77ftAf.c . . ................. . . ...nj7i'Mr
St. ||cter's Nags' SSta-l, 6o6mrsD.AWARDED TO. a4... % ..., Standard..t .,for attending. .6.'..times during the Schoolyear, and for excellence at the Examinationby H.M. Inspector, April 1st and 2nd, 1879,which comprised the following subj ects:-Reading,Writing,Spelling,Arithmetic.(Signed)....... ... .. ......"Head Master.The following is the Inspector's Report onthe state of the School-344 Boys examined :" This is a REALLY GOOD School; the Pupils at.tending it are fortunate to be under a Master soTHOROUGHLY qualified IN EVEnY WAY to have thecharge of them."SJ.D. B. FABER, Esq., H. M. Inspector.The Baldwin LibraryUniersityOfaid
"Where the battle was hottest, there would the sunshine flashon his glittering shield, and its red cross might ever be seenin the thick of the fight !"-p. 137.
PROVED IN PERIL;OR,S ^Bht$ b of jfaitj.E-:A. L. O. E.AUTHORESS OF THE CLAREMONT TALES, THE YOUNG PILGRIM,THE COTTAGE BY THE STREAM, HARRY DANGERFIELDrGLIMPSES OF THE UNSEEN, ETC. ETC.GALL & INGLIS.bihnburghl: I ooltbon:BERNARD TERRACE. 25 PATERNOSTER SQ.
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CONTENTS.CHAPTER PAGEI. THE RED-CROSS KNIGHT .....................II. THa FLASH .................................. 14III. PLUNrGIN IN ....................... ........ .. 26IV. THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION .................. 33V. A NARROW ESCAPE............................. 41VI. THE MA,2nTRS.s ............. ......... 47VII. RELEASE ................ ..... ..... ..... ..... 54
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[ jrohb in |eri1;OR,THE SHIELD OF FAITH.CHAPTER I.THE RED-CROSS KNIGHT.THERE have been many school-teachersmore clever than Ned Franks, the one-armed sailor, many possessing deeper know-ledge, and greater power of imparting it toothers; but there have been but few whocould make themselves more popular withtheir pupils. It was not merely that Nedwas ready with a story upon every subject,that after school hours were over he wouldtell anecdotes of life at sea; but that hisgenial, kindly nature drew the young aroundhim with a power resembling that by whichneedles are drawn to a magnet. The secretof this influence was-Ned was belovedbecause he loved. He did not go through
6 PROVED IN PERIL, OR,his duties as a task, thankful when theywere over, merely performing the work forthe salary which it brought him. NedFranks rejoiced in the work itself; what hedid, he did as unto the Lord. In all hislabours of love Ned looked to his Saviourfor wisdom to guide him, for hope to cheer,for the blessing which gives success. Therewas not a boy in his school whom Franksdid not remember by name in prayer; butfew to whom he had not spoken in privateon the subject of religion. Most of themlooked upon him as a friend and counsellorin need, and a grave look from the sailorhad more effect than a blow from anotherman might have had." Come, teacher, now for a story 1" ex-claimed Stephen White on one wintry day,when torrents of rain were descending, whenthe howling blast rattled the window-frames and shrieked in the chimnies, anddashed the shower against the panes, whileever and anon the growl of the thunderwas heard Slates and well-thumbed bookshad been hurried back into their places,for Ned delighted in order, and tried to in-troduce into the school something of theneatness and discipline which he had learn-ed on board a man-of-war.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 7"Well, my hearties," said the cheerfulyoung sailor, "as this is not weather forcricket or football, I'm ready to spin one ofmy yarns if you're willing to have it." Ageneral stamping of boots and clapping ofhands was the answer. " What shall it beabout?" continued the sailor, passing hishand through his curly brown locks." Something about battle and blows !"cried a youthful voice from one of the far-ther benches."I have it," said Franks; "I'll tell youthe story of the shield; not just because itamused myself when I was a boy, but be-cause I've thought on it many and many atime since, and it seems to my mind that'it bears right on the subject which thevicar bade you all prepare for his nextBible class."The boys were quite accustomed toNed's habit of drawing a lesson from whatat first seemed only meant for amusement.He liked to accustom them to think."Sea-weeds," he would say, "float on thesurface, but we must dive for the pearls :there be many stories from which.we candraw a precious moral, if we but care to godeep enough down to find it."The lads soon took their places, some onA2l " ;
8 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,the forms, some on the floor to be nearertheir favourite teacher, who, resting hissingle arm on the desk before him, leantforward, and thus began:-" When I was a younker like yourselves,before I'd ever crossed the salt sea, I re-member that my good father once took meto see an old castle in Wales. There is notmuch about it that I can recollect now;I've a dim notion of old stone walls, over-grown with lichen, a portcullis with itsrusty chains that was hung over the gate-way, and little slits of holes through whichthe archers shot long before guns were in-vented. But there was one thing in thegrey chapel which I remember well; 'twasan old battered shield that hung there, witha red cross painted upon it, and I shallnever forget the legend told of that ancientshield. It had been carried to the HolyLand many hundred years ago by a crusad-ing knight who followed Richard the First.The knight's name has escaped my memory,but we will call him St George."Many and great were the perils andhardships encountered by the bold knight.Mounted on his strong war-horse, with hislance in rest, often would he charge theSaracen foe. Where the battle was hottest,
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 9there would the sunshine flash on his glit-tering shield, and its red cross might everbe seen in the thick of the fight !"One day, I forget by what accident, StGeorge had dropped astern of therest of theChristian host,and found himself riding allalone on a glowing sandy plain. Suddenlytwo Saracens hove in sight, bearing downupon him, the sand under their horses'hoofs rising like a light cloud. St Georgeuttered a short prayer-he was a brave andpious knight-then couched his lance, setspurs to his steed, and rode to meet thefoe. His spear laid the foremost low, butsnapped itself in the shock; St Georgedrew his sword, and dashed at the secondMoslem, who was a man of giant strength."The struggle was long andfierce. Blowscame so thick and fast that sparks flewfrom the whirling swords. Well was itfor St George that his shield was of metaltried and tempered Thrice it saved himfrom blows that would have cleft his skull !The third time the scimitar of the enemywas shivered against that shield! TheSaracen, thus disarmed, turned his rein andfled across the desert. St George had nopower to give chase. his horse had beensorely wounded, and scarcely had the Mos-
10 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,lem enemy disappeared in the distance, be-fore the faithful charger sank dying uponthe sand!" St George, grieved for his brave steed,and he grieved for his own desolate state,adrift on that dreary desert, with no portof safety in view, and the sun glaring downupon him till the sand under his feet, andthe very air that he breathed seemed from aburning fiery furnace! St George saw afew palm-trees in the distance, lifting theirfeathery tops athwart the clear blue sky,and he steered his course towards them;but, heavily laden with helm, hauberk, andshield, the weary foot-sore traveller madebut slow way: it seemed as if he neverwould gain the shade of those few trees.Sorely tempted, then, was St George tofling away the shield that hung so heavilyon his arm, even though other enemiesmight be cruising on his lee; once anaagain he resolved to drop it down on thesand, but the sight of the red cross upon itchanged the purpose of the knight."'Ho!' quoth St George, 'no infidelfoot shall ever be able to trample on thatsign of my holy faith. Come weal, comewoe, I'll never fling it away, or leave mysaield in the dust!'
