THE ELDER BROTHER.
MRS. E. E. BOYD.
* * * * *
BOSTON: BRADLEY & WOODRUFF. 234 & 236 CONGRESS ST.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by HENRY HOYT, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
CHAPTER I. New Year's Eve, 5
CHAPTER II. Differently Constituted, 19
CHAPTER III. Guy or Christ, 38
CHAPTER IV. Little Philip, 47
CHAPTER V. What happened one day, 53
CHAPTER VI. Death,—Then Life, 69
CHAPTER VII. Guy gives his views in full, 78
CHAPTER VIII. The Young People's Association, 92
CHAPTER IX. A Day of Pleasure, 111
CHAPTER X. Miss Smithers comes, and a Surprise, 129
CHAPTER XI. The Young People's Excursion, 144
CHAPTER XII. Pete's Slavery and Freedom, 157
CHAPTER XIII. Rev. John Jay delivers his Message, 166
CHAPTER XIV. Weeping may Endure for a Night, 175
CHAPTER XV. "But Joy cometh in the Morning," 191
NEW YEAR'S EVE
HE had gone, the good old year! It was no wonder people sighed as his pulse beat slower and slower, for he had brightened many hearts and gladdened many homes. If he had brought sadness and heart-ache to some, it was only that he never once failed in any duty. Taking from the hand that had given him life-joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, crosses and ease, he gave unto each one what the Master designed. But it happens very often that the rosy morning ends in a night dark and tempestuous, while the clouds that greet our early waking, are followed by the bright shining of the sun. And there is no life which would not be more bright and joyous, if it only opened the windows and let the light God means it to have, shine in.
So there were sighs and regrets as there always are, when one who has been true and kind, has left us forever.
Out on the frosty air floated the sound of bells. Merrily, joyously they pealed forth to welcome the new life that had just dawned, while from far and near the guns gave out their noisy greeting.
Sad hearts brightened, tearful faces smiled. With their old friend had gone the old life; they would throw aside regret and be brave and strong. Among an assembly of silent worshippers knelt two sisters side by side. It was as if they had gathered round the bedside of a departing one, trying to catch the last look and to hear the last sound, the stillness only broken by sobs from wrung hearts. Tremblingly their girlish voices united with the multitude, as with a covenant-keeping God they renewed their covenant in the words:—
"Come, let us use the grace divine, And all with one accord, In a perpetual cov'nant join Ourselves to Christ the Lord;
Give up ourselves through Jesus' power His name to glorify, And promise in this sacred hour For God to live and die.
The cov'nant we this moment make, Be ever kept in mind; We will no more our God forsake, Or cast his words behind.
We never will throw off his fear, Who hears our solemn vow, And if thou art well pleased to hear, Come down and meet us now.
Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Let all our hearts receive; Present with the celestial host, The peaceful answer give.
To each the cov'nant blood apply, Which takes our sins away; And register our names on high, And keep us to that day."
At the words, "We will no more our God forsake," the voice of the eldest suddenly failed, and burying her face she sobbed aloud. The other seemed to have gathered strength with every word, and now as she sang:—
"We never will throw off his fear Who hears our solemn vow;—"
her voice rang out clear and steady. To her sister it already had an air of triumph, and caused her to look up wonderingly into the face so full of trust and holy purpose. The clear, bright eyes met her tearful gaze; there was a pressure of the hand as entreatingly she said, "Sing, Ruth; the Lord is our strength, He will help us."
Re-assured and comforted, Ruth sang, "To each the cov'nant blood apply," thinking of her sister's words, and feeling already His help.
The New Year's hymn was sung, friends looked into each other's faces with words of cheer, and then separated. They went their ways to carry out their purposes, and with them went Ruth and Agnes.
The girls were orphans. For ten years they had been motherless, and several years previous their father had died. They had no one but their brother Guy, not even a distant relative, and this made them cling very closely to one another. One day when Guy was in a very gay and gracious mood, he took his sisters by the arm and whirling them round sang, "Lovers three are we, no truer could you see," to which Ruth laughingly added, "And we'll faithful be, Guy, Agnes and me."
But they were not demonstrative. That is they rarely kissed each other; they did not show their love in these many ways that are so beautiful among brothers and sisters. Somehow they had never learned them, for their father had been a stern, forbidding man, who would have called such things "Stuff, and Nonsense," and their mother was very timid, looking up to her husband in everything. She would not have dared to teach her children these endearing ways. Sometimes she said "dear," and kissed them, and O, how their hearts filled up with love! It made them happy for days after. But they always knew she loved them even more than words or caresses could express, and they gave her back the strength of their young, loving natures. When she left them they drew up closer to each other in thought, loving silently, yet with greater intensity.
Guy, the eldest, was twenty-two and Agnes eighteen. He had just been admitted to the bar, and expected to stand high in his profession before long. His sisters were sure if any one rose, he certainly would, for he had not only ambition but talent, and in speaking of "our Guy," they dwelt on the name with great tenderness and pride. He assured them that no one had made a higher mount at first than he, having rented a third story room, and as the girls did not know much about such matters they were quite satisfied.
Agnes was confiding, truthful. "Saintly," Guy called her. She did not know how to reason about things as Ruth, she said, and "of course was not so wise;" but withall she was stronger and wiser, for she had learned the true wisdom of leaving everything in the hands of God, knowing that He could better order them than she. And knowing this, she did not question His providences, although they were many times painful and hard to understand. He was to her always a loving Father, and she wanted to be to him a loving, dutiful child.
Ruth was intensely earnest and more practical than Agnes. She believed in the exercise of judgment and not such entire dependence upon the Lord; the latter kept one weak she thought, and she did not see the sense of doing anything that she could not quite understand. So in spiritual things she very often took her own way, but it did not satisfy; her life seemed a life of failure, while Agnes never appeared to be disappointed. They often talked to each other about these things and Ruth felt strange after their talks and more confident of success, but her unsanctified will, her efforts at self-government brought the same result as before.
Guy was not a Christian, he had not even gone much to church since he began to study law, but he was a good, kind brother, and the sisters were sure he would come out right some time. If they had given the reason of their assurance, Agnes would have said, she prayed for it and believed that God would answer prayer, while Ruth's reply would have been, "He is our Guy, and of course he will die a Christian." The girls did not talk so much to their brother as to each other; he could not understand their "spiritual talks," and his life and theirs were after all so different. But when he spent an evening at home as he occasionally did, their joy was extreme. Agnes then was sure the Lord meant to answer her prayer very soon, and asked to be directed so that she might draw her brother to Christ by her consistent life. Ruth exerted herself to the utmost to entertain him. Watching him very closely to see the effect of her efforts, and being rewarded by some such remark as: "Ruth, you are becoming quite brilliant; it will not do to have you cooped up here; you must see more of the world."
That satisfied her; she knew she was doing him good, and she would not stop at anything to accomplish her purpose. For while she was not so keenly alive to spiritual things as Agnes, she saw as Agnes never appeared to see, the danger there was of his being led astray, knowing how few real Christians were to be found in the legal professions.
The girls had had many struggles during the last few years, even since Guy commenced the study of law. And he had not been without his difficulties. It had been a hard fight between his love of profession and love for his sisters. So that many a time he resolved to throw aside his books and earn a livelihood in some other way, any way rather than have them helping him. But whenever he mentioned it, they seemed so distressed that he yielded the point, resolved to study with more earnestness so that one day they might be proud of him. He did not know already how proud they were, or what pleasure it was to make sacrifices for him; for they never hinted at the self-denial they were called upon continually to practice.
It had occurred to Guy's mind frequently that he ought to spend more time with his sisters, that being alone, their evenings must be dull; but home always suggested that which he wanted to drive from his thoughts as much as possible; hard toiling and sacrifice on the part of his sisters. If he kept this before him constantly, he reasoned, it would so dishearten and depress him that his chance of success would be naturally lessened. Indeed his spirits must be kept up or he give up altogether. When he began to make money, things should be very different; he would devote himself entirely to them. But with diplomas, fortunes do not come, and so it was rarely that the girls had their brother home with them. When they did, we have seen how it cheered and re-assured them.
On the death of their father it was ascertained that very little support was left for his family, and Guy entered a store at a very small salary, while Ruth was compelled to remain at home on account of her mother's delicate health. She managed to obtain a few scholars, however, and every month had a little to add to the general fund. Agnes, then too young to support herself or others, continued to go to school, and in time received a teacher's certificate. But as she was not yet old enough to obtain a situation in the public schools, she helped Ruth with hers which had increased in size, making quite a good appearance in the second story back room.
They were at that time living comfortably, when Guy, who had never liked the store, expressed his ardent desire to study law. He was rather surprised to find the readiness with which his mother consented, and the eagerness of his sisters. Speaking truthfully, they thought him far above his present business and much preferred that he should have a profession. So it was not long until he was in a lawyer's office. Then their mother died. It seemed a very cruel thing to Guy that she should be taken away just now; if she could only have lived a few years longer to see her son a great man; he had determined to repay her for all her devotion.
Ruth soon had to do without her assistant when Agnes, with a bright, cheerful heart, went out into the world "to help Guy and Ruth." And now the sisters are teaching, while "Guy Gorton, Attorney at Law," mounts his three flights of stairs daily, with a great deal of hope, and as large a share of importance.
NEITHER of the girls could tell which awoke first on New Year's morning, for as Agnes said at the breakfast table, when they looked at each other they were both awake.
