Page images
PDF

seconds she felt on her face some flakes in some quiet nook among the pastoral of snow. She looked up the glen, and hills. But now there was to be an saw the snow-storm coming down, fast end of all this,- she was to be frozen as a flood. She felt no fears; but she to death-and lie there till the thaw ceased her song; and had there been might come; and then her father a human eye to look upon her there, would find her body, and carry it it might have seen a shadow on her away to be buried in the kirk-yard. face. She continued her course, and The tears were frozen on her cheeks felt bolder and bolder every step that as soon as shed,- and scarcely had her brought her nearer to her parents' little hands strength to clasp themhouse. But the snow.storm had now selves together, as the thought of an reached the Black-moss, and the broad over-ruling and merciful Lord came line of light that had lain in the direc- across her heart. Then, indeed, the tion of her home, was soon swallowed fears of this religious child were calmup, and the child was in utter dark- ed, and she heard without terror the ness. She saw nothing but the flakes plover's wailing cry, and the deep boom of snow, interminably intermingled, of the bittern sounding in the moss. and furiously wafted in the air, close “I will repeat the Lord's Prayer." to her head ; she heard nothing but And drawing her plaid more closely one wild, fierce, fitful howl. The around her, she whispered, beneath its cold became intense, and her little feet ineffectual cover; “Our father which and hands were fast being benumbed art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, into insensibility. ..

--thy kingdom come,-thy will be “It is a fearful change," muttered done on earth as it is in heaven." Had the child to herself, but still she did human aid been within fifty yards, it not fear, for she had been born in a could have been of no avail-eye could moorland cottage, and lived all her not see her-ear could not hear her in days among the hardships of the hills. that howling darkness. But that low “ What will become of the poor prayer was heard in the centre of etersheep," thought she,—but still she nity,--and that little sinless child was scarcely thought of her own danger, lying in the snow, beneath the all-seefor innocence, and youth, and joy, are ing eye of God. slow to think of aught evil befalling The maiden having prayed to her themselves, and thinking benignly of Father in Heaven—then thought of all living things, forget their own fear her father on earth. Alas! they were in their pity of others' sorrow. At last, not far separated! The father was she could no longer discern a single lying but a short distance from his mark on the snow, either of human child ;-he too had sunk down in the steps, or of sheep-track, or the foot drifting snow, after having, in less print of a wild-fowl. Suddenly, too, than an hour, exhausted all the she felt out of breath and exhausted, strength of fear, pity, hope, despair, and shedding tears for herself at last, and resignation, that could rise in a sank down in the snow.

father's heart blindly seeking to rescue It was now that her heart began to his only child from death, thinking quake with fear. She remembered that one desperate exertion might stories of shepherds lost in the snow, enable them to perish in each other's of a mother and child frozen to death arms. There they lay, within a stone's on that very moor,--and, in a mo. throw of each other, while a huge ment, she knew that she was to die. snow-drift was every moment piling Bitterly did the poor child weep, for itself up into a more insurmountable death was terrible to her, who, though barrier between the dying parent and poor, enjoyed the bright little world his dying child. of youth and innocence. The skies of There was all this while a blazing heaven were dearer than she knew to fire in the cottage white spread her,--so were the flowers of earth. table-and beds prepared for the faShe had been happy at her work, mily to lie down in peace. Yet was happy in her sleep,-happy in the kirk she who sat therein more to be pitied on Sabbath. A thousand thoughts than the old man and the child stretchhad the solitary child,-and in her own ed upon the snow. “I will not go to heart was a spring of happiness, pure seek them that would be tempting and undisturbed as any fount that providence and wilfully putting out sparkles unseen all the year through the lamp of life. No! I will abide

here, and pray for their souls !" Then, friendship, for which he had been glad as she knelt down, looked she at the of an excuse. Death stared him in useless fire burning away so cheerfully, the face, and his young soul, now bewhen all she loved might be dying of ginning to feel all the passions of youth, cold-and unable to bear the thought, was filled with phrenzy. He had seen shesbrieked out a prayer, as if she might Hannah every day at the fireside pierce the sky up to the very throne at work in the kirk-on holidays—at of God, and send with it her own min prayers-bringing supper to his aged serable soul to plead before him for parents--smiling and singing about the deliverance of her child and hus. the house from morning till night. band. She then fell down in blessed She had often brought his own meal to forgetfulness of all trouble, in the him among the hills-and he now found midst of the solitary cheerfulness of that though he had never talked to her that bright-burning hearth and the about love, except smilingly and playbible, which she had been trying to fully, that he loved her beyond father read in the pauses of her agony, re- or mother or his own soul. “ I will mained clasped in her hands.

