Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cutaneous irritation on the hands of at last safely accomplished; but it those who touch them. There are, is quite clear that it will not be however, fishes that are poisonous practicable for ordinary merchant at all times; and, although they are vessels. The voyage was made by in some cases of delicate flavour, are Professor Nordenskjold, who used never to be eaten : thus prudence the opportunity afforded by an imwould dictate the avoidance of un- prisonment of the vessel in the ice, known fishes as articles of food, while for scientific research ; and amongst the roe, the liver, etc., of all fishes, as other things took a huge marine a rule, should be avoided when they animal known as Rytina stelleri, but are out of season.' The eating of supposed hitherto to have been exany fish from which the alimentary tinct : another instance of the uncanal is not removed is at all times, wisdom of inferring age in geolo

the least, fraught with possible gical deposits, from the length of danger.

time which an organic form has been

supposed to have ceased to be a living The North-East Passage has been inhabitant of the globe.

to say

ETCHINGS FROM LIFE:
II.-ADELAIDE'S TREASURE, AND HOW THE THIEF CAME

UNAWARES.

BY SARSON.

CHAPTER X.

ANNIE FOLYOKE'S LAST WISH, The air is full of farewells to the dying, tell of like the change that passes over And mourning for the dead ;

human hearts ! Temples in ruins, oaks The heart of Rachel, for her children withering to the roots, the sea feeding on crying,

the landmarks tbat the fathers set, are Will not be comforted.

majestic evidences of the law of change ; LONGFELLOW. but the scattering of the rose of youth, the

bower wherein it grew blasted into a waste, SEA that bearest back to the home of who shall tell that story? her childhood a sable-robed, silent woman, The lonely widow, the childless mother, whose heart is left behind, in the grave counted the days that might lie between where sleep a man and an only child, art her and her home. How she had looked thon the same that bore on thy blae bosom a forward to a visit to that home in the fuljoyous, boyish-faced girl, whose only ex- Dess of her love and pride! How jealous perience of sorrow was in the vague restless- she had been lest the largess of affection ness of aspiration after she knew not what, lavished on her should not be almost and the natural tears we shed over even & monopolized by husband and child ! temporary separation from the friends of Now there was only her father to know early youth ?

what her husband had been, and a little oilSky that lookest so far, far off, so cold, painting imperfectly executed was the one so indifferent, showing the same face to memento of the little one. the soldier dying of his battle-wounds and Warm were the prayers and wishes that the lover building castles in the air, art had launched her on her voyage, grateful thon the same that these eyes, aching now was the heart that responded, bat there with tears, burning now for the want of were no human balms that could stop its them, were wont to gaze op into, with such

bleeding. a soft spark of devotion trembling in their Like a young bird of broken wing, she

longed for the parental nest, chiefly for the Yes, these natural things do not change, softness and the stillness and the brooding but for us. O, what change can Time tenderness that in anticipation was so grate.

pore irids ?

ful. She tried to put herself beneath the that she had taken from a grave at St, wings that overlay the mercy-seat. Surely John's, that the same tree, she said, might that shelter was not forbidden to the cast its funereal shade over all. aching sense, nor to the benumbed con- Her sisters thought she wanted rousing, sciousness. She must be safe there, though and insisted on her walking out with them; she was not clad in royal garments, but but, left to herself, she sat much in her in sackcloth, and was withal too much room, or went to the Dingle, and remained bruised to free herself from the dust in there in communion with self, with her sad which she had lain.

memories and with her God. Nor was she The welcome home was very quiet. She indulging in the mere luxury of idle grief. was brought in almost as a sick member of • It is best for me to be alone sometimes,' a family, who may be nursed back to life she said to herself. My very presence or die. They found her altered even casts a restraint on the others. They are beyond expectation, but still beautiful. Her so compassionate, so tender over me, and I parents had begun to look venerable, and am so easily jarred. I want them to be their tones in speaking to her reminded glad ; yet, when they are, their gladness her of the sacredness of her widowhood, hurts me. They see the sun is in my eyes, and of her deepened experiences of life. and draw the blinds again. O little

