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Winter Songs
Written in 1867

by Charlotte Maria Tucker

"A Happy New Year to you, Miss Dora, and many of them!" were the words with which Dora Sinclair was awakened on the 1st of January, from sweet slumber and pleasant dreams.

"O janet!—I hope—I hope that the morning is fine!" exclaimed the eager little girl almost before she had time to open her eyes. "Shall we be able to go to Mount Blane? Oh, don't shake your head and say no! It is not raining, I'm sure that it is not, or I'd hear the pattering against the pane!"

"No, Miss, the snow makes no noise! It is coming down thick and soft, as if the clouds were all made of feathers, and it lies quite deep on the ground. It must have been falling all night."

Dora would not believe the bad news, till she herself had thrown open the shutters and looked out on the lawn and drive, all clothed in a robe of spotless white.

"Horrid snow!" cried Dora impatiently. "But perhaps," she added, "it will stop and we shall go to Mount Blane after all."

"Put that from your thoughts, my dear. The road through the valley wouldn't be fit for travelling after such a fall. Your papa would never think of driving that distance through the snow. Besides, Miss Mary's cold is worse, she has been coughing half the night. She could not venture out now, even if the snow were to stop."

"We could go without her!" cried Dora.

"No, your mamma said last night that all would depend on your sister's losing her cold, and now the snow has come on, so there is not a chance of your going."

Dora knew only too well that what the nurse said was true, but she did not choose to believe it. All the time that she was getting ready for breakfast, she spoke of nothing but the certainty that the snow-storm would soon be over, running every five minutes to the window to see if the flakes still fell. Dora went on hoping until a message came from her father which settled the question at once. The trip must be put off, he said, till the days were longer and the weather more mild. Dora was so bitterly disappointed that she burst into a passion of tears.

"It is always so!" cried the angry little girl, "whenever one hopes for a pleasure, the weather is sure to spoil it! Tiresome snow! tiresome cough! tiresome day! What a wretched beginning is this to the year that I thought would be so happy!"

And so, with tears in her eyes, discontent in her heart, and murmuring words on her lips, the ungrateful girl sat down to the plentiful meal provided for her comfort! Dora never thought of the love which year after year had spread her table, and filled her cup, and richly supplied all her need. A single disappointment was enough to make her forget a thousand blessings which she never had earned, never deserved, but which her heavenly Father had showered on her from her birth!

"Ey, Miss Dora, I wonder you are not ashamed!" cried the nurse. "Just hear that robin redbreast singing outside in the cold! Poor bird, the winter must come hard upon him! His breakfast lies under the snow! He has no basin of nice hot milk, no blazing fire to warm him, yet he sits on the bare leafless bough and warbles as if it were spring! You might learn a lesson of content from the brave little bird in the snow!"

Dora dried her eyes and ran to the window. She knew the note of her favorite robin. Sh threw open the casement and in another minute her little friend with the scarlet breast was hopping on to her finger!

"Come in, pretty birdie!" she cried, "Come in and share my breakfast! I love the nightingale and the linnet that sing when the hedges are green and the meadows gay, and the sun shining bright and warm, but I love better the little robin that hops about on the frosty ground and sings on the leafless tree!"

The flakes were falling no longer. The red wintry sun had come out and hung like a ball of fire in the sky.

"Dora, my child," said her mother, "put on your warm cloak and your bonnet. You may carry this shawl and basket of good things as a New Year's gift from me to poor blind Bessy at the lodge."

Dora willingly obeyed. Impatient and selfish as she had appeared in the morning, there was kindness in the little girl's heart. It was a pleasure to her to give pleasure. Cheerfully Dora tramped through the snow, leaving deep footprints behind her. She could now admire the soft white covering which spread over the earth and lay on the dark green leaves of the laurel and holly and made the roofs of the dwellings look purer and brighter than marble!

As Dora approached the lodge, tripping noiselessly over the snow, she heard the sound of singing within, ringing sweet through the frosty air. So clear was the voice of the blind girl that Dora caught most of the words:

Blind Girl's Song
I cannot see the sunny gleam
Which gladdens every eye but mine,
But I can feel the warming beam,
And bless the God who made it shine.
O Lord! each murmuring thought control,
Let no repining tear-drop fall;
Pour heavenly light upon my soul,
And let me see Thy love in all.

I cannot see the roses bloom,
All sparkling with the summer showers,
But I can breathe their sweet perfume,
And bless the God who made the flowers.
O Lord! each murmuring thought control,
Let no repining tear-drop fall;
Pour heavenly light upon my soul,
That I may see Thy love in all.

I cannot see the pages where
Thy holy will is written, Lord,
But I can seek Thy house of prayer,
And humbly listen to Thy Word,
Which lifts my hopes to that blest place
Where I at Thy dear feet shall fall,
Behold my Savior face to face,
And see and know His love in all.

"Oh," thought Dora, who had paused at the door listening to the soft sweet strain, "how could I, blessed as I am with sight and health and every comfort, begin the new year with murmurs and tears, while a poor blind girl in her humble home can sing such a song as this?"

Dora tapped at the door and entered. Betsy knew the sound of her step and turned her face towards her with a smile of welcome.

"A Happy New Year to you, Betsy!" cried Dora. "My mother has sent you a soft warm shawl and some nice little things from our table."

It was a pleasure to see the bright look on the face of the sightless girl and to hear her half-whispered words, "How good God has been to me!"

Dora shared the delight which she gave when she wrapped the warm shawl round the shoulders of Betsy and one by one drew her treasures from the basket and placed on the blind girl's knees oranges, apples, plumcake, and a nice little packet of tea. Dora was perhaps as happy at that moment as she would have been in the chaise, had the day been warm, the road clear of snow, and she herself on the way to Mount Blane.

With the blessing of the poor upon her, Dora quitted the little lodge and tripped away back to her home. She thought now of her own little sister and reproached herself for unkindness to one who was sharing her disappointment, with a feverish cold besides.

"I must try and make Mary happy, shut up as she is like a little prisoner in the house. She shall see my pictures and play with my toys and we'll have a merry New Year's Day together, notwithstanding the frost and the snow."

The redbreast had sung on the tree his cheerful song of content. The blind girl had sung in her darkness her song of meek submission, and now from the lips of Dora there rose a sweet song of praise!

Oh, dear children, who in happy homes now begin another year, with kind faces smiling around you, loving voices breathing good wishes, let your thanks for unnumbered blessings now arise to your Father in heaven! Should disappointments come to you, as they come in turn to us all, let no murmur escape your lips. Remember the poor blind girl in her cottage and the robin that sang in the snow!

Edited by Pam Takahashi
Proofed by Deborah Gardner

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