THE SHIELD OF FAITH, I1"At length, almost exhausted, the knightdragged his weary limbs as far as the littleisle-oasis, I should say-in the desert!He threw himself down to rest under thewelcome shade of the palms, pillowedhisheadon his shield, and speedily dropped asleep." Presentlyhe opened his eyes; the broadfiery sun was sinking in a red haze on thehorizon of the desert, flat and rounded asa sea-line: St George felt very desolate andlonely. He looked down on his shield,perhaps to cheer up his courage with thesight of the cross upon it. The metal wassmooth, polished, and bright, and shonelike a mirror, save where here and therethe enemy's steel had left a scratch or adint. St George could see the greenfeathery top of a palm reflected in it; hecould see its slim fluted stem; and hecould see something besides which startledeven his bold spirit. In the shield he sawa serpent, with forked tongue and gleam-ing fangs, coiled round the reflected trunk,as if just in act to spring! Warned intime, the knight started aside as the vene-mous creature darted down,-it missed itsprey, and the next moment was crushedbeneath the weight of the shield, which theknight dashed with force upon it
' PROVED IN PERIL; OR,"God be praised!' cried the pious knight,as he looked on the lifeless serpent: hadI not seen that deadly creature reflectedin my bright shield, I would soon havebeen lying where it now lies, slain by itspoisonous fang Well was it for me thatI cast not aside my red-cross shield !'"Again sleep overcame the exhaustedman, though, anxious to keep watch throughthe night, lest new dangers should comeupon him, he would not again rest his headon his shield. It lay beside him in theposition in which it had crushed the ser-pent, with the arm-fastening upturned; thered cross pressing the sand." Long and deeply slumbered the knight,so deeply that he was not even roused bya sudden storm which came down duringthe night, though the noise of it mixedwith his dreams. Parched as he was-almost dying of thirst-St George dreamedthat the skies were pouring down theirshowers upon him, but that fast as theyfell they were sucked in by the barrensand He was wet, yet perishing for wantof water! At length he awoke, to findthat his dream had been but too true! Thestorm had come, and had gone; the sandwas steaming, the palm-trees were wet,
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. I1drops hung on the feathery leaves, theknight's mantle was damp and dank; butwhere could he find one draught of waterto slake his feverish thirst ?"' Oh !' cried the knight, as he tried togain a wretched relief by pressing his owndamp mantle to his lips, 'one cup of coldwater now were worth a king's ransom tome.!'" It was then just on the hour of dawn,and the first ray of light that streamed overthe desert fell on the down-turned shield.The heavy drops had fallen on the hollowbuckler, it had caught and it had kept themwithin its shallow round The men ofthe East speak of water still as the gift ofGod; never had it seemed more truly todeserve the name; never had it been morelike life to a perishing soul than whenthe knight drank it, sweet and pure, out ofhis red-cross shield !" That draught gave St George strengthto rise and go on his way. He was milesastern of the camping-ground of the Chris-tian host; but before the day was over hesighted white tents and waving pennons,and his signals of distress were noticed atlast by his mates. He was brought intocamp half dead with heat, thirst, and ez-
14 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,haustion, but there, with food and rest, hesoon recovered his strength. The knightlived to strike many a good blow for thecause which he thought so holy."When the crusade was over, and StGeorge re-crossed the seas and came backto his country and friends, he hung up hisshield in the chapel where I saw it when Iwas a child. He had carried it in troublesand dangers, it had been his defence throughthem all, it had guarded him from openassault, it had saved from the serpent's bite,it had relieved his thirst in the desert; andnow,' cried St George, whenever I wor-ship God in this chapel, the sight of itwill serve to remind me of all I owe to Hismercy; and when my days are ended, andmy dust lies in the vault, the shield that Ibore in battle shall hang there over mytomb !'"CHAPTER II.THE FLASH." Now, my boys," said the sailor, afterhe had finished his story, "when the olddame who showed us the castle and chapel
THE SHIELD OF FAJTH. 1had told us of the knight's adventures, myfather went all over the legend again, turn-ing every part of it into a picture of reallife, as he had a fashion of doing in his ownallegorical way. I think that the Pil-grim's Progress' had made a great impres-sion on my father, and led him to try toturn other stories to the same use asBunyan's dream. I listened gladly enough,for I was a wild merry boy, and nothingtook my fancy more than the notion ofgoing to the wars like a knight. Thus myvisittothe castle, and the story of the shield.were fixed in my memory like a flag-staffon the top of a cliff; and often in thetroubles and tossings of life, I have turnedmy eyes that way, and thought of St Georgein the desert. But never," continued thsailor, " did the tale come so strongly to mymind, as when I was myself deserted andalone on the wild shore of Madagascar!That was a time, indeed, when I was sorelytempted, like the weary knight, to throwaway my good shield !""Your shield !" cried one of the boys,"I did not know that sailors ever hadshields !"" There's a shield which every Christianmust carry, wherewsth ye can quench all
16 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,the fiery darts of the wicked.* We readof it in the Bible; which of you can tellme the name of that shield ?""The Shield of Faith !" cried almostevery voice in the room."Ay, ay," said the one-armed sailor;"that's the shield that defends from openattack and secret temptation, that pillowsthe head in trouble, and gives the puredraught of comfort to the parched andperishing soul! But let us examine itmore closely. Which of you can tell mewhat is really meant by Faith ?"Fewer voices replied to this questionand these gave various answers. "Trust,"said one ; "belief," cried another; "beingsure that there is a God !" exclaimed a third." I suspect," said Ned Franks, " thatsome here may not have a very clear viewof what Saving Faith, Christian Faith, Liv-ing Faith, can be. To be sure that thereis a God,' is indeed a kind of Faith, but itmay be held by those who fear and dread,but do not love Him. The devils also be-lieve and tremble.t Such faith in thebeing of God is a grand thing, a solemnthing, it is like the deep ocean,"-Nedstretchedout his handas he spoke,-"which"* Ephes iv. 6 James ii. 19.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 17no man can sound, an ocean which mayoverwhelm and drown, but which, vast asit is, does not afford one draught of waterthat sinful mortals such as we could drinkof and live. Many of the poor heathenbelieve that there is a great mighty God,but that Faith only fills them with terror ;it is not like a shield to defend them, it ismore like a sword to slay.""Then what is Christian faith V? askedshy, thoughtful Stephen White, who sat ona low bench near Franks, leauiing his chinon the palm of his hand.The sailor paused for some seconds be-fore he replied. "I should like you to askthat question of one better able to answerit clearly," said he, "for, as 'tis writtenthree times in God's Word, the just shalllive by faith,* it must be of mighty import-ance that we should know what that faithreally is. I should call it, believing fromthe bottom of our hearts that Jesus Christ,our Lord, died to save us, and lives to blessus. What must I do to be saved ? .rted asinner, anxious for his soul; believe itheLord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,jwas the answer given by an apostle.""*Hab. ii. 4; Rom i. 17; Gal. iii. 11.t- Acts xv. 30, 31.
