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and ready wit when he was in any doubt himself,
and to trust Ada to her care—that he now asked whether it were not rather a divided life he was leading, and whether, between his wife and sister, it was not the last who held the highest place? This is scarcely what one looks for in a perfect marriage. It was Margaret who was his companion, his intellectual comrade . while Ada played with the baby or botched kettleholders and urnstands; and they were Margaret's thoughts which he sketched on the canvas, Ada standing model for the heads and hands.
It was Margaret too who taught the children when they were old enough to learn, and who calmed down their little storms, and nursed them when they were ill. Ada only romped with them, laughed with them, let down her hair for their baby hands to ruffle into a mesh of tiny ringlets, kissed them as they rushed past, or stood terrified and weeping by the cot where they lay sick and sad in illness. But the real discipline and the real work of life she never helped on. When the eldest child died it was Margaret who watched by his pillow the whole of that fearful illness: it was Margaret who bathed his fevered temples, placed the leeches on his side; and dressed that red and angry sore: it was Margaret who raised his dying head, and laid him quietly to rest in the narrow coffin forever: it was Margaret, wom and weak with watching as she was, who consoled Horace and soothed Ada's tears to a sobbing sleep; who ordered the details of the funeral, and saw that they were properly performed. All steadily and strongly done, although that pretty boy had been her godson and her favorite, had slept in her arms from the first hour of his birth, and had learnt every childish lesson from her lips. And it was only at night, when the day's work was done and all others had been comforted, that Margaret suffered herself to sit down with her grief, and give vent to the sorrows she had to strengthen in action.
And when that debt, for which Horace had been bound, became due; the friend to whom he had lent his name failing him, and the lawyers sent bailiffs into the house, it was Margaret who calmed the frightened servants; who restored Ada, fainting with terror, and who arranged the means of escape from this embarrassment, by giving up her own property; every farthing she possessed barely covering the claim. A sacrifice Horace was forced at last to accept, after much delay and much anguish of mind, not seeing his way clearer out of the strait, and unwilling, for Ada's sake, delicate as she was just now, to brave the horrors of an arrest. So Margaret, who had always been the giver and the patroness, had her world reduced to dependence; of itself a sore trial to a strong will.
In every circumstance of life it was the same. She was the good angel of the household, without whom all would have been loose and disjointed; to whom love gave the power of consolation, and suffering the might of strengthening. Yet Horace and Ada lived on sightless and unperceiving; satisfied to taste life—enjoying that
gentle epicurean thankfulness which accepts all blessings lovingly but without question, and never traces the stream which waters its garden to its source near the heavens.
Ada's summons had sounded; her innocent and loving life was sentenced to its end. Useless on earth, but asked for in heaven, she must die, that sha may be at peace. And it was in mercy that she was taken away; for age and care were not made for her. They would have made life more tiresome than she could support. l)ut this last little blossom, although it looked so fragile, broke down the slight twig on which it flowered, and the young mother and her baby passed to heaven together. The light had faded away and the shadow fell softly in its place.
What had passed from Horace 1 A child; a sunny landscape; a merry laugh; a tamed woodbird; something very lovely but not necessary; something loved more than himself, and yet not his true self. With Ada, all the beauty and the joy of his life had gone; but the spirit remained. Not a thought hung tangled in his brain for want of a clearer mind to unravel it: not a noble impulse fell dead for want of a strong hand to help it forward. What he was with Ada he was without her; in all save pleasure. She had been the delight of his life, not its inspiration. It was beauty, not nobleness, that she had taken with her: love, not strength. It made even him— unreflecting artist, man of impulse as he was, stand by that grave-side wondering. He knew how much he loved her. He knew his whole heart and soul had been centred on her and her alone; but he almost shuddered to find that one part of his being had been uninfluenced by her, and that his mind was not wrecked in the ruin of his heart.
