The Baldwin Library
-m,-_' R I
Setut of 3e aorbe.
G. E. SARGENT,
AUTHOR OF THE STORY OF A POCKET-BIBLEL"
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY,
56, PATERNOSTER Row, 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD,
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
MANCHESTER 100, CORPORATION STREET.
BRIGHTON: 31, WESTERN ROAD.
Idle words-The tongue--Mrs. Franke's school-
School-girl attachments-Ethel Ripon-Her cha-
racter School-life -The school garden and its
temptations-Mrs. Franke's orders-Transgression
-Scene the first Unwise punishment and its
results-Ethel is missing 5-21
Eight or nine years after-Visit to London Pleasant
intercourse-Flippant speech-An evening party
-An old story repeated Making the worst of
it What happened from telling it At home
again-A visitor The object of his visit Mr.
Martyn's story-Self-convicted 22-38
Explanations-The injury done-Ethel's illness-What
caused it-How to cure it-A visit to Ethel-Con-
fessing a fault-Ethel's health restored-A double
wedding-Useful lessons 39-52
THE OLD BOOK-MARK.
An old book-case, and an old Bible-William West-
wood-His early history-A winter's day-What
William Westwood thought-What he did-Mary's
gift The motto on the book-mark -William
Westwood's reflections-An earnest Christian-
A Christian in name-At the door of the heart-
William Westwood's resolution, and how he kept
it-Life service 53-64
BEWARE OF IDLE WORDS.
HOSE are very solemn words of our
Saviour,-" I say unto you, That every
idle word that men shall speak, they
shall give account thereof in the day of
judgment." And, excepting that of covet-
ousness, there is perhaps no sin of social
life more sternly reproved than that of evil
speaking. What, for instance, can be more
severe than such declarations as these-" The
tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: it
defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire
the course of nature; and it is set on fire
of hell !" There is something fearful in this
description of a false or mischievous tongue;
for who does not feel brought under the
rebuke of the apostle, and compelled to adopt
6 Ethel Ripon.
the prayer of the psalmist-" Set a watch,
0 Lord, before my mouth; keep the door
of my lips ?" The consciousness of our guilt
in the sight of God in this respect, as well
as in many, many others, should surely en-
hance in our estimation the value of the
gospel and the sacrifice of Christ. It is His
blood, and His blood alone, that can cleanse
from all sin-the sin of the tongue included.
I have been led into this train of thought
by the remembrance of certain circumstances,
the narration of which may serve as a warning
and an example to be avoided, to those of
whom better things might be expected, but
who are thoughtless and careless in speech.
Let me put the story into the mouth of one
of the actors in the little drama, and tell it as
it could have been told by herself in the later
years of her life.
1 was once the cause of great sorrow by
speaking idle, tattling words. I trust that
God has mercifully forgiven me; and I shall
ever thank him for enabling me in some
measure to remedy the mischief I had
wrought,-not so much, I hope, from want of
heart, as from want of thought. But the
Ethel Ripon. 7
remembrance of my folly and its immediate
consequences still weighs heavily sometimes
on my mind. I tell my story, therefore, not
for my own gratification; but in the hope
that it may do good to those who hear or
I must go back to my school-girl days to
begin my story aright.
It was at what was called a "select boarding-
school," a long way off in the country, that
I first became acquainted with Ethel Ripon.
She was one of the ten pupils who received
instruction from Mrs. Franke, the widow of an
officer in the army. Mrs. Franke was an ex-
cellent lady in her way, I have no doubt; and
she was exceedingly well educated. Thus far,
therefore, she was fit to teach. But there is
no harm in saying that she was a very strict
disciplinarian, and inflexibly severe. I think
that, long after I left this lady's care and pro-
tection, my tone with relation to those around
me was in some degree the result of the in-
fluence her teaching and example left upon
my mind. But I am not sure of this,-I know
only that, in the earlier part of my woman
life, I was more like the proud and self-
righteous Pharisee, with his "God, I thank
8 Ethel Ripon.
Thee that I an not as other men," than the
contrite publican, who could only smite on
his breast and say, "God be merciful to me a
Ethel Ripon was about my own age, and
that was twelve years and a few months when
I was first sent to Mrs. Franke's school.
Ethel entered as a pupil at the same time;
and thus our acquaintance commenced. She
was pretty, high-spirited, and rompish; she
was also almost untaught. This was to be
accounted for by the fact that she had never
known a mother's care, and had been brought
up under the culture of an ignorant nurse-
maid. Her father was a merchant, who was
too much engrossed in money-getting, or in
endeavouring to get money, to take much heed
of poor little Ethel.
I liked Ethel very much; that is to say, I
liked her as school-girls occasionally are fond
of one another. It was a selfish kind of love,
I am aware, and not of the sort to last any
length of time: but I suppose this is charac-
teristic of most school attachments. I liked
Ethel none the less, I think, when I found that
comparisons were soon made between us in
my favour by our lady-governess, who recom-
Ethel Ripon. 9
mended me to Ethel as an example of pro-
priety and right behaviour which she would
do well to follow. This flattered my vanity,
which needed no such promptings; and
caused me to put on grave airs of con-
descension and patronage towards my child-
friend, which only made her laugh at me,
without withdrawing her friendship.
But I must not make my story a long one,
especially not this part of it; so I shall only
say that when a year had passed away, Ethel
and I were still at school together. Our first
fondness for each other had, in part, cooled
by this time: at least, mine for Ethel had
cooled; for I had found another favourite. I
think she still loved me, or liked me; but 1
did not much care whether it were so or not.
The year that had gone had wrought some
changes in Ethel. She was quick in learning.
She had, in fact, made wonderful progress in
all the common items of school education.
But she was as rompish as ever, and could
never be drilled into the strict proprieties re-
quired by our governess. On this account she
was not unfrequently in disgrace. As to the
higher proprieties of Christian ethics, they
were little thought of by any of us. Certainly,
10 Ethel Ripon.
Mrs. Franke professed to give what she called
"Religious education:" but she sadly failed
in this. The religion consisted in forms and
ceremonies which left the heart untouched;
and everything connected with religion was
so made a task as to leave an unpleasant
impression upon the minds of the learners.
Even the Bible-the best of all books-was
made disagreeable to us by its association in
our minds with punishment and lessons: we
had to learn psalms and chapters for imposi-
tions when we did anything amiss.
Our school-life was not an unhappy life,
however; at least it was not so to me: for I
had gradually become Mrs. Franke's prime
favourite, and received many indulgences
which very much sweetened my daily cup.
Being sufficiently decorous in my conduct, I
rarely got into disgrace; and only twice had a
psalm set me to learn as a task, and those two
psalms were short ones. I therefore did not
dread our governess as some of the others
did: indeed, I got to like her pretty well,
though I could have dispensed with some of
the fatiguing forms and ceremonies which
were inflicted on the whole school under the
name of religion. I don't know how it was
Ethel Ripon. 11
that my school-fellows were not jealous of
the place I held in Mrs. Franke's estimation.
I never detected any signs of this feeling
in them, however.
We were none of us very unhappy, I think.
