« AnteriorContinuar »
it and the vale of Esk and Duddon, with its dreary waste of sullen moss and unfruitful solitudes.
In the meantime the letter which was to summon Fate sped to its destination. When it arrived in Oxford, Julius had left Oxford for London, and it followed him there. He was sitting in his hotel the ensuing night, when it was delivered into his hands; and as it happened, he was in a mood most favourable to its success. As he sat down cowering before the smoking fire, the rain plashed in the muddy streets, and dripped mournfully down the dim window-panes. He was wondering what he must do with himself during the long vacation. He was tired of the Continent, he was lonely in England ; and the United States had not then become the great playground for earth's weary or curious children.
Many times the idea of seeking out his own relations occurred to him. He had promised his father to do so. But, as a rule, people haven't much enthusiasm about. unknown relations; and Julius regarded his promise more in the light of a duty to be performed than as the realization of a pleasure. Still, on that dreary night, in the solitary dulness of his very respectable inn, the Sandals, Lockerbys, and Piersons became three possible sources of interest. While his thoughts were drifting in this direction, the squire's letter was received ; and the young man, who was something of a fatalist, accepted it as the solution of a difficulty.
“ Sandal turns the new leaf for me,” he murmured ; "the new leaf in the book of life. I wonder what story will be written in it.”
He answered the invitation while the enthusiasm of its recep. tion swayed him, and he promised to follow the letter immediately. The squire received this information on Saturday night, as he was sitting with his wife and daughters. “Your nephew, Julius Sandal, from Calcutta, is coming to pay us a visit, Alice,” he said ; and his air was that of a man who thinks he is communicating a piece of startling intelligence. But the three women had already exchanged every possible idea on the subject, and felt no great interest in its further discussion.
“ When is he coming ?” asked Mrs. Sandal, without enthusiasm ; and Sophia supplemented the question by remarking, “ I suppose he has nowhere else to go.”
"I wouldn't say such things, Sophia ; I would not." "He has been in England some months, father.”
Well, then, he was only waiting till he was asked to come. I'm sure that was a proper thing. If there is any blame between us, it is my fault. I sent him a word of welcome last Wednesday morning, and it is very likely he will be here to-morrow. I'm sure he hasn't let any grass grow under his feet. Eh? What?" Charlotte looked up quickly. “Wednesday morning.” She
· was quite capable of putting this and that together, and by a momentary mental process she arrived at an exceedingly correct estimate of her father's invitation. Her blue eyes scintillated beneath her dropped lids; and, though she went calmly on tying the feather to the fishing-fly she was making, she said, in a hurried
and unsteady voice, " I know he will be disagreeable, and I have made up my mind to dislike him.”
Julius Sandal arrived the next morning when the ladies were preparing for church. He had passed the night at Ambleside, and driven over to Sandal in the first cool hours of the day. The squire was walking about the garden, and he saw the carriage enter the park gates. He said nothing to anyone, but laid down his pipe, and went to meet it. Then Julius made the first step towards his uncle's affection—he left the vehicle when they met, and insisted upon walking by his side.
When they reached the house, they entered the great hall together. At that moment Mistress Charlotte's remarkable likeness seemed to force itself upon the squire's attention. He was unable to resist the impulse which made him lead his nephew up to it. “Let me introduce you, first of all, to your father's mother. I greet you in her name as well as my own.” As he spoke, the squire lifted his hat, and Julius did the same. It was a sudden, and to both men a quite unexpected, ceremonial; and it gave an air, touching and unusual, to his welcome.
* And if that man is an ingrate who does not love his native land, how much more immediate, tender, and personal must the feeling be for the home of one's own race. That stately lady, who seemed to meet him at the threshold, was only the last of a long, shadowy line, whose hands were stretched out to him, even from the dark, forgotten days in which Logberg Sandal laid the foundations of it. Julius was sensitive, and full of imagination; he felt his heart beat quick, and his eyes grow dim to the thought; and he loitered up the wide, low steps, feeling very like a man going up the phantom stairway of a dream.
