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CHAPTER I X.

ERNEST'S STORY.

“HULLO!” said the blacksmith cheerily, waking from the doze into which he had fallen. “ That's right, Ernest, you're come to pay your old neighbour a visit.”

“I wanted to see how you were getting along. I was sorry to hear the missus is ill.”

Ay, but she's getting on famous now. She'll soon be all right, please God; Carry Croome takes fine care of her.”

“Miss Croome is single still, I hear," observed Ernest.

“Yes, but not for want of chances. He'll be a lucky man as gets her, Ernest,” said the clerk, significantly, as he lit up a fresh pipe. “You smoke, don't you? There's some good ’bacca in the jar on the dresser. Will you take a glass of ale?”

No ale for me, thanks,” said Ernest, fetching a chair, and placing it beside that of the elder man; “ but I'īl have a smoke by your leave.”

“No ale!” repeated Joe. Turned total abstainer? You're changed indeed."

Ernest nodded. « 'Twas needed," he said gravely.

“In more ways than one,” continued the clerk, If old Master Brooks had lived to hear where you was this morning, it would have rejoiced his heart. He always took such an interest in his master's son.”

" Ah! I've thought of his words and yours many a time. The fool hath said in his heart,

There is no God'—and your words, that I should live to repent. I had hoped no minister would be at my death-bed. I was very near death once, and I remembered that."

I should dearly love to hear you tell it all, Ern,” said Joe, crossing his legs, and leaning back in his chair.

6. 'Tis a long story,” replied the young man.
“ No matter, we've all the afternoon afore us.

Ernest cleared his throat and began. “You know how I left Broadmeade-in shame and disgrace. It was pride drove me to go to America. I could not bear to stop where the neighbours could point the finger of scorn at me. I'd lost my place at Dorton, and my name had got into the police reports. She (Carry Croome) would have nothing to say to me, so I went off. I meant to make money over there in New York, and come back a rich man, and just let Broadmeade folk see that he whom they had despised could buy them all up yet.”

Have you come home a rich man?” asked Joe.

“No,” replied Ernest. “I've paid my passagemoney, and come home with three or four pounds in my pocket, that's all; but you shall hear about it. I soon got work after I landed. In New York a good workman can always make a living. Of course, I wasn't fool enough to think I could go on drinking and make a fortune too, and I had quite made up my mind to be sober and respectable. But the temptation soon proved too strong. I fought against it, I honestly did, but it was too much for me. When I had money to pay for it drink I must have, and what I earned was speedily spent. Then there was the old story. I went from bad to worse, lost

my place, then grew ashamed of myself and tried to pull up, and for a few weeks I did keep sober; and it seems curious that no sooner did I think I'd got the better of my dreadful enemy, drink, than the temptation would seize me again stronger than ever, and again I would give way and fall.”

“It's just like any other sin, I suppose," observed Smithers, as Ernest stopped to knock the ashes out of his pipe. “ The Bible says, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.'”

"That's the truth, I think,” said Ernest. “Well, to cut a long story short, this sort of life went on for nearly three years. If I kept sober for a few weeks, and got a little money together, the demon of drink was sure to overcome me, and I would begin again, and go on till I had spent all. The end of it was, I had a serious illness, and was taken to the hospital."

“Was it then you began to see the error of your way?” - Not so

I was well nursed and doctored, and after a bit I began to mend. There was a good man who used to come and read and pray in the ward, and he tried to speak to me of repentance and a better life. But I would not listen to him. I told him quite civilly that I did not believe in what he said, and begged he would not waste his time on me, He looked very sorry, and went away, saying he would pray for me, just as Carry said; and I believe he-theyboth have, or I should not be here now." Here Ernest paused, and after a minute's silence, resumed his narrative. “ The doctors told me that I should kill myself if I went on drinking; and one of them, who was a philanthropic sort of man, gave me a good talking to. He did not speak of religion, but he told me I must exert my better self, and not allow my lower nature to get

soon.

see me.

the better of me. He advised me to leave off again, so spending all I earned. At last my health drink altogether, and to take the pledge; also, gare way. I was very ill again of the same comhe recommended me to try what pure country air plaint for which I was taken into the hospital. and a change of work would do for me. Some But now it was a very different thing. Then I friend of his had started timber felling in a large had the best of nursing and doctoring; now there way in Canada, and he said he would advise me was no doctor near, and poor Uncle Abe and to go up to one of these logging camps and work British Bill did the best they could for me in a there."

