Page images

agony, God seemed a ruthless being.“ Blow-blow-blow and drift us up for ever--we cannot be far asunderHannah-Hannah-think ye not that the fearful God has forsaken us?

21. As William Grieve groaned these words passionately through his quivering lips, there was a sudden lowness in the air, and he heard the barking of his absent dog, while the one at his feet hurried off in the direction of the sound, and soon loudly joined the cry. It was not a bark of surprise-or anger-or fear-but recognition and love. WilJiam sprung up from his bed in the snow, rushed headlong through the drifts, with a giant's strength, and fell down half dead with joy and terror, beside the body of Hannah. Lee.

22. But he soon recovered, and lifting the cold corpse in his arms, he kissed her lips, and her cheeks, and her forehead, and her closed eyes, till, as be kept gazing on her face in utter despair, her head fell back on his shoulder, and a long deep sigh came from her immost bosom. “She is yet alive, thank God! I am not worthy to be saved; but let not this maiden perish, for the sake of her parents, who have no other child."

23. The distracted youth prayed to God with the same earnestness as if he had been beseeching a fellow-creature, in whose hand was the power of life and death. The presence of the Great Being was felt by him in the dark and bowling wild, and strength was imparted to him as to a deliverer. He bore along the fair child in his arms, even as if she had been a lamb. The snow-drift blew not-the wind fell dead--a sort of glimmer, like that of an up-breaking, and departing storm, gathered about him-his dogs barked, and jumped, and burrowed joyfully in the snow--and the youth, strong in sudden hope, exclaimed, “ With the bles. sing of God, who has not deserted us in our sore distress, will I carry thee, Hannah, in my arms, to the house of thy father.” At this moment there were no stars in the heaven, but she opened her dim blue eyes upon him in whose bosom she was unconsciously lying, and said, as in a dream,“ Send the ribbon that ties up my hair, as a keepsake to William Grieve." "She thinks that she is on her deathbed, and forgets not the son of her master. It is the voice of God that tells me she shall not die, and that under His grace, I sha!! be her deliverer."

24. The shortlived rage of the storm was soon over, and William could attend to the beloved being on his bosom. The warmth of his heart seemed to infuse life into hers; and as he gently placed her feet on the snow, till he mufilled her up in his plaid, as well as in her own, she made an effort to stand, and faintly inquired where she was, and what tearful catastrophe had befallen them? She was, however, too weak to walk; and as her young master carried her along, sbe murmured,“ O William! what if my father be in the moor? For if you, who need care so little about me, have come hither, as I suppose, to save my life, you may be sure my father sat not within doors during the storm.”

25. As she spoke, it was calm around them, but the wind was still alive in the upper air, and cloud, mist, and sleet, were all driving about in the sky. Out shone, for a moment, the pallid and ghostly moon, through a rent in the gloom, and by that uncertain light, came staggering the figure of a man. Father, father," cried Hannah, and his gray hairs were already on her cheek. The barking of the dogs, and the shouting of the young shepherd, had struck bis ear, as the sleep of death was stealing over him, and with the last effort of benumbed nature, he had roused himself from that fatal torpor, and pressed through the snow-wreath that had separated him from his child. As yet they knew not of the dauger each had endured ; but each judged of the other's sullering from their own, and father and daughter regarded each other as creatures rescued, and hardly yet rescued from death.

26. But a few minutes ago, and the three human beings who loved each other so well, and now feared not to cross the inoor in safety, were, as they thought, on their deathbeds. Deliverance now shone upon them all like a gentle fire, dispelling that pleasant but deadly drowsiness; and the old man was soon able to assist William Grieve in leading Hannah along through the snow ; whose heart was now filled with gratitude to God, joy in her deliverance, love to her father, and purest aifection for her master's son; never before had the innocent maiden known what was happiness, and never more was she to forget it. The night was now almost calm, and fast returning to its former beauty--when the party saw the first twinkle of the fire through the low window of the Cottage of the Moor. They soon were at the garden gale--and to relieve the heart of the wife and

mother within, they talked loudly and cheerfully--naming each other familiarly, and laughing between, like persons who had known neither danger nor distress.

27. No voice answered from within-no footstep came to the door, which stood open as when the father had left it in his fear, and now he thought with affright that his wife, feeble as she was, had been unable to support the loneliness, and had followed him out into the night, never to be brought home alive. As they bore Hannah into the house, this fear gave way to worse, for there upon the hard clay floor lay the mother upon her face, as if murdered by some savage blow. She was in the same deadly swoon into which she had fallen, on her husband's departure three hours before. The old man raised her up, and her pulse was still so was her heart -her face pale and sunken-and her body cold as ice. " I have recovered a daughter," said the old man, “but I have lost a wife ;” and he carried her, with a groan, to the bed, on which he laid her lifeless body.

