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Grace given produces too often self-confidence rather than self-abasement. May I, O my God, humbly and devotedly seek Thy grace, and learn from Thy bountiful gifts to deserve more and more by my profitable exercises of the same.
F. L. W.
IN THE DESERT.
“Quis dabit capiti meo aquam, et oculis meis fontem lacrymarum ?"
THE morning breezes o'er the garden play,
cloud the dawn of Easter gleams,
From the low cave Angelic radiance streams,
Last at His Cross ! First by His grave to weep !!
Then what to her that Angel guardians keep
“Woman, why weepest thou ?” Not yet revealed
The Master stands beside His sorrowing child.
He sought thee once the lost and sin-defiled.
The mourner pleads, “O tell me where He lies,
His words of pardon hushed the anguished sighs,
“Mary.” The mist of tears is cleared away,
The aching grief, the sore bereavement ended,
Sweet gratitude, with adoration blended.
Towards her LORD would clasp the nail-pierced feet.
Unto My FATHER, hasten now to meet
1 “Last at the Cross, and earliest at the grave.” (Barrett.)
She turns to go .... the blissful vision flies,
The sultry morning o'er the desert breaks.
The light illumes her cave, the lizard wakes,
The Magdalene from her rough couch of stone
And 'neath the crucifix in anguish prone
Ye who would teach that ransomed souls may sin,
Yet fearless stand before the Judgment Seat,
Yea, unabsolved, their angel brethren greet;
With bitter tears, to whom the words were said,
A TALE OF THE SCILLY ISLES.
“ANOTHER rainy day! this will make a full week within doors. It seems a lifetime since we came to Scilly, though we have not yet been here four months.”
There was an unmistakeable tone of annoyance in the speaker's voice, and her face, usually beaming, looked as sunless as the sky.
“ How do you mean to spend the morning, children ?” asked the Vicar, as he glanced up from his Guardian. “Poor girls, your life will be a lonely one; perhaps I have no right to keep you here in such retirement.”
* Indeed, uncle, the days never seem half long enough, and if Scillonia be a small sphere, it affords full scope for our energies,” said
Mabel did not respond, but with a languor bordering on discontent, walked to the window, and stood idly gazing at the rain which had
changed from a misty drizzle to a heavy shower, accompanied by a high gale of wind.
“That little steamer will have a rough passage to Penzance,” observed the Vicar, as he rose from the table. · Lilian, my child, give me your parcel, I must speak a word with Captain Laurence," and receiving the neat package, Mr. Harland set out on his wet walk to the landing
· May Bird, dear, can you do me a small service ? it will not require more than a few minutes,” began Lilian when they were left alone.
“My time is not so precious that I need refuse you,” answered Mabel with a sullenness quite foreign to her nature.
“ Thank you, dear, I was sure you would help me,” rejoined Lilian without seeming to observe her sister's moodiness. · See, it is only to write down these memoranda, for my crowded tablets are now almost useless."
The task was one suited to Mabel's fancy, and she undertook it willingly enough, whilst Lilian re-arranged a vase of flowers, and bestowed
upon the furniture and ornaments a few of those minute magical touches which can only be imparted by a woman's delicacy and refinement.
“A book promised to little Millicent at Holy Vale,” said Mabel, reading aloud and commenting, as she transcribed the contents of her sister's tablets in a style of penmanship wholly unlike the flowing grace of the original.
That is important, dear, please mark it with an asterisk,” said Lilian, “and I should feel glad if you would choose a volume for her presently.”
Arrange the shelves in uncle's study,” pursued Mabel, paying small heed to her sister's words. Capital, I will do that later, it is such nice work for stormy weather.”
The cloud had passed away from Mabel's temper, and her animated tone bespoke returning cheerfulness, but it is likely this proposal would have had a contrary effect upon the Vicar, whom many a search for mislaid references had enlightened as to the invariable result of Mabel's labours. Lilian would fain have interposed to shield him from such fruitless toil, but this the Vicar with his chivalrous and gentle courtesy did not permit. “Poor dear child,” he said ruefully, “she means it all for kindness, and it is my own fault if I do not
prize her services.” The weary sigh with which he always ended, proved that gratitude had not advanced beyond Christian forbearance, but his resolution was so firm that Lilian had to waive the point, and only constitute herself the silent guardian of those venerable tomes.