Ada's death made Margaret's path yet more difficult Of course she was to remain with Horace. He could not understand existence without her; and the world would not be ill-natured to a wife's sister; so unlovely and so ancient in her spinstcrhood. Not even the most suspicious prudery could imagine a love that had been given to the fairy Ada, that darling child of Nature, transferred to the tall thin figure clothed in the scant black dress, with even the once magnificent tresses turning sadly from their purer beauty, and silvered now with white hairs. No, she might remain there safe enough, the poor Margaret! Who cared to know that she had loved with that one deep powerful love of a neglected heart; that she had bound herself to a daily cross when she accepted agonies without name and without term, that she suffered and was still? Who caret) to praise her strength or to honor her heroism! Not even they for whom she had suffered. The sacrifice had been accepted; but not even a garland had been prepared for the victim. Without pity and without praise for her own deed, she must be contented without reward.
Time went on; and, excepting that Horace was graver and more watchful of his sister-in-law, with a certain indefinable tenderness at times, and then a rigid coldness that was almost like displeasure at others, there was no change in him since his wife's death; neither in their position with each other, nor in Margaret's place in the household. For strong souls the ordeal of life never ends, and Margaret must pass through hers to the end.
On a certain soft, still summer's night, Horace and Margaret, for the first time for many months, went on the lake together, the little Ada, the eldest now of that fairy world, with them. They rowed about for some time in silence, the child saying to itself pretty hymns or nursery rhymes, muttering in a sweet low voice, like a small bell tinkling in the distance. They landed on the island where, years ago, they had landed with another Ada. The moonlight now, as then, filled the wide sky and rested over the whole valley; and, again, of all the things that stood in its light, Margaret was the only unlovely thing. But Horace had changed since then.
They sat down on the rustic bench, the child playing at their feet.
"Years ago we sat together, Margaret, on this same bench," said Horace, suddenly, "when I asked my destiny at your hands. I have often thought, of late, that I asked it amiss." He spoke rapidly, as if there was something he wished to say, and a weight he wished to thrust off his heart.
"Amiss, Horace? Was any life happier than yours? The sorrow that has darkened it was not a part of the destiny you asked from me."
"But now, now, Margaret," he cried impatiently.
"And now, Horace, you have a life of duty."
"Margaret, Margaret, give me your strength! This gray life of mine terrifies me. It is death I live in, not life."
"Learn strength, then, by your sorrow," she whispered. "Be content to suffer in the present for the gain and good of the future. Leam that life is striving, not happiness; that love means nobleness, not pleasure. When you have learnt this well enough to act it, you have extracted the elixir from the poison."
As she spoke, a heavy cloud wandering up from the east, passed over the moon, and threw them all into the shadow.
Margaret turned to Horace. "To-morrow, my dear brother," she said, smiling, "the shadow of the moonlight will have passed away, and we shall be in the full light of heaven. The present, Horace, with its darkness and its silence will lead us into a blessed future if we have but faith and hope in ourselves, and in each other. Let us go; I have long learnt to suffer; you are only beginning. Lean on me, then, and I will help you; for the task of self-denial and self-suppression is hard when learnt alone and in silence."
She held out her hand, clasped bis, and carried it to her lips, affectionately and reverently, adding gently—'' A sister's arm is a safe guide, Horace. Lean on it never so hardly; it will bear your weight, and will neither fail nor misdirect you."
"Sister," sobbed the artist, "blessed though that name may be, one must walk over the graves
of hope and love to reach it; my feet refuse, Margaret—I can not!"
"We will walk together, Horace, and I will show you the graves which I have strewn before me. Come!"
THE KIND OF PREACHING THAT DOES GOOD TO THE POOR.
JAMES FIELDING was the son of a potter, and bred up to his father's trade. He married young—long before he could keep a wife— and with both his parents' consent, or rather with their forgiveness, as they could not help themselves. For, as they said, it war very nat'ral, an' he might ha' done worse: 'twar, to be sure, the first time, an' belike he wouldn't do it agen. And so they cordially shook hands with him, and pledged the pretty bride in a flagon of old Burton, and were both present at the first child's christening. But the cholera came soon aftCTward, and took off the old man and his wife. This was the opening-scone of James Fielding's sufferings—want—pestilence—and death. His wife and himself were soon afterward both seized with the disorder, and, though they recovered slowly, it was only to find their father and mother, and first-born child, removed from their once comfortable home to the churchyard, and they themselves with feeble bodies and accumulated debts, which had run on wildly during sickness. First, James was put into jail for the doctor's bill, and then the landlord distrained for rent, and turned them on the world; and so they were ruined.
