« PreviousContinue »
humility and pain my eyes filled with hot man is for one single day. You do not tears.
understand me? My cousin, this is the I would have returned to the book difference between us: he is clothed with again, but the words swam before me; power as a giant is with strength, andI could not go on until my tears went God help me!” he suddenly cried, “I back: I sat looking down upon the page; have the arm of a child.” and as I. so sat, Noel's voice came again My heart rose up in arms. to me.
“Noel, it is not true.” “Ruth,” he said gently, “what do you “It is true, Ruth. I can aspire, and I want ?"
can struggle, but I can not conquer. I But my words were gone then; I could shall strive to my life's end, and, bound only answer
as I am, hours will come again, perhaps, “ Nothing - never mind -- nothing as they have come already, when for a now,” and I would hurriedly have begun moment I shall have strength like him of to read, but as I commenced, he inter-old, to break the withes, as a thread of tow rupted me.
is broken when it toucheth the fire; " Ruth,” he said quickly, "I am often but for all that, the struggle only will be blind and selfish, so that I do not see mine, and not the victory. My little couthings that I ought to know. But I am sin, do not look at me so sorrowfully : even not wedded to my faults ! I am a though the warfare lasts through life, life taciturn, morose, unlovable man; but I itself sometimes is not very long." do not want to be feared; I do not want Was it true? oh! was it true? I to be left forever to my own thoughts. stooped my head, I turned my face from Ruth, do not you be afraid of me. Tell him, and wept one gush of passionate me again, what you were going to say." tears. The evening had drawn on, and
I raised my head, I unclosed my lips; he could not see me. He sat looking out quickened by those words I could speak upon the glowing sky—and he neither again. With swift impulsive courage I knew my sorrow nor my joy. began: I told him of my ignorance. I told him what I wanted. I asked him to
V. give me help.
What followed was an hour whose SOMETIMES in our lives the whole happiness words can not utter. I had be- breadth of God's light in heaven seems come his pupil, he was my master. He gathered within the single limits of one led me where my footsteps could follow ; little star, and as we gaze on that we see when he spoke he changed my darkness no other thing in heaven or on earth into daylight, and my twilight into sun beyond it. So had I gazed, and so had I shine. We had been together before, grown blind. and for me his heart and soul had been The summer was over. Noel had relike a sealed book; the change was now gained his strength, and was at work as the ancient flowing of the water when again. Once more the seat was vacant the rod struck the stony rock.
in the west window, and we two women Once, and once only, there came a pang were left alone. Then I awoke, in pain of pain over my joy—but alas ! it came as and sorrow. My star was taken from my a flood upon its close. The book I had sight, and, in the light of common day, I been reading lay on my knee still; the saw that Mrs. Erickson was dying. hour that was past had been as if that She was dying! Human help could book had spoken to me with a living voice. not save her. The day I knew it she told When it was nearly ended, in the grati- me all that she herself knew-that it was tude of my heart I told him so.
no new illness that was afflicting her, but Alas! that the thought came to me, or the extension of a disease that she had that I uttered it. His face changed as I suffered from for years, knowing--my spoke; with a sudden flash it changed to brave godmother!-through the whole of the old likeness it had worn before his ill- it that it must end by killing her. ness; the anxious pain, the wearied tur It was the close of autumn when the moil, all came back.
days grew dark, and the chill evenings “Ruth,” he said hurriedly, “I am not drew in early, I began a watch that like that man. If I could barter my life ceased no more till my godmother lay I would sell the whole of it to be as that dead.
She told Noel at the beginning of the “Had you forgotten ?" I spoke sorrowwinter. She lingered all through it. On fully, not in bitterness. “Yes, that was one of the first days of spring the long, natural; you had other things to think racking, bitter pain was ended, and she of.” died. I was kneeling crying by her bed He rose from his place and came to when she departed, but her last thoughts, where I set. He stood near to me, and her last words, her last look, were none leant his arm upon my chair. of them for me. Her face was turned “Ruth, where are you going ?”. where she could look on Noel, and to the “ Where?” I raised my face to his one final moment before death her eyes clung moment. “To the place I came from; to to his face. They closed at last and then the house I left.” a cry rang through the room:
“How soon? Not at once ?-not this "Mother!" But she was dead. week ?"
