« PredošláPokračovať »
“ MAMMA IS ASLEEP.” Many are the flowers of gorgeous beauty or winning sweetness, that bud and bloom on this our earth. Some may be seen on the bleak mountain's brow, amid the luxuriant foliage of the tangled forest, or in the dreary solitudes of the desert. When the cold embraces of winter have given way to the revivifying breath of spring, innumerable buds and blossoms open their bosoms to the sun ; and when summer, with its bright, sunny days, has taken the place of spring, these same buds, expanded and adorned with robes painted in rainbow tints, and glittering with dewy pearls, laden the whispering zephyrs with the richest perfume.
But how many of these flowers bud and blossom, and droop and die, unknown and unseen by mortal eye ? How many, if seen, are ruthlessly trodden under foot and buried in the dust ? How many, because unpretending in their appearance, and because they raise their “wee modest heads” among rugged rocks, or barren wastes, are passed heedlessly by ?
And there are flowers of humanity, too, who form a counterpart to those spoken of, who bloom here and there in life's pathway, as if to adorn it for a season, and conceal the thorns and briars that are indigenous to earth's wilderness. In the highways and byways of life, such flowers may be seen unpretendingly unfolding heavenly beauties, and emitting fragrance, as unearthly in its character as it is unobtrusive in its spirit. And they are none the less valuable that they are spurned by the heel of the thoughtless; none the less interesting because unheralded to the world by the prestige of great names ; and none the less beautiful because their leaves are but seldom tinged with the rays of earth's sun.
Forgotten though they be by the votaries of earth, crushed and bruised by the giddy and the thoughtless, and drooping and dying amid the chilling neglect of a cold world, nevertheless they are flowers of God's own planting, they are refreshed and comforted by the waters that flow from living fountains, and they will bloom for ever in the Paradise of Jehovah. And there, while basking in the beams of heaven's glorious sun, and laving their immortal blossoms in the river of the water of life, they shall form undying testimonies of the power and glory of King Emmanuel
We now drop the figurative, and address ourselves to the realities of life, while sketching an item in
“The short and simple annals of the poor.” Few persons were more respected and beloved in the village of Clifton than the young widow Anderson—"the minister's widow," as she was more usually called. And, probably, neither cottage nor palace ever sheltered a happier or lovelier family than hers, consisting of two boys of eight and twelve years, respectively, and a girl over whose head three summers had passed.
Charles, the oldest, had a disposition marked by a melancholy sweetness, that won upon all, and a nobleness of soul that distinguished him from all other boys of his age. William, the youngest, was the picture of his mother, both in features and temper.
Vivacious and imaginative, he was full of gambol and glee. Little Emma, the darling of all, though bright and promising, was delicate, and like the last rose of summer, pointed to an early grave.
The two brothers lavished upon this little one a love that was almost unearthly. Did any kind neighbour give either of them an apple, or a sweetcake, for performing some kind action, then the thought of "little Emma" developed itself by a thrusting of the delicacy into the pocket, and, “these are for you, Emma," were the words that accompanied the treasure as it rolled into her tiny lap. Were there any berries to be seen hanging from the bushes in some fence corner, then, “ Emma will be so glad to have some,” were the talismanic words that urged to a simultaneous attack on bramble-bushes, to the imminent danger of having scratched hands and torn garments. If any flowers of more than ordinary beauty were to be seen, they were sure to become lawful spoil ;
and many a step these loving brothers took, in summer's bright days, in search of materials for a bouquet, for “mother and Emma were so fond of flowers."
The two brothers were as much attached to each other as two could possibly be. Wherever Charley was seen, Willie was sure not to be far off. Some of the villagers conferred on them the sobriquet of “David and Jonathan,” while the old schoolmaster gave them the classic designation of " Castor and Pollux.” Love was indeed the great element in which these children moved.
But the loving, the gentle, the pious mother, was the centre of her family's affection. With them she knelt around that altar first erected in happy days gone by. With them she sung the songs of Zion, and to them she read out of that precious volume that had been the study and companion of one who was now no more. Then her boys would kneel down, one at each side, and, laying their heads on her knee, would repeat, “ Our Father.” But this picture of loveliness was yet to be marred.