To be in prison, never serves a man; he gets a habit of shifting and shuffling, and leaning, and talking, and idling; he has the short hand-inthe-pocket walk, and the hang-down look of a jail companion; he is never a man again. James Fielding came out of Stafford jail a changed character: more clever and less capable of work —daintier, but not so refined—prouder, but not more honorable; the edge was taken from the mind and given to the appetites; nevertheless, he was a fond father, for he shortly became one again, and a loving husband to a wife who doated on him. But a thoroughly fallen man seldom rights himself, and bankruptcy is a break-up for life in the constitution of successful industry. James Fielding labored, but his toil was thriftless; he found friends, but, one way or other, he let in every body who had any thing to do with him. By degrees, he got, as was natural, a very bad character, and, as is generally the case under such circumstances, without altogether deserving it. He was an unfortunate, but not an evil man; and we all know how falling bodies quicken in their descent.
Still, he was a man born to suffer, and to cam his bread by the sweat of his brow. Men of all countries, stations, and fortunes, labor—from the serf to the lord—and Fielding's destiny was only that of bis sex. But the gentle, pretty girl, whom he had taken from her father's home to comfort and cherish, to keep his fireside clean, and to nurse his little ones around him—her lot
THE KIND OF PREACHING THAT DOES GOOD TO THE POOR.
was not cast by God for labor, for toil and moil, and anguish; yet who can tell what arrows of grief pierced that woman's heart during her twelve years apprenticeship to wifehood! Who shall describe the unwomanly miseries, alas, too common in England! of her daily shifts and struggles, her pigmy gaunt looks, her thread-bare clothes insufficient to protect her from the winter weather, her hard day-labor, her sharp endurance of her children's hunger, and forgetfulness of her own: her long, sad catalogue of distresses, compared with which the pains of childbirth, and even the death of the child at the breast, are nothing, being feminine sufferings.
This poor woe-begone mother stood before good curate Godfrey, one of a noiseless wayfaring body of Christian men who make little stir beyond their own parish, but are there constantly felt and heard of; the true disciples of the Father of the poor, the world's first teacher of quiet charity.
"He be goin' fast, indeed he be," said Mary Fielding, speaking of the potter, who had been down some weeks in a low fover. "'Tis hard to lose the father of one's child'en. I could ha' borne any stroke but thisn. Every where is a churchyard now—the life is dug out o' me."
"Do not murmur, but think of the past. I remember christening some of those children, when he and you were full of health and joy. In this journey of life, Mary, there is no hill without its hollow. Your neighbor Susan Jackson will not have to mourn the loss of a husband, ibr she has never known the love and protection of one; and when she goes, she will not leave orphans to grieve for her. But, for all that, Susan is very lonely and destitute, and says nobody cares for her."
"Mayhap; but Susan Jackson can't be sorry for what sho never had; and poor folk didn't ought to be fanciful. 'Tis me, sir, partin' wi' my husband, that should fret."
"But you should remember, Mary, that when James and you were married, it was on the condition yau were to part one day. We must not forget the ninety-nine favors because the hundredth is not granted. The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away."
"Oh, sir, 'tis beautiful to hear ye talk; you alway say summut so comfortin', feelin', an' sensible like. One is ashamed to grumble afore you, 'tis so selfish and ill-natured."
"But how are the little ones, Mary?"
"I can't say much for 'em, sir—they be but poorly."
"They have had some food to-day, I hope?"
"'Tis early yet, sir." It was past mid-day. "But indeed they hanto well."
"Did they eat any thing last night before lying down!"
"Baby had a sup o' gruel out o' James's cup, but Billy an' Jacky, an' the t'other ent had nothing."
"Oh, sir, God be praised, I am used to it. Ten years is a long 'prentisage. 'Tis surprisin' how the famine feeds itself. An' then, the chilVet. IX.—No. 53 —U o
dem's cries, an' him a dyin', drives the thought away from me. I ant got the hard stomach o' hunger, sir; 'tis unfeelin' in a mother."
