« FöregåendeFortsätt »
out of the coppice for her fire, and she made a little money by spinning lambs' wool, and making it into stockings : so that with the fifty shillings she received yearly from John Stinton, she made a very comfortable livelihood. She was as good and quiet a woman as ever lived; a little thin body ; I think I see her now, with her brown every-day gown and her blue apron, and white mob cap, and her spectacles at the top of her nose. She was one who always had lived in the fear of God, and gloried in the cross of Christ, and was withal of a very sweet and even temper; so that, perhaps, a better wife and mother had never lived. For a poor woman, she was an excellent reader; such a Bible-scholar there was not then in the parish, excepting Mr. Best, our old rector, and he was a wonderful man at the Scriptures. God bless his memory!
“So my poor mother and I lived together in this little room : she taught me to read, to spin, to knit, and to sew; she made me help to weed her little garden of potherbs, and to clean our room; and it was also my work to gather wood for the fire, and, as I got older, to fetch lambs' wool from the farmers and flour from the mill ; so that my time was fully employed, and passed very happily, till John Stinton's two girls came home. As soon as my mother saw them, she feared that they were not fit company for me, and she forbade me ever to play with them; giving me as a reason, that she much doubted that they had not been brought up in a God-fearing manner; and so, ‘Polly, darling,' she said, “mind you don't go near them when I am not with you.' Polly darling was what my poor dear mother always called me," added Mary Bush.
“ Í dare say she loved you very much," said Emily.
“Ah, poor body! better than I loved her then; for I was a sinful child !" answered Mary Bush.' And now to go on with my story :
“I promised her very fair that I would make no acquaintance with the two girls, and I meant at that time to keep my word; but the next day, when I was going to pick sticks in the coppice, they followed me and asked me to play with them. I might have said No; but I did not. I played with them a long time; and when I thought my mother would be expecting me, and I had gathered no sticks to take to her, I began to think what excuse I should make; and I said to Dolly Stinton, 'What must I do? my mother sent me to pick sticks, and the time has come when I must go home, and I have no sticks !-Oh!' said Dolly, 'if you will go down to the back of the coppice-it's not a hundred yards from this place--you will find plenty of sticks, which the woodmen have cut, and put together ready to carry away; and the woodmen are not there to-day.'— Oh! but my mother,' said I, ‘has forbidden me to take the sticks from the woodmen's heap; she says it is stealing. I am only to pick up the sticks that are scattered here and there about the coppice.'— Oh!' said Fanny Stinton, 'what nonsense! Come, come; I'll run and fetch you a bundle of sticks in five minutes; you need not care where they come from, so that you have them to take home.'--So off she ran to the woodman's heap of fagots and loose sticks, and soon brought me a large bundle which I carried home. I knew I was doing wrong when I took the sticks; and I felt that my mother's fears were too true, and that these girls were not God-fearing girls; nevertheless I carried these sticks home, and hid what had passed from my good parent and best friend, to whom I ought to have told every thing.
“When I got home I found my mother kneading a little cake, which she was going to bake upon the hearth. • Polly, my darling! she said, ' you had but a poorish dinner to-day ; so I am making you a little cake. And Parson Best's Nancy has called in with a drop of cream and pot of butter; so we will have a little tea to-night.' So my poor dear mother made some tea, and got the cake ready; and we sat down together to partake of it.
“And how do you think I felt, my dear young ones, when she spoke kindly to me; saying, in her way, 'Polly, iny darling! how do you like the cake? Is it nice, my child ?'"
“ Not very happy, I should think,” said Lucy.
" No, indeed, miss,” continued Mary Bush: “I did not feel happy, for I knew that I had done wrong; neyertheless, the next day I played again with these bad girls, and the next day after ; till at last I got so fond of their company, that I used to slip out even from my work to play with them. It was easy enough to hide ourselves, when we were playing, from my mother; neither was there anybody to tell her what I did—this being a very solitary place.
“My mother used often to miss me; and then she would go out into the garden, or towards the coppice, or towards the brook, calling, ‘Polly, my darling! Polly, my darling! where are you? But I would always find some excuse for having been away ; and she, not suspecting me of any concealed wickedness, would believe all I said. She used to go, poor dear body! with her spectacles on her nose, looking for me ; and when my wicked companions saw her coming, they used to say,
Run, run, Mary! here come the spectacles! now it will be-Polly, my darling! where are you ?-Oh!" said Mary Bush, wiping away some tears from her eyes, “the remembrance of these things cuts me to the heart even to this day : I cannot think of it without bitter grief.
