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her, thinking of her own little elegant, odd-minute work, which was all she had to interfere with mountain-pleasure.
“ And is n't it some of our business, if we could get at it?" asked Miss Craydocke, concluding.
“Dear Miss Craydocke!” said Leslie, with a warm brightness in her face, as she looked up, “ the world is full of business; but so few people find out any but their own! Nobody but you dreamt of this, or of Prissy Hoskins, till you showed us, - or of all the little Wigleys. How do you come to know, when other people go on in their own way, and see nothing,
– like the priests and Levites ?” This last she added by a sudden occur-, rence and application, that half answered, beforehand, her own question.
“When we think of people's needs as the Master's !” said Miss Craydocke, evading herself, and never minding her syntax. “When we think what every separate soul is to Him, that He came into the world to care for as God cares for the sparrows! It's my faith that He 's never gone away from His work, dear ; that His love lies alongside every life, and in all its experience; and that His life is in His love ; and that if we want to find Him - there we may ! Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me.” She grew eloquent - the plain, simple-speaking woman — when something that was great and living to her would find utterance.
“How do you mean that ? ” said Leslie, with a sort of abruptness, as of one who must have definiteness, but who hurried with her asking, lest after a minute she might not dare. “That He really knows, and thinks, of every special thing and person, — and cares? Or only would ?"
“ I take it as He said it,” said Miss Craydocke. “« All power is given me in heaven and in earth. “And lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world !' He put the two together himself, dear!”.
A great, warm, instant glow seemed to rush over Leslie inwardly. In the light and quickening of it, other words shone out and declared themselves. “ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” And this was the abiding! The sympathy, the interest, that found itself side by side with His! The faith that felt His uniting presence with all !
To this child of sixteen came a moment's glimpse of what might be, truly, that life which is “hid with Christ in God," and which has its blessed work with the Lord in the world ; - came, with the word of a plain, old, unconsidered woman, whom heedless girls made daily sport of ; — came, bringing with it “old and new," like a householder of the kingdom of heaven ; showing how the life and the fruit are inextricably one, – how the growth and the withering are inevitably determined!
They reached the benches now; they saw the Josselyns busy up beyond, with their chess-board between them, and their mending-basket at their feet; they would not go now and interrupt their game.
The seat which the sisters had chosen, because it was just a quiet little corner for two, was a nook scooped out, as it were, in a jut of granite ; hol
lowed in behind and perpendicularly to a height above their heads, and embracing a mossy little flat below, so that it seemed like a great solid armchair into which two could get together, and -a third could not possibly intrude.
Miss Craydocke and Leslie settled themselves, and both were silent. Presently Leslie spoke again, giving out a fragmentary link of the train of thought that had been going on in her. “If it were n't for just one thing !” she said, and there she stopped.
“What?" asked Miss Craydocke, as not a bit at a loss to make out the unseen connection.
“ The old puzzle. We have to think and work a good deal of the time for ourselves. And then we lose sight—"
“ Of Him? Why ? "
Leslie said no more, but waited. Miss Craydocke's tone was clear, untroubled. The young girl looked, therefore, for this clear confidence to be spoken out.
“Why? since He is close to our life also, and cares tenderly for that? since, if we let Him possess Himself of it, it is one of His own channels, by which He still gives Himself unto the world ? He did n't do it all in one single history of three years, my child, or thirty-three, out there in Judæa. He keeps on -- so I believe — through every possible way and circumstance of human living now, if only the life is grafted on His. The Vine and the branches, and God tending all. And the fruit is the kingdom of heaven.”
It is never too late, and never impossible, for a human face to look beautiful. In the soft light and shadow of the stirring pines, with the moving from within of that which at once illumined and veiled, with an exultation and an awe, there came a glory over the homely and faded features which they could neither bar nor dim. And the thought took possession of the word and tone, and made them simply grand and heavenly musical.
After that, they sat still again, — it matters not how many minutes. The crisp green spines rustled dreamily over their heads; the wild birds called to each other, far back in the closer lying woods ; the water glanced on, millions of new drops every instant making the selfsame circles and gushes and falls, and the wealth of summer sunshine holding and vivifying all. Leslie had word and scene stamped together on her spirit and memory in those moments. There was a Presence in the hush and beauty. Two souls were here met together in the name of the living Christ. And for that there is the promise.
Martha Josselyn and her sister sat and played and mended on.
By and by Dakie Thayne came; said a bright word or two; glanced round, in restless boy-fashion, as if taking in the elements of the situation, and considering what was to be made out of it; perceived the pair at chess; and presently, with his mountain stick, went springing away from point to point, up and around the piles and masses of rock and mound that made up the broadening ascent of the ledge.
“Check to your queen,” said Sue.