Guy declared it was no wonder she graduated with such high honor when she was so extremely wise; and Ruth gave it as her opinion that she always had been a most precocious child, relating instances, some of them so amusing that with the recollection came a general outburst of merriment. "Do you remember the time the Millerites were making such an ado about the world coming to an end, Guy, how she went to mother and asked if it twisted itself round and round until it came to the end?"
"Don't I though, and the day she asked mother if vertigo meant a monkey. When mother told her no and laughed, she said it must be some animal, for she read in the paper that a man went up into a tree and while there was seized with vertigo."
"And the day she was transferred to another school, when she said she had a note of transubstantiation."
"Yes, and"—Guy was about to continue, but Agnes declared she was not going to sit there as a target for their fun, and ran laughing out of the room.
"What are you going to do with yourselves, girls?" asked their brother, as lighting a cigar he prepared to go out.
"O we are going to stay at home and have a nice time; you know holidays don't come very often."
"Well, you women folks have queer ideas of a nice time, if that is what you call staying in the house. Why, it is enough to make you stupid. Fix yourself up like other girls, and promenade; that is what I mean to do."
"What, fix yourself up like other girls?" demurely asked Agnes, glad of an opportunity to pay him back.
"O precocious child, I must be careful!" and he started for his promenade.
"Be sure to be back at one," was Ruth's reminder, and then the girls began to plan their "nice time." "I'll wash the breakfast dishes, Ruth, while you make the beds, you tuck the counterpane in so smoothly and have the pillows so straight," and Agnes, with sleeves pinned up and crash apron on, began her work. Her heart was very light, and as she worked she sang:—
"Behold I come with joy to do The Master's blessed will; My Lord in outward works pursue, And serve his pleasure still. Thus faithful to my Lord's commands, I choose the better part, And serve with careful Martha's hands, But loving Mary's heart.
Though careful, without care I am, Nor feel my happy toil, Preserved in peace by Jesus' name, Supported by his smile: Rejoicing thus my faith to show, His service my reward; While every work I do below, I do it to the Lord."
Ruth went up stairs and carefully spread the counterpane and arranged the pillows, but she did it mechanically. She was thinking of what Guy said about "fixing themselves up like other girls." She wondered if he was dissatisfied with their appearance, and if that could be the reason why he so seldom went out with them. Then he said they would become stupid if they did not go out more. If she could be sure he did not think them stupid now, she should not care. But he could not think so, for he had told her she was brilliant, and she knew she was gayer and more entertaining to him than to any one else, while as for Agnes, she was too good to be stupid.
"I should like to dress better just for his sake, now that he is a lawyer," she said with a little thrill of pleasure and pride. "Of course he will have a great many friends and they will have to see us sometimes. But—" here there was a pause and a deep sigh, "O, he does not know how little we have to dress with, if we would keep out of debt. There now, Agnes is singing and I am doing I scarcely know what," she added, as her sister's voice reached her. She did not hear the words, if she had heard they would have helped her. As it was, she chided herself for beginning the year so badly and hurried down stairs to help prepare dinner. Both she and Agnes decided it must be the very best dinner they ever had, for Guy liked good things, and on school days they had to live plainly. If the pudding was not plum pudding, it would be "almost as good," and they set to work gleefully stoning the raisins and beating the eggs.
"Wouldn't it be nice if we could live this way always?" said Ruth, as she put a large raisin in her mouth.
"Yes," replied Agnes, "but—"
"Now, Agnes, do leave the buts and ifs out once, and say that you would really like it."
"Well, yes, I am sure it would be very nice not to have to think and plan so much about our way of living, and sometime I almost wish we had more money for your sake and Guy's, but—I can't help it, it will come," as Ruth made an impatient gesture—"indeed, Ruth, I should almost fear to be rich."
"Why, for fear of losing your religion? I thought you had more faith."
"Yes, perhaps that is the reason, Ruth, my lack of faith on this point. If I consecrated all but my money to the Lord, I might fear, for it would not bring happiness with it, but God's grace can dim even the shining of gold to the Christian, so that neither the eye nor the heart may be held by it."
"It is when I look at the pitiful way in which it is doled out, even to Him who gave it, that I dishonor God by having such thoughts. After all, the grace of submission which we need, Ruth, is as hard to learn, as any lesson that might come with riches; don't you think so?"
Agnes left the room for a few minutes and Ruth did not reply. But the thought took possession of her mind. "The grace of submission, that is a hard thing to learn indeed, at least for some people. I wonder if any one ever submits willingly, or if it is not because when they reason about it they find they cannot do better. I don't know about this thing of having no will of your own: some people require greater strength than others. Now there are Agnes and I so very unlike; she could not manage and plan nearly so well as I. So it is necessary for me to have more strength of will because I have no one to depend upon. If we had more money it would be easier to be amiable and sweet, for then I should not be perplexed. But I must need a great deal of teaching, or rather a willingness to be taught, and that is the reason I can never see or feel like Agnes in spiritual things."
Such a sense of want, such a longing came into her soul, that she almost cried out; but Agnes returned, and driving back her emotion, Ruth went on with her preparations.
With the greatest care Agnes set the table, bringing out the best china, and arranging and re-arranging until she was sure everything was right, then she and Ruth found it was time to dress.
"Fixing up like other girls," still ran in Ruth's mind, and going to the wardrobe, she selected her maroon colored merino dress, because Guy said it suited her complexion.
"Your best dress and lace bow," exclaimed Agnes, who considered herself quite well dressed in her black alpaca, though it had been turned, and a blue neck-tie.
"Yes," replied Ruth, "my best dress and lace bow. Extravagant, isn't it? Promises well for the year?"
"One would think you expected somebody."
"So I do; a gentleman."
"O, Guy, you mean; but what is the reason you have your best dress on?"
"Indeed that is the very reason. I don't know for whom I should want to dress, if not for Guy."
"Of course, Ruth, we should do more for him than for anyone, but you are so careful of your good clothes, and so seldom wear them at home."
"Well, I have been thinking perhaps I had better pay more attention to my appearance. Fix up a little more to be like other people, I mean. One feels better satisfied with herself when she is looking well. And then, Agnes, as Guy goes more into society, I fancy he is becoming fastidious."
"Yes, I suppose so," returned Agnes, re-arranging her neck-tie. "How do I look, Ruth; does this dress look shabby?"
"Shabby! one would scarcely know that it is not new. You always look well dressed; but it takes a great deal of fixing to set me off."
Guy's face showed his approbation as he glanced over the table, and his "Why, girls, this is a feast fit for a king!" carried with it, greater pleasure, than the most graceful compliment from other lips could have done. After dinner they walked out together "to see the New Year," Guy said; and the girls felt sure that he must know all the great men of the town, he bowed to so many. Then he was not the least ashamed of his sisters either, Ruth thought, and she became quite animated, so that Agnes, who knew nothing of the reason, wondered at the unusually high spirits. She was very happy, for she was with the two she loved best on earth, and it seemed such a glad beginning to the year. She smiled, talked, and looked to where Guy pointed, seeing beauty in everything, even in the ragged children who begged pennies as they passed along, for an inward light gave the charm, and a sweeter voice than that of brother or sister, made gladness. Several visits were made that afternoon to old friends who urged them to stay for tea; and it would have been pleasant, the girls thought, but Guy appeared anxious to go home, so they yielded very cheerfully. Guy had been planning a delightful surprise for his sisters, and he meant to make the announcement at the tea-table.
"Now for home and an early tea," he said after making their last call.
The girls brightened at the thought that home was really becoming attractive to Guy, and although they had thought it would be pleasant to free themselves from home duties for one evening and enjoy it with their friends, they lost sight of their own wishes in their great desire to please Guy.
"It is the best place after all, isn't it?" said Agnes, looking at her brother, who was holding the door for his sisters to enter. But his hasty, "Yes, hurry up with tea, girls," gave a new turn to their thoughts. Perhaps after all he meant to spend the evening out.
"Wouldn't it have been delightful if we could have staid at Borden's?" asked Agnes, sitting down at the foot of the bed, her favorite seat, as she untied her bonnet.
"Indeed it would," was the reply. "I don't know when I ever wanted so much to stay. We might often go out for tea if it were not for Guy, and that is one reason I wish we could keep a servant."
"A servant would not be company for him, Ruth, he would not come home at all for tea if we were not here. But if he cared more for our friends he would be more willing to visit with us. I don't think, however men care to be from home at meal-time, and I am so glad Guy is not dissatisfied with our plain way of living, now that he sees so much style and moves in such a refined circle."
"Where would be the use in being dissatisfied, he knows it can't be helped," was Ruth's reply as she turned to leave the room.
"I thought you were hungry," remarked Ruth, as Guy refused one or two dishes that were handed him.
"Not very," was the reply.
"Well that was cool, hurrying us home as if you were on the point of starvation, and now acknowledging that you are not hungry," said Agnes, laughing.
"O, I only wanted you to have tea over soon, so that we could go out."
"Out!" exclaimed both, "where?"
"To the theatre, there is a splendid bill for to-night. Look your very best girls."
A deathlike silence followed this announcement, and as Guy had finished, he rose from the table and went into the parlor, leaving his sisters sitting there. When he had gone they looked at each other. "O, Ruth!" said Agnes, sorrowfully. And Ruth replied, sharply, "Well?" but it had a sound of pain as if she had encountered some terrible sorrow, yet meant to bear it.
"He will be so angry," continued Agnes. "O, I wish we had staid at Borden's. Hadn't we better tell him now that we cannot go?"
"You can tell him for yourself, Agnes," and Ruth began removing the dishes with as much haste as if she were eager to go.
"And you, Ruth?"
