gentleman pooh-poohed at the idea of apoplexy; “ good old port never harmed when taken in moderation. Sixty years was a pretty time of life, with his constitution, to fear a disease of the heart! A man was in his prime at sixty. Ile was no more apoplectic than an oak tree!" Yet the old tenants, who remembered the father and his unlookedfor death, shook their heads; and the fond wife had learned to tremble at every noise, and start even at the sound of carriage wheels. More quiet, too, and yet more affectionate in tone and manner, were those fair danghters; as if the brave old oak, wearing still the fullness of its honors, was trembling to a fall.

At three P.m., a ring at the gate of the Deschamps' mansion announced visitors, Squire Bloomfield, Miss Bloomfield, Mr. Hugh Brompton. Marian met the party, holding her heart quiet, as if they had never separated in sadness or bitterness, and welcomed the Squire as a daughter meets a father, whose weaknesses, for love's sake, she must not see.

The “ Lady Superior of the Sloppery Convent,” as gossips had christened the radiant girl, did not betray, in sunny smile, or dimpled cheek, or merry laugh, that penance or conventual seclusion had made her less worthy of Hymen's blessing or Cupid's bow. Love seemed to have ripened in her abundant graces, and when, after a few hurried words, apologising for a brief absence, she re-entered, leading little Moll by the hand, while trembling, sobbing Mrs. Styles moved by her side as one who walks in a vision, the Squire did homage in his soul.

When afterward, Hugh and Mary, leaving Charlie's father in her charge, rode away in the carriage to execute some commissions in the High Street, the old gentleman more wearied than he liked to confess, reclined in a cushioned chair, served with refreshment by those delicate hands, he vowed a vow that Charlie should have the girl if he had to court her himself by proxy. At last more than a score of cheerful, girlish voices, accompanied with the pattering of little feet, bounding down the stairs, announced that the school-room was deserted for the play ground. Throwing open the casement and wheeling the great chair round to face it, the motherly maiden attracted his attention to the happy group, called them her children, and nar rated, as sunny faces passed along the gravel walk, of the filth, the squalor, the disease, and sin, and wretchedness, from which, one by one, they had been rescued; and then, as the heart was moved to its deepest fountains, and the Squire averted his face to conceal sudden tears, she led him to the other window, opening upon the Green, now bearing on its emerald the golden russet of the falling October leaves, and pointed out the spot where Charity Green had well nigh perished in the snow drifts on that Christmas night more than five years ago.

Returning homeward through the dusk of eventide, the image of Marian still floated before the mind's eye, as when she stood amidst the beauty of the sunset, crowned with a radiance of faith and self-sacrifice, more glorious to her blushing womanhood than coronet or crown. A new conception of the excellence of female character, devoted to charitable ministrations, from that time enriched the intellect. He could almost forgive his son for kindling at so pure an example and desiring to win a corresponding nobleness; nor was he ashamed to confess, as the dear wife of his youth wept and listened in the seclusion of their own room, that Marian Deschamps would not be a less worthy mate for any man's son in the land because she had trained herself in a generous hospitality to those whom God's providence had sent to be household guests; and not less fitted to rear noble children of her own, because, in beautiful girlhood, she had pitied the orphan, and discharged a mother's duties to those, like the launbs of a dead ewe, left upon the bleak March common of the world.



“Ugh! who made that ?” cried Neeshema, pointing to the heavens, fiery with the sunset; "the Great Manitou : me worships IIim.” Attired now in neat, befitting garments, holding in her hand the Book, all glowing to faith's enkindled eye with a brightness more intense than that which moves in the pathway of the sun, Charity Green was endeavoring to instill into the mind of the aged Indian woman, now sheltered and kindly cared for in a domicil upon the Prout estate, some true ideas of Him who came to fit us for Paradise in this life, and then to gather us, with His children of every age and clime, into the unspeakable blessings of the life beyond.

