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At last Tara stopped, and they felt that they were in a little space that had been cleared of the jungle grass. Tara turned round and said softly, “I have been all day preparing this place. My mat here; sit down. Iara mistress now.”
Implicitly they obeyed her. They were now in total darkness, and they had to grope and feel their way, that they might not come in contact with the trunks of the trees. They dared not strike a light, they scarcely ventured to move. Huddled up together, they crouched down on the bit of matting Tara had spread.
“Safe now," she muttered.
“ Thank God!” devoutly murmured the Colonel.
There in the heart of that gloomy wood they spent the night: fortunately it had long ago been cleared of wild animals by the hunting propensities of the officers and men stationed there. It was well they had deserted their house when they did ; the increasing roar of the excited soldiery told them they were at last coming to the Colonel's quarters, and the red glare shot up into the dark sky, and the noise of falling rafters soon after showed them plainly the fate of their house. But what if they should search the jungle ?
The temporary safety brought relief, and the knowledge that one remained faithful afforded comfort. How that night passed they knew not. Worn out with fatigue, Grace fell asleep, with her head resting on her father's shoulder. He never closed his eyes, but sat leaning against a tree, one arm clasping Grace firmly, the other supporting his wife; whilst beside him lay his loaded weapons. His wife, too, was sleeping. Tara sat with her head resting on her hands, asleep or awake I cannot tell. Carlo curled himself at his master's feet, keeping watch with his master, who listened to the sighing of the wind through the forest trees, and to the flapping of the leaves against one another, as they waved to and fro in the breeze. But ever and anon there mingled with these gentle sounds the distant, hoarse shouts of the merciless mutineers, and the shrill screams of the women. The Colonel's thoughts were filled with the news he had heard of the death of the Chaplain-of his awful end, and that of his wife. And the brave man lifted up his head to the starry heavens, and prayed as he had never prayed before; for well he knew, in that hour of trouble, that vain would be the help of man unless a Higher Power assisted and delivered them. And then he glanced down at
the sleeping figures of those he loved, and thanked God that brief oblivion of their sorrow was afforded them by their slumber.
When trouble has overwhelmed the weary soul, and the day's sorrows, one after another, have seemed to plunge us deeper and deeper in grief—when every door of escape seems closed to us, and friends have departed and we are left to mourn in solitude, what a merciful dispensation of our Father that we may find brief oblivion of our cares in slumber! “He giveth His beloved sleep.".
“When weak and weary, sorrow-laden, cast around Thy
arm of might ! When we fail to trust, or trace Thee, Heavenly Father,
light, more light !”
Paft was a beautiful sight to observe the
breaking of the day over the wood. The Me sky was first touched with a few faint flushes of the “smiling morn.” Each tree-top seemed gleaming with rosy brilliance, when suddenly a bright ray shot out from the awakening sun, and poured a flood of light down the long avenues of the wood. It penetrated down even amongst the short, thick bushes that grew below. Each individual leaf shook itself, and reflected the brightness of the dawn; each little blade of grass lifted its head merrily, as if to try and catch a glimpse
of the sun itself. A thousand feathered choristers began “to hymn their rapture in the ear of God," A thousand curious insects crept out to bask awhile in the universal gladness, and the whole wood was full of life. But all these beauties were lost upon the fugitives. With the morning they awoke to their perilous and insecure position. What if they should be discovered? What if the mutineers should enter the wood to search it? These and many such thoughts rushed through their minds; they knew not “what the day might bring forth.”
The lips of Grace moved slowly, as if she were repeating something to herself.
“What are you saying, dear?” asked her father.
“I was only thinking of the Lion of the tribe of Judah.' I do not kņow why I thought of that, but the words of our Chaplain, the day we went to Seetakoond, keep coming into my mind. He said that, as David took care of his sheep, and saved them from a lion and a bear, so God takes care of us. His power is always displayed for good.”
“I pray He may take care of us, then, Grace ; we need it sadly, I fear; and He alone can help us. "The Lion of the tribe of Judah !' a very striking passage," he murmured.