Puslapio vaizdai

would delight to make me happy-I, who « Both of us are His children, Nanna, by have never been happy but in sharing your generations and by covenant. He has promjoys and sorrows! But you treat me as light, ised mercy to such. Well, then, we may have vain women treat the men who love them, to a reasonable hope » make slaves of them, and bring them back « Hope! No, no, David! I must have someand back to be hurt. It is not to be so with thing better than hope. I hoped for Vala, and me. No, indeed! Farewell, Nanna! »

my hope has been my hell. And as for the His voice failed him; he turned toward the child - my God, where is the child ? » door, and for a moment Nanna could not real- « We love God, Nanna; and the children of ize that he was actually bidding her a final the righteous-> farewell. When she did, she flew to his side, and « Are no safer than the children of the arrested his hand as it was opening the door. wicked, David. I have thought of this con

« Come back! Come back, David!» she en- tinually. There was John Beaton's son; he treated. «You are all wrong; you are cruel killed a man, and died on the gallows, to the to me. If you leave me, I shall break my shame and heartbreak of his good father and heart. It will be the last blow, David. It is mother. The lad had been baptized, too, the very truth.»

given to God when he drew his first breath, He hesitated enough to make Nanna weep and God must have rejected him. Miniswith passionate distress, and this emotion heter Stuart's son forged a note, and was sent was not able to bear. He took her within his with felons over the sea. His father and moarm again, led her to a chair, and sat down ther had prayed for him all the days of his at her side, and as he kissed the tears from life. He was brought to the kirk, and given her face said, “If you do love me- » to God in baptism, and God must have re

« If I do love you!» she interrupted. «I jected him. Think of good Stephen and Anna love none but you. You are heart of my Blair's children! Their daughter's name canheart, and soul of my soul. I hear you com- not be spoken any more, and their sons are ing when you are half a mile away. I have bringing their gray hairs down to the grave no joy but when you are beside me. I shall with sorrow and shame. Go through the whole die of grief if you leave me in anger. I would kirk, the whole town, the islands themselves, count it heaven on earth to be your wife, but and you will be forced to say, David, that it I dare not! I dare not!»

is the children of the righteous that go to the She was sobbing piteously when she ended devil. How the good God can treat his bairns this protestation, and David comforted her so, I know not; but you and I may also dewith caresses and tender words. «What fears serve his wrath in like way. I am feared to you, Nanna ? » he asked. «Oh, my dear, what hope different. Oh, David, I am feared to be fears you?

a mother again! « This is what I fear,” she answered, free- « Nanna! Nanna! What can I say? » ing herself from his embrace, and looking « There is nothing to say. If I should meet steadily at him. If we were married, David, Vala in that place where infants (earnestly I might have another child. I might have desire to see and love God, and yet are not many children. Then he clasped her hand able to do so, I should cover my face before tightly, for he began to see where Nanna the child. If she blamed me, I should shiver was leading him, as she continued with slow in speechless agony; if she did not blame me, solemnity: «Can you, can the minister, can it would be still harder to bear. Were we only any human being, give me assurance they sure--but we are not sure.» will be elect children? If you can, I will be « We are not sure.) David repeated the your wife to-morrow. If you cannot, as the words with a sad significance. Nanna's arGod of my father lives, I will not bring sons gument, evolved from her own misery and and daughters into life for sin and sorrow illustrated by that misery, had been before here, and for perdition hereafter. The devil David's eyes for months. He could not esshall not so use my body. To people hell? No; cape from such reasoning and from such I will not-not even for your love, David!» proof; and his whole life, education, and ex

Her words, so passionate and positive, perience went to enforce the pitiful dilemma moved him deeply. He was the old David in which their love had placed them. again-the light, the gladness, all but the « It is His will, and we must bear it to the tender, mournful love of the past, gone from uttermost,» continued Nanna,'with sorrowful his face. He held both her hands, and he resignation. «I used to think monks and nuns, looked down at them in his own as he an- and such as made a merit of not marrying, swered:

were all wrong; maybe they are nearer right


than we think for. Doubtless they have a ten- lot made him quiver with pain; but he knew der conscience toward God, and a tender con- well that for a time they must each bear their

a science is what he loves.»

