Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

"I

“I understand," said Margaret: “though on the opposite side to that where his brother he is short, he is a sturdy fellow. They are had seen him on the ridge or promontory; a family well brought up, and very brave." and now, in all probability, he was for the first

“Well brought up!” said the fisherman, time aware of his danger-he must indeed with the same tone of contempt he had used be aware of it, for the water was deep on before, and which seemed to be familiar to this side, and the waves lashed fiercely up him. “Well brought up!” he repeated. among the scattered fragments of earth and

suppose that means well fed, and dressed stone which had fallen from the huge cliffs in fine clothes. I tell you that's not worth above. so much as the breath that blows away a bit Margaret knew now that the little boy of thistle-down, when the wind roars and did see his danger to some extent. She the sea rages. But come you on, and follow watched him intently, and saw that he looked me, my little lass. I like the looks o’ ye, around as if taking in the full horror of his though you do talk nonsense, like the rest situation at one glance; and then she saw o' fine folk, about bringing up."

him throw up his arms in an attitude of “I don't mean," said Margaret, following terror-perhaps, as she thought, uttering very meekly in the steps of the great powerful some wild cry which the sea-birds alone man, and not able to keep up with him ex- could hear. cept by now and then making a little run,- | It was impossible for Margaret not to cry “I don't mean that they are brought up too, but her words were those of encouragedelicately, but bravely-sensibly, as boys ment, if they could but have reached him. that are to be useful men should be brought Yes, Margaret saw and knew that he was up."

suffering agonies of terror and distress; and “Well, that is something," said the fisher- she now ran on to the place whence the man, who seemed to Margaret to be going fisherman had disappeared, in order that far too leisurely to work, as if his object she might wave her handkerchief, or in might be to catch a herring, not to save a some way attract his attention, and so make human life. “That is something,” he re- him aware that help was at hand; or, if peated. “Folks like you don't often talk indeed he was beyond all human help, that about being brave. I fancy they leave that he might know and feel that he was not left for the most part to us poor fishermen, and there to die alone, without any effort being to all that live by hard service both on sea made to save him. and land. But, mercy on us, child! what “ Archy! dear little Archy!" cried Mar. are we doing? Yonder he is--the poor little garet, until the tears choked her utterance; dot of a fellow, and all yon big sea running and then she prayed fervently to her up like fury! I must be off, or he'll be heavenly Father, and his, that he would swept away before any rope can reach him. stretch out His arm of power, and help and He can never stand that for long."

save the boy. She had scarcely sought this So saying, the fisherman ran off at full relief before she discovered by the look and speed, leaving Margaret to take care of attitude of the poor child that he also was herself. Happily for her, she never once praying, for his clasped hands were raised, thought about herself, or she might have and his knees bent upon the rock, and so he been terror-stricken by the nature of her remained for what seemed to Margaret a situation altogether, for she was entirely long time; for the water was still rising, alone in a strange, wild, solitary place, and she could not see the fisherman at all, without any protector or friend to take her and for Archy to climb the rocks above him by the hand, or to say to her a soothing was impossible. word under the agony of apprehension which Well, indeed, was it for both children, in she was enduring. For before her, full in that moment of agony, that they had been view, as the fisherman had said, was the early taught to pray; that an appeal to their little“ dot of a fellow," clinging to the rocks Father in Heaven was no new language to

their lips; and especially that they, young on the other side of the ridge of rocks, had as they were, could pray believing that they joined the fisherman, and was helping him should be heard for the sake of that Saviour to steady and ease the rope, and all the in whom they had early learned to trust. while shouting words of encouragement, Little Archy was perhaps naturally less which his brother was now just able to brave than his brothers; but they all re

hear. garded him as having more faith ; perhaps Margaret never knew exactly how the boy he was more reliant in his own disposition ; was saved. It seemed to her then, and inbut especially they regarded him as loving deed ever afterwards, like a miracle; but so more devoutly Him to whom he was now it was, that Harry, at length losing patience, crying from his rocky prison, while half- descended a short distance by hold of the encircled by the raging waves.

rope, and caught his little brother in his But hark! There is a sound. A manly arms just as his last effort was failing. The voice breaks through the roar of the surging boy had struggled hard for life, and by the billows. Margaret sees that the boy has help of the rope had been able to clamber heard, and is looking up towards the cliff. over many difficult points of rugged ascent By a circuitous way the fisherman has which would otherwise have been wholly gained a standing place above, and yet not impracticable to him ; but by the time his very distant from the spot where little brother appeared on the scene, his strength Archy remains, having discovered, to his was rapidly expiring, and had he not been horror, that to proceed is impossible. caught in those affectionate arms, it is more