In many respects, our lady governess was
kind to us. Our hours of study were not
fatiguingly extended; our domestic comfort
was well cared for; our food was of superior
quality, and we were not "allowanced" in the
use of it; and we were permitted, for recrea-
tion, free access to a very fine shrubbery and
garden attached to the school-house.
Free access to the garden ; but not to the
garden produce. Throughout the summer and
autumn, ripe and delicious fruit grew in pro-
fusion around us. Large red strawberries,
only half hidden by their broad shining green
leaves, coyly invited us to stoop and gather.
Then came currants and gooseberries, red,
white, yellow, green, and black, according to
their species-vulgar berries, we were told,
and fit only for tarts and preserves, but sorely
tempting, nevertheless, to our unsophisticated
girlish palates. Great apples and pears, some
golden-hued, some rosy-streaked, bent down
the branches on which they grew, or strewed
12 Ethel Ripon.
the ground beneath: but the stern edict had
gone forth--"Touch not, taste not, handle
not !" Worse than all for our tantalized appe-
tites, or better than all for testing our con-
scientiousness or self-denial, or dread of de-
tection, the high brick walls of the garden
were covered with all kinds of wall fruits, in
their season: ruby cherries in clusters, green-
gages, purple plums, large and round, and
bright yellow egg-plums, made our mouths
water as we passed them by; and a peach-tree
(oh, such a peach-tree, and such large peaches!)
bore literally hundreds of peaches, year after
year. One year there were between four and
five hundred counted.
Well, alongside of these temptations and in
the midst of them we were not only permitted
but required to walk or run or gambol, from
day to day: unwatched, too, as we believed,
except by Richard, the gardener, who kept a
jealous eye upon us, as we were aware, es-
pecially as regarded his flowers,-for I have
forgotten to say that though we were per-
mitted to stand by and admire the beds in
the flower-garden, the general restriction held
good there,-we were not to pluck bud or
blossom unless for a drawing copy, and then
Ethel Ripon. 13
not without leave. But Richard was not
argus-eyed, neither was he always present
when we "broke loose," as he said. So that,
as far as we knew, we were often left to obey
or disobey the injunction of our ruler and
governess, the veritable queen of this delicious
domain,-just according as our fears or our
daring, our sense of right and wrong, or our
bluntness of perception predominated.
Whether transgressions of the law laid
down for us ever occurred, or, if so, whether
they were frequent, I would rather leave
untold. The young ladies under Mrs. Franke's
care were of the ordinary stamp of young
ladies-neither better nor worse; and there
were, no doubt, differences in them. As a
rule, however, we were all tolerably amenable
to discipline-all, with one exception. That
exception was Ethel Ripon.
One day, in autumn, we were taking recrea-
tion in the garden, when Ethel drew up to
me, and we walked arm in arm together.
"Did you ever know anything so absurd ?"
"So absurd as what, Ethel ?"
"Look at those peaches,"-she pointed to
half-a-dozen or more lying on the ground,
Ethel Ripon. 15
to receive such gifts. We knew, however,
that these pluckings from the garden would
account but for a very small part of its pro-
duce. We were also aware that, through the
summer and autumn, there were several days
occupied by the cook in boiling down fruits
for preserves. But even then there must
have been a large residuum; and it was cur-
rently reported or whispered among us that
Mrs. Franke did not disdain to send the
choicest of her gatherings to market: thus
remunerating herself for the expense of a
gardener. But this was not certainly known
by her pupils.
It is no business of ours what Mrs. Franke
does with the fruit," I said, in reply to Ethel's
"Well," said Ethel, "business or no busi-
ness, all I can say is that we are worse off
than Adam and Eve were in Eden. They
might eat of every tree except one; and we
haven't even one we may touch. We must
not even pick up what lies at our feet," she
added, putting away with her foot, indig-
nantly, a fine ripe pear which had fallen from
a tree we were passing near, and had rolled
into the path.
14 Eth1el Ripon.
fallen there from over-ripeness and verging
towards rottenness,-" you see them, don't
"Yes, I see them."
"Isn't it absurd to let them lie rotting
there ; and we are not to taste or touch
It is Mrs. Franke's order," I replied, rather
slowly and coolly, I dare say; for I had
become very precise in my way of talking.
"As if I did not know it !" said laughing
Ethel; "but none the less absurd for that."
"You should not speak so, Ethel."
"Why, how would you have me speak ?"
"You should speak respectfully, my dear:
I mean, we should all speak respectfully of
Ethel laughed again, and made some funny
remark, not worth remembering or repeating.
" What does Mrs. Franke do with all the fruit
in this garden ?" she asked.
I could not answer this question. I knew,
as the questioner did, that on Sundays we
were treated with a dessert after dinner; and
also that presents of fruit were occasionally
sent to Mrs. Franke's friends,-especially to
the parents of pupils who lived near enough
16 Ethel Ripon.
It is very wrong to say such things, Ethel,"
said I, demurely.
No, it isn't," she replied, once more laugh-
ing lightly. "I think it is more wrong to
waste- Oh, that beautiful peach! Look,
"Come away, Ethel," said I; and we both
I don't think it is at all wrong to say
what I have said," she continued, nor yet to
disobey such absurd orders. Or, if it is, it is
worse to make such laws. Now, at home, I
could go into papa's garden, and gather what
I liked, and not a word was said about it;
only once, when I made myself sick, papa
said I shouldn't make too free. But that's
different from not being allowed to make free
"But you are not at home, now," I argued;
and then the conversation dropped.
Two or three days afterwards a sad com-
motion arose in our little community. I
have not the heart to tell all that took place.
I will only describe one or two little scenes
and their results.
Scene the first was our poor Ethel standing
on a footstool in our school-room, the gazing-
Ethel Ripon. 17
stock of her companions, and the three ser-
vants of the establishment as well, who were
called in to witness her degradation. Her
hands were bound behind her back, and a
great card, suspended from her neck and
hanging on her breast, had written on it, in
large letters, the terrible word Thief!" Ethel
had stolen fruit from the garden, we were
told; had been caught in the very act of
eating what she had taken; her pocket laden
Poor child! Her face was flushed with
shame and impotent anger; tears coursed
down her cheeks pitifully, while she vainly
struggled to free her hands from their bonds.
Her violent sobs prevented her speaking; yet
she had spoken-had tried to vindicate her-
self. She was not a thief, she said: she had
not gathered a single peach,-she had only
picked up what lay on the ground, and she
had a right to do this. So she declared. She
was wrong, doubtless; but as I have before
said, Ethel's moral perceptions had been un-
cultivated at home; and at school, her habits
of thought had only been controlled by un-
reasoning authority, not directed by love.
I see poor Ethel again, in my remembrance
18 Ethel Ripon.
of the past, seated apart from her school-
fellows, at a separate table, at our meals. The
shameful manacles were removed; but the
yet more shameful placard, with its inscrip-
tion, disfigured her bosom. For a whole week
her food and drink had been bread and water,
-literally, the bread of sorrow and the water
of affliction: while before her and beyond her
reach was a plate of the choicest fruit, placed
there to remind the culprit of her crime, and
to aggravate its punishment.
How changed was Ethel's aspect now!