28. The sight was too much for Hannah, worn out as she was, and who had hitherto been able to support herself in the delightful expectation of gladdening her mother's heart by her safe arrival. She, too, now swooned away, and, as she was placed on the bed beside her mother, it seemed, indeed, that death, disappointed of his prey on the wild moor, had seized it in the cottage, and by the fireside. The husband knelt down by the bedside, and held his wife's icy hand in bis, while William Grieve, appalled, and awestricken, hung over his Hannah, and inwardly implored God that the night's wild adventure might not have so ghastly an end. But Hannah's young heart soon began once more to beat-and soon as she came to her recollection, she rose up with a face whiter than ashes, and free from all smiles, as if none had ever played there, and joined her father and young master in their efforts to restore her mother to life.

29. It was the mercy of God, that had struck her down to the earth, insensible to the shrieking winds, and the fears that would otherwise have killed her. Three hours of that wild storm had passed over her head, and she heard nothing more than if she had been asleep in a breathless night of the summer dew. Not even a dream had touched her brain, and when she opened her eyes, wbich, as she thought, had been but a moment shut, she had scarcely time to recall to herrer

collection the image of her husband rushing out into the storm, and of a daughter therein lost, till she beheld that very husband kneeling tenderly by her bedside, and that very daughter smoothing the pillow on which her aching temples reclined. But she knew from the white steadfast countenances before her, that there had been tribulation and deliverance, and she looked on the beloved beings minister ing by her bed, as more fearfully dear to her from the unimagined danger from which she felt assured they had been rescued, by the arm of the Almighty.

30. They had all now power to weep, and power to pray. The Bible had been lying in its place ready for worshipand the father read aloud that chapter in which is narrated our Saviour's act of miraculous power, by which he saved Peter from the sea. Soon as the solemn thoughts awakened by that act of mercy, so similar to that which had rescued themselves from death, had subsided, and they had all risen up from prayer, they gathered themselves in gratitude round the little table which had stood so many hours spread and exhausted nature was strengthened and restored by a frugal and simple meal partaken of in silent thankfulness. The whole story of the night was then calmly recited and when the mother heard how the stripling had followed her sweet Ilannah into the storm, and borne her in his arms through a hundred drifted heaps-and then looked upon her in her pride, so young, so innocent, and so beautiful, she knew, that were the child indeed to become an orphan, there was one, who, if there was either trust in nature, or truth in religion, would guard and cherish her all the days of her life. It was not nine o'clock when the storm came down from Glen-Scrag upon the Black-Moss, and now in a pause of silence the clock struck twelve. Within these three hours, William and Hannah had seen the vicissitudes of trouble and joy, and felt that they were to live wholly for each other's sake. He now thought of his own Hannah Lee evermore moving about in his father's house, not as a servant, but as a daughter. Her heart swelled with joy when she heard her parents bless him by his namemand when he took her hand into his before them, and vowed before the Power who had that night saved them from the snow, that Hannah Lee should be his wedded wifeshe wept in a transport of strange and insupportable happiness.

32. The young shepherd rose to bid them farewell"My father will think I am lost," said he, with a grave smile, “ and my Hannah's mother knows what it is to fear for a child.” So nothing was said to detain him, and the family went with him to the door. The skies smiled as serenely as if a storm had never swept before the stars the moon was sinking from her meridian, but in cloudless splendour--and the hollow of the hill was hushed as that of heaven. Danger there was none over the placid nightscene--the happy youth soon crossed the Black-Moss, and arrived at his father's house in safety.

The Widow and her Son.
Pittie old age, within whose silver haires **

Honour and reverence ever more have reigned. 1. During my residence in the country, I used frequently to attend at the old village church. Its shadowy aisles, its mouldering monuments, its dark oak pannelling, all reverend with the gloom of departed years, seemed to fit it for the haunt of solemn meditation. A Sunday, too, in the country, is so holy in its repose ; such a pensive quiet reigns over the face of nature, that every restless passion is, charmed down, and we feel all the natural religion of the soul gently springing up within us.

Sweet day, so pure, so calm, so bright,

The bridál of the earth and sky! 2. I do not pretend to be what is called a devout man; but there are feelings that visit me in a country church, amidst the beautiful serenity of nature, which I experience nowhere else ; and if not a more religious, I am certainly a better man on Sunday, than on any other day of the seven.

3. But in this church I felt myself continually thrown back upon the world, by the frigidity and pomp of the poor worms around me. The only being that seemed thoroughly to feel the humble and prostrate piety of a true Christian, was a poor decrepit old woman, bending under the weight of years and infirmities.

4. She bore the traces of something better than abject poverty. The lingerings of decent pride were visible in her appearance. Her dress, though humble in the extreme,

« PreviousContinue »