“It does not matter, this week or next; There was spring sunshine in the rooms, I will do what you like.” and spring life upon the earth; but my “ Then give me one week longer, heart was like a stone in its cold heaviness. Ruth." Oh! what should I do; she was dead, and
“ Yes.” I must go. We had opened the windows, And I said no more; we were both that had been closed until her funeral, and silent. I wandered alone about the solitary house. But when some moments had gone I could begin no work; I could take re- past, and while I still sat in my dull hope. fuge in no occupation; I could think no less resignation, suddenly I was quickened thought but that she was dead, and I must by his touch. It lay on my bent head; go away.
for the first time I had ever felt it; I I could not speak about my going that stooped beneath the pressure of his hand. day when they laid her in the earth. “ Ruth,” he said sadly, “I wish I could Even though it was done at morning, and say to you remain with me. I am not the empty house was open all day long, I happy now; and when you go you will could not do it. I stole that one day for take the last ray of sunshine with you my respite. In the evening when we two from the house. It has been a lighter met together for a little, while we talked house from the day you entered it. God of other things, he was very kind to me. bless you, little Ruth!” God bless him! He never bade me leave His hand was gone from me, as he himhim.
self would be all gone within one little But I could not sleep all night. I week. If he had asked me I would have watched till the night was passed away; remained with him to be a servant in his and when the morning came I knew the house; and I did not stir nor speak. For day had dawned that was to seal the sen- his kindness I had no thanks ; for his blesstence of my exile.
ing no response; but all my heart was It was sealed in the evening when the fainting in me, shrinking into death before sun had set, and the shadow of the church the shadow of its lowliness. was lying dark upon the room. I waited I went away. It was a bright spring until then, that in the gloom he might not day, and the birds were building their see my face.
nests under the shelter of the old church I had learnt my lesson all day long, eaves. I had been very quiet all the week, that when the time came I might speak going about slowly, strangely, like one in it without trembling. The time had come, a dream. I was quite still
, with even a I laced my fingers close together, and I kind of solemnity in my quietude ; for it spoke it.
seemed to me as if all that could be call“Noel, when am I to go ?”
ed life in my existence was to end this He was startled. The twilight was not day. so deep but I could see that. I saw bis He was working in his studio. I had sudden glance at me-his quick surprise. not told him the hour I was to go, but I had no answer for a moment; and then when it came I went to him. Once I had he spoke, but not gladly-oh! God be thought that I would ask him to let me thanked, not gladly!
sit one hour beside him before I went. I “I had forgotten that you had to go, had done it once or twice before, but this Ruth.”
day I could not. I only went to him
when every preparation was completed, set to work. Not to quiet in-door work, and my corded trunks were at the door. reading, studying, educating myself. I
I entered the room then, and stood be- could not do these things at first: my feefore him.
ble energy needed first to be sustained by “I am going, Noel.”
something stronger than my own fainting He started up at the sight of me, and will. I knew that: and so I bound mycame to meet me.
self to the only work within my reach that “You did not tell me that you were to did not leave my own will free. There go so soon,” he said. “Why did you not were helpless people and ignorant children come before ?"
in our village: I gave my time to them. “There was no need to disturb you. It Perhaps they did not thank me for it; did not matter."
but they took it, and presently they look“It would not have disturbed me, ed upon it as their right. I served them, Ruth."
and they counted on my service; and their He took my two hands in his; as he dependence became my wages. held them he looked at me.
I worked all through the summer; oh! “Ruth, are you really going ?” the summer that had been so bright in its “ Yes."
last shining on me, and was so bare and “You are looking pale and ill. Ruth, desolate now. I worked all through the you are not glad to go.”
days, and in the long, still evenings I used “Noel, I am not strong. Bid me good to sit alone. I used to sit then, and by.”
dream and yearn.
