« AnteriorContinuar »
since, and Betty, you must come to Jesus, like I did. It's all so simple; He wants you because He loves you, and He died to save you. You must tell Him all your sins, and He will pardon them. 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin'; all sin, yes, all. But I'm getting
She was silent awhile to recover strength; her voice had grown very feeble towards the end of her long speech. But presently she resumed: "And you mustn't do wrong, and cheat and lie any more. They're bad ways, and you must give them up. Won't you promise me?"
"But I never do," said Betty; "leastways only when I can't help it. Folks won't buy if I don't tell 'em that things are fresh. And I don't cheat; I wouldn't take a farthing I hadn't ought to from a poor creature like myself."
"No," said the sick woman; "but don't you remember you told me you did old Isaacs when he bought some oranges last week?"
Oh, that's not cheating; he's a Jew, and can stand to lose a few ha'pence."
"But you mustn't, Betty; you really mustn't," and Mrs. Leslie, in her eagerness, half raised herself in bed. "Do give up all the bad ways. You can't love Jesus, or you'd want to break them off. Just think how we must grieve Him when He sees us sin.
Why, he died to bear our sins,
"don't you go I'll just shake up an hour of sleep.
and how can we go on doing what made Him die? Oh, Betty, promise me you'll give them up!" "Now, now," said Betty, coaxingly, fretting your head about the likes of me. the pillows a bit, and maybe you'll get And if I've done one or two crooked things, why I'm no worse than the rest of the folks about here, and we must just look after ourselves a bit when we've got the chance."
But the sick woman was not to be so easily pacified, "O Betty," she said, "I haven't done my duty by you. I ought to have talked to you more; but promise me, Betty, promise me!" Again and again she wailed the words
until Betty could no longer resist; but, taking the wasted hand that lay on the coverlid in her own, she raised it to her lips and solemnly gave the asked-for pledge.
Mrs. Leslie sank back thoroughly exhausted, and there was silence in the room, a silence that might be felt. Once, indeed, two boys came and stood for a time in the yard outside, and their loud, angry voices sounded strangely out of place within that quiet chamber; but after awhile they moved away, and no further noise came to break the stillness of the hour.
Eleven o'clock struck. The dying woman had fallen into a light slumber, and failed to hear the sound. Betty gazed long and earnestly on the sleeping face. "I'll not leave her the night," was her mental resolve; "I'll just make myself a cup of tea, and lay down here aside the fire." Then noiselessly she turned the handle of the door, her clumsy fingers finding it no easy task, and still moving on tiptoe, went into her own room and brought back in one hand the much-prized tea, and in the other a piece of sacking, that forthwith she threw down where the hearth-rug should have been.
A slight noise caused her to turn round. The sick woman was again awake, and was speaking her name.
"I'd almost forgotten, Betty, what else I'd got to say; but I'm glad the landlord's quite paid up. He's got the money for the burying; I gave it him five years ago. I wanted to be buried decent-like, and I was afraid of the 'house.' It took me a long time to scrape together, but he's got it. If I'd kept it I might have used it up some day. And now I don't owe no one anything, except you, Betty," and she gave her a grateful look. "I can't pay you, but you're welcome to all I've got. They won't come to much, but they'll do for firewood. Mayhap you'll get something for the wash-tubs. I did have some nice things once, and you'll find a heap of pawn-tickets in the old brown jar on the shelf, but you won't want them, though. And, Betty, you won't forget your promise when I'm dead
God will forgive you if you ask Him, and He
will help you to be good and honest."
All this was said disjointedly, with many a pause for breath, and Betty had no heart to make reply.
the voice resumed:
"And now I think I've said all I've got to say, and I'd like to think of where I'm going. Will you read me a bit, Betty? You'll find the Bible on the shelf there, wrapped up in an old handkerchief. I'd like you always to keep it for my sake. It's been a good friend to me."
Betty glanced hesitatingly towards the spot indicated. "But I'm no scholar," said she; "I couldn't read you a line to save my life. But I'll get the book and welcome;" and reverently she took the sacred volume in her hand, unwrapped its covering, and laid it on the bed. The sick woman put her hand on the worn brown cover, as though the very touch of the dear, familiar book, brought peace and comfort. "Never mind; I know the words I want: 'In my Father's house'; that's where I'm going."
Betty looked puzzled, not recognising the words. "She's getting light in the head, and thinks she's a child again;” but the next words of the dying woman answered her unspoken thought.
"It's heaven; Jesus is there, and He wants His people to be with Him; 'that where I am there ye may be also.' I'm only a poor weak old woman, but He loves me; yes, He loves me, and He'll take me to His home. I know I'm not fit to go there; it's grand and beautiful, better than the palace of the Queen.”
Another long pause for breath, and then she continued, but more painfully and slowly than before: "No rent to pay.... no hard work.... no hunger, no night. . . . ' and they shall see His face' and there shall be no more pain, nor sorrow, nor crying. . . . for the former things are passed away. passing away.... yes, passed away."
The voice sank lower and lower; Betty leant forward to catch the next few sentences, but she could only distinguish
one word here and there: "Jesus. . . . good.... sinful .... tired.” And then once again there was silence in the room.
The church clock rang out the midnight hour, and the dying woman appeared to sleep. Betty rose from her seat, replenished the fire, and lay down on the hard floor, intending to remain awake. But the candle burnt itself out, and she heeded it not; overcome by weariness and by sorrow, she, too, had fallen asleep. And when, a few hours later, she awoke with a start, cramped and stiff in every limb, she was alone in the room. Mrs. Leslie was not there, only the wasted, feeble frame; her spirit was with the God who gave it, carried straight from that bare, poverty-stricken room to the glorious home of the heavenly Father. In the earthly Paradise Gardens there was one tenant less, but in the true Paradise above there was another to swell the glad chorus of those who out of every land had been redeemed to God by the precious blood of their Saviour, Christ.
A solemn awe filled Betty's soul, as that morning she stood by the bedside of her departed friend. If she, too, had been summoned away, would she also have been ready? Would the call have been for her "Come up higher"? Betty's conscience answered with no uncertain Nay; and when, later on, the light of the Sabbath dawn came stealing into the room, it fell upon a kneeling figure. Betty was praying in broken accents and with outstretched hands: "God be merciful to me a sinner! and forgive me all the past, and make me good, and take me where she's gone."
E. C. A.
BY THE REV. HORATIUS BONAR, D.D.
Author of Hymns of Faith and Hope, &c.
RE thy pyramids still smiling
To the everlasting sun,
Mighty Mizraim of the sand-waste,
Is thy Sphinx still grandly gazing,
Does thy grey Mukattam cliff-range
Is the bronze on thy brown ripples
Does that river-sea, so royal,
With its soft, slow-swelling tide,
Still do battle, single-handed,
Is thy Memphis still the Memphis
Here to build a boundless name?
Are thy Pharaohs resting yonder,
Does the breath of ancient odours
Do the robes of princely Pathros
Do they still claim awful homage,
In their chiselled shrines, unconscious