"I am going."
"Ruth, you certainly cannot mean it. Going to the theatre and you a Christian, and this is the first day of the year. O, Ruth, remember last night and your covenant." Her arms were round her sister now as though she would hold her back from evil, but Ruth shook her off, and ran hastily up stairs to the school-room. Locking the door, she walked up and down the room, with hands tightly clasped and a face expressive of the strongest conflict.
"Last night, and your covenant," yes, she remembered only too well. But was not she right in this? Guy would go to these places and he must not go alone. Her sister was the best one to go with him. He could never go wrong if she were with him. What was the use of praying that he might become a Christian, and leaving him to go alone as he chose. No, she would win him over. He should see that Christians did not have to attend church and pray all the time, for that would make him dislike religion, but that they were like other people, only better.
When all this was settled, she began her preparations tremblingly, thinking how very plain her dress would be compared with the handsome dresses, to be seen there, but determined to appear well for Guy's sake, and not to let him know the struggle she had passed through.
As she left the school-room and ascended the short flight of stairs leading to their bedroom, she heard Agnes and Guy talking.
"She is telling him," she said. "O, I wish I could be Agnes! but we are differently constituted, and there are different requirements made of us. Agnes does the praying, and I must make the efforts, the sacrifices."
Yes, Agnes was telling her brother. She had not to reason as to what was right or wrong in this case, having read that we are to shun every appearance of evil, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Her heart beat fast, and her voice trembled, but not with indecision; for her soul was strong in its purpose to do right at all cost as she entered the room and said:
"Guy, I can't go to the theatre."
"What's the reason you can't?" was the surprised inquiry.
"Because our church does not allow it, and I do not think it is a good place."
"You don't! how do you know when you never were there? See here, Agnes, don't be a simpleton. Where is Ruth? I'll be bound she'll go; she has good sense and good taste. I saved up cigar money this week on purpose to take you. Hurry now, or we shall not get good seats."
"I can't do wrong, Guy; I must not go;" and Agnes went out of the room, back into the bright little kitchen where she had been so happy that morning. She wanted to go to her own room, but Ruth was there.
Guy was angry, very angry, Agnes thought, from his voice as he spoke to Ruth, but they passed out and she was alone.
GUY OR CHRIST.
THERE are times when the soul isolates itself and is with God only; although in the midst of a multitude. Then, although seeming alone, it has companionship, it is not lonely. And there are hours of heart-felt loneliness, though surrounded by a crowd, when no look, word or touch of another can reach our hearts, so separated are we.
Agnes had felt all this, but never before did she feel such a complete and painful separation as when the door had closed and she was left. Ruth had made a sacrifice for Guy. She knew it must have been very hard to do it, and only her love for him could have induced her to go. But Ruth did not love him better than she. He would not understand that, and would think that want of love had prevented her from yielding. But O, if he could see her heart, if he could know how willingly she would give up her life for him, how gladly she would sacrifice everything but principle to satisfy him.
"And I can't tell him," she thought; "he would not understand it, but think I was trying to excuse myself, for we never talk like other brothers and sisters about our love for one another." Then came the question, "Why must I suffer and be misunderstood, when Ruth can act differently?" But again the voice was heard that ever brought calm and sweet assurance, saying, "Is this your love for me? He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me, but he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
"O yes," was the response, "I would do a great deal for love of Guy, but more, far more for love of Jesus;" and so for His love she was willing to lose even Guy's love for a time if necessary, and could bear to be misunderstood if the Saviour trusted her. There was no shrinking from the thought of telling Him; no fear of being misunderstood there, so kneeling down, she poured forth the story. There were not many words, for as sometimes in opening our heart to a friend, we look up and catch a glance which tells us there is no need of further explanation, so she looked and felt that she was understood.
Earnestly she plead for her brother and sister. That he might soon learn to walk in other paths, and that she might lean more fully on Christ and less on her own understanding.
One thing perplexed her; that was whether she had better remain up until Guy and Ruth returned, and if she did, how she ought to act. It would not do to ask them about the performance, as that would revive unpleasant thoughts; and if she did not speak at all, they might think her in an ill humor. But she determined not to let this disturb her, the Lord, she knew, would help her to do right when the time came.
"Well, I declare! if she is not sitting up waiting for us," exclaimed Guy, quite gaily, with no sign of displeasure in tone or manner. "Weren't you dull? Confess now that you cried a little because you did not go? Look at her eyes, Ruth, didn't she?"
Not appearing to notice his last remark, Ruth playfully reminded her of her newly-formed resolution to rise at an earlier hour than heretofore, and told her to be sure and call her when breakfast was ready, for she was so sleepy she did not know when she should waken. Agnes good-naturedly promised to do so, provided she was awake herself, and ran up stairs, glad to escape from her brother. Ruth followed her in a few minutes, and going over to the dressing glass stood looking in. "How well you look to-night, Ruth," said Agnes admiringly. "I do not think I ever saw you with such a brilliant color. Did you enjoy yourself?" The question was put hesitatingly, as if she was not sure whether to put it or not.
"No, did you think I could? I can't even tell you what the play was, my brain was in such a whirl. But I laughed and talked and Guy was satisfied."
She sighed wearily as she laid aside her ornaments, and the tempter ever ready to take advantage, whispered to Agnes, "She suffers for her brother's sake, but you will not."
"No, not even for Guy, if it displeases the Lord. I must not let this move me," was the quick response.
There was no more said by the sisters that night. Agnes longed to help Ruth back to peace of mind, but Ruth did not seem disposed to enter into conversation, so there was only one way in which to do it, and her sister's case was given over to the One who alone can ease the burdened conscience, and Agnes slept undisturbed.
Ruth knelt as usual before retiring, but she could not reach up through faith to grasp the blessed promises; something kept her down and widened the distance between her and the Saviour. No sweet assurance came, for there had been other thoughts before those of pleasing Him. She had acted according to her own judgment and pursued the course she thought best. She had not the comfort of knowing that He directed her paths, because she had not in all her ways acknowledged Him.
"I think it is the hardest thing I have to overcome, Ruth," said Agnes, as she came down quite late and found breakfast ready. She felt condemned and dissatisfied with herself, not knowing what to do, having prayed about it so often.
"How do you pray?" inquired Ruth, rather amused at her sister's distress.
"Why, I ask the Lord in faith to help me to get up."
"That is, you expect the Lord to set you right out on the floor?"
"O, Ruth, you are making fun."
"Indeed, I am in earnest; that seems to be what you expect. Now if I prayed about it, I should ask that I might have my senses about me when I was called, so that I might think what I ought to do, and do it. That is about as much as the Lord will do, and then if we fail, the fault is our own."
"Will you call me to-morrow whenever you waken, Ruth? I must have been making a mistake all along."
After that there was no more difficulty, and Ruth told her she was to be envied, having overcome her last failing.
"I wish I had," was the earnest reply, "but I have any number of faults that you do not see."
"Then I should not call them by such a hard name, if they were modest enough not to thrust themselves out to public gaze."
"You would not? It is only grace that keeps them within bounds, and I am quite as conscious of them as if they were seen. They do not, however, overcome me as they might if others saw them. But after all, Ruth, I think we often call things faults in others, that would be virtues, if we knew more of their lives and the motives that prompted their conduct."
"It is probable," said her sister, "but there is not much of this getting to understand each other's natures. There is not enough trouble taken to find one another out."
THERE never was a greater contrast than that presented by the two sisters in their mode of government. Entering the school-room of each, you could not detect the least difference in the order of the scholars, but while the result appeared the same, the methods were very different.
Ruth said "silence" or "looked silence," as the children expressed it, and there was silence. She spake and it was done, for the children well knew that she would have no disobedience. She was never unkind, and she loved children, though she seldom showed them her love; so if you had asked her scholars if they loved their teacher, they probably would have said they thought her nice and kind, for she did not whip, and she tied up their cut fingers.
It did not look dignified, some people thought, and they were sure Miss Agnes had no control over her scholars, as they saw her surrounded by them every day on her way to and from school. It was such an honor to carry her lunch basket, such delight to be first to meet her and have a place at her side. O, how they loved her! "She was the very nicest teacher that ever lived." And many even resolved not to study too hard for fear they should be promoted and have to leave her. Then when the time came for them to leave, such tears were shed at parting, that Agnes determined not to allow herself to be so loved in the future, and succeeded for a day or two; but it was strange, she did not know how it came, there was always the same ending.
Ruth assured her she would get over all that in time; but love was as necessary to Agnes as sunshine is to flowers, and among these little ones the pent up fountain found an outlet.
Ruth kept her love away, deep hidden from sight, when it became so intense that it was almost painful; in the other nature it kept bubbling up and running over whenever it found a heart that would receive it.
Agnes delighted in teaching, but Ruth, while just as faithful, taught because it was the best thing she could do, rather than from choice. But the duty was irksome, and often she longed to throw the book from her and give the scholars their dismissal. When such feelings possessed her, she "did penance," as she said, by giving special attention to the lessons, "for it would not do to have the children suffer from her whims."
One day there came to her school a little deformed boy, about eight years old. He had been brought there by one of the scholars, and when Ruth entered the school-room she did not notice him, but proceeded with the opening exercises. She had taught the children to repeat with her alternate verses of Scripture, and this morning selected the twenty-third Psalm. After she had repeated the first verse, the scholars took up the second. But there was one voice, clear and distinct, above all the others. Glancing round, she saw a pale face, whose large, earnest eyes, bent full upon her, touched her strangely. Slightly averting her head, she went on where the children left off, but still there was the fixed look. It was not a stare or look of curiosity, such as a new scholar might show, but penetrating as though the child had passed through deep experiences, maturing the intellect while the body was dwarfed and feeble. At the close of the exercises, a little girl taking him by the hand, led him up to the desk, and introduced him as a new scholar.