It was my day's one“Not yet; not here, Ruth.”
treasured luxury-my light and warmth “Yes, here; I saw you first in this --my meat and drink after my weary house. When I think of you I want you toil. And yet even that bread was bitto belong to this house first and last.” terness, that water was tears. Daily my
He was standing before me. We both yearnings ended in one hopeless cry: Oh! became silent; what more was there to if I could but hear of him I if I could but
Alas! I had nothing more. But I hear of him! If I could but have hope raised my face; I looked into his eyes. I given me to see him once again! should see him no more-I should never The summer passed away. When it see him more, perhaps, on earth. was gone, I was pale and thin ; I was Then the end came.
worn and weary. Perhaps I had worked “Let me go now.”
too hard : I do not know: but a fainting He held my hands still; and holding feebleness had fallen on me, and I began them, he stooped and kissed me. Once to think that God was about to take my he prayed—God bless me! Before he life. Then my passionate desire grew to loosed my hands, he repeated twice: wild feverishness to look once more on “Little Ruth! little Ruth !"
Noel Erickson's face. The longing wastAnd that was all. No tears had risen ed me away: I could not rest nor sleep: to my eyes; they were all hot and dry: morning and night the thought was with but I went away from him, and closed the me that I could not die till I had seen his door, groping my steps as if the night had face again. fallen.
I think there must be a time in very
many lives, when grief or misfortune have VI.
seemed to reach their utmost limits, that
suddenly, without a note of warning, or I was in my own house, and alone; soli- one sign to tell the coming change, God tary from day to day, from dawn till stays the rushing of the Marah waters, night. I was not happy. God had given and for darkness there comes light, and me my lot, and I struggled hard to be for the faithless weakness of the fainting contented with it, but I could not see my heart comes hope new-born, and strength way in it. I did not know what to do. fresh out from heaven. If I had had one single creature to have It was an autumn morning; and a restlived for, I could have been resigned to it; less night had left me worn and ill. I but I was so utterly lonely.
could not leave the house. I was so weary I knew that in some way I must work; (I had often grown forced of late to change or I could not bear it. With a courage, day into night) that at last I laid me down therefore, that was a kind of despair, 1 in the broad noon sunshine, and tried to
sleep. And I did sleep presently: gently We were face to face, his eyes looking and peacefully, the calmest slumber came into mine, mine into his ; till, as still water to me that I had known for weeks. trembles and is stirred before the wind,
I do not know how long it lasted. I all my strange stillness was broken before dreamt a happy dream that I was talking that gaze. No, it was not all ! for he to Noel, standing with him in the half knew my secret : he had read my heart: gloom, half sunshine of the old familiar and before his look, and before the close room. I wakened at the gentle sound of clasp of his hand, I trembled, and I broke something stirring near me. My dream down like a child. I lifted up my empty was over: I lifted
up my eyes, and saw hands to him : There was some one at my side, sitting " I have been so desolate! oh! I have beside me, leaning towards me. I looked been so desolate !" I cried; and I burst upon him; I looked into his face; I ut- into a passion of tears. tered his name !
He took me, and he laid me in his arms : I made no movement, and gave no cry; my helpless passion he hushed upon his I did not ask him how he came; I asked heart: over my low, wild weeping he him nothing. Quite hushed and calm, I spoke these words: only lay with my eyes upon his face, in "Little Ruth,” he cried, “come home the deep stillness of unutterable joy. to me! I came to seek you. I can not “Ruth !” he called.
rest without you. My little Ruth, my litHis voice brought back my dream. Itle Ruth, come back !" had thought there that he spoke to me in The year was wasted; we were standthat same tone. A smile came to my lips: ing on the verge of winter; but in that it was to me as if all pain, and sickness, winter there dawned for me a new glad and sorrow had passed away.
spring. He took me home. Once more “I thought I was at home: I was in my joy I saw the old town's solemn dreaming of being in the old room again.” streets, and the shadow of the ancient I looked up into his face as he stooped over church: once more I stood within the me. “Noel, it was not quite a dream." old familiar house; and I was Noel's
“Ruth,” he cried, suddenly, “is this wife. all my welcome ?"
From the British Quarterly.
