« ÎnapoiContinuați »
which sailed from and on board of which Charles was supposed to be, was burned at sea, and that but two or three only were saved, and among them was a young man named Grant. But the rumour, though not contradicted, was not confirmed, and another period of uncertainty and anxiety fell to the lot of the long-stricken and heartsaddened mother and sister of the absent boy. At length the friends of Mrs. Grant perceived a visible change in her health. The indications of that too-fatal malady, consumption, were too apparent to be mistaken. Its approach was indeed slow and insidious, and, for a time, was kept at bay by the assiduous attention of our village physician ; but medical prescription at length lost its power, and she hecame at first confined to the house, then to her room, and finally to her bed. I often visited her, as did other friends. Her room was no longer the abode of gloom and sorrow. She had for some months been making rapid progress in resignation to the will of her heavenly Father, and though her feeble tabernacle was shaken, and was likely to be dissolved, through years of anxiety and affliction, yet her faith seemed to acquire more and strength, and to fasten with a firmer hold upon the Divine promises.
One day as I sat conversing with her, she alluded to the faithfulness of God, and expressed her unwavering confidence in Him. She said it had been her desire to acquiesce in the Divine will, and she hoped that she should be able to do so, whatever it might be, in relation to herself or her absent son. “ But,” continued she, “ I have prayed long and fervently that I may once more see him—see him, too, a true penitent and child of God; and I cannot relinquish the belief that God will hear and answer." I was about to say something which might tend to sooth her, in case her hopes were not realized, as I must confess I saw little present reason to expect they would be, when she stopped me and observed, You
may think me presumptuous, but my faith must enjoy its hold on the Divine promises. Has not God said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will answer thee, and thou shalt glorify me?' I have called-yes, I have called by day and by night, and God has seemed to help me. Has he excited such strong, such intense emotions for nothing? Has he enabled me to wrestle so with him, only to be disappointed ? I am aware that probabilities are all against me. I must soon fail; this heart will soon cease beating, and the narrow-house be my resting-place, but I still have confidence in the faithfulness of my heavenly Father. What though I see no immediate prospect of the return of my poor boy ; I believe I shall yet press that poor child to my bosom-returned not only to his mother, but to his God. Years since, I wrote in a pocket Bible I gave
him, His loving kindness changes not,' and do you think it will fail now?” I confess I admired the steady faith of the mother -affaith strong in the Lord and in the power of his might ; and yet it seemed scarcely possible that her hopes should be realized. At length my faith faltered, for it was apparent that'her hour of departure was not far distant. That night two or three female Ffriends, fearful of her failure before morning, offered to stay with the mother of Alice. This the latter cheerfully assented to, though she had decided not to leave her mother. The necessary arrangements for the night were made, and at an early hour all was silent in and around the humble cottage. It was a glorious night abroad -clear, soft, mild, just such a night as a saint might well choose in which to take his departure and soar to the temple above. It was just such a night, and Alice had risen from her seat; and to hide her emotions, as her dear parent breathed more heavily, had gone to the window, the curtain of which she drew aside, and was standing leaning her arm"on the sash. In the distance, just beyond the gate, she descried, as she thought, the figure of a man who seemed to be approaching. For a moment she started back, but again looked, and his hand was on the latch. The gate was opened with great caution, and the stranger approach
ed slowly towards the house. Presently a gentle knock was heard at the kitchen door. It was impossible for Alice to summon courage to attend the stranger herself ; but she whispered to the nurse, who, upon unlocking the door, inquired the reason for so late and unreasonable an intrusion. “Does Mrs. Grant still reside here?” inquired the stranger, in a kind but earnest tone. “She does,” replied
