ePub 版



[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]



I knew one exception to the adage respecting a prophet being without honor in his own country, and among his own kin; for though we had all known Edward Clarence from his very infancy, so pure and spotless had his life been, that we felt for him a profound respectalmost a reverence. He had just finished his theological studies, and the village church was crowded when he preached his first sermon for us. But he was too conscious of the dignity of his office, and too much absorbed in the message he delivered, for embarrassment. It seemed almost wrong to think of it then, but oh, there was a heavenly beauty about him, as he stood before us there. You would never have called him handsome, as we generally speak of fine-looking men; still less would you have dreamed of applying to him the puerile epithet, pretty. A glance of his dark eye thrilled you to the soul, and there was that about him which at once impressed you with a sense of his superiority to common men. With what a deep and earnest gaze were Eunice Millmore's eyes fastened upon the preacher's face! It told how well she loved him, and I knew her heart was full of joy and thankfulness in feeling that she was to be the wife of such a man. But Mrs. Millmore was an invalid, and Eunice was the oldest of a large family of children, to whom she supplied, as well as she might do, her mother's place.

She would not leave them until her next younger sister, then about sixteen, and away at boarding-school, should return home, and be able to take charge of the household. And though Edward was about to become pastor of a church at the West, and would gladly have gone accompanied by her, he did not seek to change her resolution. But the ardent desires, and the bright hopes of usefulness which they both indulged, were not to be fulfilled. Edward had inherited from his father a consumptive constitution, and many had prophesied that his life would be but short.

He had the ominous cough, the humid breath, and the flushed cheek which tell of the

destroyer's coming. Dr. Millmore, the father of Eunice, had observed these threatening symptoms with much anxiety. To him Edward confessed the torturing pains which he had borne for months without a word, and reluctantly coincided in the opinion that his anticipated labors must be relinquished, and that perfect relaxation from study alone could save his life. The cold bleak winter was coming on, and in the weak state of his lungs he would not be able to endure it. So when Autumn had thrown her Iris-hued mantle over the forest, he bade farewell to Oakville for the sunny South. Sunny South? There was no sunshine for him like that he left behind. Dr. Millmore only hoped that thus his life might be prolonged. To save it, he knew to be impossible. The deeply loving spirit of Eunice Millmore was burdened by a weight of anxiety for him, and of grief at her own anticipated loss ; yet she bore it all with a “meek and quiet” submission, and, instead of yielding selfishly to the indulgence of her sorrow, exerted herself even more than before to make all around her happy. Her smile was a little saddened now, as her bright hopes of happiness were being clouded over, but it was just as sweet.

Spring had come again-bright, beautiful Spring. The trees were all loaded with blossoms, and the sun was shining gloriously. Alas! how many hearts could not reflect the brightness, or echo back the song. I had gone to Dr. Millmore's to inquire when the invalid was expected to return. Eunice was in the nursery, and I followed her there. “ Edward is coming back to-day,” shouted Minna, as I entered, “ but Eunice is not very glad.” Eunice looked up, and her eyes were full of tears. “Oh, Mary,” she said in a low tone, that the children might not hear," he is only coming back to die.” Yes, doubt was changed for certainty. He must die. Even his mother, who had accompanied him to the South, and who would so gladly have disbelieved the truth, had given up the hope of his recovery.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Edward was changed indeed.

He was greatly emaciated, and when we saw him, every lingering hope that he might yet be well, was gone. Dr. Millmore entreated Mrs. Clarence to remain at his house with her son, that the invalid might be near both her and Eunice. It was a pleasant arrangement for all of them.

The twilight shadows had stolen into the still room where the sick man sat alone. The door quietly opened, and Eunice, gently and softly, like a shadow, too, glided in, took the seat beside him, and laid her hand in his.

Eunice,” said he, “I have been thinking of you all the afternoon-thinking of you as you will be when I am gone.” He paused a moment, and then went on. " You think that you can never love again, that you will never marry ;


selfish heart has, until now, delighted in feeling that it would be so. But nou, Eunice, I hope that you will hereafter meet some one to whom you can give your heart ; some one who will love you as well, yes-for he can do no more— love you as well a3 I have done. A woman must love to be happy, I think.” He looked into her eyes, and read there a love which time nor death could not destroy.

