« ПретходнаНастави »
of which we can advance only by single steps,” said Geraldine. “I rather shared your notion at the outset, but soon found that the judicious regulation of one set of duties furnished me not only with more ample leisure for the rest, but also with the skill to marshal them into rank and battalion.” “I
suppose Mr. Beverley and Uncle Harland would agree that music has indisputable claims upon us now,” continued Mabel, rising from her seat as the hall clock struck nine.
“Yes,” answered Geraldine, “for at this present she has potent allies in unselfishness and truth.”
THE TIDE OF LIFE AND DEATH.
At the morning prime,
In their silvern chime;
From time to time.
But the waves came up and up,
As the sun rose higher,
With a touch of fire;
With a strange desire.
Which the surges bore,
From a distant shore;-
And the day was o'er.
I stand on my watch by the sea
Mid the shades of night,
But the surges white,
O, FATHER, I long to go,
But I dread the sea,
'Twixt them and me
A NARRATIVE OF FACTS.
A LADY sat in a luxurious drawing-room in the West End of London. She was still young, although some silver streaks in her dark hair showed that her première jeunesse had passed, or else that sorrow had prematurely touched those brown locks, and brought some wrinkles around the well-shaped mouth and forehead. The room in which she sat, with her hands clasped on her knee, was lofty and highly decorated. The rich velvet curtains, the brilliant mirrors, the soft carpet, and the exquisitely chosen ornaments with which the chamber was adorned, showed that there was no lack either of taste or wealth in its occupant. Yet as she raised her eyes no sign of pleasure in any of the surroundings lighted them, but her bowed head gave token of a grief that had almost reached the dulness of despair.
Perhaps this might be in some degree accounted for by the widow's dress she wore. But her bereavement had not been of very recent occurrence—some months had passed since her husband had been taken from her in the plenitude of his power both mental and physical, and at first many friends flocked to her, and their sympathy and the excitement attendant on the early days of her sorrow, had gone far to take her out of herself. Now “the Season” was over; the herd of acquaintances had been tired of visiting the house of mourning, when the poor sufferer persistently refused to join in the conventional“ quiet parties” to which a widow might come. They had gone off to their shooting-boxes and their country houses, dismissing the thought of “poor Lady Tudor” with a shrug of pity, and a word of passing regret that she should "shut herself up so much.”
Few knew how much she had been to her husband. To her he had been her very self, her all. It was an honour to her, she thought, to be his helper in literary work, his ready sympathiser in political difficulty, and his gentle critic, on whose judgment he placed such value.
Now she was alone; and daily that loneliness grew more bitter. The
very riches which were so ready to her hand, the very luxury with which her husband's love and forethought had surrounded her, added to her wretchedness, for it made her think, " nobody loves me for myself, they all think of what I have, not what I am.”
The house was so quiet, too, for it was far enough from the more crowded thoroughfares for the busy sounds scarcely to reach it. And the gay,
handsome houses, which during the spring and summer were full of life, and by their balconies of blooming flowers would almost cheat us into the belief that we are enjoying the sweet pure scents of the open country, these were now all shut up, drearily still and empty, so that the sound of a solitary cab, or even a foot passenger hurrying along, was plainly heard.
There was very little change in Lady Tudor's grief-stricken face when the old butler approached her, and in a respectful tone informed her," Mr. Leslie has called, and desires to see you, my Lady, if you are disengaged.”
“At this time of the evening ? Oh, yes, you can show him up, Newton-and,” she added, “ bring some tea.”
The gentleman who entered the room was evidently by his dress a
clergyman. He was tall and muscular. His hair was slightly grey, and brushed back from a nobly intellectual brow. His eyes were dark, sometimes lighted up with fiery energy, sometimes softening with the tenderest sympathy. The mouth was firm and expressive, and when he smiled it would be difficult to describe greater sweetness than was expressed.
Such in outward appearance was the man who came forward with outstretched hand to greet Lady Tudor.
“Will you forgive my coming to you so late ? I have been detained ever since our late service by many sick and dying who wanted help.”
“ It is good of you to come at all, Mr. Leslie.” She pointed to a chair and he seated himself. He saw by a glance at her pale, worn face that the fountains of confidence must be opened, but his sympathies were strong and his experience great, and he did not despair of being the means of helping her to the source of happiness.
You would have been interested in some of the scenes I have passed through to-night; we scarcely realize our own mercies until we know the miseries of others. One poor mother, with an infant in her arms and two others clinging to her, came to me, having been turned out of her wretched room for the rent. We had to inquire into it and help her, poor thing."
The world is full of misery,” said Lady Tudor wearily. Then after a pause looking up suddenly—“Mr. Leslie, I envy that woman, I grudge
Ι her those children. With all her poverty she has some one to live for. The loneliness of childless widowhood is bitter indeed.”
“Yes ; I think that one of the most pathetic touches in the story of our dear LORD's last hour of agony is given in those words, ' And they all forsook Him and fled.' He even went through that awful hour of loneliness to show us His sympathy in our hours of solitude and separation.
She covered her face with her hands. " I suppose there is some relief in thoughts like those,” she said at last; “and what you say is always soothing to me, Mr. Leslie. But you can't know, you with so much to occupy your heart and thoughts, and with the great mission you are set apart to perform, you cannot comprehend what it is to have nothing to call away your mind from dwelling on the wretchedness of one's life.”.
"Do you not think, Lady Tudor," said the priest with gentle solemnity," that we have all a mission to perform ? Mine is, thanks
be to God," and he reverently bowed his head, “the noblest of all. But we all have work put into our hands to do; and if we truly love the LORD that bought us we shall do it for His sake."
“ What work can mine be now ?” said Lady Tudor in a sorrowful tone.
“Will you let me show you what you can do ? Indeed the harvest is plenteous.”
There was silence between them for a moment. Then she spoke"I will try and help; when can I begin? What can I do ?”
“Come to us to-morrow. There is an early celebration at S. Mary's at eight o'clock. Join us there, and in that blessed feast you will gain strength to begin your work—work which will be as balm to your poor stricken spirit." He rose and with reverent gesture blessed her, and bid her farewell.
The cold grey late autumn morning was not inviting when Lady Tudor arose. Her maid, who had been ordered to attend her lady at that early hour, evidently thought she had gone mad when she attired herself for walking, and went out moreover, without attendants. It was something new and strange certainly to Lady Tudor to find herself walking alone in the quiet streets at that early morning hour. She was ashamed at the sort of nervousness which seized her. The few persons she met stared at her in questioning astonishment, and but that the
very fear which possessed her was a relief from sadder feelings she would almost have turned back. Presently a sleepy cab-driver passed and with difficulty she drew his attention and begged him to take her to her destination. It was a long way eastward and he demurred. She regretted now that she had not ordered her own carriage and gone where she wanted to go without all this trouble. And yet her heart told her that there would be something unsuitable in going in her well-appointed carriage to the baunts of misery where she knew Mr. Leslie's work lay. At last the cabman was prevailed on to take her, and she was put down within a short distance of S. Mary's.
The thick fog and the dense atmosphere made it difficult for her to find her way. Crowded streets and courts and alleys and squalid people and children seemed to swarm round, and it was a relief when she found herself within the walls of the Sanctuary. It was dimly lighted, and the pale morning light mingled with the gleam of the lamps, and made it difficult to distinguish objects; yet when her eyes became accustomed to the light, Lady Tudor was impressed with the aspect of