"What is his name?" inquired Ruth.
"I'll tell her; mother said I should be a man and speak out. My name is Philip Driscoe," and here the thin tiny hand was slipped in Ruth's. How very thin and white it was, like a baby's hand. As it lay for a moment in Ruth's the fingers closed over it, and stooping down she kissed the child. "I like you, you are good, like mother," and drawing closer he laid his other hand over hers by way of caress.
A sudden impulse seized her to take him in her arms, but the children were there, looking on understandingly. Holding both hands she bent smilingly down, but in an instant her eyes were full of tears. She was thinking of Guy. What if he had been thus afflicted? A thrill of gladness followed the pain occasioned by the thought, and collecting herself she took the child over to a seat in the middle of the room, promising him a book in a little while.
"And a slate and pencil to make pictures?"
"Yes, can you draw pictures?"
"O, elegant ones; mother says I'll make real ones when I am a man, if I don't die."
Ruth could not tell what to make of herself that day, or for many days after, she was so drawn toward that little face. "Now if it had been Agnes, it would have been quite natural."
But the truth was, wherever there was suffering or weakness of any kind, her heart threw off its casing, and she felt that she could do anything to shield or comfort. When the call came for strength or sympathy, she could give it unhesitatingly, but when there was only ordinary occasion, she made no response.
WHAT HAPPENED ONE DAY.
AT the beginning of the year, Agnes had resolved not to let a day pass without having benefitted some one. "It may only be perhaps by looking pleasantly, or speaking tenderly, yet if done in the right spirit, the Lord will accept it and make it result in some good," she argued. And in the spirit of this mission she started for school one morning.
"What a wonderful thing it is to know that while there are millions of people on the earth, there is something for each one to do, that no one else can do. A work the Lord has laid out for each one of us," were her thoughts as she walked. But another thought followed: "How do you know your own work? you may be doing the wrong thing after all."
This was not the first time such a suggestion had been made. Once it troubled and bewildered her, but now her mind was clear on that point.
"For," she reasoned, "my work must be to do everything that comes in my way, as well as I can, without waiting for special calls. And if I do this faithfully, and the Lord sees that I can do a different work, he will turn my mind in the direction of it, and bring it near to me."
Her reflections were disturbed by the loud, eager voices of several of her scholars, who announced in one breath, "O, Miss Agnes, you ought to have seen Martha Nelson's father. He had his leg cut off, and they took him on a settee to the hospital, and Martha's mother is nearly crazy."
"How was it?" inquired Agnes, turning from one to another of the eager, frightened faces.
"Why, he drives a dray, you know, and he fell off when the horse was going fast, and the dray ran over him. Everybody says he was drunk."
"Hush, hush, we must never speak of another girl's father, as we would not like to have our own spoken of. Poor Martha, she will need to-day something that each of us can give her. What is it?"
"Pity," said one of the girls, who by look and voice showed that her heart was already touched.
"Is that all?"
"And love," was the reply.
"Yes, the dear Lord wants us all to do something for Him to-day, and as we cannot do great, hard things, He wants us to love and be sorry for Martha. And if we love people, we will do all the kind things we can for them; don't you think so, especially when they are in distress. And when we say our prayers, we must not forget to ask our Heavenly Father to love and care for Martha, now that her father is away from her, and may perhaps never get well."
When the lessons were over and school dismissed, Agnes hastened to the home of poor Martha. It was quite a distance from her own home, being at the other end of the town, and this was prayer-meeting night. But her day's work could not be complete until she had sympathized with these suffering hearts.
"Here it is, teacher," exclaimed the children who had offered to show her the way, "The house with the shutters shut tight."
Knocking, and then trying the door which she found unfastened, she entered the darkened room, having told the children it would not be best for them to go in on that day. A sad disappointment, for they had meant to kiss Martha and tell her they were sorry, and hear all about the accident, although some of them had witnessed it.
Passing into the back room, Agnes found Mrs. Nelson and her children surrounded by a half dozen neighbors, in the midst of a discussion as to the position of the poor man when he fell. The one who had the floor at that moment was a tall, vigorous looking woman, who evidently had battled hard to occupy her present position. She had gone as far as: "'Says I to my man, there goes Bill Nelson;' and says he to me, 'Yes, there's no fear of his old woman letting him over-sleep himself; she's too smart for that'; when, all at once I seen him fall with his head to the horses' hind feet and——" here the entrance of Agnes, whose knock had not been heard, caused the speaker to subside, and a general movement of chairs and stools to take place.
"O, it's teacher, mother," said Martha, springing to meet her, light coming into her heavy, swollen eyes.
"And how do you do, ma'am; it's kind of you to come. And it's a sorry day this has been."
By this time chairs had been backed until they could go no farther, aprons smoothed, and the sleeves of the tall orator pulled down. Then there was silence, Agnes having taken one of the three chairs offered her.
"Yes, Mrs. Nelson, this is a sad occurrence. You have need of a great deal of sympathy, and I am sure you will have it." As Agnes looked round the room, and saw the various expressions of countenance at this remark, they appeared so ludicrous that under any other circumstances it would have been hard to control herself. As if encouraged by her notice, the tongues were again set in motion, and to her horror she was having all the details of the accident.
Martha had drawn her stool beside her teacher, who now took the opportunity of whispering comfort, and telling her how much her school-mates loved her and sympathized with her.
"I knew you would come when school was out, but it seemed so long. Did anybody have to be kept in?"
"No, the scholars were all quiet and attentive to-day; they were thinking of their little school-mate."
At these words, meant to comfort and reassure, the child laid her head on her lap and broke into loud sobs. Agnes thought she had done harm rather than good, and the tears sprang to her own eyes. Placing her arm round the child, she drew the bowed head up and let it rest on her.
"Poor thing," whispered the neighbors, "she takes it hard."
With a great effort Martha looked up into her teacher's face and said: "I wasn't thinking about father then."
Not knowing but what the child might have some trouble that she could relieve, Agnes whispered: "What were you thinking of? Don't fear to tell me; perhaps I can help you."
"O, teacher," and there came a great sigh, "you help me all the time. Nobody ever was like you, and it was because you were so kind I had to cry."
There were other wet cheeks than Martha's then, and Agnes was already repaid for her long walk. With a few more kind words addressed to Mrs. Nelson, she rose to go, and Mrs. Nelson followed her into the other room.
"How can you manage without your husband? Had you anything but his wages?" she inquired, feeling that sympathy at this time might perhaps require a stronger expression than words.
"That is just what I've been thinking of, Miss, if I could get time to think. They are well meaning, you see," pointing toward the other room, "but they have no considerateness. It's not for me to sit down and be grieving over what can't be mended, but to be looking round for a way to bring bread into the house. For as you asked me, Miss, I'll just tell you. We haven't even had all his earnings; if we had, this wouldn't have happened to him. But I'll not hear a word said against him there," with another glance toward the back room. "I'll try, if God spares me, to keep starvation out, and maybe when he is lying there, something good may come into his mind."
"If you could only spare Martha to live out at service for a while, she might help you. At any rate you would have one less to feed," Agnes ventured to remark.
"That is just what came into my head this afternoon, Miss. The one next to Martha is old enough to take care of the rest when I am out, and if you could hear of a nice place where they wouldn't be too hard on her, I'd be a thousand times obliged to you, if you'd speak a word for her. She sets great store by you, and a word from you as her teacher, would do more good than if I'd talk for a week."
Agnes promised to do what she could, and then timidly, but earnestly, reminded her of the sure help in the time of trouble, the one whose friendship and love are equal to all our demands. By the time she reached home, Ruth was becoming anxious, for when Agnes intended going anywhere after school, she always announced it before leaving in the morning.
Knowing that her sister would probably be uneasy, and that she should have little time to prepare for church, she almost ran home; so that when she entered breathless, her face a deep crimson, Ruth's tone of alarm, as she exclaimed, "What is the matter, Agnes!" brought Guy immediately into the room.
"O, nothing Ruth; please wait until I breathe;" and she tried to get up a laugh. "I did not know I was so out of breath. If you wait a minute, I will explain," for Ruth was beginning to protest that something was wrong.
"There now," she said, removing her hat, and leaning back in the rocking chair, "I am ready to put your fears to rest." Then followed an account of the accident and her visit to the family.
"See here, Agnes, it is all very well to sympathize with people in distress, when you don't have to sacrifice yourself; but you are not called upon to do more than you are able to perform. And it is quite enough for you to teach school, without running to see all the youngsters whose fathers get tipsy and break their legs," was the opinion Guy gave after hearing her story.
"What do you charge for advice, Mr. Lawyer?" she asked, laughingly, as springing up she advanced to the table and begged Ruth to hurry with the tea, for she was "as hungry as a hawk."
Guy followed, declaring that "if all clients were as self-willed and independent as she, the lawyers might pull down their shingles, take a last look at Coke and Blackstone and then——"
"Well, and then?"—queried Ruth, very much amused.
"Why——then go to grass."
"Little boys should not use slang," said Agnes, demurely.
"Neither should little girls act contrary to the wishes of their big brother," was the reply.
After a blessing had been silently asked, Agnes said:
"Do you really think I am self-willed, Guy?"
"Of course I do; it does not require a knowledge of law to decide that."
