صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

shall be only subordinate and subsidiary. If I have been in wretchedness all my past existence, the fact and the remembrance are of no account, except so far as they help me to escape from my misery and heighten my enjoyment by contrast. If I have been poor, and now the door to wealth is opened, exertion to gain it is the main thing, and I may wholly forget my poverty if motives enough from other sources stimulate me to action. So, if I have been ignorant and am now advanced a little way in knowledge, my sense of ignorance may urge me on a little; but the boundless expanse of knowledge, opening before me, will incite me far more. It is better to have the mind filled with what can and ought to be done, than to be living in the past, and living over the past. “ Reaching forth unto those things which are before,” is the Apostle's motto. The future has in it possibilities almost infinite. Two Christians starting alike to-day, but pursuing different courses —the one running on with his face turned to the past, and the other pressing, and looking towards the mark-will be next year, or at the end of life, at an immense distance from one another. Here is a man who is for ever brooding over his sins. What strenuous exertions can he make, if he do not rather give up the hopes of the Christian life with its joys ? Here is another, who thinks the future will be as the past—the same gloomy record of unexecuted resolutions and unfinished efforts. If faith in God and hope of success are necessary for success, what can such a man do except stagnate in his sins? Here is a third, who thinks that the past presents a pretty fair record on which he can dwell without dissatisfaction. What will he do more or better than he has done? These are the men that are looking backward. But here is one, again, who has, we will suppose, been sadly foiled and disappointed heretofore, who has done very little of what he purposed when he began to be a Christian. Broken vows, unfinished efforts, lie strewn all along his way. His life seems a failure. Can such a kind of Christian, he says, enter heaven? But I will not despair, he adds, until two things fail—until God, who offers the help of His Spirit, deludes me, and until the object I have to attain shall seem less momentous than it does now. And so he throws himself on the effort to be a better, holier man, with a kind of self-abandonment, as the sailor trusts himself to the deep. Farewell, land ! says he. I must look out at the bow, not at the stern, spread all sail, and get across this interval between me and my port, or perish.

Oh, let us forget all but God and Christ, and the great work before us! Let us, by an act of resolute, constant will, make all things else of such minor importance that they shall not take up undue room in our souls, leaving no space for nobler things. Are we dissatisfied with ourselves ? But with God's help we can become



other men; we can, I may say, cease to be ourselves, even as we profess not to be our own. Are we discouraged ? But “the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, fainteth not, neither is weary. To them that have no might He increaseth strength.” Is it too hard a work to be an earnest Christian? Why did we set out, and why did we not return at once to our sins ? Is there not a fair prospect of success? And if we fail, shall we lose anything by resolute endeavour? Is there not a positive gain to character in heroic, earnest effort, even if we were to grasp a shadow ? But what we aim at is not a shadow. It is that for which we are apprehended of Christ Jesus. It is the prize of the high calling of God. Unless God calls and Christ takes hold of our souls for nothing, we are running forward to secure the very thing for which we were made. Let us so run that we may obtain.

Late President of Yale College.


Not that it was by any means an extraordinary occurrence for Miss Widgery to have an evening; on the contrary, her fondness for them had led to a division in her family. An amicable division, of course, for the Widgery character was too high-toned to be disagreeable itself, or to consider any one else so.

Still it was very strong in its preferences; and while “an evening," which meant, in Miss Widgery's vocabulary, a room full of friends to pass it with her, was the most delightful thing in the world to herself, it was quite the reverse to her sister. Miss Wigelia did not like company; the light hurt her eyes in winter, and drew the mosquitoes in summer, and it disturbed her mind at any season of the year.

This difference of taste had been for some time the false weight that destroyed the balance of happiness with the Miss Widgerys; when one scale was down, the other was sure to be far aloft. If Miss Widgery congratulated herself one night, on retiring to her room, that Wigelia had been having such a delightfully quiet time of it-not a solitary creature had been in-Miss Wigelia was sure to be saying to herself, in her own apartment, what an endlessly long time it was since Widgery had had any company, and that it was outrageous, and why didn't she make her do it, and she was the most selfish, inconsiderate thing in the world. So the very next day she would insist upon an evening, and when it was over, and Miss Wigelia's scale was filling up again, Miss Widgery's was flying against the very beam with remorse and penitence. At one time they tried the device of giving carte blanche to Miss Widgery's bias, with the understauding that Miss Wigelia should not be expected to appear. But this proved an entire failure. Miss Wigelia found it seemed like a small child staying up-stairs; and Miss Widgery's strict sense of justice filled for her a thorny pillow of compunctions at wearing her sister's share of the carpets and furniture in entertainments exclusively her own.

There remained, apparently, no way out of the dilemma but a distinct establishment for each, though the separation seemed a good deal to be lamented, as the sisters were all that was left of the family—so undesirable, as the shopkeepers say, to cut a remnant. But the Miss Widgerys never allowed themselves to lament over anything that wasn't sinful; so their lawyer was summoned to make a division in the stocks and rents, and arrange an equivalent for the share in the furniture, and a week from that day Miss Wigelia had purchased and removed to the house next her sister's, leaving the way wide open for Miss Widgery to receive her friends as she liked, and the garden gate on the jar, that she might "slip across to Wiggy" with some of the crumpets and lady's fingers, after they were gone.

