The Green Pasture
That morning, after breakfast, Mrs. Leslie took Rosalie with her in the pony carriage to Pendleton. She wanted to buy the furniture for the child’s little bedroom.
Rosalie enjoyed the drive very much indeed, and was charmed and delighted with all the purchases which her aunt made.
When they were finished, Rosalie said, “Aunt Lucy, do you think we should have time to call for a minute on old Mother Manikin? She will want so much to hear whether I got safely to Melton.”
Mrs. Leslie willingly consented. She had felt very grateful to the little old woman for all her kindness to her poor sister and her little niece, and she was glad of an opportunity of thanking her for it.
They found Mother Manikin very poorly, but very pleased indeed to see Rosalie. She had been taken ill in the night, she said, quite suddenly. It was something the matter with her heart. In the morning she had asked one of the neighbors to go for the doctor, and he had said it was not right for her to be in the house alone.
“So what am I to do, ma’am?” said Mother Manikin. “Here’s the doctor says I must have a girl. But I can’t bear all these new-fangled creatures, with their flounces, and their airs, and their manners. Old age must have its liberties; and I can’t put up with them. No, I can’t abide them,” she said, shaking her little fist. “You couldn’t tell me of a girl, could you, ma’am? I can’t give very high wages, but she should have a comfortable home.”
“Oh, Aunt Lucy,” cried Rosalie, springing from her seat, “what do you think of Betsey Ann? Would she do?”
“And who’s Betsey Ann, child?” inquired Mother Manikin.
Rosalie told Betsey Ann’s sad story: how she had been born in a workhouse; how she had never had any one to love her, but how she had been scolded and found fault with from morning till night.
Mother Manikin could hardly keep from crying as the story went on.
“She shall come at once,” said she decidedly, as soon as Rosalie had finished. “Tell me where she lives, and I’ll get Mr. Westerdale to write to her at once.”
“Oh, but she can’t read,” said Rosalie, in a very distressed voice. “And her mistress would never let her have the letter. What are we to do?”
But when Mother Manikin heard where Betsey Ann lived, she said there would be no difficulty at all about it. Mr. Westerdale knew the minister in that place; she had often heard him speak of him. She would be able to go to the house and make it all right.
So Rosalie felt very comforted about poor Betsey Ann.
Rosalie’s first week in the green pasture passed by very happily. She walked and read and talked with her Aunt Lucy, and went with her to see the poor people in the village, and grew to love her more day by day, and was more and more thankful to the Good Shepherd for the green pasture to which He had brought her.
And after a week May came home. Such a bright little creature she was. Rosalie loved her as soon as she saw her. But it was no strange face to Rosalie; it was a face she had often gazed at and often studied, for little May was the image of the girl in the locket. It might have been her own picture, she was so like what her mother was at her age.
May and Rosalie were the best friends at once, and from that time had everything in common. They did their lessons together, they walked together, and they played together, and were never known to quarrel or to disagree.
Some little time after May’s return, the two children went together in the pony carriage to Pendleton. They had two important things to do there. One was to buy a present for Popsey, the little girl with the pitcher of milk; and the other was to call on Mother Manikin to see if Betsey Ann had arrived.
The two children had each had a ten dollars given them by Mr. Leslie. Rosalie wished to spend hers in something very nice for little Popsey. But the difficulty was to choose what it should be. All the way to Pendleton, May was proposing different things: a book, a workbox, a writing case, etc. But at the mention of all these Rosalie shook her head. “Popsey was too small for any of these,” she said. “She could not read, nor sew, nor write.” So then May proposed a doll, and Rosalie thought that was a very good idea.
Palmer, the old coachman, was asked to drive to a toyshop. Then, after a long consultation, and an immense comparison of wax dolls, composition dolls, china dolls, rag dolls, and wooden dolls, a beautiful china doll very splendidly dressed was chosen, and laid aside for Rosalie.
But as she still had some money left, she also chose a very pretty spectacle-case for Popsey’s grandfather, and a beautiful little milk jug for the kind old grandmother. The milk jug was a white one, and the handle was formed by a cat which was supposed to be climbing up the side of the jug and peeping into the milk. Rosalie was delighted with this as soon as she saw it, and decided at once it was just the thing. For she had not forgotten the little pitcher of milk, and the service it had been to her, and she thought that the cat on the milk jug would remind Popsey of the little black kitten of which she had been so fond.