At the time our sketch commences, the minister's widow had been residing in Clifton for some eighteen months. For the first six months she had endeavoured to support herself and children by teaching ; but her health failed her, and for some time their scanty pittance had been procured by her busy needle. But lately that needle had been but seldom used, and the widow was rarely seen abroad. The least exertion wearied her during the day, and a distressing cough troubled her during the night. She could no longer sing to little Emma of “the better land,” neither could she lead her boys to the throne of grace in audible prayer. Those hours of the day that had been devoted to such exercises seemed to bring painful feelings to her mind, now that she could no longer engage in her wonted duties, and a tear would tremble for a moment on her cheek. But she murmured not. “ Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight," seemed to be the language of her heart.
The warm breath of summer had passed away, and with it much of the beauty that was wont to adorn the
village of Clifton. The neighbouring fields had been shorn of their treasures and looked bare and dreary, and the woods were invested with the sear and yellow robes of early winter, and already the mournful requiem of departed beauty and gladness was being sung by the chilly blast as it swept through the forest. And was not death abroad, too, gathering into his garner buds and blossoms of humanity? And did not the blast, as it swept past, bear on its wings wailings from crushed hearts, tidings of cruel disappointments, and forewarnings of bereavements soon to be accomplished ? The shadow of the insatiable Reaper was already against the cottage. There in a little room, lay the Widow Anderson—the lovely and beloved centre of attraction of her peaceful family.
Day by day, for weeks past, her strength had been diminishing, and now she lay upon her couch panting and weary, like some radiant being from another world. To those unaccustomed to the delusive character of her disease, her appearance would only have elicited sentiments of admiration for her unearthly beauty. But love and peace and beauty cannot soften Death's unrelenting heart, neither can wealth nor honour bribe him to stay awhile.
Slowly and silently the bed-room door was opened, and Charles stood at the bedside of the slumberer. Long and wistfully he gazed on that lovely countenance, then stooping down he imprinted a kiss on the burning cheek, and whispered “mother.” The sleeper awoke.
Charles, my son!”
“Yes ; I feel easier than I was. What time is it, Charles ?-it seems as if I had been sleeping a long time.”'
“It is just six o'clock, mother-and Willie and I have got such a nice cake for you, and all is ready for supper. Do you think
eat?” "No, Charles ; I am too weak,” said Mrs. Anderson, and I don't feel like eating. Call in Willie and Emma, and take the Bible and read to me." The other children were called in. “Read the fourteenth chapter of John's Gospel,” said
up while you
you can sit
the widow, as her eldest boy took the Bible, and sat down at the bedside.
“Let not your heart be troubled ; ye believe in God, believe also in me,” were the consoling words now heard in the chamber of affliction. The reader continued till the eighteenth verse was read; “I will not leave you
. comfortless ; I will come to you.”
“These are precious words, Charles," said Mrs. Anderson,
and how often have we found them true. We have often been pinched by poverty, and suffered from cold and hunger, but God never left us comfortless. Remember, Charley and Willie, if you are good, God will never leave you comfortless. God means to teach us in these words that although we may be left friendless in the world, that he will provide for and protect us. You may be, some day, without friends-orphans'-here the tears gathered in the mother's eyes—“but if you love and serve Jesus he will never leave you-he will never forsake you. Now sing,” she continued, after a moment's pause, “sing, 'On Jordan's stormy banks I stand.' I love to hear you sing.”
Simple and sweet were the strains of melody that were heard in the cottage, as the two boys joined in singing a song of Zion to their mother. Sometimes little Emma sung too, in childish lispings, the familiar song, for it was a family lullaby.
Little did the children then think that they were singing with their mother for the last time—that the hymn that had been used as cradle song to lull them to sleep, was to their mother the last music of earth that thrilled her heart as she lay down to sleep in Jesus. After singing they knelt down--not resting their heads, as in former days, on her knee, but at her bedside, and each repeated the evening prayer. They then placed little Emma on a chair by her mother, and left the room.
It was a cold and dreary night. The snow was beginning to fall, and the chill blast was sweeping drearily around the cottage. With saddened hearts, they knew pot why, the brothers drew near the few embers on the hearth. They were cold and hungry. The last crust of