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streaked with gold the gray watchtower on Star Castle Moor, and lay along the turf in lines of soft tremulous brightness. Then for an instant the sweet silver mist in which painters delight, veiled all the peaceful English scene, casting rich purple shadows on the hill-sides, and tints for which language has no corresponding colours, on the silent sea.
Mabel stood quite alone on the tableland which forms the Castle Moor, straining her eyes in the direction of the Penzance boat, long after it had ceased to appear even as a speck upon the water. She scarcely knew how she had reached her present station, for the past twenty-four hours seemed already like a dream. The steamer had sailed about two o'clock, leaving her to bear as she best might the weariness of the day, unaided by the hopeful influence of morning, or the soothing stillness of approaching night. Poor Mabel fancied it would have been easier could she and Geraldine have parted after the early Communion, before any earthly cares had dimmed that foretaste of eternal rest, which the two friends had never felt more vividly than at that festal celebration in S. Mary's Church. They had again approached the altar, and had lingered long and reverently in devotion after priest and worshippers had left the sanctuary. Peace, almost happiness, was in their hearts when they arose, for the deep love intensified no less than hallowed, by religion, had found vent in mutual intercession, and yet closer union in oneness of reverent and fervent adoration.
Then after the late breakfast at Content, three hours intervened before the early dinner, or more properly speaking, luncheon, was announced. The interval had seemed alternately fleeting and wearying in its length to Mabel, yet it ended only too soon, and was followed by the hurried preparations which precede final departure. Dr. and Mrs. Lawson were to accompany their niece, and remain with her until after the vessel should have sailed. Mr. Harland and Lilian had arranged to meet the travellers at Hugh Town Pier, but Mabel preferred remaining at Content, feeling unequal to the noise and bustle of the crowded little wharf. She could not, however, long endure the solitude of Geraldine's deserted room, and seizing her hat she impetuously dashed along the raised footpath bordered by leafless trees, which led into the town and up the steep hill to the highest point of the tract, commonly known as Star Castle Moor. It was race against time, which absorbed her for the moment, but when she had gained her object, and discerned an outline of the distant boat, interest and energy
gave way to the reaction which inevitably follows an unwonted strain on body or mind. Exbausted, yet too feverish for rest, she felt a yearning for kind motherly Aunt Isabel, and even for the Doctor, whose gay raillery had been suspended when he saw that Mabel had no heart to meet it. Then she remembered the peculiarly delicate yet warm sympathy shown to her by the cottagers when the news of Miss Beverley's speedy departure became generally known throughout the parish. She rose with a half-formed intention of returning to the vicarage, in search of some small farewell gifts which she had been requested to distribute, but her limbs shook, and she seated herself once again on the turf, regardless of the chill that now began to mingle with the autumn air. Suddenly she recalled with intense vividness that first meeting with Geraldine in the parish church. She saw the childish faces of the little choristers, and heard in memory the very canticle they had then chanted, melting softly into the sweet solemn strain of the Adoro Te. The impulse to find her way to the church and try those airs again on the barmonium, unwise though it might be, seemed irresistible, and Mabel was about to yield to it when a firm gentle hand upon
and a voice never heard excepting in accents of tenderness, said in a tone almost of entreaty, “It is too cold for you
to sit here longer, dearest child ; let us stroll inland across the Moor, where
will be more sheltered from the keen sea wind.” He offered her his arm, which Mabel took almost mechanically, saying as she did so in a docile manner, “I am ready to return home if you wish it, uncle."
“ No,” replied Mr. Harland ; we shall both be better in the open air. Our dear one will have a rough passage, May Bird; I had hoped the sea would have remained calm for the next few hours."
The simple way in which the Vicar claimed community of interest with her one engrossing thought, was more soothing to Mabel than the most direct attempts at consolation. Fervent and deep was his solicitude for Geraldine, whose unreserved confidence had been given him, whom he had sought to warn and train and guide in prospect of the new life opening before her; whose salvation lay so near his heart. Not even Lilian could so fully realize the sorrow which had overtaken Mabel, in the loss of intimate daily companionship with one whose spiritual life seemed founded on the most uncompromising truth, and nurtured by the gentlest humility.
They walked in silence for some distance, but not even Mr. Har.
land's presence could cheer Mabel, although it partially relieved the sense of loneliness which is so hard a trial to the young.
“If I might see Geraldine only a few minutes, uncle,” she began in a tone of hopeless dejection. “I remember now all that I longed to say, though it would not recur to me during these last few days. I cannot even write to her, for the letter would not arrive before the sailing of the ship.”