The squire's cheery voice broke the spell. “ We shall be ready for church in a quarter of an hour, Julius; will you remain at home, or go with us ? ”
“ I should like to go with you."
“That's good. It is but a walk through the park; the church is almost at its gates.”
When he returned to the hall, the family were waiting for him; Mrs. Sandal and her daughters standing together in a little group, the squire walking leisurely about with his hands crossed behind his back. It would have been to some men a rather trying ordeal to descend the long flight of stairs, with three pairs of ladies' eyes watching him; but Julius knew that he had a striking personal appearance, and that every appointment of his toilet was faultless. He knew also the value of the respectable middle-aged valet following him and felt that his irreproachable manner of serving his hat and gloves was a satisfactory reflection of his own importance.
It is the women of a family that give tone and place to it. One glance at his aunt and cousins satisfied Julius. Mrs. Sandal was stately and comely, and had the quiet manners of a high-bred woman. Sophia, in white mull, with a large bat covered with white drooping feathers, and a glimmer of gold at her throat and wrists, was at least picturesque. Of Charlotte, he saw nothing in the first moments of their meeting but a pair of bright blue eyes, and a face as sweet and fresh as if it had been made out of a rose. He took his place between the girls, and the squire and his wife walked behind them. Sophia, being the eldest, took the initiative, talking softly and thoughtfully, as it was proper to do upon a Sunday morning.
The sods under their feet were thick and green ; the oaks and sycamores above them had the broad shadows of many centuries. The air was balmy with emanations from the woods and fields, and full of the expanding melody of church-bells travelling from hill to hill. Julius was conscious of everything; even of the proud, shy girl who walked on his left hand, and whose attitude impressed him as slightly antagonistic. They soon reached the church, a very ancient one, built in the stormy days of the Plantagenets by the two knights whose grim effigies kept guard within the porch. It was dim and still when they entered; the congregation all kneeling at the solemn confession; the clergyman's voice, low and pathetic, intensifying silence to which it only added mortal minors of lament and entreaty. He was a small, spare man, with a face almost as white as the vesture of his holy office. Julius glanced up at him, and for a few minutes forgot all his dreamy philosophies, aggressive free thought and shallow infidelities. He could not resist the influences around him; and when the people rose, and the organ filled the silence with melody, and a young sweet voice chanted joyfully" ( come let us sing unto the Lord : let us heartily rejoice in the strength
of our salvation. “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving : and show ourselves
glad in Him with Psalms," he turned round and looked up to the singer, with a heart beating to every triumphant note. Then he saw it was Charlotte Sandal; and he did not wonder at the hearty way in which the squire joined in the melodious invocation, nor at his happy face, nor at his shining eyes; and he said to himself with a sigh, “ That is a Psalm one could sing oftener than once in seven days.”
He had not noticed Charlotte much as they went to the church:. he amended his error as he returned to the “ seat.” And he thought that the old sylvan goddesses must have been as she was; must have had just the same fresh faces, and bright brown hair; just the same tall, erect forms and light steps; just the same garments of mingled wood-colours and pale green.
The squire had a very complacent feeling. He looked upon Julius as a nephew of his own discovering, and he felt something of a personal pride in all that was excellent in the young man. He watched impatiently for his wife to express her satisfaction, but Mrs. Sandal was not yet sure that she had any good reason to express it.
• Is he not handsome, Alice ? ”
"Some people would think so, William. I like a face I can read."
" I'm sure it is a long way better to keep yourself to yourself. Say what you will, I am sure he will have plenty of good qualities. Eh? What?”
“For instance, a great deal of money."
" Treat him fair, Alice; treat him fair. You never were one to be unfair, and I don't think you'll begin with my nephew."
“No, I'll never be unfair, not as long as I live; and I'll take up for Julius Sandal as soon as I am half sure he deserves it."
“ You can't think what a pleasure it would be to me if he fancied one of our girls. I've planned it this many a long day, Alice.”
Well, then, William, if you have a wish as strong as that, it is something more than a wish, it is a kind of right; and I'll never go against you in any fair matter."