No wonder she did not feel the gnawings of want; sho had passed her being into other existences; she had lost her identity in the wife and the mother.
"Well, well, we must do something for the children, Mary."
"Oh, sir, I did na come for that. What I wants is work. You ha' comed atween us an' death many's a time. But indeed, what I am hero for, is, afore Jeames goes I wish he could sec you, sir, an' talk wi' you a bit. His mind be strange an' uncomfortable like, about religion."
"I thought him a believer, Mary."
"Mayhap he be; but men tell their wives what, if they could, they would hide from God, an' I ha' hecrd him say awful things; he war always so courageous like. Howsomdever, his hour be come, an' he ha' losed his darin, an' believes jist like a child. I thought if he could on'y see you, sir."
Mr. Godfrey rang the bell. An aged, but notable servant woman came.
"Martha, bring Mrs. Fielding a little warm bread and milk."
"Oh, no, no, sir! 'Tis only my way, what you soc in my face; I war alway' palish like— leastways this many a day."
Martha, who had promptly obeyed her master, returned in a few minutes with a basin.
"There, take that gently, Mary; it will warm you."
"Will you forgive me, sir? Indeed I can not. It 'ud choke me. The child'en—the poor hungry child'en, sir!"
"They shall be thought of." Mr. Godfrey loft the room, returning shortly after with his long surtout buttoned closely up, and a small parcel in his hand.
"This contains a loaf, Mary—and something else—you know what to do with it. Let me have the ticket when I call, which will be in the course of the evening. Leave me now."
The comforted mother looked on Heaven's minister and then up to heaven, and passed noiselessly through the small door, with faith, hope, and maternal love—the threo strongest pulses of the heart—to support her. She had had the only full and perfect lesson of religion—charity. But she did not know, until she got to the pawnshop, that the poor curate had taken his only waistcoat from his back to feed her children. Then, indeed, the tide of religion came strong upon her. So true it is, that one act of kindness is worth a volume of sermons in converting people. The curate's vest was a baptismal robe to the unregenerated spirit of Mary Fielding, the freothinking potter's wife.
It was on an evening in the middle of June that Mr. Godfrey passed along to the potter's cottage. There had been some smart refreshing showers during the day, and the grass was healthily green, and the flowers were vigorous and balmy, and here and there was the restless uneasy chirp, in the tree or hedge, of the young bird in its nest. The sheep were settling down for the night in the meadows; and the cows, after milking, were scattered over the distant pasturages. At intervals there was an unyoked horse exulting in abundance and freedom. The poor saluted Mr. Godfrey as he passed, and the rich cordially greeted him, for he was universally beloved.
"All God's works arc beautiful and happy," said he to himself, as he wound among the green lanes, and gazed upon the broad benignant sky. "Man alone makes the world miserable. I can not think the design of Providence was to make the chief of a joyous creation wretched; there must be some key to human felicity. The departing sun shines on these dingy cottages, and the few straggling flowers bloom cheerfully, and cast their sweetness abroad on the air. Outside is God's work; within, is man's."
And the curate entered the cabin of James Fielding, the potter.
There had evidently been preparations to receive him. The clay floor was newly sprinkled and swept, and the few articles of crockery and china, nearly all misshapen, or otherwise defective, were as clean as the pebbles in a river. The children's faces, hands, and feet—for they had no shoes—were all fresh from the washing-basin, and their hair was sleekly combed across their foreheads. There was evident poverty, but an equally evident wish to conceal it. Not a vestige of furniture or ornament was in the room, beyond the few articles of earthenware mentioned; all the rest, to the three-legged stool for the baby, had either been sold or burned for fuel. There were three or four hassocks of hay for seats, but these too had been preyed on for fuel, and ran out at the sides; and there were some layers of chipped, dried-up straw, as a bed, in the corner. On this was stretched the dying man. The eldest boy ran to borrow a chair as Mr. Godfrey entered, and the thrifty housewife had just drawn the old rags from the three lower panes of the glassless and only window in the hovel, to let the sun and air in. This was the abode of an Englishman in the heart of England.
