« FöregåendeFortsätt »
tions to reach them, the 'wider, and the deeper, and the blacker the stream seemed to become. Then the sky grew black too, and a whirlwind swept him away into deeper darkness. Then he woke.
The thoughts which might in time have been forgotten were brought back with still greater vividness, by this dream, Gradually came back, too, the lessons he had learned, the gentle instructions of his mother on the Sunday evenings, his father's prayers, reproofs, and warnings. He had no Bible, or he would have opened it then; but he tried to recollect what he used to read, and his memory reverted to--shall we not say the Holy Spirit brought to his remembrance the parable of the Prodigal Son. By degrees, bit by bit, first one verse, then another, aş, he had learned it when a child, came to his mind; but nothing seemed to touch him very deeply till he came to the words, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto hin Father!" Then the strong man bowed and trembled and sobbed aloud, and tears sprang to eyes that had not, wept since childhood, and he knelt and prayed. Yes, prayed ! not with many words with indeed but one word,“father!” and the cry to the Father in heaven was made the deeper and tenderer by the thought of the father at home. Deeper and deeper grew his sense of sin, his shame, his sorrow, almost as deep as despair. His old companions looked at him and at one another, and thought that his own curse had indeed fallen upon him. Then they thought he was mad, and watched him lest he should destroy himself. But gradually, as the teachings of home came back to him, he came to hope that even for him there was mercy. But he longed for some one to teach him, for some one to speak to of his doubts and his hopes. So, with just enough to meet the expenses of the journey, he left the diggings and went to Melbourne. There, under the guidance of a pious minister to whom he told his history, he found peace with God, and proved by his life that he had become a new creature in Christ Jesus.
The gold fever was then just at its height, and he found no difficulty in obtaining lucrative employment, and in putting by a sum for what to him now became an absorbing purpose, almost a passion-his return home. He longed to see them all, to go to his earthly father, and say, “I have sinned;" to endeavour to make some amends for all the pain and sorrow he had caused them; to be a comfort,
if possible, to their declining years He denied himself every luxury-almost necessities—that he might be able to do this a week, even a day, earlier than seemed possible. Meanwhile, though not at first (shame prevented him), he had written home, and his friend the minister wrote too, to tell them of the happy change that had taken place, and that he might soon be expected to return, perhaps even before he could receive a reply to his letter.
At last the happy day came, and he took his passage on board the fast-sailing clipper-built ship “ Light," the fastest sailer of the line. With more than a schoolboy's impatience he counted the days as they passed by, and was thankful when another night came. Sometimes, it was true, sad thoughts would arise. How would they receive him? Suppose they should refuse to receive him at all? Perhaps one or the other might be dead. But no, he would not think that; they must be getting into years certainly, but they both seemed likely to live to a good old age when he left home, and they would not be more than about sixty. He little guessed the changes that had taken place.
Very briefly these must be told. George's conduct and his supposed loss-for they never could hear anything of him-weighed very heavily on the minds of his father and mother; and, to add to their grief, their eldest son, who had not shown any remarkable capacity for business, was induced to speculate in mining shares, and brought himself into difficulties, out of which he was only extricated by the sacrifice of a great part of his father's property. Mr. Glynn never recovered this second blow. His health failed, and he shortly died, leaving his affairs in great confusion. A scanty pittance only was saved for his wife and daughter, and with that they removed to cheap lodgings near London, hoping to augment their income by teaching. But longcontinued care and grief broke down Mrs. Glynn's health, and Jane was soon obliged to relinquish some of her engagements to wait upon her mother. At the time this narrative
she had for some months been compelled to do so entirely, and thus by the failure of this source of income, and the expenses of illness, they were sunk into poverty.
George's letter, addressed to the old home, had been long in reaching them. The postmaster sent it on to their first address in London; but they had been obliged to move into humbler lodgings since then, and their old landlady could only remember that it was somewhere in Walworth they were living now. But it at last reached them, though only about a week before Mrs. Glynn died. The shock at first was almost too much for her. Indeed, that and her anxiety to see her "
darling boy,” as she called him, no doubt hastened her end. “ To think, too, he should find us like this after all! But, oh! to know that he loves the Saviour! To think that my poor wandering boy is alive! Oh! if I may but see him once more.” With such and similar expressions did she anticipate her joy ; but that joy was never to be realized in this world.
Leaving directions about his baggage, George, so soon as he landed, hastened with all speed to the spot which he still fondly called home, but only to find the old home passed away, and, to learn the bitter news of his father's death and his mother's poverty. Staying but to visit his father's grave, and to weep there, he hastened to London, to meet with another disappointment, owing to their having removed their lodgings. But, late as it was, he would brook no delay, and with little more than the address Walworth, took a cab, and after two hours' fruitless search, arrived at the right house. To jump out and ask the question asked so many times before in vain, “Does Mrs. Glynn live here?” was the work of a moment; but, to his prise, instead of meeting his mother's glad welcome, he was ushered in silence into a little back room.