18 PROVED IN PERIL; OR," I say,"-began a voice from the lowerpart of the room, in the surly tone of onewho, having formed an opinion, resolves tohold by it right or wrong,-that rough"I say," and the preparatory cough thatfollowed, drew all eyes to the place where"-tood Tom Mullins, the butcher's son, a boywith a bull-dog face, under a low retreatingforehead, half-hid by a mass of red hair.The interruption excited the more attention,as Tom's father, the butcher, was known tobe a man who never entered the church,who was barely civil even to the vicar, andwho was said to read many of the bad booksagainst which Mr Curtis had warned hi,.flock from the pulpit." Well, my lad, what do you say '? askedNed, after a moment's pause of listening." I say," repeated Tom, "that there's adeal of talk about faith, but the best faithis" a good life !" and he stood with histhumbs in his pockets, looking boldly at thesailor teacher, as if to defy him to give ananswer to that. Ned knew that both youngMullins and his father often spoke withopen scorn of his appointment to his pre-sent office, and said that he was no more fitto teach boys than the vicar was to steer avessel. Ned knew that, to " put him down,"
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 19and what they called "his religious cant,"would be regarded as a triumph, both by thebutcher and his son. The sailor saw thatthe whole school .was eagerly attentive towhat should pass between him and TomMullins; and before he replied, had raiseaa silent prayer for wisdom and command oftemper, that neither ignorance nor impa-tience on his part might do wrong to theholiest of causes." You assert, my lad," answered thesailor, "that the best faith is a good life.I reply that there can be no good life with-out faith, for whatsoever is not of faith issin."* Ned rested his hand as he spoke ona Bible that lay on the table before him." Well," said young Mullins, with a lessreverential air than became one speaking onsuch a subject, " I believe that Jesus Christonce lived in Judea, and set men a goodexample, and I suppose that is what you callfaith.""Christian faith is much more thanthinking of the blessed Lord as we mightthink of any holy man in history," saidFranks. " The Son of God came downfrom Heaven, where he had dwelt with HisFather, not only to be our example, but toSRom. xiv. 23.
20 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,be a sacrifice for our sins. The faith bywhich the just shall live is faith in a bleed-ing, dying Saviour, such faith as made StPaul declare,-I determined not to knowanything among you but Jesus Christ, andHim crucified." *"But I don't quite understand," saidStephen White, in a very different spiritand tone from those of the butcher's son," I can't see why sins could not have beenforgiven without the Lord Jesus Christdying that terrible death for us."" That," answered the sailor, is one of thedeep mysteries that we, with our short lineof reason, will never be able to fathom; wemust wait for that time when in Heavenwe shall know even as we are known. Ofthis we may be certain, nothing less pre-cious than the blood of Christ could havewashed away the sins of a world, or theSon of God would never have paid such aprice for man's salvation.""God is merciful," began Stephen, butin a timid, hesitating tone."Most merciful," cried the sailor; "butwe must not forget that God is also holy,just, and true. God hates sin, for He isholy; must punish it, for God is just; must*1 Cor. ii. 2.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 21fulfil His threatenings, for God is truth.There was a terrible debt to be paid-theLord Jesus came down to pay it, not withsilver, or gold, or gems, but with His ownprecious life. He is the Lamb of God thattaketh away the sins of the world.* It isfaith in His perfect sacrifice that is thefaith of the Christian."" What is a sacrifice?" asked a youngboy."I don't know how I can explain thesubject, either of sacrifice or of faith, betterthan by reminding you of the first passoverheld by the children of Israel," said Franks,turning over the Bible to the twelfth chap-ter of Exodus. "You know that a terriblejudgment from God was to come over thewhole land of Egypt in which the Israel-ites dwelt. An angel was to pass throughthe realm, and smite with death the first-born in every house, from the first-born ofthe king in his palace, to that of the prisonerin his dungeon. The Israelites were com-manded by God to kill a lamb for each oftheir households on the evening before thatterrible night, and to take of the blood ofthat lamb and strike it on the side-postsand the upper door-posts of each of their* John i. 29.
22 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,dwellings; and there was a promise that,wherever the angel of death should see thatsign of blood, he would pass by that house,and no one in it should perish. Now, markyou, my boy," continued Ned Franks, withemphatic earnestness," the Israelites believedthe Word of God, they believed that theyshould be saved, not for any merit of theirown, but through the blood of the Lamb.This was faith, simple, trusting faith."They said not " how can this thing be ? howcan the blood of a lamb save our lives ?"they obeyed, and they were delivered. Now,here is a type or picture of faith and salva-tion for us. Christ, our passover is slain,*His precious blood, throughfaith, sprinkledin our hearts, saves us from the terrible de-struction which all, through sin, have de-served. In Him alone we are safe; if notin Him we must perish; without sheddingof blood is no remission.t This is the onemeans of salvation which God has ap-pointed, which God has made known; toaccept that means with thankful trust, thatis faith, and a faith which must lead to aholy life. For the love of Christ con-straineth us that they whichlive should not henceforth live unto thet-"1 Cor. v. 7 t Heb. ix. 22.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 23selves, but unto Him which died for them,and rose again."*The words were yet on the lips of thesailor, when a sudden vivid flash lit up theroom, instantly followed by a tremendousclap of thunder, which shook the building toits foundation, and so startled the boys thatmany of them sprang to their feet in alarm,for the peal was just over their heads."Fear nothing-keep your seats-there'sz lightning-conductor aloft," cried NedFranks." See-see !" exclaimed Tom Mullins, hislips quivering with terror, as he pointed toa pine-tree but a few yards from the porchof the school. The lightning had struck itand rent it asunder, and laid half its leafyhonours in the clay while the trunk stooderect, a blighted thing, which never morewould put forth fresh foliage to hail the re-turn of spring."Thank God that we had a lightning-con-ductor fixed to this building," cried Franks."But for it I believe that flash would havestruck the school-house, and at this momentwe might all have been buried beneath itsruins !"Not another word was spoken for several"*2 Cor. T. 14. 15.