All these parcels were put carefully under the seat in the carriage, and then they drove to Mother Manikin’s.
Who should open the door but Betsey Ann, looking the picture of happiness, and dressed very neatly in a clean calico dress, and white cap and apron. Betsey Ann’s slipshod shoes and her rags and tatters were things of the past. She looked an entirely different girl.
“La, bless you!” she cried when she saw Rosalie. “I’m right glad to see you again.” And then she suddenly turned shy, as she looked at the two young ladies, and led the way to the parlor, where Mother Manikin was sitting.
The old lady was full of the praises of her new maid, and Betsey Ann smiled from ear to ear with delight.
“Are you happy, Betsey Ann?” whispered Rosalie, as May was talking to Mother Manikin.
“Happy?” exclaimed Betsey Ann. “I should just think I am! I never saw such a good little thing as she is. Why, I’ve been here a whole week, and never had a cross word, I declare I haven’t. Did you ever hear the like of that?”
“Oh, I am so glad you are happy!” said Rosalie.
“Yes, He—I mean the Good Shepherd—has been good to me,” said Betsey Ann. “But wait a minute, Rosalie,” she said, as she saw that Rosalie was preparing to go. “I’ve got a letter for you.”
“A letter for me?” exclaimed Rosalie. “Who can it be from?”
“I don’t know,” said Betsey Ann. “It came the day after you left, and I kept it, in hope of being able to send it someday or other. I just happened to be cleaning the doorstep when the postman brought it. Says he, ‘Does Miss Rosalie Joyce live here?’ So I says, ‘All right, sir; give it to me.’ I caught it up quite quick, and I poked it in my pocket. I wasn’t going to let her get it. I’ll get it for you if you’ll wait a minute.”
When Betsey Ann came downstairs, she put the letter in Rosalie’s hand. It was very bad and irregular writing, and Rosalie could not in the least imagine from whom it had come.
The letter began thus:
My dear Miss,
I hope this finds you well, as it leaves me at present; but not so poor Toby, who once you knew. Leastways, I hope he is well, because he is in a better place than this; but he has been very badly off a long while, and last Saturday he died.
But he told me where you lived; he said you was his master’s daughter, and it was you as taught him about the Good Shepherd.
I told him, as I was one of his mates, I would write, and tell you he died quite happy, knowing that his sins was forgiven.
He was a good lad, was Toby. We was a very bad lot when he came to our concern; but he read to us, spelling out the words quite slow like, every evening; and there’s a many of us that is like new men since we heard him.
There was one piece he read quite beautiful, and never so much as spelt a word. It was about the Shepherd looking for a sheep, and bringing it home on His shoulder.
And he would talk to us about that as good as a book, and tell of a picture he had seen in your caravan, and what you used to teach him about it.
And just before he died, says he, “Tom, write and tell Miss Rosie; she’ll be glad like to hear I didn’t forget it all.”
So now I’ve wrote, and pardon my mistakes, and the liberty.
From yours truly,
Rosalie was very thankful to receive this letter; she had often wondered what had become of poor Toby; and it was a great comfort to her to know that he had not forgotten the lessons they had learned together in the caravan. It was very pleasant to be able to think of him, not in the theater or a lodging house, but in the home above, where her own dear mother was.
Rosalie did not grow tired of her green pasture, nor did she wish to wander into the wide world beyond. As she grew older, and saw from what she had been saved, she became more and more thankful.
She was not easily deceived by the world’s glitter and glare and vain show. For Rosalie had been behind the scenes, and knew how empty and hollow and miserable everything worldly was.
She had learned lessons behind the scenes that she would not easily forget. She had learned that we must not trust to outward appearances. She had learned that aching hearts are often hidden behind the world’s smiling faces. She had learned that there is no real, no true, no lasting joy in anything of this world. She had learned that whosoever drinketh of such water—the water of this world’s pleasures and amusements—shall thirst again. But she had also learned that whosoever drinketh of the water which the Lord Jesus Christ gives, even His Holy Spirit, shall never thirst, but shall be perfectly happy and satisfied. She had learned that the only way of safety, the only way of true happiness, was to be found in keeping near to the Good Shepherd, in hearkening to His voice, and in following His footsteps very closely.
All these lessons Rosalie learned by her peep behind the scenes.