« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
A SKETCH FROM LIFE.
“ Trust me to put an end to all that stuff! I shall go on leave for a fortnight or so, and a few laughs and talks with me will soon make Fred himself again. What has possessed him to listen to those canting fellows? He was out of spirits, I imagine, and had no one else to converse with. It is too bad ! I am excessively vexed about it,--letting all those young fellows laugh and sneer at him so ! But never mind; I shall soon set it all to rights. You'll see if I don't put a stop to the hymn singing !""
“I fear you'll not find the work so easy, Deverell. Fred's not so manageable as you think, and not a man likely to change his mind without cause. It strikes me that he was always inclined to be of a serious turn; there was something 80 grave and often unhappy in his expression. Don't you remember, down in Sussex, how often he used to leave us and spend whole days roaming about the country by himself? How we used to laugh at his sombre looks, and call him the melancholy Jaques !'
“No one would take you to be brothers, Deverell; you are exactly his opposite. What a pity you cannot infect poor Fred with your gay spirits !”
“And so I do when we are together," was the reply; “Fred has as good a heart and as kind a nature as ever was; but somehow, as you say, he has a gloomy turn, and I suppose he has taken a fit of the blues just now, and wants some one to cheer him up. He is truly attached to me, dear fellow, and I think I shall soon rouse him out of this strange fancy."
“ Did you hear that he actually has a prayer-meeting the first of every month, at his quarters, when a few of the serious men come and pray by turns, without book ?”
“ Yes, yes, I have heard it all. They have a Bible meeting too, once a week; and every evening he and Clara are heard singing hymns together! Hinton and Stuart heard plenty of their doings while they were down there with the detachment, and they have been giving me a fine account of it all. Of course, they dared not say very much to me, as it is my brother who is concerned; but I assure you, though I wanted to hear the whole story, I could have knocked the fellows down with all my heart for their sneering tones. No doubt they had it all out at mess.” “ That they had. I dined at the colonel's, myself, but I could plainly hear the shouts of laughter from the mess room ; and Hare told me that Stuart had been mimicking Fred's voice singing hymns with the men, and had been telling them lots of ridiculous stories. What makes the thing more absurd, you know, is that Fred was always remarked for being so particularly haughty and distant with his men.”
His listener's brow crimsoned. “It is too bad," he said, “ that my brother should be made the laughing stock of the whole regiment ! I shall ask for leave this very day, for it is really more than I can bear.”
“ And I assure you I am equally annoyed; and I wish with all my heart you may succeed in laughing, or rousing, or frightening Fred out of his serious ways. That was why I told you of all the fellows' ridicule. Tell him what he has to expect when he comes to head quarters. He has only had a taste of it at the depôt, and those canting fellows of the other corps are always with him; but here he would be a marked man, and have to bear it all quite alone. I don't think any one could stand it. It is indeed a most annoying freak of his :—but can you fancy Mrs. Deverell's being bitten too ?”
“As to that, I think it too absurd to believe. Probably she thinks it the best way to try and humour Fred, and not opposé his new fancies till he tires of them; but as to her-accomplished, fashionable, elegant little creature having become à bonâ fide meeting-goer, the thing is utterly ludicrous !” And the speakers laughed heartily at the incongruous idea presented to their minds.
“Now, Evans, I must leave you. I am on my way to the colonel's to apply for leave: so, unless you will come with
“ No, thank you; I have an engagement. When do you start for E -?"
"By the afternoon train, if I can, and reach there in time for dinner.”
“ Bravo! Nothing like prompt and decisive measures ! Well
, good bye, my dear fellow; I shall not see you again, as I am going into the country: so good bye, and good speed. I wish you success with all my heart.”
“Oh, no fear. Trust me to banish the hymn singing." And with a gay laugh, and hearty shaking of hands, the friends parted.
Captain Evans turned presently to look after his companion, and as he saw him dashing on with elastic tread and gallant bearing, and rapidly ascending the height which led to their colonel's residence, the sun shining full upon his glittering uni
form showing to advantage the animated grace of his carriage, he turned away with a smile, and thought to himself, “ Well, if any one in the world can influence Fred Deverell, and induce him to give up those strange doings, certainly his brother Frank is the man to do it. He is a noble fellow, and so gay and light hearted withal,—such a fascinating companion! Well
, there's no danger of his being bitten, at all events. The world has too many charms for him, and society would never give up Frank Deverell.”
On the afternoon of the same day a gentleman in plain clothes might be seen approaching a quiet and elegant cottage situated nearly a mile from the barracks at E- W. He looked around somewhat doubtfully ; but already he had been recognised from the windows: a glass door was hastily thrown open, and the next moment the brothers were exchanging å cordial greeting.
• My dear Fred, when did you come to this rural retreat ? I have been up to the barracks, looking for you, and to my amazement they directed me here."
“We have been here only a few days. I meant to write to-day and tell you of our change. There has been illness, and Clara and I gave up the rooms to another family. We enjoy the quiet here excessively. But come in, my dear fellow, Clara will be delighted to see you.”
