« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
fully reconciled to her parents, and repeated some passages of the “meekness and gentleness of Christ,” who forgave all his enemies, and “ left us an example that we should follow in his steps."
The next day, Marian said she had thought much of what I had said on the duty of forgiveness, and she felt her past conduct had been wrong.
“ You have given me some strange thoughts,” she continued; "you have told me I must die, but I think this is not true. Still I am very ill, and I mean to apologize for my unkind treatment of Lady Charlotte. I would not leave the world with such a stain upon my soul, as indulged and continued hatred to any human being.”
It was a sad duty, but I felt it right to explain to poor Marian, that instead of one stain on the soul, her whole state by nature was full of sin, so that no holy thought or action could spring from her heart, until it was renewed by the Spirit of God.
After a few moments of silence she said, “I think you would not deceive me; and if I am to believe what you say about
my state must be hopeless. I have never thought of God in my prosperity, and my
situation now must be without hope, as I said before.” No," I replied, “no sinner's state can be entirely without hope. Christ died for us—he took all our sins upon him— He died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. His blood cleanseth the vilest sinner, and for the sake of this dear Redeemer, this
one only Mediator between God and man,' God the Father loves us, and calls us his children.”
I was here interrupted by Lady Charlotte's abruptly entering, and soon took my leave, promising to send a sick-nurse as night attendant to Miss B. The person I selected for this office was a very excellent person, of high character, and extremely attentive to her sick patients. I spoke to her of Miss B.'s state, and gave her a little book peculiarly valuable for an invalid. It contained selections from Scripture, together with some beautiful hymns and short prayers. I begged the nurse, Mrs. F., to read occasionally to Marian, and then sent a message to the young lady, promising an early call the next day.
How true is that often quoted saying, “ Man proposes, but God disposes." I little thought that I had taken my leave of poor Marian B., and we should meet no more, till that awful day when the graves shall give up their dead, and all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive the reward of all their deeds done in the body, whether good or evil. As I entered the hall the next morning, I eagerly inquired
if Miss B. was better, and was hastening to her room, but
Marian had quitted this world of sin and sorrow. How earnestly I hoped that our prayers had been heard and answered, and that the broken-hearted girl had found rest and peace at last.
Mrs. F. called that night at my house, and all the depressed feelings I had experienced that day soon left me. She gave a simple but affecting detail of Marian's last few days. To my great delight, the book I had sent had been often read to the dying girl. Lady Charlotte opposed this; but her daughter's entreaties at length prevailed, and almost to her last hour Marian felt comfort in listening to the word of God, -those precious promises which often can gild the gloom of death's dark valley, and cast a bright rainbow of hope on the departing believer. She had asked her parents to pardon all that sad estrangement which had been productive of so much pain to them, and begged her father would write to me, and give a message expressive of her gratitude for my past services. This note contained only a few lines, but I read it with great pleasure.
“My dear sir," wrote Mr. B., “I much regret that Lady Charlotte's dislike to any domestic interference, particularly as regards religious opinions, has resulted in my daughter's being deprived of your valuable services, and, what she prized yet more highly, your kind and friendly conversations. I neither understand, nor do I desire to understand, the strange doctrines of what is called revealed religion ; but, no matter,
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.
you have brought comfort to my child, and I offer my warmest thanks for this, without wishing to inquire by what means this comfort was given. The enclosed diamond ring I send at Marian's desire-you will wear it in memory of my dear child. Believe me, my dear sir, ever faithfully yours, Charles B.”
What happiness I felt whenever the remembrance of Marian occurred to me; but after a while I thought less of her, and, as years passed on, the cares and “anxious happiness" of domestic life made me nearly forget my patient. Mr. B. had left England, and I never heard either of himself or the worldly-minded and violent-tempered Lady Charlotte.
Five years passed, and my path in life was bright and cheerful. My professional career was prosperous, and my family ties made life so happy, that I was in danger of forgetting that “here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Then, when all seemed cloudless, suddenly troubles came, “not single handed, but in battalions.” I had a long and dangerous illness, and my only hope of avoiding pulmonary disease was to travel from place to place. This lasted some months, and was very expensive. Agnes was detained at home, as our two little girls had been very ill. After I had regained some degree of health I returned to town, but, alas! some of my
best patients were removed, others had died, and my long absence had sadly interfered with my professional success.
At the next holidays my three boys required to be sent to more advanced, and, consequently, more expensive schools. My affairs made me very anxious, and this again injured my scarcely established health, and enervated the nervous system. Christmas came, but I dreaded its approach. Christmas is generally said to be a happy time, with its family re-unions, its hearty hospitality, and its dear old memories ; but Christmas has its bills also, and mine were both numerous and heavy. To leave our house for one of less pretensions was proposed; but we had a long unexpired term, so the idea was of necessity discarded.
