Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and in a moment the passionate sob was hushed—the lowering brow lighted—and the household in peace. Older hearts owned the power of the piety so far surpassing their thoughts; and time-hardened sinners, it is said, when looking and listening to the “Holy Child,” knew the error of their ways, and returned to the right path as at a voice from heaven.

Bright was her seventh summer—the brightest, so the aged said, that had ever, in man's memory, shone over Scotland. One long, still, sunny, blue day followed another, and in the rainless weather, though the dews kept green the hills, the song of the streams was low. But paler and paler, in sunlight and moonlight, became the sweet face that had been always pale; and the voice that had been always something mournful, breathed lower and sadder still from the too perfect whiteness of her breast. No need—no fear—to tell her that she was about to die. Sweet whispers had sung it to her in her sleep—and waking she knew it in the look of the piteous skies. But she spoke not to her parents of death more than she had often done—and never of her own. Only she seemed to love them with a more exceeding loveand was readier, even sometimes when no one was speaking, with a few drops of tears. Sometimes she disappeared—nor, when sought for, was found in the woods about the hut. And one day that mystery was cleared; for a shepherd saw her sitting by herself on a grassy mound in a nook of the small solitary kirkyard, a long mile off among the hills, so lost in reading the Bible, that shadow or sound of his feet awoke her not; and, ignorant

VOL. II.

U

of his presence, she knelt down and prayed—for a while weeping bitterly—but soon comforted by a heavenly calm --that her sins might be forgiven her!

One Sabbath evening, soon after, as she was sitting beside her parents at the door of their hut, looking first for a long while on their faces, and then for a long while on the sky, though it was not yet the stated hour of worship, she suddenly knelt down, and leaning on their knees, with hands clasped more fervently than her wont, she broke forth into tremulous singing of that hymn which from her lips they never heard without unendurable tears :

“ The hour of my departure's come,
I hear the voice that calls me home;
At last, O Lord, let trouble cease,

And let thy servant die in peace!” They carried her fainting to her little bed, and uttered not a word to one another till she revived. The shock was sudden, but not unexpected, and they knew now that the hand of death was upon her, although her eyes soon became brighter and brighter, they thought, than they had ever been before. But forehead, cheeks, lips, neck, and breast, were all as white, and, to the quivering hands that touched them, almost as cold, as snow. Ineffable was the bliss in those radiant eyes; but the breath of words was frozen, and that hymn was almost her last farewell. Some few words she spake—and named the hour and day she wished to be buried. Her lips could then just faintly return the kiss, and no more-a film came over the now dim blue of her eyes — the father

listened for her breath and then the mother took his place, and leaned her ear to the unbreathing mouth, long deluding herself with its lifelike smile; but a sudden darkness in the room, and a sudden stillness, most dreadful both, convinced their unbelieving hearts at last, that it was death.

All the parish, it may be said, attended her funeral — for none stayed away from the kirk that Sabbath—though many a voice was unable to join in the Psalm. The little grave was soon filled up-and you hardly knew that the turf had been disturbed beneath which she lay. The afternoon service consisted but of a prayer—for he who ministered, had loved her with love unspeakableand, though an old greyhaired man, all the time he prayed he wept. In the sobbing kirk her parents were sitting, but no one looked at them and when the congregation rose to go, there they remained sitting—and an hour afterwards, came out again into the open air, and parting with their pastor at the gate, walked away to their hut, overshadowed with the blessing of a thousand prayers.

And did her parents, soon after she was buried, die of broken hearts, or pine away disconsolately to their graves ? Think not that they, who were Christians indeed, could be guilty of such ingratitude. 66 The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away_blessed be the name of the Lord !” were the first words they had spoke by that bedside ; during many, many long years of weal or WO duly every morning and night, these same blessed words did they utter when on their knees together in prayer—and many a thousand times besides, when they

were apart, she in her silent hut, and he on the hillneither of them unhappy in their solitude, though never again, perhaps, was his countenance so cheerful as of yore—and though often suddenly amidst mirth or sunshine their eyes were seen to overflow. Happy had they been- as we mortal beings ever can be happy—during many pleasant years of wedded life before she had been born. And happy were they-on to the verge of old age -long after she had here ceased to be. Their Bible had indeed been an idle book—the Bible that belonged to sthe Holy Child,”—and idle all their kirk-goings with " the Holy Child,” through the Sabbath-calm-had those intermediate years not left a power of bliss behind them triumphant over death and the grave.

OUR PARISH.

NATURE must be bleak and barren indeed to possess no power over the young spirit daily expanding on her breast into new susceptibilities, that erelong are felt to fill life to overflowing with a perpetual succession—an infinite series—of enjoyments. Nowhere is she destitute of that power—not on naked sea-shores—not in central deserts. But our boyhood was environed by the beautiful—its home was among moors and mountains, which people in towns and cities called dreary, but which we knew to be the cheerfullest and most gladsome parish in all braid Scotland and well it might be, for it was in her

very heart. Mountains they seemed to us in those days, though now we believe they are only hills. But such hills !—undulating far and wide away till the highest even on clear days seemed to touch the sky, and in cloudy weather were verily a part of heaven. Many a valley, and many a glen—and many a hollow that was neither valley nor glen—and many a flat, of but a few

reen acres, which we thought plains—and many a cleft waterless with its birks and brechans, except when the

« AnteriorContinuar »