Where there was so much feeling, there Dingle! what childish sorrows drove me could not be many words; but she knew to you in the past, and God was so near that it was a solace to them to have her that I almost imagined His angels came brougbt in contact with their sympathy. down to earth with the sunset! But now,

• My poor child !' said her mother, O now! if I sleep it is on a stone, and my 'you'll find it a rest, darling, to be with heart is a stone ; for I, who thought myus; and you don't know yet all the comfort self so strong I could bear anything my that there is in resting.'

Heavenly Father gave me to bear, am • You and father are getting to an age found weaker than a bruised reed.' to know, mother.'

Is there ever a stony pillow that God's •So we are ; and the rest old people angels do not visit ? Yet we are not make themselves, Adelaide, is just the sort always aware of them, or of the strength of thing that troubled young ones require. they give. We think more of our heavenly home now Do you not sometimes feel out of than we did in the days when we had all patience with me, Hilda ?' she asked of our bright boys and girls abont us.'

one of her sisters, laying her head on her Adelaide lay on the sofa in a pleasant lap, as she sat at her feet in the dim kind of dream. She knew that her hand twilight rested in her father's. She had felt it Out of patience with you, dear? What good to have it resting there when she was does that gentle, uncomplaining heart find in peril on the sea. To what an insignifi. to accuse itself of ?' cance was that period of her life reduced ‘Of many things ; I thought I had now! There might be many years to wait learned a lifelong lesson when the shock for her release, but she must fulfil them came to me about Herbert.

You can and be patient.

never know how bitter was my self-reAnd yet she must believe that He who proach ; and I did rouse myself and endure bad smitten her so sorely was the most to what was the end for him bere ; but pitying of all, the most tenderly watchful mine seems a long, long way off, and I am of all. It was hard to bring her faith to as helpless as ever.' grasp that fact. 'Lord, I believe ; help It is to helplessness that help is given,' Thoa mine unbelief,' she murmured; and, said Hilda, tenderly. Don't fret about it, breathing that prayer, she fell into a deep, dear, or about us. It would hurt us to refreshing sleep.

know you were making any effort for our Adelaide had been too long separated sakes. God's help will come to you when from the home of her youth to readily you perhaps are least expecting it ; meanfind it a sphere of duty. She tried to act while you are not required to sit in judga childlike part to her aged parents, that ment over yourself. Mr. Forrester did not she might never have to reproach herself reproach you, I am sure.' for the apathy of sorrow that had be- No; but then he was so compassionate, nambed her wifely solicitude. Yet her so all-excusing. He had always estimated tenderest ministrations were, in spite of me far beyond my worth, and when in his herself, mechanical.

weakness and sorrow I failed him, as I did, Her first sad walk bad been to see the O miserably! he never saw the failure, graves of those of her family who

had been but made excuses for me, and cut me to taken since she left England. She shed the quick with undeserved praise.' no tears over them: she had none left to Hilda shrank from touching a wound so shed; but sbe planted the slip of a willow exquisite in its sensitiveness. She flung

laide, you have this solace : your dear ones have been removed; they have not been denied to you. You are the mother of a blessed child in heaven, and twelve of the best years of your life have been passed by the side of the man whom your heart taught you to prefer to all other. Thank God for all that intercourse, and let your mind dwell upon all that was glad and ennobling in it, as shut op in a sickroom you might begaile the time by travelling in imagination through all the beautiful landscapes you had ever visited.'

* Alas! the thought of the possession only brings home to me the magnitude of the loss.'

· And yet,

[ocr errors]

6

6

her arms around her sister's neck with the air of one who knows not what to say. Presently she perceived that Adelaide was weeping.

