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HILL DIFFICULTY. 35
cheerless, the evening of their lives has frequently become warm and genial like the morning, and their sun has set in bright and peaceful serenity."
Now I saw in my dream that they had advanced some distance, and the Hill Difficulty appeared in sight.
"See you the hill before us?" asked Paul.
"Yes, and very steep it looks," said Luke; "and the road has become so rugged, and bad for walking, that I feel almost tired already, before we begin the ascent."
"You must try not to give way to weariness, however, for up it we must go," said Paul.
Just as he had spoken these words, a cry was heard, as of one in distress.
"Hark!" said Luke; " what is that?" They listened, and again they heard (as far as they could judge from the distance) a female lamenting.
"Wait here, Luke," cried Paul, "while I go and see what it is." He ran off along a little path to the right, in the direction from whence the sound came; it led him to a copse or thicket, which gradually increased to a wood, with numerous paths so intricate, that by the time he was fairly in he could not tell by which he had come, nor which to take: all he could do was to follow that which seemed to lead towards the part from whence the voice proceeded, but which now sounded but faintly, and at intervals. He advanced as quickly as the briery underwood allowed him, and at last discerned something white at a short distance: scrambling along, he soon came up to it, and what was his surprise to behold, sitting on the ground, nearly insensible from exhaustion, Luke's sister Grace. A look of glad surprise beamed on her countenance for a moment, when she recognised her cousin, and then she again sank, pale and fainting. Paul suddenly bethought him of the fruit he had received from the Interpreter, and supporting her against a fallen tree, instantly gave her some; even the smell of it began to revive her, and when she had tasted it her strength gradually returned, and she rose up. After expressing her grateful joy at the timely assistance of Paul, she, at his request, promised to relate the cause of the piteous situation in which he found her.
"But, before I begin my narrative," said she, "let us try to find our way out of this labyrinth, for such it appears to be."
Such, indeed, it was, and to emerge from it was no easy matter, especially as they were now sur
LABYRINTH OF ERROR. 37
rounded by a thick fog: they tried three or four paths, but the farther they advanced in each, the more they became entangled in the bewildering maze.
Poor Grace began to despair, and her companion was equally at a loss, but after a little consideration he exclaimed: "What ought we to do, when in any trouble or perplexity? Should we not petition our Lord and King to deliver us from it, all means being possible with Him?"
"Ah, indeed!" replied his cousin, "I ought to have thought of that sooner, nor required to be reminded of it, for do I not know that He is 'a very present help in time of need ?'"
Then I saw that they both fell on their knees, and humbly besought the Giver of all good to extricate them from their present strait; and they arose with more tranquillised spirits when they had "cast all their care on Him who careth for us;" knowing that "to our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him."
It was not long before their prayer was answered, for suddenly there appeared before them a bright and majestic person, clad in white raiment, with a girdle of crystal; bearing in one hand a sharp and glittering sword, adorned with precious stones, and in the other a Book.
"I am sent," said she, "to guide you back to the right way, which, unassisted, you could not find." Observing surprise and curiosity expressed in the looks of the two wanderers, she continued: "My name is Revelation, the sister of Truth; follow me, and you shall soon come out from the Labyrinth of Error (for so is this place called) into which you have plunged."
She then led the way, cutting down the thorns, thistles, and all intervening obstacles with the sword of the Spirit, the brilliancy of which seemed to disperse the fog that had enveloped them; and ever and anon repeating to them some sentence of hope and encouragement from the sacred book she bore.
Thus, in a short time, they emerged from the wood, and regained the road that Paul had quitted. Their celestial guide then mounted into the air, and gradually disappeared from their sight. They were both thankful to be set in the right way again, but as unmixed joy is rarely to be found in the Land of Imperfection, through which they were travelling, their present care was to find Luke, and it is hard to say whether he was most anxiously
THEY REGAIN THE ROAD. 39
thought of and sought for by his fond sister, or his faithful companion and cousin.
"Alas!" cried the latter, "if my loved friend and fellow-traveller should be taken from me, I shall go the rest of my way in weariness and sorrow!" After a pause of reflection, however (for he was not in general given to despondency), he exclaimed: "But why this dejection? I could scarcely expect to find him on the same spot where I left him, when nearly half a day has since elapsed. I feel ashamed of my impatience; and, perhaps, even now, he may not be far off."
Poor Grace looked rather more cheerful at these words, and said, "He may but have preceded us up yonder hill, which seems to lie in the direct road."
"It does so," answered Paul, "and is the Hill Difficulty, of which you have probably heard; its steepness will, I fear, be fatiguing to you."
Grace. Oh, no! the hope of again seeing my dear brother will lend me wings to mount it. Only a few hours ago I fancied I should never get out of that labyrinth, yet here I am, not only free of it, but aided by you, my cousin, whom I little thought so near me.
Paul. Luke as little thought of your being so