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Munafa ebook

Munafa ebook

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Words: 47533 in 19 pages

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"In the Doorway stood a tall young Girl, dressed in white" ... Frontispiece

Mary searching for Lily

"In the Cart a Child was tied to the seat"

"A Lily among the Lilies"


"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From GOD, Who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!" --WORDSWORTH.

It was a sultry evening in summer, and John Randal was standing on the departure platform of a London railway station, looking at the train. He was a tall, fine-looking young fellow of three or four and twenty, brown and sunburnt, with dark stern eyes and an extremely grave expression. His clothes were good, though rustic-looking, and he carried a brown paper parcel in his hand. Any one who watched him might have thought there was something odd in the deep interest with which he gazed at the train, for his eyes were not attracted from it by the hurrying passengers, the porters with their loads of luggage, the ticket-collectors and guards in handsome uniform. It might have been thought that he was looking out for a friend; but no, it was the train itself which interested him. Except in one or two short trips that same week on the underground railway, John Randal had never seen a train before.

And yet his home was only thirty miles from London. But the small retired village where he had spent his whole life lay quite out of the world's track, in the quietest of valleys, sheltered among chalk hills and beech woods, ten miles at least from the nearest railway station. If the people in John's village wanted to go far from home they walked, or else they travelled in the carrier's cart which passed twice a week along the valley on its way to and from London. This state of things had lasted for many years, but its end was now drawing near. Already a new line of railway passed within four miles of John's home, and people thought that as soon as it was finished and opened, new times would dawn for that quiet country.

John did not care much about all this. He was an old-fashioned young man, and the life he knew was good enough for him--his cottage in the village street, his blacksmith's forge, his garden, where red roses and tall white lilies grew, his mother, with her gentle ways and slow movements. He did very well, it seemed to him, and he could not see that the railway would bring much good to a village like theirs. Noise, and smoke, and dirt; newspapers and bad characters. John thought and said that he and his neighbours could get on very well without the railway.

He was an ignorant fellow, you see. Till a week ago he had never left home for more than a day. Then his mother, who always thought that the world ought to know more of her John, persuaded him to go to London to see her brother, who was a printer. John tied up a change of clothes in a red handkerchief, and walked to London. His uncle and aunt were very kind to him, and took him about sight-seeing as far as they could. His aunt thought him a queer chap, for nothing seemed to surprise him much. Nothing tired him; he could walk for hours; but every day he grew more thoughtful and silent, as if his brain was oppressed by all he saw. When the day came for him to go home, his aunt packed his things, red handkerchief and all, with the presents he had bought for his mother, in a brown paper parcel, which she thought more respectable-looking than a bundle for a young man of her nephew's appearance; for no one would have taken John, by his looks, for a mere country lad. His uncle advised him to go home as far as he could by train, and John consented to this, as he would get home quicker. He came with him to the station, got his ticket for him, and left him on the platform to wait till the train started.

Here then John stood waiting, and all the fuss and noise and hurry of the station went crowding up and down without his taking much outward notice of it. Inwardly, he was rather nervous about the journey, wishing he had trusted to his own legs rather than to those carriages, solid as they looked, into which so many people seemed to be crowding.

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