sorrow alone. Then David rose from Nanna's side, and Nanna's confession of her love for him had walked rapidly to and fro in the room. Mo- made everything different. In her presence tion helped him to no solution of the tre- now he had not the power to control his longmendous difficulty; and Nanna's patient face, ing for reciprocal affection. He felt already her fixed outward gaze, the spiritual light of a blind rebellion against fate, a sense of resolute decision in her eyes, made him feel wrong, which it was hard to submit to. But as if this offering up of their love, and all its how could he fight circumstances whose earthly sweetness, was a sacrifice already tied foundations were in eternity? At this hour, to the horns of the altar, and fully accepted. at least, he had come to the limit of his reaHe sat down again, and covered his face with son and his endurance. Again and again he his hands, and began to weep-to sob as strong kissed Nanna farewell, and it was like tearmen sob when their sorrow is greater than ing his life asunder when he put away her they can bear-as they never sob until the clinging arms, and left her alone with the last drop, the bitterest drop of all, is added terrible problem that separated their lives. - the belief that God has forsaken them. A dismal, sullen stillness succeeded to his This was the agony which tore David's great, angry grief. He avoided Barbara, and shut fond heart in two. It forced from him the first himself in his room, and his strong and awpitiful words of reproach against his God: ful prepossession in favor of the Bible led him,

« I was sure that at last I was going to be first of all, to go to the book; but he found happy, and God is not willing. From my no help there, for his soul was tossed from youth up he has aye laid upon me the rod of cor- top to bottom, and he was vanquished by the rection. I wish that I had never been born!) war in his own bosom. Over and over he

« My poor lad! but you are not meaning it!» brought his dogmas to the Scriptures, and And Nanna put her arms around his neck, and was crushed spiritually between them; so that wept with him. For some minutes he let her at last, worn out with the mental and heart do so, for he was comforted by her sympathy. struggle, he submitted to the fatality he could But at last he stood up, passed his hand not alter. «I will go the right road,” he said, across his eyes, and said as bravely as he could: «however cruel that road may be. Then death

« You are right, Nanna. If you feel in this may give me back to God a miserable man, way, I dare not force your conscience. I must but not a guilty one.» go away until I get over the sore disappoint- Nanna did not suffer so much; her battle ment; for if I was seeing you I might get to was practically over; she had been in the van feel hard at God. Pain and cold and hunger of it for months, and had come gradually to and weariness and loneliness I have borne that state of submission which fears to resist, with a prayer and a tight mouth, and I never lest resistance might be found to be fighting said before that I thought him cruel hard. against God. While David was yet in an agony

» « No, David! His ways are not cruel; they of struggle with his love and desires, his tenare only past our finding out. We must just der conscience, and his dread of offending the believe that they are the best of all ways. Deity, Nanna had washed away her tears, and And do not leave me, David. I can bear all was strengthening her heart by saying consorrow if you are near me.»

tinually, as her glancing needles glided to « Ay, ay! but women are different. I can- and fro: not fight the temptation when I am in it.

Do as Thou wilt: I ask not why; I must run away from it. Farewell! Fare

Keep hold of me; content am I. well, Nanna!» He kissed the words upon her lips, and

V. went hastily out of the house; but when he had walked about one hundred yards, he The Bay of Biscay is bad quarters in any returned. Nanna had thrown herself de- weather; in a storm it defies adequate despairingly upon the rude couch made for scription. When the wind has an iron ring, Vala, and on which the child had spent most and calls like a banshee, and the waves rise of her life. There Nanna lay like one dead. to its order as high as the masthead, then He knelt down by her, took her within his God help the men and the ships on the Bay arms, kissed her closed eyes, and murmured of Biscay! And one day, in the early spring again on her lips his last words of love and of the year, the Ann Semple, bound from Glassorrow. Her patient acceptance of her hard gow to the Mediterranean ports, was sorely in need of such potential help. The waves He only knew that he was in a large room, were doubling over her, the fires were and that two men were with him. One was drowned out, and her plunges were like the at his bedside, quiet and drowsy; the other dive of a whale.

