Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Back Cover

Title: The gates ajar
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00023888/00001
 Material Information
Title: The gates ajar
Physical Description: 2, 248 p., 12 leaves of plates : ill. ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart, 1844-1911
Curtis, Jessie ( Illustrator )
Linton, W. J ( William James ), 1812-1897 ( Engraver )
Fields, Osgood & Co ( Publisher )
Welch, Bigelow & Co ( Printer )
Publisher: Fields, Osgood & Co.
Place of Publication: Boston
Manufacturer: Welch, Bigelow & Co.
Publication Date: 1870, c1868
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Grief -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Despair -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Death -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers and sisters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Aunts -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Death -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Anger -- Religious aspects -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Diaries -- 1870   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1870
Genre: Diaries   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
United States -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge
Statement of Responsibility: by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps ; with illustrations by Jessie Curtis.
General Note: Illustrations engraved by W.J. Linton.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00023888
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002235960
notis - ALH6428
oclc - 04560601
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Ij1l1 k

THE GATES AJAR.BYELIZABETH STUART PHELPS.WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY JESSIE CURTIS."Splendor! Immensity! Eternity! Grand words! Great things! A littledefinite happiness would be more to the purpose." MADAME DE GASPARIN.BOSTON:FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO.1870.M~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the years i868 and I869, byFIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO.,in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

-1I I --THE GATES AJAR.I.ONE week; only one week to-day, this twenty-first of February.I had been sitting here in the dark and thinkingabout it, till it seems so horribly long and so hor-ribly short; it has been such a week to live through,and it is such a small part of the weeks that mustbe lived through, that I could think no longer, butlighted my lamp and opened my desk to find some-thing to do.I was tossing my paper about, only my own:the packages in the yellow envelopes I have notbeen quite brave enough to open yet,-when Icame across this poor little book in which I usedto keep memoranda of the weather, and my lovers,when I was a school-girl. I turned the leaves, smil-ing to see how many blank pages were left, and tookup my pen, and now I am not smiling any more.L."MI Al.'1 ,1.. .. ,"I1, 111_ I_ __ 1......I,

BIII L I 1 111 II- -I2THE GATES AJAR.If it had not come exactly as it did, it seems tome as if I could bear it better. They tell me thatit should not have been such a shock. "Yourbrother had been in the army so long that youshould have been prepared for anything. Every-body knows by what a hair a soldier's life is alwayshanging," and a great deal more that I am afraid Ihave not listened to. I suppose it is all true; butthat never makes it any easier.The house feels like a prison. I walk up anddown and wonder that I ever called it home. Some-thing is the matter with the sunsets; they comeand go, and I do not notice them. Something ailsthe voices of the children, snowballing down thestreet; all the music has gone out of them, andthey hurt me like knives. The harmless, happychildren! and Roy loved the little children.Why, it seems to me as if the world were spin-ning around in the light and wind and laughter, andGod just stretched down His hand one morningand put it out.It was such a dear, pleasant world to be put out!It was never dearer or more pleasant than it wason that morning. I had been as happy for weeks.I came up from the Post-Office singing to myself./I-I I I 1-- i1i Il -- aM

iWIiI-- I I r II 1THE GATES AJAR.3His letter was so bright and full of mischief! I hadnot had one like it all the winter. I have laid itaway by itself, filled with- his jokes and pet names,"Mamie" or "Queen Mamie" every other line,and signed"Until next time, your happy" RO."I wonder if all brothers and sisters keep up thebaby-names as we did. I wonder if I shall everbecome used to living without them.I read the letter over a great many times, andstopped to tell Mrs. Bland the news in it, andwondered what had kept it so long on the way, andwondered if it could be true that he would have afurlough in May. It seemed too good to be true.If I had been fourteen instead of twenty-four, Ishould have jumped up and down and clapped rrnhands there in the street. The sky was so brightthat I could scarcely turn up my eyes to look atit. The sunshine was shivered into little lances allover the glaring white crust. There was a snow-bird chirping and pecking on the maple-tree as Icame in.I went up and opened my window; sat down byIrrI' Llr 1 --- II ,km

-? 4P~ls~llsL L~IL II I I I L I I.. I I -.4THE GATES AJAR.it and drew a long breath, and began to count thedays till May. I must have sat there as much ashalf an hour. I was so happy counting the daysthat I did not hear the front gate, and when Ilooked down a man stood there,-a great roughman, who shouted up that he was in a hurry, andwanted seventy-five cents for a telegram that he hadbrought over from East Homer. I believe I wentdown and paid him, sent him away, came up hereand locked the door before I read it.Phoebe found me here at dinner-time.If I could have gone to him, could have busiedmyself with packing and journeying, could havebeen forced to think and plan, could have had theshadow of a hope of one more look, one word, Isuppose I should have taken it differently. Thosetwo words-" Shot dead "-shut me up and walledme in, as I think people must feel shut up andwalled in, in Hell. I write the words most sol-emnly, for I know that there has been Hell in myheart.It is all over now. He came back, and theybrought him up the steps, and I listened to theirfeet, so many feet; he used to come boundingin. They let me see him for a minute, and thereI_

-I I I I II-ITHE GATES AJAR.5was a funeral, and Mrs. Bland came over, and sheand Phoebe attended to everything, I suppose. Idid not notice nor think till we had left him outthere in the cold and had come back. The windowsof his room were opened, and the bitter windswept in. The house was still and damp. Nobodywas there to welcome me. Nobody would everbe *Poor old Phoebe! I had forgotten her. Shewas waiting at the kitchen window in her blackbonnet; she took off my things and made me acup of tea, and kept at work near me for a littlewhile, wiping her eyes. She came in just now,when I had left my unfinished sentence to dry,sitting here with my face in my hands." Laws now, Miss Mary, my dear! This won'tnever do, a rebellin' agin Providence, and singe-in' your hair on the lamp chimney this way!The dining-room fire's goin' beautiful, and the sal-mon is toasted to a brown. Put awl them papersand come right along!",I,

-. b -6THE GATES AJAR.II.February 23.W IIHO originated that most exquisite of inqui-sitions, the condolence system ?A solid blow has in itself the elements of itsrebound; it arouses the antagonism of the life onwhich it falls; its relief is the relief of a combat.But a hundred little needles pricking at us, -what is to be done with them ? The hands hangdown, the knees are feeble. We cannot so muchas gasp, because they are little needles.I know that there are those who like these calls;but why, in the name of all sweet pity, must weendure them without respect of persons, as wewould endure a wedding reception or make aparty-call ?Perhaps I write excitedly and hardly. I feelexcited and hard.I am sure I do not mean to be ungrateful forreal sorrowful sympathy, however imperfectly itmay be shown, or that near friends (if one hasthem) cannot give, in such a time as this, actual-9ml

ML. ITHE GATES AJAR.7strength, even if they fail of comfort, by look andtone and love. But it is not near friends who areapt to wound, nor real sympathy which sharpensthe worst of the needles. It is the fact that allyour chance acquaintances feel called upon tobring their curious eyes and jarring words rightinto the silence of your first astonishment; takingyou in a round of morning calls with kid glovesand parasol, and the liberty to turn your heartabout and cut into it at pleasure. You may quiverat every touch, but there is no escape, because it is"the thing."For instance: Meta Tripp came in this after-noon, I have refused myself to everybody butMrs Bland, before, but Meta caught me in the par-lor, and there was no escape. She had come, itwas plain enough, because she musiand she hadcome early, because, she too having lost a brotherin the war, she was expected to be very sorry forme. Very likely she was, and very likely she didthe best she knew how, but she was not as un-comfortable as I, but as uncomfortable as she couldbe, and was evidently glad when it was over. Sheobserved, as she went out, that I should n't feel sosad by and by. She felt very sad at first whenP-I7I I I Im

me -Ic II L 1Is L8THE GATES AJAR.Jack died, but everybody got over that after a time.The girls were going to sew for the Fair next weekat Mr. Quirk's, and she hoped I would exert my-self and come.Ah, well: -"First learn to love one living man,Then mayst thou think upon the dead.'It is not that the child is to be blamed for notknowing enough to stay away; but her cominghere has made me wonder whether I am differentfrom other women; why Roy was so much moreto me than many brothers are to many sisters. Ithink it must be that there never was another likeRoy. Then we have lived together so long, wetwo alone, since father died, that he had grown tome, heart of my heart, and life of my life. It didnot seem as if he could be taken, and I be left.Besides, I suppose most young women of myage have their dreams, and a future probable orpossible, which makes the very incompleteness oflife sweet, because of the symmetry which is wait-ing somewhere. But that was settled so long agofor me that it makes it very different. Roy was allthere was.-I I-- _II ~r

-, q -I I I l -THE GATES AJAR.9February 26.Death and Heaven could not seem very differentto a Pagan from what they seem to me.I say this deliberately. It has been deliberatelyforced upon me. That of which I had a faint con-sciousness in the first shock takes shape now. I donot see how one with such thoughts in her heart asI have had can possibly be regenerate," or standany chance of ever becoming "one of the redeemed."And here I am, what I have been for six years, amember of an Evangelical church, in good andregular standing!The bare, blank sense of physical repulsion fromdeath, which was all the idea I had of anythingwhen they first brought him home, has not gone yet.It is horrible. It was cruel. Roy, all I had in thewide world, Roy, with the flash in his eyes, withhis smile that lighted the house all up; with hispretty, soft hair that I used to curl and kiss aboutmy finger, his bounding step, his strong arms thatfolded me in and cared for me, Roy snatchedaway in an instant by a dreadful God, and laid outthere in the wet and. snow, -in the hideous wetand snow,--never to kiss him, never to see himany more!I*C I Y I sl I II I -L I

I l I *II.b '-II q- -10THE GATES AJAR.He was a good boy. Roy was a good boy. Hemust have gone to Heaven. But I know nothingabout Heaven. It is very far off. In my best andhappiest days, I never liked to think of it. If I wereto go there, it could do me no good, for I shouldnot see Roy. Or if by chance I should see himstanding up among the grand, white angels, hewould not be the old dear Roy. I should grow sotired of singing I Should long and fret for one littletalk, for I never said good by, andI will stop this.A scrap from the German of Burger, which I cameacross to-day, shall be copied here."Be calm, my child, forget thy woe,And think of God and Heaven;Christ thy Redeemer hath to theeHimself for comfort given."0 mother, mother, what is Heaven ?O mother, what is Hell ?To be with Wilhelm, that 's my Heaven ?Without him, -that 's my Hell."February 27.Miss Meta Trip, in the ignorance of her little silly.heart, has done me a great mischief.-El

