side, and his little friend Emily on the other, he was led into a darkened chamber.

"Mother, I shall be very miserable," said Edward, sobbing.

"Oh, no, my dear child!" replied his mother, cheerfully. "Your eyesight was a precious gift of Heaven, it is true; but you would do wrong to be miserable for its loss, even if there were no hope of regaining it. There are other enjoyments, besides what come to us through our eyes."

"None that are worth having," said Edward.

"Ah! but you will not think so long," rejoined Mrs. Temple, with tenderness. "All of us-your father, and myself, and George, and our sweet Emily-wi

ll try to find occupation and amusement for you. We will use all our eyes to make you happy. Will not they be better than a single pair?"

"I will sit by you all day long," said Emily, in her low, sweet voice, putting her hand into that of Edward.

"And so will I, Ned," said George, his elder brother,-"school time and all, if my father will permit me."

Edward's brother George was three or four years older than himself, a fine, hardy lad, of a bold and ardent temper. He was the leader of his comrades in all their enterprises and amusements. As to his proficiency at study, there was not much to be said. He had sense and ability enough to have made himself a scholar, but found so many pleasanter things to do, that he seldom took hold of a book with his whole heart. So fond was George of boisterous sports and exercises, that it was really a great token of affection and sympathy, when he offered to sit all day long in a dark chamber, with his poor brother Edward.

As for little Emily Robinson, she was the daughter of one of Mr. Temple's dearest friends. Ever since her mother went to Heaven, (which was soon after Emily's birth,) the little girl had dwelt in the household where we now find her. Mr. and Mrs. Temple seemed to love her as well as their own children; for they had no daughter except Emily; nor would the boys have known the blessing of a sister, had not this gentle stranger come to teach them what it was. If I could show you Emily's face, with her dark hair smoothed away from her forehead, you would be pleased with her look of simplicity and loving-kindness, but might think that she was somewhat too grave for a child of seven years old. But you would not love her the less for that.

So brother George, and this loving little girl, were to be Edward's companions and playmates, while he should be kept prisoner in the dark chamber. When the first bitterness of his grief was over, he began to feel that there might be some comforts and enjoyments in life, even for a boy whose eyes were covered with a bandage.

"I thank you, dear mother," said he, with only a few sobs, "and you, Emily; and you too, George. You will all be very kind to me, I know. And my father-will not he come and see me, every day?"

"Yes, my dear boy," said Mr. Temple; for, though invisible to Edward, he was standing close beside him. "I will spend some hours of every day with you. And as I have often amused you by relating stories and adventures, while you had the use of your eyes, I can do the same, now that you are unable to read. Will this please you, Edward?"

"Oh, very much!" replied Edward.

"Well then," said his father, "this evening we will begin the series of Biographical Stories, which I promised you some time ago."

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