I cannot think,' she said at last, that your Herbert was foolish even in his love. He did not love you blindly, any more than you loved your little Bertie blindly. You would not have been indifferent to a fault in him. But let his affection for you have been ever so strong, it was nothing to the love the Father has for the child, the Elder Brother for the little sister. If the lower love excuses you, the higher does undoubtedly, and will yet speak comfortably to you.

Bat the higher Love is just,' said poor Adelaide.

Just and yet a justifier,' replied Hilda, reverently. That you should behave yourself quietly is as much, perhaps, as is at present required of you. It is as much as we, at any rate, have a right to look for; and you are, dear, quiet and very childlike.

• How good you are to me! I had imagined you, for all your kindness, saying to yourself: “It is time that Adelaide roused herself; she broods and gives way more than is good for her.” You know that we used to consider you the strong. minded woman of the family, Hilda.'

Hilda drew a short, quick breath, as if she had been inadvertently touched on a tender point.

The Hand that has chastened you has not all these years left me to myself, Adelaide, or the strong would not have brought forth sweetness.'

Adelaide understood the allusion. Earlier in life Hilda had been harsh in her judgments and overbearing in her family relations; yet she was generally allowed to be a fine character. The Hilda of to-day was finer, however, than the Hilda of whom Adelaide had been so proud, and yet against whom she had on occasion been extremely irritated. They bad had their quarrels, and Hilda's admission broaght them to mind,

* You must have thought me very selfish,' said Adelaide, because I have never since I came home entered into your past troubles ; but I have had no heart to enter on subjects which have been the burden of many a letter and of many an earnest prayer. 0, Hilda, what a selfish thing sorrow is ! They wrong prosperity who represent it as so much more dangerous than adversity. When I was happy in husband and child and home, I would have resented the imputation of selfishness. I wanted every one to be as happy as I was; but now I feel so cold and shut up to my own grief.'.

• It is not an ordinary one ; yet, Ade

"'Tis better to have loved and lost,

Than never to have loved at all," * said Hilda, with a slight tremoloasness in her voice. "And to love, and to have and to lose, cannot be so hard as to lose without having.' 'I believe you are right,' said Adelaide. You think that we are like children, who, crying for something that they cannot be trusted with, are pacified by being allowed to hold it for a little time.

*Exactly; it is having it withheld altogether that seems to me so exceeding bitter.'

"And that, my poor Hilda, has been your lot. Strange that a heart so slor to surrender as yours, could be won, in all seeming, only to be disappointed.'

Everything conspired to work the desolation,' said Hilda. 'I had no sooner been glad because of the gourd than it withered, yet I had no reason to be angry because of the gourd.' 'I wonder that you are so quiet.'

I was not quiet ; at first I raged; but I am very quiet now. How beit, Adelaide, if I could have had twelve such years of my life to look back upon, as you have had; the sweetness of the draught would have reconciled me to a great deal of bitterness at the bottom of the cup.'

* Dear Hilda, you do well to remind me of my mercies. Don't think that I have set myself not to be comforted because I do not more easily appropriate the comfort that is given.'

"I do not ; and do you not be evermore imagining that we are so ready to judge you.'

. My conscience is my accuser, and when Mrs. Woodly was here yesterday she said something that I know was aimed at me.'

I know,' said Hilda. * Yes, she asked me very pointedly if it was not bad for me to go to the Dingle so much. She had seen me passing so many times, and thonght I ought to have company.'

6

:

[ocr errors]

She sits so much at her window that it is not likely she ever misses you,' exclaimed Hilda.

* And then when you were all talking about that poor Mrs. Evans, and wondering whatever she would do with all those little children dependent on her, and her hus. band's affairs found in such unexpected confusion, she said it was all the better for her, that she would be stimulated to action and would not give way to the brooding and melancholy other women so anfortunately indulge in after their husbands are taken. It made me reflect whether really, if the strong hand of Necessity had been laid upon me, compelling me to work for the things that belong to this life, I should have been any better for it. In my heart of hearts I believe I should not. I might have done wonders with a little child to live for, but without-well, I might knit and sew, and perhaps put stitches in enough to keep me out of the almshouse ; but I could not engage in any higher work, let the emolument be what it might.'

