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and it became evident that the new-comer was a treasure of priceless value. The teachable spirit, the quick, comprehensive intellect, the patient, humble, reverent disposition, the rare loveliness of person, made it a joy instead of a burden, to care for her well-being. Then the finder lost her treasure, not when guarding it, but when beguiled by pleasant fancies from her home. The child was stolen in the night.
“Still listen: This young girl, whom you know, then stood still and asked forgiveness- asked that a Wiser Mind than her own might henceforth plan the future and direct each daily action. That humble petition received its response: 'I have given you health, youth and fortune, not for your own pleasure, but that your
be a home for friendless orphans, your wealth a means for their maintenance, your mind devoted, your powers directed, to their training in the practice of virtue and the love and fear of God.'
"Perhaps the one of whom I speak had indulged in daydreams: perhaps it cost a pang to venture on so stormy and perplexing a sea, - to say-good bye-to you.” Here the true and tender heart gave way, and the voice ended in a faint, sobbing moan.
“Marian, Marian, for God's sake don't break my heart.”
Slowly the reply came, at first with difficulty, the words growing more clear, more touching, more assured, as the sacred inspiration of duty swept through the spirit, touching all its chords to music, enkindling all its clouds to flame. “My father was a lover once, and vowed as fondly as ever you can. What came of it? The love that had but the desire of the eye for its support was but a momentary matter. Warm lovers become cold husbands. Do not interrupt me. This is no time for hasty words. A young girl's first duty in life is to ask her God that she may be guided in all things by His Holy Spirit. Oh! Charlie, had my conscience been
clear that I could devote myself to making your life happy, the words that you seek to utter about cruelty and inconstancy would never be spoken.
“Now, I am not going to say farewell forever. Neither of us are much more than children. Your love is not tried, nor is mine. If, seven years from to-day, each with matured character, and both resolutely and firmly bent on living for others, and striving not for our own but their good, my friend remains unchanged, let it be as God shall will. I bind you by no promise. Till then neither nay or yea.”
Once more the lover made an effort to overcome this pitiless resolution. It was without avail; yet the bright glow kindled in the cheeks again and the kind hand grew warm, while suffering faith seemed radiant with tender, human love. The morning waned and still their interview continued. Now came Eros, the celestial, and while his earthborn counterfeit forever fled away, two hearts, that needed but this high discipline to blend for ever, felt the mysterious attraction of a common duty, pointing onward to a common fate.
“Marian,” said Charles, "I too have a confession to make; and now listen to me. Five years ago I wrestled for months in secret with the conviction that my life's vocation was the priesthood. If I prayed by night it grew to be an agony, and, by day, unless by an effort of will removed, the presentiment that, if I ever filled my true place in the world, it must be as a teacher of religion, followed me continually. Sometimes now, and never so forcibly as at this moment, the early impression returns. I find 2 war in my own spirit.”
The minds of these young people grew transparent to each other. Courtships that have merely the natural impulses for their fount of life are like dreams produced by opium, or the excitement of wine. The intoxication may be sweet, while it lasts, and a new Arabian Nights of gorgeous imagery may fill the waking hours of both with an imagined happiness. Duties may grow stale and irksome, while each anticipates the bridal altar and the honeymoon; but, alas! the play is soon over, the guests gone, the brilliant lights extinguished, and the hollow stage remains, while the faded actors bicker, perhaps, in weariness of each other, behind the scenes.
“Charles,” said Marian, “ answer me one question—To whom do we owe our first duty ?” There was no excitement, no enthusiasm, in the reply; perhaps a tone of sadness; it was frank nevertheless —“First, to God.”
The lovely questioner went on, " How do you suppose He teaches us ?” Again the reply came no less explicit : "Accepting the Bible as God's word, I must respond, That is the oracle. Of course from a worldly point of view I should say otherwise ; consult expediency, personal interest and pleasure.”
“But, my friend, what does the Bible mean when it tells ns to forsake all things for Christ; father, mother, husband, wife, children, houses, lands?”
The color mounted to the young man's cheek. means, if interpreted in a plain, unequivocal manner, that we should hold all things secondary to the first great end; living to do God's will, with singleness of heart, in whatever vocation he has selected for us.”
“But, once more, how shall we know what the vocation is ? and now answer from the deepest thought.”
“By the Holy Spirit of God, moving upon the conscience, enlightening the understanding, and quickening the affections. This at least is the doctrine of faith upon the subject.”
“Now, then, Charles Bloomfield, your true words are my resolutions. If you hear that Marian Dechamps is founding a convent or becoming an avowed recluse, remember all that she has said. I look on marriage as a holy
ordinance, not lightly to be entered into, yet, when God gives the fitting associate, as blessed, and thrice blessed. Those only have reason to expect God's blessing on their union, who, faithful to the inspirations of duty, wait His own time. Till you, in calm deliberateness, have decided on acting in accordance with conviction, and devoting your life, without regard to questions of expediency or self-interest, to whatever calling the Divine Spirit indicates, courtship would be but a temptation. I require all the strength which comes through prayer, to walk, with unfaltering feet, onward, in my solitary way. You require the proof of separation in order to decide, without bias from my inclinations, what your course of life should be. Go, then, Charlie. When our seven years of noviciate have expired, if we both relapse into the love of the world, you will have learned to look on this affection as a boy's folly. Perhaps we both may. If, at the end of that time, our souls have grown, in God's ways, purer, wiser and better, the ripened judgment and the steadfast will having learned to hold all things as secondary to Heaven's purposes, you ask for Marian, that secret oracle which moves my steps bids me say, 'Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.'"
Shall we venture on adapting a text of Holy Writ to that parting: “They wept sore, and fell on each other's necks, and kissed each other, sorrowing for the words which they spake, that they should see each other's faces no more."
FAITH AND UNBELIEF.
There is a legend in America which runs somewhat after this manner: In the most disastrous period of their Revolution, when, encamped in Winter quarters at Valley Forge, the Continental Army had dwindled to a scanty handful of starving, freezing, discontented, almost disheartened men, the illustrious Washington, seeking guidance from Heaven, used to spend a portion of every day in the seclusion of the woods, in prayer, finding thus superhuman guidance. Young Bloomfield, with a heart almost bursting with grief, like one to whom familiar things had become unreal, halted his horse in a clump of woodland on the way, entered the thick coppice, knelt beneath an ancient beech whose sheltering branches kept a little spot secluded from the snow, and there the spirit of his youth returned with sevenfold power. He prayed for the resolution to forget Marian, if it was God's will; to receive wisdom to decide upon his own vocation, in freedom from the spell of her beauty, the fascination of her voice; and then for grace to be content with any lot.
It was the Winter of his hopes. The young birds that make music in the breast were dumb. Anteros, with his baleful spell, had ied away, while the true Eros lit only an invisible flame. Then musing, as the good steed took its own pace without the guidance of the rider, first came the thought, I am unworthy of her. whe, but a slender girl, can brave the world, and sacrifice her youth for a guiding