“But, darling, you might try to have a very long one in readiness for the next steamer; I advise you to begin this evening. And May Bird, I should like to send some books for the Church Library which Mr. Beverley is founding. I have several duplicates in my collection, beside
many volumes which will be useful to him, and with which I can easily dispense. The thought did not occur to me until this morning, but it does not signify, for Geraldine assured me that a case could always be forwarded to her brother from Bombay. After tea we will search the library, and early to-morrow we shall do well to unpack that box of stray books for which we have never found space on our shelves, since I am sure it contains works of theology which will be very welcome to the clergy of an Indian mission.”
A gleam of hope and energy revived in Mabel, for indeed what tonic is so bracing as that of useful employment, more especially when undertaken for the benefit of the beloved and absent ?
That will be certain to give pleasure !” she exclaimed with eagerness, “ for Geraldine's whole soul is in her brother's work.”
“Or rather in the work of the great Master, our LORD JESUS CHRIST, both theirs and ours ;” and with habitual reverence the aged priest inclined his head.
A tide of memories swept over Mabel as she listened to the holy words. They transported her in spirit to S. Agnes, and she almost fancied herself once more seated on the breezy summit of the Hugh, with her hand clasped in Geraldine's, and India, then seeming far remote-a cloud no bigger than a man's hand-upon the horizon of her sunny youth. The recollection brought a gush of tears, but they were soft and healing.
Mr. Harland made no effort to check her grief, but his glance as it rested upon her was full of unspeakable tenderness and compassion.
“I shall be quite myself in a few days, uncle, if you and dear Lilla will have patience with me until then,” she said at last, making a vain attempt to smile. "To-morrow I shall teach my class as usual, and practise with the choir in the afternoon, and go to Holy Vale to take Milly the beautiful Prayer Book Geraldine has left for her. I mean o try and perform every duty, though it may be hard for me at first.”
"Your principle is in itself right, dearest, but I cannot let you overtax your powers. This feverish excitement of the last ten days has made you physically weaker, and I must forbid undue exertion for the present. Efforts which you have really strength to meet will bring their own reward, since active kindness is the best panacea for depression. I do not however dwell upon this fact, because I know your motives are higher and more unselfish.”
“Yes; I had rather learn not to think of myself,” said Mabel, “and I feel that cheerfulness is one of the first duties of a Christian. It helps us to live according to Geraldine's favourite text, that of adorning the doctrine of God our SAVIOUR in all things.”
“Strive, dearest child, to cultivate a spirit of submissive humble cheerfulness, but do not exact from yourself impossibilities. You will long feel as though a well-spring of joy had been dried up in that daily life of which every pursuit has been shared with another. I do not caution
you, because I see you are inclined to watch against a selfish yielding to such pain, but it will weigh upon you inwardly, and you may be unable always to control its outward signs. It is well you should be prepared for this aspect of trial, that when it shall come you may not be discouraged. And if amid languor and gloom God give you grace to persevere, you will have made great progress in the spiritual life, and find yourself able to press on with redoubled vigour when the strain of an unwonted burden is removed."
"And this unhappiness should, after all, be only on the surface, should it not ?" continued Mabel.
“Yes, indeed," said the Vicar, earnestly, "only the restless eddying current beneath which flows calm abiding peace. And both
chil. dren should find comfort in the knowledge that their intercourse has been meet for those linked in the Saints' Communion upon earth, a blessed foretaste of the perfect love awaiting us hereafter.”
“ Yes, uncle, ours has been such an unclouded friendship,” and as she spoke Mabel's whole face lighted up with joy. “No shadow of an unkind thought has ever passed between us; were it otherwise, how could I now bear the remembrance ?"
"And you have always sought by precept, by example, and by loving
It is on
intercession to lead one another onward in the way
peace. such ties God has set His seal of immortality. May He preserve you ever in His faith, and fear, and love, and bring you to the Home where you shall everlastingly dwell in His presence.
The Vicar spoke as though Geraldine also had been near; his spiritual children, severed though they were by distance, seemed alike beside him as his priestly blessing rested on them both.
The last pale gleam had faded from the west when Mabel proposed to her uncle that they should return home to the vicarage and Lilian. She thanked God for the gentle sister who was waiting to welcome and soothe her; for the watehfulness enfolding her as in an atmosphere of tenderness, above all for the priceless blessing of the care which had from childhood sought to shield her from the blight of evil, and to multiply around her sources of strength and protection. Hers was not the first weary and fainting spirit that has been cheered by the inexhaustible treasures of consolation outpoured upon God's anointed priests, to fit them as ambassadors sent forth to preach and to proclaim that sacrifice whereby alone we may obtain remission of our sins-CHRIST's blessed Ministry of Reconciliation with a ransomed world.
MERRY bells, your peal prolong :-
Unto us a Son is given !
Son of Man, yet LORD of Heaven.
For love of Him, Who on this blessed Morn,