The patient had been propped up somewhat on his straw, and a neighbor had shaved him and lent him a shirt, which, though old, was clean. So, what with well-washed skin and combed hair, and a cup of refreshing tea, he was prepared to receive the curate's visit in something of a decent and Christian manner. One of the boys was in, or rather on, the bed—for there was no covering —from sheer nakedness. He partly nestled in the straw, and was partly concealed by the rags taken from the window; he was contented and happy, for he had had the blessing of a full meal: a rarity in the hut of the dying potter.
The curate took the chair borrowed for him, placed it by tho bedside, and leaned toward the sick man.
"Well, James, hew do you feel now?" "Better, sir, thank you, but still weakly. God will bless you for what you ha' done. 'Tis mony
a long day sin' I could prove my gratitude to any
"Never mind that. The Searcher of all hearts knows your intentions, James."
"Yes—true! But d'ye think God heeds a poor critter like me? "
"Undoubtedly. Our Father."
"Ah!' Good—good. But I never found a true friend but Him and yourself, sir—they all forsook and misbelied me. I never was as bad as people made me; He knows that, and the children. One's hearth is a fair assize."
"True, a fond husband and a kind father can not be a very bad man. I never believed you illdisposed, Fielding."
"No, bless thee for it, and He will bless thee. Ye ha' made me a Christian; the ways o' the world made me an infidel long ago. A man kindly treated, feels like a Christian, sir."
"But we must give up resentments now. I see by your countenance you will soon meet your God. Prepare, Fielding, for that great judgment."
"Yes, I know it will come soon, an' that ha' changed me. But, indeed, sir, I am aweary of the world. If it war not for her and the children, I had gone years back."
"The Christian religion always supposes poverty and suffering, James. Were all the world sinless and happy, the Atonement had been useless."
"I can well believe thisn o' thee, sir. If yer wer dumb an' blind, yer han' would preach; 'tis the on'y sarmint as goes home to a hungry man. Fine words be o' small account. But when a rich parson, or a bishop, or such, as never gives, an' never suffers, tells starvin poor fellows like me to bear their crosses, as the only road to heaven, it looks like humbug, sir. If heaven is to be won by poverty—sartintly nothing is so easy for 'em as to give all they ha' more than enow, to feed the hungry, an' comfort the afflicted."
"Ah, James, this is bad grace in a dying man. It is enough for every one to look to himself; to bear his own burden, and to know that in the midst of trial, and sorrow, and suffering, he can have recourse to One who knew them all on earth. This, surely, is fair comfort."
"It be, sir. 'Tis at the point I am at now, a man feels he must believe in some religion, an' there is none so nat'ral like as our own. A dyin' man is not a doubter. I wish I ha' been o' this way o' thinkin' long ago—'twould ha' made me content—an' a contented man is a regular man, an' a regular man is a toilsome man, an' a toilsome man is a thriving man; but when one begins in grumblin' one ends wi' sorrow. Mary dear, gi' me a drink. I feel faintish."
The curate took the teapot from the yearning and attentive wife's hand, and the fevered patient, from the broken spout held to his mouth, drained the vessel greedily, till the few leaves at the strainer whizzed with their dryness. Ashe drank, Godfrey had an opportunity of observing his countenance. "This man," said he to himself, "was formed for a lofty destiny, but with him ignorance has marred nature. When will man vindicate the purposes of God to his fellows? When will England provide education for all her people?" As these thoughts passed rapidly through the pastor's mind, the sick man spoke with a fainter voice, but with renewed energy: "' The spirit war willing, but the flesh war weak.' Well, sir, I know I am a dyin'. I war never a coward, but I does fear death. 'Tis like a goin' over a common one don't know, on a dark night—there be none about you but sperits."
"Keep your eyes steadily on your guiding star, James. That light sufficeth."
"I believe, sir. 0 Lord, help my unbelief."
"Thank Heaven for those words," said the curate; "and now, Fielding, since you are in this good frame of mind, I must tell you one thing that will lighten your last moments. Old Mrs. Williams is getting too aged for the parish school, and as she is to retire on a small pension, I have secured the post for Mary. I know she will fill it well. This will keep the welf from the door, and I will look to the little ones. So you sec things are not so bad as you expected. You will leave thoso dear to you pretty middling off, and they will remain, under Providence, to be a blessing to themselves and to their country."
