Citation
Proved in peril, or, The shield of faith

Material Information

Title:
Proved in peril, or, The shield of faith
Portion of title:
Shield of faith
Creator:
A. L. O. E., 1821-1893
Cooper, Alfred W ( Illustrator )
Gall & Inglis ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
Edinburgh ;
London
Publisher:
Gall & Inglis
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
60 p., [3] leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 17 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Faith -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Crusades -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Knights and knighthood -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Sailors -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Survival after airplane accidents, shipwrecks, etc -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Rescues -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1879 ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1879
Genre:
Prize books (Provenance) ( rbprov )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Date from prize inscription.
General Note:
Illustrated by AWC (Alfred W. Cooper)
Funding:
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
Statement of Responsibility:
by A.L.O.E.

Record Information

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:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026996436 ( ALEPH )
ALH9399 ( NOTIS )
57510149 ( OCLC )

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Full Text
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St. Peter’s Bons’ School, Coventry.





AWARDED TO

BEAM mae cat Ca Anna 5; Standard x42 @,,
for attending.at. AaZ..times during the School
year, and for excellence at the Examination
by H.M. Inspector, April 1st and 2nd, 1879,
which comprised the following subjects :—















Reading,
Writing,
Spelling,
Arithmetic.

(Signed )

The following is the Inspector’s Report on
the state of the School—344 Boys examined :

“This is a REALLY GOOD School ; the Pupils at-
tending it are fortunate to be under a Master so
THOROUGHLY qualified IN EVERY WAY to have the
charge of them.”

. J.D. B. FABER, Esq,, H. M. Inspector,









The Baldwin Library

University
RMB we
Florida











































































mre

“‘ Where the battle was hottest, there would the sunshine flash
on his glittering shield, and its red cross might ever be seen
in the thick of the fight !”—p. 137.



PROVED IN PERIL;

oR,

Che Shield of faith.

Br

A O7E:

AUTHORESS OF THE CLAREMONT TALES, THE YOUNG PILGRIM,
THE COTTAGE BY THE STREAM, HARRY DANGERFIELD ,
GLIMPSES OF THE UNSEEN, ETC. ETC,

GALL & INGLIS.

Edinburgh: Londo:
BERNARD TERRACE. | 25 PATERNOSTER SQ?







CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I.

II.
TI.
LV:

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VI.
VI.

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Arobed in Peril;

THE SHIELD OF FAITH.

CHAPTER I.
THE RED-CROSS KNIGHT.

THERE have been many school-teachers
more clever than Ned Franks, the one-
armed sailor, many possessing deeper know-
ledge, and greater power of imparting it to
others; but there have been but few who
could make themselves more popular with
their pupils. It was not merely that Ned
was ready with a story upon every subject,
that after school hours were over he would
tell anecdotes of life at sea; but that his
genial, kindly nature drew the young around
him with a power resembling that by which
needles are drawn toa magnet. The secret
of this influence was—Ned was beloved
because he loved. He did not go through



6 PROVED IN PERIL, OR,

his duties as a task, thankful when they
were over, merely performing the work for
the salary which it brought him. Ned
Franks rejoiced in the work itself ; what he
did, he did as unto the Lord. In all his
labours of love Ned looked to his Saviour
for wisdom to guide him, for hope to cheer,
for the blessing which gives success. There
was not a boy in his school whom Franks
did not remember by name in prayer; but
few to whom he had not spoken in private
on the subject of religion. Most of them
looked upon him as a friend and counsellor
in need, and a grave look from the sailor
had more effect than a blow from another
man might have had.

“Come, teacher, now for a story!” ex-
claimed Stephen White on one wintry day,
when torrentsof rain were descending, when
the howling blast rattled the window-
frames and shrieked in the chimnies, and
dashed the shower against the panes, while
ever and anon the growl of the thunder
was heard ! Slates and well-thumbed books
had been hurried back into their places,
for Ned delighted in order, and tried to in-
troduce into the school something of the
neatness and discipline which he had learn-
ed on board a man-of-war.



