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- A Day Of Fate - 50/66 -

world could inflict."

After a brief pause of silent waiting she continued:

"But is the turmoil of the world a far-away sound, like the sullen roar of angry waves beating on a shore that rises high and enduring, securing us safety and rest? Beyond the deep disquietude of the world at large is the deeper unrest of the human heart. No life can be so secluded and sheltered but that anxieties, doubts, fears, and foreboding will come with all their disturbing power. Often sorrows more bitter than death are hidden by smiling faces, and in our quiet country homes there are men and women carrying burdens that are crushing out hope and life: mothers breaking their hearts over wayward sons and daughters; wives desperate because the men who wooed them as blushing maidens have forgotten their vows, and have become swinish sots; men disheartened because the sweet-faced girls that they thought would give them a home have become vile slatterns, busybodies, shrill- tongued shrews, who banish the very thought of peace and rest, who waste their substance and eat out their hearts with care. Oh, the clouds of earth are not those which sweep across the sun, but those which rise out of unhappy hearts and evil lives. These are the clouds that gather over too many in a leaden pall, and it seems as if no light could ever break through them. There are hearts to whom life seems to promise one long, hopeless struggle to endure an incurable pain. Can there be peace for such unhappy ones? To just such human hearts were the words spoken, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.'"

Then came one of those little pauses that were quite as impressive as the preceding words. Although my interest was almost breathless, I involuntarily looked toward one whom I now associated with every thought.

"O God!" I exclaimed mentally, "can that be the aspect of a maiden happy in her love and hope?" Her face had become almost white, and across the pallor of her cheeks tear followed tear, as from a full and bitter fountain.

"Never, in all this evil world," the speaker resumed, "was there such cruel, bitter mockery as these words would be if they were not true-- if He who spake them had no right to speak them. And what right would He have to speak them if He were merely a man among men--a part of the world which never has and never can give peace to the troubled soul? How do we know these words are true? How do we know He had a right to speak them? Thank God! I know, because He has kept His word to me. Thank God! Millions know, because He has proved His power to them. The scourged, persecuted, crucified disciples found that He was with them always, even unto the end. Oh, my friends, it is this living, loving, spiritual Presence that uplifts and sustains the sinking heart when the whole great world could only stand helplessly by. 'Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.' Yes, thank thee, Lord, 'not as the world.' In spite of the world and the worst it can do, in spite of our evil and the worst it can do, in spite of our sorrows, our fears, our pains and losses, our bitter disappointments, thou canst give peace; thou hast given peace. No storm can harm the soul that rests on the Rock of Ages, and by and by He will say to the storm, 'Peace, be still,' and the light of heaven will come. Then there shall be no more night. 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.'"

The light and gladness of that blessed future seemed to have come into her sweet, womanly face. I looked out of the window to hide tears of which I was fool enough to be ashamed.

When she spoke again her voice was low and pitiful, and her face full of the divinest sympathy. "Dear friends," she said, "it was not merely peace that he promised, but his peace. 'My peace I give unto you.' Remember, it was the man of sorrows who spoke; remember that he was acquainted with grief; remember that years of toil and hardship were behind him, and that Gethsemane and Calvary were before him; remember that one would betray him, and that all would desert him. When he spoke, the storm of the world's evil was breaking upon him more cruelly and remorselessly than it ever has on any tempted soul. He suffered more because more able to suffer. But beneath all was the sacred calm of one who is right, and who means to do right to the end, cost what it may. The peace that he promises is not immunity from pain or loss, or the gratification of the heart's earthly desires. His natural and earthly desires were not gratified; often ours cannot be. His peace came from self-denial for the good of others, from the consciousness that he was doing his Father's will, and from the assurance that good would come out of the seeming evil. Suffer he must, because he was human, and in a world of suffering; but he chose to suffer that we might know that he understands us, and sympathizes with us when we suffer. To each and to all he can say, I was tempted in all points like unto thee. When we wander he goes out after us; when we fall he lifts us up; when we faint he takes us in his arms and carries us on his bosom. O great heart of love! thy patience never tires, never wearies. Thou canst make good to us every earthly loss; thy touch can heal every wound of the soul. Even though life be one long martyrdom, yet through thy Presence it may be a blessed life, full of peace.