- lmTHE GATES AJAR.IIPhoebe prepared me for it, by observing, whenshe came up yesterday to dust my room, that " folkswas all sayin' that Mary Cabot" (Homer is notan aristocratic town, and Phoebe doffs and dons mytitle at her own sweet will) -" that Mary Cabotwas dreadful low sence Royal died, and had n'tought to stay shut up by herself, day in and dayout. It was behaving con-trary to the will of Provi-dence, and very bad for her health, too." Moreover,Mrs. Bland, who called this morning with her threebabies, she never is able to stir out of the housewithout those children, poor thing !- lingeredawkwardly on the door-steps as she went away,and hoped that Mary my dear would n't take itunkindly, but she did wish that I would exert my-self more to see my friends and receive comfort inmy affliction. She did n't want to interfere, orbother me, or- but people would talk, and -My good little minister's wife broke down all in ablush, at this point in her "porochial duties" (Imore than suspect that her husband had a hand inthe matter), so I took pity on her embarrassment,and said, smiling, that I would think about it.I see just how the leaven has spread. Miss Meta,a little overwhelmed and a good deal mystified by-I I Il

Cc q I -- I I= I I -t -~ ---- ~12THE GATES AJAR.her call here, pronounces " poor Mary Cabot so sad;she would n't talk about Royal; and you could n'tpersuade her to come to the Fair; and she was sosober why, it was dreadful "Therefore, Homer has made up its mind that Ishall become resigned in an arithmetical manner,and comforted according to the Rule of Three.I wish I could go away I wish I could go awayand creep into the ground and die If nobody needever speak any more words to me If anybody onlyknew what to say !Little Mrs. Bland has ever been very kind, and Ithank her with all my heart. But she does notknow. She does not understand. Her happy heartis bound up in her little live children. She neverlaid anybody away under the snow without a chanceto say good by.As for the minister, he came, of course, as it wasproper that he should, before the funeral, and onceafter. He is a very good man, but I am afraid ofhim, and I am glad that he has not come again.Night.I can only repeat and re-echo what I wrote thisnoon. If anybody knew what to say !I I II I C

- I' I-THE GATES AJAR.3Just after supper I heard the door-bell, and, look-ing out of the window, I caught a glimpse of DeaconQuirk's old drab felt hat, on the upper step. Myheart sank, but there was no help for me. I waitedfor Phoebe to bring up his name, desperately listen-ing to her heavy steps, and letting her knock threetimes before I answered. I confess to having takenmy hair down twice, washed my hands to a mostunnecessary extent, and been a long time brushingmy dress; also to forgetting my handkerchief, andhaving to go back for it after I was down stairs.Deacon Quirk looked tired of waiting. I hope hewas.0, what an ill-natured thing to say! What iscoming over me ? What would Roy think? Whatcould he?"Good evening, Mary," said the Deacon, severely,when I went in. Probably he did not mean tospeak severely, but the truth is, I think he was alittle vexed that I had kept him waiting. I saidgood evening, and apologized for my delay, and satdown as far from him as I conveniently could. Therewas an awful silence. "I came in this evening,"said the Deacon, breaking it with a cough, " I came- hem to confer with you -"-, 4 rl I I I I- -- I I

L- i --l14THE GATES AJAR.I looked up. "I thought somebody had oughtto come," continued the Deacon, " to confer withyou as a Christian brother on your spiritooal con-dition."I opened my eyes."To confer with you on your spiritooal condi-tion," repeated my visitor. "I understand that youhave had some unfortoonate exercises of mindunder your affliction, and I observed that you ab-sented yourself from the Communion Table lastSunday.""I did.""Intentionally ?""Intentionally."He seemed to expect me to say something more;and, seeing that there was no help for it, I an-swered."' I did not feel fit to go. I should not havedared to go. God does not seem to me just nowwhat He used to. He has dealt very bitterly withme. But, however wicked I may be, I will notmock Him. I think, Deacon Quirk, that I didright to stay away.""Well," said the Deacon, twirling his hat witha puzzled look, "perhaps you did. But I don't see- I IIr

III;I I~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~THE GATES AJAR.5the excuse for any such feelings as would make itnecessary. I think it my duty to tell you, Mary,that I am sorry to see you in such a rebelliousstate of mind."I made no reply."Afflictions come from God," he observed, look-ing at me as impressively as if he supposed thatI had never heard the statement before. "Afflic-tions come from God, and, however afflictin' orhowever crushin' they may be, it is our duty tosubmit to them. Glory in triboolation, St. Paulsays, glory in triboolation." I continued silent." I sympathize with you in this sad dispensa-tion," he proceeded. "Of course you was veryfond of Royal; it's natural you should be, quitenatural -" He stopped, perplexed, I suppose, bysomething in my face. " Yes, it's very natural;poor human nature sets a great deal by earthlyprops and affections. But it's your duty, as aChristian and a church-member, to be resigned."I tapped the floor with my foot. I began tothink that I could not bear much more."To be resigned, my dear young friend. Tosay 'Abba, Father,' and pray that the will of theLord be done."-ml-

1C III-I-~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-THE GATES AJAR."Deacon Quirk !" said I, "I am not resigned.I pray the dear Lord with all my heart to make meso, but I will not say that I am, until I am, -ifever that time comes. As for those words aboutthe Lord's will, I would no more take them on mylips than I would blasphemy, unless I could speakthem honestly,- and that I cannot do. We hadbetter talk of something else now, had we not ?"Deacon Quirk looked at me. It struck me thathe would look very much so at a Mormon or aHottentot, and I wondered whether he were goingto excommunicate me on the spot.As soon as he began to speak, however, I sawthat he was only bewildered, honestly bewil-dered, and honestly shocked: I do not doubt thatI had said bewildering and shocking things." My friend," he said, solemnly, " I shall pray foryou and leave you in the hands of God. Yourbrother, whom He has removed from this earthlylife for His own wise "" We will not talk any more about Roy, if youplease," I interrupted; ", e is happy and safe."" Hem I hope so," he replied, moving un-easily in his chair; "I believe he never made aprofession of religion, but there is no limit to the- | I. 1 i S 1 1 _m

as.-. ~ __ MTHE GATES AJAR. I7mercy of God. It is very unsafe for the young tothink that they can rely on a death-bed repentance,but our God is a covenant-keeping God, and Roy-al's mother was a pious woman. If you cannotsay with certainty that he is numbered among theredeemed, you are justified, perhaps, in hoping so."I turned sharply on him, but words died on mylips. How could I tell the man of that short, dearletter that came to me in December, that Roy'swas no death-bed repentance, but the quiet, naturalgrowth of a life that had always been the life ofthe pure in heart; of his manly beliefs and unself-ish motives; of that dawning sense of friendshipwith Christ of which he used to speak so modestly,dreading lest he should not be honest with himself?"Perhaps I ought not to call myself a Christian,"he wrote, I learned the words by heart,- "andI shall make no profession to be such, till I amsure of it, but my life has not seemed to me for along time to be my own. 'Bought with a price"just expresses it. I can point to no time at whichI was conscious by any revolution of feeling of'ex-periencing a change of heart,' but it seems to methat a man's heart might be changed for all that.I do not know that it is necessary for us to be ableB_ 1 -I

-El18THE GATES AJAR.to watch every footprint of God. The way is allthat concerns us, -to see that we follow it andHim. This I am sure of; and knocking about inthis army life only convinces me of what I felt in acertain way before, that it is the only way, andHe the only guide to follow."But how could I say anything of this to DeaconQuirk ?- this my sealed and sacred treasure, ofall that Roy left me the dearest. At any rate Idid not. It seemed both obstinate and cruel inhim to come there and say what he had been say-ing. He might have known that I would not saythat Roy had gone to Heaven, if- why, if therehad been the breath of a doubt. It is a possibilityof which I cannot rationally conceive, but I sup-pose that his name would never have passed mylips.So I turned away from Deacon Quirk, and shutmy mouth, and waited for him to finish. Whetherthe idea began to struggle into his mind that hemight not have been making a very comfortingremark, I cannot say; but he started very soon togo."Supposing you are right, and Royal was savedat the eleventh hour," he said at parting, with one-I.~~ll

-. ml- c" I 'THE GATES AJAR-.I9of his stolid efforts to be consolatory, that areworse than his rebukes, " if he is singing the songof Moses and the Lamb (he pointed with his big,dingy thumb at the ceiling), he does n't rebelagainst the doings of Providence. All his affec-tions are subdued to God, merged, as you mightsay, merged in worshipping before the greatWhite Throne. He does n't think this miser'bleearthly spere of any importance, compared withthat eternal and exceeding weight of glory. Inthe appropriate words of the poet,-'0, not to one created thingShall our embrace be given,But all our joy shall be in God,For only God is Heaven.'Those are very spiritooal and scripteral lines, andit's very proper to reflect how true they are."I saw him go out, and came up here and lockedmyself in, and have been walking round an; roundthe room. I must have walked a good while, for Ifeel as weak as a baby.Can the man in any state of existence be madeto comprehend that he has been holding me on therack this whole evening ?Yet he came under a strict sense of duty, and in- i s -m

-~ i rl l W20THE GATES AJAR.the kindness of all the heart he has! I know, or Iought to know, that he is a good man, far betterin the sight of God to-night, I do not doubt, than Iam.But it hurts,- it cuts, that thing which he saidas he went out ; because I suppose it must be true;because it seems to me greater than I can bear tohave it true.Roy, away in that dreadful Heaven, can have nothought of me, cannot remember how I loved him,how he left me all alone. The singing and theworshipping must take up all his time. God wantsit all. He is a "Jealous God." I am nothing anymore to Roy.March 2.And once I was much, very much to him !His Mamie, his poor Queen Mamie,- dearer,he used to say, than all the world to him, I don'tsee hoe he can like it so well up there as to forgether. Though Roy was a very good boy. But thispoor, wicked little Mamie, why, I fall to pityingher as if she were some one else, and wish that someone would cry over her a little. I can't cry.Roy used to say a thing, I have not the words,but it was like this, that one must be either veryI I, II I r --1 111 ----- -I