j2 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,minutes, all the boys were breathlesslywatching for the next flash, the next awfulpeal above them. Tom Mullins' teeth chat-tered with fear; he leant against the wallwith his staring eyes fixed on the strickenpine-tree, which stood there an image of thefate which he dreaded. The flash came,but it was far less dazzling, and the timewhich elapsed before it was followed by thethunder, showed that the storm was rollingaway to the west." Were you not afraid ?" said a pale boyto Stephen White, drawing a deep breathof relief." I was afraid at the crash of that greatthunder-clap till our teacher cried,' there'sa lightning-conductor !' but then I knewwe were safe.""That was faith in my word," exclaimedFranks, eager to turn to account the terrorsof the storm, which had for a while awedeven the insolent spirit of Mullins. " Oh !boys, can you not trace a likeness betweenourselves with the thunder-storm ragingaround us, and sinners in danger of des-truction from the wrath of a holy God rThe conductor, the slender rod of ironfixed aloft, which draws on itself theelectric flash, and carries it down to spend
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 25its force unharming, that is a faint type ofsalvation offered to us. The lightning ofwrath fell on Him who was lifted up onthe cross for our sakes, and but for thatlove which consented thus to become asacrifice for our sins, we might have seenin that blasted shattered pine-tree a type ofour own lost state !"Nothing more was said at that time onthe subject of faith. Gradually the stormrolled away, the rain ceased, the sun cameforth and glittered on the drops that hungon every spray until they sparkled likediamonds. The boys left the school anddispersed to their homes, some first linger-ing awhile by the blasted tree, tracing downits charred blackened trunk the course ofthe destroying lightning. Stephen Whitewas the one who staid longest, turningthoughtfully over in his mind what he hadheard from the teacher on that day."Then it is faith if I believe with mywhole heart that the blood of the LordJesus Christ saves my soul from death, asthe blood of the lamb saved the Israelitesfrom the destroying angel! it is faith if Ibelieve with my whole heart that the Sonof God bore the punishment of sin in ourstead, as the lightning-conductor draws on
26 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,itself the flash that might strike us dead !And this faith is a shield to the soul! I can-not quite understand that yet; I will askNed Franks to explain. Perhaps he willtell us some day of the adventure which hehad on some wild distant shore, when, as hesaid, he was tempted to drop his goodShield of Faith."CHAPTER III.PLUNGING IN.IT was not long before the sailor wascalled upon to relate his adventure inMadagascar to the boys of his school: evenTom Mullins, who, as he owned, hated alecture, loved a story, and was not theleast attentive listener to the sailor's tale.I shall not give the account in Ned Franks'words, but in my own, which will enable meto say more of his character and conductthan he would have dreamed of sayinghimself.Ned Franks had been brought up forthe first fourteen years of his life by apious father, the retired captain of a smallfishing smack. Ned was his only child byhis second marriage, and his sons and
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 27daughters by the first were out in theworld before this-his youngest boy, hadleft his cradle, so that the parents' almostundivided attention had been given to littleNed. To bring him up in the fear and-love of God had been the earnest effort ofboth: the rosy-cheeked, golden-haired boyhad been the child of many prayers, andthose prayers had been early answered.Ned could not remember the time whenhe had first felt his heart drawn towardsGod, when he had first, kneeling at hismother's knee, confessed his childish faults,or told his childish wishes to his Father inHeaven. Ned was known while yet veryyoung, as the boy who loved his Bible, andnever would tell a lie. If hasty temperever led him into passion, or a love of funinto mischief, Ned never attempted for amoment to deny his fault or conceal it.His character was open as daylight. Hepossessed a natural courage which oftenhelped him to take the straight manlycourse, when more timid spirits might havewavered. Ned liked to look danger in theface, and do at once what he knew shouldbe done. A little trait of this resolutetemper shown when he was five years ofage delighted his father, and was charac-
28 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,teristic of Ned's way of acting all throughhis succeeding life. Old Franks was goingto teach his little one to swim. "I say, myboy," asked the father, laying his hand onthe golden curls in which he took a fondpride, " will you wade into the water fromthe shore like the shrimpers, or from yonlittle rock take a header into the sea?"" I'll take a header, father," said the child,looking fearlessly into his face; "you'll beby, so I can't be drowned, and I'll learn toswim all the quicker."" That's right, my boy!" cried the father;"and mind if ever you have anything inlife which conscience bids you do, butwhich tries your courage, like learning toswim, don't go wading on timidly step bystep, or you'll maybe turn back like acoward, but take a header at once, knowthe worst, and you'll swim like a duckthrough it all !"The boy neither forgot the counsel, norfailed to act upon it; Ned was always tak-ing "headers" when difficulties were beforehim. In every ship in which the youngsailor served, he at once let his principlesbe known, at once faced the jeers andill-will which his religion might bring uponhim, and by his resolute bearing soon
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 29silenced these jeers, and in some cases evenchanged that ill-will into admiration." Better keep your strict notions to your-selfand serve God without offending yourmessmates," said once to him an old seaman,who had himself always, as he ownedtrimmed his sails according to the wind." Can't you pray when lying in your ham-mock, when no one will guess what you'reafter! If you don't do things all of asudden, you'll get your own way by de-grees.""My father always told me," answeredNed, "that they who serve God must lookfor some persecution, and I'd rather havemy share out at once. To go half-yieldingthis matter, half-fighting out that, mufflingup one's religion as if it were a thing to beashamed of, and yet trying all the time tosteer rightly, and not be driven from one'scourse, gives one ten times the trouble andpain that straightforward conduct would do.If I had to lose my hand," continued theyoung sailor gaily, "I'd think it no savingof pain to have it taken off finger by finger;I'd rather hold it out to the hatchet at once,and have the work done at a blow."Though natural courage had somethingto do with Ned's resolution, it was yet, above
30 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,all, his faith that bore him bravely throughthe manifold temptations that beset hispath. This is the victory that overcomeththe world, even our faith.* The belief thatChrist had indeed died to save him, and yetlived to bless, was as a strong shield to dashaside or blunt the enemy's shafts. Fear-ing God, Ned Franks had no other fear.And the opposition which the lad had atfirst to encounter gradually died away. Hewas so frank, cheerful, and obliging, thatno one could long harbour feelings of ill-will towards him. Even those who dislikedNed's piety, liked him notwithstanding thatpiety. It was soon understood that it washis way to " go in the teeth of the wind,"and those who would not follow his course,gave up all attempt to turn him from itWhen Ned was about twenty years ofage, he was serving on board a merchantvessel employed in trading with the Mauri-tius, and other islands in the Eastern seas.The captain regarded young Franks as oneof his best hands, a man cheerful in workand fearless in danger, always active on thesea, and always sober on shore. Frankspossessed another qualification which fur-ther. raised him in the good opinion of1 John v. 4
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 31Captain Cole. The young seaman had greatease in picking up foreign languages,-afacility so great that the sailors used to saythat if Ned was sent to live amongstmonkeys,he would soon make out their jabber, andteach them to understand his. On boardthe " Sylph" was a native of the island ofMadagascar, a land at that timealmost closedagainst Europeans. About a year hadpassed since the missionaries who hadlaboured there in faith had been forced tofly from Madagascar; and dark and gloomywere the. accounts now and then received olthe state of that country from fugitives es-caping from the tyranny of its Queen. Oneof these fugitives was Hayo, who was em-ployed by Captain Cole to perform variousmenial offices on board the "Sylph." "Thenigger," as he was called by the crew,though little resembling any of the negrorace, soon attached himself to Ned Franks,who, naturally disposed to protect the weak,shielded the poor savage from many an in-sult and wrong, It was a great amusementto Franks in his leisure hours to pick upfrom Hayo scraps of the Malagasy language;and he did so with the nobler motive ofteaching the poor heathen the truths ofthe Christian religion. Captain Cole en-B
