English Literature

Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Port-folio by Fanny Fern

Fern Leaves from Fanny's Port-folio by Fanny Fern.jpg

CHAPTER I.

I can see it now: the little brown house, with its sloping roof, its clumsy old chimneys, and its vine-clad porch; where the brown bee hummed his drowsy song, and my silver-haired old father sat dozing the sultry summer noons away, with shaggy Bruno at his feet. The bright earth had no blight or mildew then for me. The song of the little birds, resting beneath the eaves, filled my heart with a quiet joy. It was sweet, when toil was over, to sit in the low door-way, and watch the golden sun go down, and see the many-tinted clouds fade softly away (like a dying saint) into the light of heaven, and evening’s glittering star glow, like a seraph’s eye, above them. ’Twas sweet, when Autumn touched the hill-side foliage with rainbow dyes, to see the gorgeous leaves come circling down on the soft Indian-summer breeze. ’Twas sweet, when the tripping, silver stream lay still and cold in Winter’s icy clasp, and the flowers fainted beneath his chilly breath, and the leafless trees stretched out their imploring arms, and shook off, impatiently, their snowy burthen, and the heavy wagon-[Pg 14]wheels went creaking past, and the ruddy farmer struck his brawny arms across his ample chest, for warmth, and goaded the lazy, round-eyed oxen up the icy hill. Even then, it was sunshine still, in the little brown house: in the ample chimney glowed and crackled the blazing faggots; rows of shining pans glittered upon the shelves; the fragrant loaf steamed in the little oven; the friendly tea-kettle, smoking, sang in the chimney corner, and by its side still sat the dear old father, with the faithful newspaper, that weekly brought us news from the busy world, from which our giant forest-trees had shut us out.

Ah! those were happy days: few wants and no cares: the patriarch’s head was white with grave blossoms, yet his heart was fresh and green. Alas! that, under the lowliest door-way, as through the loftiest portal, the Guest unbidden cometh. The morning sun rose fair, but it shone upon silver locks that stirred with no breath of life, upon loving lips forever mute, upon a palsied, kindly hand that gave no returning pressure. Soon, over the heart so warm and true, the snow lay white and cold; the winter wind sang its mournful requiem, and from out the little brown house, the orphan passed with tearful gaze and lingering footstep.

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