II _THE GATES AJAR.21young or very ungenerous, if one could find time topity one's self.I have lain for two nights, with my eyes open allnight long. I thought that perhaps I might seehim. I have been praying for a touch, a sign, onlyfor something to break the silence into which he hasgone. But there is no answer, none. The lightburns blue, and I see at last that it is morning, andgo down stairs alone, and so the day begins.Something of Mrs. Browning's has been keepinga dull, mechanical time in my brain all day."God keeps a nicheIn Heaven to hold our idols: . albeitHe brake them to our faces, and deniedThat our close kisses should impair their white."But why must He take them ? And why shouldHe keep them there ? Shall we ever see them,framed in their glorious gloom ? Will He let ustouch them then ? Or must we stand like a poorworshipper at a Cathedral, looking up at his lpcturedsaint afar off upon the other side ?Has everything stopped just here ? Our talkstogether in the twilight, our planning and hopingand dreaming together; our walks and rides andlaughing; our reading and singing and loving,-these, then, are all gone out forever ?k-.iqi

muM1i I II I II L ---22THE GATES AJAR.God forgive the words but Heaven will never beHeaven to me without them.March 4.Perhaps I had better not write any more hereafter this.On looking over the leaves, I see that the littlegreen book has become an outlet for the shallowerpart of pain.Meta Tripp and Deacon Quirk, gossip and sym-pathy that have buzzed into my trouble and annoyedme like wasps (we are apt to make more fuss overa wasp-sting than a sabre-cut), just that proportionof suffering which alone can ever be put into words,-the surface.I begin to understand what I never understoodtill now, what people mean by the luxury of grief.No, I am sure that I never understood it, becausemy pride suffered as much as any part of me in thatother tine. I would no more have spent two con-secutive hours drifting at the mercy of my thoughtsthan I would have put my hand into the furnacefire. The right to mourn makes everything differ-ent. Then, as to mother, I was very young whenshe died, and father, though I loved him, was neverto me what Roy has been.I--I II I I -1

*I l ITHE GATES AJAR.23This luxury of grief, like all luxuries, is pleasure-able. Though, as I was saying, it is only theshallow part of one's heart I imagine that thedeepest hearts have their shallows which can befilled by it, still it brings a shallow relief.Let it be confessed to this honest book, that,driven to it by desperation, I found in it a wretchedsort of content.Being a little stronger now physically, I shall tryto be a little braver; it will do no harm to try. SoI seem to see that it was the content of poison, -salt-water poured between shipwrecked lips.At any rate, I mean to put the book away andlock it up. Roy used to say that he did not be-lieve in journals. I begin to see why.-I~~~~~~~~~~~ --

mE -24THE GATES AJAR.III.March 7.I HAVE taken out my book, and am going towrite again. But there is an excellent reason.I have something else than myself to write about.This morning Phoebe persuaded me to walkdown to the office, "To keep up my spirits and getsome salt pork."She brought my things and put them on mewhile I was hesitating; tied my victorine and but-toned my gloves; warmed my boots, and fussedabout me as if I had been a baby.' It did me goodto be taken care of, and I thanked her softly; alittle more softly than I am apt to speak to Phoebe."Bless your soul, my dear!" she said, winkingbriskly, "I don't want no thanks. It's thanksenough jest to see one of your old looks comin'over you for a spell, sence -"She knocked over a chair with her broom, andleft her sentence unfinished. Phoebe has alwayshad a queer, clinging, superior sort of love for usboth. She dandled us on her knees, and made allIIII I I I I __~a

- qTHE GATES AJAR.25our rag-dolls, and carried us through measles andmumps and the rest. Then mother's early deaththrew all the care upon her. I believe that in hersecret heart she considers me more her child thanher mistress. It cost a great many battles to be-come established as " Miss Mary."" I should like to know," she would say, throw-ing back her great square shoulders and toweringup in front of me, " I should like to know if yous'pose I'm a goin' to 'Miss' anybody that I'vetrotted to Bamberry Cross as many times as I haveyou, Mary Cabot! Catch me! "I remember how she would insist on calling me"her baby " after I was in long dresses, and that itmortified me cruelly once when Meta Tripp washere to tea with some Boston cousins. Poor, goodPhcebe! Her rough love seems worth more to me,now that it is all I have left me in the world. Itoccurs to me that I may not have taken noticeenough of her lately. She has done her honestbest to comfort me, and she loved Roy, too.But about the letter. I wrapped my face upclosely in the crepe, so that, if I met Deacon Quirk,he should not recognize me, and, thinking that theair was pleasant as I walked, came home with the2E

_ Is ---- C--~--9- -- I I~~~~U.26THE GATES AJAR.pork for Phoebe and a letter for myself. I did notopen it; in fact, I forgot all about it, till I hadbeen at home for half an hour. I cannot bear toopen a letter since that morning when the lancesof light fell on the snow. They have written tome from everywhere, uncles and cousins and oldschool-friends; well-meaning people; saying eachthe same thing in the same way, -no, not thatexactly, and very likely I should feel hurt andlonely if they did not write ; but sometimes I wishit did not all have to be read.So I did not notice much about my letter thismorning, till presently it occurred to me that whatmust be done had better be done quickly; so Idrew up my chair to the desk, prepared to readand answer on the spot. Something about thewriting and the signature rather pleased me: itwas dated from Kansas, and was signed with thename of my mother's youngest sister, WinifredForceythe. I will lay the letter in between thesetwo leaves, for it seems to suit the pleasant, spring-like day; besides, I took out the green book againon account of it.LAWRENCE, KANSAS, February 21.MY DEAR CHILD, I have been thinking how- *~~~~ I I-- lr

- I III II. .THE GATES AJAR.27happy you will be by and by because Roy ishappy.And yet I know I understand-You have been in all my thoughts, and theyhave been such pitiful, tender thoughts, that I can-not help letting you know that somebody is sorryfor you. For the rest, the heart knoweth its own,and I am, after all, too much of a stranger to mysister's child to intermeddle.So my letter dies upon my pen. You cannotbear words yet. How should I dare to fret youwith them ? I can only reach you by my silence,and leave you with the Heart that bled and brokefor you and Roy.Your Aunt,WINIFRED FORCEYTHE.POSTSCRIPT, February 23.I open my letter to add, that I am thinking ofcoming to New England with Faith, -you knowFaith and I have nobody but each other now. In-deed, I may be on my way by the time this reachesyou. It is just possible that I may not come backto the West. I shall be for a time at your uncleCalvin's, and then my husband's friends think that-i. 9-

? I 'I28THE GATES AJAR.they must have me. I should like to see you for aday or two, but if you do not care to see me, sayso. If you let me come because you think youmust, I shall find it out from your face in an hour.I should like to be something to you, or do some-thing for you; but if I cannot, I would rather notcome.I like that letter.I have written to her to come, and in such a waythat I think she will understand me to mean whatI say. I have not seen her since I was a child. Iknow that she was very much younger than mymother; that she spent her young ladyhood teach-ing at the South ; grandfather had enough withwhich to support her, but I have heard it said thatshe preferred to take care of herself; that shefinally married a poor minister, whose sermonspeople liked, but whose coat was shockinglyshabby; that she left the comforts and elegancesand friends of New England to go to the Westand bury herself in an unheard-of little place withhim (I think she must have loved him); that heafterwards settled in Lawrence; that there, afterthey had been married some childless years, thisI--- I ,, I,~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EI.-THE GATES AJAR. 29little Faith was born; and that there Uncle For-ceythe died about three years ago; that is about allI know of her. I suppose her share of GrandfatherBurleigh's little property supports her respectably.I understand that she has been living a sort ofmissionary life among her husband's people sincehis death, and that they think they shall never seeher like again. It is they who keep her fromcoming home again, Uncle Calvin's wife told meonce; they and one other thing, her husband'sgrave.I hope she will come to see me. I notice onestrange thing about her letter. She does not use theugly words " death " and "dying." I don't knowexactly what she put in their places, but somethingthat had a pleasant sound." To be happy because Roy is happy." I wonderif she really thinks it is possible.I wonder what makes the words chase me about.- I I I-

mL30THE GATES AJAR.IV.May 5.I AM afraid that my brave resolutions are. allbreaking down.The stillness of the May days is creeping intoeverything; the days in which the furlough was tocome; in which the bitter Peace has come instead,and in which he would have been at home, never togo away from me any more.The lazy winds are choking me. Their faintsweetness makes me sick. The moist, rich loam isploughed in the garden; the grass, more goldenthan green, springs in the warm hollow by the frontgate; the great maple, just reaching up to tap atthe window, blazes and bows under its weight ofscarlet blossoms. I cannot bear their perfume ; itcomes up in great breaths, when the window isopened. I wish that little cricket, just waked fromhis winter's nap, would not sit there on the sill andchirp at me. I hate the bluebirds flashing in andout of the carmine cloud that the maple makes, andsinging, singing, everywhere.r I-I --~~~~~~~~Eu

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mmTHE GATES AJAR.3It is easy to understand how Bianca heard " Thenightingales sing through her head," how she couldcall them "Owl-like birds," who sang "for spite,"who sang "for hate," who sang " for doom."Most of all I hate the maple. I wish winter wereback again to fold it away in white, with its bare,black fingers only to come tapping at the window."Roy's maple " we used to call it. How much funhe had out of that old tree !As far back as I can remember, we never con,sidered spring to be officially introduced till we hadhad a fight with the red blossoms. Roy used topelt me well; but with that pretty chivalry of his,which was rare in such a little fellow, which devel-oped afterwards into that rarer treatment of women,of which every one speaks who speaks of him, hewould stop the play the instant it threatened rough-fless. I used to be glad, though, that I had strengthand courage enough to make it some fun to him.The maple is full of pictures of Roy. Roy, notyet over the dignity of his first boots, aiming for thecross-barred branch, coming to the ground with aterrible wrench on his ankle, straight up againbefore anybody could stop him, and sitting there onthe ugly swaying bough as white as a sheet, to wave-I4.-~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 I I I L1~~~~~~~__ -32THE GATES AJAR.his cap, -" There, I meant to do it, and I have !"Roy, chopping off the twigs for kindling-wood in hismud oven, and sending his hatchet right throughthe parlor window. Roy cutting leaves for me, andthen pulling all my wreaths down over my noseevery time I put them on Roy making me jumphalf-way across the room with a sudden thump onmy window, and looking out, I would see him withhis hat off and hair blown from his forehead, framedin by the scented blossoms, or the quivering green,or the flame of blood-red leaves. But there is noend to them if I begin.I had planned, if he came this week, to strip therichest branches, and fill his room.May 6.The May-day stillness, the lazy winds, the sweet-ness in the air, are all gone. A miserable north-easterly storm has set in. The garden loam is amass of mud; the golden grass is drenched; thepoor little cricket is drowned in a mud-puddle ; thebluebirds are huddled among the leaves, with theirheads under their drabbled wings, and the mapleblossoms, dull and shrunken, drip against the glass.It begins to be evident that it will never do forme to live alone. Yet who is there in the wide- .1I _9