"How do I show it? I never meant to be so."
"Well, you succeed pretty well if you don't. I should not like to see you make the effort, if that is the case. How do you show it? Why, by thinking you know better than other people. Don't she, Ruth, and acting out her thoughts?"
"You are partly right and partly wrong," was the reply. "Agnes is not in the least self-willed. It is I who may be called that. In this you are wrong. You are right in saying she acts out her thoughts; but you give a wrong reason. It is not because she thinks she knows better than others. She does not trust her own judgment nearly as much as either you or I."
"Now don't you begin to be mysterious, Ruth, if she don't, whose does she trust?"
"Oh!" and Guy had no more to say. Agnes could have embraced her sister then. She wanted to say something to Guy about Ruth, because she knew her better than even he or any one could know her. But he was so silent now, perhaps this was not the best time. Guy ate a little, Agnes thought, and she did not feel so hungry after all; so when Ruth had finished she said: "Let me wash the tea things myself to night, Ruth, I have not been doing anything all day. I will be ready in time for church." She plead as eagerly as if asking a great favor, and Ruth amused at her childishness, with a warning about not placing the glasses in too hot water, ran up stairs, little thinking of the effect her words had either upon the one for whom they were spoken, or the one to whom they were addressed.
"If we had Martha Nelson, she could do so much for Ruth when I am at school," thought Agnes. "But the money, where is that to come from?" Turning it over and over in her mind, she could see no possibility of having Martha, but somehow there was an impression that Martha should be with them. On the way to church, she decided to speak to Ruth about it.
"Did you ever have impressions that certain things should be, Ruth, and yet the things seemed impossible?"
"I scarcely understand you," Ruth replied. "What kind of things? spiritual?"
"No, spiritual impressions of temporal things, I suppose. But this is why I ask." Then she told of Martha's mother wanting to find a place for her, and of the impression amounting almost to a conviction that she was to come to them. "Only I can't see where the money is to come from."
"How much does her mother want a week?" asked Ruth, thoughtfully; for when Agnes had these impressions, they generally had weight with her sister. Indeed she sometimes felt as if the Lord told their Agnes more than almost any other Christian; that she was peculiarly favored of God.
"I did not think of asking her, but it can't be much, for she is young and will require to be taught. Why do you ask, Ruth?"
"I hardly know; perhaps if she did not want much, we could take her."
"Well, I shall ask her mother without giving the reason, and then if it is best, the way will be made clear."
"MRS. Nelson will be willing to let Martha go to a good home for her board and clothing until she learns enough to be entitled to wages, Ruth," Agnes joyfully announced. After a little consultation as to whether their old dresses could be cut down for her, and some misgiving on the part of Ruth as to the training of such a mere child, when neither of them could devote much time to her, they concluded to make the trial.
"If she's worth anything she will be worth a great deal to me just now, for it will enable me to do what I have long been planning, without seeing any way to accomplish it," thought Ruth.
Martha, poor child, in her great joy at the thought of living with "Miss Agnes," seemed to have forgotten the painful circumstance which compelled her to leave home. But on the day that her mother finished patching her few clothes, tying them up and telling her she might go at once to her new home, there came sad tidings from the hospital. They need never hope to have the husband and father home again, unless to take one last look before they buried him out of sight.
"Let me stay with you, mother; Miss Agnes will not be angry, and you will be so lonely," plead the child, forgetting everything else in the one great thought of her mother's approaching widowhood.
"Yes, I will be lonely," wailed the mother. "God only knows the loneliness and heart-ache that is in store for me. But we'll not shed tears now, child, there'll be time enough by and by. We must away to to see him; he'll have a word to say to us I'm thinking."
She meant to be brave, and to keep back the tears until "by and by," but the thought of hearing the last words, perhaps, or what was worse, finding him unable to speak to her, completely unnerved her, and the strength she had all along tried to keep for her children's sake, failed her. In the midst of this scene, while Martha stood beside her mother, wringing her hands and beseeching her not to groan so, Agnes stepped in, having had but one session of school.
"What is it?" she enquired, alarmed. "Your father is not dead, Martha?"
"I don't know, they sent word that he was dying, and we are going to him. Won't you go, Miss Agnes? I am afraid," and the child shuddered as she spoke.
A shudder passed through Agnes, but she said: "Yes, I will go with you, but I must find some of the scholars to send home and tell Miss Ruth." She thought with horror of going there to the hospital, where men and women were lying struggling for life, to be followed by their wild, staring eyes, and their cries of entreaty for relief. For a moment she was possessed with the feeling that she could not encounter the fearful sight, and the question arose: "Why need I cause myself to suffer when I cannot relieve the sufferings I shall witness?" But ashamed of her cowardice, she banished the thought as unworthy a place in her heart, glad to be able to share the sorrows and help to comfort those whose time of trial and sore distress had come.
"I shall need help one day, perhaps," she said to herself, "if Ruth or Guy should be taken first. But I pray God that I may die before them, unless—" here the child-like-spirit showed itself, and her soul became suddenly strong—"it would be to His glory that I should thus suffer."
A boy was sent with a message to Ruth, and then, as Mrs. Nelson was ready, they set out on their mournful visit. It was a long and silent walk. The heart of the sorrow-stricken woman was too full for words, and Agnes, so young and unaccustomed to such scenes, did not know what was best to say.
The hand that held Martha's tightened its grasp as they came within sight of the hospital, and although the voice was very low that whispered in the woman's ear, "Be strong, God will help you," it gave courage and re-assurance.
Up the broad steps and through the long corridors they passed; Martha trembling and drawing closer, while Agnes dared not look to the right or left. Presently they stopped before a curtained recess, and drawing aside the curtain Mrs. Nelson passed in. Martha wanted her teacher with her, she said; but when she was told her father might have things to say to his wife and child alone, she withdrew her hand and followed her mother. It was not long, however, until the nurse came out with a request for Martha's teacher.
"He wants some singing, Miss, and the little girl told him you could sing beautiful," said the man. As Agnes stepped near the bedside, Martha called out eagerly, "Here she is, father, this is Miss Agnes."
He tried to speak, but it was only a movement of the lips, no sound came. Sitting where he could see her, Agnes began in a low, clear voice, to sing:
"There is a fountain fill'd with blood,—"
When she came to the lines—
"And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away,—"
the dying man held out his hand as if beckoning her over. Again his lips moved, and stooping she heard: "Again—sing."
As her voice arose again, slowly repeating the words, her heart made supplication for the soul so rapidly passing away. Hymn after hymn was sung, all speaking of Jesus and his great love for sinners, and to Agnes it seemed that Jesus was himself speaking in each. She knew he was there in the midst of them, and wondered if the sick man saw him. Bending down, she whispered: "O, how the Saviour loves you; do you love Him?"
He looked at her with the strange, earnest look the dying only have; the look that seems to be measuring eternity; and then his hands were raised and clasped, while his eyes remained fixed on hers.
"He is asking you to pray," said the nurse; "He is near gone."
There was no time to listen to Satan now, or to think of anything but this soul venturing out into the unknown future. Was it prepared?
O, how she plead for him! As if face to face, she talked with God. The Holy Spirit gave her words and great assurance; it seemed as if the answer must come. He had promised to hear and to give the things desired. He had never refused to listen to the feeblest petition, and here was a burdened soul; was not the Saviour near, to take from it its burdens? So she entreated as though she alone could save him, yet knowing well that Jesus alone had power to forgive sins.
They had been sobbing around her, but she did not know it. Now there was a strange silence, a sudden calm, and she felt that she had prevailed. As they rose from their knees, something about the dying man attracted them. While they had been kneeling, Jesus had drawn near and whispered to him. The power and music of that voice were ringing in his ear; the beauty of His smile was flooding his soul and radiating his face. In that moment he had passed from death into life.
His wife and child looked at him with awe; the nurse drew back as if the place were too "holy ground" for him. Only Agnes and the new-born soul understood it. But it had only caught a glimpse of the Saviour; before long, with the same indescribable expression, it passed away to be "forever with the Lord."
They went home silently as they had gone there; but a new feeling had taken possession of them. They had seen strange things; new thoughts had been given them, and death had not to them its old terror, for they had seen it swallowed up in victory.
GUY GIVES HIS VIEWS IN FULL.
MARTHA was fairly installed as kitchen-maid, to the great delight of Agnes, while Ruth congratulated herself that there would be no more dishwashing for her, a thing she detested above all others. "She appears anxious to learn, doesn't she?" asked Agnes. "She was a good scholar and perfectly obedient. I think you will like her, Ruth. If we gain her affections I am sure she will do anything for us."
"But then we must be careful, Agnes, it does not answer to pay too much attention to servants. They are sure to become consequential and to value themselves too highly, if you notice them much."
"But she is a child, and everything is strange. Besides, when she thinks of her father and of separation from her mother, she must be sad, and perhaps may try your patience. I shall help all I can, but she had better look upon you as mistress. Be patient for my sake, sister."
There was no reply to this, and Agnes was afraid she had made a mistake in proposing such a child, instead of one more fully grown. That night after Martha had gone to bed, she slipped up stairs to know if she had repeated her prayers.
"O, yes, ma'am, I always say them; I should be afraid to go to sleep if I did not."
"We have a great deal to thank God for, Martha. Every day He cares for us, and it is the least we can do to thank Him. Do you thank Him for what you have, or only ask to have more?"
"I guess I ask most for the things I want. I forget about thanking, only I mean it."