TII E CONFLICT OF MODERN
MODERN TIL OU G H T. *
The gentleman whose common-place and by that lightness and freedom of touch name appears on the title-page of this withal which is rarely attained except as volume as that of its editor, is not a com- the result of long practice. His intellimon-place person. Mr. William Smith gence and his tastes dispose him to philohas written poetry which has deserved sophical speculation, and through life his much more attention from the public than mind has been much occupied with the it has obtained. He has also been a large great problems of our time-especially contributor, and for many years past, to with those which relate to the probable our periodical literature. Blackwood's future of humanity, both in this world Magazine, and the Quarterly, have been and beyond it. The “ William Smith” especially enriched by his pen. Every who writes himself “ editor" of the work thing he does is characterized by a finish- before us, is of course its author. The ed culture, by a gentlemanly propriety, form which his utterauces are made to
take is the following. * Thorndale; or, the Conflict of Opinions. By
Thorndale is a consumptive invalid, WILLIAM SMITH, 8vo. Blackwood and Sons. who, with a single servant, makes his way
to an obscure retreat in the neighborhood factory. There is nothing very definite of Naples—there to meditate and die. in the theological position of any of He beguiles his solitude by committing the parties here introduced. Thornhis passing thoughts and impressions to dale and Clarence, who have their place writing, and by recalling the persons of near the true line, if compared with the his friends, and his conversation with opposite extremes taken by Cyril and them in bygone days. The first and Seckendorf, dwell to the last amidst very second books give us the autobiography broad generalities in regard to religious of Thorndale. In the third book, em- truth. Clarence expresses himself, in bracing the story of “Cyril the Modern many respects, as a Christian man, but he Cistercian,” the author detects the subtle lacks the real evangelical element. Neverinfluences by which Romanism makes the theless, the reader may find much in this most valuable of her “perverts.” The volume which has its value, as giving us fourth book brings out with much vigor the reality of modern thought, and much some of the forms of modern skepticism which, after its kind, is very true and very both in philosophy and religion, the chief beautiful. speaker being a German doctor, named Uncertain and often contradictory, as Seckendorf
. The fifth and sixth books are the notes struck in these pages, there set forth the basis of social progress, and is one maxim, relative to social progress, of religious certainty, according to a per- on which all the speakers, and the editor son described as “an Eclectic and Utopian himself, are agreed. In his introduction, Philosopher of A.D. 1850.” Such are the Mr. Smith says: contents of the Thorndale Manuscript, carefully edited by Mr. Smith.
"One general observation only we will perThere is no doubt advantage in assign- here of a future Utopia. But the reader need
mit ourselves to make. There is much talk ing speeches after this manner to imagin- not be alarmed. It is admitted on all hands to ary persons. But it also has its disadvan- be so very future, that neither he, nor any postages. When an author adopts this terity in which he is much interested, will be method, we naturally wish to know where at all affected by it. Meanwhile there is one the writer himself speaks, and where the grand conservative maxim, which every spokesspeaker is some other person. When this man throughout the volume would subscribe to information is not given, we feel that --it is this, that the measures which will really there is a want of frankness and confidence, identical with those which will promote the
contribute to the progress of society, are always as between author and reader, which is welfare of the existing generation. From not pleasant. Another mischief incident order, order proceeds; from prosperity, prosto this method is, that the case may often perity. We never really advance the future by be so well put from opposite points, that bringing confusion into the present; and he who the reader who has come to the volume talks of sacrificing the present to the future, for help, may only find himself in the end has yet to learn the first elements of his sub? more than ever bewildered. Mr. Smith ject. The best government for your own gene
ration, were it a Turkish depotism, is also the has not avoided these mischiefs. Where
government which will best promote the future he himself speaks, and where some other welfare of your country; the best faith for man, is left to conjecture; and the result your own generation, were it Catholicism, as of the pro and con running through the seen in Mexico and Peru, will be the faith most volume, is to leave you too much amidst conducible to the progress of generations yet a balance of difficulties.
to come. Each age, in working out truth and The work, however, does bring out and this is the only way in which it can work
prosperity for itself, is working for posterity, some of the prominent and the more pro- for posterity at all.”—Pp. 13, 14. found thinkings of our time, and shows the “conflict " which comes from those Mr. Smith does not mean to say that thinkings. Much of the real spirit of the because Catholicism may be said to age finds its expression in these pages. have been good for England in the thirHow multitudes of thoughtful men among teenth century, it must, therefore, be good us are looking at philosophy and theology for it in the nineteenth--but simply that is here stated with distinctness. The the religion of that age furnished the nagreat value of the work is not in its con- tural antecedent to the religion of our clusiveness, for that is the quality it wants, own age. In other words, that the social but in its showing the ground on which reformer will do well to work, not from conclusion must rest, if it is to be satis- abstractions, but from realities, ever aim