There were no more tears; there was no more
violence. Instead of this, her naturally beau-
tiful features had assumed a look of sullen,
scornful defiance, which seemed to say, Do
your worst You cannot degrade me more
than I am degraded." I cannot tell what her
thoughts were, however; for I, in common
with all our school-fellows, were forbidden to
speak to Ethel, or to hold any kind of inter-
course with her.
I see her once more in the school-room,-
still condemned to sit apart from the rest,
and with the accusing inscription still pen-
dant from her neck. In addition to the
ordinary round of occupations, a task of
Ethel Ripon. 19
terrible length had been set her to learn by
heart; and till this was repeated, no remis-
sion of the other punishments was to be
granted. So a Bible lay on the desk before
her. The strange part of this infliction was
that the portion of Scripture poor Ethel was
compelled to pore over, and expected to learn,
bore no reference to the fault of which, un-
doubtedly, she had been guilty; but was a
long, long chapter of genealogies, in the Old
Testament; very difficult (for an English child,
at any rate) to commit to memory; and con-
veying, in its detached form, no moral lesson
to the heart of the learner. Ethel's coun-
tenance now was again changed. She had
become pale and abstracted; but she showed
no farther sign of sorrow.
Another day, and Ethel was missing. The
"shameless child," as Mrs. Franke called her,
again and again, had escaped from the school.
We-her late companions-did not know this
for many days; but eventually it oozed out
that the poor child had positively contrived
to slip out of her chamber very early in the
morning; and, by the time she was missed,
had so successfully made good her retreat,
that pursuit was unavailing. That she reached
20 Ethel Ripon.
her home (which was only a few miles distant),
was understood; that she never returned to
school we very well knew. Thereafter, when
she was spoken of by Mrs. Franke, which was
not seldom, by way of warning, it was always
as-" That hardened girl;" so that, at last,
we her old school-fellows gradually came to
believe that Ethel Ripon was the incarnation
of bad principles. Whether any, or what
sort of correspondence, or explanation or
quarrel, arose out of this unhappy affair,
between our governess and Ethel's father, we
never knew: her we never saw again, while
we remained under Mrs. Franke's care; and,
eventually she was almost forgotten.
This is not a pleasant history to read, any
more than it is to tell, I know: but as there
are some bodily maladies which it would be
vain to attempt to cope with except by admi-
nistering unpleasant medicines, so there are
some moral evils which can best be dealt with
by exhibiting their unhappy consequences.
In the sequel of my story, I have to show
what mischief a few idle words can do; and
the story would not have been complete,
wanting this introduction, which in itself may
perhaps teach this lesson to all whom it may
Ethel Ripon. 21
concern, that harshness and severity are hin-
drances rather than helps in the training of
the young. It is not written without meaning,
-" Fathers, provoke not your children to
wrath, lest they be discouraged ;" and what
God says to fathers, He means for all.
l.:iir or nine years after leaving Mrs.
;I 1- Fr.,nke's school, I was on a visit to
some friends in London. Time, in
that interval, had run on very smoothly with
me. Or rather, let me say, with gratitude
while I think of the past, that God had dealt
very kindly and favourably with me in His
good providence. I had enjoyed the blessings
of health and ease and affectionate friends,
and was full of hope for the future. Some
of the hopes I then indulged were eventually
fulfilled; others were disappointed: but, in
regard to either case, I am constrained to say
now, "Goodness and mercy have followed me
all the days of my life."
During my stay in London I was introduced
to many persons and families and social cir-
cles of whom and which I had previously no
knowledge. All whom I thus met were kind
to me, and with many I became intimate.
Ethel Bipon. ?"
There was one family, especially, in which I
felt that degree of freedom which a young
woman of three or four-and-twenty would
be likely to prize. There were two or three
members of it about my own age; and this
made the intercourse more pleasant.
Pleasant-but too often unprofitable; our
speech was not always savoured with the salt
of heavenly wisdom. My friends were pro-
fessing Christians: I also was a professing
Christian: there ought, therefore, to have
been no want of subjects for conversation
which would have been really beneficial to
our souls. I regret to remember, however,
that the greater part of the time I passed in
their company was taken up with frivolous
small-talk, when it did not proceed to the
more serious fault of uncharitably dissecting
the character and conduct and opinions and
motives of others. Oh, when will Christians
learn to practise what they sometimes confess
to be not only their obvious duty but their
great privilege, in connexion with their Chris-
tian life, when they use such words as these.-
Forgotten be each worldly theme
When Christians meet together thus;
We only wish to speak of Him
Who lived, and died, and reigns for us.
24 Ethel Ripon.
We'll talk of all He did and said,
And suffered for us here below ;
The path He mark'd for us to tread,
And what He's doing for us now.
Thus, as the moments pass away,
We'll love, and wonder, and adore,
And hasten on the glorious day
When we shall meet to part no more."
Let me remember, however, that I did not
set about telling my story for the sake of find-
ing fault with others; but to show by the
example of my own fault how much mischief
may be done unintentionally by a flippant
tongue. And I do not wish to imply that all
conversation but that which relates to religion
is to be avoided and set aside among Chris-
tians. This, in fact, never will be done-
never can be done-while we remain in the
world. There are so many things which daily
need our serious thought in connexion with
the life that now is, and so many other things
which naturally and properly invite and ex-
cite our interests, and exercise an influence
over us, that we must needs speak about
them-ay, and speak often about them too.
And it is with regard to these very matters,
I think, that the admonition of our Lord
Ethel Ripon. 25
applies, to let our speech be savoured with
My speech was not savoured with the salt
either of piety or common charity when, one
evening, in a social party at the house of my
new friends, I indulged the company with a
most exaggerated and damaging history of
my former schoolfellow and her disgrace. It
An elderly lady, near whom I sat, and who
was in a rather animated though low-voiced
conversation with one of my friends, plainly
pronounced the name of Ethel Ripon. What
was the nature of the conversation I was per-
fectly unaware, for I had heard not another
word of it. Probably I should not have
noticed the two words I did hear, but for the
fact that they were more distinctly spoken;
and also because the name, though familiar
to my mind, was somewhat uncommon-at
least in its combination. I naturally enough
started, therefore, when I heard the name
thus unexpectedly sounded in my ears, and
involuntarily repeated, in a tone of surprise,
"Ethel Ripon How strange !"
The elderly lady looked at me across the
26 Elhel Ripon.
small table which separated us. Do you
know Ethel Ripon, Miss C- ?" she asked.
"I once knew a girl of that name," 1
answered; "indeed, I went to school with
her,-or rather, we were at school together for
a little while: but that was several years ago,
of course," I added.
"You do not know Ethel Ripon now,
then?" The question seemed put with a sort
of anxious curiosity.
"No, certainly not," said I; "and yet we
were great friends, too, for a little time : but
I have seen nothing of her, and know nothing
of her since-since she was expelled from
Expelled from school!" This exclamation
from both ladies.
Well, perhaps I should rather say, expelled
herself. The truth is, the Ethel Ripon whom
I knew ran away from school, and so saved
herself from being expelled, which, I have no
doubt, she would have been."
