The Lamb of Sacrifice (North American Folk Tale)

The Revolution was beginning, homes were empty, farms were deserted, industries were checked, and the levies of a foreign army had consumed the stores of the people. A messenger rode into the Connecticut Valley with tidings of the distress that was in the coast towns, and begged the farmer folk to spare some of their cattle and the millers some of their flour for the relief of Boston. On reaching Windham he was received with good will by Parson White, who summoned his flock by peal of bell, and from the steps of his church urged the needs of his brethren with such eloquence that by nightfall the messenger had in his charge a flock of sheep, a herd of cattle, and a load of grain, with which he was to set off in the morning. The parson”s daughter, a shy maid of nine or ten, went to her father, with her pet lamb, and said to him, “I must give this, too, for there are little children who are crying for bread and meat.”

“No, no,” answered the pastor, patting her head and smiling upon her. “They do not ask help from babes. Run to bed and you shall play with your lamb to-morrow.”

But in the red of the morning, as he drove his herd through the village street, the messenger turned at the hail of a childish voice, and looking over a stone wall he saw the little one with her snow-white lamb beside her.

“Wait,” she cried, “for my lamb must go to the hungry children of Boston. It is so small, please to carry it for some of the way, and let it have fresh grass and water. It is all I have.”

So saying, she kissed the innocent face of her pet, gave it into the arms of the young man, and ran away, her cheeks shining with tears. Folding the little creature to his breast, the messenger looked admiringly after the girl: he felt a glow of pride and hope for the country whose very children responded to the call of patriotism. “Now, God help me, I will carry this lamb to the city as a sacrifice.” So saying, he set his face to the east and vigorously strode forward.

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