"Yes, and God sees that you mean it, but He expects you to tell Him so. Now if I were to give you a great many things every day, and you did not thank me but were all the time thinking of other things you desired to have, I should call you ungrateful and not give you any more. Don't you see how it is? Now when you are praying, be sure to ask not to be allowed to forget pleasing God, by doing every thing as if He were here looking at you. Are you warm enough child?"
"O yes, ma'am, Miss Ruth came up and tucked me in nicely, and—"
"She kissed me and said 'good night.'"
Agnes's first impulse was to exclaim with surprise; but checking herself she stooped down, saying: "And I must follow Miss Ruth's example, I suppose. Be a good girl, Martha, and Miss Ruth and I will be your friends."
"I need have no fears; Ruth could never be anything but kind, although people so often misunderstand her and think her stern. She will never let generosity carry away her sense of justice; and after all that is the better way," thought Agnes, as she descended to the sitting room. Guy was home that night. As Agnes entered the room he laid down his book with the remark: "I say, Agnes, brother Snowden is considered the salt of the earth among you church people, isn't he?"
"I suppose he is a good man; I don't know much about him. Why do you ask?" was the reply.
"Well, only that it strikes me that kind of salt would not make very strong pickle."
"How you talk," said Ruth, "You know nothing about his Christian life."
"O, that is it, he has two lives has he? Well, I admit that I know nothing about his Christian life. But I do know about his business life, if that is a separate and distinct thing. When a Christian comes to me and asks me to undertake a case that is simply trickery and fraud, then I want to know how he can separate himself from his profession of religion. I thought religion had to run through one's life, instead of hinging and unhinging it when one chose. I know one thing, that some of your church members dabble in puddles so dirty that I would not touch them with the tip of my finger, and this Snowden is one of them."
"I would not judge the many by one," replied Agnes, quietly.
"No, that is a wholesale way of speaking," said her sister, positively. "And you may not have understood the man, Guy; and you know you are rather hasty."
"See here, Ruth, don't you begin to take sides with that fellow. Agnes is bound to defend him, because he is a goat of the same fold. But you may be glad you slipped out, backslid is the word I believe, for it is no honor to have the association of such a contemptible specimen of mankind."
Ruth's face flushed and her eye kindled at his allusion to her backsliding, but she did not speak, while Agnes, who was deeply pained at his unkind speech, immediately replied: "You are wrong, Guy, Ruth is a church member, the same as I. And while neither of us can endorse what is done by every member of the church, we know there are good, earnest Christians there, and it is not for us to sit in judgment upon any."
"Bravo!" he exclaimed. "This is most animating. It is a pity you were not a man, you would make a capital advocate. But excuse me, I forget, we have ladies in the profession. If you have no objection to reading with me, I shall be proud to present to the bar such an able pleader."
This was just what Agnes wanted, to have the conversation turned. So that Ruth and the church escaped, she did not care what was said of her. For fear of Guy returning to the old subject, she inquired whether he thought women could ever attain any eminence in the profession.
"Yes, the fact of them being women will not mentally disqualify them," he replied. "As a general thing they are clear sighted, and although not always logical, have a way of carrying their point in spite of all opposition. To office work some might be well adapted, but when it comes to practise at the bar, to get up and harangue a crowded court-room; to be brought in contact with low characters and take any part in criminal proceedings, then I say a woman is out of place. When they take that stand I shall step aside and let them glory in their shame."
Guy spoke with great warmth. Ruth appeared to be listening attentively, though she did not speak. Encouraged by the interest manifested by his sisters, Guy Gorton Esq., Attorney at Law, was in the act of giving a fuller expression of his views, and by his logical reasoning, determining woman's position for all time, when the door-bell rang and Martha ushered in visitors.
To Ruth it was a happy relief, for though she had appeared to manifest interest, very painful thoughts were passing through her mind. She had made a great sacrifice for Guy in hope of doing him good, how great, no one knew, and yet withall she had failed in her object. He looked at her as the world always judges of Christians; not by profession but practise. However, it may sneer and cavil at doctrine, the world is not slow to recognize and respect the character that like pure gold carries with it not only beauty but sterling worth.
"Bartered my Christian character," she thought, "and what have I in exchange? Complete failure, dead loss;" and all through the evening, though she talked and laughed, the question and answer came up before her.
When their friends had gone and the girls went up to their room, each sat down on her favorite seat as if for a talk. With Agnes it was the foot of the bed, having the low post on which to lean, while Ruth took the low rocking-chair. The thoughts of both ran in the same direction, but neither seemed inclined to break the silence. Agnes would have spoken, but Ruth was sensitive, and any allusion to the subject might pain her. Suddenly she said, "What a lovely character Edith Hart is, Ruth. Her manners are charming, and she is perfectly sincere, I am sure. Did you notice what difference Guy paid to her opinions and how much he seemed to admire her? I wish he would fall in love with her and marry her, for of course he will marry some one, and she would have such a good influence over him."
"Yes, when they were married she might, if he in the meantime had not exerted a wrong influence over her. It must require a great deal of grace to maintain your Christian integrity, when those you love are worldly minded. I don't think Edith would hold out any better than the rest of us, if she loved Guy as she should. But there is no use in talking about that, it will be a long time before Guy can marry."
"Why, his practise is improving, isn't it? I often hear him talk of his clients, and you know lawyers charge very high for advice. I don't know where I heard it, but I am of the impression that they will not give the least bit of advice under five dollars. At that rate, you know, he will make out well."
Ruth wanted to laugh at her sister's simplicity. Do as she would, she never could teach Agnes the value of money. And now, poor child, she seemed to think Guy had nothing to do but open his mouth and gold dollars would roll out, as diamonds did in the wonderful story of "Toads and Diamonds." In one way she was glad that Agnes knew so little about money matters; she wanted to save her from care or anxiety. But there were times when she was so perplexed and straitened, that it made her impatient to think any grown person could be so stupid as to live in their house and not more fully understand their circumstances. At such times she murmured and even rebelled, wondering why she should have all the burden. It did not reconcile her to it, to know that others admired and deferred to her judgment. She grew tired of thinking and planning, and longed for a strength greater than her own, upon which she could lean, for some one to help her bear the burdens. This was not sentiment. If the thought of marriage came to her as it probably did, especially at such times, she put it far from her. She would never leave Guy and Agnes; but if they only had been constituted differently, they could have helped her. And they in turn, little dreaming of her struggles, looked at her with admiring eyes, giving her credit, as far as they could follow her, and thinking what a wonderful woman their Ruth was.
"But it is slow work after all," she said, by way of reply to her sister's remarks. "A man must possess great talent and still greater patience and perseverance, to arrive at any distinction; and until he reaches that, he cannot expect to make his fortune. There are so many young lawyers, they are crowding each other out."
"But Guy must be satisfied, Ruth; he does not appear troubled or disappointed."
"Why should he? he is like hundreds more, and that fact is consoling. Besides, the slower and more cautious he is in the ascent, the more assured will he be when he reaches the summit."
She rose as she said this, and Agnes thinking the talk was over, removed her arms from the friendly bed-post. But she had only gone over to the bureau for her Bible, that she might read a chapter as usual before retiring. Returning to her seat she abruptly asked: "Do you think much about the future, Agnes?"
"Do you mean about heaven?"
"No, the future of time."
"Not nearly as much as I used to. Before my heart was renewed, I kept looking to the future for something satisfying; but it never came until I found the Saviour."
"Yes, but I mean do you wonder what your life is to be, and what changes will come to us all?"
"O, often such thoughts come, but they are disquieting, and I drive them away. It is better to live by the moment, just as we breathe."
Ruth opened her book and began to read. Her eye having fallen on the last verse of the sixth chapter of Matthew, it had called forth the above question. Now she read it all carefully; it was just what she needed to-night. Dissatisfied with herself, and feeling that she was not satisfying others, she wanted to find the rest that comes from leaving everything in a Father's hands, but she was yet to find the spirit of trust and submission.
THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION.
RIPLEY, like most towns of its size, possessed few novelties, and rarely produced a sensation. It did its duty in the way of gossip, as towns and villages are expected to do. Carrying out, in a manner peculiar to some, the injunction of the apostle: "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." When the Rev. John Jay was called to the Fourth street church, the whole town partook of the excitement, for he was a young and single man; moreover, he came from a distant city, with the strongest recommendation. He had been there about a year, when the community were again aroused to a high pitch of expectancy, by the following announcement one Sabbath morning: "The Official Board of this church will hold a special meeting at the close of the Wednesday night prayer meeting. A full attendance is requested as a matter of grave moment is to be presented."
As the minister made this announcement, he fervently wished they would always attend to business after prayer-meeting. He would not then have to refer so often to that means of grace, for the Fourth street brethren looked well to the temporal interests of their church.
He did not see the nod given by brother Smith to brother Snowden, which said:—"I told you it was a comin'; now you'll believe me;" nor the succession of nods in return, which indicated:—"Well, to think of it. After that I give up." Neither did he overtake the group of officials who slowly wended their way homeward in earnest discussion, shaking their heads, and trying to give greater force to their words by an energetic movement of the hand and arm.
He was picking his steps as best he could through a crowd of children, who were darting here and there, looking up at him with beaming eyes, and trying to touch his hands at least, if they could not hold them. As he looked at these lambs, he wondered if there could be love for the Saviour in any heart which did not make the young a special care. After he had parted from them, two little feet came tripping back to remind him of his promise that he would finish the story of Moses in the afternoon. He went home thanking God for the innocence of childhood, while with their noon-day meal many of of these children partook of poison administered by their parents. For what else is fault-finding, intolerance and uncharitableness, but the deadliest poison?