“In this wicked manner I went on for about two years or more,” continued Mary ; "slipping out of my mother's sight on all occasions, and doing as little for her as I possibly could; for my heart was altogether given to my companions, and not to helping my poor mother. At the end of two years my mother's health began to fail; she became thinner and weaker, and could not spin and knit so much as in times past. For some weeks she found great difficulty in going to church, and at last was forced to give it quite up. But I never noticed the change in my poor mother till Parson Best's Nancy called in one Sunday evening, and then told me that she feared my mother was not long for this world. I was startled and grieved when I heard what she said ; but the very next day I ran out as usual to waste my time with John Stinton's daughters. That very week, I think it was on the Saturday evening (my mother having been poorly all day), she said to me,
Polly, my darling! it is a warm afternoon; I think it would do me good to take a little fresh air; give me my stick, and your arm, my child : we will take a walk under the coppice.-Perhaps I may never walk with you again, my child,' she said, as we went out of the door; . we have had many pleasant walks together.'-'Mother, don't talk so,' I said. "Ah, my child,' she answered, • God's will must be done!
“ There is a very lovely pathway," continued Mary Bush, “ on the west of the coppice, just facing the setting sun. I don't suppose you ever were in it, for it is very solitary. There we walked ; and my mother bem
ing feeble and weary, we sat some time to rest her on the bank under the coppice. There we could see the meadows and corn-fields stretching far before us, as far as Hill-top village and farm. The sun, I remember, was just setting behind the trees at the top of the hill. My poor mother looked that way: then turning to me, • My child,' she said (I shall remember her words to my dying day), 'that sun which is now going down will rise again to-morrow; but I shall soon go into the grave, and you will see me no more in this world! but the dear Saviour in whom I have always trusted, will go down with this corrupt body into the grave (as God went down with Israel into Egypt), and I know that he will raise me in the last day, all glorious and beautiful, and without spot or blemish of sin. •For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the lat. ter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job xix. 25, 26. I do not trust, my child,' added my dear mother, ‘in any thing I have myself done; I know that I am a miserable sinner, and that there hath not been a thought of my heart, or deed of my hands, from my earliest youth till now, free from the stain of sin; but he that is all fair hath washed me from my corruptions, and purified me with his own blood, and I shall at the last day awake in his likeness; therefore, my child, I am willing, and even glad to depart; for I shall die very soon; and I have prayed to God to take charge of thee, my darling, my dear and only child : and I know that God has heard my prayer.'--She then gave me some advice concerning my behaviour when she was no more; the purport of which was, that I was to look to my Saviour for help and direction on all occasions, as I had been accustomed to look to her.
“ In this manner my beloved mother talked to me till the sun was set, and then we walked slowly home. As we walked under the coppice, she pointed with her stick to some pretty wild flowers growing under the hedge. How lovely these flowers are, my darling child!' she said. “If God adorns this sinful world with such beauties, what think you, my dear, will the flowers be like in that world to which I am going?!"
“ Did you not cry when you heard her talk so ?" said
" Yes, indeed I did,” said Mary Bush; “for, added to
the trouble I must have in parting with so dear a mother, all my ill behaviour towards her stared me in the face, and filled me full of grief. Every thing my dear mother did that evening I remember as if it was but yesterday. She caused me to make tea for her, and to read the Bible to her as she sat in her arm-chair, and seemed pleased with every thing I did, often smiling at me; yet once she had tears in her eyes when she looked at me. She called, after tea, for a lamb's-wool stocking which she had been knitting, and tried to do a little; but she dropped several stitches, and then putting it down, ‘I have done my last work,' she said; “I shall do no more.' She then bade me read to her, from one of the gospels (I forget which), the account of our Saviour's death. She looked hard at me several times while I was reading; after which we went to prayers; the words of her prayer I don't well remember; but I know that she wiped her eyes several times while she prayed, and yet seemed to be full of joy and thankfulness, calling upon her Saviour, and praising and thanking him for that blessed gift of his Holy Spirit, by which her vile heart had been prepared for heaven.
While the name of her dear Saviour was yet on her lips, she turned pale, and was near falling to the ground. I hastened to her, and listed her up as well as I could. • Help me to my bed, my dear one,' she said. I did, with some difficulty. I took off some of her clothes, and laid her head on the pillow. She was dying then, but I did not know it; she was so quiet, and seemed so easy, that I supposed she was going to sleep; and I put out the candle, and came to bed. I remember hearing her slow and solemn breathing, as I was falling asleep by her side ; but I had never seen a dying person, and did not know this awful sign of death. In the morning, when I awoke, I found my mother a corpse ; she was gone to the dear Saviour who had died for her, and the time was past in which I could make up to this dear parent for my undutiful and deceitful behaviour. As soon as I found that my dear mother was dead, I screamed 80 loud that John Stinton came running in with all his family.
“I will not make my tale too long by speaking much of my grief, and of the tears I shed over my dear mother. Oh! what would I now have given to call back one of those hours which I might have spent with this