I ITHE GATES AJAR.334world that I could bear to bring here into Roy'splace ?A little old-fashioned book, bound in green andgold, attracted my attention this morning while I,was dusting the library. It proved to be mymother's copy of " Elia," one that father hadgiven her, I saw by the fly-leaf, in their early en-gagement days. It is some time since I readCharles Lamb; indeed, since the middle of Feb-ruary I have read nothing of any sort. Phoebedries the Journal for me every night, and sometimes.I glance at the Telegraphic Summary, and some-times I don't."You used to be fond enough of books," Mrs.Bland says, looking puzzled, regular blue-stock-ing, Mr. Bland called you (no personal objection toyou, of course, my dear, but he does n't like literarywomen, which is a great comfort to me). Why don'tyou read and divert yourself now ?"But my brain, like the rest of me, seems to becrushed. I could not follow three pages of historywith attention. Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Whit-tier, Mrs. Browning, are filled with Roy's marks, -and so down the shelf. Besides, poetry strikes asnothing else does, deep into the roots of things.-2*C-II-

mLLIarra S IIII 1 IIPPIPII --P sdli l L, I34THE GATES AJAR.One finds everywhere some strain at the fibres ofone's heart. A mind must be healthily reconciledto actual life, before a poet at least most poets -can help it. We must learn to bear and to work,before we can spare strength to dream.To hymns and hymn-like poems, exception shouldbe made. Some of them are like soft hands steal-ing into ours in the dark, and holding us fast with-out a spoken word. I do not know how manytimes Whittier's " Psalm," and that old cry of Cow-per's, "God moves in a mysterious way," havequieted me, -just the sound of the words; whenI was too wild to take in their meaning, and toowicked to believe them if I had.As to novels, (by the way, Meta Tripp sent meover four yesterday afternoon, among which notice"Aurora Floyd" and "Uncle Silas,") the authorof " Rutledge" expresses my feeling about themprecisely. I do not remember her exact words,but they are not unlike these. "She had far out-lived the passion of ordinary novels; and the fewwhich struck the depths of her experience gave hermore pain than pleasure."However, I took up poor "Elia" this morning,and stumbled upon "Dream Children," to which,i-.mm- __ ~-~Jh~ -- ~a~l _~- L alllm

- P S I rTHE GATES AJAR.35for pathos and symmetry, I have read few thingssuperior in the language. Years ago, I almostknew it by heart, but it has slipped out of memorywith many other things of late. Any book, if it beone of those which Lamb calls " books which arebooks," put before us at different periods of life, willunfold to us new meanings,-wheels within wheels,delicate springs of purpose to which, at the lastreading, we were stone-blind; gems which perhapsthe author ignorantly cut and polished.A sentence in this " Dream Children," which ateighteen I passed by with a compassionate sort ofwonder, only thinking that it gave me " the blues"to read it, and that I was glad Roy was alive, Ihave seized upon and learned all over again now.I write it down to the dull music of the rain."And how when he died, though he had notbeen dead an hour, it seemed as if he had died agreat while ago, such a distance there is betwixtlife and death; and how I bore his death, as Ithought, pretty well at first, but afterwards ithaunted and haunted me; and though I did notcry or take it to heart as some do, and as I thinkhe would have done if I had died, yet I missed himall day long, and knew not till then how much I'I asrr WI31 hI

- S--- I 1. 1_36THE GATES AJAR.had loved him. I missed his kindness and I missedhis crossness, and wished him to be alive again tobe quarrelling with him (for we quarrelled some-times), rather than not have him again."How still the house is! I can hear the coachrumbling away at the half-mile corner, coming upfrom the evening train. A little arrow of light hasjust cut the gray gloom of the West.Ten o'clock.The coach to which I sat listening rumbled up tothe gate and stopped. Puzzled for the moment,and feeling as inhospitable as I knew how, I wentdown to the door. The driver was already on thesteps, with a bundle in his arms that proved tobe a rather minute child; and a lady, veiled, wasjust stepping from the carriage into the rain. Ofcourse I came to my senses at that, and, callingto Phoebe that Mrs. Forceythe had come, senther out an umbrella.She surprised me by running lightly up thesteps. I had imagined a somewhat advanced ageand a sedate amount of infirmities, to be necessaryconcomitants of aunthood. She came in all spark-ling with rain-drops, and, gently pushing aside the~~ II ~~~ IL~~~Ls~~LL IJII -JI ~ ~ ___ I I ff IIm

II Mmq,_,THE GATES AJAR.37hand with which I was trying to pay her driver,said, laughing: -"Here we are, bag and baggage, you see, 'bigtrunk, little trunk,' &c., &c. You did not expectme ? Ah, my letter missed then. It is too bad totake you by storm in this way. Come, Faith!No, don't trouble about the trunks just now. ShallI go right in here ?"Her voice had a sparkle in it, like the drops onher veil, but it was low and very sweet. I tookher in by the dining-room fire, and was turning totake off the little girl's things, when a soft handstayed me, and I saw that she had drawn off thewet veil. A face somewhat pale looked down atme,--she is taller than I, -with large, compas-sionate eyes."I am too wet to kiss you, but I must have alook," she said, smiling. "That will do. You arelike your mother, very like."I don't know what possessed me, whether it wasthe sudden, sweet feeling of kinship with some-thing alive, or whether it was her face or her voice,or all together, but I said :-"I don't think you are too wet to be kissed," andthrew my arms about her neck, I am not of theI--I ,, I IQ-

1311 ill 1 -- -38THE GATES AJARkissing kind, either, and I had on my new bom-bazine, and she was very wet.I thought she looked pleased.Phoebe was sent to open the register in the blueroom, and as soon as it was warm I went up withthem, leading Faith by the hand. I am unused tochildren, and she kept stepping on my dress, andspinning around and tipping over, in the mostastonishing manner. It strikingly reminded meof a top at the last gasp. Her mother observedthat she was tired and sleepy. Phoebe was waitingaround awkwardly up stairs, with fresh towels onher arm. Aunt Winifred turned and held out herhand."Well, Phoebe, I am glad to see you. This isPhoebe, I am sure ? You have altered with every-thing else since I was here before. You keepbright and well, I hope, and take good care of MissMary ?"It was a simple enough thing, to be sure, hertaking the trouble to notice the old servant, withwhom she had scarcely ever exchanged a half-dozen words; but I liked it. I liked the way, too,in which it was done. It reminded me of Roy'sfine, well-bred manner towards his inferiors,- al-Iw,.0IlIs II II I~~L-I--L LL I L--gU- -I_

- l l- IaTHE GATES AJAR.39ways cordial, yet always appropriate; I have heardthat our mother had much the same.I tried to make things look as pleasant as Icould down stairs, while they were making readyfor tea. The grate was raked up a little, a brightsupper-cloth laid on the table, and the curtainsdrawn. Phoebe mixed a hasty cake of some sort,and brought out the heavier pieces of silver, tea-pot, &c., which I do not use when I am alone,because it is so much trouble to take care of them,and because I like the little Wedgwood set thatRoy had for his chocolate."How pleasant!" said Aunt Winifred, as shesat down with Faith in a high chair beside her.Phoebe had a great hunt up garret for that chair;it has been stowed away there since it and I partedcompany. "How pleasant everything is here! Ibelieve in bright dining-rooms. There is an inde-scribable dinginess to most that I have seen, whichtends to anything but thankfulness. Homesick,Faith ? No; that's right. I don't think we shallbe homesick at Cousin Mary's."If she had not said that, the probabilities arethat they would have been, for I have fallen quiteout of the way of active housekeeping, and have-s E

-~~~I I I I III I40THE GATES AJAR.almost forgotten how to entertain a friend. ButI do not want her good opinion wasted, and meanthey shall have a good time if I can make it forthem.It was a little hard at first to see her oppositeme at the table; it was Roy's place.While she was sitting there in the light, with thedust and weariness of travel brushed away a little,I was able to make up my mind what this aunt ofmine looks like.She is young, then, to begin with, and I find itnecessary to reiterate the fact, in order to get itinto my stupid brain. The cape and spectacles,the little old woman's shawl and invalid's walk, forwhich I had prepared myself, persist'in hoveringbefore my bewildered eyes, ready to drop down onher at a moment's notice. Just thirty-five she isby her own showing; older than I, to be sure; butas we passed in front of the mirror together, onceto-night, I could not see half that difference be-tween us. The peace of her face and the pain ofmine contrast sharply, and give me an old, wornlook, beside her. After all, though, to one whohad seen much of life, hers would be the true ma-turity perhaps,- the maturity of repose. A lookI I

-I I -THE GATES AJAR.4Iin her eyes once or twice gave me the impressionthat she thinks me rather young, though she is fartoo wise and delicate to show it. I don't like to betreated like a girl. I mean to find out what shedoes think.My eyes have been on her face the whole even-ing, and I believe it is the sweetest face woman'sface that I have ever seen. Yet she is far frombeing a beautiful woman. It is difficult to say whatmakes the impression; scarcely any feature is ac-curate, yet the tout ensemble seems to have no fault.Her hair, which must have been bright bronzeonce, has grown gray quite gray before itstime. I really do not know of what color her eyesare; blue, perhaps, most frequently, but theychange with every word that she speaks; whenquiet, they have a curious, far-away look, and asteady, lambent light shines through them. Hermouth is well cut and delicate, yet you do not somuch notice that as its expression. It looks as ifit held a happy secret, with which, however nearone may come to her, one can never intermeddle.Yet there are lines about it and on her forehead,which are proof plain enough that she has notalways floated on summer seas. She yet wears_

-L. qC srr4THE GATES AJAR.43"I will tell you about it some time, perhaps,"she added, rising and standing by the fire. "Faithlooks like him." Her eyes assumed their distantlook, "like the eyes of those who see the dead,"and gazed away,- so far away, into the fire, thatI felt that she would not be listening to anythingthat I might say, and therefore said nothing.We spent the evening chatting cosily. Afterthe fire had died down in the grate (I had Phoebelight a pine-knot there, because I noticed thatAunt Winifred fancied the blaze in the dining-room), we drew up our chairs into the corner bythe register, and roasted away to our hearts' con-tent. A very bad habit to sit over the register, andAunt Winifred says she shall undertake to breakme of it. We talked about everything under thesun, uncles, aunts, cousins, Kansas and Connec-ticut, the surrenders and the assassination, books,pictures, music, and Faith, 0, and Phoebe andthe cat. Aunt Winifred talks well, and does notgossip nor exhaust her resources; one feels alwaysthat she has material in reserve on any subjectthat is worth talking about.For one thing I thank her with all my heart:she never spoke of Roy.0L

i- I I I0--I --42THE GATES AJAR.her widow's black, but relieves it pleasantly bywhite at the throat and wrists. Take her alto-gether, I like to look at her.Faith is a round, rolling, rollicking little pieceof mischief, with three years and a half of ex-perience in this very happy world. She has blackeyes and a pretty chin, funny little pink handsall covered with dimples, and a dimple in onecheek besides. She has tipped over two tumblersof water, scratched herself all over playing withthe cat, and set her apron on fire already since shehas been here. I stand in some awe of her; butafter I have become initiated, I think we shall bevery good friends. " Of all names in the catalogue,"I said to her mother, when she came down into theparlor after putting her to bed, " Faith seems to beabout the most inappropriate for this solid-bodied,twinkling little bairn of yours, with her pretty redcheeks, and such an appetite for supper !""Yes," she said, laughing, "there is nothingspirituelle about Faith. But she means just thatto me. I could not call her anything else. Herfather gave her the name." Her face changed, butdid not sadden; a quietness crept into it and intoher voice, but that was all.0 I ,. r I I D l b