was reading in a Bible, sitting close by the At the wheel there was a man lashed, -for shaded candle. David knew it was a Bible: the hull was seldom above water, - and this who does not know a Bible even afar off ? No man was David Borson. He was the only sailor matter how it is bound, the book has a homely left strong enough for the work, and he was and familiar look that no other book has. at the last point of endurance. The icy gusts David shut his eyes again after seeing it; he roared past him, the spray was like flying felt as safe and happy as if a dear friend had whip-lashes, and it was pitiful to see David, spoken to him. And in a few days the man with his bleeding hands on the wheel, stolidly with the Bible began to come near him, and to shaking his head as the spray cut him. He read softly the most tender and gracious words had been on deck for forty hours, buffeted he could find in that tenderest of all books. by the huge waves, and he was covered with This was the beginning of an interval of salt-water boils. His feet were flayed and delicious rest to David. It was as if some frozen, and his hands so gashed that he dared strong angel swung and hushed and wrapped not to close or rest them, lest the agony of him in a drowsy, blissful torpor. He felt no unclasping or moving them again should make pain, not even in his tortured feet, and his him lose his consciousness. He feared also that hands lay at rest upon the white coverlet, his feet were so badly frozen that he would healed of all their smarting and aching. For never be able to walk on them any more. These once in his hard life, they were not tired or miseries others were sharing with him; but sore. He knew that he was fed and turned, David had been struck by a falling spar at the that his pillows were made soft and cool, and beginning of the gale, and there was now an that there was the vague sense of kind presabscess forming on his lung that tortured him ence about him; that sometimes he heard, beyond his usual speechless patience. «God like a heavenly echo, words of comfort that pity me!» he moaned. «God pity me! » he seemed to have heard a long time ago; that

When the storm broke the Ann Semple he slept and wakened, and slept again, with was as bare as a newly launched hull, and a conscious pleasure in the transitions. And wallowing like a soaked log. David had fallen he asked no questions. He was content to let forward on his face, and was asleep or insen- life lie in blissful quiescence; to be still, and sible. He did not hear the handspike thumped keep his eyes closed to the world, and his ears on the deck, and the cry, «On deck! On deck! deaf to its cries. Lord help us! She's going down! » But some Gradually these sensations increased in one lifted him to a raft which had been has- strength. One day he heard his nurse say tily lashed together, and the misery that fol- that he might be removed into an entirely lowed was only a part of some awful hours fresh room. And he knew that he was lifted when physical pain from head to feet drove in strong arms, and anon breathed a clearer him to the verge of madness. He never knew atmosphere, and slept a life-giving sleep. how long it was before they were met by the When he awoke he had new strength; he Alert, a large steamer going into the port of voluntarily opened his eyes, and saw a tree London, and taken on board. Four of the waving branches covered with fresh, crinkly men were then dead from exhaustion, and leaves before his window. It was like a glimpse the physician on the Alert looked doubtfully of heaven. And that afternoon his preserver at David's feet. « But he is dying,» he said; came to his side, and said: « and why give him further pain ? »

« Thee is much better. Can thee listen to Then a young man stepped forward, and me now? » looked at David. There were both pity and Then David looked at the young man, and liking in his face, and he stooped, and said smiled. And their eyes met, and their hands something in the dying man's ear. A faint met, and the well man stooped to the sick smile answered the words, and the youth man, and kissed his cheek. «I am Friend spoke to the doctor, and both of them went John Priestly,” he said; « what is thy name?» to work with a will. The effort, even then so « David - David Borson, Shetland.” desperate, was ere long complicated by fever « David, thee is going to live. That is good and delirium; and when David came to him- news, is it not?» self, it was almost like a new birth. He was «No. Life is hard-cruel hard.» weaker than an infant-too weak, indeed, to « Yes; but thee can say, "The Lord is mine wonder or speculate, or even remember. helper)? Thee can pray now ? »



