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Before that moment I know nothing, and after it there is a good long interval of which I do not remember much ; but when I try to retrace the pathway of life I find its first step to begin in sunshine and flowers.
Sunshine and flowers! Sunshine and flowers ! ---on through these that pathway is trod with dancing feet in the hours of a blessed childhood. And ever with me, ever beside me, there is a second self-a something that was not me yet was one with me--without whom I could not know anything or be anything; a twin life, living, breathing, growing with me.
Before I knew its name I had that inborn sense of its being with me; but as light dawns stronger, the dim shape takes a real form; my twin-brother, my dual-soul is blended up with my existence and mine with his. We were one ; we spoke as one, acted as one: we always spoke in the plural of all acts, pursuits, pleasures. Everything was “our,” not “my;" even when we spoke of Father and Mother each used the plural
our.” The next distinct epoch in life is our sixth birth-day, when we read to each other the last chapter of Mrs. Trimmer's Roman History. We wanted to finish it before we passed into another year; and then, as there were no children but ourselves to read it, we flung the little red book away, and ran out to our own dear wood.
Our father said we had come over with William the Conqueror, and we believed we had an intimate connection with Battle Abbey. Our mother claimed a Saxon descent, and would tell us of a fair progenitor who had helped to work the Bayeux tapestry when a captive hostage with the Conqueror's wife, mingling her tears with the stitches.
Our father was a St. Pierre, and his name was therefore in that famous roll ; yet with all this Norman and Saxon lineage, the twin children had names of a pure Eastern origin—they were Magdalene and Basil St. Pierre.
I was Magdalene, but I received at a later day a name that was not a baptismal one: a resolute and somewhat passionate boy named me Maida, and would not let any one but himself use the name.
We knew nothing of any intermediate relatives between the Normans of Battle Abbey or the Saxons of the same date and ourselves. If any such existed we had some notion that they were in a place called Chancery, but where that was we could not understand.
In all respects we were so completely one, that I do not believe either of us ever once thought of what was suitable to one as being unsuitable to the other; we never were told that what was proper for the girl was improper for the boy. I was the eldest by nearly half an hour; and who can say how much that half hour affected the nature of the love, or even the after character of the life, of the twin children?
I OFTEN think I should like to see, or even to read of a childhood that resembled our own : to meet children like what we were: the type seems to have ended with ourselves. Certainly nothing at all like it is to be seen among the little paletoed, founced, and ringletted beings who are called children in the every day world. It would have been as well perhaps to have been made such a pretty puppet, to have been taught to dress and walk, look and talk,-yes, to think also, as the children of the world do. Such tuition enables one better to pass unscathed through it. Perhaps in that case one may have less to learn from life, less to gather up from that hard teacher, Experience, for the practice of whose lessons life itself is to many far too short.
Yet our blessed childhood! Would we ever have renounced its wild freedom ; its griefless days; its nights grudged to forgetfulness? No. The brightness of the early sun casts its reflection even on the twilight of the evening ; and amid the strifes, the trials, the storms of a vexing, working day life, a faint breath of past-away sweetness has been wafted from the flowerpaths of a purely bright and happy youth, to revive the weary and fainting spirits which thus were led from Memory to Hope ; taught by the memory of what had been, to hope for that which yet should be.
I have also often wondered why most autobiographies, real or imaginary, should record an unhappy childhood; why unnatural parents, cruel relatives, malicious guardians, harsh teachers, dreary days of infantine and fireside misery, should so often be the chosen theme of their first chapters.
To denounce the faults or errors of parents, even on paper, must be such a painful task, that