« PreviousContinue »
on it, across one end of the room, and a CHAPTER I.
gun against the wall, and two rabbit-skins • Who hath the Father and the Son hanging from a nail in the ceiling beam. May be left, but not alone.:- KEBLE.
A worn-out curtain was drawn across the HE clock of Southton Church old-fashioned casement, and in the window
had struck twelve on seat were strewn some children's clothes and foggy Saturday night to- shoes, and a few tattered books. A brighter wards the end of February. flame from the fire showed the narrow curThe whole village lay tained bed in one corner, and the thin shrouded in the thick flushed face and bright eyes of the young white vapour which began girl who was lying there. That face told a
rising at sunset from the tale of consumption, and so did the hollow low water-meadows which surrounded it. cough which kept her awake through so The moon had risen, but her silver beams many of the night hours.
She was feeling could scarcely penetrate the dense veil very restless now, and tried to gain ease which would hang over lane and hedge by shifting her position; and at times and cottage-garden, till the stronger light stretched out her hand for a spoonful of of day came to drive it away. Except cough-mixture, which did not seem to give for the uncertain footstep of some tippler her much relief. There was nothing for returning home from the public-house on it but to wait with patience, hoping that the village green, and the barking of a before morning dawned she might have an farm-house dog at intervals, the village was hour or two's sleep. silent, for most of its inhabitants had re- And now we will tell our readers sometired to rest.
thing more about Rhoda Grant. She was These sounds, and the striking of the seventeen, and the eldest of a family of church clock from hour to hour, were borne seven children; and had now been lying in to the ear of a young girl who was lying bed for three months, gradually dying of sleepless and restless in a cottage at one consumption, everybody thought. She had end of the scattered parish. As she was always been a delicate girl, and during the ill, her bed had been brought down for last autumn had caught a severe cold, which convenience into the ordinary living-room, was neglected, till her constant cough and which was now deserted by the rest of the increasing weakness obliged her to give up family, who were upstairs and asleep for work and take to her bed. She used to the night.
weave with many other girls at the silkThe embers were still glimmering on the factory close by; but the work had been hearth, but ere they died out one by one hard and the pay poor, and the early hours they gave a flicker now and then, which on dark winter mornings, together with lighted up the interior of the cottage thin clothing and worn shoes, had all been kitchen. This was not remarkable for against her weak constitution. neatness, and the uncertain light showed About two years ago, Rhoda had been the remnants of a potato supper, with persuaded by the district visitor to attend unwashed dish and spoons, on the round the Sunday-school; and though she had table before the fire. Again, a glimpse been discouraged, and even laughed at, by was to be had of a clothes-line, with linen her father and brothers, she had begun to
go, and by degrees it had grown to be a
Grant was a
man who had real happiness to her.
never been taught to read or write, and From going to the Sunday-school she had never felt the duty of bringing up his had gradually got into the habit of attend- family to lead Christian lives.
He was a ing church regularly, and, through God's steady labourer, and earned good wages, mercy, these Sundays had proved a great and did not drink; and this is all that can blessing to her. She had been brought to be said in his favour. He never entered a know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, and place of worship, and spent his Sundays had been led to walk in the narrow way, loitering about at home, or strolling in the and to set her affections on things above. fields with other idle men, setting a bad
She had received very little schooling in example to his own sons, and laughing at her childhood, and had only been a poor those who tried to keep God's day holy. reader; but after she became interested in He was usually a good-natured father, but at her Sunday teachings she improved rapidly,
times he got furiously angry with his and was soon able to read easily to herself children when they offended him; and and intelligently to others. She began to he would beat them and swear at them. attend a night-school, and being naturally
(To be continued.) quick, she applied herself with diligence
ADVENT. to make up for the time lost in childhood.
DVENT The motive of doing all to God's glory
means Coming. During
the four weeks immediately precedacted as a spur to her; and she made
ing Christmas, the Church teaches us to rapid progress in sums and writing, and
think about the two advents of our Lord other school lessons. She was happy in
Jesus Christ. herself, and was setting a good example to
His first, when He came others; and the teachers found that her
into this world as an infant in great huinfluence was most useful on some of the
mility.* His second, when He will come more idle girls.
as a Judge in power and glory.t But God, in His all-wise providence, saw
What shall we all do during this Advent
season? fit to remove her from her factory and school, and lay her low upon a bed of
We will prepare, first, to keep the sickness. God moves in a mysterious way,
birth-day of the Infant Saviour with holy and we cannot always read His dealings gladness ; secondly, to meet.our Judge at with men; but it seemed in this case that
His coming, not in fear and trembling, but
with joyful hope. He had placed Rhoda where she was for
And how shall we prepare ? the good of her poor father and mother, who were neither of them religious people.
By fighting manfully against all our The family consisted of Grant and his
sins, and even our little faults; against
deceit and disobedience, ill-temper and unwife and their seven children. Next to Rhoda came two sons, Richard and Tom,
kindness, dishonesty and cowardice. who were growing into great boys, and
So may we look forward to a joyful went to work with their father. Then
celebration of Christ's first coming, and to came Sarah, aged eleven, a pale, delicate
a glorious meeting with Him when He girl; and below her were three others,
returns to judge the world. E. L. the youngest being an infant scarcely two * See Luke, ii. 7. † Matt. xxv. 31-33.