"Charlie!"--she exclaims; and in another moment the youth has received the joyful, tearful, agitated embrace of his mother and sister. The darling of their hearts is at home again; three years since, he left them, a boy, to meet dangers exaggerated tenfold by their anxious hearts; he returns, a man, who has faced temptations undreamed of by their simple minds. The wanderer is once more beneath their humble roof; their partial eyes rest again on that young face, changed, yet still the same.
Charlie finds the three last years have passed lightly over his mother and his sister; theirs are the same kindly faces, the same well-known voices, the best loved, the most trusted from childhood. After the first eager moments of greeting are over, and the first hurried questions have been answered, he looks about him. Has not the dear old cottage shrunk to a very nut-shell? He opens the door of the school-room; there are its two benches, and its humble official desk, as of old; he looks into the little parlour, and smiles to think of the respect he felt in his childish days for Miss Patsey's drawing-room: many a gilded gallery, many a brilliant saloon has he since entered as a sight-seer, with a more careless step. He goes out on the porch; is it possible that is the garden?--why it is no larger than a table-cloth!--he should have thought the beds he had so often weeded could not be so small: and the door-yard, one can shake hands across it! And there is Wyllys-Roof, half hid by trees--he used to admire it as a most venerable pile; in reality it is only a plain, respectable country-house: as the home of the Wyllyses, however, it must always be an honoured spot to him. Colonnade Manor too--he laughs! There are some buildings that seem, at first sight, to excite to irresistible merriment; they belong to what may he called the "ridiculous order" of architecture, and consist generally of caricatures on noble Greek models; Mr. Taylor's elegant mansion had, undeniably, a claim to a conspicuous place among the number. Charlie looks with a painter's eye at the country; the scenery is of the simplest kind, yet beautiful, as inanimate nature, sinless nature, must ever be under all her varieties: he casts a glance upward at the sky, bright and blue as that of Italy; how often has he studied the heavens from that very spot! The trees are rich in their summer verdure, the meadows are fragrant with clover, and through Mr. Wyllys's woods there is a glimpse of the broad river, gilded by the evening sun. It is a pleasing scene, a happy moment; it is the first landscape he ever painted, and it is home.
Then Charlie returns to his mother; he sits by her side, she takes his hand in her withered fingers, she rests her feeble sight on his bright face; while Miss Patsey is preparing all the dainties in the house for supper.
"Well, little one, what is your name?" said Charlie, as the black child passed him with a load of good things.
"Judy, sir," said the little girl, with a curtsey, and a half-frightened look at Charlie's face, for the young artist had chosen to return with moustaches; whether he thought it professional or becoming, we cannot say.
"We shall be good friends I hope, Judy; if you mind my sister better than you ever did anybody else in your life, perhaps I shall find some sugar-plums for you," said Charlie, pleased to see a black face again.
Mrs. Hubbard remarked that, upon the whole, Judy was a pretty good girl; and the child grinned, until two deep dimples were to be seen in her shining dark cheeks, and the dozen little non-descript braids which projected from her head in different directions, seemed to stand on end with delight.
"And so Mr. Wyllys and the ladies are not at home. I wish I had known of their being in New-York; I might at least have seen them for a moment, yesterday."
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