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an arm-chair in front of a blazing fire, in the little anà a site was fixed upon, midway between two or library belonging to the rectory of St. Stephen's, in three villages as being handy for all. Now, as I had the populous district of C- -: he was in fact become engaged to your mother, and had but few no other than the rector himself. He was a widower, friends of my own in England to care for me, I deand whenever the children came home from school termined to try and obtain the post myself, and settle he always managed to spare an hour from his mani- down to a hum-drum sort of existence, and after a fold duties that he might have a quiet chat with little trouble, by the aid of my intended father-in-law, I them of an afternoon, and it was on one of these succeeded in doing so. But life was not to pass in such occasions that he had been asked to tell his story. a quiet way as I anticipated, for the charge of such
“Here, papa,” said Frank, the eldest boy, “put a district I soon found was no light matter. The your bad leg on this chair in front of the fire, villages were situated far apart, and then even the and then we'll all draw round and listen. We have outlying districts beyond these had to be visited, often wondered how it was you came to have a cork for many of the natives became in time members of leg."
my congregation. Well," began Mr. Manson, “you have most In summer this was all very well, for I could of
you, I dare say, heard of the method the ancient ride easily from one district to another, but in the Spartans had in training their youths to endure winter time, when the ground became frozen and hardships, privation, and pain; and what agonies covered with snow, it was not so easy a matter; it they would go through rather than betray any sign then became necessary to use a sleigh, but although of suffering. It is said of one youth, that having the pace was perhaps quickened, various obstacles stolen a fox he hid it under his cloak, and that blocked the roads, and one had sometimes to make rather than be detected with it in his possession, he long détours to come back almost to the same point; allowed it to gnaw a hole in his side, laying the besides, one was unable to go across the country, and ribs quite bare. If you can at all imagine the fear- had to keep chiefly to the roads made between one ful suffering he must have undergone in the operation village and another. you may perhaps be able to form some idea of the But the danger of being upset in the dark was not pain I had to go through. But to my story. all, for with the winter came a new and a terrible
When I was a young man, it was undecided at danger-a danger the name of which, mentioned in first what profession I should follow. My father the winter in Hungary, would make the people strongly advised, nay, almost insisted upon my enter- shudder, and mothers clasp their infants tighter to ing the army, but my own taste led me to prefer the their breasts. The evil of which I speak is that of quieter life of the Church.
wolves. Perhaps you think, Oh, is that all? Why not Our house had been for many generations noted carry a gun ? A man is a match for a wolf any day; for the military bravery displayed by its members, and so in ordinary cases he would be, for a single and my father being an old soldier himself, could not wolf is naturally a great coward, and will run away at bear that his only son should allow the old sword to the approach of man unless he be driven into a corner hang on the wall and rust, so to oblige him I became and brought to bay. Single wolves are never to be a warrior of the State instead of a soldier of the feared, and in the summer time the people never give Church ; but it was a profession that was always dis-them a thought, for while food is plentiful they keep tasteful to me, and I could not help cherishing secret to the mountains, and are rarely seen in greater ideas that one day I would free myself from it. But numbers than two in a place; and save for the loss I need not have plotted, for I was released from my of a stray sheep or two they, at this season of the thraldom sooner than I expected.
year, do but little damage. I was serving with my regiment in India, when a When, however, the ground is covered with snow, letter arrived announcing the death of my poor food becomes scarce, and the wolves are driven father, leaving me all his property, which was not, down the mountains by hunger and the steadily however, great, for his pension died with him. And increasing cold. Gradually gathering in numbers as as, of course, it could matter nothing to him now they descend, and becoming emboldened by famine under which banner I served, I felt myself free to and companionship, they make depredations upon throw up my commission and return to England. the farms and sheep-pens, which unless sufficiently Here I studied hard, and at length was admitted as a guarded by large fires and armed men, are sometimes minister of the Church.