“Yes, Edward," she replied, “a must love to be happy. But why should I cease to love you when you are taken away? Will you not be living still, and will not my affection for you be purer and holier when I can think of you as 'made perfect' in Heaven? This affliction has been, will be, I know, blessed to my soul. The earth has lost its power to allure me, and I will no longer look to it for my joy. And will not Heaven appear brighter and more attractive when you are gone before me there ?

During all the summer Edward had been able to walk and ride a little daily, but when autumn came he was closely confined to the house.

On the morning of one bright October day, Eunice answered my inquiries as if afraid to trust her voice. “I have just come from his room.

He told me, and my father thinks, that this day may be his last.” And when the sun went down that night, a brighter, purer orb went more gloriously to its setting. It was my privilege to stand beside that death-bed. Edward's eyes, now wonderfully bright, were turned to each loved one as he spoke his parting words. Then they were fixed upon the face of Eunice. At length, as if her image were

engraven on his soul, and he needed no longer to behold her with the outward eye, he looked upward into Heaven. Yes, into Heaven. An expression of triumphant rapture passed over his face, and then we knew that the spirit had gone from its perishing temple. But that gleam of glory rested still upon the marble face. A placidity and a smile often linger sweetly upon the brow of death, but this was more. All remarked it as most unusual. It told of the opening Heaven. Oh, how the blow was sostened to those bereaved ones by the hand of the great Physician! Not one of those whose hearts were fastened upon the lost one with such devoted tenderness, would have called back the glorified spirit to a world of sorrow and of sin.

And the hearts already bleeding were smitten once again. Mrs. Millmore's sufferings were ended at length, and her long tried spirit “ entered into rest." And when I saw Eunice, submissive, unrepining, even cheerful, performing all her many duties, striving to console her father, who deeply mourned his loss, seeking in every way to shed sunshine on the lonely way of the widowed and childless mother of her lost lover, and being truly as a mother to the little ones left to her charge, I felt that she was indeed but “ little lower than the angels."

rolled away, making many changes. Eunice had stood beside the death-bed of Mrs. Clarence, but she toiled on as cheerfully when another hand that guided and supported her was stilled, and another voice that cheered and encouraged her was hushed.

Her early friends had married long ago, and now, by universal consent, she was an old maid. Ten years more had gone, and even the youngest of the household band had left her for another, “ a dearer one still, and a nearer one yet than all others.” The following is a letter addressed to me by Eunice, on her fortieth birthday :


Ten years

Oakville, Oct. 3, 184, MY DEAR MARY:—You are thinking of me to-day, I hope, and remembering that this is my birthday. Yes, I am now forly years old. Yet it is not a sad thought to me, that of growing old. If I am indeed a child of God, “dying,” to me, will be “but going home.” Shall I not then rejoice when I am borne one year nearer to my Father's house ? I long for the peace of Heaven. I long to meet there “the

[blocks in formation]


loved and lost." And are there not many to welcome me? One, I know, will meet me at the portal, who never, since he went away, been forgotten for an hour. I would not call him back to me, but oh, I could go to him. My work will soon be done, and I, too, shall be there. But I must answer your questions, and " tell you everything," as you requested. Henry Murray, sister Margaret's oldest boy, is with us now, together with two of Lucy's children, and Carie's little girl. We have a merry household, I assure you. Dear father is perfectly happy, and devotes himself entirely to the amusement of his grandchildren. He is seventy now, yet still “ his eye is not dim," and he is quite erect. The privilege of making him happy, of " smoothing the pillow of his age,” how can I be sufficiently grateful for this? And I do think that I am not thankful for the temporal prosperity of my dear sisters, and more, for the hope that each one of them is a Christian. It was hard, very hard for us all, to bid our dear, our only brother farewell when he left us and all that he loved on earth, as a missionary to the heathen, but even amid our tears we could bid him “Go."

Yes, I rejoice that he has gone. You cannot have four pages to-day, Mary.

You inquire about blind Lucy, widow Brown, old Mrs. Milford, and my other protégés. They are all well, and happy, I trust. This afternoon we shall ride to W— I wish to take the children through the asylum. Lucy will be delighted to have us come. She always inquires about your Eunice, as “the dear little girl who gave up her doll that she might help you, Miss Millmore, to send me here.” Mary, you must surely let one of your children spend this winter with me. I shall have some of iny nephews and nieces, I think. Tell Eunice that Rover and the cats have become good friends, and that they dwell together in harmony. I have all an old maid's passion for pets, you know very well.