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 7

“Well, my hearties,” said the cheerful
young sailor, “as this is not weather for
cricket or football, ’m ready to spin one of
my yarns if you're willing to have it.” A
general stamping of boots and clapping of
hands was the answer. “ What shall it be
about?” continued the sailor, passing his
hand through his curly brown locks.

“Something about battle and blows !”
cried a youthful voice from one of the far-
ther benches.

“JT have it,” said Franks; “Tll tell you
the story of the shield ; not just because it
amused myself when I was a boy, but be-
cause I’ve thought on it many and many a
time since, and it seems to my mind that
it bears right on the subject which the
vicar bade you all prepare for his next
Bible class.”

The boys were quite accustomed to
Ned’s habit of drawing a lesson from what
at first seemed only meant for amusement.
He liked to accustom them to think.
“Sea-weeds,” he would say, “float on the
surface, but we must dive for the pearls:
there be many stories from which.we can
draw a precious moral, if we but care to go
deep enough down to find it.”

The lads soon pos their places, some cn

AS



8 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

the forms, some on the floor to be nearer
their favourite teacher, who, resting his
single arm on the desk before him, leant
forward, and thus began :—

“ When I was a younker like yourselves,
before I’d ever crossed the salt sea, I re-
member that my good father once took me
to see an old castle in Wales. There is not
much about it that I can recollect now;
I’ve a dim notion of old stone walls, over-
grown with lichen, a portcullis with its
rusty chains that was hung over the gate-
way, and little slits of holes through which
the archers shot long before guns were in-
vented. But there was one thing in the
grey chapel which I remember well; ‘twas
an old battered shield that hung there, with .
a red cross painted upon it, and I shall
never forget the legend told of that ancient
shield. It had been carried to the Holy
Land many hundred years ago by a crusad-
ing knight who followed Richard the First.
The knight’s name has escaped my memory,
but we will call him St George.

“Many and great were the perils and
hardships encountered by the bold knight.
Mounted on his strong war-horse, with his
lance in rest, often would he charge the
Saracen foe. Where the battle was hottest,



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. o

there would the sunshine flash on his glit-
tering shield, and its red cross might ever
be seen in the thick of the fight!

“One day, I forget by what accident, St
George had dropped astern of therest of the
Christian host,and found himself riding all
alone on a glowing sandy plain. Suddenly
two Saracens hove in sight, bearing down
upon him, the sand under their horses’
hoofs rising like a light cloud. St George
uttered a short prayer—he was a brave and
pious knight—then couched his lance, set
spurs to his steed, and rode to meet the
foe. His spear laid the foremost low, but
snapped itself in the shock; St George
drew his sword, and dashed at the second
Moslem, who was a man of giant strength.

“The struggle was long andfierce. Blows
came so thick and fast that sparks flew
from the whirling swords. Well was it
for St George that his shield was of metal
tried and tempered! Thrice it saved him
from blows that would have cleft his skull !
The third time the scimitar of the enemy
was shivered against that shield! The
Saracen, thus disarmed, turned his rein and
fled across the desert. St George had no
power to give chase. his horse had been
sorely wounded, and scarcely had the Mos-



10 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

lem enemy disappeared in the distance, be-
fore the faithful charger sank dying upon
the sand!

“St George, grieved for his brave steed,
and he grieved for his own desolate state,
adrift on that dreary desert, with no port
of safety in view, and the sun glaring down
upon him till the sand under his feet, and
the very air that he breathed seemed from a
burning fiery furnace! St George saw a
few palm-trees in the distance, lifting their
feathery tops athwart the clear blue sky,
and he steered his course towards them ;
but, heavily laden with helm, hauberk, and
shield, the weary foot-sore traveller made
but slow way: it seemed as if he never
would gain the shade of those few trees,
Sorely tempted, then, was St George to
fling away the shield that hung so heavily
on his arm, even though other enemies
might be cruising on his lee; once ana
again he resolved to drop it down on the
sand, but the sight of the red cross upon it
changed the purpose of the knight.

“<«Ho!’ quoth St George, ‘no infidel
foot shall ever be able to trample on that
sign of my holy faith. Come weal, come
woe, I’ll never fling it away, or leave my
shield in the dust!’