"Thank God, thank God! My soul is at peace now. She is provided for, and they, too. Read to me, sir, please; 'twill rouse me up—I feel drowsyish."
The curate opened his pocket Bible, and in a sweet low voice read from the fourteenth to the seventeenth of John. As he proceeded, the little boy peeped up from his straw, and sucked in the words. The sick man opened his stiffening lids from time to time, and murmured a prayer from unparted, motionless lips, which sounded strange and unearthly in the small chamber. The pale wife, with hor infant daughter in her lap, wept silontly; and the little boy, Jemmy, was seated on one of the worn-out hassocks, holding the candle, which was stuck in a bottle, for the good pastor, as he read. The other boy was gone of an errand for a neighbor. Night had set in, and a gentle breeze fanned the chamber through the open door and paneless window. People glided cautiously by, from time to time, urged by pity or curiosity.
After about an hour's stillness, the sick man stirred, then tried to sigh, but the groan died within him, and for a time he whispered; but nobody knew what he said. At length, after the curate had applied a few drops of moisture from an orange to his lips, he spoke audibly.
"I was dreaming, Mary, as we war happy with God. The children had enow to eat; they givo me my good name back agen; an' we were all very happy." After a pause, and much internal muttering, he resumed with a perceptible spirit of energy, although his spent powers made him scarcely audible. "Oh, Mr. Godfrey, if more would, like thee, on'y come and see the poor, an what they suffers! Tell the lads, sir, to wait a bit—but to struggle on, for there is hope for the working man. An' bid the rich folk consider the laborer, an' the parsons to be all like thee, an'
England will be right. Mary, a drink, dear: the heart is as dry as a cinder within me."
His wife brought him a little cold water, into which the curate squeezed some orange juico.
"Mary! To our Father I commit thee, girl, when I am gone. I am dead afore I am dead, leaving my Mary. Kiss my forehead, girl. "God bless thee! Comfort these little children, God' they be orphans now."
And he prayed inwardly. In that hour he had no succor but prayer, and the remembrance of any good he had done in his life. The baby was crying on its mother's breast, and the candle trembled in the hands of the weeping boy who still held it. The wife was still and pale; her heart was being rifted from her. The curate had bent his knee in prayer, and comforted the dying and the desolate.
LADY AMBER MAYNE.
AH! how beautiful were the young girls of my youthful days. Perhaps it might be from the style of dress, which I shall always think was piquante and elegant, notwithstanding that little Mary looks at a print of the Lady's Magazine for 1777 with grimaces and exclamations of "What frights!" What is there in the freedom and ease of the modern belle to compare with the rich petticoat, the looped robe, the flowing sacque, the jaunty lace kerchief, half revealing, half hiding, the snowy neck, or the rich ruffles, showing off the rounded arms? Even in the tedious headdress and the elaborate coiffure, there was a dignity and majesty of beauty quite unknown in the present day. Then grandmothers dressed like grandmothers, and did not ape their juveniles; then class had some distinction. All were not confused in heaps of cheap and gaudy finery Every thing in female atlire was good and durable, lasting out sometimes the life of the wearer, but always appropriate to her age, station, and appearance. And also with regard to female names, there were many pretty simple appellations, quito unknown to us in our time. The youngest daughter of the Marchioness of Summerdown had one of these quaint, pretty names —Amber !—and what a lovely creature she was! The first time I ever saw her was on the occasion of her coming to our establishment to choose a court-dress for her approaching presentation. She had then just attained her eighteenth year, and was a great heiress; for though the Summerdown family were never rich, and not likely to be then, the marquis being lately deceased, and having left no son to inherit his honors; yet a maternal uncle, who had been resident in India, and had amassed one of those fortunes which seem now all but fabulous, had left this vast wealth to the young lady, Amber Mayne. On the occasion I speak of, her slight figure was hidden by the marchioness, a lady of much presence, and who was haughty and pompous; and, indeed, I knew not that any one was with my Lady Summerdown, till, on her ladyship desiring, in a haughty voice, to see some rose-color paduasoys, one of the sweetest voices I ever heard said, as