“ I am sorry that I cannot fill my sheet, but Henry and the other children stand at the bottom of the stairs, telling me that the carriage is ready, and urging me to come.

So I must go, you perceive, from this pleasant tête-à-t te with you, my dear friend.

Yours in love,



[blocks in formation]




labors of the day. Oh! what bright looks and love-lit smiles do each of these countless walls witness, for those who within them have found rest for the “soles of their feet," which the rough cold world refuseth them. “ Blessed be home, sweet home," the true sanctuary of the heart. We may search through the wide world, and ne'er find it elsewhere. And what a strange commingling of life is thus thrown together—the sound of music, and the voice of mourning, joy that a being is ushered into the world, and the wailing of grief that another is leaving it, returning to the sleep from whence it first awakened. Perchance beside us is performing some dark and startling crime, which the eye of day would shrink back abashed from viewing. Thus joy and gladness-sorrow and despair-despair, human bliss, and human misery—the living and the dying—the good and the evil-all are mingled together in the crowded city, the mighty buman heart on which I gaze.

For the last half hour I have been standing at my window, gazing upwards at the quiet loveliness of night. The deep blue sky spangled with sparkling gems; their brightness undimmed, save by those light fleecy clouds that skim along so gracefully, floating isles of loveliness, perchance where rests enshrined some wandering fay, whose airy home hangs like a snow-wreath on the brow of heaven.

I have withdrawn the light, that the moon's silver radiance may wander in. See ! how it peers in through every nook and crevice, dancing along the walls in grotesque ray forms; now it lurks behind the picture frames; and anon shines on the canvas, while the faces of the loved and lost grow beneath the witching light more soft and tender. Fancy is busy! It is her hour-with an old familiar grace she unconsciously arranges every object; and I almost expect to see the pictured countenances step from among the shadows, assume the shapes of reality, and resume again their accustomed places. Ah! this witching night is far more dear than the broad glare of waking day,—the heart goes forth with a yearning for sympathy, that will not be stifled, a yearning for the loved one's presence, whose remembrance the faithful heart treasures as does the camel the water he has drank in the desert. We would shadow forth from time, from distance, from the grave itself, those we have so fondly cherished, but for these echo alone repeats our vain mourning and lamentation, while the dark silent grave mocks at our grief.

Let us forth, for I know of nothing more delightful and instructive, than a moonlight ramble through the city on such an evening as this. A quiet calm pervades the whole, as though the stillness of heaven had passed into the deep hush of night, while the earth sleeps peacefully, her mighty throes at rest beneath the mantle eve hath flung around. The noise and confusion of day hath ceased as though nature had breathed a charm over all.

A light gleams from every dwelling, each house, however humble, still a home, from whose walls breathes forth a blessing of love and truth. Crowds are hastening along, perchance the toil-worn merchant and weary laborer, wending their way homeward. to forget, in the fond embrace of wife and child, the cares and

Contentment is a blessing not to be slighted, and the harbinger of every joy and virtue we possess. It smooths the rough places of earth, and makes the crooked ones easy to walk. Melancholy and gloom breathe an unhappy tone over the mind, which is no more natural to it than that the heavens should be always hung with black

Silent be the tongue that would echo, There is no joy on earth. Blessed be God, happiness and peace have never forsaken this nether world, created so beautiful and perfect that the inhabitants thereof should be filled with the fullness of joy evermore, praising Him who hath done and " doeth all things well,” whose divine mandate proclaimed it

very good," sin-stained and fallen though it be. Who will contemn our glorious world, -fit work for an all-wise and powerful being, whose unfathomable wisdom decreed that sin and wrong should dwell upon the earth, and for ever contend with the mighty spirit of truth and right, and the spirit of love that rules over all.

The lofty mountains crowned with perpetual verdure, sunny plains, murmuring streamlets, the vast expanse of ocean, the music of birds, the perfume of flowers, and the spirit of beauty whose step lingers among all-prove


« 上一頁繼續 »