32 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,couraged his young sailor in these efforts tolearn the Malagasy tongue. "Cruisingabout Madagascar," said he, " we may havesome day to put into a port for water, and'tis well to have an interpreter who can holdparley with the natives." Ned Franks littleguessed, however, how glad he would be,ere long, of the knowledge which he wasgaining.The years spent by Ned Franks on boardthe "Sylph" were amongst the pleasantestof his sea-life. He was in the flower of hisyouth and strength, full of buoyant spirits,and he had become a favourite both withcaptain and crew. Opposition on accountof his religious views was over; like theknight St George, Ned had conquered hisfoes, and perhaps, so weak is human natureso mixed is evil with good, Ned Franks felta little proud of his own resolution andcourage. He had become something like aleader amongst those who had been en-couraged by his example to show more de-cision in faith than they otherwise mighthave dared to do. And yet at this veryperiod clouds were rising over the youngChristian's sky. Ned Franks was livingless closely to his God than he had done intimes of greater trial and temptation. His
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 33outward conduct was unchanged, he readhis Bible, and prayed, and the h manlyvoice of "psalm-singing Ned," as oftenheaid by his messmates; yet the heart ofFranks was growing colder in religion; histhoughts wandered much in prayer; herested more in his strength, and sought lessfor strength from above. There are few,even of devout Christians, who have notknown such seasons of decline. The hourof comparative rest is often more full ofperil than that of struggle and strife.CHAPTER IV.THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION.IT happened one day that the " Sylph"having been becalmed for some time off thewestern eoast of Madagascar, her supply ofwater began to run short, and Captain Coleordered a boat's crew to land near themouth of a river, and fill some casks. Afew of the sailors were allowed the enjoy-ment of a ramble on shore after their longconfinement on board, and Ned Franks,whom the captain especially trusted, wasone of these chosen few. They were to re-
34 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,turn to the boat in an hour, and to takeespecial care that they should never be be-yond sound of the boatswain's whistle.Ned gladly availed himself of the leavewith full intention to obey the command.He had longed to tread on the woodedshore, on which he had often gazed fromthe glowing deck of the " Sylph," and hesprang from the boat to land with an ex-ulting sense of freedom and enjoyment.After helping to fill the casks with water,Ned strolled off alone into the deep woods.which, to one who so keenly admired thefair scenes of nature, appeared like a para-dise of beauty. After the glare of the ocean,it was so refreshing to feed the eyes uponthe luxuriant green of the forest. Theregrew the acacia, the citron, and palm;splendid creepers, laden with many-colouredblossoms, hung like garlands from thetrees; a rich undergrowth of grass andfern formed a thick carpet below, on which,perhaps, no human foot- had ever troddenbefore. The trees were alive with greenparrots; and Ned, as he wandered on,slowly making his way through the tangledbrushwood, caught glimpses of monkeys inthe branches above him, chattering as theyleapt lightly from bough to bough.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 35But what delighted the young sailor aboveall was a plant which he found in a clearflowingstream whichwound its way througha part of the forest. Spread out, just belowthe surface of the water, grew a number ofbeautiful branching plume-like leaves fromone stem, each leaf from nine to ten incheslong, and formed as it were of open-work,like exquisite bright green lace. Under thelimpid water, as if in a crystal shrine, everyleaf in its delicate beauty was seen, the largerones olive-green, the smaller ones tinted paleyellow, each looking as if the touch of a childwould tear the light fabric to pieces. Air-bubbles, like tiny globes of silver, were seenthrough the opennet-work under the beauti-ful plant. The ouvirandra* has since beenbrought to England, but, at the time ofwhich I write, was as new to British bota-nists as it was to Ned Franks." Green lace growing wild for the fairies I'cried Ned, bending in admiring wonderover the stream. "I must gather and pre-serve some of those leaves for my father,they'll be a rare curiosity in dear old Eng-land, where one never sees anything likethem !" Ned knelt down on the bank,grasped the stem of the ouvirandra, under"* Ouvirandra Fenistralls, or lace-plant.
36 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,its crown of leaves, and drew up the wholeplant with the root at the end, the longfleshy white root, covered with thick lightbrown skin. Ned knew not that the rootwas as valuable for food as the lace-leaveswere remarkable for beauty.A little further up the stream Ned des-cried other plants of the ouvirandra inblossom, the stalk with its branching forkedflowers rising from the centre of the leaves.The sailor was so deeply interested incollecting this and other curious plants,that it is scarcely matter of surprise thathe forgot that time was flowing on, silentand swift as the stream."I wonder that I've not heard thewhistle 1" said Ned Franks at last, raisinghimself from the ground with both hishands filled with his gathered treasures," I am sure that at least an hour must havepassed." The sailor would have been near-er the truth had he said "more than twohours." Ned paused, and bent his ear tolisten. There was no sound to be heardbut the screams of the parrots, the chatterof the apes, and the rustle of leaves in thewind. "I'm out of my reckonings," saidthe sailor to himself, " I can't guess whichway to steer. I'll shout and my mates will
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 37answer." Long and loud rang the clear" hallool " through the deep echoing woods,but no human reply came back on thebreeze. Ned began to feel somewhat un-easy; he shouted again and again, butstill received no answer. The utter soli-tude of these wild untrodden forests nowoppressed the spirit of the young sailorwith a sense of desolation. Ned was notone, however, lightly to give way to eitheranxiety or fear. He struggled manfullyon through the brushwood, pushing asidethe luxuriant creepers that barricaded hispath; ever and anon stopping to shout, andlistening, but listening in vain."If I could but tell in which quarterlies the blue sea, I'd soon join my mates,"said Ned Franks, wiping his heated brow.He had already been obliged to drop thegreater part of the plants he had gathered."The wood here is so thick that I can'tsee five yards before me. I'll mount thetallest palm-tree I can find; there's oneovertopping the rest of the wood, high andstraight as a mainmast, I'll go aloft andlook out."Ned quickly made his way to the tree,dropped his remaining plants at its footand with great agility and lightness began
38 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,climbing the lofty stem. Even for him,the most active of the crew of the " Sylph,"it was no easy task to gain the leafy crest.Ned did not, however, so much as pause totakebreathtill hehad reached a heightwhichcommanded a somewhat extensive viewover the wood and the beach beyond. Hesaw distinctly to the west the horizon ofblue sea rounding the prospect, with but asingle object breaking its clear, soft line.Upon that object the eyes of the sailorwere fixed, as he clung to his leafy perch,with a gaze almost wild in its eager inten-sity. Ned could scarcely believe what hesaw, and it was several minutes before hecould give utterance to his feelings in words."It is-it is-the Sylph !' all sails set-bearing away to the west! my faithlessmessmates have weighed anchor, and leftme here to perish "The vessel had already sailed much toofar from the island for it to be possible forany cry from the shore to reach the ears ofthose on board. Franks remained gloom-ily gazing at the white sails graduallylessening in the distance, bearing away, asit seemed, all his earthly hope! Then, withhis heart glowing with indignation at thebase desertion, the sailor descended the