Winter had set in with great rigour, and I was often too unwell to leave the house. Agnes was still cheerful and active, though very pale, and worn with harassing anxious cares. It was the last day of the old year. I sat alone in my study, and read that beautiful chapter, Deut. viii. ; ver. 2, “ And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. While meditating on these words, one of my boys ran in to say the ground was so slippery that cabs and omnibuses could only move at a very slow pace, and severe accidents had happened to several passers by. At this moment a travelling carriage drove up, a black man and mulatto woman sat in the rumble, and a gentleman and lady, together with two foreign-looking children, descended from the carriage, and all entered the house. They were so folded in Indian shawls and furs, that their appearance was most singular.
“ What a strange importation of Anglo-Indians," said Agnes; “can any of them, or all of them, come to consult you, Philip ?" A servant brought cards—“Sir Charles and Lady B.,” and the next moment they entered my room. Sir Charles was a fine-looking man, in the prime of life. He said, before he could speak on the business which brought him to me immediately on his landing from Madras, “ he would feel greatly obliged if I would order his children and servants to be taken to a warm room, as the poor creatures were nearly perished with cold.” Agnes retired to give necessary orders, and Sir Charles offered his hand to me, with all the warmth of an old and long separated friend. I felt not a little puzzled with his free and easy method of proceeding. In a few minutes the mystery was happily explained.
Sir Charles was the brother of poor Marian B. She had written a few days before her death to bid a last farewell to her only brother, and bequeath to him the little book which she had found to comfort her so much. She begged Sir Charles, if ever he had it in his power, to prove himself a friend to me, and when he returned to England, to call on me, with a view of assisting me if my circumstances needed it. Sir Charles was then not long married, and was continually with his regiment, performing some very arduous service in our northern provinces of India. He wrote to a London friend respecting me, but that gentleman knew only that my practice seemed extending, and I appeared very prosperous.
Sir Charles received promotion, and at last gained his present title, two years before our meeting. He delayed to address me, thinking his return would be far more speedy than was actually the case.
His parents were both dead ; and as Lady Charlotte's fortune had been considerable,“ he was,” he said, “a rich man, plenty of idle money at his command, and one of his most earnest wishes was to assist his poor sister's kind friend. What did I mean to do with my boys, in the first place ?”
I was very unwell, and my joyful revulsion of feeling was almost too much for me. He soon settled that George, my
eldest, should be placed at Sandhurst. Then he said, that he had agreed with a clergyman at Brighton to take his little boy to educate. He thought if my two younger sons could be placed with his little Lovel, it might increase the happiness of all parties. The
young heir was delicate in health, but very amiable, and very much advanced in his education, having been almost from infancy under a clever tutor. It was pleasant to hear little Lovel's gay laugh, as he played with my boys; and his fond mother declared, again and again, that all her husband could do for me was as nothing compared with the comfort she felt in hoping my strong, independent boys would be, in future, the friends and protectors of her fragile darling Lovel.
All my anxious cares seemed vanishing with the old year; and when I retired to rest, I earnestly offered my thanks to that gracious God who had indeed “fed me with manna in the wilderness," and in his own word has said, “ Thou shalt also consider in thy heart, that as a father chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.”
Sir Charles would take no denial, and we all, even our little girls, dined with him on New Year's day at their hotel, and it was truly “ beginning the new year well.” Sir Charles wished me to accept from him a sufficient sum of money to settle all my accounts.
This I gladly agreed to; for now that my expenses for the boys were so happily lessened, I hoped very soon to pay off this loan due to my kind and liberal friend. Lady B., whose health had suffered from long residing in India, remained in town under my care; or, I should rather say, at R.; for Sir Charles had taken the house formerly the abode of his still beloved sister, Marian B. Mrs. F., the nurse, also shared in the benefits which flowed from Sir Charles's generous heart. She was made the head of the nursery department, and soon rendered herself a great favourite, and an invaluable servant to the delicate lady, and the fragile little tropical children.
We often spoke of poor Marian; of her short but sad career, and of that utter despair of life that seized her when grief so suddenly swept all the flowers of life away, and left her lonely heart without comfort in this world, without hope for the next.
Her last letter to her brother was deeply affecting. She spoke with gratitude of my attentions and evident desire to promote her eternal interests. After expressing her regret that Lady Charlotte had dismissed me with such abruptness, she continued, “ I will not remonstrate with our poor mother. I have been wayward and undutiful to her, therefore I am con