«I have no strength.”

friends, and so comfort and help each other « If thee cannot speak, lift up thy hand. in the daily trials of their lives. He will see it, and answer thee.) And David's One day, when he was much stronger, as face shadowed, and he did not lift up his he sat by the open window thinking of these hand; also, if the whisper in his heart had things, John came to read to him. John had been audible, John Priestly would have heard a faculty of choosing the sweetest and most him say, «What is the use of prayer? The comfortable portions of the Book in his Lord has cast me off.”

hand. This selection was not without purBut John did not try the strength of his pose. He had learned from David's delirious patient further at that time. He sat by his complainings the intense piety of the youth, side, and laid his hand upon David's hand, and and the spiritual despair which had intensibegan to repeat in a slow, assuring voice the fied all his suffering. And he hoped that God, one hundred and third psalm. Its familiar through him, would say a word of comfort to words went into David's ears like music, and the sorrowful heart. So he chose, with the he fell sweetly asleep to its promises. For sweet determination of love, the most glorithough men in their weakness and haste are ous and the most abounding words of the apt to say, « The Lord hath forgotten to be Divine Father. gracious,» they who have but once felt his David listened with a reserved acceptance. love, though dimly and far off, cannot choose It was in a measure a new Scripture to him. but trust in it, even to the grave.

It appeared partial. When John read, with And souls fraternize in their common exile. a kind of triumph, that the Lord « is longJohn Priestly loved the young man whom he suffering to us-ward; not willing that any had saved, and David felt his love. As he came should perish, but that all should come to fully back to life, the past came clearly back repentance,» David made a slight movement to memory. He remembered Nanna as those of dissent; and John asked: who love white jasmine remember it when its «Is not that a noble love? Thee believes starry flowers have gone-with a sweet, ach- in it, David ? » ing longing for their beauty and perfume. He «No. The word was softly but positively remembered those terrible days when physi- uttered. «Some men and angels are precal pain had been prodigalized in every limb destined unto everlasting life, and others and every nerve, when he had fainted with foreordained to everlasting death; and their agony but never complained. He remem- number is so certain and definite that it canbered his lonely journey to the grave's mouth, not be either increased or diminished. And and the dim human phantoms who had stood, David quoted these words from the Confesas it were, afar off, and helped and cheered sion of Faith with such confidence and despair him as best they could; and he understood that John trembled at them. that he had really been born again; a new « David ! David!» he cried. « Jesus Christ lease of life had been given him; and he had came to seek and save the lost.» come back to earth, as so many wish to come «It is impossible for the lost to be saved, back, with all his old loves and experiences answered David, with somber confidence; to help him in his future.

« only the elect, predestined to salvation.» If only God would love him! If only he « And the rest of mankind, David ?» would give him ever so small a portion of his «God has been pleased to ordain to wrath, favor, and let him live humbly before him, that his justice may be glorified.» with such comfort of home and friends as a « David, who made thee such a God as this? poor fisherman might have! He wondered, as Where did thee learn about him? How can he lay still, what he or his fathers had done thee love him? » that he should be so sorely punished. Then « It is in the Confession of Faith. And, oh, he remembered the drowning of Bele Trenby, John Priestly, I do love him! Yes, I love him, and he blamed himself that he had not sought though he has hid his face from me, and, I out Bele's friends, and made confession and fear, cast me off forever.» such recompense as he could. As soon as he « Dear heart!» said John, « thee is wrongwas able he resolved to go to Shetland and ing thy best friend. And as we are inquiring do so; also he wanted to see Nanna. Oh, how after God, and nothing less, it is but fair to he wanted to see her! Just to hold her hand, take him at his own word, and not at what and kiss her face, and sit by her side for an men priests, long ago dead, have said of him.) hour or two! He did not wish either her con- And then, one after another, the golden verses science or his own less tender, but he thought full of God's love dropped from John's lips in that now, perhaps, they might be cousins and a gracious shower, and David was amazed, and