THE SHIELD OF FAITH, il

“At length, almost exhausted, the knight
dragged his weary limbs as far as the little
isle—oasis, I should say—in the desert !
He threw himself down to rest under the
welcomeshadeof the palms, pillowed hishead
on his shield, and speedily dropped asleep.

“ Presently he opened his eyes ; the broad
fiery sun was sinking in a red haze on the
horizon of the desert, flat and rounded as
a sea-line: St George felt very desolate and
lonely. He looked down on his shield,
perhaps to cheer up his courage with the
sight of the cross upon it. The metal was
smooth, polished, and bright, and shone
like a mirror, save where here and there
the enemy’s steel had left a scratch or a
dint. St George could see the green
feathery top of a palm reflected in it; he
could see its slim fluted stem; and he
could see something besides which startled
even his bold spirit. In the shield he saw
a serpent, with forked tongue and gleam-
ing fangs, coiled round the reflected trunk,
as if just in act to spring! Warned in
time, the knight started aside as the vene-
mous creature darted down,—it missed its
prey, and the next moment was crushed
beneath the weight of the shield, which the
knight dashed with force upon it !



12 PROVED IN PERIL} O8,

“*God be praised!’ cried the pious knight,
as he looked on the lifeless serpent: ‘had
I not seen that deadly creature reflected
in my bright shield, I would soon have
been lying where it now lies, slain by its
poisonous fang! Well was it for me that
I cast not aside my red-cross shield !”

“ Again sleep overcame the exhausted
man, though, anxious to keep watch through
the night, lest new dangers should come
upon him, he would not again rest his head
on his shield. It lay beside him in the
position in which it had crushed the ser-
pent, with the arm-fastening upturned; the
red cross pressing the sand.

“ Long and deeply slumbered the knight,
so deeply that he was not even roused by
a sudden storm which came down during
the night, though the noise of it mixed
with his dreams. Parched as he was—
almost dying of thirst—St George dreamed
that the skies were pouring down their
showers upon him, but that fast as they
fell they were sucked in by the barren
sand! He was wet, yet perishing for want
of water! At length he awoke, to find
that his dream had been but too true! The
storm had come, and had gone; the sand
was steaming, the palm-trees were wet.



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 1?

drops hung on the feathery leaves, the
knight’s mantle was damp and dank; but
where could he find one draught of water
to slake his feverish thirst ?

“«Oh ! cried the knight, as he tried to
gain a wretched relief by pressing his own
damp mantle to his lips, ‘one cup of cold
water now were worth a king’s ransom to
me!’

“It was then just on the hour of dawn,
and the first ray of light that streamed over
the desert fell on the down-turned shield.
The heavy drops had fallen on the hollow
buckler, it had caught and it had kept them
within its shallow round! The men of
the Hast speak of water still as the gift of
God ; never had it seemed more truly to
- deserve the name ; never had it been more
like life to a perishing soul than when
the knight drank it, sweet and pure, out of
his red-cross shield !

“That draught gave St George strength
to rise and go on his way. He was miles
astern of the camping-ground of the Chris-
tian host ; but before the day was over he
sighted white tents and waving pennons,
and his signals of distress were noticed at
last by his mates. He was brought into
camp half dead with heat, thirst, and ex-



14 PROVED IN PERIL; Ox,

haustion, but there, with food and rest, he
soon recovered his strength. The knight
lived to strike many a good blow for the
cause which he thought so holy.

“When the crusade was over, and St
George re-crossed the seas and came back
to his country and friends, he hung up his
shield in the chapel where I saw it when I
was a child. He had carried it in troubles
and dangers, it had been his defence through
them all, it had guarded him from open
assault, it had saved from the serpent’s, bite,
it had relieved his thirst in the desert ; ‘and
now, cried St George, ‘ whenever I wor-
ship God in this chapel, the sight of it
will serve to remind me of all I owe to His
mercy ; and when my days are ended, and
my dust lies in the vault, the shield that I
bore in battle shall hang there over my
tomb !’”



