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I looked, and lo! the Transfigured Landscape! Every leaf, every flower, every gray rock, every waving line, every bright hue-the brook's song-the forest's shadow-were all alive and aglow with that Goodness. By it the sunbeams shone, the breezes played, the birds twittered, the sky hung soft-eyed over the smiling earth. David saw it when he exclaimed "Oh! how great is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee!"—not made visible to every careless gaze, intent on outward things alone, but laid up; stored richly for the joy and consolation of the searching eye and the prayerful heart. I stood, trembling and tearful, overwhelmed with the sudden, dazzling revelation.
"Just so," said Bona, softly,-"just so, though in a deeper and fuller degree, will the awakened soul, one day, stand overjoyed and awe-struck before its sudden discovery of God's wonderful goodness in the circumstances of its earthly life. Where it saw only shadow, it shall discern shelter; where it felt only rigour and hindrance, it shall discover the Rock of Defence; and sorrow, casting off her mask and her mufflings, shall stand forth as the fulness and the graciousness of Redeeming Love!",
A deep sigh here broke upon my ear. Leo, faithful to his notions of duty, would not leave me; but it was plain he thought I took a tiresome time for meditation. He had dropped despondently on the grass, near by, and was looking at me with uplifted head and wistful eyes.
"Thou art right!" said I, gravely apostrophizing him. "No need, either in thought or act, to go farther and fare worse! It is the bane of moralists and philosophers that they never know where to stop. We are wiser, Leo,—we home!"
No question but that he understood! At the first words, he pricked up his ears, and looked at me earnestly, inclining his head to one side. At the last, he sprang up, wagging his tail, gave a bark of joyous acquiescence, and bounded forward.
He guided me home by a shorter route. It led through a shady, turfy lane, traversed by deep cart ruts, and a sunny bit of road, bordered by that queer tangle of creeping, climbing, prickly, vagabond vegetation, which always accumulates by roadside stone-walls, in the country; sowing its own seed, and reaping its own harvest,-with some little help, in the latter task, from stray cattle and loitering school-children. I soon came upon the Divines' wood-pile, -a domestic institution which, in Shiloh, has the habit of establishing itself by the roadside, in convenient proximity to the house gate, by way of saving the enclosed land, and allowing the wood-chopper to keep au courant des public affairs. There I found Mrs. Divine's silver-haired bachelor brother, who is so universally addressd and spoken of as "Uncle True," that it seems like unnecessary particularity to mention that he has a claim, by baptism and birthright, to be called Truman Hart. He was sitting in an ancientlooking arm-chair, chopping wood; with a barrier of logs before him, and a plentiful sprinkling of chips all around. A huge mass of rock jutted up near him, in the top of which was a deep depression, or cavity, half full of water. I looked at it curiously, and inquired if it was an artificial or natural basin ?
"I guess it's nateral," replied Uncle True, laying down his axe, and wiping his brow. "It's been there ever since I was born; an' I've heerd tell that the first Hart settled on this place on account on't;-he saw a fairy pictur,-or suthin' or other, at the bottom, when he first looked into't, that took his fancy. Sartain, it couldn't 'ave ben his own face, for the Hart breed never was a harnsome un! An' people du say, when that holler gits dry (which it never does except in seasons of uncommon drouth), that the Harts can look out for bad luck. An' though I don't b'lieve much in them sort o' sayins, there does seem to be a leetle mite o' truth in that un. Leastways, I've often noticed that things are apt to come cross-grained when that
holler's dry. To be sure, they do other times, too; so I ain't quite clear whether there's anything in't, or not. It's pooty much like an ox-yoke, I guess; what'll fit into one bow 'll fit abeout as well into t'other."
Amused by the quaint speech and homely simile, I sat down on the rock, the more comfortably to pursue the conversation.
"The place seems to be amply supplied with water, without the help of the hollow," I remarked, prompted by the sight of the aforementioned well sweeps, rising into view, one on either side of the house, and looking much like an enormous pair of fishing-poles. "May I ask how it happens that you have two wells, in such near proximity ?"
"Ask all the questions you like," returned Uncle True, benignly; "they're the short road to larnin', and save makin' mistakes. As for the wells, the one behind the house was dug first, and the water turned out to be so hard and brackish that they concluded they'd try 'tother side. An' that's the best water in Shiloh-cool as if it had jest come out of an iceberg, an' soft an' sweet as if it had been stirred up with a rosebud jest afore it started."
