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Having selected my post, I went into the house and passed a short time with a most interesting invalid. I was hurriedly called back to it, from a conversation which filled my mind with serious thoughts; and, throwing a large white shawl over her head and shoulders, she came out with me, and sat on a chair on the garden walk. She was a young wife and mother, full of tender care, not for what she soon might be called to enter upon, but for what she soon might have to leave in the world behind her. She trembled then for her babe, the daughter to be left motherless in infancy; and that babe, that plump and rosy babe, has since been very speedily housed, sheltered before herself, in the Good Shepherd's fold. The mother who had trembled for it to be left motherless, was herself left childless. She was left behind it.
She sat now, wan and wasted, on a chair just facing the sun, which had already begun to assume an ominous aspect. She gazed on it solemnly, as if it were about to disappear for ever from her earthly eyes.
Already the dark body that was to eclipse it was seen visibly contracting its orb. The clouds we had dreaded passed away, our view was clear and unimpeded, but that remarkable expression of holy writ came strongly to my mind, "the sun shall be ashamed." Just so it appeared to be, —blushing, shrinking, discountenanced. Over its bright surface the dark spot, which had for some time appeared at its rim, became "as the shadow of a man's hand.'' Its progress was distinct to the naked eye, for such was mine. A gloom was gathering over the sky, a gloom stealing over the earth; slowly, slowly it came on; it was not the least like the shadowing of a cloud, nor the gloom of a gathering storm. We looked up and around; we doubted, as if taken by surprise, and asked ourselves, "Does it not grow dark?" The darker body advanced, and the gloom seemed to move on faster, the more palpable it became. The predicted hour was drawing on, and with it came the darkness—faster, faster, faster—visibly sweeping on, unlike anything I ever saw, I ever could have imagined. It was a moving, almost tangible darkness, rushing on at the last as if borne on the wings of the wind.
Our very hearts stood still; nature itself grew suddenly silent; the songs of birds ceased; the animals huddled together, and cowered in silence. The darkness swept on, swept over us, wrapped its wings around us; a strange greenish-yellow hue mingled with it, and gave it the most supernatural aspect. The horizon wore a belt of that greenly-yellow hue, the vegetation around us assumed it, the human faces on which I looked reflected it.
The Fiord, with its waters and rocky islets, was covered in that strange pall; and through the mysterious and impressive gloom up, rose the tall pines from these islets, looking like gigantic spectres rising from out of chaos—a paler, yellower shade than the darkness around them. All was unearthly seeming, but unspeakably grand, full of awe and solemnity. In that moment, my knees involuntarily bent to the ground. The mighty power and presence of God constrained the movement.
The young, fresh bloom on other cheeks had paled, that greenish-yellow had chased away the colouring of the eloquent blood from pretty cheeks. I looked to the invalid; she sat there with the white shawl shrouding her livid face; her form inclined forward, the hands clasped on her bosom; the large, tearful blue eyes fixed in trembling awe on the darkening orb. It was a painter's image for the scene of the Last Day; the form of one who had burst the cerements of the tomb before the consummation of our world's doom,— trembling, fearing, yet still loving.
How long that darkness lasted I know not, mine were not scientific observations; but quickly as it had travelled, it moved not quicker than the thoughts and impressions of the human mind; all was as distinct as if it had lasted an hour; the vision of the mind is a wonderful thing. I was only conscious of feeling ; not of seeing, observing, reasoning; but the mental retina easily reproduces what the bodily eyes have scantily rested upon. I thought not of causes, reasoned not of effects; the moving hand of the Almighty power was all my soul acknowledged. The tension of heart and mind passed away; the east reddened as with new-born day; the sky was streaked with crimson and silver, then gold shone over both. The wings of darkness were upraised; we might think we saw and heard their rising, as we had palpably seen them sweeping on around us. But the darkness had not gathered around us, as other darkness does; it had swept on from one quarter of the heavens to the other, and we saw it coming from one side while the other was still light; now it seemed to rise up at once from us, as if it lifted its great wings, and gathered itself up: we saw from whence it came; we saw not whither it went.
The dark body that caused it by her travels through the heavens—the silver moon, which at other times gives light upon the earth, moved on her way, undisturbed, perhaps, by the commotion she excited among some of the children of men, and some of the creatures of their planet.
A few moments, and sea and sky and land were themselves again. The belt of sickly yellow faded from the horizon; the foliage resumed its colours; some little flowers opened out their winking petals; the fir trees on the Fiord were spectres no longer. The birds, with short and anxious flights, started from their hidingplaces and flew in circles, chattering vehemently, and making their own astronomical observations in their own way to one another; and the merry young Laplander recorded in hers, that the calves raised up the heads they had put down, and the pigs set up their tails and ran squeaking about the yard.
We too began to utter words. We looked at each other, and the tears trembled down some faces. Wonderful Creator of all things! who could refuse to adore Thee in the things Thou hast