-f I- __III _-44THE GATES AJAR.Upon reflection, I find that I have really passeda pleasant evening.She knocked at my door just now, after I hadwritten the last sentence, and had put away thebook for the night. Thinking that it was Phcebe,I called, "Come in," and did not turn. She hadcome to the bureau, where I stood unbraiding myhair, and touched my arm, before I saw who itwas. She had on a crimson dressing-gown ofwarm flannel, and her hair hung down on hershoulders. Although so gray, her hair is massiveyet, and coils finely when she is dressed."I beg your pardon," she said, "but I thoughtyou would not be in bed, and I came in to say,let me sit somewhere else at the breakfast-table,if you like. I saw that I had taken 'the vacantplace.' Good night, my dear."It was such a little thing I wonder how manypeople would have noticed it or taken the troubleto speak of it. The quick perception, the unusualdelicacy, these, too, are like Roy.I almost wish that she had stayed a little longer.I almost think that I could bear to have her speakto me about him.- a a


*' .**i~

-S -THE GATES AJAR. 45Faith, in the next room, seems to have wakenedfrom a frightened dream, and I can hear theirvoices through the wall. Her mother is soothingand singing to her in the broken words of someold lullaby with which Phoebe used- to sing Royand me to sleep, years and years ago. The un-familiar, home-like sound is pleasant in the silenthouse. Phoebe, on her way to bed, is stopping onthe garret-stairs to listen to it. Even the catcomes mewing up to the door, and purring as Ihave not heard the creature purr since the oldSunday-night singing, hushed so long ago.-I.C-'--~_ -Pq~- r~~U---~~~~

aamsI l P~L IL46THE GATES AJAR.V.May 7.I WAS awakened and nearly smothered thismorning by a pillow thrown directly at myhead.Somewhat unaccustomed, in the respectable, oldmaid's life that I lead, to such a pleasant littlemethod of salutation, I jerked myself upright, andstared. There stood Faith in her night-dress,laughing as if she would suffocate, and her mother,in search of her, was just knocking at the opendoor."She insisted on going to wake Cousin Mary,and would n't be washed till I let her; but I stipu-lated that she should kiss you softly on both youreyes.""I did," said Faith, stoutly; " I kissed her eyes,both two of 'em, and her nose, and her mouth, andher neck; then I pulled her hair, and then Ispinched her; but I thought she'd have to bebanged a little. Was n't it a bang, though! "It really did me good to begin the day with ailI I,l

a I r II 0 II I I ILI L I1LIIII,-THE GATES AJAR.47hearty laugh. The days usually look so long andblank at the beginning, that I can hardly make upmy mind to step out into them. Faith's pillow wasthe famous pebble in the pond, to which authorsof original imagination invariably resort; I felt itslittle circles widening out all through the day. Iwonder if Aunt Winifred thought of that. Shethinks of many things.For instance, afraid apparently that I shouldthink I was afflicted with one of those professionalvisitors who hold that a chance relationship justi-fies them in imposing on one from the beginningto the end of the chapter, she managed to makeme understand, this morning, that she was expect-ing to go back to Uncle Forceythe's brother onSaturday. I was surprised at myself to find thatthis proposition struck me with dismay. I insistedwith all my heart on keeping her for a week at theleast, and sent forth a fiat that her trunks shouldbe unpacked.We have had a quiet, home-like day. Faithfound her way to the orchard, and installed herselfthere for the day, overhauling the muddy grasswith her bare hands to find dandelions. She camein at dinner-time as brown as a little nut, with her-i l~p11 II

- Em I L I I PI II48THE GATES AJAR.hat hanging down her neck, her apron torn, andjust about as dirty as I should suppose it possiblefor a clean child to succeed in making herself.Her mother, however, seemed to be quite used toit, and the expedition with which she made herpresentable I regard as a stroke of genius.While Faith was disposed of, and the house still,Auntie and I took our knitting and spent a regularold woman's morning at the south window in thedining-room. In the afternoon Mrs. Bland cameover, babies and all, and sent up her card to Mrs.Forceythe.Supper-time came, and still there had not beena word of Roy. I began to wonder at, while Irespected, this unusual silence.While her mother was putting Faith to bed, Iwent into my room alone, for a few moments' quiet.An early dark had fallen, for it had clouded up justbefore sunset. The dull, gray sky and narrowhorizon shut down and crowded in everything. Asoldier from the village, who has just come home,was walking down the street with his wife and sis-ter. The crickets were chirping in the meadows.The faint breath of the maple came up.I sat down by the window, and hid my face in--L --a-Ecg~ p -- a ~r~---be -Ba~-pmu

- r IITHE GATES AJAR.49both my hands. I must have sat there some time,for I had quite forgotten that I had company toentertain, when the door softly opened and shut,and some one came and sat down on the couchbeside me. I did not speak, for I could not, and,the first I knew, a gentle arm' crept about me, andshe had gathered me into her lap and laid my headon her shoulder, as she might have gathered Faith."There," she said, in her low, lulling voice, "nowtell Auntie all about it."I don't know what it was, whether the voice, ortouch, or words, but it came so suddenly, andnobody had held me for so long, -that everythingseemed to break up and unlock in a minute, andI threw up my hands and cried. I don't know howlong I cried.She passed her hand softly to and fro across myhair, brushing it away from my temples, while theythrobbed and burned; but she did not speak. Byand by I sobbed out: -"Auntie, Auntie, Auntie !" as Faith sobs out inthe dark. It seemed to me that I must have helpor die."Yes, dear. I understand. I know how hardit is. And you have been bearing it alone so long!a_,3DI I ,IBBI

- I-50THE GATES AJAR.I am going to help you, and you must tell me allyou can."The strong, decided words, "I am going to helpyou," gave me the first faint hope I have had, thatI could be helped, and I could tell her it was notsacrilege the pent-up story of these weeks. Allthe time her hand went softly to and fro across myhair.Presently, when I was weak and faint with thenew comfort of my tears, " Aunt Winifred," I said,"I don't know what it means to be resigned; Idon't know what it means !"Still her hand passed softly to and fro across myhair."To have everything stop all at once! withoutgiving me any time to learn to bear it. Why, youdo not know, -it is just as if a great black gatehad swung to and barred out the future, and barredout him, and left me all alone in any world thatI can ever live in, forever and forever.""My child," she said, with emphasis solemn andlow upon the words, -" my child, I do know. Ithink you forget -my husband."I had forgotten. How could I ? We are mostselfishly blinded by our own griefs. No other form-a i em I- I-

- i El-THE GATES AJAR. 51than ours ever seems to walk with us in the fur-nace. Her few words made me feel, as I couldnot have felt if she had said more, that this womanwho was going to help me had suffered too; hadsuffered perhaps more than I, that, if I sat asa little child at her feet, she could teach methrough the kinship of her pain."0 my dear," she said, and held me close, " Ihave trodden every step of it before you, everysingle step.""But you never were so wicked about it! Younever felt why, I have been afraid I should hateGod! You never were so wicked as that."Low under her breath she answered "Yes," -this sweet, saintly woman who had come to me inthe dark, as an angel might.Then, turning suddenly, her voice trembled andbroke :-"Mary, Mary, do you think He could have livedthose thirty-three years, and be cruel to you now?Think that over and over; only that. It may bethe only thought you dare to have, it was all Idared to have once, -but cling to it; cling withboth hands, Mary, and keep it."I only put both hands about her neck and clung-~~~~~~ i~ U--

II~~~I I -r~ ~ I ~ ~ III II~ I I -52THE GATES AJAR.there; but I hope it seems, as if I clung a littleto the thought besides; it was as new and sweet tome as if I had never heard of it in all my life; andit has not left me yet."And then, my, dear," she said, when she hadlet me cry a little longer, "when you have oncefound out that Roy's God loves you more than Roydoes, the rest comes more easily. It will not be aslong to wait as it seems now. It is n't as if younever were going to see him again."I looked up bewildered."What's the matter, dear ?""Why, do you think I shall see him,- reallysee him ?"" Mary Cabot," she said abruptly, turning to lookat me, "who has been talking to you about thisthing ?""Deacon Quirk," I answered faintly, " DeaconQuirk and Dr. Bland."She put her other arm around me with a quickmovement, as if she would shield me from DeaconQuirk and Dr. Bland."Do I think you will see him again ? Youmight as well ask me if I thought God made youand made Roy, and gave you to each other. See-_I~~~lll---I- __~~~~a

- q I mTHE GATES AJAR. 53him! Why, of course you will see him as you sawhim here.""As I saw him here! Why, here I looked intohis eyes, I saw him smile, I touched him. Why,Aunt Winifred, Roy is an angel "She patted my hand with a little, soft, comfort-ing laugh."But he is not any the less Roy for that, notany the less your own real Roy, who will love youand wait for you and be very glad to see you, as heused to love and wait and be glad when you camehome from a journey on a cold winter night.""And he met me at the door, and led me inwhere it was light and warm !" I sobbed.",So he will meet you at the door in this otherhome, and lead you into the light and the warmth.And cannot that make the cold and dark a littleshorter? Think a minute !""But there is God, -I thought we went toHeaven to worship Him, and -"" Shall you worship more heartily or less, forhaving Roy again ? Did Mary love the Mastermore or less, after Lazarus came back ? Why, mychild, where did you get your ideas of God ? Don'tyou suppose He knows how you love Roy ?"I_ I I.

