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She paused, and Herbert, who guessed whither her thoughts were tending, repeated in a low, distinct tone, " • I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.' "The seed of the righteous shall be delivered.' . I will be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.''

“I firmly believe it,” exclaimed Mrs. Gordon, her face glowing with a heavenly joy. “ You are aware," she continued after the lapse of a minute, “that from the very commencement of my illness I have had a great and sore yearning towards my long-lost son, and have desired--oh how ardently!—either to see him or hear some news of him before I die; for, although it seems to be generally supposed that he lost his life years ago, I still cherish the hope-amounting, indeed, almost to certainty-that he is yet alive. God has not seen fit to grant me my desire, and now

“ You mean to say that the struggle is now over," said Herbert, as she stopped and gasped for breath, “and you are resigned to God's will ?

“ Perfectly—entirely,” she murmured. “He knows best. Besides, I believe my son will yet be saved.”

She spoke the last words slowly and emphatically, as if she were perfectly sure they would be fulfilled; so true is it that

“ Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,

And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,

And says, 'It shall be done.'”
More than half an hour passed away in that little cottage, during
which the aged pilgrim sank rapidly.

Powerful stimulants were several times administered, but they seemed to have scarcely any effect upon her; and Herbert was just consulting her sister as to the advisability of sending to request the doctor's attendance, when Mrs. Gordon suddenly reopened her eyes, and fixing them intently upon him, said in an audible whisper, “ Will you read to me once more the story of the returning prodigal ?

Herbert complied.

“ Listen ! dear Rachel,” she said, turning, and speaking in a voice of tremulous emotion, to her sister, who was silently weeping at the foot of the bed; “listen to the loving manner in which Christ welcomes returning sinners to Himself; and if ever my son should come back, receive him without a word of chiding or reproach. Tell him I left him a mother's last blessing ; and tell him alsomtenderly and affectionately—that I shall expect to meet him in heaven."

“ I will,” sobbed the sorrowful woman.

And now, my dear Mr. Herbert, I feel that I am almost homewill you pray for me before I go ?”

Herbert fell upon his knees, and lifted his voice in fervent supplicating prayer. After beseeching the Lord to grant unto the dying woman dying grace, to enable her to pass through the dark valley trustfully and confidingly, leaning upon her soul's Beloved, and enter triumphantly into full possession of the heavenly inheritance, where she would enjoy the inexpressible happiness of uninterrupted, bliss. ful, face-to-face communion with her Saviour, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb for ever and ever, he went on to plead for the

A man,

conversion of her son, that he might—if indeed he were yet alivebe convinced of his own sin and misery, be softened, subdued, and repentant; pardoned, sanctified, and saved, so that at last mother and son might be reunited in the mansions of glory.

As Herbert concluded his prayer, and was about to rise from his knees, he was surprised to hear a loud, deep sob, or rather groan, proceeding apparently from some one behind him, who appeared to be suffering the most intense and uncontrollable anguish. On looking hastily around him, he became aware that they were no longer alone.

about thirty-five years of age, clad in rough and somewhat tattered garments, stood leaning against a chair, with his face partially hidden in his hands, and his whole frame convulsed with grief.

At first, Mrs. Gordon took no notice of what was going on; for her eyes were still closed, her hands folded, and her lips moving in supplication; but the unwonted sounds seemed at length to produce a strange and startling impression upon her. She suddenly lifted her head, and, forgetful of her excessive weakness, raised herself in the bed, and gazed eagerly and searchingly into every corner of the room. As her eye lighted on the stranger, a cry of joy escaped her lips, and a look of ineffable contentment passed over her pallid face.

“Can it be that God has heard my prayer, and permitted me to see my son before I die? Speak to me, James—is it not you ?”

The man removed his hands from his face, on hearing her voice, thereby displaying his countenance, every feature of which was working with intense excitement.

“ It is himself,” continued the widow. " Come nearer," she added in accents of tender affection, "and let me kiss you, my son.”

He approached the bed, still without speaking, and instantly she clasped him in a long, warm, loving embrace, repeating to herself the words she had so lately listened to—" This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.'”

“O mother, dear mother," cried the unhappy man, while tears ran down his weather-beaten cheeks, " is it possible that you will forgive all the pain and sorrow I have so wickedly and wilfully caused you?”

“ Possible! O James, you little know the depth of a mother's love, or you would not need to ask such a question. Everything has been long ago forgiven and forgotten, and now my last prayer is that you may, while losing an earthly parent, find a heavenly one-a friend who will never leave you nor forsake you.”.

“ But must you really die ?” asked the man, in a voice of touching earnestness. “ Must you leave me without giving me an opportunity of atoning in some measure for my past misconduct ? Oh, no,” he added passionately, “I cannot lose you thus !”

“We shall soon meet again, James," was the solemn answer, “ in that blessed country where separation and pain and death are unI.nown.'

