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MEETING IN THE ARBOUR.
hearted Philemon an indifferent or unconcerned spectator, for he was one who could “ rejoice with them that rejoice,” as truly as he “mourned with them that mourn." They all entered the arbour, and it was some moments before any of the party expressed their satisfaction in words, though each offered a silent thanksgiving to Him from whom all blessings come.
Then Luke said, with a kind smile, “I should have been greatly surprised, dearest sister, at finding you in this place, had not our good friend here told me of his meeting you and Paul at the abode of his uncle, the Hermit of the Spring; which meeting was indeed the cause of his so kindly coming in search of me."
“There is much to hear and to tell,” observed Paul ; “ for I have yet to learn the reason of cousin Grace becoming our fellow-pilgrim."
• Oh!” exclaimed she, “I cannot say a word about myself till you, dear Luke, have told us your adventures; which, I am sure, are much more interesting to us all.”
Well, then,” replied her brother, “ in obedience to the wishes of your affectionate heart, which I know will not otherwise feel at ease, I will nar
rate my adventures, as you call them, as simply and briefly as I can; though to you, Philemon, I fear it will be tedious, as you are already acquainted with nearly all I have to say.”
By no means," replied the latter, “ but before you commence, I must beg your audience and yourself to partake of these dried cherries (producing a box of that pleasant fruit), which I brought from the hermitage, though but a slight repast after your fatiguing walk."
They assured him it was quite sufficient, for the water they had drank at the foot of the hill was like meat and drink to them.
Then Luke, addressing himself to Paul, said, “I will begin from the time we separated. I waited, as you desired, seating myself under a tree, and as I soon ceased to hear the sound of the distant voice, (how little did I guess whose it was !) I momentarily expected your return : that not occurring, I arose, and, looking every way, walked to and fro, considering what I had best do; and had just resolved on following in the direction you took, when a gentleman approached from the opposite side of the road, and, perceiving me to be in some dilemma, addressed me with much courteous politeness, and inquired
where I was going, &c.—all which I told him: he then advised me not to think of seeking you, as I intended, for that he had no doubt you had been decoyed into the Labyrinth of Error, which lay at no great distance on the other side.
“If so,' said I, “there is the more reason that I should pursue, and endeavour to release him.'
By no means,' replied he ; you might lose yourself, but not help him, nor perhaps even find him. But come with me to my house, which is not far off, and I will send one of my scouts to search for him and conduct him back to you.'
“I am obliged to you,' answered I, 'for your kindness to a stranger; but how will he succeed in releasing him, when you seem to think it impossible that I should ?'
• Oh,' replied he looking a little confused), 'I and my
household have lived in this part of the country many years, whilst you are only travelling through it; therefore it would, of course, be much more difficult for you to find your way in these intricate places.'
“Though far from feeling convinced by his argument, I acquiesced, seeing that further opposition would be useless, and a short walk brought us to his house, a handsome building. We entered; and as we walked across the hall he said a few words to the servant who admitted us, telling me afterwards that he had given directions for some one to go immediately and seek for my friend.' He then led me into a spacious apartment, round which hung many pictures of saints, and in a niche at the top of the room was a beautiful marble statue of the blessed Virgin. Perceiving that these drew my attention, he desired me to walk round and look at them, which I did, he accompanying me; I admired them, for they were well executed, but I observed with some surprise, that my companion bowed his head while passing some of them, more especially the statue, before which he made the sign of the cross on his breast. The words of the second commandment came into my mind: • Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them,' and I longed to speak my thoughts, but feared that the speech of a youth like myself would be disregarded by a man of between forty and fifty, as he appeared to be, so for the present I was silent. Soon after this, the mid-day meal was served, of which he pressed me to partake; it consisted of fish, eggs, vegetables, &c. prepared with great nicety, but no meat, for the absence of which
he made a needless apology on account of the day being Friday, which he said he always kept as a fast.
“With every respect for his motives, which I doubted not were conscientious, I could scarcely preserve my gravity when he pronounced this word: custom may call this a fast, thought I, but common sense and hunger would consider it a feast.
“When it was concluded, he inquired by what road I intended travelling to Zion?'
“ I told him · by that leading up the Hill Difficulty.'
“ « Oh,' said he, there is no necessity for your going up that tiresome hill.'
“ • But,' replied I, “I find, by the map given us by Mr. Interpreter, that it lies directly in the road, and I do not see how we can avoid it without going out of the way.'
“ • It may appear so to you,' answered he, but I can tell you there are ways winding round the foot of the mountain, and also guides whom I know, that for a fee (such as you can afford to give) would lead you by them quite safely.'
“ I felt that this advice was not such as our good friend the Interpreter would have given, and said, · If these are true ways, why are they not noted down in the map?'