Martha put her elbow up on her knee, and held her needle suspended by its thread. Sue darned away, and got a great hole laid lengthwise with smooth lines, before her threatening move had been provided for. Then a red knight came with gallant leap, right down in the midst of the white forces, menacing in his turn right and left; and Martha drew a long sigh, and sat back, and poised her needle-lance again, and went to work; and it was Sue's turn to lean over the board with knit brows and holden breath.
Something peered over the rock above them at this moment. A boy's head, from which the cap had been removed.
“If only they'll play now, and not chatter !” thought Dakie Thayne, lying prone along the cliff above, and putting up his elbows to rest his head between his hands. “ This 'll be jolly, if it don't turn to eavesdropping. Poor old Noll! I have n't had a game since I played with him !”
Sue would not withdraw her attack. She planted a bishop so that, if the knight should move, it would open a course straight down toward a weak point beside the red king.
“She means to “fight it out on that line, if it takes all summer,'” Dakie went on within himself, having grasped, during the long pause before Sue's move, the whole position. “They 're no fools at it, to have got it into a shape like that! I'd just like Noll to see it !”
Martha looked, and drew a thread or two into her stocking, and looked
again. Then she stabbed her cotton-ball with her needle, and put up both hands - one with the white stocking-foot still drawn over it — beside her temples. At last she castled.
Sue was as calm as the morning. She always grew calm and strong as the game drew near the end. She had even let her thoughts go off to other things while Martha pondered and she wove in the cross-threads of her darn
“I wonder, Martha," she said now, suddenly, before attending to the new aspect of the board, “if I could n't do without that muslin skirt I made to wear under my piña, and turn it into a couple of white waists to carry home to mother? If she goes away, you know — " “Aigh!”
It was a short, sharp, unspellable sound that came from above. Sue started, and a red piece rolled from the board. Then there was a rustling and a crashing and a leaping, and by a much shorter and more hazardous way than he had climbed, Dakie Thayne came down and stood before them. “I had to let you know! I could n't listen. I was in hopes you would n't talk. Don't move, please! I'll find the man. I do beg your pardon, - 1 had no business, — but I so like chess, — when it's any sort of a game ! ”
While he spoke, he was looking about the base of the rock, and by good fortune spied and pounced upon the bit of bright-colored ivory, which had rolled and rested itself against a hummock of sod.
“May I see it out ?” he begged, approaching, and putting the piece upon the board. “You must have played a good deal,” looking at Sue.
“We play often at home, my sister and I; and I had some good practice in — " There she stopped.
“ In the hospital,” said Martha, with the sharp little way she took up sometimes. “Why should n't you tell of it ?”
“ Has Miss Josselyn been in the hospitals ? " asked Dakie Thayne, with a certain quick change in his tone.
“For the best of two years,” Martha answered.
At this moment, seeing how Dakie was breaking the ice for them, up came Miss Craydocke and Leslie Goldthwaite.
“Miss Leslie! Miss Craydocke! This lady has been away among our soldiers — in the hospitals — half through the war! Perhaps - did you ever — " But with that he broke off. There was a great flush on his face, and his eyes glowed with boy-enthusiasm lit at the thought of the war, and of brave men, and of noble, ministering women, of whom he suddenly found himself face to face with one.
The game of chess got swept together. “It was as good as over,” Martha Josselyn said. And these five sat down together among the rocks, and in half an hour, after weeks of mere "good-mornings,” they had grown to be old friends. But Dakie Thayne — he best knew why — left his fragment of a question unfinished.
Author of “ Faith Gartney's Girlhood."
« FOR my part,” said Dick, as he indolently stretched his long limbs un
T der a great chestnut, one splendid summer morning, “ I think people expect far too much of me. So far as I can see, nobody but 'humans' and horses works. Young animals don't; and the flowers and fruit and insects are no care to any one, not even themselves. They just keep on growing, and living, and having a good time. The world would slip on easily enough, if the fathers and schoolmasters would only let things alone. They 'll have to do without me to-day, anyhow. The birds and I are going to enjoy ourselves. I only wish I had somebody to talk to, though,” sighed the poor fellow.
“ Ha ! ha! ha!” shouted a shrill little voice beside him. “Here's a great hulking fellow with a soul, that don't want to do anything with it ! ”
Dick turned in great surprise toward the voice, and there stood a tiny creature, not much taller than one's finger, dressed in a tight-fitting suit of brown silk, with a neat little green cap on his head.
“And who might you be ?” asked Dick, surveying the midget before him.
“O, I am nobody but one of the little men,” replied the morsel. “And I'm very busy, too, - very busy at this season, - but I could n't help hearing your remark. Excuse my laughing, but it seemed so odd!”
“What's going on just now in fairy-land ?" asked Dick, who was willing to cultivate the friendship of his tiny acquaintance.