"Dear, dear! she must have been a sad
child, then, I am afraid," said my ques-
"Not a very promising young lady, I assure
you- It is not necessary, however, for
Ethel Ripon. 27
me to write down all the conversation which
ensued: it is enough to say that I was very
easily prevailed upon to give the history of
poor Ethel's guilt and disgrace and punish-
ment, with such embellishments as made it
the more sensational. For instance, instead
of Ethel's great wickedness being that she
had once been detected in picking up two
or three windfalls from under an overladen
fruit-tree, I made it appear, without abso-
lutely saying so, that the young lady was :n
the habit of robbing the garden, and glutton-
ously feasting upon the fruits she had stolen.
I dwelt also very much upon the bad educa-
tion which had preceded her entrance among
the "select" boarders in Mrs. Franke's school,
and stated my opinion that her moral percep-
tions were of so low an order, that she would
never be more than a tamed savage. Hardly
that, indeed, I added, seeing how violently
her passions were excited when she was placed
under constraint as a punishment for her
misdeeds; and considering, too, that rather
than submit to the punishment she had
drawn down upon herself, she planned and
executed a daring escape from school. I took
care to speak of the placard which poor Ethel
28 Ethel Ripon.
was compelled, day after day, to wear, with its
accusative inscription; and, in short, I gave
such an account of the whole unhappy affair
as would only have been pardonable had 1,
for any real and useful purpose, been called
upon to describe the early life and conduct
of a wicked and abandoned fellow-creature.
Will my readers believe me when I declare
that I did this without malice, and only as an
amusement to those who heard me. They
were simply and emphatically idle words,
which could not, by any possibility, "minister
grace unto the hearers." I had not the
slightest idea, even, that my story, with all its
additions, could possibly do harm to any one;
and I lost sight of the fact that the name (at
least) of the unfortunate heroine of my story,
whom I had painted in such needlessly dark
colours, was familiar to one or more of my
friends, or my friends' friends. I was certainly
made rather uncomfortable for a little while
when, presently, the elderly- lady, who had
first spoken of Ethel Ripon, came up to me
and thanked me for the service I had rendered
-though what that service was I could not
divine. But the feeling soon passed away.
It happened that this party was the last
Ethel Ripon. 29
of my London visits; for my term of absence
from home had nearly expired, and in another
week I left the great city and its friendly
circles behind me.
A few months afterwards my thoughts and
expectations were very much engrossed by
the near approach of a great and important
change in my life. I was soon to be married.
It was (or would be when consummated) a
union of disinterested affection, and promised
much quiet homely enjoyment. The future
husband of mine was the young incumbent
of the country parish in which a great part
of my life had been spent.
One day, when busily engaged in some
trifling preparation for the interesting occasion
(interesting to me, I mean), Edward Lascelles
-my Edward-called on me, asking leave to
introduce a friend, a brother clergyman from
some place in the neighbourhood of London,
who was spending a few days with him at
the rectory-my future home. I was rather
amused by the phrase brother clergyman;"
for the stranger thus denominated was almost
old enough to be Edward's grandfather. I
did not say so, however; but shook hands
30 Ethel Ripon.
with Mr Martyn heartily, and invited him to
be seated in the easiest chair my little apart-
"You are not entirely a stranger to me, at
any rate by report," said the aged gentleman:
"we have some common or mutual friends in
London; and I have lately known something
of you through them. Mr. Lascelles, too," he
added, looking towards my betrothed, "is in
some sort an old friend of mine, since I knew
his father, and loved him well. I trust, there-
fore, you will receive me not as an impertinent
intruder, but as a true and loving friend, my
dear young lady," Mr. Martyn added, in a very
kindly and fatherly way which pleased me;
though I felt rather awkward when I was in-
formed that Mr. Martyn wished to speak with
me alone. I could not refuse the request,
however; and Edward soon afterwards took
For a moment or two I sat silently won-
dering what the old clergyman could have to
say to me so privately; and my wonder was
not diminished when he began to congratulate
me on the happy prospect before me. "I am
an old man," he said; "but not so old as to
have forgotten the bright anticipations of
Ethel Ripon. 31
youth. May yours, my dear Miss C-, be
more than realized. I trust you will be very
happy in your new relationship, very pros-
perous, if it be God's will, and very useful irt
the important sphere before you. And," he
continued, after a moment's pause, "there are
few positions in life in which a young female
can be placed, with more important duties
than those which devolve on the wife of a
minister of the gospel."
I was obliged and grateful to Mr. Martyn
for his good wishes, I said; and I also con-
fessed that the thought of the duties to which
he had referred sometimes weighed heavily
on my spirits; and this was true.
Nay," said he, reassuringly, there is no
need that they should do so. You know
where it is said that Christ's grace is sufficient
-sufficient for all who seek it: and though
without Him the disciple can do nothing,
yet it is written for our encouragement, 'My
strength is made perfect in weakness.' You
know this, do you not ?"
Yes, I trusted that I knew this, I said.
"And I think I may venture to say," he
continued, that the thought of your possible
trials of faith and patience, and the probable
32 Ethel Ripon.
weight of your coming duties, does not so
alarm you as to cause you to shrink from
fulfilling your engagement to my young
Certainly not, sir;"-I said this curtly, I
dare say; for I felt rather offended at the
inquisitorial course into which our conversa-
tion appeared to be drifting: and I could not
guess what Edward could mean by leaving
this unexpected guest of his with me alone.
Mr. Martyn, however, seemed not to notice
my change of tone, but went on-
"I thought not; I was sure not. But, on
the other hand, if any individual were to step
in, either maliciously or unintentionally and
innocently, and prevent the consummation
towards which you are looking with so much
natural desire and hope, you would think
yourself hardly used ?"
Sir, I-I do not-do not understand you,"
I gasped and stammered. "Is there any
meaning in this question? or are you only
1.!'.;._' with my feelings ? If so, it is not
kind in you-a stranger too-to make sport
of me. I think you ought to explain your
"i ,. m, sir."
"Ah," he said, rather ,1 to himself
Ethel Ripon. 33
than to me, "it is so then. My dear Miss
C-," he continued, "I ought to apologize
for even seeming to doubt your true affection
for my friend; for I do not doubt it, I assure
you. But a very painful event which has
happened in my own circle of personal friends
prompted the question I last put. Will you
permit me to give you the outlines of that
I told him, Yes;" and he went on:-
"About three or four years ago, I became
acquainted with a young lady who, in conse-
quence of the death of a parent, and a reverse
in circumstances, was led, or driven, in the
course of God's providence, to seek a situa-
tion as governess. By that same providence
she was directed to the house and service of
a lady who lives near me, and has several
children requiring instruction. This lady is
an attendant on my ministry and a commu-
nicant in my church; and in my visits to her
house I was introduced to and became ac-
quainted with Miss- well, I will not men-
tion her real name; let me say Miss Brown.
"I found in Miss Brown, on more mature
acquaintance, a most intelligent and interest-
ing young lady,-young, for she was not at
34 Ethel Ripon.
that time more than nineteen or twenty
years of age. She was, personally, exceedingly
lovely, so far as I am a competent judge;
though there was a shade of premature
thoughtfulness, amounting almost to sadness,
sometimes traceable on her very expressive fea-
tures. I attributed this to the recent sorrows
which had darkened her life's prospects.
