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looked at the foliage and at the branches, which, dropping from the parent stem, took root firmly in the mother earth, and then built themselves up into an exact likeness of the grand old tree from which they originally sprung.
• What is the use of such a great tree?" asked Grace.
“Use! dear Grace," I answered ; “it is of great use. Do you not now feel how refreshing its shade is ? In years gone by an army of worn-out, hot, and weary soldiers, covered with dust, dying from the heat of the sun's rays, came toiling along the scorching plain. Far in the distance appeared a banyan-tree, and these weary, footsore men struggled on to reach its shelter. They dragged themselves on and on, until at last, faint and weak, they reached the welcome shade; and here, in the delicious cool, they recruited their exhausted energy, and acquired such strength as enabled them to pursue their journey invigorated and refreshed. Was the old banyan of no use then?”
“Oh, yes ! It is so nice and cool here that I am sure the poor men must have liked it much.”
“ Yes; and we see the goodness of God in this wonderful tree. But the old banyan always reminds me of something else ; it reminds me of the love of God : for when we are tired, and
full of sin, and covered with the dust of this world, like the soldiers I told you about, God invites us to the shelter underneath his wings of love, and promises us rest and strength.”
“All of us ?” asked Grace. “ Yes; all. If a little child were to come
along the plains in the burning heat, she would soon be tired, and would be glad to creep under the banyan's branches and rest ; and the old tree would not say 'No,' would it?”.
"No; oh, no! Its branches are always open," said Grace.
“Well, God's arms are always open to receive us; even a little child may find rest there, Gracie. The love of God is very sweet-sweeter than the old banyan's shade to the hot and weary ; sweeter than anything in this world.”
Further conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the rest of the party, and the order to prepare dinner was given. We seated ourselves on the green turf, and enjoyed our rural meal. Between Grace and myself sat my valiant friend Major Carlo, and very gentlemanly he was, too. Certainly, at times, the savoury smell of our dinner would prove too much for him, and he would pounce first upon my plate and then on Grace’s-evil habits learnt during his soldier's life ; but, after enduring the savoury smell of the food for a considerable time, his doggish mind could resist no longer, and, forgetting the claims of honesty and good manners, he made a descent upon a fine plump fowl, and beat a rapid retreat, carrying his prize along with him. He was a soldier's dog, as we have said before, and he may have been musing on some of his foraging expeditions, and, in absence of mind, fancied he was carrying off the booty from the enemy's camp.
But, like everything else, our day of pleasure came to an end ; and we re-embarked, tired after our wanderings, but all agreeing that we had spent a most delightful day, and we returned to our regular routine of daily life, cheered and refreshed by the holiday.
Our ordinary life passed very quietly. What we call life in India is very monotonous, the same round of visitors and paying visits; the same endless dressings for meals, the same state drives in the evenings, along the broad strand or river-side, to see and be seen by all “ the world and his wife;" so that Grace's life passed quietly enough. She had no brothers or sisters, and few playmates; and, with being always either with her papa or mamma, her manners had become quiet and staid, like those of a grown-up woman. And yet there was everything childish and girlish about her: she was fond of play and fun, and could enjoy a laugli as heartily as any other child. But with all this joyousness there was, as I said before, at times a certain gravity about her unusual in a child so young. There was an originality in her remarks that sometimes startled one, and the extreme sensitiveness of her nature soon showed itself.
We were one day reading in our large Bible about our Saviour's life; after closing the book, I told her the sad and touching story of his
death-how the very people to whom he had been so kind, whom he had loved so much, how they instead of loving him in return) cried out to Pilate, “Crucify him! crucify him!” Then I told her how he, the meek and lowly One—the King of kings and Lord of lords, before whom the shining angels in heaven prostrate themselves and hide their faces with their wings—how he was cruelly scourged until the blood trickled down his body, and mocked and laughed at, and killed. I had proceeded thus far when I was interrupted by Grace's sobs; she buried her face on my shoulder in her grief. And long she wept that the blessed Saviour should have been treated with such indignity; and it was only when I had shown her why it was necessary that he should die, that we might live, that she dried her tears and was reassured.
It seemed as if she had learnt Coleridge's beautiful lines :
“He loveth best who loveth well,
All things, both great and small;" for the higher love that she had for things holy and good made her kind and gentle to all. She never spoke rudely to any one—no, not even to Carlo—without being truly sorry for it.
One day Carlo had been misbehaving sadly :