Margaret heard the shouting, and she than probable he would have fallen back saw at length that Archy had discovered into the now foaming gulf, from which no from whence it came—that he had seen the human power could have saved him. man, and was beginning to understand There was still both danger and difficulty something by his gesticulations. But how to be encountered. With his almost insencould a rope thrown to that little dot of a sible burden, Harry had enough to do to fellow ever help him out of the mouth of keep his own footing, though the steepest that raging gulf? It was worth trying, portion of the cliff was passed, and he had the however, and it was evident that James steady hand and encouraging directions of Halliday thought so, for he kept repeatedly the fisherman to help him. His own active throwing the rope, to the end of which he and adventurous habits were here of great had made a noose, until at last it caught service to him, as, indeed, had been the case upon a point of rock immediately beside the with little Archy; for had his bringing-up boy, who had the presence of mind to seize been as tender as his general appearance and grasp it firmly. Having done so, he might have led a stranger to suppose, he looked up again at the man, who showed by would scarcely have had the resolution to gestures what he was to do. He was to make the first attempt to reach a place of slip the noose over his head, and let it re- safety by seizing the rope and adjusting it main securely drawn round his waist. Then

to his person.

It was now, absolute physical he was to begin his perilous ascent along a exhaustion under which he sank; and when line of rocks which the fisherman pointed at last the summit of the cliff was gained, out. Impossible! it looked to Margaret; Harry placed his burden gently on the and once having seen the boy slip, and fall ground, scarcely knowing whether the last back a short way, she covered her eyes with spark of life was not actually gone. her hands, and absolutely dared not look Margaret had hastened to the spot, and again-not, indeed, until she heard what was there on the top of the cliff ready to sounded like another voice. Then she receive little Archy into her kind caressing looked up and beheld two figures on the arms; for although one year younger than cliff. It was Harry Dunlop, who by some her charge, she eagerly undertook the office means, having clambered up from the shore of nurse and comforter, inspired only by

that womanly instinct which many a little We are often called upon to admire the girl, even younger than Margaret, has ex- provisions made by an all-wise Creator in hibited in the form of matronly kindness, completing and sustaining the works of His while herself but a child.

own hand; and a glorious call for rejoicing Almost for the fir ime in her life Mar- thankfulness it is when science brings to garet had found herself of use this day, and light some new manifestation of the wisdom that conviction came upon her like the dawn and the goodness of God, as shown in the of a new existence. She did not see her- natural structure of our world. But there self differently, because, as already said, she is another world within the human heart-a was not thinking of herself; but above and world in which provision has been made for around her all things expanded and grew, all our social, relative, and individual wants, and ways seemed to open in every direc- which does not the less excite our wonder tion, while a certain power of action rushed and gratitude. It is a great thing that the through her whole frame, making life-even reindeer is supplied through the icy solithat troubled life of the last few hours-a tudes of his long winter with the moss which kind of ecstacy, it was so full of purpose, sustains his life; that the swift and graceful energy, and hope, and now so rich in ful- wing of the swallow is strong enough to filment.

bear its autumnal flight over sea and land Yes, there was something very much like in search of some sunnier shore where the happiness beaming from Margaret's earnest storms of our climate are unknown. But I face, along with this consciousness of having think it is a greater thing, because it is a been of use, which she could enjoy to its provision more exquisitely adapted to our full extent without attributing the least necessities, that a gentle brooding love like merit to herself; for what had she done? that of a mother should be found in every And now she was indeed happy, for the woman's breast, whether young or old, colour was beginning to come back into whether solitary or planted in families; and Archy's pale cheeks; while, seated on the that this bountiful provision needs only the ground, she held him closely in her arms, cry of pain, the look of agony, the spectacle with his head resting on her shoulder, of suffering, to call it into active usefulness. chafing his purple hands, and trying to warm We speak often of this love with tender his cold feet, Harry at the same time bending and admiring reverence, where, implanted over him with intense anxiety. His large by nature, it is manifested by a parent toblue eyes at length opened, he gave one lookwards her own offspring. But have we not of grateful recognition, and for a moment all seen it yet even more wonderfully dissmiled

upon them with his accustomed ex- played where there has been no natural pression of guileless and cordial affection. claim to call it forth—where it has arisen as

The little woman held him in her arms it were spontaneously, and grown into active with caressing tenderness. The motherly life during the exigency of some calamitous ways of the young girl often made Harry moment, answering promptly and willingly smile afterwards when he recalled the where there was no other requirement than

Yet somehow he liked to bring the that of urgent need, and still more wonderpicture up again before his mind. He liked fully persisting in its kindly offices where to see Margaret in that attitude of anxious there was no earthly reward ? and loving care.