CHAPTER II.
THE FLASH.
«“ Now, my boys,” said the sailor, after

he had finished his story, “when the old
dame who showed us the castle and chapel



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 14

had told us of the knight’s adventures, my
father went all over the legend again, turn-
ing every part of it into a picture of real
life, as he had a fashion of doing in his own
allegorical way. I think that the ‘ Pil-
grim’s Progress’ had made a great impres-
sion on my father, and led him to try to
turn other stories to the same use as
Bunyan’s dream. I listened gladly enough,
for I was a wild merry boy, and nothing
took my fancy more than the notion of
going to the wars like a knight. Thus my
visittothe castle, and the story of the shield,
were fixed in my memory like a flag-statt
ou the top of a cliff; and often in the
troubles and tossings of life, I have turned
my eyes that way, and thought of St George
in the desert. But never,” continued th

sailor, “ did the tale come so strongly to my
mind, as when I was myself deserted and
alone on the wild shore of Madagascar!
That was a time, indeed, when I was sorely
tempted, like the weary knight, to throw
away my good shield !”

“Your shield!” cried one of the boys,
“T did not know that sailors ever had
shields !”

“ There’s a shield which every Christian
must carry, whereurth ye can quench all



16 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

the fiery darts of the wicked.* We read
of it in the Bible; which of you can tell
me the name of that shield ?”

“The Shield of Faith!” cried almost
every voice in the room.

“‘ Ay, ay,” said the one-armed sailor ;
“that’s the shield that defends from open
attack and secret temptation, that pillows
the head in trouble, and gives the pure
draught of comfort to the parched and
perishing soul! But let us examine it
more closely. Which of you can tell me
what is really meant by Faith ?”

Fewer voices replied to this question
and these gave various answers. “Trust,”
said one ; “ belief,” cried another ; “ being
sure that there isa God!” exclaimed a third.

“T_ suspect,” said Ned Franks, “ that
some here may not have a very clear view
of what Saving Faith, Christian Faith, Liv-
ing Faith, can be. ‘To be sure that there
is a God, is indeed a kind of Faith, but it
may be held by those who fear and dread,
but do not love Him. The devils also be-
lieve and tremble.t Such faith in the
being of God is a grand thing, a solemn
thing, it is like the deep ocean,’—Ned
stretched out his handas he spoke,—“which
* Ephes iv. 6 + James ii. 19,



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 17

no man can sound, an ocean which may
overwhelm and drown, but which, vast as
it is, does not afford one draught of water
that sinful mortals such as we could drink
of and live. Many of the poor heathen
believe that there is a great mighty God,
but that Faith only fills them with terror ;
it is not likea shield to defend them, it is
more like a sword to slay.”

“Then what is Christian faith?” asked
shy, thoughtful Stephen White, who sat on
a low bench near Franks, leaiiing his chin
on the palm of his hand.

The sailor paused for some seconds be-
fore he replied. “I should like you to ask
that question of one better able to answer
it clearly,” said he, “for, as ’tis written
three times in God’s Word, the just shall
lave by faith,* it must be of mighty import-
ance that we should know what that faith
really is. I should call it, believing from
the bottom of our hearts that Jesus Christ,
our Lord, died to save us, and lives to bless
us. What must I do tobe saved ? eried a
sinner, anxious for his soul; believe im the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,+
was the answer given by an apostle.”

* Hab. ii. 4; Rom i. 17; Gal. iii. 11.
t Aets xv, 30, 31.



18 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

“T say,”—began a voice from the lower
part of the room, in the surly tone of one
who, having formed an opinion, resolves to
hold by it right or wrong,—that rough
“JT say,” and the preparatory cough that
followed, drew all eyes to the place where
stood Tom Mullins, the butcher’s son, a boy
with a bull-dog face, under a low retreating
forehead, half-hid by a mass of red hair.
The interruption excited the more attention,
as Tom’s father, the butcher, was known to
be a man who never entered the church,
who was barely civil even to the vicar, and
who was said to read many of the bad books
against which Mr Curtis had warned his
flock from the pulpit.

“Well, my lad, what do you say?” asked
Ned, after a moment’s pause of listening.