“ And though you spoke scornful of money, it is a good thing; and the girl Julius marries will be a rich woman. Eh? What?”
Perhaps ; but it is the happiness and not the riches of her child that is a good mother's reward, and a good father's too. Eh, William ?”
“Certainly, Alice, certainly." But his unspoken reflection was, “women are that short-sighted, they cannot put up with a small evil to prevent a big one.”
He had forgotten that “the wise One” and the “ Counsellor” thought one day's joys and sorrows “sufficient" for the heart to bear.
BY MRS. S. E. KENNEDY.
WHERE rosy dawn ne'er introduced
The noontide's golden light,
The messengers of night,
O'er life, the only good,
The fluted crinoid stood.
Quaint were these 'prisoned plant-like forms
Endowed with sentient life,
Where fear and want were rife.
On gently waving stems,
The whole of life to them.
Look up, my soul! Such rayless depths
Were never meant for thee.
Thy home should never be.
In starless night to grope.
Ye prisoner of hope.
THE GOSPEL OF ST. PETER.
THE GREAT THEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY OF THE NINETEENTH
BY W. M. CROOK.
We live in an age of wonderful Feast of Unleavened Bread'—their discoveries. At no period of history festival. But those who had seized have the secrets of the world been the Lord were pushing Him, while given upin such astonishing numbers. they ran, and were saying, "We Astronomy, geology, archæology, and have found the Son of God, having hypnotism are furnishing results that got power over Him,' and they proare simply extraordinary in their ceeded to throw a purple robe round significance and dazzling in their Him, and sat Him on a seat of rapidity. As day by day we open judgment, saying, "Judge righteousour newspapers, the Laureate's words ly, 0 King of Israel ;' and one of come ringing in our ears :
them bringing a crown of thorns, “A thousand things are hidden still,
placed it on the head of the Lord, And not a hundred known."
and others, standing, were spitting
on His eyes, and others struck His The most interesting to Biblical cheeks, others were prodding Him students of the more recent revela- with a reed, and some were scourgtions of the past are the fragments of ing Him saying, With this honour. apocryphal books which have been let us honour the Son of God.' And published just recently. By the they brought two malefactors and time these lines are in print, all the crucified the Lord between them. world will be talking of "The Gos- But He Himself held His peace, as pel of Peter” and “The Apocalypse if He had no pain ; and when they of Peter." This manuscript was had erected the cross they wrote on discovered so long ago as the winter it, . This is the King of Israel,' and, of 1886-87 at Akhmim, in Upper having placed His garments before Egypt, in a Christian tomb.
it (or · Him '] they distributed them The Gospel of St. Peter is men- and cast a lot for them. But one of tioned by several early Christian those malefactors reproached them, writers. The fragment begins ab- saying, “We have suffered thus on ruptly thus :
account of the sins which we have ** But of the Jews no one washed committed, but this man, being the his hands, neither Herod, nor any of Saviour of mankind, what wrong has His judges, even of those who wished He done you?' And, being enraged to wash. Pilate rose up, and then at Him, they ordered that His legs Herod the king ordered the Lord to should not be broken, in order that be seized, saying to them, “All that He might die in torture. Now it I ordered you to do, do to Him.' was noon, and darkness covered all Now came there Joseph, the friend Judæa, and they were thrown into of Pilate and of the Lord, and, confusion, and were distressed, lest having learned that they were about perchance the sun were going down to crucify Him, he went to Pilate when He was yet alive. It has been and begged the body of the Lord for written for them that the sun should burial, And Pilate having sent to not go down on one who has been Herod, asked for His body, and put to death. And one of them said, Herod said, 'Brother Pilate, al- "Give Him to drink gall (hemlock ?) though no one had asked for Him, along with vinegar,' and, having we should have buried Him, since mixed it, they gave Him to drink, the Sabbath is dawning ; for it has and fulfilled all things, and accombeen written in the law that the sun plished their sins on their head. But should not go down on one who has many were going about with torches been put to death on the eve of the (lamps), thinking that it was night,