save thee, Hannah,” he cried with a Hannah Lee had been a servant for loud sob, “or lie down beside thee more than six months and it was not in the snow- and we will die together to be thought that she was not beloved in our youth.” A wild whistling wind in her master's family. Soon after she went by him, and the snow-flakes had left the house, her master's son, whirled so fiercely round his head, that a youth of about eighteen years, who he staggered on for a while in utter had been among the hills looking after blindness. He knew the path that the sheep, came home, and was disap- Hannah must have taken, and went pointed to find that he had lost an forwards shouting aloud, and stopping opportunity of accompanying Hannah every twenty yards to listen for a part of the way to her father's cottage. voice. He sent his well-trained dogs But the hour of eight had gone by, over the snow in all directions-reand not even the company of young peating to them her name, “ HanWilliam Grieve could induce the kind- nah Lee,” that the dumb animals hearted daughter to delay setting out might, in their sagacity, know for on her journey a few minutes beyond whom they were searching ; and as the time promised to her parents. “I they looked up in his face, and set do not like the night,” said William- off to scour the moor, he almost be

there will be a fresh fall of snow soon, lieved that they knew his meaning ar the witch of Glen Scrae is a liar, (and it is probable they did) and for a snow cloud is hanging o'er the were eager to find in her bewilderBirch-tree-linn, and it may be down ment the kind maiden by whose hand, to the Black-moss as soon as Hannah they had so often been fed. Often Lee.** So he called his two sheep- went they off into the darkness, and dogs that had taken their place under as often returned, but their looks the long-table before the window, and shewed that every quest had been in set out, half in joy, half in fear, to vain. Meanwhile the snow was of a overtake Hannah, and see her safely fearful depth, and falling without inacross the Black-moss.

termission or diminution. Had the The snow began to drift so fast, young shepherd been thus alone, that before he had reached the head of walking across the moor on his ordithe glen, there was nothing to be seen nary business, it is probable that he but a little bit of the wooden rail might have been alarmed for his own of the bridge across the Sauch-burn. safety-nay that, in spite of all his William Grieve was the most active strength and agility, he might have shepherd in a large pastoral parish- sunk down beneath the inclemency of he had often past the night among the the night and perished. But now the wintry hills for the sake of a few the passion of his soul carried him sheep, and all the snow that ever fell with supernatural strength along, and from heaven would not have made extricated him from wreath and pitfal. him turn back when Hannah Lee was Still there was no trace of poor Hanbefore him; and as his terrified heart nah Lee and one of his dogs at last told him, in eminent danger of being came close to his feet, worn out enkost. As he advanced, he felt that tirely, and afraid to leave its master it was no longer a walk of love or while the other was mute,' and, as the shepherd thought, probably una- and lifting the cold corpse in his arms, ble to force its way out of some hol- he kissed her lips, and her cheeks, and low or through some floundering her forehead, and her closed eyes, till, drift. Then he all at once knew that as he kept gazing on her face in utter Hannah Lee was dead--and dashed despair, her head fell back on his shoul. himself down in the snow in a fit of der, and a long deep sigh came from passion. It was the first time that her inmost bosom. “She is yet alive, the youth had ever been sorely tried thank God!"-and as that expression -all his hidden and unconscious love left his lips for the first time that for the fair lost girl had flowed up night, he felt a pang of remorse : from the bottom of his heart-and at “I said, O God, that thou hadst foronce the sole object which had blessed saken us-I am not worthy to be savhis life and made him the happiest of ed; but let not this maiden perish, for the happy, was taken away and cruelly the sake of her parents, who have no destroyed so that sullen, wrathful, other child.” The distracted youth baffled, and despairing, there he lay prayed to God with the same earnestcursing his existence, and in too great ness as if he had been beseeching a agony to think of prayer. “God," fellow-creature, in whose hand was the he then thought, “ has forsaken me power of life and of death. The preand why should he think on me, when sence of the Great Being was felt by he suffers one so good and beautiful as him in the dark and howling wild, and Hannah to be frozen to death.” God strength was imparted to him as to a thought both of him and Hannah- deliverer. He bore along the fair and through his infinite mercy forgave child in his arms, even as if she had the sinner in his wild turbulence of been a lamb. The snow-drift blew passion. William Grieve had never not-the wind fell dead-a sort of gone to bed without joining in prayer glimmer, like that of an upbreaking -and he revered the Sabbath-day and and disparting storm, gathered about kept it holy. Much is forgiven to him-his dogs barked, and jumped, the human heart by him who so fear- and burrowed joyfully in the snow fully framed it; and God is not slow and the youth, strong in sudden hope, to pardon the love which one human exclaimed, “ With the blessing of being bears to another, in his frailty God, who has not deserted us in our -even though that love forget or are sore distress, will I carry thee, Hanraign his own unsleeping providence. nah, in my arms, and lay thee down His voice has told us to love one ano- alive in the house of thy father.” At ther-and William loved Hannah in this moment there were no stars simplicity, innocence, and truth. That in heaven, but she opened her dim she should perish was a thought so blue eyes upon him in whose bosom dreadful, that, in its agony, God she was unconsciously lying, and said, seemed a ruthless being " blow- as in a dream, “Send the ribbon that blow-blow-and drift us up for ever ties up my hair, as a keepsake to Wil