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 39tree, and, exhausted in spirit as well as instrength, flung himself down on the groundat its foot.It was then that temptation, in a newform, assailed the heart of the brave youngseaman, left alone in the wild forests of ananknown and savage land! A deep senseof cruel wrong from man, mingled with adark distrust of the love of Him who seem-ed to have deserted His faithful servant inhis need Night was soon coming on, butdeeper gloom than night could bring wasbrooding over a tempted soul l Weary,hungry, and faint, Ned Franks was lessable to struggle against the evil thoughtsthat crowded now on his spirit." I would not have deserted a dog so !"the seaman muttered between his clenchedteeth. "They did not think it worth anhour's search to save a messmate fromstarving on roots and berries, dying inch byinch in these woods ; or becoming a preyto the wild beasts, or maybe the cannibalsof this island !"And was this the reward of faithful, fear-less obedience to his Heavenly King? Nedhad not been ashamed of his religion, hehad dared to confess his God before men,and had lived a life more consistent withB2
40 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,his faith than any other man in his vesselHow readily now rose the thought, "I havecleansed my heart in vain, and washedmy hands in innocency."Then was the time when, as an old half-forgotten song will sometimes come tomemory, drawn back by some links of ideaswhich we are hardly able to trace, Nedthought of the story of the knight whichhad taken his fancy in childhood. He re-membered St George alone and weary,tempted to drop his good shield as he toiledon in the burning heat. Then Ned thoughtof St George, stretched like himself undera palm-tree, when the glowing, fiery sunwas sinking over the desert.And I have my serpent too!" thoughtthe seaman, as he traced out the allegory inhis mind. " Rebellion against God-angeragainst man-it is faith that shows me theenemy, and it is by faith that 1 must crushit!" Ned Franks sprang to his feet, andraised his eyes towards the sky above him."Oh God, help me! Oh my God, for-give me! Let me put away all hardthoughts of others, all mistrustful thoughtsof Thee Whatever I may have to sufferin this wild and desolate land, let my faithbe firm and unshaken! Let me be able to
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 41say of Him who died to save, and lives tobless me, I know whom I have believed.*though He slay me, yet will I trust inHim.tCHAPTER V.A NARROW ESCAPE.NED FRANKS slept that night on theground. Hard was his couch, dreary hislot; unknown dangers might surround him,yet sound and sweet was his sleep. Hisfirst thought when he unclosed his eyes inthe morning, and the sight of wavingboughs, and thick, dank fern, recalled hisdesolate state to his mind, was, in the wordsof David, I will fear no evil, for thou artwith me. + In that thought was hope, andpeace, and joy. It was the sweet refreshingdraught which the soul, when earthly com-forts fail, can yet find, like the rain fromabove, gathered and retained in the shieldof faith!Ned tried to appease the cravings ofhunger by eating such berries as he couldgather, thankful for even the wild provision" 2 Tim. i. 12. t 2 Job xiii. 15.t Psalm xxiii. 4.
42 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,which the woods afforded. Then, to slakehis thirst, he made his way in the directionwhere he saw the silvery gleam of waterthrough the thick screen of copse.The sailor soon found himself on thebank of a river of considerable size, doubt-less the same as that at the mouth of whichthe boat had put in to water. This mightboth supply him with fish, and guide hiscourse to the beach. Ned made his waydown a somewhat steep bank, and wasabout to stoop to drink when he observed,stretched on the muddy margin, at aboutthe distance of thirty yards, what at thefirst careless glance he thought was a logof dry wood, but which at the second herecognised to be a large crocodile, apparent-ly quite stiff and dead. Ned was too pru-dent to trust himself near those huge jawstill he had made sure whether the motion-less creature were really lifeless. He flunga large stone, which rebounded from thescaly back of the monster, and the croco-dile, roused perha} s out of sleep, instantlyturned and plunged heavily into the river.Ned heard the loud splash, and saw thebig rising bubbles where the reptile haddisappeared, and watched the wideningcircles on the disturbed surface of the water.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 43" I shall be careful how I take to swim-ming that river," thought Ned, "if it's thehome of gentry such as that! The croco-dile is a dangerous foe in the water, how-ever awkward and timid on land. Onesnap of these mighty jaws would crunchone's bones like a nutshell! "Ned now resolved to track the river tothe sea, from whose shore it was just pos-sible that he might catch sight of somepassing vessel. He would fasten up abamboo as a flag-staff, with his blue necker-chief tied to the top to wave in the wind asa signal, with the hope, faint and feeble in-deed, that it might, even on that desolatebeach, be seen by some human eye." Perhaps, however," reflected Ned, " Imay here be in more danger from menthan from reptiles or prowling beasts.Better be the crocodile's prey than theslaveofsome heathen savage. Ha I what wasthat !" he exclaimed aloud, as a wild, terrificcry rose from the water, like that of somehuman being in mortal fear or pain. Abend of the river hid the spot from the viewof Ned Franks, but in a moment he bound-ed over the brushwood, and came in sightof what sent a wild thrill through his soul.Struggling and splashing amongst the rankreeds which overgrew the shallower parts of
44 PROVED LN 'YERIL; OL,the river, Ned saw the form of a native,whose face wore an expression of horror,such as would have told its dreadful tale,had the sailor not beheld at the same timethe scaly head of one of the river monsters,that seemed to be dragging down its victim.Ned did not stop an instant to think ofdanger to himself, or to ask whether thewretched native might prove a friend or afoe, it was enough that he was a man, andin most horrible peril The English sailorwrenched up a young cane that was grow-ing close beside him, and, armed with nobetter weapon, rushed into the water to therescue, with a loud ringing halloo, andstruck the monster on the eye with all theforce of a strong right arm Startled andalarmed by the shout and the splashing, asmuch, perhaps, as hurt by the blow, thecrocodile seemed to forego its prey; butthe native was too much paralysed by ter-ror to avail himself of the momentarypause.Franks, with his left hand, seized hold ofthe man, and by a violent effort of strengthwhich made every muscle quiver, struggledback to the bank, and up it, dragging withhim the native whom he had snatched fromdeath, before the crocodile had time to re-new his attack in the water."Thank God, he's safe but 'twasa close
THE BRIELD Of FAITH, 45run for life," exclaimed Franks, as, gaspingand panting, he stood on the bank watchingthe baulked and furious monster below lash-ing the water to foam. The sailor thenturned with kindly anxiety to see what in-juries the native had sustained in his latedesperate encounter. Great was Ned's sur-prise to find that, though but lightly clad ina garment of woven fibre, with no protectionwhatever from the crocodile's ravening teeth,the man was evidently unwounded. Therewas no stain of blood on the dress, not onlylife but limb was preserved. Franks couldnot account for what appearedlike a miracle.till, as the native, sinking on his knees,stretched out his clasped hands towards hispreserver, he noticed iron bands on the poorcreature's wrists, from each of which hungloosely a few links of a broken chain."The monster must have seized him byhis fetters, and snapped them in the strugglein the water. But how could a wretch inchains attempt to cross that river? Hemust be some prisoner trying to escape."Franks looked with compassionate inte-rest on the form kneeling at his feet, thinand wasted, as if by famine,the wrist bruisedand chafed by the irons which still theywore. But with what a thrill did he hear
46 PROVED i1 PERIL; OK,the first words, spoken in the Malagasy lan-guage, which burst from the poor creature'slips, as he raised his clasped hands and eyestowards Heaven. "Lord Jesus, I thankThee !" Ned Franks could hardly believehis own ears. Had he indeed found aChristian in that wild and dreary land ?under that olive-tinged skin did a heartbeat with grateful love to the Saviour?Such a hope had never before entered thesailor's mind."Do you know the Lord Jesus?" ex-claimed Ned Franks in the Malagasy lan-guage.The countenance of the native beamedwith sudden delight at the question, askedin his own mother tongue. Pressing hishand to his heart, he replied, "He is myonly Saviour ; I have left all for Him.""Then we are friends-brothers !" criedNed, with heartfelt joy at having been madethe means of saving the life of a persecutedbeliever. "I thank God from the bottomof my soul for what I thought the greatestof misfortunes. Had I not been desertedby my messmates yesterday, this poor Chris-tian would have perished to-day."