“ but she is dangerously ill, and we fear she cannot live many hours-you cannot see her.” " O God, have
mercy !” exclaimed the stranger; and so audibly were the words pronounced that the sound fell on the ears of Alice, and her heart beat with strong and distressing emotion. “ I must see her," continued the stranger; “do not deny me, madam-quick, quick !” and he gently pressed the door, still held by the surprised and even terrified nurse. Alice listened to the sounds without being able to decide their import; but at length, fearing that her mother might be disturbed, she stole softly out of the room, for the purpose of ascertaining what the stranger wished. “ Alice, Miss Alice,” said the nurse as she approached; but before she had finished what she was going to say, the stranger inquired, with his countenance wild with emotion, “ Is this Alice Grant ? and the next moment he swooned and fell on the floor. “ Miss Alice !” exclaimed the agitated nurse, “ what does this all mean? who can it be? what shall we do?" Alice herself stood amazed; but as the light fell upon the features of the apparently lifeless stranger, a thought flashed across her mind, and the following moment she was nearly talling beside him. “Nurse,” said she, softly but quickly, “bring me some water." This she applied liberally to the temples of the stranger, who slowly recovered his consciousness, and at length sat up. He looked round, and presently fastened his eyes most intently and inquiringly on the pale and motionless Alice. “Yes, yes,” he exclaimed “it' is she; it is my own beloved Alice !" “ CharlesCharles, my brother!" uttered Alice, as she fell upon his
bosom. “Oh, God be praised ! Charles, is it, is it you? Oh, mother, mother!” The sound of the voice reached the dying mother, and she inquired, “ Alice, my child whatwhat did I hear, Alice?" Alice, scarcely able to stand, hastened to her bed-side; and taking her mother's hand, already cold with death, spoke in accents tremulous—for her whole frame was agitated-tremulous, but kind. “What did I hear, Alice?" the mother softly whispered ; "I thought I heard something : I thought he had come.
Did I dream, Alice?” “Mother, dear Mother,” said Alice, putting her face close to the cold face of her dying Mother, scarcely able to draw a breath, “ whom did you think had come?” “Why, Charles; it seemed as if he had come. But I dreamt-did I Alice?" Mother,” said Alice, “could you see him ? could you sustain it if you could see him?" Surely, child; why, I long to see him, and I did think to see him once more before I died.” At that instant, the door softly opened, and Charles approached, cautiously -inquiringly. “ Mother,” said Alice, “here; can you look up? do you know who this is?” Who is it, Alicewho is it?" inquired the half-wild but still conscious mother, “Mother,” softly whispered Charles, as he kneeled down and kissed her cold cheek “ mother, my dear mother! Oh, will
you, can you forgive your long-lost but repenting, broken-hearted child ?” Charles, my dear Charles, is it indeed you?” said the now dying mother, at the same time endeavouring to put her wan and feeble arm around his neck. “ My dear boy, you have come; yes, I said you would come--you have: yes, I can now praise God. One question, Charles, and I die in peace : Has my boy found pardon and peace in Jesus?" “ Mother,” said Charles, his tears nearly choking his utterance, “that Bible and a mother's prayers have saved me. I have come in season to ask forgiveness. ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.' Mother, my dear mother, and will you forgive me
also ?” “ Enough, enough,” said the departing mother ;
yes, it is enough,” her countenance beaming, as it were, with seraphic joy. “I am nearly through; but go, my son-go, my dear Alice, and publish it to the mothers of the land, what I have found true-and will continue true as long as praying mothers exist
‘His loving kindness changes not.” ? For a few moments following, it was thought she had ceased to breathe; but she revived sufficiently to press once more gently the hands of Charles and Alice; and then she was heard singing, in a faint and scarcely audible tone, those beautiful lines which she had often expressed a wish that she might have occasion to sing :
· Soon shall I pass the gloomy vale ;
The prayer was answered. “ His loving-kindness
THE BIBLE.-There is no altar for this divine Book superior to the dusty table of the poor, where, amid foul air and smoke, and fouler hearts, it lies day and night, gradually clearing away the atmosphere and changing the natures around it.