we cannot be far asunder-O Han- liam Grieve.” “ She thinks that she is nah-Hannah-think ye not that the on her death-bed, and forgets not the son fearful God has forsaken us?”

of her master. It is the voice of God As the boy groaned these words that tells me she will not now die, and passionately through his quivering that, under His grace, I shall be her lips, there was a sudden lowness in deliverer.” the air, and he heard the barking of The short-lived rage of the storm his absent dog, while the one at his was soon over, and William could atfeet hurried off in the direction of the tend to the beloved being on his bosound, and soon loudly joined the som. The warmth of his heart seemcry. It was not a bark of surprise ed to infuse life into her's; and as he or anger-or fear-but of recognition gently placed her feet on the snow, till and love. William sprung up from he muffled her up in his plaid, as well as his bed in the snow, and with his in her own, she made an effort to stand, heart knocking at his bosom even to and with extreme perplexity and besickness, he rushed headlong through wilderment faintly inquired, where the drifts, with a giant's strength, and she was, and what fearful catastrophe fell down half dead with joy and ter- had befallen them? She was, howror beside the body of Hannah Lee. ever, too weak to walk ; and as her

But he soon recovered from that fit, young master carried her along, she

murmured, “ O William ! what if my laughing between, like persons who father be in the moor -For if you had known neither danger nor distress. who need care so little about me, have No voice answered from within come hither, as I suppose, to save my no footstep came to the door, which life, you may be sure that my father stood open as when the father had sat not within doors during the left it in his fear, and now he thought storm." As she spoke it was calm with affright that his wife, feeble as she below, but the wind was still alive in was, had been unable to support the the upper air, and cloud, rack, mist, loneliness, and had followed him out and sleet, were all driving about in the into the night, never to be brought sk. Out shone for a moment the home alive. As they bore Hannah pallid and ghostly moon, through a into the house, this fear gave way to rent in the gloom, and by that uncer- worse, for there upon the hard clay

in light, came staggering forward floor lay the mother upon her face, the figure of a man. “Father-Fa- as if murdered by some savage blow. ther, cried Hannah-and his gray She was in the same deadly swoon hairs were already on her cheek. The into which she had fallen on her hus. barking of the dogs and the shouting band's departure three hours before. of the young shepherd had struck his The old man raised her up, and her ear, as the sleep of death was stealing pulse was stills0 was her heart orer him, and with the last effort of her face pale and sunken--and her benumbed nature, he had roused him- body cold as ice. “I have recovered self from that fatal torpor, and prest a daughter,” said the old man, “ but through the snow-wreath that had I have lost a wife;" and he carried separated him from his child. As yet her, with a groan, to the bed, on they knew not of the danger each had which he laid her lifeless body. The endured, but each judged of the o- sight was too much for Hannah, worn ther's suffering from their own, and out as she was, and who had hitherto father and daughter regarded one ano- been able to support herself in the dether as creatures rescued, and hardly lightful expectation of gladdening her yet rescued, from death.