-I 'U54THE GATES AJAR.I drank in the blessed words without doubt orargument. I was too thirsty to doubt or argue.Some other time I may ask her how she knows thisbeautiful thing, but not now. All I can do now isto take it into my heart and hold it there.Roy my own again,-not only to look at standingup among the singers, but close to me; somehowor other to be as near as to be nearer than hewas here, really mine again! I shall never let thisgo.After we had talked awhile, and when it cametime to say good night, I told her a little about myconversation with Deacon Quirk, and what I saidto him about the Lord's will. I did not know butthat she would blame me."Some time," she said, turning her great com-passionate eyes on me, I could feel them in thedark, and smiling, " you will find out all at once,in a happy moment, that you can say those wordswith all your heart, and with all your soul, and withall your strength; it will come, even in this world,if you will only let it. But until it does, you doright, quite right, not to scorch your altar with afalse burnt-offering. God is not a God to bemocked. He would rather have only the old cry:I ,_

,Ilu~- I -THE GATES AJAR.55'I believe; help mine unbelief,' and wait till you cansay the rest. It has often grated on my ears," sheadded, " to hear people speak those words unworthi-ly. They seem to me the most solemn words thatthe Bible contains, or that Christian experience canutter. As far as my observation goes, the goodpeople for they are good people who use themwhen they ought to know better are of two sorts.They are people in actual agony, bewildered, rackedwith rebellious doubts, unaccustomed to own even tothemselves the secret seethings of sin; really per-suaded that because it is a Christian duty to haveno will but the Lord's, they are under obligations toaffirm that they have no will but the Lord's. Orelse they are people who know no more about thispain of bereavement than a child. An afflictionhas passed over them, put them into mourning,made them feel uncomfortable till the funeral wasover, or even caused them a shallow sort of grief, ofwhich each week evaporates a little, till it is gone.These mourners air their trouble the longest, prateloudest about resignation, and have the most tosay to you or me about our 'rebellious state ofmind.' Poor things! One can hardly be vexed atthem for pity. Think of being made so !"-~~~ a

-. em I56THE GATES AJAR."There is still another class of the cheerfullyresigned," I suggested, " who are even more readythan these to tell you of your desperate wicked-ness""People who have never had even the semblanceof a trouble in all their lives," she interrupted."Yes, I was going to speak of them. Of all mis-erable comforters, they are the most arrogant.""As to real instant submission," she said pres-ently, " there is some of it in the world. There aresweet, rare lives capable of great loves and greatpains, which yet are kept so attuned to the life ofChrist, that the cry in the Garden comes scarcelyless honestly from their lips than from his. Such,like the St. John, are but one among the Twelve.Such, it will do you and me good, dear, at leastto remember.""Such," I thought when I was left alone, "younew dear friend of mine, who have come with sucha blessed coming into my lonely days, -such youmust be now, whatever you were once."If I should tell her that, how she would openher soft eyes!-, Eum

-* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~IITHE GATES AJAR. 57VI.May 9.A S I was looking over the green book lastnight, Aunt Winifred came up behind meand softly laid a bunch of violets down betweenthe leaves.By an odd contrast, the contented, passionlessthings fell against those two verses that werecopied from the German, and completely coveredthem from sight. I lifted the flowers, and held upthe page for her to see.As she read, her face altered strangely; her eyesdilated, her lip quivered, a flush shot over hercheeks and dyed her forehead up to the waves ofher hair. I turned away quickly, feeling that Ihad committed a rudeness in watching her, anddetecting in her, however involuntarily, some far,inner sympathy, or shadow of a long-past sym-pathy, with the desperate words." Mary," she said, laying down the book, "I be-lieve Satan wrote that."3*-6 I Ii m