withal a little troubled. John was breaking took possession of him. Then he remembered up all his foundations for time and eternity. the fishermen he used to know—the fishermen He was using the Scriptures to grind to pow- who peopled the desolate places of the Shetder the whole visible church as David under- land seas. stood it. It was a kind of spiritual shipwreck. «I must go home!” he said with a soft, eager His slow nature took fire gradually, and then passion. «I must go home to Shetland.» burned fiercely. Weak as he was, he could not When he saw John next he told him so, sit still. John Priestly was either a voice in and they began to talk of his life there. John the wilderness crying « Peace!» and « Bless- had never asked him of his past. He knew him ing!» to him, or he was the voice of a false to be a child of God, however far away from prophet crying « Peace!» where there was no his Father, and he had accepted his spiritual peace. He looked into the frank, glowing face brotherhood with trustfulness. He underof this new preacher with inquiry not un- stood that it had been David's modesty that mixed with suspicion.

had made him reticent. But when David was « Well, then,» he cried, «if these things be ready to leave he felt, also, that John had a so, let God speak to me. Bring me a Bible with right to know what manner of man he had large letters. I want to see these words with befriended. So, as they sat together that my eyes, and touch them with my fingers.) night, David began his history.

The conversation thus begun was con- « I was in the boat at six years old,” he stantly continued, and David searched the said; «for there was always something I could Scriptures from morning to night. Often, as do. During the night-fishing, unless I went the spring grew fairer and warmer, the two with father, I was all alone, and I had hours young men sat with the Bible between them, of such awful terrors that I am sad yet only and while the sunshine fell brightly on its to remember them. It was better to freeze pages they reasoned together of fate and free out on the sea, if father would let me go with will, and of that divine mercy which is from him. I was often hungry and weary. I had everlasting to everlasting. For where young toothaches and earaches that I never spoke men have leisure,spiritual things employ them of. I was frequently so sleepy that I fell down much more frequently than is supposed. In- in the boat, and I had no mother to kiss me deed, it is the young who are most earnestly or pity me, and the neighbors were shy and troubled about the next life: the middle-aged far off. Father was not cross; he just did not are too busy with this one, and the aged do understand. Even in those days I wondered not speculate, because they will soon know. why God made little lads to be so miserable,

Thus, daily, little by little, through inlets and to suffer so much. He spoke also, in a and broader ways known only to God and to guarded way, of that revelation in the boat, himself, the light grew and grew unto perfect for he felt rebuked by his want of faith in it, day, and flooded not only the great hills and and he said sorrowfully, as he left the subject: promontories of his soul, but also shone into «Why, then, should God send angels to all its secret caves and gloomy valleys and men? They are feared of them while they lonely places. Then he knew how blind and are present, and they doubt them when they ignorant he had been. Then he was pene- go away. He sent one to comfort me, and I trated with loving amazement, and humbled denied it to my own heart; yes, even though to the dust with a sense of the wrong he had I sorely needed the comfort.) done the Father of his spirit. And he locked Then he took John to Shetland with him. He himself in his room, and fell down on his face showed him, in strong, simple words, the old before his God. But into that awful commun- Norse town, with its gray skies and its gray ing, in which so much was confessed and so seas, and its fishing-smacks hanging to the much forgiven, it is not lawful to inquire. rushing sides of foaming mountains. He de

After this the thought of Nanna became scribed the hoary cliffs and their world of seaan irresistible longing. He could not be happy birds, the glorious auroras, the heavenly sumuntil she sat in the sunshine of God's love with mers, and the deadly chillness of the winter him. He went into the garden, and tested his fogs as one drift after another passed in dim strength; and as soon as he was in the open and desolate majesty over the sea and land. air he was smitten with a homesickness not Slowly, and with some hesitation, he got to to be controlled. He wanted the sea. He Nanna in her little stone hut, braiding her wanted the great North Sea; he longed to feel straw and nursing her crippled baby. The the cradling of its salt waves under him; and tears came into his eyes, he clasped his knees the idea of a schooner reefed down closely, with his hands as if to steady himself, while and charging along over the stormy waters, he spoke rapidly of her marriage with Sin

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