rough way. I got worse and worse, and began to " What's a logging camp?” asked Joe.

feel I could not recover. As a last chance, I “Well, you see, there are vast forests in begged Bill to try and get a doctor to come and America, far away from towns, and if a man

Old Uncle Abe said . It warn't no good; contracts to cut down a quantity of trees, he dey doctors dey didn't come all de way up dere sends up a lot of men, who camp in the woods till ’nless dey was paid.' I had no money, but my the work is done. They put up a log hut, or mates, who were kind-hearted chaps enough, many shanty, of rough wood, engage a man to cook of whom had a fellow-feeling for me, subscribed and do for them, and there they stop till the enough to get a doctor, Britişh Bill volunteered timber within a reasonable distance is felled. I to lose a day's work and ride the fifteen miles to went up to this camp. There were about twenty Wild Cat Creek to fetch him. By the time he fellows of all sorts--Yankees, Scots, Irishmen, came I was insensible, and did not come to myself and Canadians, but only one Englishman, whom till after his departure. I asked Bill what the they called • British Bill.' William was not his doctor bad said, but though he tried to make the name, but it did not matter, for we were never best of it, I could guess that the report was not called by our real appellations, but all had nick favourable. Waking the next evening from a names. Mine was "Sandy,' because of my fair feverish sleep, tormented by hideous dreams, I hair. Our boss (that is the man who overlooked heard one of the men say to Bill, who stood at the work, selected, and marked the trees, and so my bedside, · Bet you a dollar poor Sandy hands on) was strong temperance man. They said he in his checks in less than twenty-four hours.'” came from a State where you, couldn't get any The sexton looked up with a puzzled expresliquor except it was smuggled. I don't know

sion. the truth of that, but, anyhow, he would have " That's a slang term for dying, you know," none in his camp. Uncle Abe, our old negro explained Ernest. I cannot tell you how I felt, cook, made us plenty of tea and cocoa, and we Smithers, at these words, particularly as I heard had to make the best of that; but sometimes a fit Uncle Abe say, · Dere aint no hope for 'im pore of longing for drink overtook the men, and one or soul. De doctor he say as much. •Hush!' two of them would go to the bar in the nearest said Bill, 'he's waking; don't let the poor fellow village, ten miles away. They seldom came hear us talk like this.' As I lay there, and back till they had spent all their money. Good understood I could not get well, I remembered ness! how the boss used to swear at them! but of your words at the forge; and how old Brooks course it was no use. He had to take them on had said I should find I could not do without God again when they chose to come back, as labour when trouble really came. I believed in God was scarce. Of course the men were not all alike. now, and Heaven, and Hell, too. I would bare British Bill, for instance, never touched a drop; giren worlds if I could have really thought I said he didn't like it. The boss kept a sharp could die like a brute beast, with no hope of a look-out on me, for my friend the doctor had life to come. No, I knew there was another life, written about me. For six or eight weeks I kept and I knew for me it would be a life of eternal steady enough. Then all of a sudden the old misery. How I longed now that I could find craving came back; down I went to the bar. myself back in Broadmeade, where Mr. Wilson Of course, I said, I should only just have a glass could come and pray by my bed, or even in the or two; but the old villain of a bar-keeper took hospital, where I could see the man whose care I did not keep to that, and when I had ministrations I had refused. I tried to pray, but drunk up all my money he turned me out of no words would come to me. I tried to remember doors. I felt so ashamed of myself that I had a what I had learnt at Sunday-school, but all seemed great mind not to go back to the logging camp,

gone from me.