And what gave rise to this, was simply that the young people of the church and community wanted to organize a Young People's Association, at the suggestion of their pastor, and wished the privilege of holding it in the Lecture-room. The thing was projected so suddenly, that very few of the older members knew anything about it until it was brought to their notice in this manner.
When the hour for the evening service arrived, there were few who had not heard the news; for brother Smith and brother Snowden considered it a good Sabbath day's work to discuss the matter in all its bearings with all the members they could meet, although they did not doubt but the women folks would be sure to side with the young people.
On Wednesday night the Lecture-room was crowded. Those whose faces were seldom seen in the Lord's house, and many of the brethren who always found it extremely inconvenient to attend on that night, were there. Of course, none but the Board could remain, for the meeting, but the others could hover round and catch the news much sooner than if they had staid at home.
The Rev. John Jay drew very near to Christ in presenting his flock, and most earnestly prayed for the young of the congregation and community, many of whom he saw there for the first time. As he prayed, brother Smith and Snowden were loud in their responses.
Those who went to meet the master of assemblies, felt it good to be there. Unto them had been broken the bread of life. Unto them a well-known voice had spoken, and now they were stronger, braver and more hopeful. When the minister, with uplifted hands, pronounced the words of the benediction, like the gentle dew, fell that peace into their hearts, drawing them out in tenderest sympathy toward all His creatures.
After it had been ascertained that there were no intruders, and the doors had been carefully closed, the business commenced. Prayer was dispensed with, for there had been so much of it before.
"I move we dispense with everything but the business in hand," said one, and as the meeting concurred, the petition was presented by one of the most promising young men of the church, named Hayes. In it the petitioners set forth that they, feeling the need of proper social entertainment and mental improvement, wished to organize for that purpose, and most respectfully asked the use of the Lecture-room.
The secretary had no sooner uttered the last sentence, than brother Smith arose and protested against any such desecration of the Lord's temple.
"Social entertainment! What did that mean, but a parcel of boys and girls without a speck of grace in their hearts, wantin' a good courtin'-place where their father's and mother's wouldn't see them. For his part, no child of his should join them.
"There's carryin's on enough under our very noses, in the hearin' of the word without givin' any more license," he continued, waxing warmer.
"That's so," said brother Snowden, and one or two others grunted an assent.
Then the young man named Hayes arose and calmly said: "It is well known that the young seek enjoyment. Their minds are fresh and active; they will turn in one direction or another. We cannot control them; we can only seek to guide them. Many of our young are going to ruin, because there are no well directed efforts put forth to meet the wants of their impulsive natures. The world offers to gratify them. It stretches out its arms and says: 'Come to me. I have pleasures for all at my command.' And already many have turned and accepted the proffered good. We Christians groan over these and talk of their final doom; yet what do we offer those, whose eager, hungry natures cry out to us for bread?
"We say, 'Go to church on the Sabbath, and to prayer-meeting; that is well; but they want more than this and so do we. That will do for the spiritual part of our nature. But there is a social and intellectual part which must be cared for. And let me tell you, brethren, until the church makes provision for every want of the young, it can never gain a proper hold upon them.
"It is not for me to stand here as the teacher of those older and wiser than I. But it seems to me if we had the Apostle Paul here, he would define our duty in broader and more decided terms. And still a greater than Paul says: 'What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread will he give him a stone?' That question applies to every want of the being. How are you going to answer it to-night? I charge you not to close your doors upon those who knock, lest, if the gate of heaven closes upon them, you be found not guiltless."
These pointed words evidently made a good impression, and the opposition had not courage to oppose farther. Several of the brethren, men whose hearts were under divine control, and whose lives were devoted to the advancement of the Master's cause, in a few words endorsed the remarks, and when the question was called for, there was but one side, the opposition not voting.
When the young people were called together, there was quite a large gathering. Rev. John Jay was unanimously elected President, and Mr. Hayes, Secretary. But now the great difficulty was, to obtain members. All at once, these young men and women, the latter especially, became conscious of their ignorance, and dreaded its exposure, for the public Library of Ripley, was not very extensive or attractive. Its old volumes of Theology, its Annals and Histories, had been too heavy matter for youthful digestion, and as a majority of the young women did not consider it necessary to know anything of the affairs of the nation, or to possess any knowledge of the world outside of their own town, they had been content to glean from the newspapers, to note the deaths and marriages, watch for some new recipe in cookery, or the love-stories as they appeared each week.
After a great deal of difficulty, twenty signatures were obtained, with the understanding that the young ladies in preparing their essays, were not expected to read them or make public their names. Every thing at first, until the members acquired more confidence, was to be voluntary. After the business of the evening had been transacted, a call was made for contributions.
This was at once responded to by the principal clerk in the principal grocery store, he giving them in loud and thundering tones: "The Star Spangled Banner." So grandly did he render it, especially the "bombs bursting in air," that one young lady covered her face to shut out the view of the descending bombs, and the President was compelled to move aside, to prevent, if not the deadly missiles, the bodily weight of the speaker from descending upon him.
Loud applause greeted him at its conclusion, and but for the hint given by the President that it was time to close, they would have been favored with another brilliant display. The general opinion expressed by those having any knowledge of theatricals was, that it was "almost as good as a play," and the orator of the evening was overwhelmed with compliments. After this, there was little difficulty in obtaining members; indeed the young clerk the very next day succeeded in getting fifteen, so that by the following meeting night, there was a large and expectant assemblage. The young grocer held forth of course, and several others were so stirred with patriotism that Fourth of July orations and patriotic speeches followed each other in close succession. With a great deal of persuasion, a few ladies were prevailed upon to sing, and thinking the music should correspond with the addresses, they were about to give Hail Columbia, when the President suggested that something else by way of variety would be acceptable to the audience.
"The Old Arm Chair" was substituted and gave general satisfaction. Even old brother Sneddinly, who with a few others was at a side door listening, declared that anything that brought the Bible into it, must have been written by a Christian; and if it wasn't in the Hymn Book, it went pretty near as slow and solemn as some of the hymns. The latter assertion could not be contradicted by his companions, and they even went so far as to congratulate the pastor on his success in getting up "so big an affair." "Suppose you add still further to its success by your presence and assistance," he suggested with a smile; "we need some wise and clear heads among us."
But that thought could not be entertained for a moment by the brethren. "How would it look for them to be mixing in with a parcel of young folks, most of whom made no show whatever of religion? O no, that would be too great a compromise! There ought to be a strict line drawn between the world and Christians."
"Isn't there danger of drawing it so tight that we will cut them off from us entirely?" asked the pastor.
"No fear of that," was the reply, "if it is held tight at one end, the other end will be loose enough to slip them through."
"Thank God," said the Rev. John Jay, mentally; "there shall be no tightening or straining at this end!"
The Association soon became the all-absorbing topic of the place. The young people discussed it, and the old people discussed it. It was destined to become a grand success, the Rev. John Jay thought, as he saw denominational prejudices give way and the young people of the different churches unite to help one another and be helped. Yet there was one drawback; some of those for whom he was most anxious, whose feet had begun to travel the downward road; the children of those who professed to be God's children, were never seen there. His soul was troubled. He knew at whose door the fault lay, yet what could he do? He was young and inexperienced. These men and women, parents of the prodigal ones were older than he. Should he show them the fearful mistake they were making in condemning everything that was not purely a religious worship? Should he tell them by reason of their sternness and their narrow prejudices, which seemed more to them than the souls of their children, they were driving their children away from them and from God? Would they bear this from him, even though as Christ's ambassador he were to speak? He was exceedingly doubtful; perhaps they might dismiss him. Wouldn't it be better for him to remain and watch over these wayward ones, showing them that he knew the weakness of human nature and the unquenchable ardor of youth? He concluded to try it. He would make that his one great work; he would win them to Christ. With a heart somewhat lightened, he gave himself out more fully in loving words to the young, and entered more earnestly into every plan suggested to make the association an attraction. But just as he was seeing the good results here, in another direction the storm was gathering. He saw it in the black looks and averted eyes of many of the officials and even of their wives, but as yet its mutterings had not reached his ear.
Some to whom he had endeared himself heard, and were fiercely indignant that such a sweet, Christ-like spirit, as their pastor's, should suffer pain through such allusions.
Just the very thing he had labored to accomplish, was that which was to testify against him. Many young hearts had been drawn nearer to Christ through him, and their voices were heard in the songs of praise which went up from that little prayer-circle on Wednesday night. But these pious men and women, although rarely ever present themselves, saw nothing in which to rejoice. On the contrary, they mourned over the weakness of one, who by virtue of his sacred office, should be far removed from such things. Wasn't it too evident that the young women went to church to see the young pastor, and the young men to see the young women? It was time such things were stopped; they were a shame and disgrace to a church.
In the meantime the society was flourishing, a new element had been brought into it, and so far as its literary character was concerned, the most sanguine expectations of the Rev. John Jay had been met.
Several public meetings had been held, filling the house to overflowing, and eliciting the highest and most deserving praise. But that was of course from outsiders, and those simple-minded souls in the church, who never see evil without looking for good; who indeed are always finding the latter in everything and in every one but themselves. These were not competent judges. "Had the church been left to them, where would have been its sacredness and sanctity? Why, they never even changed their voices in the Lord's house, and they even wore a smile while there, as if they had forgotten the Lord was in his holy temple."
Thank God, there are those who carry His image about wherever they go! Such need not by their own effort show a conscienceness of His presence. He is the continual light of their countenance, and the gladness and music he makes in their hearts, is heard in their voice. They worship and praise with every breath, because their souls must find an outlet to the great love which holds them.