-I lTHE GATES AJAR.59she undertook it. I said something of the sort toher."They have been the hardest and the easiest,the saddest and the happiest, years of all my life,"she answered.I pondered the words in my heart, while I lis-tened to her story. She gave me vivid picturesof the long, bright bridal journey, overshadowedwith a very mundane weariness of jolting coachesand railway accidents before its close; of the littleneglected hamlet which waited for them, twentymiles from a post-office and thirty from a school-house<; of the parsonage, a log-hut among log-huts, distinguished and adorned by a little lath andplastering, glass windows, and a door-step ;- theydrew in sight of it at the close of a tired day, witha red sunset lying low on the flats.Uncle Forceythe wanted mission-work, and mis-sion-work he found here with I should say witha vengeance, if the expression were exactly suitedto an elegantly constructed and reflective journal." My heart sank for a moment, I confess," shesaid, "but it never would do, you know, to let himsuspect that, so I smiled away as well as I knewhow, shook hands with one or two women in red-- I-

~~~~ r I~~~~~~~~~Mh58THE GATES AJAR.She laughed a little then, nervously, and paledback into her quiet, peaceful self."I mean that he inspired it. They are wickedwords. You must not read them over. You willoutgrow them some time with a beautiful growthof trust and -love. Let them alone till that timecomes. See, I will blot them out of sight for youwith colors as blue as heaven, the real heaven,where God will be loved the most."She shook apart the thick, sweet nosegay, and,taking a half-dozen of the little blossoms, pinnedthem, dripping with fragrant dew, upon the lines.There I shall let them stay, and, sice she wishesit, I shall not lift them to see the reckess wordstill I can do it safely.This afternoon Aunt Winifred has been tellingme about herself. Somewhat more, or of a differ-ent kind, I should imagine, from what she has toldmost people. She seems to love me a little, not ina proper kind of way, because I happen to be herniece, but for my own sake. It surprises me tofind how pleased I am that she should.That Kansas life must have been very hard toher, in contrast as it was with the smooth eleganceof her girlhood; she was very young, too, when_ Ir r ,p

-ITHE GATES AJAR.interested me more than any story that I have everread.After years of Christ-like toiling to help thoserough old farmers and wicked bushwhackers toHeaven, the call to Lawrence came, and it seemedto Uncle Forceythe that he had better go. It wasa pleasant, influential parish, and there, though notless hard at work, they found fewer rubs and morecomforts; there Faith came, and there were theirpleasant days, till the war. I held my breath tohear her tell about Quantrell's raid. There, too,Uncle wasted through that death-in-life, consump-tion; there he "fell on sleep," she said, and thereshe buried him.She gave me no further description of his deaththan those words, and she spoke them with her far-away, tearless eyes looking off through the window,and after she had spoken she was still for a time.The heart knoweth its own bitterness; that grewdistinct to me, as I sat, shut out by her silence.Yet there was nothing bitter about her face."Faith was six months old when we went," shesaid presently. "We had never named her: Babywas name enough at first for such a wee thing;then she was the only one, and had come so late,-U-0

-l4. I 1 II60THE GATES AJAR.calico who had been "slickin' up inside," they said;went in by the fire, it was really a pleasant fire,- and, as soon as they had left us alone, I climbedinto John's lap, and, with both arms around hisneck, told him that I knew we should be veryhappy. And I said-"" Said what? "She blushed a little, like a girl." I believe I said I should be happy in Patago-nia- with him. I made him laugh at last, andsay that my face and words were like a beautifulprophecy. And, Mary, if they were, it was beauti-fully fulfilled. In the roughest times, times ofragged clothes and empty flour-barrels, of weak-ness and sickness and quack doctors, of cold anddiscouragement, of prairie fires and guerillas,-from trouble to trouble, from year's end to year'send, we were happy together, we two. As long aswe could have each other, and as long as we couldbe about our Master's business, we felt as if we didnot dare to ask for anything more, lest it shouldseem that we were ungrateful for such wealth ofmercy."It would take too long to write out here thehalf that she told me, though I wish I could, for iti I

- i 4-I62THE GATES AJAR.that it seemed to mean more to us than to most tohave a baby all to ourselves, and we liked the soundof the word. When it became quite certain thatJohn must go, we used to talk it over, and he saidthat he would like to name her, but what, he didnot tell me."At last, one night, after he had lain for a whilethinking with closed eyes, he bade me bring thechild to him. The sun was setting, I remember,and the moon was rising. He had had a hard day;the life was all scorched out of the air. I movedthe bed up by the window, that he might have thebreath of the rising wind. Baby was wide awake,cooing softly to herself in the cradle, her bits ofdamp curls clinging to her head, and her pink feetin her hands. I took her up and brought her justas she was, and knelt down by the bed. The streetwas still. We could hear the frogs chanting a mileaway. He lifted her little hands upon his own, andsaid- no matter about the words but he told methat as he left the child, so he left the name, inmy sacred charge. that he had chosen it for me,-that, when he was out of sight, it might helpme to have it often on my lips."So there in the sunset and the moonrise, we.1

'o 0 :


I -THE GATES AJAR.63two alone together, he baptized her, and we gaveour little girl to God."When she had said this, she rose and went overto the window, and stood with her face from me.By and by, " It was the fourteenth," she said, as ifmusing to herself,-" the fourteenth of June."I remember now that Uncle Forceythe died onthe fourteenth of June. It may have been that thewords of that baptismal blessing were the last thatthey heard, either child or mother.May Io.It has been a pleasant day; the air shines liketransparent gold ; the wind sweeps like somebody'sstrong arms over the flowers, and gathers up acrowd of perfumes that wander up and down aboutone. The church-bells have rung out like silver allday. Those bells- especially the Second Adventat the farther end of the village- are positivelyghastly when it rains.Aunt Winifred was dressed bright and early forchurch. I, in morning dress and slippers, sighedand demurred."Auntie, do you expect to hear anything new ?"" Judging from your diagnosis of Dr. Bland,-no."-i .~~~~~~~~~ -~

-1 6- C~ -19.-64THE GATES AJAR."To be edified, refreshed, strengthened, or in-structed ?""Perhaps not.""Bored, then ?""Not exactly.""What do you expect ?""There are the prayers and singing. Generallyone can, if one tries, wring a little devotion fromthe worst of them. As to a minister, if he is goodand commonplace, young and earnest and ignorant,and I, whom he cannot help one step on the wayto Heaven, consequently stay at home, DeaconQuirk, whom he might carry a mile or two, by andby stays at home also. If there is to be a 'buildingfitly joined together,' each stone must do its partof the upholding. I feel better to go half a day al-ways. I never compel Faith to go, but I never havea chance, for she teases not to be left at home."" I think it 's splendid to go to church most thetime," put in Faith, who was squatted on the carpet,counting sugared caraway seeds, -"all but thesermon. That is n't splendid. I don't like thegre-at big prayers 'n' things. I like caramary seeds,though ; mother always gives 'em to me in meeting'cause I 'm a good girl. Don't you wish you were-' 4-.Ar_,.

- U.I __aTHE GATES AJAR.65a good girl, Cousin Mary, so 's you could havesome ? Besides, I 've got on my best hat and mybutton-boots. Besides, there used to be a realfunny little boy up in meeting at home, and hegave me a little tin dorg once over the top the pew.Only mother made me give it back. 0, you oughtto seen the man that preached down at Uncle Cal-vin's I tell you he was a bully old minister, hebanged the Bible like everything ""There's a devotional spirit for you !" I said toher mother."Well," she answered, laughing, "it is betterthan that she should be left to play dolls and eatpreserves, and be punished for disobedience. Sun-day would invariably become a guilty sort ofholiday at that rate. Now, caraways or 'bully oldministers' notwithstanding, she carries to bed withher a dim notion that this has been holy timeand pleasant time. Besides, the associations of achurch-going childhood, if I can manage themgenially, will be a help to her when she is older.Come, Faith! go and pull off Cousin Mary's slip-pers, and bring down her boots, and then she'llhave to go to church. No, I didn't say that youmight tickle her feet!"E_-II~~~~~~~~~~

-. i ~L I- III -I I I __66THE GATES AJAR.Feeling the least bit sorry that I had set theexample of a stay-at-home Christian before thechild, I went directly up stairs to make ready,and we started after all in good season.Dr. Bland was in the pulpit. I observed thathe looked as indeed did the congregation bodily-with some curiosity into our slip, where it hasbeen a rare occurrence of late to find me, andwhere the light, falling through the little stainedglass oriel, touched Aunt Winifred's thoughtfulsmile. I wonder whether Dr. Bland thought itwas wicked for people to smile in church. No,of course he has too much sense. I wonderwhat it is about Dr. Bland that always suggestssuch questions.It has been very warm all day,- that aggra-vating, unseasonable heat, which is apt to comein spasms in the early part of May, and which,in thick spring alpaca and heavy sack, one findsintolerable. The thermometer stood at 75 onthe church-porch; every window was shut, andeverybody's fan was fluttering. Now, with thissight before him, what should our observant min-ister do, but give out as his first hymn: "Thineearthly Sabbaths." "Thine earthly Sabbaths"I I I I I 1131i11 I um

I ITHE GATES AJAR.67would be a beautiful hymn, if it were not forthose lines about the weather:-"No midnight shade, no clouded sun,But sacred, high, eternal noon " !There was a. great hot sunbeam striking directlyon my black bonnet. My fan was broken. Igasped for air. The choir went over and over andover the words, spinning them into one of thoseindescribable tunes, in which everybody seems tobe trying to get through first. I don't know whatthey called them, they always remind me of agame of "Tag."I looked at Aunt Winifred. She took it morecoolly than I, but an amused little smile playedover her face. She told me, after church, thatshe had repeatedly heard that hymn given outat noon of an intense July day. Her husband,she said, used to save it for the winter, or forcloudy afternoons. "Using means of grace," hecalled that.However, Dr. Bland did better the second time,Aunt Winifred joined in the singing, and I en-joyed it, so I will not blame the poor man. Isuppose he was so far lifted above this earth,-zI,-

UI E68THE GATES AJAR.that he would not have known whether he waspreaching in Greenland's icy mountains, or onIndia's coral strand.When he announced his text, "For our con-versation is in Heaven," Aunt Winifred and Iexchanged glances of content. We had beentalking about heaven on the way to church; atleast, till Faith, not finding herself entertained,interrupted us by some severe speculations as towhether Maltese kitties were mulattoes, and "whythe bell-ringer did n't jump off the steeple somenight, and see if he could n't fly right up, theway Elijah did."I listened to Dr. Bland as I have not listenedfor a long time. The subject was of all subjectsnearest my heart. He is a scholarly man, in hisway. He ought to know, I thought, more aboutit than Aunt Winifred. Perhaps he could help me.His sermon, as nearly as I can recall it, wassubstantially this."The future life presented a vast theme to ourspeculation. Theories 'too numerous to mention'had been held concerning it. Pagans had be-lieved in a coming state of rewards and punish-ments. What natural theology had dimly fore-- a

-I -ITHE GATES AJAR.69shadowed, Revelation had brought in, like a full-orbed day, with healing on its wings." I amnot positive about the metaphors."As it was fitting that we should at times turnour thoughts upon the threatenings of Scripture, itwas eminently suitable also that we should considerits promises." He proposed in this discourse to consider thepromise of Heaven, the reward offered by Christ tohis good and faithful servants." In the first place: What is heaven ?"I am not quite clear in my mind what it was,though I tried my best to find out. As nearly as Ican recollect, however,-" Heaven is an eternal state." Heaven is a state of holiness." Heaven is a state of happiness."Having heard these observations before, I willnot enlarge as he did upon them, but leave thatfor the "vivid imagination" of the green book."In the second place: What will be the employ-ments of heaven ?" We shall study the character of God." An infinite mind must of necessity be eternallyan object of study to a finite mind. The finite-4 II

m3iIr r I _70THE GATES AJAR.mind must of necessity find in such study supremedelight. All lesser joys and interests will pale.He felt at moments, in reflecting on this theme,that that good brother who, on being asked if heexpected to see the dead wife of his youth in heaven,replied, 'I expect to be so overwhelmed by theglory of the presence of God, that it may be thou-sands of years before I shall think of my wife,' -he felt that perhaps this brother was near thetruth."Poor Mrs. Bland looked exceedingly uncomfort-able."We shall also glorify God."He enlarged upon this division, but I have for-gotten exactly how. There was something aboutadoration, and the harpers harping with theirharps, and the sea of glass, and crying, Worthythe Lamb! and a great deal more that bewilderedand disheartened me so that I could scarcely listento it. I do not doubt that we shall glorify Godprimarily and happily, but can we not do it insome other way than by harping and praying?"We shall moreover love each other with auniversal and unselfish love.""That we shall recognize our friends in heaven,--lM

1 -THE GATES AJAR.71he was inclined to think, after mature deliberation,was probable. But there would be no specialselfish affections there. In this world we haveenmities and favoritisms. In the world of bliss ourhearts would glow with holy love alike to all otherholy hearts."I wonder if he really thought that would make"a world of bliss." Aunt Winifred slipped her handinto mine under her cloak. Ah, Dr. Bland, if youhad known how that little soft touch was preachingagainst you!" In the words of an eminent divine, who haslong since entered into the joys of which hespoke: 'Thus, whenever the mind roves throughthe immense region of heaven, it will find, amongall its innumerable millions, not an enemy, not astranger, not an indifferent heart, not a reservedbosom. Disguise here, and even concealment, willbe unknown. The soul will have no interests toconceal, no thoughts to disguise. A window will beopened in every breast, and show to every eye therich and beautiful furniture within !'" Thirdly: How shall we fit for heaven ?"He mentioned several ways, among which,-"We should subdue our earthly affections to God.mI -i

