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A changeful expreswith 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 66 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.
Not a sound was
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. 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 furniture; 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
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,
for I saw that she was clothed in deep mourning—and she behaved like the daughter of a man whose life had not been only irreproachable but lofty, with fear and hope fighting desperately but silently in the core of her pure and pious heart.
While we thus remained in silence, the beautiful boy who, at the risk of his life, had brought the minister of religion to the bed-side of his beloved grandfather, softly and cautiously opened the door, and, with the hoar-frost yet unmelted on his bright glittering ringlets, walked up to the pillow, evidently no stranger there. He no longer sobbed he no longer wept for hope had risen strongly within his innocent heart, from the consciousness of love so fearlessly exerted, and from the presence of the holy man in whose prayers he trusted as in the intercession of some superior and heavenly nature. There he stood, still as an image in his grandfather's eyes, that, in their dimness, fell upon him with delight. Yet, happy as was the trusting child, his heart was devoured by fear-and he looked as if one word might stir up the flood of tears that had subsided in his heart. As he crossed the dreary and dismal moors, he had thought of a corpse, a shroud, and a grave; he had been in terror, lest death should strike in his absence the old man with whose gray hairs he had so often played; but now he saw him alive, and felt that death was not able to tear him away from the clasps and links and fetters of his grandchild's embracing love.