THE SHIELD OF FAITB. 7CHAPTER VI.THE MARTYRS.NED FRANKS soon found that Ramonga,such was thename of the native,might provea blessing to his preserver in various ways.Accustomed to a wild life in the woods, Ra-monga knew far better than the Englishmancould do how to find sustenance in them.He pointed out to Ned the pandanus tree,with its immensely long drooping leaves,and told him of nuts growing amongst them.From Ramonga the sailor learnt that theroot of the beautiful lace-plant, when cooked,resembles a yam. The native of Madagascarled his new friend to the foot of the travel-ler's tree, whose bark, when wounded, yieldsa draught of refreshing water. Such know-ledge was to the sailor far more preciousthan gold. But when Franks expressed toRamonga his hopes that some ship mightpass, and his signals be seen from its deck,the native shook his head and sighed, as ifsuch hopes must prove utterly vain." The moon has nine times filled up hercrescent since I have wandered on that
48 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,shore," said Ramonga, "with weary heartand bleeding feet; and at morn and eve I'velooked over the blue waters, and prayed thata sail might appear. But what white manwould now care to tread on our land oftears and blood? Many times have thetrees shed their leaves since the missionaries,the men of the Book, who carried here theseed of truth, were forced to flee from ourisland. The winds and the waves bring nolonger to Madagascar messengers of peace.It is a great prison, and its wall is the sea.Oh stranger, those who come hither canhope no more to depart.""While there's life there's hope," saidthe sailor. "But tell me," he continued,speaking with difficulty in Malagasy, andhelping out his sentents with many an Eng-lish word, while Ramonga gathered in themeaning as much with his eyes as his ears,"-" tell me how you come to be here, theonly Christian in a nation of heathen ?"" Theonly Christian!" repeatedRamonga,with a wondering, questioning look, as if hethought he must have misunderstood whatthe white man had said. "Oh we are herea large family of the followers of the Lord ;some in the palace, some in the prison, somewandering in the forest"-hewaved his hand
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 49round with an expressive gesture,-" somehiding in pits,"-he pointed downwards-" and some"-he raised his hand towardsHeaven,-" some at home with the Lord.""Has Madagascar, then, its martyrs?"cried Franks.An expression of solemn sweetness gavea strange beauty to Ramonga's dark counte-nance as he replied, "Ask the earth, red withthe blood that flowed from the spear wounds-ask the steep rock of Antanarivo, downwhich thequivering forms were hurled-askthe breezes of Heaven, laden with the smokeof the burning,-whether the land of thefovas* has not had its martyrs for the faithof Christ Jesus, our Lord."tThe words had tenfold effect on the heartof the young English sailor from the lips.that spoke them. Franks looked on thenative, who was scarcely older than himself,but who was wasted and bowed by suffer-ing, with deep lines of care on his brow.Franks looked on those wrists from which* The principal race in Madagascar.t See for a description of the sufferings of thenoble martyrs of Madagascar, the Rev. Mr Ellis'"Visits to Madagascar," a more recent volume byMrs Ellis, and a work by the Bishop of the Mau-ritius.
50 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,still hung the remains of the chain that hadgalled for months, cruelly lessening thepower of the sufferer to procure even suchberries and roots as might keep soul andbody together. There was nothing of thesavage in Ramonga. As with many of theHova race his brow was high, his eye clearand bright, though softened into an expres-sion that spoke much of sorrow, and moreof submission. Here was one who had in-deed fought the good fight of faith, suffer-ing, bleeding, but yet unsubdued ; one whohad endured the loss of all things ratherthan deny the Lord whom he loved !" Did you make your escape from pri-son ?" asked Franks. Ramonga shook hishead, and glanced at the irons on his arms." Some of us were thrust forth into thewoods," he replied, " bearing with us suchtokens as these of the wrath of the priests.One carried the heavy wooden collar, whichallowed no rest day or night to him whowore it; another had fetters on his feet;others, and I was of them, had chainsfastened to their wrists. We dared notenter the villages, we dared not ask evenfor a handful of rice if a traveller chancedto pass And so my companions, one byone, were called home by their Master to
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 51the land where chains can bind no more,where there is no more sound of weep-ing.""And God gave you strength to endureall this !" exclaimed Franks."The sorest pang was when I beheldthem scourge my dear old father I" saidRamonga, heaving a deep-drawn sigh." He was full of years, and weak, and theblows were heavy on him; they sent hissoul to God He died with the word onhis lips, 'tsara !' " (it is well !)"Oh !" exclaimed the young sailor, in-voluntarily clenching his fist and settinghis teeth at the thought of what his ownfeelings would be were any one in his pre-sence so much as to hurt a hair of hisgrey-headed parent, "did not your bloodboil with rage, did you not long to tramplethese wretches into dust !"Again Ramonga's dark eyes were fixedwith a wondering look on the stranger."Are we not followers," said the Hova,"of Him who bade us love our enemies,and, dying, prayed for His own?"Ned Franks was silent under the rebukeHe was learning a lesson of humility thatday; he was being taught the power ofChristian faith and love from a man whom
52 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,he, at first sight, had deemed to be a poorignorant savage.Ramonga, who for months had wanderedalone, without being able to utter his feel-ings to any human ear, felt great reliefand comfort in pouring out his tale of suffer-ing to the sailor, who showed such keensympathy with his woes. He told ofRasolama,* his mother's friend, the firstChristian martyr in Madagascar. Ramongaas a child had known her well, had playedin her house, and received from her pine-apples, and pieces of the sweet sugar-cane.She, the gentle, tender-hearted woman, haddrawn on herself the vengeance of the ter-rible queen, by the kindness which sheshowed to her poorer brethren in the faith.Rasolama was seized, questioned, tormented;but the grace of God kept her woman'sheart firm through all the terrible trial.Ramonga, with emotion, related his ownrecollections of that fearful time."I heard my mother say, wringing herhands as she spoke, that Rasolama, who wasdear to her as a sister, was to be speared todeath in the morning, because she wouldnot deny the Lord. I thought then, child* The touching story of the martyrdom of Raso-lama is related by Mrs Ellis.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 53as I was, that God would send his angel inthe night, as He sent to Peter, and bringher out, and set her free, for she was toogood to die. I comforted my heart withthis thought all through the dark hours ofnight, while I was kept awake on my matby the sound of my mother's sobbing.Weary I dropped asleep, just as the dawnwas breaking;-when I awoke our hutwas empty, and the full light shone uponearth. It was to me like the glance ofGod, and I did not think that he couldlook on, and let Rasolama be slain. Iforgot that her feet were but treadingthe way that her Saviour had taken beforeher, and that she was going to Him! Iheard a great noise of drums and yelling,and then I shuddered and trembled, for Iknew that the cruel ones must be takingdear Rasolama to her death. I ran and hidmyself in the hut in which the white mis-sionaries from beyond the seas had beenwont to preach the Word. It was silentthen, and deserted, but I knew from thedistant drums that the crowd were comingthat way. And I saw Rasolama," continuedRamonga, with glistening eye and quiver-ing lip, "I saw her in the midst of thethrong that were taking her to die, and
