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Help and cheer me when I fret,
Once wert Thou in cradle laid,
Thou art nearer when we pray,
F. T. Palgrave.
It had been very warm all the morning. In the afternoon heavy clouds rolled up; a violent storm came on with thunder and lightning; refreshing rain poured down. After the clouds had passed away, the sun shone on the invigorated trees and flowers, and sparkled in the countless drops which hung on the leaves and grasses.
The children came into the garden, with their eldest sister Maria, and enjoyed the fresh air, the sweet scent which breathed out of the flowers, and the songs of the birds in the branches. They sat down in the arbour and spoke of this and of that, and at last began to talk about colours. Frank said, “ After all, I like red best of all.”
“Why do you do that?” inquired Maria.
“I will tell you why: before the sun rises the sky has a red robe on, and before the sun sets it has another. Red is the colour of the rose, which is the prettiest flower in all the world ; the cheeks of the apple are red when it is ripe; the sweetest cherries are red; therefore red is my favourite colour. It must be the king's too, for lately, when all the cannons were fired off, and all the houses illuminated at night, when the king was here you know, I saw then, with my own eyes, that every one of the people who were round about the king wore red coats. Oh, but it did look beautiful !”
Ernest said, “My favourite colour is white. What a pleasure it is in winter to see the white snowflakes whirling about, and then to get into a sledge and glide away over the shining white surface! Our trees are white in May, when they are all dressed out
in blossoms. So is my favourite flower, the lily; so is also the very first flower which blooms in the garden, when the winter is over, the snowdrop which father says brings the spring in; therefore white is my pet colour.”
“But I cannot help liking green best,” said John. “What good it does one's eyes to look over a green cornfield! The shady woods are green, the meadows and lawns are green ;
grave dear dog there in the thicket ! a hunter wears green when he goes into the dark forest, and a hunter I mean to be! That's why green is my favourite colour."
“But I cannot imagine,” said Paul, “why none of you say you like blue best, it is the very prettiest of all! The wonder-flower in the mountains, which the man was telling us about the other day, is blue. If I only could find that, I could walk through the middle of all the mountains, and should get so much gold, and so many precious stones, that I could make people build splendid houses for my father and you, and for all the poor people in the town. Blue is the colour of the sky, in which are set the sun, moon, and stars. Mother's eyes are blue, too. So I like blue better than all.”
“But you cannot help owning that yellow looks quite a magnificent colour! Did you ever see anything finer than that cornfield a month ago, which lay behind our garden, and was filled with millions of bees? Look at that double yellow rose. Need it be ashamed of itself beside its red sister? And then, do you not remember that journey we made with father a few years ago. Did not the postillion who took us
so quickly over the barren heath that we seemed to be flying, did not be wear a yellow coat? Yellow is the colour I prefer.”
Now the children began to dispute for about half an hour. Each took the part of his own favourite colour. Maria, the eldest sister, listened quietly to them, but when the contest began to get too warm, she said, “ Come, and I will show you something !” She led the children out into the open space before the arbour, and pointed out to them a wonderfully fine rainbow, which seemed to make a shining bridge from earth to heaven.
“ "Oh, how beautiful !” cried the children.
“And every colour is in it,” said Maria, “and it is just because they are all blended together that they shine forth so beautifully and magically in our eyes. Is there one of them which you could wish taken away from this noble bow ?”
“No," cried the children; and looked for a long time at this bow of peace, which the Lord had arched over the earth : and they were glad and happy one with another. From the German of J. Hoffman.
A poor Greek soldier was one day leading, before Alexander, a mule laden with gold for the king's use. The beast being so tired that he was not able either to go or bear the weight of the load, the mule-driver took it off, and carried it himself with great difficulty a very long way. Alexander seeing him just sinking under the burden, and about to throw it on the ground, cried out, “ Friend, do not be weary yet; try and carry it quite through to thy tent, for it is all thine own.”