“T say,” repeated Tom, “that there’s a
deal of talk about faith, but the best faitb
is’ a good life!’ and he stood with his
thumbs in his pockets, looking boldly at the
sailor teacher, as if to defy him to give an
answer to that. Ned knew that both young
Mullins and his father often spoke with
open scorn of his appointment to his pre-
sent oftice, and said that he was no more fit
to teach boys than the vicar was to steer a
vessel. Ned knew that, to “put him down,”



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 19

and what they called “his religious cant,”
would be regarded as a triumph, both by the
butcher and his son. The sailor saw that
the whole school was eagerly attentive to
what should pass between him and Tom
Mullins ; and before he replied, had raisea
a silent prayer for wisdom and command of
temper, that neither ignorance nor impa-
tience on his part might do wrong to the
holiest of causes.

“You assert, my lad,” answered the
sailor, “that the best faith 1s a good life.
{ reply that there can be no good life with-
out faith, for whatsoever is not of faith rs
sin.”* Ned rested his hand as he spoke 02
a Bible that lay on the table before him.

« Well,” said young Mullins, with a less
reverential air than became one speaking on
such a subject, “I believe that Jesus Christ
once lived in Judea, and set men a good
example, and I suppose that is what you call
faith.”

“Christian faith is much more than
thinking of the blessed Lord as we might
think of any holy man in history,” said
Franks. “The Son of God came down
from Heaven, where he had dwelt with His
Father, rot only to be our example, but to

* Rom. xiv. 23.



20 PROVED 1N PERIL; OR,

be a sacrifice for our sins. The faith by
which the just shall live is faith in a bleed-
ing, dying Saviour, such faith as made St
Paul declare,-—I determined not to know
anything among you but Jesus Christ, and
Him crucified.” *

“But I don’t quite understand,” said
Stephen White, in a very different spirit
and tone from those of the butcher’s son,
“T can’t see why sins could not have been
forgiven without the Lord Jesus Christ
dying that terrible death for us.”

“That,” answered the sailor, is one of the
deep mysteries that we, with our short line
of reason, will never be able to fathom ; we
must wait for that time when in Heaven
we shall know even as we are known. Of
this we may be certain, nothing less pre-
cious than the blood of Christ could have
washed away the sins of a world, or the
Son of God would never have paid such a
price for man’s salvation.”

“God is merciful,” began Stephen, but
in a timid, hesitating tone.

“ Most merciful,” cried the sailor ; “but
we must not forget that God is also holy,
just, and true. God hates sin, for He is
holy; must punish it, for God isjust ; must

*1 Cor. ii. 2.



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 2)

fulfil His threatenings, for God is truth.
There was a terrible debt to be paid—the
Lord Jesus came down to pay it, not with
silver, or gold, or gems, but with His own
precious life. He ts the Lamb of God that
taketh away the sins of the world.* It is
faith in His perfect sacrifice that is the
faith of the Christian.”

“What is a sacrifice?’ asked a young
boy.

“YT don’t know how I can explain the
subject, either of sacrifice or of faith, better
than by reminding you of the first passover
held by the children of Israel,” said Franks,
turning over the Bible to the twelfth chap-
ter of Exodus. “You know that a terrible
judgment from God was to come over the
whole land of Egypt in which the Israel-
ites dwelt. An angel was to pass through
the realm, and smite with death the first-
born in every house, from the first-born of
the king in his palace, to that of the prisoner
in his dungeon. The Israelites were com-
manded by God to kill a lamb for each of
their households on the evening before that
terrible night, and to take of the blood of
that lamb and strike it on the side-posts
and the upper door-posts of each of their

* John i. 29.



