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Just as he said this, a young man of about fourand - twenty, of a prepossessing countenance and agreeable figure, suddenly approached, cordially greeting the old man.
This,” said the latter, “is my nephew, of whom I spoke." Then, taking Paul's hand, continued :“You and Philemon must not be strangers, but have fellowship with each other." That,” said Paul, “ I already feel to be my
desire.” And he spoke as he thought, for there was something in the physiognomy of the new comer, which, though seen for the first time, interested him in his favour. Then I saw that Sure-Trust took his nephew aside, and spoke to him in a low voice, and almost immediately after, the latter, bidding his uncle and the travellers a hasty adieu, left them; when he was gone, their venerable new-found friend addressed them thus
The shades of evening are now closing around us, and you will be in danger of being overtaken by darkness before you can reach the top of the Hill Difficulty ; if you will accept such poor accommodation as I can offer for the night, you are heartily welcome; and you will then have the daylight before you on the morrow.” Paul and his cousin thankfully
accepted his hospitable offer. “My humble dwelling,” said he, “is hard by, and I will shew
the He then led them to a picturesque dell under the side of the hill, and scarcely a quarter of a mile from the spot they had left was situated the small habitation of the good Hermit, which seemed to be half cave, half cottage, and nearly hid from view by the impending foliage, now glowing in autumnal hues, which adorned the high bank wherein it was partly formed: a small simple gate of twisted boughs admitted them to the interior, which, on first entering, was dark; but their host, lighting a lamp that hung from the top, they found themselves in a small, but pretty, grotto-like room, the sides of which being of granite, tastefully interspersed with moss, glittered in the rays of light cast on them from the lamp. After they were seated, the old man made them partake of his frugal but palatable supper, consisting of dried figs, dates, and almonds, to which he added some new milk and a few bunches of grapes for his guests, For,” said he, “ you must, I am sure, be tired and hungry;" which was, indeed, the case, neither of them having eaten since the morning. During their repast they asked the Hermit to tell them something of himself and his life, but this not
from impertinent curiosity, which is apt to actuate some young people, but from the interest they felt about him.
My former life," replied he, “ has been one of trial and vicissitude, and I have lived long enough, my young friends, to feel the truth of Solomon's words, that all is vanity and vexation of spirit;' my
childhood and youth were passed in the sunshine of prosperity, and even luxury, and from the fond kindness of my parents and other friends I had not a wish ungratified: yet I must say (without meaning to boast) that
my wishes were neither unlawful nor immoderate, and I loved my parents with grateful affection. But just as I had attained the age of twenty-eight, when youth is become manhood, and successive years had habituated me to the easy and pleasant life I led, I was suddenly hurled, as it were, from my dream of delight to comparative poverty, hardship, and contempt, by the treachery and base ingratitude of a distant relative, whom I had called and believed my friend."
“Oh!” said Grace, “ how you must have felt such a reverse !"
• It was, indeed, a sore trial,” answered their narrator. “Nor was this all, for, by the most artful misrepresentation and falsehood, he contrived to supplant me in the affections of the virtuous but too credulous maiden to whom, with the full approbation of our respective parents, I was to have been united. This accumulation of evils, though by earnest supplication of the Divine Spirit I endeavoured, and was enabled, to bear with resignation to the will of Him who, when He permitteth the persecutions of the wicked, often turneth them to the ultimate benefit of the innocent, preyed gradually on my
health and peace of mind; and I left my home to seek in change of place some mitigation of my sorrow, taking an affectionate leave of my dear father and mother, with whom my fair fame remained untarnished — not alone on account of their partiality, but from the security they felt in the efficacy of those religious principles they had ever inculcated on my mind. From their precepts, but more from His example, who was despised and rejected' on earth, I practised the lesson (which, I confess, was at that time a difficult one, of forgiving and praying for my enemy. Had I, however, wished for revenge on him, it would in a short time have been gratified, for only a few months after his marriage, an accidental death suddenly deprived him of the bride he had decoyed
THE HERMIT'S STORY.
Such events are, in common language, called accidental ; though in that instance, as in many others, the retributive hand of Providence might easily be traced ; and for herself, poor thing, it was a mercy that she had only a short time to live with a man whose real character she could not long have remained in ignorance of.”
“ And did you ever hear,” asked Paul, “ what became of the man afterwards ?”
Hermit. I heard nothing of him for nearly eight years, and then I was told that he had sunk lower and lower in vicious courses; the mask of dissimulation, under which he had so long concealed his wickedness, was at length detected and pushed aside ; his love of money drew him into dishonest practices, which ended in imprisonment and the contempt of all his former associates : but whether these sad consequences of his conduct ever led him to serious reflection and repentance, or whether he was cut off in the midst of his sins, I never learned. For myself, I was, after a time, enabled to say with David, 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted,' for if I had always enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity, might I not, like many others in similar circumstances, have thought too much of this present land,