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into his, and to give his blessing to his long expected visitor, the wind fell calm-the whole face of the sky was softened, and brightness, like a smile, went over the blushing and crimsoned snow. The very elements seemed then to respect the hoary head of fourscore-and after our first greeting was over, when I looked around, in my affection, I felt how beautiful was winter.
I am going," said he, "to visit a man at the point of death-a man whom you cannot have forgottenwhose head will be missed in the kirk next sabbath by all my congregation-a devout man, who feared God all his days, and whom, on this awful trial, God will assuredly remember. I was going, my son, to the Hazel-glen."
I knew well in childhood that lonely farm-house, so far off among the beautiful wild green hills and it was not likely that I had forgotten the name of its possessor. For six years' sabbaths I had seen the elder in his accustomed place beneath the pulpit-and, with a sort of solemn fear, had looked on his stedfast countenance during sermon, psalm, and prayer. On returning to the scenes of my infancy, I now met the pastor going to pray by his death-bed-and with the privilege which nature gives us to behold, even in their last extremity, the loving and the beloved, I turned to accompany him to the house of sorrow, resignation, and death.
And now, for the first time, I observed, walking close to the feet of his horse, a little boy of about ten years of age, who kept frequently looking up in the pastor's face,
A changeful expres
with his blue eyes bathed in tears. sion of grief, hope, and despair, made almost pale cheeks, that otherwise were blooming in health and beauty,—and I recognized, in the small features and smooth forehead of childhood, a resemblance to the aged man whom we understood was now lying on his death-bed. “ They had to send his grandson for me through the snow, mere child as he is," said the minister to me, looking tenderly on the boy; "but love makes the young heart bold—and there is one who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb." I again looked on the fearless child, with his rosy cheeks, blue eyes, and yellow hair, so unlike grief or sorrow, yet now sobbing aloud as his heart would break. "I do not fear but that my grandfather will yet recover, soon as the minister has said one single prayer by his bed-side. I had no hope, or little, as I was running by myself to the manse over hill after hill, but I am full of hopes now that we are together; and oh! if God suffers my grandfather to recover, I will lie awake all the long winter nights blessing him for his mercy. I will rise up in the middle of darkness, and pray to him in the cold on my naked knees!" And here his voice was choked, while he kept his eyes fixed, as if for consolation and encouragement, on the solemn and pitying countenance of the kind hearted pious old man.
We soon left the main road, and struck off through scenery that, covered as it was with the bewildering snow, I sometimes dimly and sometimes vividly remem
bered; our little guide keeping ever a short distance before us, and with a sagacity like that of instinct, show ing us our course, of which no trace was visible, save occasionally his own little foot-prints as he had been hurrying to the manse.
After crossing, for several miles, morass, and frozen rivulet, and drifted hollow, with here and there the top of a stone-wall peeping through the snow, or the more visible circle of a sheep-bught, we descended into the Hazel-glen, and saw before us the solitary house of the dying elder.
A gleam of days gone by came suddenly over my soul. The last time that I had been in this glen was on a day of June; fifteen years before, a holiday, the birth-day of the king. A troop of laughing schoolboys, headed by our benign pastor, we danced over the sunny braes, and startled the linnets from their nests among the yellow broom. Austere as seemed to us the elder's sabbath-face when sitting in the kirk, we schoolboys knew that it had its week-day smiles--and we flew on the wings of joy to our annual festival of curds and cream in the farm-house of that little sylvan world. We rejoiced in the flowers and the leaves of that long, that interminable summer-day; its memory was with our boyish hearts from June to June; and the sound of that sweet name, Hazel-glen," often came upon us at our tasks, and brought too brightly into the school-room the pastoral imagery of that mirthful solitude.
As we now slowly approached the cottage, through a deep snow-drift, which the distress within had prevented the household from removing, we saw, peeping out from the door, brothers and sisters of our little guide, who quickly disappeared, and then their mother showed herself in their stead, expressing, by her raised eyes and arms folded across her breast, how thankful she was to see, at last, the pastor beloved in joy and trusted in trouble.
Soon as the venerable old man dismounted from his horse, our active little guide led it away into the humble stable, and we entered the cottage. Not a sound was heard but the ticking of the clock. The matron, who had silently welcomed us at the door, led us, with suppressed sighs and a face stained with weeping, into her father's sick-room, which even in that time of sore distress was as orderly as if health had blessed the house. I could not help remarking some old china ornaments on the chimney-piece-and in the window was an everblowing rose-tree, that almost touched the lowly roof, and brightened that end of the apartment with its blossoms. There was something tasteful in the simple furni
and it seemed as if grief could not deprive the hand of that matron of its careful elegance. Sickness, almost hopeless sickness, lay there, surrounded with the same cheerful and beautiful objects which health had loved; and she, who arranged and adorned the apartment in her happiness, still kept it from disorder and decay in her sorrow.
With a gentle hand she drew the curtain of the bed, and there, supported by pillows as white as the snow that lay without, reposed the dying elder. It was plain that the hand of God was upon him, and that his days on the earth were numbered.
He greeted his minister with a faint smile, and a slight inclination of the head-for his daughter had so raised him on the pillows that he was almost sitting up in his bed. It was easy to see that he knew himself to be dying, and that his soul was prepared for the great change;— yet, along with the solemn resignation of a christian who had made his peace with God and his Saviour, there was blended on his white and sunken countenance an expression of habitual reverence for the minister of his faith and I saw that he could not have died in peace without that comforter to pray by his death-bed.
A few words sufficed to tell who was the strangerand the dying man, blessing me by name, held out to me his cold shrivelled hand in token of recognition. I took my seat at a small distance from the bed-side, and left a closer station for those who were more dear. The pastor sat down near his head-and by the bed, leaning on it with gentle hands, stood that matron, his daughterin-law; a figure, that would have graced and sainted a higher dwelling, and whose native beauty was now more touching in its grief. But religion upheld her whom nature was bowing down; not now for the first time were the lessons taught by her father to be put into practice,