totally looted ; even the guardian shepherd sometimes Having had rather severe study, I determined to falling a victim with his flock. Cases have even been take a holiday before accepting any post in my new known of travellers losing their way in the dark, capacity, and selected Hungary as the field of my being chased by wolves, and forced to climba explorations. While travelling in the neighbour- tree, and to remain there sometimes for days to. hood of Temesvar I became acquainted with an gether, until the pack either departs or relief comes English family who had settled there, and one of the to their aid. So voracious are they that they will even daughters of the house was the lady who afterwards eat their own species, and when two rival packs meet, became my wife and your dear mother.
war to the death ensues, the survivors eating the Now it so happened that in that neighbourhood a bodies of the slain foes. good many English had been gradually collecting, One afternoon, during an unusually severe winter, and it became necessary for their comforts that they I was sitting with your mother in our little parlour should be able to visit an English church, which playing with Frank, who was then only a little baby, many of them had not been able to do for years. in front of a blazing fire of pine-wood. I had just Accordingly, a scheme was set on foot, and money congratulated myself that all my visiting for the collected in order to establish a residential chaplaincy, day was done, and that I might now indulge in a
comfortable lounge by the fire without any proba- tolerably level. We had covered a good mile and a bility of having my rest disturbed, for our house half without having seen anything in the shape of stood quite alone, some distance from even the wolf, although we could hear their hideous baying in nearest woodcutter's hut. All at once, however, we the distance. Some little way ahead of us, howheard a thumping at the outer door, and my servant, ever, I knew that we should have to pass through a coming in, said that a man, apparently a woodcutter, deep cutting where the road had been lowered to wished to see me. I knew at once that it must be render it more practicable; and this was the part something very important that could have brought that I dreaded most, as it was bordered close up to him so far just as day was closing, for during the past the edge of the cutting by a thick pine forest, which few days the depredations committed by the wolves was a well-known haunt of wolves. in the neighbourhood had been truly alarming, and Suddenly, as we were approaching this gorge, a few would be brave enough, even fully armed, to quick change of the wind brought the well-known come through the pine woods at dusk without some- baying of a pack of wolves upon our wide-opened thing very important compelled them to do so. ears, followed quickly by the sharp cracks of one What was my surprise, however, when he told me or two rifles. that he had come from a village some three miles “ The wolves are in the cutting," said my com. away to fetch me to the bedside of his niece, who panion, " and are attacking someone. Hark! there he was afraid was dying, and who had desired to go the rifles again. Had we not better turn, sir ? If
they come down the gorge we are lost.” How could I refuse such a request? The danger " It would be useless, my friend,” I said. "They I knew was fearfully great, for night was advancing would soon overtake us. Our horse is blown, while rapidly, and the wolves would be on the prowl. they possibly are fresh ; besides, there are others in
Already the red sun was tinging the tops of the the gorge besides ourselves—we had better try to reach pine-trees with a ruddy glow, and in a few minutes, them. Light a couple of torches: we will hurry on half an hour at the most, darkness would be upon quicker.” But our horse now began to show signs of us. However, it was a matter of life and death; it great fear, as another howl was borne upon our ears. would be an awful thing if I waited until the morn- “Quick, friend,” I said; “ take a revolver, and ing to go, and should then find the woman dead. we will try to dash through them." But now the My stern duty called me, and as a clergyman I dared baying had become frightfully near, and was on not refuse to risk some danger to go and comfort a all sides of us; the horse quivered from fright in dying soul. I told the man, to his intense relief, every limb, as I urged him forward with repeated that I would go, and ordered my servant to get the cuts of the whip. sleighi ready directly, for the sooner we set off the Suddenly the light of the torches revealed that we better would be our chance of finding the road, and were struggling in the midst of a pack of these fearful at the same time there would be less likelihood of animals — in front, in rear, at each side, they being chased by the wolves.
swarmed upon us.