'In such deep depression it would not be possible.'

So as I can't go to Sunday-school, or take a district, or engage in active work for the Lord, I am determined to work for His poor with my needle. You shall give me the work to do and be my almoner, In time I may be able to occupy what small talent He has given me; but at present-0, I hope I may not be con. demned for doing nothing better than a little sewing!'

The sound of an advancing step caused her to rise hastily from her careless position at Hilda's feet, Hilda lighted the lamp and drew the blinds just as the serFant entered with a letter for Mrs. Forrester.

What peculiar handwriting!' she said ; for the long tremulous letters and the horizontal black dashes caught her attention. “Yes, it is from Ralph Holyoke, one of the best friends my Herbert ever had.'

The sisters read it together. It was not the first that Mrs. Forrester had received from Mr. Holyoke since her husband's decease; but to the first she had not replied. Now the writer congratulated her on being at home, andexpressed a hope that hemight soon hear from her. Would it be painful to her to furnish him with such little incidents of his lamented friend's declining days as were not too sacred to be shared with another : fragments of that converse which to those privileged to enter into it had always been a rich spiritual and intellectual feast? The anxiety to have some of these dear memories of him which led him to proffer this request would not impel him to urge it.

Mrs. Forrester was

to be guided by her own feelings. He thought there was something more of a melancholy pleasure than of pain in chronicling the last words and looks of those who had passed away from us, leaving the memory of past years a richer scroll for all they had inscribed upon it. And, he added, apart from his close friendship with the beloved departed one, he was in a position to enter peculiarly into the sorrow of his chief mourner, for his own dear Annie was slowly sinking under the same disease, and the fellowship of suffer ing had made her anxious to know all she could of Mr. Forrester.

• When I look at my little ones, so soon to be motherless,' wrote Holyoke, 'I have a heavy heart. But you, who have recently graduated in the school of adversity, will know both my feelings and hers. I wish we could have you with us for awhile.'

It is not to be thought of,' said Hilda, in answer to a look of enquiry from Adelaide's eyes.

* But shall you write him the kind of letter he wishes, dear ?'

Most certainly I shall,' said Adelaide. 'It can revive nothing that is not ever present. I shall begin to-morrow and write slowly and carefully, for I should like to give Mr. Holyoke all the satisfaction I can. Somehow I feel as if I ought to go to Annie ; but what good could I do her? I have no spirit, and should only add to the depression.'

The letter expanded into a manuscript containing matter enough for a pamphlet. The epistolary style is generally the easiest to a woman's pen, for there is no inspiration to a confiding nature like the sense that it is telling its story in a sympathizing ear, and even the thought of making effort for another was consolatory to the writer in her morbid consciousness of general good-for-nothingness.

Mr. Holyoke was highly gratified by the touching memorials his shy request had elicited. To confide them to his own desk was like burying a talent in a napkin; so, having obtained permission from his correspondent, he sent abroad a pithy record of a life whose length could not be measured by the subtraction of the date of birth from the date of death.

Relapsed into a state of passive endur. ance, Adelaide had many a misgiving as to her duty to Ralph Holyoke's afflicted wife, Was the mere expression of sym. pathy enough? Might not the poor sufferer have an unspoken yearning for her help in this time of need? Yet her apathy was like the sleep of the trespassers on the

enchanted ground'; she could not shake it off.

• If Mr. Holyoke knew the dejection I

have sunk into he wonld not wish to have me near her,' she consoled herself with saying. If he knew what the sound of a child's voice is to me, and how hard I find it to break the silence, or to smile, he would never wish to bring me into contact with a sensitive invalid and a brood of little children. Such a test I dare not, I will not, encounter.'