"41 tter-infinitely better-than personal
loveliness, however, there was a maturity of
deep piety in Miss Brown which charmed me,
and which evidently shed a beneficial influ-
ence around her; so that I congratulated my
friend on the acquisition of such a teacher for
her children; and I had reason to know that
she appreciated the blessing. In short, Miss
Brown was looked upon by her more as a dear
and valued friend than as a mere stipendiary.
Do I weary you with these details, Miss C-?"
the aged speaker asked me.
"Oh, certainly not," I replied; though I
wondered what object he had in giving me
this history; and when Edward would return.
I am glad that you are interested," rejoined
the simple-minded old clergyman; and I will
go on with my story.
"In the process of time," he continued,
Ethel Ripon. 35
"Miss Brown became more and more a part
of the family which she had entered in an
inferior capacity. She was the trusted friend
of the lady who employed her; and though
she did not cease to be the governess of the
children (who loved her very dearly for her
gentleness and constant kindness), she was
looked upon, in every respect, as on an equa-
lity with the society in which she was gra-
dually persuaded to mingle. I say 'persuaded,'
because Miss Brown was either naturally, or
by circumstances, shrinking and almost timid.
Thus two or three years passed away; and
then a circumstance occurred which might
have been, but was not, foreseen. A gentleman,
into whose company the young governess was
thus almost compulsorily cast, was attracted
by her gentle disposition and superior intel-
ligence, as well as her personal charms; and
sought her for his wife. His suit was at first
gratefully declined, more I believe because of
the difference in station which existed between
the wooed and the wooer, than from any real
repugnance on the part of the young lady.
So, at any rate, the gentleman believed; and
he persevered in his addresses until the lady
was conquered. And it was easy to be seen,
36 Ethel Ripon.
by Miss Brown's more immediate friends, that
her consent was a very glad one when her
scruples were silenced. This, indeed, might
very well be; for the gentleman of whom I
am speaking had very excellent qualities and
a competent fortune, in addition to an agree-
able person and manners. He had also true
piety to sanctify the rest of his possessions.
"And now I am sorry to tell you, my dear
young lady," continued Mr. Martyn, "that
when this engagement was known, a degree
of jealousy was excited for which I confess I
was not prepared, and which ought not to
have existed in a society of Christians. It
was whispered by some who ought to have
known better, that Miss Brown had artfully
entrapped the gentleman's affections; and
that this came of raising such a person out
of her proper sphere. I am ashamed to re-
peat this folly, Miss C-, and I will not dwell
upon it more than I need.
Happily these whispers were not heard by
the parties most vitally concerned; and the
time drew near for the union of these dear
friends of mine. In a few months at furthest
they were to be made man and wife.
But while they and their true friends were
Ethel Ripon. 37
looking forward with hopeful anticipation to
this event, a dark cloud overshadowed them,
and the expectation faded away into gloom
and sorrow. It was caused by some words
spoken, not maliciously I am almost sure, but
indiscreetly, by a former acquaintance of the
young lady, who, in a company in which she
appeared almost as a stranger, amused herself
and her audience by what was afterwards found
to be a highly-coloured and, in some respects,
an incorrect account of a transaction in which
Miss Brown performed an unhappy part many
years before; and which went far to brand
that young person with-with very bad prin-
ciples. I will not say more than this; but
others said more-much more. Among those
who heard the story as told by Miss Brown's
former acquaintance, was a lady who had in-
directly and covertly, but strongly opposed
the connexion which had been formed; and
she eagerly listened to all the details of the
narrative. It served her purpose only too well.
She credulously and willingly believed the
story, and thought it her duty to repeat it
(with some involuntary additions of her own,
perhaps) far and wide; and the result was-"
While Mr. Martyn was speaking, a convic-
38 Ethel Ripon.
tion, or suspicion, gradually was awakened in
my thoughts, that I was, somehow or other,
concerned in his narrative; and that it was
not without design that he had sought this
interview. At first, there was an undefinable
dread that some dire disaster or hindrance
was threatening my espousals; and that he
(Mr. Martyn) had been brought in by Edward
Lascelles to break to me the intelligence
which he dared not communicate. But a
moment's reflection dissipated this fear; and
then, as the story advanced to the point at
which I have just dropped it, I seemed to
understand it all, by inspiration almost. My
visitor was enacting the part of Nathan; I
sat before him, as David sat before the old
Hebrew prophet a witness and a judge
"Stop, sir !" I cried, in great agitation;
"you said that Brown was not the real name
of your friend ?"
"The young lady's name was not Brown;
Was it-is it-Ethel Ripon ?"
"I have been speaking of Ethel Ripon,"
0 w HEN my surprise had a little subsided,
Mr. Martyn resumed the conversa-
"I am now quite sure that you did not
intend to injure your old school-fellow, when
you told that damaging story."
"Indeed, indeed I did not, sir."
"But mischief has been done. Ethel Ripon
is now very ill; solely, as I believe, from dis-
tress of mind."
"But surely," I reasoned, "this is foolish.
I mean there is no sufficient cause for such
distress; for no one who has any sense would
think any the worse of Ethel, or of any one
else, because she happened to get into trouble
at school." I said this rather indignantly, for
I thought it a little unjust that Ethel's pre-
sent distress should be charged home to me-
laid upon my shoulders.
"My dear young lady," said Mr. Martyn,
kindly, "we are not all constituted alike.
40 Ethel Ripon.
Some persons have a greater amount of
nervous susceptibility than others, and cannot
bear what to others might seem a light burden.
For instance, you, Miss C-, might only smile
if ill-natured acquaintances were to spread
abroad, to your disadvantage, a report of some
indiscretion formerly committed by you. I
cannot say how this would be; but I think
such a result possible."
"I should have thought, sir, from my recol-
lection of Ethel Ripon, that she would have
laughed outright at any such report." I said
this rather sharply, I am afraid: for what
right, thought I to myself, has Mr. Martyn to
suppose that I ever did commit any indiscre-
tion, or to judge what I might do under any
conceivable circumstances ?-forgetting that I,
at that moment, stood chargeable and charged
with a very grave indiscretion, and that of
no distant date.
Mr. Martyn looked at me keenly. "I pre-
sume," he said, "that your acquaintance with
Ethel Ripon terminated in your school days.
You have known nothing of her since then ?"
"Certainly not, sir. The last I saw or heard
of her was when- I hesitated; and Mr.
Martyn finished the sentence-
Ethel Ripon. 41
"When she made her escape from Mrs.
Franke's harsh rule. So I suppose. Well, my
dear young lady, I have just returned, or am
on my way home, from a long journey-a
journey which I have made it my business to
take, in order to investigate the cruel charges
which have been brought against Miss Ripon.
Now, I will tell you what I have learned.
First of all, I went to poor Ethel's former
home. There were many there who remem-
bered her, and who had sympathised with her
on the death of her father, and the sudden
descent which she then had to make from
apparent ease and prosperity to some of the
hardships of life; for Mr. Ripon died poor, if
not insolvent. Setting this aside, however,
I met with one lady who had known Ethel
from her birth, and had nursed her through
a terrible brain fever. That fever was brought
on, the lady said, by undue severity exercised
upon the poor child at school. With tears in
her eyes, this compassionate friend gave me
the history of that severity, and of the fault
which had provoked it. Then she went on to
tell how the brain fever gradually subsided-
it was by God's mercy it did not prove fatal-
and that the result of it was (not an uncom-
42 Ethel Ripon.
mon result in such cases), that the poor suf-
ferer lost the distinct memory of its cause.