Bill,'' I cried, can't you but I could not get work elsewhere. I called pray?' I startled him, as he sat by my bed, and myself all the fools in the world, for I had just he looked very much astonished. You must got together a nice little sum; and here I was, pray,'I cried, 'or I'm a lost soul!' Bill shook his obliged to begin the world again. I vowed it head, sadly. "I can't remember anything !' he should be the last time, and I kept my resolution said. Then seeing my distress, he added, I'll go for three or four weeks; then I broke out again, and see if any one has got a Bible or prayerand after that I did not seem to care, but went on book.' working for a month or so, then down to the bar “Why, where had he been brought up?"

this;

inquired Smithers in surprise. " You said he guess, for you know how a good man can speak was an Englishman."

of the Saviour's love, even for sinners, and His “So he was, but he told me afterwards he'd precious death upon the cross. I had heard it never said his prayers since he went to school, so before, with the outward ear, but now it seemed he'd pretty well forgot them.

to go down into my very heart. It was “I felt like a man in despair when Bill came revelation- a new life. Mr. Taylor knew someback to say no one in the camp had Bible or thing of doctoring. He had his medicine chest prayer-book. Uncle Abe indeed said in a very with him, and either his remedies, or my own woe-begone voice, ‘Dis chile 'ab one once. llad strong constitution, I don't know which, began to 'im gib me at camp meeting, but ’im got tore, and get the better of my illness ; or perhaps I had de rats dey got 'im, an knaw 'im; wish I kep de taken a turn for the better before, though no one pieces now.'

knew it. Mr. Taylor had to go the next day, “There is something, I know, about a Saviour," but he left both a Bible and prayer-book for me I said. “Oh, Bill, if you could only remember; and Bill, and he marked places where my mate and a prayer, Our Father' it began, but I can't could read to me. Poor Bill was quite pleased at think. My poor head is all in a whirl. Can't you he had a talk to the parson too, and promised remember?

him never to get up or go to bed again without “No, I can't,' replied Bill. Then, as a bright prayer. thought struck him. • Perhaps if I was to go “ In ten days' time when Mr Taylor came to down to the Creek I could get a minister, or some see me, I was mending, but very weak. He one.'

brought his son-in-law, Mr. Frank, with him, and "I caught at the idea eagerly, as a drowning as they saw I needed care and attention, such as man catches at a straw, Bill started at once, he I could not have in the camp, these kind fellowknew there was no time to be lost. He told me countrymen of mine said they would take me back afterwards, that on his way he thought more with them to Mr. Frank's farm, where his wife seriously than ever he had done in his life before;

his life before; would nurse me till I was strong again. and when he was gone, I did what I suppose I They could not have been kinder to me at had never done before-prayed, prayed I might Frank's Grove, if I had belonged to their family. live till Bill came back with a clergyman.

Winter was coming on, and you know the cold is “ On his arrival at Wild Cat Creek, Bill found intense out there; snow often lies from November the minister of the little church was ill in bed. till April. I was too weak to venture out for a While he was enquiring at the hotel bar how far long time, and Mrs. Frank, who was a perfect he would have to go for another, a gentleman lady, and a most sweet, good woman, tended me accosted him, saying, 'I hear you are a fellow as if I had been her own brother. Mr. Taylor countryman by your accent. Is there anything remained at Frank's Grove about six weeks after I can do for you? I am a clergyman of the I went there. He was also very kind to me, he Church of England.'

read and prayed with me every day, and nursed “ Bill explained the circumstances, and the me too, when I had a relapse from a cold, and was gentleman who was waiting for a horse and trap again in some danger." to take him on his journey, said he would come “And you kept sober there, I suppose ? " with him at once. During their ride up to the asked Smithers, who had been listening with the camp, he told Bill his name was Taylor, and that greatest attention. he was on his way to his son-in-law's farm, about “I did,” replied Ernest. “Gradually I left off eighty miles off; that he had a living in England, the stimulants which I was forced to have while and had come out to visit his daughter and her 1 was so very weak, and before Mr. Taylor left husband.

I took the pledge. I knew now that I could not “ While Bill was absent, I was in a wretched overcome my terrible propensity without the help state of misery, fearing his errand would prore of God. I knew I must expect to be tempted to unsuccessful, or that I should not live till he break my oath, and that prayer and watchfulness returned. Old Uncle Abe racked his brain to alone could enable me to resist. We were a very remember scraps of camp meeting prayers and long way from a town at Frank's Grove, and it hymns, but he could not tell me of a Saviour, or was many months before I ventured to go there, give me any real comfort

As time went on,

the lest the temptation should prove too strong for old negro would run to the door to see if any one I found the fact that I had taken the was coming. At last, when I was getting almost pledge a great safeguard. When it was known exhausted, I heard him cry, Bress de Lord, dey I was an abstainer I was not invited to drink. is a-coming. Dere's Bill, an he's got a genelman It seems to me the best thing for a man who is wid 'im!'

inclined to take more than he ought. The sober “ I fainted when I heard the words, and when man who can be content with his glass at meals I recovered there was a stranger by my bed. I is a different thing. He does not, in my estimacan't tell you what followed, Smithers. You can tion, need to take the pledge."

me.