So strongly did the voice of duty speak, that she mistook it for that of the Holyokes, and thought they arged ber. . Her mother suggested that they knew nothing definite of Mrs. Holy. oke's state. Perhaps she was not too weak to make a journey by easy stages, and might be persuaded to visit them. Change of air was highly beneficial to consumptive patients. To be taken away for a time from her little family and be well narsed by experienced people,

ght pro. long her life. For Adelaide's sake and for her own they would do everything for her that could be done.

Adelaide wrote, therefore, inviting her, but with a painful misgiving lest inability to accept such an invitation should make it appear hollow and anmeaning. Mr. Holyoke, however, gave her full credit for sincerity, though in reply he said, 'I see you do not realize my Annie's weak. nens.

This letter increased Adelaide's remorse for her unwillingness to go to ber, but it did not overcome it. They did not think hardly of her. They knew that she was crushed, and both perhaps imagined her to be influenced by motives of which she had become entirely oblivions. But a few weeks after, there came an appeal to which Adelaide could not remain inexorable : * My dear wife is worse. If you can come to us, do'

Her sisters took on themselves all the arrangements for the journey, remarking to each other while they did so that perhaps the visit to that house of moarding might take Adelaide out of her own tronbles. Adelaide, however, only felt as if there was required of ber a very bard thing. How could she, who had failed to appropriate the Divine consolation, bring it home to other hearts ?

The journey was long, and bad to be performed in stages. Tbe scenery through wbich she passed was beautiful, and its soothing influences penetrated her mind till the brooding melancholy was insensibly softened into a sweet serenity.

Then the very fact of being pat out of the quiet tenor of her home-life energized her, so that when sbe arrived at her desti. nation sbe appeared brighter and better tban she had done since she ceased to make effort for her husband's sake.

The last stage of the journey was made with Mr. Holyoke, who had come to meet her. The morning air was delightful, and filled with the song of birds. The har thorn blooms scattered lavishlytheir luscious perfumes. The vital breathing of that blessed Spirit, Who brooded over the dark waters, and is ever apholding what was brought out of chaos, might easily be dis. cerned by the spiritual mind. And did He not apply the Father's words of promise and good cheer to these hearts which had known nights of weeping and anticipated many more sach nights ? Whatever of the former things was dark and gloomy would pass away. The Lord God would wipe the tears from off all faces.'

S-was a retired nook in South Wales. The scenery around was lovely, and the breeze blew into it fresh and strong from the sea. Yet its cove-like situation screened it from east wind and north.

'I feel as if I were in a new world,' said Adelaide.

Adelaide found the invalid dressed and laid on a sofa in her own room, near s window that commanded a view of the bay. The children spoke with hushed voices, as if habituated to the restraint that their mother's invalid condition imposed upon them. They had rather a forlorn look.

The tears came into Adelaide's eyes. She could not find much to say to the children, but she would try to devote her. self to their mother. O, how hard for her to bave to leave all these dear ones!'

Their mother said simply, 0, I wish that you were coming here for good!!

It would not be desirable,' said Adelaide. I am not what I was when you knew me. I have grown very apathetic and good-for-nothing and selfish. However strongly I may wish to rouse myself, I can. not; neither is the power given in answer to my prayer.'

Båt she did not look so apathetic. A little transitory excitement had lightened the deep sadness of her face. Annie's eye rested lovingly on it. It had associations for her tender and sweet, and it was quiet a rest to her to look at it.

The invalid was usually very languid in the morning ; but towards evening a hectic Alush came in her face, the tone of bet mind was exhilarated, and she talked as freely as the cough and her shortening breath would allow. She asked Adelaide many questions about Mr. Forrester, after she had ascertained that she could bear to speak of him, and told her what strength and hope she had derived from the memorials. She never wearied in telling Adelaide of her own husband's goodness and unselfish derotion to her. Her long affliction had thrown a heavy burden ou

« AnteriorContinuar »