A DAY OF PLEASURE.
IT was an unusually warm day in June, and Ruth had dismissed her scholars early on that account. She stood by the window plucking the dried leaves off the climbing rose, and thinking how delightful the approaching vacation would be, when a little hand touched her. Looking down she found Philip by her side.
"And what will mamma say at having no little boy at home?" she asked, drawing him nearer, and smoothing back his wavy hair.
"O, mamma knows. She only said I must not trouble you. I guess I wouldn't do that, though, because I love you too much."
Here the little hand tried to give Ruth's a great squeeze, while such an effort brought color to the pale cheeks. Not only that, but it brought something he wanted very much, a kiss.
"You always kiss me for telling you that, Miss Ruth, and so does mamma. What do you do it for? Do you like little boys to love you?"
"You have not told me how much you love me," was the laughing reply. "I cannot answer questions till I know all about them."
"O, I love you more than all the world, except my mamma;—isn't that ever so much?"
"Yes, that is a great deal. Then you don't love any one but your mamma and me?"
"I love God," and the earnest eyes were fixed on the blue clouds. "Would you like to be up there, Miss Ruth? Mamma reads about it for me. I should like to go up there and see it. I should like to see God, too, but I would come back again, you know. Mamma always cries and hugs me when I say that; just as if I would stay away from mamma and you. I guess I wouldn't. But I would see all the beautiful things the Bible says are there, and then I would draw pretty pictures. Mamma says there is a house up there for us all, and some day we will go and stay there. Do you want to go, Miss Ruth?"
"Yes, some day," she replied; but there was no kindling of the eye, no joy of soul at the thought, for Ruth knew that her earthly love was stronger and more absorbing than the heavenly. "There, now, we will go and see about Miss Agnes's dinner," she added, glad to divert his thoughts.
"Miss Agnes has not come, Martha?" she inquired.
"No, ma'am. I have been watching for her. She will be awful hot, I think."
"You are Miss Agnes's little girl, and I am Miss Ruth's little boy, aren't we?" asked the child.
"I am Miss Ruth's, too," said Martha, decidedly.
"Yes, but you love Miss Agnes best."
"I love both just the same—only different; but Miss Agnes was my teacher."
Ruth gave such a quick look, that the child drew back frightened, thinking she was angry; but she smiled at her, and Martha's fear left her. How much a smile will do, and what a very little word or act will bring that smile. So when Agnes came home "awful hot," as Martha said, she was met by smiling faces, and waited on by loving hands, and finally it ended in a "real party," for they all had strawberries and cream, to keep Miss Agnes company.
"Isn't he a darling," whispered Agnes, glancing toward Philip, who was intent on his strawberries.
"Yes, he is a remarkable child; his mother must be very fond of him. I have been planning something to-day, Agnes, for all hands," looking round at the children, as she spoke.
"What?" asked her sister, brightening.
"I can't tell you until we are alone. But it will bring the roses to somebody's cheeks, and be very nice for all the somebodies."
"Don't let us do any thing this afternoon, but talk or read," proposed Agnes; and hearing this, Philip hurried to the school-room for his own little chair, so that he might lay his head on Ruth's lap and listen. But Christus Consolator was too profound, and lulled by the sound of Agnes's sweet voice, and Ruth's caressing touch, he slept.
"When the sun goes down it is time for little birds to be in their nests," said Ruth, and Philip now wide awake and knowing what was to follow, ran to tell Martha to get her hat. The first time he had staid, Ruth sent word to his mother that she would take him home, and ever since it had been understood.
"One on one side, and one on the other," he said, as he placed himself between Ruth and Agnes, offering a hand to each. But Ruth asked what was to become of poor Martha, and soon the two children were talking as gravely, and looking as demurely side by side, as if they had been grandfather and grandmother.
On their way home, while Martha walked before, Ruth developed her idea, which was that they should have a pic-nic, perhaps several of them during vacation, "as it would be so expensive to go away for a length of time you know. Just a family affair," she continued, "and we will take the children along to enliven us."
Agnes fell in with the plan very readily, and pictures of ferns, mosses and lichens at once rose before her delighted vision.
There were trying days still to be passed in the school-room, days on which Ruth felt it would be a relief to scream out or do something desperate. But when she looked at the little ones under her care, trying to be good and obedient while under control, she chided herself for her impatience, at the same time relaxing her discipline. But the days went by and the holidays came, and Miss Ruth's joy at her freedom was not one bit less than her pupils'; though she didn't run screaming to tell every one that "school was broken up." "We might as well go soon, Ruth. I feel as if I could scarcely breathe here," said Agnes, a few days after school had closed.
"A day won't help you much if you are in that state. What shall you do all the other warm days?"
"Imagine I am in the woods," was the laughing reply.
"Then you had better bring your imagination to bear upon it now. Guy will have to dine down town that day. I fancy he will not like it very well, for he is so fastidious. Guy was certainly meant to be rich."
"Why not ask him to go with us?" suggested Agnes.
"If you want to be laughed at you will. Imagine our Guy going with two women, two children, and a lot of baskets, to spend a day in the woods!"
"I should think he might enjoy the change quite as much as we. But men are queer, they look upon women's pleasures as childish, I really believe."
The day before the pic-nic every one was busy; even Philip insisted upon helping. When Guy came to dinner there was such an air of commotion that he at once inquired the cause.
"What's up, girls? house-cleaning? If that's the case, I'm off; no soap-suds and white-wash for me."
"Hear him; house-cleaning in July!" exclaimed Agnes.
"I do believe, Guy, you men would never do a bit of cleaning all your lives, if you were house keepers."
"You may bet on that," was the reply. "That is just where we would show our good sense."
"Your filthy habits, you mean."
"Well, either, whichever suits you. But you haven't said what was in the wind."
"None came this way to-day, we could not tell."
"We are going to close the house to-morrow, Guy, so you need not come home to dinner. We intend going to the woods to find fresh air."
But Guy didn't like the idea; it sounded common, he thought. Every day he met a lot of women and their babies, with a parcel of brats following them, going over the river or somewhere. "Why can't you take a week each of you, and go to the country like other people?"
That, "like other people," was too much for Ruth, and she said, sharply: "We can't be what we are not. Beggars must not be choosers."
Guy replied in as sharp a tone that "some people liked to make a parade of their poverty," and finished his dinner in silence. This unfortunate affair threw a damper over the girls, but the children did not come within the shadow of the cloud. Ruth had a sudden angry impulse not to go at all, scarcely knowing why, as it would not spite her brother. But she could not yield to such a thought when the happiness of Agnes and the children was to be considered.
Agnes spoke very little after the occurrence, knowing what state of mind Ruth was in, but she sang in a low voice some of her sister's favorite hymns, and in a little while the cloud rolled away, the sun came out, and the storm was all over. By tea-time Guy and Ruth were as if nothing unpleasant had happened, but there was no allusion made to the pic-nic.
"I wonder how people feel who are going on an extended tour," said Agnes, as they filled their lunch baskets.
"That depends very much upon the people themselves," replied Ruth. "This little trip is giving us more real pleasure than some people would know in travelling all over the globe."
"Yes, I suppose so; it is the appreciation that is needed, and without that there can be no enjoyments."
Fortunately, for Guy, he did not see the party set out the next morning, or the shock might so completely have overcome him as to unfit him for any business whatever. But they waited until he had gone, and then they started with their baskets, trowel, and garden-fork.
"People will take us for herb-gatherers, and think these are our children," said Agnes, gaily.
"Shocking!" exclaimed Ruth, with mock earnestness.
They took the boat for several miles down the river, to the great delight of the children, especially Philip, whose keen eyes took in the smallest white speck of a sail, and then when they had climbed a very little hill, and gone down a big one, they were in the woods.
"What a delightful perfume! Isn't it charming!" exclaimed Agnes, delightedly, as she sat down by a tree to "enjoy herself." But the children who had been scampering about, declared there was a much nicer place not far off, and so Miss Agnes, who could imagine no scene more charming, very reluctantly consented to tear herself away.
The spot chosen by the children was indeed lovely. Perfectly level ground covered with the richest moss, out of which rose broad flat rocks, and along side of which, not many yards distant, ran a clear little stream on whose banks the feathery fern grew, and into which it dipped its graceful frond. On the other side of the stream the wood was more dense, but through it a broad path led to a bend in the river.
"We need go no farther," exclaimed both Ruth and Agnes. "Nothing could exceed this for loveliness and shade.
"By the river of Babylon there we sat down," and Agnes once more settled herself.
"There we hung our harps upon the willows," added Ruth, throwing her shawl on a branch overhead. "Now, Agnes, let us take it easy and make the most of the day, for such days will be like angel's visits."
"Well, suppose we rest first. Methinks I could forget myself in sleep."
Presently Ruth was accosted with, "I think I know now what I should do if I were rich."
"What?" she asked.
"Take sick people into the country. That is, if I could afford to keep a carriage. I have been thinking about it since yesterday."
Ruth knew what had brought it to her mind. Guy's picture of the women and their babies; sick, of course.
"Yes," she said. "Many of those who die every year might become strong and well again, if they could be taken from the close, stifling air of their wretched homes into that which is pure and fresh."
"Nothing could give greater pleasure than to have these poor, emaciated babies and wan-faced women look up at you with a smile, as if saying, 'O how this cheers us.' I wonder if it will ever be?"
"'Tis hard to tell," was the reply. "But suppose you had a carriage, your husband might object to your using it in this way."