“But, alas! I have no hope of seeing you there," returned her son, in a choking voice. “ You have been always good, while I

“ Do not speak of my goodness," interrupted the dying woman. “I have been a poor guilty sinner all my life, and if I rested only upon my own doings, I must inevitably perish; but glory be to God

She paused, overcome by her exertions, and looked appealingly at Herbert, who had been a silent, but by no means indifferent, spectator of the affecting scene.

He instantly comprehended her meaning, and coming forward a few steps, and laying his hand kindly upon the man's arm, said slowly and seriously,—" Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.

For by grace are we saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God.'

A few minutes' silence succeeded, and then Herbert bent anxiously over the sufferer's bed, and spoke again.

". My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name :
On Christ the solid rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand.'” "That's it, James,” exclaimed the mother, rousing herself once more, “that is the only true foundation of a sinner's hope.

Oh! see to it that you build upon it, my son.".

She wished to say more, but a deadly feeling of faintness, fol. lowed by a half-delirious doze, came over her, and for some time they gave up all expectation of hearing her speak again. At length, however, her consciousness returned, and she said softly, “ My eyes are becoming dim, so that I cannot see you clearly.”

“There shall be no night there," returned Herbert.

A look of calm and holy joy lighted up her countenance, and she instantly replied, " The Lamb is the light thereof." Then, as if fresh strength had been imparted to her, she took Herbert's hand in both of her own, and exclaimed fervently, “Farewell, my dear Mr. Herbert,-farewell ! May God bless and reward you for all the kindness you have shown to me; may He crown your labours with abundant success, and may you be encouraged, while sowing is. tears, to look forward to the time when you shall reap in joy."

“One last request I have to make,” she continued, after a moment's silence; and she glanced significantly at her son, who was kneeling with his face hidden in the bed-clothes, the very picture of hopeless misery.

"I understand you,” replied Herbert, quickly; and he bent down and whispered a few words in her ear.

She smiled a sweet satisfied smile; uttered a brief ejaculation of thanks; carried his hand gratefully to her lips; and after taking an affecting leave, first of her sister and then of her son, quietly lay back on her pillow, and while in the act of repeating these expressive lines

“His oath, His covenant, and blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sandaShe gently fell asleep, and, without a struggle or a sigh, entered the pilgrim's rest.

On perceiving that his mother was indeed dead, James Gordon's grief became indescribable. There was something almost appalling in his first vehement outburst of passionate sorrow: anguish, regret, agony, remorse, being added to the suffering which he must naturally have experienced on losing a tender and affectionate parent.

Herbert addressed a few kindly sentences of sympathy and comfort, and urged on him the importance of allowing the painful event which had just occurred to have a salutary effect upon him; but he knew that it was yet too soon to expect him to listen to suggestions or advice, however well meant they might be; and therefore he soon took his leave, promising to call the following day, and rode home, feeling deeply impressed by the solemnising scene he had witnessed.

CHAPTER XV.

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT.

“Sorrows like showers descend; and as the heart

For them prepares, they good or ill impart.” Crabbe. ACCORDING to his promise, Herbert visited James Gordon the next morning. He found him much calmer than he had been the day before, but still very sorrowful and depressed.

For a time his manner was subdued almost to sullenness, and his communications guarded and reserved. He evidently looked with suspicion upon every attempt to gain his confidence, and wished, before committing himself further than he had already done, to ascertain the nature of Herbert's designs towards him. But he could not long withstand the latter's continued kindness and unaffected sympathy; and, as his feelings became gradually softer and less restrained, he threw aside all distrust, and began to speak frankly and freely of his own present circumstances, and also to enter into details regarding his past history—which details need not, however, be repeated here.

He expressed sincere sorrow for the many sins he had been guilty of, and assured Herbert that never since the night when he so unad. visedly left his widowed mother's roof, had he experienced a single day's real peace or comfort.

• But,” asked Herbert, in surprise, as he made this unexpected confession, “ if almost immediately afterwards you repented of the step you so rashly took, why did you not think of returning to your mother, who would have joyfully received you again ?."

“ It was too late," returned the man, with a melancholy smile; my companions had too firm a hold upon me.'

" But surely you might have written,” suggested Herbert, in a kindly tone, “and relieved her mind about you."

“Nothing that I could tell her would have been calculated to afford her relief,” said James Gordon, bitterly.

“ True; although it appears to me that suspense

“Besides,” pursued the other, “a sense of shame held me back; for how could I venture to expect indulgence from one whom I had so grievously deceived, and that one my mother? If I had written to her, what excuse could I have offered for my conduct, or in what way accounted for so unnaturally requiting her affection ? Pride, too, prevented my acknowledging the extent of my degradation; for it was not long before I was reduced to want, and from want I passed on to despair, and then,he continued in a voice of suppressed agitation, " I preferred that my poor mother should suppose me dead."

Herbert mused for a minute or two upon the strange and glaring inconsistencies of the man's character; such a mixture of pride and humility, recklessness and prudence, thoughtful consideration of his

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