“Excuse me, sir, but you are her son, I suppose ?" said the landlady.
“I am : is she not at home ?"
The poor woman could say no more, but burst into tears. Then George feared the worst, and with white lips, and a tongue which clave to the roof of his mouth, began to ask the question the answer to which he dreaded, when the door opened, and his sister, in an agony of weeping, fell into his arms. “Oh, if you had been but a few hours earlier!" was all she could say. Then they led him, weeping like a child himself, up the narrow stairs to the chamber where she lay. The features were scarcely settled, but a sweet and placid smile told of rest. Then gradually recovering from the tempest of their grief, they talked together of her and of her last words, and of the new life which she had begun with the new year, and of themselves. She told the story of the long dark time of sorrow through which she and her mother had passed to,
which George listened with almost broken heart: he told his own sad story of shame and repentance, and of the new life which had he hoped begun. They laid her by her husband; and then, his sister accompanying him, George returned to Australia, to begin a new life there, sad with the memory of new sorrows, but bright with those glorious hopes which transform sorrow itself into new and deeper joy.
MRS. BROWN'S “ BIT O'BRASS."
our large northern towns, and one Sunday even-
where I ordinarily attended; and as I pursued my homeward way, my mind dwelt very much on the duty of professing Christians to do what they can for the good of others. My conscience condemned me for having neglected many opportunities of doing good which I might have improved. While I thus mused, the fire burned, and I resolved that, in the future, I would, God helping me, be more faithful to the Master whom I professedly served.
With my mind thus occupied, I entered a narrow, dark, and dirty street, through which I had occasion to pass, and noticed a small shop open, -one of those shops which seem peculiar to poor localities; it was, what is not inappropriately called a "general shop," devoted to the sale of nearly everything that might be required in such a neighbourhood.
Here, I thought, is an opportunity for carrying out my resolutions. Here may I bear witness for my Master. Why should I not enter that shop, and, as a Christian, quietly and gently remonstrate with those who keep it on the sin of thus breaking the sabbath?
Conscience said, You ought to do this. My natural disposition said, No, go home. Conscience said, Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might. My natural disposition urged me to leave the matter, at least for the present. Thus debating within myself, and vainly seeking to pacify my conscience, I left the shop behind, and soon found myself a quarter of a mile nearer home. I could not however, rest satisfied ; I debated again and again the question-shall I go back or not? I was strongly disinclined to retrace my steps, many reasons why I should not suggested themselves to my mind-I might find myself very ill received by the keeper of the shop, I might expose myself to some very unpleasant abuse for having interfered with what was no concern of mine. But do what I would I found it quite impossible to get rid of the conviction that I ought to return, and not suffer a possible difficulty to deter me from discharging a plain and palpable duty. I at last determined
to go back. I did so with fear and trembling, wishing more than once that I was safely at home. I wondered how I should be received on my errand, and how I should introduce the subject on which I proposed to speak. Thus thinking, I found myself again close to the little shop. With no preconcerted plan, but simply depending upon God's promised help, I entered and found myself at once, face to face, with a big, burly man, who looked as though he would very much like to know what I wanted. Seeing that he expected me to state my business, I said to him, "My good friend, how is it that you have so little love for the Lord's day ?" I meant to express myself plainly, but I saw at once that the man did not catch my meaning. He needed something more than a broad hint. And so I asked him in the plainest possible way-how it was he could keep open shop and carry on his business all day on Sunday, and stay away from church or chapel, and the sound of the gospel, which we all so much needed as sinners.
The man now understood enough to see that I was objecting to the opening of the shop on Sunday, and he replied, “It isn't my doings, it's my wife's; and if you have anything to say you must talk to her about it. The fact is," said the man, confidentially, “she has a little money of her own
( a bit o' brass' was his Lancashire mode of expressing it)," and nothing would content her but putting it into this shop, and then nothing would satisfy her but keeping the shop open on Sundays, because the customers told her that if they could not buy here of a Sunday, they wouldn't buy here of a Monday. You must just step through and have a talk with her about it. It's not my fault keeping the shop open. It's no matter to me whether it's open or shut.”
This was altogether a much more favourable and encouraging commencement than I had ventured to expect, but it was only a commencement. So I go forward to the little room at the back of the shop, the man informing his wife, by way of introduction, that I had called in to talk to them about keeping the shop open on Sundays. I repeated