With a last cut at the horse, I informed my wife of my unexpected journey, I dropped the reins, and seizing a revolver in one hand and she begged and prayed of me not to go, but and a torch in the other, my companion and I prepared to wait until the morning. But duty is stern, and I to sell our lives as dearly as posible. Suddenly I felt could not listen to her persuasions. I arranged, a fearful jerk, the torch flew out of my hand, and I however, that I would stop at the village all night, seemed to be smothered amid a heap of rugs. Struggling and return by daylight the next morning. I there with the weight that was upon me, I found that the fore bade good-bye to her, and prepared for my sleigh had overturned, crushing my legs beneath it. journey. I looked carefully to my revolvers, saw Around me on every side I heard the awful howls of that every chamber was correctly loaded, and slipped the wolves, but they either did not see me or could them into the holsters at the side of the sledge. not get at me; on closer listening I could hear them Then wrapping myself from head to foot in my furs, snarling and fighting over some object but a little way for it was intensely cold, and taking two or three off. The horrible thought crossed me—my comtorches to use if necessary (for fire will very often panion ! evidently they were devouring him ! I could frighten wolves away), I prepared to settle down for not bear the thought. I yet retained my revolver with my anything but enjoyable journey.
a chamber or two undischarged, and without thinking But here a difficulty came in the way. My ser- how useless the attempt to rescue him would be, I vant was always in the habit of driving me, and it struggled to free myself. The exertion was useless, was rarely that I handled the reins myself
. But and only brought further trouble. now I should not be able to take him, for the sledge My endeavours attracted the attention of the was only made to carry two, and if I took my servant outsiders round the unholy banquet, and they came the messenger would have to return on foot—an sniffing and snarling round the sledge, tearing and alternative which was not to be thought of for a scratching the furs with their claws. moment. He would undoubtedly have to ride with moment of frightful suspense; but, horror of horrors! me, and we should have to manage the best way we one of my feet had got jammed under the back of could. It took of course some little time to complete the sledge, and was outside! Quickly I felt the rug our arrangements, so that by the hour we were ready that was round it giving way, and soon my boot to start the sun had sunk below the horizon, and was torn off. Oh, the thought even now is too horrible but for the reflection afforded by the snow it would —the wolves began actually to gnaw my foot! And have been quite dark.
there I was as in a vice, entirely at their mercy. I Well, off we started at a good round trot, trying was not trained as a Spartan; my nerves could to make the best of our time while the road was endure no more, and I fainted.
How long I remained in a state of insensibility I cannot tell, but I was awoke to consciousness by the ALISON BRAND'S BATTLE IN LIFE. sharp crack of rifles, and the gladsome sound of human voices. I shouted with all my might, and
BY JULIA GODDARD. soon I felt the sledge lifted from over me. The relief to the nerves was so great that I again fainted, and recollect nothing more until I found myself in my own
CHAPTER I. bed.
LISON BRAND read from the 144th Psalm, When I was strong enough to talk, I learnt how my -A - Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which deliverance had been effected. My poor companion
teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to had, as I feared, been devoured. The shots we had fight." heard previous to our overthrow had proceeded, it
Then she made a pause. seemed, from a party of peasants armed with guns, “That is a very unchristianlike sentiment, Aunt who had turned out for the express purpose of Miriam. What is the use of children learning, “ Let slaughtering wolves, and who were engaged in the dogs delight to bark and bite,' when one finds David slaughter when the sound of our horse's feet had offering up thanks for what all Christians should drawn off the attention of the wolves in another deprecate ?" direction.
Then Alison made another pause, waiting for an By the crack of our revolvers they knew that the answer. animals had attacked us; a minute or two more, The elder lady gently closed the Book of Psalms and our horse dashed past them, his harness trailing from which Alison had been reading, and looked in the wind, and followed by three or four dozen upon her niece's glowing face. howling demons.