She had only a confused and misty recol-
lection that she had passed through some
miserable ordeal, which had been brought to
a close by her illness.
"The lady went on to tell me," continued
Mr. Martyn, that it was thought best not
to enlighten Ethel on this matter; and that
afterwards she herself took charge of the
young lady's education,- finding in her a
most affectionate, grateful, and dutiful pupil,
but exceedingly timid and sensitive-afraid
even of doing right sometimes, lest she should
do wrong. It seemed, according to this lady's
account, as though her natural disposition
were altered; for her former bold and high
and buoyant spirit had sunk into a kind of
sad submissiveness, which was occasionally
painful to witness.
"But this disposition was eventually im-
proved by the influence of religion on her
soul. By God's grace, dear Ethel was led to
see her need of His most precious gift, and
became as a little child in the kingdom of
Christ and of God. From that time the true
lowliness of her character, as sanctified by
Ethel Ripon. 43
God's grace, appeared in every action and
word of her life."
While Mr. Martyn was thus describing my
old schoolfellow, I was smitten with remorse.
To think that I should have dared to make
sport of that one act of delinquency of her's,
even supposing that every word I had spoken
was strictly true "Do not say more, sir," I
cried, imploringly: "I have sinned. Dear
Ethel! I did not know what I was doing.
But surely, sir, it is not past remedy? Tell
me only what I ought to do. You have very
clearly shown me my fault; can you not show
me also how it is to be repaired ?"
It is for this that I am here," the benevo-
lent old clergyman said, very kindly: "you
may, perhaps, in part help to heal up the
wound which has undoubtedly been made, if
you will write a loving letter to Ethel, without
referring to anything that is past, and thus
prove to her that she has a place in the
friendship and respect of one at least of her
former companions. If you can do this
"I will do more than this !" I said, eagerly;
"I will go and see Ethel, and do all I can to
comfort her; and so show, not to herself only,
44 Ethel Ripon.
but to everybody else, my sorrow for my
thoughtless idle words."
Can you leave this pleasant work of yours
on such an errand, Miss C- ?" Mr. Martyn
asked, with a smile, pointing to my work-
table, on which were strewed manifest tokens
of the coming event.
"Yes, I can and will." Then I abruptly
asked if Mr. Martyn had told Mr. Lascelles
(my future husband) the nature of his errand
Certainly not," he replied. Had I done
this, I should have been guilty of the very
conduct I have ventured to condemn in you.
You know who has said, If thy brother
trespass, tell him his fault between him and
thee alone.' Putting 'sister' for 'brother,'
I have endeavoured to do this."
But Edward must know it," said I. "IIe
shall know all my faults beforehand," I added,
Mr. Martyn smiled. "All?" he said, softly.
Ah there was more in that gentle tone
and look than the word expressed. "All?"
I know now, better than I knew then, that if
all my faults of heart and life and lip could
have been told (which they could not), the
Ethel Ripon. 45
dark catalogue must have scared away for
ever that best and kindest of-- But I am
digressing from my story: let me return.
And yet I have not digressed, because the
little boast I made led my thoughts back
again in a straight line to Ethel Ripon.
"You have not told me yet, sir, what her
great trouble is now. You say only that she
"More mentally than bodily. She needs
comfort-the comfort which you, of all others,
perhaps, can best give, seeing that you are
better acquainted even than she is with the
primary cause of her sorrow. I take other
comfort with me also. I told you just now
that my first visit was to Ethel's old home.
My second was to Mrs. Franke, your and
Ethel's school governess."
"You did not get much encouragement
there, I fear," said I.
Indeed you are mistaken. I found Mrs.
Franke more disposed to hear reason than I
expected. She would not acknowledge that
her system was in any way faulty; and she
justified the course she had taken in en-
deavouring to cure, as well as to punish, the
crime, as she called it, of her pupil. But she
46 Ethel Ripon.
was truthful; and I obtained from her an
admission which takes away the sting from
the charges which have been unsparingly
levelled at dear Ethel, and reduces her fault
into girlish frolic and unthinking disobe-
"I never thought of its being more;' I
said; "and it is a shame that any one should
have---" I stopped short here; for every
further word I could have uttered would but
have condemned myself. A shame !-a shame
to repeat the story I first told Think, then,
of the shame of first telling it!
"You said, just now," continued my aged
mentor, "that no person of sense would think
worse of Ethel because of an indiscretion com-
mitted at school. My dear young friend, you
will, I fear, find as you go forward in life's
pilgrimage, that there .are a great many
persons in the world who are not deficient
in what is ordinarily called sense, who yet
are ready enough, with cause, or without
cause, and from a variety of motives, to take
up a reproach against their neighbours. It
is enough for me to say, however, that Ethel
Ripon's character has suffered."
I think, sir," said I, plucking up a little
Ethel Ripon. 47
spirit, "that those who have formed a bad
opinion of Ethel because of anything I said
respecting her, are not much worth caring
about, after all. I hope the gentleman who
was going to marry her was not one of these.
If he is--".
"I am happy to say he is not. It is Ethel's
own susceptibility which has wrought some of
her sorrow. Bear in mind that the positive
facts of that school escapade were, by her
after illness, obliterated from her memory;
and that only a dark, misty, confused im-
pression of some heinous wrong doing re-
mained on her mind-an impression, how-
ever, strong enough to give a tinge to her
character, and imprint a sort of pensive sad-
ness on her countenance. Remember this;
and then think that when she found herself
shunned by some who had before professed
warm friendship, and heard of the whispers
which branded her childhood with the guilt
of thievery and falsehood-how she would
shrink from becoming the wife of one whom
she reverenced and loved! Her very con-
scientiousness was arrayed against her; and
no persuasions have hitherto prevailed on her
to alter her determination that henceforth she
48 Ethel Ripon.
will bear her own burden of shame and sorrow
I will go and see her," said I; and, as far
as I can, make reparation for my idle words."
My private interview with Mr. Martyn
ended here; for we were interrupted by the
entrance of my affianced husband, to whom I
made my humble confession. What he said
or thought is of no importance to my story,
except that he encouraged me in my determi-
nation. A few days later I was in London,
among my old friends, who wondered at my
unexpected appearance, but, at the same time,
heartily received me. I did not tell them the
reason and object of my visit, however, but
set about my work at once.
It was anxious and arduous work. Dear
Ethel was very glad to see me; and after a
little time I was enabled to secure her confi-
dence. Exceedingly precious were'the secret
communings we had together,-precious to
me, I mean; for in her faith, and patience,
and experience, and hope, and especially her
humility and her charity, I saw so much of
the fruits of the Spirit as filled me with
shame for my own backwardness and sterility,
Ethel Ripon. 49
and led me to ask more earnestly for that
grace which is never withheld from those
who seek it. I believe also that my society
was in some measure useful to Ethel, in
cheering her natural spirit, and giving her a
motive for healthful bodily exertion, which
had a favourable influence on her mind. But
for a long time she resisted-very gently and
quietly, but firmly--my importunities and
arguments in relation to her future course.