"That seems strange," observed I, "inasmuch as there is only the length of the house between them."
"Sweet an' bitter waters are nigher together than that, sometimes," said Uncle True, sententiously. "I've known 'em both to come out o' the same spot.'
It was plain that his mind had wandered from wells in fact to wells in metaphor.
Besides," he continued, after a pause, "though, as you say, there's nothin' but the old house 'twixt 'em, yet that may stand for this world an' all its consarns. An' jest as the old house ain't much compared with this whole hillside an' valley, as fur as you can see, so life isn't much, nuther, when you look at the eternity afore it an' the eternity arter it. But there's jest that, an 'nothin' else, 'twixt the bitter waters of earth that we all begin to drink as soon as
born, an' the river o' life in heaven. Wall, then, there's another way o' takin' it. The brackish well, you see, is on the kitchen side o' the house, where all the work an' worry goes on; an' I suspect that people who dig all their wells. amongst the toils an' cares, an' hurry an' skurry, o' this world, thinkin' o' nothin' but how to make money or save it, needn't wonder if they don't git much out on 'em but bitterness. Whereas, them who dig towards the gardenthat is, as I take it, towards Christ an' His Church ('A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse,' says Solomon'> song),-them who dig thar, will find livin' waters, sweet to the tongue, an' satisfyin' to the soul. You see, Miss Frost, them wells are among my preachers. But, bless me! we mustn't be preachin', nor listenin' to preachin', all the while!"
And Uncle True caught up his axe and laid about him energetically, to make up for lost time. I watched the slow, stiff swing of the axe, indicating somewhat of rustiness and infirmity in the joints and muscles that wielded it; then, my attention became fastened on the chair wherein the old man sat.
"Your chair has a most suggestive look," I said, at length; "it seems unctuous with long absorption of life's fa miliar knowledge and homely interests. Has it a history?"
"It's history and mine's pooty much the same," replied he, laying his hand on its arm with a certain fondness. "Me and my old chair's kept company for nigh onto fifty year, and I guess nothin' but Death will part us now. Indeed, I've some thoughts of askin' to be buried sittin' in it; I've read somewhere that old Ben Johnson (he's a poet that used to be read, when I was young, more'n he is now) was buried standin' straight up in-in-wall, you know where I mean,—in that fine church in England where they bury their great folks."
"Yes; in Westminster Abbey," said I. "But it is painful to think of a man on his feet so long; and, though
sitting may be an easier posture, I advise you not to make the request. The thought of your sitting upright till the end of time, could scarcely be otherwise than wearisome to your friends. Moreover, it seems fitting that a man should lie down in his grave as he does in his bed, resigning himself into God's hands, and trusting to Him to take care of his awakening."
"So it does," said Uncle True, heartily; "I declare, 1 never thought o' that! Wall, anyhow, me an' my old chair 'll jog on together, as fur as the grave. To be sure, it's a good deal rusty an' creaky (like myself), an' its ben mended two or three times (which I hain't, as I know on), but I guess it'll last my time. I hope so; I shouldn't like to try a new un,—this has been legs an' seat, an' carriage an' travel, an' tavern for me, so long!"
"Why! do you never go without it?" I asked, in surprise.
"No more'n a snail goes without his shell. You see, marm, when I was a young feller, about sixteen year old, I was flung out of a wagon, an' lamed for life. Wall, first I tried crutches; but I couldn't sit on 'em when I got tired, an' that was pooty often. Then, I took to shovin' this old chair about ('twas a new un, then!), an' that suited 'xactly. I could go as fur as I liked, an' sit down jest where an' when I liked. Besides, it's got a drawer here, under the seat, you see, where I keep the things I want to use commonly." And Uncle True opened it, and displayed its contents. "Here's hammer an' nails, an' gimlet and screws;-them's for tinkerin' round the place: wherever I see a board off, or a hinge loose, or anything out o' kilter, I fix it. Here's an awl an' waxed ends, so that I can mend old harness, an' boots an' shoes. Here's a needle an' thread; its easier to sew on my buttons or mend a tear, sometimes, than 'tis to travel clear into the house, to get it done. Here's a trowel to dig up weeds with ;-by the way, I make out to do most o' the garden work.