Слике страница
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

8. One, two, three, four, five. How clearly and almost merrily each stroke told of her once peaceful slumber in her mother's bosom, and of her seat at night-fall on her weary father's knee. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, rang out the tale of her sports upon the greensward in the meadow and beside the brook. ·Eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, spoke more gravely of school-days, and little household joys and cares.

9. Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, sounded out the enraptured visions of maidenhood and the dream of early love. Nineteen brought before us the happy bride. Twenty spoke of the young mother, whose heart was full to bursting with the new, strong love which God had awakened in her bosom.

10. And then stroke after stroke told of her early womanhood of the loves, and cares, and hopes, and fears, and toils through which she passed during those long years, till fifty rang out harsh and lond. From that to sixty, each stroke told of the warm-hearted mother and grandmother, living over again her own joys and sorrows in those of her children and children's children.

11. Every family of all the group wanted grandmother then, and the only strife was who should secure the prize. But, hark, the bell tolls on! - seventy, seventy-one, two, three, four. She begins to grow feeble, requires some care, is not always perfectly patient or satisfied; she goes from one child's house to another, so that no place seems like home.

12. She murmurs in plaintive tones, that after all her toil and weariness, it is hard she can not be allowed a home to die in ; that she must be sent rather than invited from house to house. Eighty, eighty-one, two, three, four. Ah! she is a second child

she has outlived her usefulness, she has now ceased to be a comfort to herself or anybody”— that is, she has ceased to be

now

[graphic]

profitable to her earth-craving and money-grasping children.

13. Now sounds out, reverberating through our lovely forest, and echoing back from our "hill of the dead,” eighty-nine! There she lies now in the coffin, cold and still; she makes no trouble now, demands no love, no soft words, no tender little offices. A look of patient endurance,- we fancied, also, an expression of grief for unrequited love,- sat on her marble features. Her children were there clad in weeds of woe, and in irony we remembered the strong man's words, “She was a good mother in her day."

14. When the bell ceased tolling, the minister rose in the pulpit. His form was very erect and his voice was strong, but his hair was silvery white. He read several passages of Scripture expressive of God's compassion to feeble man, and especially of his tenderness when gray hairs are on him and his strength faileth. He then made some touching remarks on human frailty, and of dependence on God, urging all present to make their peace with Him while in health, that they might claim His promises and receive His comforting presence when heart and flesh failed them.

15. Then leaning over the desk, and gazing intently on the coffined form before him, he said reverently: “From a little child I have honored the aged; but never till gray hairs covered my own head did I know truly how much love and sympathy this class have a right to demand of their fellow-creatures. Now I feel it. Our mother,” he added most tenderly, “who now lies in death before us, was a stranger to me, as are all of these her descendants.

16. "All I know of her is what her son has told me to-day,— that she was brought to this town from afar, sixty-nine years ago, a happy bride; that here she had past most of her life, toiling as only mothers ever have strength to toil, until she had reared a large family of sons and daughters; that she left her home here, clad in the weeds of widowhood, to dwell among her children." And, turning to the children, he added: “God forbid that conscience should accuse any of you of ingratitude or murmuring on account of the care she has been to you of late.

17. “When you go back to your homes, be careful of your example before your own children; for the fruit of your own doings you will surely reap from them when you yourselves totter on the brink of the grave. I entreat you as a friend, as one who has himself entered the evening of life, that you may never say in the presence of your farnilies nor of Heaven, 'Our mother had outlived her usefulness — she was a burden to us.' Never, never ! a mother can never live so long as that!

18. “No; when she can no longer labor for her children, nor yet care for herself, she can fall like a precious weight on their bosoms, and call forth by her helplessness all the noble, generous feelings of their hearts. Adieu, then, poor toil-worn mother; there are no more days of pain for thee. Undying vigor and everlasting usefulness are thy inheritance.”

XCIV.-THE MONEY PANIC. MR. AUBREY, a London banker. MR. FREELAND, a merchant.

Scene.—A back-room in the banking-house. MR. AUBREY enters, much agitated.

1. Aubrey. It is a perfect panic! There has been nothing like it since eighteen twenty-six. The run on the bank was fearful yesterday, and I was glad when the hour of closing arrived. But it was only postponing the crash. Things look worse still to-day. Every man who has a shilling deposited with us rushes to demand it. All confidence is gone; those I thought my friends are as mad as the rest. If I could gain a little time — but no! [Listens.] Hear the gold jingling on my counter! It can't last much longer at this rate. Ah! here comes one of them - I must not appear disturbed. What can I do for you, sir?

2. Freeland. I have come to ask a blunt question ; for I am a plain man, and I like to come straight to the point.

3. Aubrey. Well, sir?

4. Freeland. I hear that you have a run on your bank; is that so?

5. Aubrey. I see the drift of your question. If you have any money in the bank, present your account to the cashier, and he will pay you at once. 6. Freeland. I have not a penny in your hands.

. 7. Aubrey. Then may I ask what is your business with me?

8. Freeland. I wish to know if a small sum will aid you at this crisis.

9. Aubrey. Why ask that question ?

10. Freeland. Because if it would, I should be glad to pay in a deposit.

11. Aubrey. Sir?

12. Freeland. You are no doubt surprised that, when those who know you are hastening to drain your vaults, a stranger should come to pay money in.

13. Aubrey. I confess it is unusual.

14. Freeland. Let me explain myself. Do you remember when, some twenty years ago, you lived in Essex?

15. Aubrey. Perfectly.

16. Freeland. And perhaps you recollect the turnpike gate you used to pass every day?

17. Aubrey. Certainly, I do.
18. Freeland. My father kept that gate.
19. Aubrey. Ah, I remember him!

20. Freeland. And do you remember one Christmas morning, when the gate-keeper was sick, and a little boy opened the gate for you?

21. Aubrey. I have forgotten the circumstance.

22. Freeland. Very likely; but I have not. I was that little boy. As you passed, I called out, “A merry Christmas, sir!” You replied, “Thank you, my lad; the same to you, and here's a trifle to make it so.” And you threw me a seven-shilling piece.

23. Aubrey (smiling). Well, I trust you had a merry Christmas!

24. Freeland. It was the first money I ever had in my life; and that, and the kind smile you gave me with it, made me the happiest boy in the world that day. Well, sir — to cut a long story short — that seven-shilling piece brought me good luck; it was the beginning of well, sir, a tolerably large fortune for a plain man like

I have kept sight of you, though I dare say you never gave me a second thought. I got into trade, first in a small way, then in a large way,— and, sir, I consider that I owe all I have to you.

25. Aubrey. You owe it rather to your own thrift and industry, and I heartily congratulate you !

26. Freeland. Thank you! But excuse me for insisting — I owe all to you. Hearing yesterday that there was a run on your bank, I hastily scraped together what I could — a small sum - which is at your service, if it will be of any use to you. Here it is, sir.

[Puts a roll of bank-notes into Aubrey's hand. 27. Aubrey. But my dear sir !

28. Freeland. A small sum, a small sum, sir. You will really oblige me by keeping it for me for a few days.

me.

« ПретходнаНастави »