m--72THE GATES AJAR."We must not love the creature as the Creator.My son, give me thy heart. When he removes ourfriends from the scenes of time (with a glance inmy direction), we should resign ourselves to his will,remembering that the Lord gave and the Lord hathtaken away in mercy; that He is all in all; thatHe will never leave us nor forsake us; that He cannever change or die."As if that made any difference with the fact, thathis best treasures change or die!"In conclusion,-"We infer from our text that our hearts shouldnot be set upon earthly happiness. (Enlarged.)"That the subject of heaven should be often inour thoughts and on our lips." (Enlarged.)Of course I have not done justice to the fillingup of the sermon; to the illustrations, metaphors,proof-texts, learning, and eloquence, for thoughDr. Bland cannot seem to think outside of the oldgrooves, a little eloquence really flashes through thetameness of his style sometimes, and when he wastalking about the harpers, etc., some of his wordswere well chosen. "To be drowned in light," Ihave somewhere read, " may be very beautiful; it isstill to be drowned." But I have given the skeletonII II ~~~~--I~~~ I "

mMII-THE GATES AJAR.73of the discourse, and I have given the sum of theimpressions that it left on me, an attentive hearer.It is fortunate that I did not hear it while I wasalone; it would have made me desperate. Goinghungry, hopeless, blinded, I came back empty, un-comforted, groping. I wanted something actual,something pleasant, about this place into whichRoy has gone. He gave me glittering generalities,cold commonplace, vagueness, unreality, a God anda future at which I sat and shivered.Dr. Bland is a good man. He had, I know,written that sermon with prayer. I only wishthat he could be made to see how it glides overand sails splendidly away from wants like mine.But thanks be to God who has provided avoice to answer me out of the deeps.Auntie and I walked home without any re-marks (we overheard Deacon Quirk observe to aneighbor: "That's what I call a good gospelsermon, now!"), sent Faith away to Phoebe, satdown in the parlor, and looked at each other."Well? " said I."I know it," said she.Upon which we both began to laugh."But did he say the dreadful truth ?"M4!U.-

-I, !. .74THE 'GATES AJAR." Not as I find it in my Bible.""That it is probable, only probable that weshall recognize -"" My child, do not be troubled about that. Itis not probable, it is sure. If I could find noproof for it, I should none the less believe it, aslong as I believe in God. He gave you Roy,and the capacity to love him. He has taughtyou to sanctify that love through love to Him.Would it be like Him to create such beautifuland unselfish loves, most like the love of heavenof any type we know,-just for our threescoreyears and ten of earth ? Would it be like Himto suffer two souls to grow together here, so thatthe separation of a day is pain, and then wrenchthem apart for all eternity? It would be whatMadame de Gasparin calls, 'fearful irony on thepart of God.'""But there are lost loves. There are lostsouls.""How often would I have gathered you, andye would not! That is not his work. He wouldhave saved both soul and love. They had theirown way. We were speaking of His redeemed.The object of having this world at all, you- i 4I- ii_ I i

I i 0I I ETHE GATES AJAR.75know, is to fit us for another. Of what use willit have been, if on passing out of it we mustthrow by forever its gifts, its lessons, its mem-ories? God links things together better thanthat. Be sure, as you are sure of Him, that weshall be ourselves in heaven. Would you beyourself not to recognize Roy ?-consequentlynot to love Roy, for to love and to be separatedis misery, and heaven is joy.""I understand. But you said you had otherproof."" So I have; plenty of it. If 'many shall comefrom the East and from the West, and shall sitdown in the kingdom of God with Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob,' will they not be likely to knowthat they are with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ?or will they think it is Shadrach, Meshach, andAbednego ?"What is meant by such expressions as 'risentogether,' 'sitting together at the right hand ofGod,' 'sitting together in heavenly places'? Ifthey mean anything, they mean recognitions,friendships, enjoyments."Did not Peter and the others know Moseswhen they saw him ?- know Elias when theyE 4

E76THE GATES AJAR.saw him ? Yet these men were dead hundredsof years before the favored fishermen were born."How was it with those 'saints which sleptand arose' when Christ hung dead there in thedark? Were they not seen of many ?""But that was a miracle.""They were risen dead, such as you and Ishall be some day. The miracle consisted intheir rising then and there. Moreover, did notthe beggar recognize Abraham ? and Well, onemight go through the Bible finding it full of thispromise in hints or assertions, in parables or vis-ions. We are 'heirs of God,' 'joint heirs withChrist' ; having suffered with Him, we shall be'glorified together.' Christ himself has said manysure things: 'I will come and receive you, thatwhere I am, there ye may be.' 'I will that theybe with me where I am.' Using, too, the verytype of Godhead to signify the eternal nearnessand eternal love of just such as you and Roy, asJohn and me, he prays: 'Holy Father, keepthem whom Thou hast given me, that they maybe one as we are.'"There is one place, though, where I findwhat I like better than all the rest; you remem--. a a-I I I I I

II IlTHE GATES AJAR.77ber that old cry wrung from the lips of thestricken king, -'I shall go to him; but he willnot return to me."'"I never thought before how simple and directit is, and that,-too, in those old blinded days.""The more I study the Bible," she said, " andI study not entirely in ignorance of the com-mentators and the mysteries, the more perplexedI am to imagine where the current ideas of ourfuture come from. They certainly are not inthis book of gracious promises. That heavenwhich we heard about to-day was Dr. Bland's,not God's. 'It's aye a wonderfu' thing to me,'as poor Lauderdale said, 'the way some preach-ers take it upon themselves to explain matters tothe Almighty!'""But the harps and choirs, the throne, thewhite robes, are all in Revelation. Deacon Quirkwould put his great brown finger on the verses,and hold you there triumphantly.""Can't people tell picture from substance, ametaphor from its meaning? That book of Rev-elation is precisely what it professes to be,-a vision, a symbol. A symbol of something, tobe sure, and rich with pleasant hopes, but still a- i 9

* I78THE GATES AJAR.symbol. Now, I really believe that a large pro-portion of Christian church-members, who havestudied their Bible, attended Sabbath schools, lis-tened to sermons all their lives, if you couldfairly come at their most definite idea of theplace where they expect to spend eternity, wouldown it to be the golden city, with pearl gates,and jewels in the wall. It never occurs to them,that, if one picture is literal, another must be.If we are to walk golden streets, how can westand on a sea of glass? How can we 'sit onthrones' ? How can untold millions of us 'lie inAbraham's bosom'?"But why have given us empty symbols ? Whynot a little fact ? ""They are not empty symbols. And why Goddid not give us actual descriptions of actualheavenly life, I don't trouble myself to wonder.He certainly had his reasons, and that is enoughfor me. I find from these symbols, and from hisvoice in my own heart, many beautiful things,-I will tell you some more of them at anothertime,-and, for the rest, I am content to wait.He loves me, and he loves mine. As long as welove Him, He will never separate Himself from-

- I III I I ITHE GATES AJAR.79us, or us from each other. That, at least, issure.""If that is sure, the rest is of less importance;-yes. But Dr. Bland said an awful thing!""The quotation from a dead divine?""Yes. That there will be no separate inter-ests, no thoughts to conceal.""Poor good man! He has found out by thistime that he should not have laid down non-sense like that, without qualification or demur,before a Bible-reading hearer. It was simply hisopinion, not David's, or Paul's, or John's, orIsaiah's. He had a perfect right to put it in theform of a conjecture. Nobody would forbid hisconjecturing that the inhabitants of heaven areall deaf and dumb, or wear green glasses, or shavetheir heads, if he chose, provided he stated thatit was conjecture, not revelation."" But where does the Bible say that we shallhave power to conceal our thoughts ?- and Iwould rather be annihilated than to spend eter-nity with heart laid bare, the inner templethrown open to be trampled on by every passingstranger!"" The Bible specifies very little about the minor- S &

I -I8oTHE GATES AJARarrangements of eternity in any way. But I doubtif, under any circumstances, it would have occurredto inspired men to inform us that our thoughtsshall continue to be our own. The fact is patenton the face of things. The dead minister's sup-position would destroy individuality at one fellswoop. We should be like a man walking downa room lined with mirrors, who sees himself re-flected in all sizes, colors, shades, at all anglesand in all proportions, according to the capacityof the mirror, till he seems no longer to belongto himself, but to be cut up into ellipses andoctagons and prisms. How soon would he growfrantic in such companionship, and beg for acorner where he might hide and hush himself inthe dark?"That we shall in a higher life be able to dowhat we cannot in this,-judge fairly of eachother's moral worth, is undoubtedly true. What-ever the Judgment Day may mean, that is thesubstance of it. But this promiscuous theory ofrefraction ; never !"Besides, wherever the Bible touches the sub-ject, it premises our individuality as a matterof course. What would be the use of talking,E I ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ p

-I 1-THE GATES AJAR.if everybody knew the thoughts of everybodyelse?""You don't suppose that people talk in heaven ?""I don't suppose anything else. Are we to spendages of joy, a company of mutes together ? Whynot talk?""I supposed we should sing,--but--""Why not talk as well as sing ? Does not songinvolve the faculty of speech ? unless you wouldlike to make canaries of us.""Ye-es. Why, yes.""There are the visitors at the beautiful Mount ofTransfiguration again. Did not they talk with eachother and with Christ ? Did not John talk withthe angel who 'shewed him those things' ?""And you mean to say -""I mean to say that if there is such a thing ascommon sense, you will talk with Roy as you talkedwith him here, only not as you talked with himhere, because there will be no troubles nor sins, noanxieties nor cares, to talk about; no ugly shadesof cross words or little quarrels to be made up;no fearful looking-for of separation."I laid my head upon her shoulder, and couldhardly speak for the comfort that she gave me.4*FI_ 11 I I I P.

* L..m II82THE GATES AJAR." Yes, I believe we shall talk and laugh and jokeand play ""Laugh and joke in heaven!""Why not ?""But it seems so so why, so wicked andirreverent and all that, you know."Just then Faith, who, mounted out on the kitchentable, was preaching at Phoebe in comical mimicryof Dr. Bland's choicest intonations, laughed out likethe splash, of a little wave.The sound came in at the open door, and westopped to listen till it had rippled away."There !" said her mother, "put that child, thisvery minute, with all her little sins forgiven, intoone of our dear Lord's many mansions, and do yousuppose that she would be any the less holy or lessreverent for a laugh like that ? Is he going to checkall the sparkle and blossom of life when he takes usto himself? I don't believe any such thing."There were both sense and Christianity inwhat somebody wrote on the death of a humor-ous poet:-'Does nobody laugh there, where he has gone, -This man of the smile and the jest ?'-provided there was any hope that the poor- -4

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-II LI II~DIP41 LI-SIDIIP PI-THE GATES AJAR.83fellow had gone to heaven; if not, it was badphilosophy and worse religion." Did not David dance before the Lord with allhis might? A Bible which is full of happy battle-cries: 'Rejoice in the Lord make a joyful noiseunto him! Give thanks unto the Lord, for hismercy endureth!' a Bible which exhausts itssplendid wealth of rhetoric to make us understandthat the coming life is a life of joy, no morethreatens to make nuns than mutes of us. I ex-pect that you will hear some of Roy's very oldjokes, see the sparkle in his eye, listen to hislaughing voice, lighten up the happy days as glee-fully as you may choose; and that- "Faith appeared upon the scene just then, withthe interesting information that she had bitten hertongue; so we talked no more.How pleasant, how pleasant this is! I neversupposed before that God would let any one laughin heaven.I wonder if Roy has seen the President. AuntWinifred says she does not doubt it. She thinksthat all the soldiers must have crowded up tomeet him, and "0," she says, " what a sight tosee !"-S ~ r Ie Ii

IC1 IlabCI I --- --C Cxg e IIPYI R LJI CtgL184THE GATES AJAR.VII.May 12.AUNT WINIFRED has said something aboutgoing, but I cannot yet bear to hear ofsuch a thing. She is to stay awhile longer.i6th.We have been over to-night to the grave.She proposed to go by herself, thinking, I saw,with the delicacy with which she always thinks,that I would rather not be there with another.Nor should I, nor could I, with any other thanthis woman. It is strange. I wished to go therewith her. I had a vague, unreasoning feeling thatshe would take away some of the bitterness ofit, as she has taken the bitterness of much else.It is looking very pleasant there now. Theturf has grown fine and smooth. The low arbor-'vitae hedge and knots of Norway spruce, that fatherplanted long ago for mother, drop cool, greenshadows that stir with the wind. My English ivyhas crept about and about the cross. Roy used tosay that he should fancy a cross to mark the spotYI-11 4 n" ce 1W

a"3I Ilrwu I1I Lllllllllllls lL_--rL- L1 I IL --"LI Z. qe Lls g -RiTHE GATES AJAR.85where he might lie; I think he would like thispure, unveined marble. May-flowers cover thegrave now, and steal out among the clover-leaveswith a flush like sunrise. By and by there willbe roses, and in August, August's own whitelilies.We went silently over, and sat silently down onthe grass, the field-path stretching away to thelittle church behind us, and beyond, in front, theslope, the flats, the river, the hills cut in purpledistance melting far into the east. The air wasthick with perfume. Golden bees hung giddilyover the blush in the grass. In the low branchesthat swept the grave a little bird had built hernest.Aunt Winifred did not speak to me for a time,nor watch my face. Presently she laid her handupon my lap, and I put mine into it."It is very pleasant here," she said then, in hervery pleasant voice."I meant that it should be," I answered, tryingnot to let her see my lips quiver. "At least itmust not look neglected. I don't suppose it makesany difference to him.""I do not feel sure of that."-ImI!no

-l86THE GATES AJAR."What do you mean ?""I do not feel sure that anything he has leftmakes no 'difference' to him."" But I don't understand. He is in heaven. Hewould be too happy to care for anything that isgoing on in this woful world."" Perhaps that is so," she said, smiling a sweetcontradiction to her words, "but I don't believe it.""What do you believe ?""Many things that I have to say to you, but youcannot bear them now."" I have sometimes wondered, for I cannot helpit," I said, "whether he is shut off from all knowl-edge of me for all these years till I can go to him.It will be a great while. It seems hard. Roywould want to know something, if it were only alittle, about me."" I believe that he wants to know, and that heknows, Mary; though, since the belief must reston analogy and conjecture, you need not accept itas demonstrated mathematics," she answered, withanother smile." Roy never forgot me here! " I said, not mean-ing to sob."That is just it. He was not constituted soI lI ~ -1I)

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