“Ugh!” cried Neeshema, still gazing at the descending luminary, flaming now above the crimson tree-tops with his last, bright rays; “Ugh! he goes to light the happy hunting-grounds. There is the home of Gitchee Manitou; there, in the lodges, there is no want of venison or succatash.”

Like curling smoke that purples from its gray mist as it ascends from some invisible altar, the floating clouds grew radiant in middle heaven. The squaw arose; threw the blanket from her aged person; the dark eye dilated; words of the aboriginal tongue, accents of a language soon to perish from the face of the earth, mingled strangely with the imperfect English of her latter days. “Ugh! it is good. The sachems have gathered round the council fires. They light the peace-pipe. Gitchee Manitou sits above the mountains, and smiles to see the warriors and the squaws. He smoke the calumet. Look! the red smoke from the peacepipe of the Great, Good Spirit.” Votary of Nature, rude worshiper of the unknown God, gathering around herself for a mantle the traditions of her forefathers, she wraps the dusky soul within them ere it sinks to sleep.

Image of the Nature worship, the Fetish worship, that is soon to pass away, the aged squaw might well be made its symbol. Upon the wrinkled brow and in the seamed countenance, a thousand passions linger like household ghosts above the ashes of the hearthstone. There falls upon her from that crimsoned Western sky no drop that reddened from the Divine affections, as the Man of Sorrows bled upon the cross, to mingle its healing with life's foul tides, and so to cleanse the turbid stream ere it plunges over death's Niagara. Its seamless glory shines on human ruins; its golden lights reveal the foul and creeping things that skulk and hide within the desecrated chambers of the breast.

The youthful teacher confronts the form of dusky age, type of the worship of God in Revelation-of Christianity, purified from every extrinsic stain that the world's evils have cast against it; with eye that sees through sunset glories to a brighter home; with hand that clasps a simple book that dropped from Heaven, and feels it transformed to a sacred Pharos and deluging with light the boiling oceans of the world.

As we gaze upon the Indian woman, she is evidently changed. The rum bottle, through Charity's gentle influence, is laid aside, yet the system is breaking up.

The Christian, when old comes, lives in the prospect. The youthful immortal stirs within its tenement of clay, and flesh and blood conceal the features of the unfolding angel. But the devotee of Nature lingers in the retrospect,-in visions of a youth whose years have fled, -in communion with dream-voices that long ago dropt away to slumber.

To Charity death is but a mysterious transition, to be with the Holy One, who dwelleth between the cherubim; to bask in the ardors of unshadowed day; to master the dialect of the Divine Intelligence; to expatiate in the delights of an all-diffusive and Infinite Benevolence; to live in the reception and the communication of her Lord's own bosom loves for evermore.

To Neeshema, if definite conceptions come at all, they point but to a renewal of a mere natural existence; to the clear river where light hands shall paddle the birch canoe; to the ground where the maize and the pumpkin shall come forth with little toil; to the forest where the braves shall start the quarry, and come home to the wigwam at nightfall to feast upon its flesh. Even this picture is but a shadow, filled in its fearful foreground with fantastic clouds. Sweeter it is, while life's frail bark whirls down the rapids, to avert the head from the dark waves rushing past the prow,-to sit with wistful gaze rivetted on the dim and misty shades of the receding shore.

The Christian stands elate and radiant, beholding, as earth's shattered pinnace trembles, and leaps forward, and disappears into the dark vortex, thousands upon thousands of gathering forms, all wearing a common likeness to the Crucified, clothed with His glory, triumphing in His victory. The frail spars break beneath the feet, while, soaring above the whirlpool, the mounting Spirit cries aloud, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

If the question, How shall a young man cleanse his ways? when urged home by the keen darts of the Divine Spirit, reveals boiling passions in his young blood that can only be conquered by superhuman power, the problem, How to build up the life-ruin of three score years into cathedral

« VorigeDoorgaan »