“ I'm glad to hear you say so, Ernest, for it heard by Carry through the upstairs window. sometimes seems as if they teetotalers think a Ernest had just come to the end of his story when man as drinks his pint of ale can't go to heaven," Mrs. Smithers awoke and said she wanted her said Smithers.

tea. Ernest laughed. “I'm not one of that sort. Carry came downstairs to prepare it, went If I could have kept sober without the pledge frankly to the door, and greeted Ernest quite I wouldn't have taken it; but it helped to save simply and naturally. me, by the Grace of God, at first; and of course " I heard most of your story, Mr. Dasent, as I it is a very solemn promise, and I mean to keep sat upstairs, and it made me very glad." it, God helping me, all through my life.”

The young man stayed to tea at the forge, and “ How long did you stay at Mr. Frank's?hearing Carry was going home to fetch something,

“ All the summer. I was only too glad to make begged leave to accompany her. myself useful to him, and earn money enough to “Carry,” he said, when they had got out of pay him for my winter's board. He did not like the village into the fields, “I want to tell you taking it; but he saw I should not be satisfied till that I feel just the same towards you as ever he did ; and I told him I knew quite well no I did. I don't want you to give me an answer money could ever pay for the kindness he and just now,” he continued, " for you would have a his wife had showed me. When winter came I good right to refuse me till you know that my thought of leaving, and going to work at my old repentance and reformation are sincere and lasting. trade, but Mr. Frank was thrown from his horse Besides, till I have earned and saved some money and broke his leg, so I remained there to look I have no right to ask you to marry me. But, after the farm, and tried by every means in my dear Carry, in two or three years' time, when I power to return him and his sweet wife some of have proved to you my steadiness, will you think the kindness they had lavished on me. When he of me as a husband? Will you give me a little was quite recovered I went to New York again, hope ?" but the longing for home was so strong, that as Carry turned her true, honest eyes on him. soon as I had got money enough I took my They were full of tears. " Dear Ernest," she passage for Liverpool, and here I am.”

said, “I am only too glad to give you hope. We “ What became of British Bill ?” asked can be one now, really and truly; we can walk Smithers.

together in faith and love. Please God to keep “He got a good situation, and before I started you steady and I will be your wife-not just yet. I had a letter from him to tell me he was going We must wait, you know; but I shall never, to be married. He came to see me once, while never care for any one else.” I was at Frank's Grove."

Two years later, on a fair September day, “ Have you no longer any desire to drink?” there was a wedding in Broadmeade Church. enquired the blacksmith after a pause.

Mr. Taylor came from his distant parish to help " Indeed, I cannot say that. The old longing Mr. Wilson to tie the knot which bound Ernest has been very strong at times. Before I left the Dasent and Carry Croome to live together in the Frank's there was a confirmation about five and holy estate of matrimony. Some people smiled, twenty miles off, and I took advantage of the and all wondered a little why the quiet, modest chance, and that has been another help.

bride carried in her hand a large bunch of Clover “It's a wonderful thing Ern," said Smithers, Blossoms. They did not know that she felt as if gravely. "If any one had told me of it but the joy of her life was like the bloom of the afteryourself I should not have believed it.”

math clover, which, in the waning of the year, “With God all things are possible,” replied seems to spring up doubly bright and free, after the young man, quietly. “But still, I ask your the first promise of its early sweetness has fallen prayers lest I should become a backslider." beneath the scythe.

Most of this conversation had been plainly

THE END

Darkness and Ligbt.

BY ALEXANDER GRANT.

NIGHT of the soul ! most dark and drear!
All thought so over-cast by fear
That faith and hope both disappear,
While life's frail craft drifts far or near,
Through seas of ever-restless-Now.

Yet mere doubt-clouds obscure that sphere
Whence peace and love come forth to cheer
True-compassed mariners, who steer
For the Hereafter, dawning clear
Through Christ. “Star of the Morning Thou !"