“It is a wide question,” said Miss Miriam Brand, Then the peasants determined to try and help us, speaking more to herself than to Alison. and, seizing each a flaming brand from their fire, Again Alison spoke : rushed up the gorge. My poor companion was past “Aunt Miriam, I thought you disapproved of war help, but they carried me back to their fire and bound altogether, and were looking forward to the time up my wounds, wrapped me up in a pile of furs, and when the swords and spears shall be beaten into the next morning carried me home.
ploughshares and pruning-hooks." The exposure to the frost had, however, caused “ Suppose we leave David and his wars out of the mortification to set in, and, to save my life, the limb question, with the one remembrance that it was a had to be amputated at the knee. What became of punishment from the Lord that the sword should not our horse I never knew, though he was probably over- depart from his house, and that David may have felt taken and eaten.
thankful that he was strong enough to maintain the The shock to my nerves had, however, been so warfare entailed upon him, and to come forth vicgreat that I had to yield up my post, and, coming back torious. And instead of analysing David's feelings let to England, I obtained my present living, where the us apply the words to ourselves and our own battles.” rest of you children were born, and where, God willing, Was Aunt Miriam turniug traitor to her peace I hope to pass the rest of my days in peace and principles ? Alison gazed in surprise on the quiet quietness. And now, children, your curiosity is face and silver grey hair braided beneath the simple satisfied, I hope, and you have heard how I obtained cap. iny cork leg, and endured the agonies that called forth * We have all a battle to fight,” murmured Aunt the title from a friend the other day that I was a Miriam, " and may our hands and fingers be strong modern Spartan, and certainly, if they had to undergo and well directed, even as David's were.” such agonies as I suffered upon that occasion, I am Then it all flashed upon Alison, and she sat down only too thankful that I did not live in those good old at her aunt's feet. times.
T. R. C. “ Let us talk," she said ; " it does one good to
hear you. You do believe that life is a battle we nave to fight ?—that it is like soldiers carrying on a warfare?”.
And Alison's eyes glistened.
“Yes,” returned Miss Brand, life is a battle, a very hard one sometimes ;” and again Aunt Miriam's eyes had the far-off look that Alison had often noticed when some remembrance of the past had risen to Miss Brand's mind.
“ You do not remember my grandfather, Aunt Miriam ?” said Alison, suddenly.
“No,” replied Miss Brand, - he died when I was but a baby ; your grandmother was left with five children, the eldest nine years old, two boys and three girls. Your grandfather was an extravagant man, and had run through all his property. He died abroad of a fever, just as your grandmother was planning to go to him. She was but a little over thirty, a fine looking woman, lively and high-spirited ; she was much attached to her husband, and had
taken part in his reckless course, without considering " That the horse I bet on so heavily is last in the or, perhaps, understanding the consequences; and race; that, instead of making the thousands I calwhen the final catastrophe came, it was a terrible culated upon, I am more deeply involved than ever. blow and a terrible awakening."
I must go away to-night-to-morrow may be too Aunt Miriam paused for a moment; she looked at late.” Alison inquiringly, as if communing with herself Again she said: whether she would enter into details. Apparently, “What do you mean ?” the decision was favourable, for in a few minutes she “That if I don't get away from England I shall continued :
soon be in the Fleet Prison. You must be brave, One night your grandfather came to her saying, Bess, and when I've settled somewhere, you must Bess, it is all over, the last penny is spent, I'm in come after me with the children." debt beyond what I can ever pay, and in a few days “Go away from England,” she repeated, " at this there will be half a dozen warrants out against me.” time of night ?” She sat staring into his face, half stupefied.
“ Yes, I must pack up a few things and be off.” “What do you mean ?" she asked.
And he opened the doors of his wardrobe and took
from the shelves what seemed to him most needful, ray of light in them for some time ; for the dispensastuffing them into a great carpet-bag, which he lifted tion was a hard one; it was so sudden; it had cut from time to time to see how great a weight he could off her joy in life at one unexpected stroke. It had take without encumbrance to himself.
thrown back all her brave resolves, and she felt that “I must carry it until I meet the friend who is instead of hearing the Father's gracious answer to the going to help me off. Have you any money, Bess?" repentant child, she only heard the harsh voice of an
She turned to her dressing-case, which she un offended judge saying Depart, I know you not.' ' locked, and took from it a few bank-notes and a “She shed no tears, she sat bearing mutely the purse with some gold in it.
