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Laura E. Richards

The Blind Mother

dropcap image BLIND woman had a son, who was the joy of her life. Though she had no sight of her eyes, yet she was skilful of her hands; and it was her delight to make pretty clothes for her boy, soft and fine and full of delicate stitches.

By and by the boy came to her and said: "Mother, give me some other clothes to wear. These are too small for me; they pinch and bind me. Moreover, they are baby clothes, and my playfellows mock and laugh at me because of them."

But the mother said: "Nay, my darling; these are by far the best clothes for you. See how soft and warm they are! they are pretty too, I know, although I cannot see them. Be content, for you are my own darling little son, and so you must remain."

When he found he could not persuade her, the boy held his peace; and he went out and looked about him, and found the hide of a wolf and the pelt of a fox, and huddled them round him over his baby frock, and so went among his mates. Only, when he came back to the room where his mother sat, he threw aside the skins, and came to her in his frock; and she kissed him, and felt the frills and the silken stitches, and said rejoicing: "You are my own darling little son, and the light of my life."

By and by again there was a war in that country, and all the young men went out to meet the enemy. Some were clad in armor of proof, others in leathern jacks and doublets; and with them went the son of the blind woman.

Then when the woman knew that her son was gone, she wept and lamented, and ran out into the street. There she met one who was returning from the field of battle, and she asked him how went the fight.

"Bravely," he replied. "Our men did well, all save one, who had no arms, and whom I saw beaten down and at sore odds with the enemy."

"Oh! stranger," cried the blind woman, "was that one a boy, who had wandered by mistake into that dreadful field,—a sweet child, with the prettiest clothes, all wrought with needlework?"

"Nay," said the stranger. "It was a man, half-naked, huddled in the skins of beasts, with strange rags showing under the skins."

"Oh!" said the woman. "I wonder who that poor soul might be; and I wonder when my little darling son will come home to me again."

And even while she spoke her son lay dead, and huddled round him was the hide of a wolf and the pelt of a fox, with the baby clothes fluttering from under them.