54 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,her face seemed to me as the face ofan angel! She turned to take a lastwistful look of the chapel, and I caughtthe sound of her voice as she said,' thereI heard the words of my Saviour !' Shewas faithful unto death, and the Lord hasgiven her a crown of life."Thus Ramonga beguiled the weary hoursby recounting the sufferings of the martyrsof Madagascar; worthy followers of thoseof whom we read in the eleventh chapter ofHebrews, who, throughfaith, endured tothe end !CHAPTER VII.RELEASE.SI COULD not but feel shame, boys," wasNed Frank's remark as he ended his accountof the martyrs, "I could not but feelshame," he repeated, " to think how strongtheir faith was, and how wretchedly weakhad been mine I had thought it some-thing to bear a few scoffs and jeers, I whohad been taught religion from my cradleby my good parents ; and these poor help-less creatures, just called froih heathendarkness, were ready cheerfully to meet
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 55death in its most terrible forms Myfaith quailed when I thought myself de-serted by my messmates; their faith in thewisdom and goodness of God remained un-shaken by all the torments men could in-flict.*" Is Ramonga alive now?" asked Stephen." Alive, ay, and doing God's work, preach-ing to his own people," answered Ned,"The weather's clearing up in Madagascar.that thunder-cloud passed away. 'Tis saidthat 'the blood of martyrs is the seed ofthe Church;' I look for a goodly harvestin that far-away isle of the sea !""But how did you leave it !" enquiredTom Mullins, who cared little for thespread of the Gospel, and only wanted theend of the adventure." Ay, ay, you must have the end of theyarn. It was only the third day after Ihad seen the hull of the 'Sylph' disap-pearing under the blue waves, when as Ra-monga and I were trying to light a fireof dry brushwood to cook some roots, weheard a sound that made us both startsuddenly to our feet Ramonga was* Four were burned alive. Thirteen dashed topieces over a precipice. Many others sufferedgreatly in various ways.
56 PROVEDL IN PERIL; OR,alarmed, I believe he took the noise forsome savage yell, and looked to see theenemy bearing cown on us through theforest. But I knew better !" exclaimedNed Franks, his blue eye kindling at therecollection of the thrill of rapture whichthat sound had sent through his frame, " Iknew the cheer of a British tar, and Ianswered it with another so loud, that Istartled the native at my side. Ha ha !"laughed the sailor at the remembrance," Ramonga must have thought I had lost mywits when I caught sight of the blue-jacketsthrough the trees, and the next minutewas shaking hands all round with a partyof our own jolly crew They seemed asheartily glad to see me as I was to seethem again, though they scarcely knew atfirst what to make of my Hbva companion."" But what had made them desert youbefore?" asked one of the boys." Don't call it desertion," cried Ned. "Ishould have had faith in my own good cap-tain, and never have suspected for a mo-ment that he could ever forsake the meanestof his crew. But you see, boys," continuedNed Franks, with his peculiar earnestnessof manner, " when I began to doubt eventhe loving kindness of my God, of Him
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 51who had not spared His own Blessed Sonfor my sake, no wonder if I lost faith inthe honour and truth of man."" But had you not seen the 'Sylph,' sailright away ?" asked Tom Mullins." I'll tell you how it all came about," saidNed Franks. "While the vessel was lyingoff shore, waiting for the return of her boat,the man on the look-out reported a vesselin sight. Now this vessel wasa suspicious-looking craft, from her build and her kindof rigging, as well as the captain couldmake them out through his glass, he sether down for a pirate, cruising about insearch of prizes. Now, you see, the 'Sylph'carried no guns, so she could not of courseshow fight; her only chance was to make arun for it, and, being a first-rate sailer, shewas not likely to be overtaken by any vesselthat might give her chase. But there wasno time to be lost. Captain Cole signalledfor the instant return of the boat. All butmyself saw the signal, and I had cruised sofar into the woods, that I could not somuch as hear the boatswain's whistle. Thesafety of the whole ship could not be sacri-ficed because one of the hands was missing;the boat made for the vessel, the Sylph 'weighed anchor and soon left the shore
08 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,and the enemy far behind. I did not seethe pirate when I looked from my perchaloft over the water-a turn of the shoremust have hidden her from view-or I'dhave understood the state of the case atonce. Ned, though left for awhile, wasneither forsaken nor forgotten. Though somuch time had already been lost in thecalms, and though the captain was impa-tient to get to the end of his voyage, nosooner had he reason to think that thecoast was clear of the pirate, than he putthe ship about and returned to the placewhere the boat had watered, and sent someof the crew ashore to look out for the miss-ing hand. God bless him for it!" addedthe sailor; " it was a kindness which I shallnever forget to my dying day!"" And was poor Ramonga taken on boardthe 'Sylph,' " asked Stephen White."You may be sure that we would notput off without him," replied Ned Franks,with a smile. "Not a jolly tar who heardthe tale of his sufferings but treated himas a brother. Hayo, above all, welcomedhis fellow-countryman with a joy.that itdid one good to behold, and learned Chris-tianity much faster from him than he wouldever have done from me Ramonga's very
THUE SRIELsD OF FIITR. 69scars and irons preached a sermon to thosewho saw them more stirring than could beput into words; for, my boys, though wemay think and talk over-what faith can do,to see what faith has done, is, after all, thelesson that goes straight to the heart."" Ramonga would have his irons knockedoff as soon as he got on board an Englishship," observed Tom."We made short work of that," said NedFranks; "but the marks which they leftbehind them were not so soon got rid of"" He would scarcely wish to lose them,"cried Stephen, "they were such honourablescars !""It was odd enough," laughed Tom Mul-lins, "that the first thing to snap the ironchain was the gnash of the crocodile's teeth."" I've often thought of that," said thesailor. " It seemed to me a kind of emblemof the way in which God brings good out ofevil, turns His people's misfortunes to bless-ings, and makes seeming enemies realfriends. I never felt so lonely, so deserted,so wretched in all my life, as I did when Ifound myself left on that island; and itwould scarcely have raised my spirits tohave known that I should, the next day,have an eneounter with a crocodile in thc
60 PROVED IN PERILwater. Yet," continued the maimed sailor,glancing down at his left sleeve, " I wouldnot forego now the good that came out ofthat trial, to have again my lost hand, andmore treasure than it, or a thousand handscould grasp. And so, in a better world,we shall look back upon whatmostperplexesus here, and know that God made all thingsto work for good to them that loved Him.Then, the fight fought, and the victory won,we may, like the knight returning from thewars, hang up our red-cross buckler; forthen there will no longer be enemies to meetin the strength of the Lord, nor heavystrokes of misfortunes to try the strengthof theSHIELD OF FAITH.THE END.
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