mother's heart by her safe arrival. But a few minutes ago, and the She, too, now swooned away, and, as three human beings who loved each she was placed on the bed beside her other so well, and now feared not to mother, it seemed, indeed, that death, cross the Moor in safety, were, as they disappointed of his prey on the wild thought, on their death-beds. Deliv. moor, had seized it in the cottage, and erance now shone upon them all like by the fireside. The husband knelt a gentle fire, dispelling that pleasant down by the bed-side, and held his but deadly drowsiness; and the old wife's icy hand in his, while William man was soon able to assist William Grieve, appalled and awe-stricken, Grieve in leading Hannah along hung over his Hannah, and inwardly through the snow. Her colour and implored God that the night's wild her warmth returned, and her lover adventure might not have so ghastly for so might he well now be called an end. But Hannah's young heart felt her heart gently beating against soon began once more to beat-and his side. Filled as that heart was soon as she came to her recollection, with gratitude to God, joy in her de- she rose up with a face whiter than liverance, love to her father, and ashes and free from all smiles, as if purest affection for her master's son, none had ever played there, and joinnever before had the innocent maiden ed her father and young master in known what was happiness and never their efforts to restore her mother to more was she to forget it. The night life. was now almost calm, and fast return It was the mercy of God that had ing to its former beauty-when the struck her down to the earth, insensiparty saw the first twinkle of the fire ble to the shrieking winds, and the through the low window of the Cot- fears that would otherwise have killed tage of the Moor. They soon were her. Three hours of that wild storm at the garden gate-and to relieve the had passed over her head, and she heart of the wife and mother within, heard nothing more than if she had they talked loudly and cheerfully- been asleep in a breathless night of naming each other familiarly, and the summer dew. Not even a dream

VOL. VII.

had touched her brain, and when she William and Hannah had led a life of opened her eyes which, as she thought, trouble and of joy, that had enlarged had been but a moment shut, she had and kindled their hearts within them scarcely time to recal to her recollec- -and they felt that henceforth they tion the image of her husband rush- were to live wholly for each other's ing out into the storm, and of a sakes. His love was the proud and daughter therein lost, till she beheld exulting love of a deliverer who, under that very husband kneeling tenderly Providence, had saved from the frost by her bed-side, and that very daugh- and the snow the innocence and the ter smoothing the pillow on which beauty of which his young passionate her aching temples reclined. But she heart had been so desperately enamourknew from the white stedfast counte- ed—and he now thought of his own nances before her that there had been Hannah Lee ever more moving about tribulation and deliverance, and she in his father's house, not as a serlooked on the beloved beings minis- vant, but as a daughter-and when tering by her bed, as more fearfully some few happy years had gone by, dear to her from the unimagined dan- his own most beautiful and most loving ger from which she felt assured they wife. The innocent maiden still callhad been rescued by the arm of the ed him her young master-but was Almighty.

not ashamed of the holy affection • There is little need to speak of which she now knew that she had long returning recollection, and returning felt for the fearless youth on whose strength. They had all now power to bosom she had thought herself dying weep, and power to pray. The Bible in that cold and miserable moor. had been lying in its place ready for Her heart leapt within her when she worship and the father read aloud heard her parents bless him by his that chapter in which is narrated our name and when he took her hand Saviour's act of miraculous power, by into his before them, and vowed be· which he saved Peter from the sea. fore that Power who had that night Soon as the solemn thoughts awaken- saved them from the snow, that Haned by that act of mercy so similar to nah Lee should ere long be his wedded that which had rescued themselves wife-she wept and sobbed as if her from death had subsided, and they had heart would break in a fit of strange all risen up from prayer, they gather- and insupportable happiness. ed themselves in gratitude round the The young shepherd rose to bid little table which had stood so many them farewell."my father will think hours spread and exhausted nature I am lost,” said he, with a grave was strengthened and restored by a smile, “ and my Hannah's mother frugal and simple meal partaken of in knows what it is to fear for a child." silent thankfulness. The whole story So nothing was said to detain him, of the night was then calmly recited and the family went with him to the -and when the mother heard how door. The skies smiled as serenely the stripling had followed her sweet as if a storm had never swept before Hannah into the storm, and borne her the stars-the moon was sinking from in his arms through a hundred drifted her meridian, but in cloudless splenheaps and then looked upon her in dour-and the hollow of the hills was her pride, so young, so innocent, and hushed as that of heaven. Danger so beautiful, she knew, that were the there was none over the placid nightchild indeed to become an orphan, scene-the happy youth soon crost the there was one, who, if there was either Black-Moss, now perfectly still-and, trust in nature, or truth in religion, perhaps, just as he was passing, with would guard and cherish her all the a shudder of gratitude, the very spot days of her life.

where his sweet Hannah Lee had so It was not nine o'clock when the nearly perished, she was lying down storm came down from Glen Scrae to sleep in her innocence, or dreaming upon the Black-moss, and now in a of one now dearer to her than all pause of silence the clock struck on earth but her parents. twelve. Within these three hours

EREMUS.

« PreviousContinue »