Experience had taught her the need of directing Mabel's energies into a different channel, therefore when the volatile caligrapher threw down her pen preparatory to a vigorous attack upon the library, Lilian contented herself by remarking quietly, “But, May Bird, you have not finished my list, and I shall want the tablets when I go
Mabel resumed her seat, and said good-naturedly, " True, I forgot. Hey! what is this? a pile of letters to be written,-fifteen I do declare. I will put down the number, Lilian, for we shall be sure to recollect the names,” and before there was time to object, a page of pencilled tracery had vanished, greatly to Lilian's inconvenience, for the exact order and importance of her correspondence had been noted with a scrupulous fidelity.
“Lane's Ancient Egyptians' to be finished by next Wednesday, and sent back to Cornwall,” pursued Mabel. “Well, I cannot help you in that, unless you like me to read out whilst you are sewing.”
"Many thanks, dear," said Lilian, to whom Mabel's plan of skipping the dry passages was not unknown. “That book needs very close attention, and I cannot follow it without a study of the illustrations, and the ancient atlas."
“Learn to prepare beef tea and arrowroot, with other articles of diet for the sick,” continued Mabel, while this sudden descent in the scale of dignity caused her to break into a laugh most irrepressibly joyous and fresh. Well, Mistress Practical, let me give you a new recipe. I was offered 'figgy pudding' in a farm-house near Blue Cam last week, and I assure you it was not to be despised.”
How was it made ?” asked Lilian, recollecting that her uncle's table had since their arrival in Scillonia been far from varied.
With figs, dried ones, I suppose,” said Mabel sapiently; but all the queries of the inexperienced young housekeeper could not elicit further information.
“Now there is only one more entry,” pursued Mabel polishing the tablets. “It is to copy · Cherubim and Seraphim’ into the folio of organ voluntaries."
“That is extremely pressing," observed Lilian as she reached the
door. “ The music has been kept a month, and must be sent home in a day or two. I will make haste and set about it presently, as the piece is four pages long.”
Poor Lilian had been speaking without thought, and soon wished to recall her words. That album was among her most valued possessions, and its spotless whiteness was as yet unsullied by blot or erasure. Yet when Mabel, full of joyful eagerness, offered to undertake the task, Lilian had not the heart to check her longing for congenial employment; Mr. Harland's beautiful unselfishness seemed to awaken the same spirit in all those around him, more particularly in his elder niece, and although the untidy memoranda sheets looked far from promising, no visible sign of reluctance on her sister's part damped Mabel's pleasure.
These natural apprehensions proved however groundless. The young scribe was both a skilful and a rapid copyist, and well aware how precious was that folio,—a Christmas gift to Lilian from their uncle, -resolved to show herself deserving of the trust she had exacted. Thanks to her patient diligence the last bar was transcribed as the church clock struck twelve. Then Mabel opened the piano, and began to play. The noble strain swelled forth in unmarred beauty, not a single false note broke its perfect harmony. Convinced that there were no errors, she ran gaily from the room, impatient to restore the now enriched collection to its owner. Lilian's surprise and gratitude were warmly spoken, while the knowledge that praise was her rightful due, restored the buoyancy of Mabel's spirits.
Most of us have in childhood read a pretty tale wherein the little heroine is described as lingering in her bed till past the breakfast hour because it was “too late to get up early." Grown persons act upon this principle far oftener than is supposed. How frequently a consciousness that we have lost the morning's freshness, is enough to keep us listless and inert for the remainder of the day. Upon the other hand how constantly is physical or mental lassitude dispersed by some healthful occupation. Good actions, it has been observed, are linked as closely as their opposites, and certainly it is no rare experience that when aroused from indolence by some imperative, even though trifling claim, the wholesome stimulus does not cease with the action which first called it forth.
When the group at the Vicarage gathered around their early dinner, May Bird” was once again the sunbeam of the family, and when she