The Deformed Child.

A girl sits atop a raised chair between a man and a woman supporting her. Two figures peer out from the shadows. Roses and leaves frame the illustration. 1/2 page
When Summer days are long and warm, they set my little chair1
Without the door, and in the sun they leave me sitting there ;2
Then many thoughts come to my mind, that others never know,3
About myself and what I feel, and what was long ago.4
There are no less than six of us, and all of them are tall5
And stout as any you may see, but I was always small :6
The neighbours look at me and say, I grow not with the rest ;7
Then Father strokes my head and says, The least are sometimes best.8
But hearing I was not like them, within my head one day9
It came (strange thoughts that children have !) that I’d been changed away !10
And then I cried—but soon the thought brought comfort to my mind,11
If I were not their own, I knew they could not be so kind,12
For we are happy in our home as ever people were,13
Yet sometimes Father looks as if his heart was full of care :14
When things go wrong about the house, then Mother vex’d will be ;15
But neither of them ever spoke a cross word unto me.16
And once, when all was dark, they came to kiss me in my bed,17
And though they thought I slept quite sound, I heard each word they said.18
Poor little thing ! to make thee well, we’d freely give our all;19
But God knows best !” and on my cheek I felt a warm tear fall.20
And then I long’d to sit upright, and tell them not to fret,21
For that my pains were not so bad, I should be stronger yet ;22
But as the words came to my lips, they seem’d to die away,23
And then they drew the curtain close, and left me as I lay.24
And so I did not speak at all, and yet my heart was full,25
And now, when I am sick and ill, for fear it makes them dull26
To see my face so pale and worn, I creep to Father’s side,27
And press it close against his own, and try the pain to hide.28
Then upon pleasant Sundays in the long warm evening hours,29
Will Father take me in his arms among the fields and flowers30
And he’ll be just as pleased himself to see the joy I’m in,31
And Mother smiles and says she thinks I look not quite so thin.32
But it is best within the house when nights are long and dark,33
And two of brothers run from school, and two come in from work ;34
And they are all so kind to me, the first word they will say35
To Mother at the door will be, “ Has Bess been well to-day ?”36
And though I love them all so well, one may be loved the best,37
And brother John, I scarce know why, seems dearer than the rest ;38
But tired and cross as I may feel, when he comes in at night39
And takes me on his knee and chats—then everything is right !40
When once, I know, about some work he went quite far away,41
Oh !  how I wished him back again and counted every day ;42
And when, the first of all, I heard his foot upon the stair,43
Just for that once I long’d to run and leave my little chair !44
Then when I look at other girls they never seem to be45
So pretty as our Hannah is, or half so neat as she ;46
But she will soon be leaving us, to settle far away47
With one she loves, and who has loved her well this many a day.48
I sometimes think because I have few pleasures, and no cares,49
Wherewith to please or vex myself, they like to tell me theirs ;50
For sister talks to me for hours, and tells me much that she51
Would never breathe unto a soul unless it were to me.52
One night, when we were quite alone, she gave the fire a stir,53
And shut the door, and showed the ring that William bought for her,54
And told me all about her house, and often she has said,55
That I shall come to live with them, when she and William wed.56
But that I think will scarcely be, for when our Hannah goes,57
What we shall do for want of her, not one among us knows ;58
And though there is not much in me, the place she leaves to fill ;59
Yet something may be always done, where there is but the will.60
Then the kind doctor says, and he is very seldom wrong,61
That I some day, when no one thinks, may grow both stout and strong62
And should I be, through all my life, a care unto my friends ;63
Yet Father says, there are worse cares than God Almighty sends !64
And I will think of this, and then I never can feel dull,65
But pray to God to make me good, and kind, and dutiful ;66
And when I think on Him that died, it makes my heart grow light,67
To know that feeble things on earth are precious in His sight !68