pain that was gnawing at her heart, and a wall He hesitated.
seemed to rise up between her and the future, as “Is this all you have, Bess ?” he asked.
though she were shut out of living, breathing,
hoping life. He made a motion to put part of it back. But “ She had been forced to leave the home where her she said :
husband had left her. Everything had been seized, No, take it all; I shall do without it."
except the clothing of herself and the children, and, “But the children, Bess. I shan't be able to send with the help of her friends, she had settled herself you anything. You had better keep part. I'll only in some medium lodgings, until matters could be take just enough to get away with.”
arranged for her to go abroad. She had faced the Still she said “ No."
change cheerfully, through the hope that in a few And suddenly there came a light into her eyes, weeks she would be with her husband, and they which made her husband say:
should begin a new and a better life together; and “What is the matter, Bess? Your eyes shine like now it was all snatched away from her, just as she stars, brighter even than in the days when I used to was beginning to realise what life and its ends were. write foolish verses upon them, and you look so It was a judgment upon her too hard for her to bear. grand and stately, Bess. What is it? You'll not Had her husband felt it so likewise ? She could not forget me. You'll come to me as soon as you can bear to think of it, and yet it forced itself ruthlessly get things together ? John and Charlotte and the upon her, that alone in a foreign land, without anyothers will help you.”
one near to help or comfort him, he had died with Yes, I will come; do not fear."
all his newly-coming knowledge condemning him as They had changed places that night; she was the it condemned her.” brave one, he the bowed-down, the fearful one.
Again Aunt Miriam paused, and Alison drew “ I've ruined you and the children, Bess,” he said, closer to her. but I've waked up to-night. I see it all, I know it “Go on, Aunt Miriam,” said she; “ let me know it all now ; I have awaked from sleep."
all. I am growing into a woman, and I want to fight as “ So have I,” she answered ; “I have no fear for good a battle as my grandmother did. Only I am not the future."
poor enough, I am afraid ; I have everything I want, “ No fear, when all is so dark ? What hope is there, and my father is rich;” and she gave a little sigh. nothing to fall back upon, no one to look to ? "
Miss Brand half-smiled as she stroked Alison's She laid her hand upon his shoulder.
My husband," she said, solemnly, “the Lord “Do not despair on that account, my child," she will provide."
said, gently. “There is no path without danger, and He started.
no life without its foes to conquer. You will find “ After we have so long forsaken Him ? After the plenty of trouble in the world.” long course of waste, of folly, of extravagance ?
“Yes, even as the prodigal son found favour when he confessed his sins. I am not afraid." But her courage broke down when the moment of parting
CHAPTER II. came, she clung to him with a strange, wild feeling, that she could not let him go, in spite of the short Alison Brand stood before her mirror that evening time that was to elapse before they should meet again. and communed with the reflection in the glass. The It was late at night, and, wrapped in an old cloak, with eyes that looked back into hers were dark blue eyes his carpet-bag in his hand, he stole out of the house that changed their expression very rapidly in answer and hurried through the almost deserted streets to the thoughts that rose up in her mind-searching until he met with his friend.
eyes, for she was gazing scrutinizingly at the face Here Miss Brand paused, and Alison, who had before her. Yes, she had been always told that she been listening intently, looked up.
was like her grandmother, and she saw the likeness “What happened next?" she asked.
now. It came out strikingly, and she examined “He got safely abroad."
if she had been a painter putting the last touches to a “And my grandmother?”
portrait. The soul that was within was making “She never joined him-she was getting ready to itself apparent. Alison was buckling on her armour do so when his last letter came to her. It was written and preparing for the battle. in the beginning of his illness, and in a few days Behind the fair face surmounted by coils of black another letter came, in a different hand, to say that hair, was a picturesque background-a room furhe was dead.”
nished tastefully with every comfort that Alison “Yes,' said Alison, softly.
could desire ; very unlike the poor lodgings in which “ The first dark days went by," continued Miss her grandmother had faced the foe in life. Brand, " and they were very dark days, with not a Again the words rose to her lips :