At this moment Clara appeared, and hastened to give her brother-in-law an affectionate welcome. She was a young and lovely creature, and won by the charm of her männer, and rejoicing at again meeting his brother, Frank for some time forgot the immediate object of his visit.
When it did recur, the thought was almost as quickly banished as an unwelcome intruder; and the conversation, in which he took the chief part, flowed on with cheerful vivacity.
“If there is any change in them,” he thought, “it is a very agreeable one. Fred looks happier than I have seen him for years; he must be in stronger health, I fancy. And Clara has a look of gentle gravity about her that makes her seem more interesting than ever. Ah, it is the loss of her little baby, I dare say; though it is some months since, no doubt she grieves for it still. Yet she is cheerful, too. I see no alteration in either of them that is at all alarming."
Yet less volatile spirits and more thoughtful observation would have discovered a great change in Captain Deverell. Naturally proud, cold, and reserved, there were few who understood bis character, scarcely one who was admitted to his full confidence. His life had been one of intense solitude ; for upon itself.
even in the midst of society his mind had, as it were, closed in
He could instruct and please others with his varied information on those scientific and literary pursuits to which his attention had been given; but the inner life-that deep current of thought and feeling which swayed his soul-was carefully and studiously veiled. For some years past religion had been the subject of his silent musings; but, ignorant of the way of life, and wandering alone in the hopeless labyrinths of man's invention, no wonder that his reveries should have taken a tinge of deeper gloom,—that his brow should wear a sadder expression. Rather than run the risk of being misunderstood, and, indeed, knowing no one from whom he could hope for direction or help, he had suffered a sort of silent martyrdom, wrapping more closely around him the mantle of reserve, the shield which pride throws around the suffering and sensitive spirit. But there was One watching over him who would not leave him longer to wander in loneliness and despair. He was ordered to E in command of the depôt of his regiment, and while there he heard, for the first time, the gospel of salvation faithfully and fully preached.
It fell like dew upon the thirsty ground. He listened, he believed, he prayed. Light dawned upon his soul, the Sun of Righteousness rose upon the dark landscape, illuminating, vivifying, transforming, pouring into his heart a genial warmth that was not of earth, and filling it with a happiness beyond all he had ever hoped. His soul wakened as if from a trance,-a troubled, unhappy sleep, to find himself in a new and heavenly world.
To a spirit so sensitive and delicate religion was a balm of indescribable sweetness,—a source of exquisite and refined enjoyment. He had now found One to whom he could pour out his whole soul, without the fear of misapprehension, with the assurance of the fullest and most tender sympathy. Hitherto, life had been to him a thorny and rugged path-a lonely, perplexing, and wretched wilderness. How perfect, then, how beautiful, repose and comfort which he now found amid the “;
“pastures of tender grass," and beside “the waters of quietness !”
One thing only was needed to complete his happiness; and this was, that his wife should share it. Her tender solicitude had sought to cheer him in his dark hours of despondency, and had been his only comfort through long days of suffering, and now he earnestly sought to bring her to the source of his present happiness. And this, too, was added to him.
The change in her, gentle, amiable, and affectionate as she had ever been, was less striking, but it was not less real.
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON,
Willingly did she unite with her husband in withdrawing from gay and frivolous society; gladly and gratefully did she receive the friendship of those whom she knew to be fellow pilgrims to Zion. Happily, many such were to be found in Eand under the faithful ministry of their clergyman, Mr. Methville, and in the midst of a christian community where there was much of social and profitable intercourse, Captain and Mrs. Deverell enjoyed at the very commencement of their course unusual and delightful advantages. Finding nothing that was congenial in their own regiment, the change to the cottage was a very welcome one, as affording a peaceful retreat in perfect harmony with their present state of mind, and also in bringing them nearer to a circle of christian friends. They felt the great benefit to be derived from such society, and fearing that their residence at E- Inight not be long continued, gladly availed themselves of the opportunity of drawing around them those in fellowship with whom they found such pleasure and encouragement. Many of their friends were officers of another corps, stationed at E-, and those who had families often met at each other's houses, for conversation on the subject in which they were so deeply interested, and interchange of thought in their scriptural studies. There were many hindrances to Captain Deverell's receiving his friends at the barracks, but he now looked forward to assembling them frequently at the cottage; whither, after our long digression, we must now return.
It was evening, and the beams of the setting sun threw their golden light over the dark elm trees, as the brothers turned homeward from a pleasant ramble. Their conversation had been animated, and although the subject of religion had been untouched, Frank was deeply struck with the altered tone of his brother's mind. He felt and saw that he was happy: there was no longer the gloomy cloud which needed the exertion of his gay spirits to dissipate it; no longer a jarring chord which threw its influence over his whole character. No; his soul was now in harmony with itself, and there was a deep, glad music within, which the listener's ear could not fail to hear. Frank had too much true reverence for his brother lightly to approach the subject on which his suspicion had been roused; and while his warm affection was more than ever drawn out by the kindness of their meeting, and the interest with which he had observed the change in his mind, he yet felt as if a gulf now divided them one from the other. As they drew near the cottage, and Frank had fallen into what for him was most unusual, a fit of silent musing, his brother said calmly, though