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the mother neither saw nor heard anything more of the child. She was always unspeakably cast down. “In so short a time,” said she, “ to lose such a good husband and such a beloved child—ah, that is hard ! If I did not think that the Almighty had permitted it thus to be I should be in despair !” Often most bitterly did she reproach herself: “I ought to have taken better care of the boy," cried she, weeping and wringing her hands. “Oh you mothers," said she to the wives of the village, who wished to console her, “ take example by me, and be more watchful.”
Poor Theodora! by degrees her grief made her as pale as a corpse, and wore her away till she was as thin as a shadow. As she went to church on Sunday, in her black mourning dress, some weeks after the loss of the child, the people said one to another, “ Poor Dora! she will soon follow, of a certainty, her husband and her child to the grave !".
The clergyman of the village, a venerable old man, who took the liveliest interest in the fate of his parishioners, had already visited her, and comforted her, several times at her cottage. But when, on this day, he saw her pale, deeplytroubled face, he was greatly distressed. When the service was ended, he sent for her. When she entered his room, the good old man, whose snow-white hair was covered with a black velvet cap, was sitting at his desk, and was writing something in the parish book. He greeted her kindly, and said: “Wait a little while, I shall be ready in a moment.”
Whilst she waited, Theodora observed a small picture that hung on the wall, in a round, beautiful, gilt frame. She was very much affected by it, and the tears streamed down her cheeks.
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“ Now,” said the Pastor, as he flirted the ink from his pen, and raised himself, “ does the picture please you ?”.
"Ah, yes,” replied Theodora, “it is very sweet. I cannot help weeping as I look at it.”
“ Do you know whom it represents ?” asked the Pastor.
“ Oh yes, very well,” said she; “it is a picture of the Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord. I never saw the sorrowful mother, as she weeps for the death of her son, so beautifully painted.”
“ Thus,” said the Pastor, “is she the most beautiful and the most consolatory example for you: observe, therefore, her image carefully. See, the sword in her breast is a symbol, according to Simeon's prophecying, of the deep pain which should, as it were, pierce through her heart for the bloody death of her divine son. Her eyes, full of tears, as well as her clasped hands, which are also raised to heaven, shew her devotion and her confidence in God. The golden beams, however, which gleam around her head, signify her glorification in heaven, to which she will at length attain, through her patience in suffering and her submission to the Divine will. Good Theodora,” continued he, “ you have lost much your husband and your child: a two-edged sword has pierced your heart: but look up, like Mary, to heaven !--submit yourself to God's will !-trust in Him !-pray for comfort and for strength from above! You know that Mary, confiding in God, and strengthened by his mercy, stood erect below the cross. The faith in which she spoke to the joyful communication of the angel* Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, do to me according to thy will!'- filled her heart also in the hour of suffering, and permitted it not to sink. It is only the assurance that
God does all aright, that that which He permits is the very best, which can support you from being overwhelmed by your affliction : forget not, therefore, the great and beautiful object of all our sufferings. The sufferings of time bear no comparison to the glory which shall be revealed to us. Through suffering is virtue perfected: the sufferings of time lead to everlasting joy. Even Christ himself attained to his glory through suffering. On this way Mary followed Him : nor is there for us any other way to Heaven."
Theodora listened to him greatly affected, and found great satisfaction in the beautiful picture. She could not sufficiently contemplate it. “I will follow," said she, “ the example of the afflicted mother: I will look up to Heaven, pray, believe, and say from my very heart, as she did, 'Lord, thy will be done!""
“ Good!” said the Pastor ; " that is right; that pleases me."
According to the opinion of that good man, nothing was too costly for the consolation of a sorrowing spirit. He took the beautiful picture from the wall, gave it to the poor fisherwoman, and said: “In order that you may not forget your beautiful resolution, and be able to adhere to it, take this picture home with you: I give it to you. When your heart begins afresh to bleed, and it feels as if a two-edged sword were within it, then cast your glance upon the picture, renew your resolution, and the wound will, with God's help, heal by degrees, and above, in Heaven, will a crown of glory also await you.”
Theodora followed the advice of the good Pastor ; and her grief became much milder: but still whenever she passed the tree under which she had last seen her boy, there always went a pang through her heart. On this the thought came into her mind to make a hollow in the tree, and to place within it the beautiful picture. “ The tree,” said she, “ causes me ever new sorrow; but then I should also here ever find new consolation. Ah!” sighed she, “other mothers place, for their dead children, a little memorial in the churchyard; the tree thus may become the memorial of my dear Augustus.”
She mentioned her idea to the good old Pastor, and he had nothing against it. “So that it brings you consolation, do it, well and good.”
She cut, therefore, with a deal of trouble, a round hollow, about the size of a window-pane, in the bark of the tree, placed the picture within it, and, when she now passed the tree, she looked upon that beautiful picture, and said: “I also will be a servant of the Lord, like Mary; to me also it happened according to His will !” and by degrees her heart became less sorrowful.
In the meantime, whilst the afflicted mother wept her beloved Augustus as dead, the little five-years-old boy had made a journey of more than three hundred miles; had arrived in the imperial city of Vienna ; lived there, gay and full of health, in a magnificent house that resembled a palace; was as beautifully and richly dressed as if he were of noble birth; and, which was more than all this, he was educated in the most careful