"Because our Lord was a man of sorrows, was he in love with sorrows? or does he love to see storms gathering around his people? No. It was not with _his_ sorrows, but with _our_ sorrows, that he was afflicted. He so loved the world that he could not be glad when we were sad. It is said that there is no record that Jesus ever smiled; but those little children whom he took in his arms and blessed know that he smiled. I doubt whether he ever saw a flower but that, no matter how weary from the hot day's long journey, he smiled back upon it. The flowers are but his smiles, and the world is full of them. Still he is naturally and very justly associated with sorrow; for when on earth he sought out those in trouble, and the distressed and the suffering soon learned to fly to him. What was the result? Were the shadows deepened? Was the suffering prolonged? Let the sisters of Bethany answer you; let the widow of Nain answer you. Let the great host of the lame, blind, diseased, and leprous answer. Look into the gentle, serene eyes of Mary Magdalene, once so desperate and clouded by evil, and then know whether he brings sorrow or joy to the world. Just as the sun follows the night that it may bring the day, so the Sun of Righteousness seeks out all that is dark in our lives that he may shine it away. Gladness, then, should be the rule of our lives. Nothing to him is so pleasing as gladness, if it comes from the heart of pilgrims truly homeward bound; but if sorrow comes, oh, turn not to the world, for the best thing in it can give no peace, no rest. Simply do right, and leave the results with him who said, even under the shadow of his cross, 'My peace I give unto you.' Accept this message, dear friends, and 'Let not your hearts be troubled, and neither let them be afraid.'" And she sat down quietly and closed her eyes.

There was here and there a low sob from the women, and the eyes of some of the most rugged-featured men were moist. The hush that followed was broken by deep and frequent sighs. Mr. Yocomb sat with his face lifted heavenward, and I knew it was serene and thankful. The eyes of Reuben, who was beside me, rested on his mother in simple, loving devotion. As yet she was his religion. Adah was looking a little wonderingly but sympathetically at Miss Warren, whose bowed head and fallen veil could not hide her deep emotion. The banker, too, looked at her even more wonderingly. At last the most venerable man on the high seat gave his hand to another white-haired Friend beside him, and the congregation began slowly and quietly to disperse.

"Come, Reuben," I said, in a whisper, "let us get away, quick."

He looked at me in surprise, but in a few moments the old meeting- house was hidden behind us among the trees. Dapple's feet scarcely touched the ground; but I sat silent, absorbed, and almost overwhelmed.

"Didn't--didn't thee like what mother said?" Reuben asked, after a while, a little hurt.

I felt at once that he misunderstood my silence, and I put my arm around his neck as I said, "Reuben, love and honor your mother the longest day you live. She is one among a million. 'Liked!' It mattered little whether I liked it or not; she made it seem God's own truth."

"And to think, Richard, that if it hadn't been for thee--"

"Hush, Reuben. To think rather that she waited on me for days and nights together. Well, I could turn Catholic and worship one saint."

"I'm glad she's only mother," said the boy, with a low laugh; "and, Richard, she likes me to have a good time as much as I do myself. She always made me mind, but she's been jolly good to me. Oh, I love her; don't thee worry about that."

"Well, whatever happens," I said, with a deep breath, "I thank God for the day that brought me to her home."

"So do I," said the boy; "so do we all; but confound Emily Warren's grandfather! I don't take to him. He thinks we're wonderfully simple folks, just about good enough to board him and that black-eyed witch of his. I do kind of like her a little bit, she's so saucy-like sometimes. One day she commenced ordering me around, and I stood and stared at the little miss in a way that she won't forget."

"She'll learn to coax by and by, and then you'll do anything for her, Reuben."

"P'raps," he said, with a half smile on his ruddy face.



On reaching the farmhouse I went directly to my room, and I wished that I might stay there the rest of the day; but I was soon summoned to dinner. In Miss Warren's eyes still lingered the evidences of her deep feeling, but her expression was quiet, firm, and resolute. The effect of the sermon upon her was just what I anticipated in case my hope had any foundation--it had bound her by what seemed the strongest of motives to be faithful to the man who she believed had the right to her fealty.

"Well," I thought bitterly, "life might have brought her a heavier cross than marrying a handsome millionaire, even though considerably her senior. I'm probably a conceited fool for thinking it any very great burden at all. But how, then, can I account--? Well, well, time alone can unravel this snarl. One thing is certain: she will do nothing that she does not believe right; and after what Mrs. Yocomb said I would not dare to wish her to do wrong."

Mrs. Yocomb did not come down to dinner, and the meal was a quiet one. Mr. Yocomb's eyes glistened with a serene, happy light, but he ate

A Day Of Fate - 50/66

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