It seemed in vain for me to urge that not
only her own happiness for life, but that of
another, was bound up in the decision she
might make. She smiled incredulously.
It is very good of you to think so kindly
of me," she said; "but you are deceived:"
and then she added something about the
importance and the absolute necessity of an
unblemished character in relation to a con-
nection so close and intimate and endurable as
that from which she now determinately shrunk.
And upon this hint I spoke. I acknow-
ledged, humbly and penitently, the guilty
share I had had in injuring her reputation;
and then I told her the story of the trouble
of her childhood, which the subsequent fever
had blotted out from her memory.
50 Ethel Ripon.
To say that Ethel forgave me as soon as
my confession was made, is saying, in other
words, that.she did what as a Christian she
was bound to do. But I shall never forget
the look of relief which gradually spread over
her countenance when my story was ended.
This is all-are you sure ?" she asked.
Quite all, dear Ethel."
"I was a very naughty girl, then," said she,
with an old gleam of mischievous fun in her
sparkling eyes, which I was glad to see; "but
oh dear! I thought it was something much
more terrible than this."
The end of it was, that Ethel's health was
restored; that her mind lost its gloomy appre-
hension; that she returned with me to my
dear country home, where she became again
as a very little child in her enjoyment of life;
and that on a certain day there were two wed-
dings instead of one,-the officiating minister
being our kind friend Mr. Martyn.
And here we may suppose that our ancient
friend, Mrs. Lascelles, brings her narrative to
a fitting, because happy conclusion, leaving
,the present writer to add a few last words-
not idle words.
Ethel Ripon. 51
It is very much to be feared that we are
all, more or less, guilty of the particular
and especial sin which Mrs. Lacelles' story
"Speak not evil one of another, brethren,"
is an exhortation too frequently set aside and
forgotten by Christians. And yet how much
is included in it !
There are three sorts or degrees of evil
which may be spoken of our brethren.
The first degree is when that which is
spoken is absolutely and entirely false. This
needs no comment. He who does this wil-
fully shows that he is no brother at all; a liar
cannot be a Christian. He who does it under
misapprehension shows that he is weak and
misguided. No Christian, under any circum-
stances, has a right to say aught to the preju-
dice of a Christian brother without being able
to add, "I speak that which I do know: I
testify to that which I have seen."
The next degree of evil speaking is when
the true is mixed with the false. A certain
poet of our land has written-
A lie that is partly the truth
Is ever the worst of lies ;"
and there is no question that this is pretty
52 Ethel Ripon.
nearly correct : for it is the modicum of truth
"which gives sting and poignancy to the mix-
ture of falsehood.
The last degree of evil speaking is when it
,consists entirely of truth. Alas that it should
be so But Christian brethren and sisters
may speak evil one of another, and yet not
speak untruly. But even the truth is not
always to be spoken, though it is the truth;
for have we not read of that love which
covereth-covereth-covereth all sins ?
What an unspeakable mercy it is, when
burdened by a sense of conscious guilt, to
know that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth
from all sins! To the fountain opened I
would repair, and there find pardon and
peace; and in the strength of the Holy Spirit
would go forward, seeking to avoid all sins
of tongue, of heart, and of life.
THE OLD BOOK-MARK.
BY G. E. SARGENT.
T was pressed between the leaves of a
Bible; it had been there very many
years undisturbed. The Bible was on
the middle shelf of an old book-case with
glass folding doors, which were always kept
locked. The key of the lock was on a ring in
William Westwood's pocket, and kept bright
by friction with others.
William Westwood was a well-to-do farmer
somewhat past middle age. He farmed his
own acres-three or four hundred of them-
and lived in a picturesque old farm-house, in
a secluded valley, which, in spring, summer,
and autumn, was rich and beautiful, with
pasture land, corn fields, nicely clipped
hedges, and woodlands; for Mr. Westwood
was a good farmer. Now, however, it being
winter, the entire prospect from his parlour
window was snow, nothing but snow,-snow,
54 The Old Book-Mark.
in his stack yard, more than a foot deep, and
rapidly becoming thicker; snow on his barn
and cart-house and stable roofs; snow on all
the fields and hedges and woods. Their owner
was kept in this day, a little against his will,
by the snow without, which was falling fast.
William Westwood was a bachelor-partly
from circumstances, partly by choice. In his
young days he was engaged, as it is called;
and the marriage was to have taken place on
a certain New Year's Day; oh so many years
ago now. But it never did take place. The
young lady who would otherwise have been
his wife, was taken ill in the previous autumn.
The sickness was-to use the words of Scrip-
ture-" unto death;" and the day that would
have seen William a happy bridegroom, wit-
nessed his convulsive grief over the open grave
of his darling Mary. William was a strong-
minded man, and a man of strong principle;
but he suffered fearfully; and though after a
time he recovered from the shock he had re-
ceived, he never afterwards thought of marry-
ing. If his friends ever ventured to speak of
his loneliness, or to hint to him that he would
be happier with a companion than as a solitary
man, he cut them sternly short with,-" I
The COl Book-Mark. 55
am married already; my wife is awaiting
me. I shall go to her, though she cannot
return to me."
William Westwood was very restless on this
day of enforced idleness, or rather, inaction, of
which I am telling. He did not like being
long indoors at any time; and on this parti-
cular day of the year, of all others-for it was
New Year's Day-he would rather have been
anywhere else than in his own comfortable
house. He was not sentimental; he was not
given to nurse his sorrow, now so many years
old, though he did not care to forget it, much
less its object and cause. But he had not
been accustomed to keep this anniversary
day in especial gloom and mourning; he
would have set this down as a weakness.
He was alone in his room, booted and
spurred, with his overcoat thrown over the
back of a chair, ready to be put on. For at
breakfast time he had made up his mind to
have a ride somewhere. But after that the snow
came down faster and faster, till he compelled
himself to countermand the order he had
issued to his man respecting his riding horse;
and, instead of riding, he kept up some sort
of action by pacing his room steadily, from
56 The Old Book-Jllark,
east to west, and then from west to east,
pausing at times to look out at the window.
Westwood was not a great reader; few
farmers are great readers. Not because they
are more deficient than others in intellect and
taste; but plainly, the active life and bodily
exercise required of a yeoman, and the se-
dentary habits of a student, are incompatible.
At any rate, so far as Westwood is con-
cerned, his reading powers were mainly kept
up by a newspaper which came to hand three
days in the week; a monthly magazine devoted
to agriculture, and a quarterly review. I should
have said his secular reading; for Westwood
was, if not a devout, a formal reader of the
Bible-an old Bible which, with one or two
books of a religious character, lay always on
the side-board ready for Sunday.
I cannot tell what impulse seized the
solitary man when, after continuing his
monotonous walk, varied only by occasional
pauses to look out at the window, or to
replenish the fire, for more than an hour, he
suddenly halted before the old-fashioned
mahogany book-case. In a kind of dreamy
mood, he glanced at the backs of the books
there imprisoned. They were mostly well
The Old Book-Mark. 57
and handsomely bound volumes, which had
descended to him as a part of his inherit-
ance. He knew them all well enough by
their titles, and some few of them he had
looked into; but that was a long time ago,
when a short-lived ambition to be a reader
had taken possession of him.