She had had neither We grow accustomed to the natural exerbrother nor sister of her own. She had cise of motherly affection, because the little scarcely known what it was to be herself birds feel this when they spread their wings the object of a mother's tenderness. Yet over their unfledged young-the sheep when here was nature working in her heart, and it answers to the bleating of its own lamb actually directing her what to do in one of among a thousand—the lioness when she the most trying emergencies of human ex- defends the cave in which her nurslings are perience.

asleep. But when a woman who is no

scene.

mother herself takes the poor orphan to her the little one when she herself might reasonheart and home, when she devotes herself ably be fretting: how she will kiss the small by day and by night to another woman's pricked finger, and bind it up, when her child, when she gives herself liberally and own is torn with briars; and how she will continually to the self-denying services re- pet, and rock, and sing to, and crow over quired in nursing and training, cherishing some baby tyrant, when sorely in need of and comforting those who were born with a little tenderness herself. no natural dependence upon her, then, I It was in this spirit, and actuated by this think, we recognise more immediately the natural impulse, that Margaret undertook in working of God's own hand in this provi- a moment, and without being conscious of sion, the history of which, if it could be what she was doing, her first duty in the way written, would be a history of the noblest of motherly care-taking. She had nursed and truest heroism that language has ever many a pet in her short life-many a dumb recorded, embracing much that lies closest creature, four-footed or winged: nothing to human feeling, and deepest in our ex- came amiss to her that was young and helpperience both of happiness and misery. less, tender or suffering. But now she had a

And yet such instances of the wise and human sufferer, and a very precious one-a merciful care of our heavenly Father in His case of life and death

upon

her hands; and provision for our necessities are continually absorbing as the office she had undertaken presenting themselves within the range of might well have been to anyone, it was ordinary observation. Thus, when I speak intensely so to her. Only a girl whose of a little girl on a sudden emergency nature was deeply imbued with the kind doing just what was kindest, and best, of interest here described could have done and most motherly to do, without instruc- exactly as Margaret did under so sudden tion, and without premeditation, I speak and pressing an emergency-feeling, as it only of the acting out of a natural impulse were, with her soft warm hand for what -the exercise of a natural gift which all life might yet be left in the shivering boy, women, except in very rare and revolting clasping his wrists and ancles, pressing instances, have received as an unalienable him again and again close to her own warm and most blessed heritage-a talent which is heart, and then looking up, ever and anon, capable, perhaps beyond all others, of being into the brother's face with an exulting rendered back with interest to the Divine smile, and saying, “He is better-warmer!" Master when He shall call from each one of or uttering some other sudden and joyful us for an account of what has been lent us announcement, with an air of as much conto use in His service.

fidence and triumph, as if she had been conIt is impossible to say at what age, or quering a city. under what unlikely circumstances, the ex- There was, in fact, no fear in Margaret's ercise of this gift may not be found. In the mind after the boy had once opened his nursery, the schoolroom, or the hospital we eyes and looked around him, as he did, with expect to find it. But we also see it touch- a smile of intelligence. But he fell off ingly displayed in our streets and lanes, / again after that, and shivered, and closed his where the little motherly girl, scarcely fit eyes, and looked as if he might be actually to be more than a nursling herself, takes dying. It seemed as if a kind of cold willing charge of a lusty infant too heavy stupor was creeping over him, and Margaret for her strength; where she sits among a set herself to rub and chafe his limbs, group of tiny creatures committed to her throwing off as fast as she could the care, and makes garlands for them beside heaviest of the wet garments which clung the meadow path, or snatches them away around him, and wrapping him closely in with resolute arms at the sound of coming her own mantle. danger. More beautiful still it is to see her In the meantime, James Halliday had motherly atteinpts to soothe the fretfulness of run off for some kind of restorative, with

the use of which he was himself rather it best to give way, and allow him to prointimately acquainted, and at the same time ceed without interference. he brought a blanket from his own bed, The consequence was that little Archy with other wraps and provisions of his own soon found himself closely enveloped in the for restoring animation. Laden with these, folds of a blanket not quite so white as he very naturally insisted upon having his those of his Canadian home, and with someown way with the boy whose life ho had thing very hot, and strong, and disagreesaved ; and he spoke and acted with so able burning in his throat. He felt also much of the air of one who has had great that he was being carried along, he supexperience in such matters, and also one posed over the shoulders of the fisherman; whose method of carrying out a purpose but beyond this his bewildered senses did is not to be disputed, that Margaret deemed not serve him to much purpose.

WINTER AT THE SEA-SHORE.

HE curving shore is fringed with ice and snow,

Far as the eye can reach, in frozen blocks,
And myriads of wild sea-birds come and go

In countless flocks :
Some paddling on the icebergs, and some flying
In form triangular, and numbers vast;
While shoals of oxbirds, others' speed outvying,

Go sweeping past.
Plovers and ducks, and brown geese without number
Hover o'erhead, or settle on the sea;
God sends them in such plentiful abundance,

For all men free.
But, hark! a shot with sharp reverberation,
Re-echoes loudly from a fowler's boat;
And the shrill shriek of fear and consternation

Alarm denote.
For that one shot, with well-directed aim,
Swept lengthwise through a hundred wings outspread,
And over twenty of the ocean game

Fall maimed or dead.
But evening comes, and o'er the darkening skies,
In moving clouds, the affrighted birds retreat;
Just as the full moon's earliest beams arise

Serenely sweet.
The rustling tide comes murmuring toward the beach,
Lifting the crisp ice with a measured flow.
Beautiful sea! as far as eye can reach
Belted with snow.

BENJAMIN GOUGH.

« AnteriorContinuar »