By M. C. PARTRIDGE, AUTHOR OF “ SIR JAQUES OTTERBOURNE's Wooing.”

PART II.

jaws of Satan, from whose dread wings, in their DANTE's chief works are the “Convito," “ Vita slow wavings to and fro, proceed the icy blast Nuova,” and his “Canzoni,” but it is the “Divina which congeals the place of torment. Commedia which has for ever immortalised his The relief felt by the reader in passing from name. In this poem, which is allegorical to a the poem of the Inferno to that of the Purgatorio, high degree, though not a complete allegory after is like the feeling one experiences when on a the fashion of the “Pilgrim's Progress” or the

or the February day, after long weeks of frost-bound “Fairy Queen,” the author feigns himself to have earth, and sky, the wind blows softly from the passed through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise- south. Spring is not yet come, the birds are still the first two under the guidance of the poet silent, and nature seems resting, and pausing, Virgil, whom he calls his master; in the last, his waiting for the touch of some unseen hand, but beloved Beatrice herself, that type to him of from the very silence, and the waiting, one gathers Divine wisdom, is his companion.

a hope of better things to come. There are no vague, shadowy descriptions in On the Mount of Purgatory there is still pain, this journey of Dante's; everything is told in the torture hardly second to that of Hell, but through most exact manner. IIell is figured as an immense all there shines the golden gleam of hope, for the pit, with ever narrowing, deepening circles, its very atmosphere is full of prayer; and the suffergloomy, darkened air full of the sounds of eternal ing, if still enforced, and retributive, is willingly wailing. Here sinners, each in their class, meet endured. We see those with most terrible punishments. Dante and

Who, contented, are Virgil talk with the lost souls amid their tortures ; Within the fire, because they hope to come, and there is a strange mixture of history, and Whene'er it may be, to the blessed people. romance, mythology, and Christianity, in the per

-Inf., i. 119. sons of the shades he greets.

To my mind the Purgatorio is by far the Here Minos judges the lost, and Charon ferries most beautiful part of the “Divina Commedia.” them over the Styx. Here the poet recognises Brightened by hope, it has none of the despair popes, and kings, sages, and warriors; men of bis

which makes the Inferno so awful; and it is more own day, and of bye-gone ages, all of whom are

comprehensible, and less mystical than the Paraintroduced in a few words.

diso, where the mind is puzzled by the theories of This is another great characteristic of the

the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, and the author, his terseness. Although the Inferno is full

abstruse analogies of the schoolmen. of episodes, fuller indeed than any other part of the Dante figures himself to have entered Hell on poem, they are very short. The two best known

the Good Friday of the year 1300, and Purgatory are that of Francesca, and Paolo da Rimini, and on the Easter Sunday morning following. He Ugolino della Gerardesca.

The first occupies first passes through the anti-Purgatorio, where the about 17 lines. The other about 65. Very short, souls of those who have wilfully delayed their too, is that sublime passage, perhaps suggested by repentance are detained for a certain time; and the words of St. Peter, " He went and preached to

then he goes, with crowds of shades, through the spirits in prison," where Virgil describes

each of the seven ascents of the Mount, in each the deseent of our Blessed Lord into Hades after

of which is purged away one of the seven the crucifixion.

deadly sins, viz., Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, I was a novice in this state,

Avarice, Gluttony, and Sensuality. From the When I saw hither come, a mighty one

brow of the poet himself, as he passes the portal With sign of victory incoronate. - Inf., iv. 52.

of each circle, is wiped away one of the seven P's The pity of Dante for those he sees amid their (for Peccati, sins) inscribed on him in the antitorments is described in so true and simple a Purgatorio by the sword of an angel. manner, that one instinctively feels what manner It has been said that there is an analogy in of man he was. Fire, and all its dread accompani- the three parts of the Comedy to Sculpture, ments, are freely portrayed in the upper circle of Painting, and Music; and the Purgatorio is the pit, but for the greatest sinners is reserved described as being full of pictures. On the marble what to southern ideas is more fearful torture, in- floor, and on the walls, are sculptured tense cold.

division illustrations of the opposite virtue to the Not in a lake of fire, but of ice, is for ever fixed sin which is being purged away, that the conthe arch-traitor Judas Iscariot, held in the very templation may at once incite the souls to sorrow

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