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often of Heaven; for she would raise her eyes to the bending sky, jewelled as it was, in the evening hour, and seem in prayer, though her lips moved not, and the listening breezes could not catch a murmured word.
“ But the girl grew up, innocent as in her childhood, yet with a rosier flush upon her cheeks, and a brighter lustre in her dreamy eye. I did not see her so often; but when my voice, on the bright Sabbath morning, called those who loved the Good Father to come and thank him for his wondrous mercy and goodness, she was the first to obey the summons; and I watched the snowy drapery which she always wore, as it fluttered by the dark foliage, or gleamed in the glad sunshine. She did not come alone, for her grandsire ever leaned upon her arm, and she guided his uncertain steps, and listened earnestly to the words of wisdom which he spake. Then I marked that often another joined the group - a youth who had been her companion years agone, when she was a very child. Now they did not stray as then, with arms entwined, and hand linked in hand; but the youth supported the grandsire, and she walked beside him, looking timidly upon the ground; and if by chance he spoke to her, a bright glow would arise to her lips and forehead.
“ Never did my voice ring out for a merrier bridal than on the morn when they were united before the altar of this very church. All the village rejoiced with them, for the gentle girl was
THE CHURCH BELL.
loved as a sister and a daughter. All said the youth to whom she had plighted her troth was well worthy of the jewel he had gained. The old praised, and the young admired, as the bridal party turned towards their home - a simple vine-shaded cottage, not a stone's throw from where thou art lying. They did not forget the God who bestowed so much happiness on them, even in the midst of pleasure ; and often they would come in the hush of twilight, and, kneeling by the altar, give thanks for the mercies they had received.
“ Two years - long as the period may seem to youth-glide swiftly past when the heart is not at rest. Then once more a chime floated from the belfry. It was at early dawn, when the mist was lying on the mountain side, and the dew, hid trembling in the harebells, frighted by the first beams of the rising day. A son had been given them - a bright, healthful babe, with eyes blue as the mother's who clasped him to her breast, and dedicated him with his first breath to the Parent who had watched over her orphaned youth, and had given this treasure to her keeping.
“ That bright day faded, and even came sadly upon the face of nature. Deep and mournful was the tone I flung upon the passing wind, and the firtrees of the forest sent back a moan from their swaying branches, heavily swaying, as if for sympathy. Life was that day given, but another had been recalled. The young mother's sleep was not
broken, even by the wailing voice of her first-born, for it was the repose of death.
“They laid her beside the very spot where she had passed so many hours; and then I knew it was the grave of her parents which she had so loved to visit.
“ The son lived, and the father's grief abated when he saw the boy growing into the image of his mother; and when the child, with uncertain footsteps, had dared to tread upon the velvet grass, the father brought him to the churchyard, and clasping his little hands as he knelt beside him, taught the babe that he had also a Father in heaven.
“I have lain since that time almost by her side, for my pride was humbled when they removed me from the station I had so long occupied. My voice has been hushed from that sorrowful night even until now; but I am compelled to speak to thee.
“Boy ! boy! it is thy mother of whom I have told thee! Two lives were given for thine! — thy mother, who brought thee into the world, thy Savior, through whom is thy second birth. They have died that thou mightst live; and for so great a sacrifice, how much will be required of thee! See that thou art not found wanting when a reckoning is required of thee.”
Suddenly as it had been borne to his ears, the voice became silent. The boy started as from a deep sleep, and put his hand to his brow. The dew lay damp upon it. The shades of evening had
THE CHURCH BELL.
crept over the churchyard, and he could scarce discern the white slab that marked the resting-place of his mother. It may have been a dream ; but when he searched about him for the old bell, it was lying with its lip very near to the fragment pillow upon which he had reposed.
Thoughtfully and slowly the boy went towards his home ; but though he told no one, not even his father, what had befallen him, the story of the old bell was never forgotten, and his future life was influenced by its remembrance.
A WORD TO THE SORROWING
look forward !
Pure and sweet ;
Look upward ! Each bright orb above thee gleaming, Like pure light from glory streaming, Ever o'er thee fondly beaming,
Speaks a rest, Where no care will e'er oppress thee, Where no pain will e'er distress thee,
With the blest.
Press onward ! Upward, onward, still be pressing, Wait not till the promised blessing, Endless life, thou art possessing,
That blest prize!' Upward ! onward ! do not linger, Hope still points, with radiant finger,
To the skies.