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Little Alice's Palace or, The Sunny Heart   By:

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The rain was pattering, pattering steadily upon the roof of a little brown cottage that stood alone by the country roadside.

There had been a long and dreary winter, and now the bright spring was coming, with its buds and leaves and flowers, to gladden the earth, that had all the time seemed to be dead.

As the shower came down, the little green blades of grass sprang up to catch the drops; and they seemed almost to laugh and sing, so full of joy were they when they could lift their heads from the dust.

It was so much sweeter to be out once more from their prison house and to exult with all God's fair creation; so they bathed themselves in the falling shower, and made themselves fresh and clean; and nobody would ever have believed that they came out from their dark beds in the earth.

Little Alice looked out of the windows of the brown cottage, and saw them nodding gaily to her as they were taking their bath; and so she smiled back again, and talked to them from her perch in the window seat as if they were brothers and sisters, with eyes and ears to see and hear, and hearts to return her love. Indeed, there was no one else to whom she could talk the livelong day. No father, for he was dead; no living brothers and sisters; no mother at home, for they were very poor, and her mother must be gone at early dawn to labour for their food and clothing and shelter; and so Alice had to make companions of the blades of grass that nodded at her through the drops.

"Oh, you beauties!" said she gladly; "and I know who made you, too, and what a great, good God he is to send you here bright little creatures that you are. How pleasant it will be down by the brook side when the sun comes out, and you and I and the blue violets and the dandelions have our visiting time together! Never a little girl had such joy as I have!" And Alice put her face close to the pane, and looked up into the sky to thank her kind heavenly Father for sending her such blessings. It seemed as if she could see him bending graciously down towards her, as her Sunday school teacher had often represented him to her; and then she thought of Him who was upon the earth, and who took up little children in his arms and blessed them; and she put out her hands towards the heavens, saying earnestly, "Me, too, dear Saviour: bless me too!"

So absorbed was she that she didn't hear anybody enter the room until a timid voice said,

"Who were you speaking to, Alice?"

There was such a woful figure by the door as she turned her head no bonnet, no shoes, and a tattered frock, all draggled with dirt and rain, and the long, uncombed locks straggling about the child's shoulders, and such a blue, pinched look in the thin face!

"Oh, it's you, Maddie, is it?" said Alice, jumping from the window and taking the hand of the new comer. "But it was a pity to get so wet. I'm glad you've come. We'll keep house together till it clears away, and then maybe we'll have a nice walk. First we must dry your clothes, though." And she put some sticks in the fireplace, and putting a match to them, stationed Maddie before the blaze, while she held the skirt out to dry.

"Isn't it pleasant here?" asked Alice, with a beaming smile.

Maddie looked around, with a half shrug, upon the cheerless room, with its bit of a table and the one chair and the low, curtainless window, and then her eyes fell upon the scantily clad little girl by her side; and then she shivered, as the dampness of her clothes sent a creeping chill through her frame; but she didn't say it was pleasant.

"Aren't you afraid to stay here so much alone, Alice?" she asked, giving another glance about the room.

"But I never stay alone , Maddie!" answered the dear child. "I have plenty of company 'Tabby,' and the flies, and now and then a spider, and everything that goes by the door, and the clouds and the sunshine and the leaves and the oh dear! so many things, Maddie, that I can't begin to tell you... Continue reading book >>

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