Glancing, as I said, at the backs of the
books, first on the lower shelf, then raising
his sight to those on the next, and carelessly
reading their titles also, his eyes travelled
still higher. In a moment his hand was in
his pocket, and he drew forth the bunch of
keys, selected the right key, unlocked the
glass-door, and slowly opened it. Then, with
a reluctant hand which required a strong
mental effort to make it move, he selected a
volume, turned away, and sat down near the
bright fire, with a table before him, on which
he laid the book.
It was her gift," he said, sorrowfully and
tenderly; "poor, darling Mary! And yet
why should I say 'poor ?' Yes; it was her
gift; but I have never had the courage to
open it since she died. Can I now ?"
His hand trembled a little; but he did
open it. It was a handsome book, bound in
58 The Old Book-Mairk.
morocco, very slightly soiled with use, but
somewhat dulled with age. He turned back the
lid, as he would have called it, and read on
the fly-leaf the simple inscription, in a femi-
nine handwriting, the name of the giver and
recipient, with the date of the gift. That
was all, but it moved Westwood very much,
though the ink was faded; and the date
carried him back thirty years.
He soon recovered himself, however; and
almost despising himself for his weakness, he
was about to close the book again, and re-
place it on the shelf, when a silken thread
from between its leaves arrested his attention.
Opening the book at that place, a narrow
ribbon, once white, but now yellow with age
was seen. On one side of the old book-mark
(for such it was) was a card, with these words
worked upon it in blue silk:
We spend our years as a tale that is told."
On the other side was another card, with this
Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."
William Westwood sank down in his chair,
resting his head on one hand-the elbow on
The Old Book-Mark. 59
the table,-while the other hand held the
relic with a firm grasp. Had any one been
present, unknown to him, it would have been
seen how his breast heaved with convulsive
sobs, and how, at last, tears of relief trickled
between his fingers, and fell upon the Bible
The old book-mark was one of the latest
gifts he had received from his betrothed;
though strange to say, perhaps, placed between
the leaves of the Bible, the memory of it had
faded from his mind, in the shade of his deep
and lasting affliction. Now, however, the
whole scene and circumstances of that simple
love-token rushed back upon his memory. It
was in the confinement of her sick room-
while the fatal termination of her illness was
yet unapprehended-that his Mary had oc-
cupied a few hours in working this book-
mark; and when he next visited her, she put
it into his hands.
There was design in the mottoes she had
chosen; William had felt this at the time of
receiving the gift; he felt it more strongly
now. The only point on which he and his
chosen one differed, was on the subject of
personal religion; and that difference (as he
60 The Old Book-Mark.
fancied then) was more in degree than in
kind. The truth, however, is, that Mary was
an earnest Christian; while he sometimes
thought that her earnestness was needless
enthusiasm. He himself paid attention to
what he called religious duties; was moral
in his outward conduct, harboured no gross
hidden vice, paid respect to the Bible and the
Lord's day, and the recognized ordinances of
religion. What more was required of him ?
Mary thought and knew that more was re-
quired of him. Happy as she had ever been
to acknowledge and admire and love William
Westwood's manly qualities-his generosity
and integrity and sincerity-she had at times
been concerned, and she told him so, to
know from his own lips that he had really
and honestly given his whole heart to Christ.
All this, and much more, came to his re-
collection now, as he bowed his head over
the open Bible and the old, long-forgotten
She knew me better than I knew myself,"
-these were some of his reflections; and
she would have made me what I never was,
what I never have been-like herself,-a
true, honest, outspoken Christian. Those were
The Old Book-Mark. 61
times when she hoped I was one. She told
me when she gave me this Bible that she was
sure I could not help loving the Saviour she
loved, and prizing the book she prized, though
I was too backward to speak of it before the
world, as if it was a weakness. And she
begged me then not to be ashamed of my re-
ligion, which would, she knew, cause me to be
laughed and jeered at.' Ah but she did not
know, and I did not suspect then, that it was
not God and the Bible I cared for so much as
her. And she did not know"- We will
not follow out Westwood's train of reflection
in his own words: they were very bitter, very
"We spend our years as a tale that is told."
He thought how true these words were. The
thirty years, nearly, which had passed away
since his great trouble-how short they seemed
on looking back! One single backward step
in his memory brought before him the very
scene of that New Year's Day when he was
committing his dearest treasure his lost
bride--" ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
And what had he been doing since that
time ? He knew too well what he had been
doing. Nothing worth the doing: much
62 The Old Book-Mark.
which could not be undone. He had all
those years been, in heart, rebelling against
the God who had snatched from him that
coveted possession, when he had all but called
it his own. He had been turning his back
upon the Saviour. He had been hardening
his heart against the gentle admonitions, and
invitations, and remonstrances of the Holy
Spirit. These things he had done, which he
ought not to have done. The things which he
ought to have done, he had left undone. Alas!
there was no health in him.
Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." The
conscience-stricken man knew of whom these
words were spoken; and that they were
spoken at a marriage feast. A singular co-
incidence with the current of his thoughts,
perhaps; though there was nothing in that.
But he knew of these words what a general
application they had; and it was brought home
to his conviction that, for Christ's sake, he had
done nothing that Christ had commanded.
True, a certain limited form of godliness had
been kept up by him; but where had been
the power? He had paid a decent outward
respect to Christianity; but where was the
inward reverence ? In reality, instead of
The Old Book-Mark. 63
taking up the cross, and following Christ, as
Christ had said, he had hated that cross, and
gone away from the great Cross-bearer. Christ
had said, If ye love Me, keep my command-
ments." Which of Christ's commandments
had he, from love to Christ, even endeavoured
to keep? Once there was a time when he
had been almost persuaded to be a Christian;
but now, alas! all was dark and bewildering.
He knew himself to be not a Christian, except
in name. And what right had he to that
name-a name to live, and yet dead !
The snow without continued to fall; but
William Westwood no longer heeded it: gentle
and soft as the snow, but not cold, a soften-
ing influence was descending on his heart.
" Behold, I stand at the door, and knock,"
says the glorified Redeemer: "If any man
hear my voice, and open the door, I will come
in to him, and will sup with him, and he
"with Me." Who shall say that this declara-
tion and promise were not fulfilled then ? He
who had waited long was waitifig still; and
at last his voice had prevailed.
"I will do it; God helping me, from this
day, from this hour, I will do it," exclaimed
William Westwood, roused from the reverie
64 The Old Book-Mark.
into which he had been beguiled by the old
book-mark-" Whatsoever He saith unto me,
I will do it Lord Jesus, what wouldst Thou
have me to do ?"
From this day, spiritual life sprang up in
Westwood's soul. Through the simple means
of an old book-mark, the Holy Spirit had
brought conviction to his mind; and, assisted
by the softening influences of a long remem-
bered sorrow, had led the penitent to the
Saviour's feet. Thenceforth the motto of his
life was, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do
it:" and in practice he followed out the in-
junction of the apostle, "Whether, therefore,
ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all
to the glory of God."
LONDON: KNIGHT, PRINTER, BARTHOLOMEW CLOSE
: 'iii ;- ...C