Under this arrangement the hinges of the gate had little opportunity to rust; everybody in town belonged to an old family, but Miss Widgery's was one of the oldest; so she knew everybody, and made her descent upon everybody in turn: like a humming bird at a honeysuckle vine, bearing gracefully down upon one cluster after another with a zig-zag seemingly devoid of method, but sure to touch every separate spray in time. Sometimes she was borne along on the breeze of an “occasion,” though at others she struck out with just as much spirit into the rarer atmosphere of everyday life; but, however that might happen to be, every one felt perfectly at home at Miss Widgery's, and almost always an odd two or three dropped in by accident before the evening was over, and altogether they were sure of having an exceedingly sociable time. This morning it was unquestionably an occasion, for Miss Widgery was out in the rockaway with old Amory on the front seat, and her silk bag with draw-strings on her arm; all of which were well known and recognisable indications, as was also the air of business and satisfaction that seemed to scatter off from her as she ascended the various flights of steps.

She couldn't stay one moment, she said, positively not a moment, so they mustn't ask her; she had everybody to see, as she had the happiness of being out to make a most delightful announcementdelightful! Poor Vest's Sam, living in Manilla these dozen years, was coming home to be married! They could hardly believe their eyes, but they had it in black and white under his own hand. The

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


last male Widgery left, and they had been so distressed at the idea
of the name dying out, But now all that was settled, and of course
Wigelia and herself were overjoyed-overjoyed! Still, it was plain
that she had no time to spare, as Wigelia was falling a little under
the weather, and had left the announcing entirely to her. She had
her list-bag on her arm, for she should never forgive herself if she
slighted any one on such an occasion,, and she was going to beg
“yourself” with a few others (very few) to drop in to-morrow and
make an evening. A family day, she knew, Thanksgiving, but they
could have all that at dinner, and she was sure they wouldn't dis-
appoint her. No ceremony whatever-such delightful news, and
coming so unexpectedly! and Miss Widgery was gone again, open-
ing the carriage-door for herself—she never allowed Amory to get
up and down when he drove her, for he had been in the family ever
since she knew what the name of Widgery meant, and she was so
afraid he would wear out before she and Wigelia had done with

No ceremony, Miss Widgery had said, and in one sense there
never was any at her entertainments, for all were expected to enjoy
themselves in their own way. Still there was a certain stately
stepping of forms and regularities, beginning with some little
change in Miss Widgery's dress, centreing in the appearance of
supper at precisely nino, and drawing to a close as the nearest
church clock struck ten. This evening Miss Widgery's especial
happiness brought out a favourite toilet, and one remarkably becom-
ing to her tall and stately form-a dress cut in the front like a pie
from which one section has been removed, and filled in again with
a snowy stomacher, while a pointed black lace cape, in which her
own hands had years before darned an elaborate pattern, covered
what remained of the waist.

If Miss Widgery had any hidden grief or secret sentiment concealed beneath the stomacher, it had no possible chance of escape, for she immediately threw out a picket-guard of three separate brooches, graduated in size, and stationed at the top, middle, and base of the line of departure. The upper one had been willed to Miss Widgery, as next of kin, by a widowed relative about to rejoin her husband in a better sphere; a large oval in heavy gold setting, representing the monument of the departed, before which stood the mourner, shading her grief with one hand, and with the other hold. ing up his posthumous infant to view the scene. All this bore striking resemblance to painting in India ink; but the word of the artist had been pledged that it was in reality done with the hair of the lost one, and Miss Widgery placed a double value upon it for the association, and for the mysterious skill with which it had been executed. Almost everything had a double value to Miss Widgery;

not only its own intrinsic worth, but an additional one of association and suggestion, as the case might be. Accordingly the second pin, a gold circle clasping another circle, inappreciably smaller, had always seemed to her like Wigelia and herself, and though she would hardly have confessed it even to her own heart, she was always watching with a half superstitious feeling to see whether one would show signs of wearing out before the other. The third, a very small cluster of garnets, almost out of Miss Widgery's sight below the billowy folds of lace, brought suddenly to her prophetic soul a faint suggestion of a little group that should some day, far beyond the rolling sea, perpetuate the Widgery name and blood.

Miss Widgery's was not the only toilet made with a gush of sentiment under her roof that night. A mere evening, frequently as it might recur, could not meet the full measure of her spirit; and up-stairs, in the south garden chamber, Miss Leafy Yetton, a dim connection of Miss Widgery's, was at that moment preparing to come down, with mingled feelings of gratitude and awe. A week before, a letter in Miss Widgery's hand, and bearing her own seal in wax, had invited Miss Yetton to come and spend Thanks. giving week with her, and requesting that she would not delay for any additions to her wardrobe, as Miss Widgery had a dressmaker and a seamstress already at work for her, and she was sure Wigelia's pattern would fit her exactly. Cousin Leafy's father had died years and years before, bequeathing to her a lot in life, and another in the barren hill town where she lived, that looked a good deal alike. Remarkable for length, but exceedingly narrow in proportion, fenced in with a solid stone wall, too high to jump over, not a tree or a flower planted inside, and the thousands of stones not large enough to work into the wall left broadcast over its length and breadth. It had lain there ever since, with no change, except that once, when a dropped acorn luckily found an inch or two of clear soil and struck its roots downward, up bubbled suddenly a gushing little stream of water. That was precisely the way with Miss Leafy. She was a model of quiet cheerfulness under her ordi. nary circumstances, but when, at rare intervals, a pleasure forced its way into her life, it always made her cry. She went about a whole morning with the letter in her pocket, reading it over at odd minutes, and by the time she could bring herself to lay it away in her drawer she had used up two handkerchiefs completely. “There, Leafy Yetton!” she said, as she shook them out, after giving a final brush to her eyes, “I do wish you wouldn't give way so! But it is so surprising, the way I always am provided for, and I can't imagine what cousin Widgery means to do! I really shouldn't be surprised if I should find a white robe and a crown waiting for me by the time I get there!"



« السابقةمتابعة »