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It was my birthday. To-day I was ten years old.
I had asked as a favour, the evening before, that I might rise so early as to anticipate the sun; and my mother had given me permission.
But I was too late; as I sat myself down in queenly freedom, on my green throne, a stray sunbeam glanced vividly through a bird's path amid the leaves, and shot me in both eyes.
I was not one to grow sulky on disappointment: I played at bo-peep with the sunbeam, until I laughed aloud, forgetting that to-day I was quite ten years old.
But soon I was startled. My throne, when I first perched myself upon it, was coolly, darkly green. Now it was turning into a vast hall of burnished gold. Every leaf was tinged with a purple light, every branch was crimsoning with rosy hues; even my fingers, as I touched them half in fear, became glorious in their transparent colour, and yet no harm did I feel.
I peeped out of my bower; the beech tree was glowing with brighter hues every moment. A trembling pulse beat in my heart, as the story of Moses and the burning bush rushed to my memory. But I was a little foolish child, in no manner worthy to witness such an instance of God's power.
This was but the semblance of that power, and my hands locked themselves together reverently, in gratitude for the sight that reminded me of so glorious a favour.
But as I glanced, lawn, trees, cottage and flowers, all gradually glowed in the same golden light, and I saw that the sun had only now risen to his full power and beauty. It was but one of his little rosy harbingers, with whom I had been playing bo-peep.
“ Thank you,” said I," thank you for this birthday show, this beautiful spectacle."
Each moment that I looked gave to each moment brighter hues. I wondered if heaven was as fair, as gorgeous. Perhaps the heavens themselves had opened, and poured in these floods of rainbow colours, to recal the winged ministers of God, who guard the earth in the dark hours of night; and nought but a little child of ten to witness such a sight. Dull, heavy, unconscious earth! No angels could I see, but perhaps those glancing rosy lights, those flitting glorious beams, might be the flutter of their wings, as they swept swiftly up towards the open portals of heaven. And as they were gathered together in shining crowds, disappearing with glad celerity, until at last the whole world changed to its own earthly hue; the trees became green, the cottage white, the flowers natural, my throne but a great knot of gnarled boughs, and the broad, flaring sun looked one full in the face. My birthday show was over, the angels were all at home, and at rest; the world's work was about to begin.
For awhile the sun and I had the world to ourselves. I liked this. To me it seemed a fine thing, that such a power, such a wonder should blaze up into the fullest radiance merely for me, while the bustling, fevered world lay as if dead before us.
But this did not last long.
There was a twitter among the branches; a stir. Then arose the soft coo of a ring-dove above me, startling me much, for all it was so, sweet and low. Like a flitting shade, a hare glanced across the lawn. Anon he came back, looked warily about, sat up, washed his face, and again glanced round.
Then, like a guilty thief as he was, he began to nibble mamma's best carnations. Absorbed with watching him, I had not heeded other signs of life. Almost into my ear, carolled a pert and well-conditioned blackbird, while on every side of my throne other warblers sang their morning hymns. Shy little rabbits peeped out; awed by the superior size and prior claims of the hare, they contented themselves with nibbling blades of grass, while playful squirrels disported themselves with an agility and carelessness that showed they dreamt not of human eyes gazing on this early scene. Drowsy cattle began to rise and stretch themselves, with the
soft low of call to each other. Sheep were already industriously pursuing the aim of their existence; all nature was awake, and at work.
Then, as if a sudden universal order had gone forth, the whole chorus of birds ceased their morning song, and, like the four-footed wingless creatures, began to obey the instincts of nature, and collect their food. So the world grew almost silent again, and with an arm clasped round a branch of my throne, I leant back, half dreaming, half thinking
I was ten years old. According to the allotted sphere of life, I might live to see that day ten years come round six times more.
To conjecture what I should be like, how I should feel at so remote a period, was beyond my present powers of thought. Gradually I came to the conclusion it would be well for me if I considered the first anniversary of ten years, that might be my lot. Should I wish that day ten years, as my
first desire, to see the sun rise ? Should I climb up