22 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

dwellings; and there was a promise that,
wherever the angel of death should see that
sign of blood, he would pass by that house,
and no one init should perish. Now, mark
you, my boy,” continued Ned Franks, with
emphatic earnestness, “the Israelites believed
the Word of God, they believed that they
should be saved, not for any merit of their
own, but through the blood of the Lamb.
This was fazth, simple, trusting faith.”
They said not “ how can this thing be? how
can the blood of a lamb save our lives?’
they obeyed, and they were delivered. Now,
here is a type or picture of faith and salva-
tion for us. Christ, owr passover ts slain,*
His precious blood, through faith, sprinkled
in our hearts, saves us from the terrible de-
struction which all, through sin, have de-
served. In Him alone we are safe; if not
in Him we must perish ; without shedding
of blood ts no remission.ft This is the one
means of salvation which God has ap-
pointed, which God has made known; to
accept that means with thankful trust, that
is faith, and a faith which must lead toa
holy life. For the love of Christ con-
straineth us . . . that they which
live should not henceforth live unto them-
“1 Cor. v. 7 + Heb. ix. 22.



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 23

selves, but unto Him which died for them,
and rose agatn.”*

The words were yet on the lips of the
sailor, when a sudden vivid flash litup the
room, instantly followed by a tremendous
clap of thunder, which shook the building to
its foundation, and so startled the boys that
many of them sprang to their feet in alarm,
for the peal was just over their heads.

“ Fear nothing—keep your seats—there’s
2 lightning-conductor aloft,” cried Ned
Franks.

“ See—see !” exclaimed Tom Mullins, his
lips quivering with terror, as he pointed to
& pine-tree but a few yards from the porch
of the school. The lightning had struck it
and rent it asunder, and laid half its leafy
honours in the clay while the trunk stood
erect, a blighted thing, which never more
would put forth fresh foliage to hail the re-
turn of spring.

“Thank God that we had a lightning-con-
ductor fixed to this building,” cried Franks.
“ But for it I believe that flash would have
struck the school-house, and at this moment
we might all have been buried beneath its
ruins !”

Not another word was spoken for several

* 2 Cor. y. 14.15.



24 PROVED IN PERIL; Ok,

minutes, all the boys were breathlessly
watching for the next flash, the next awful
peal above them. Tom Mullins’ teeth chat-
tered with fear; he leant against the wall
with his staring eyes fixed on the stricken |
pine-tree, which stood there an image of the
fate which he dreaded. The flash came,
but it was far less dazzling, and the time
which elapsed before it was followed by the
thunder, showed that the storm was rolling
away to the west.

“Were you not afraid?” said a pale boy
to Stephen White, drawing a deep breath
of relief.

“T was afraid at the crash of that great
thunder-clap till our teacher cried, ‘ there’s
a lightning-conductor !’ but then I knew
we were safe.”

“That was faith in my word,” exclaimed
Franks, eager to turn to account the terrors
of the storm, which had for a while awed
even the insolent spirit of Mullins. Oh!
boys, can you not trace a likeness between
ourselves with the thunder-storm raging
around us, and sinners in danger of des-
truction from the wrath of a holy God!
The conductor, the slender rod of iron
fixed aloft, which draws on itself the
electric flash, and carries it down to spend



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 25

its force unharming, that is a faint type of
salvation offered to us. The lightning of
wrath fell on Him who was lifted up on
the cross for our sakes, and but for that
love which consented thus to become a
sacrifice for our sins, we might have seen
in that blasted shattered pine-tree a type of
our own lost state !”

Nothing more was said at that time on
the subject of faith. Gradually the storm
rolled away, the rain ceased, the sun came
forth and glittered on the drops that hung
on every spray until they sparkled like
diamonds. The boys left the school and
dispersed to their homes, some first linger-
ing awhile by the blasted tree, tracing down
its charred blackened trunk the course of
the destroying lightning. Stephen White
was the one who staid longest, turning
thoughtfully over in his mind what he had
heard from the teacher on that day.

“Then it is facth if I believe with my
whole heart that the blood of the Lord
Jesus Christ saves my soul from death, as
the blood of the lamb saved the Israelites
from the destroying angel! it is faith if I
believe with my whole “heart that the Son
of God bore the punishment of sin in our
stead, as the lightning-conductor draws on



26 PROVED 1N PERIL; OR,

itself the flash that might strike us dead !
And this faith isa shield tothe soul! Ican-
not quite understand that yet; I will ask
Ned Franks to explain. Perhaps he will
tell us some day of the adventure which he
had on some wild distant shore, when, as he
said, he was tempted to drop his good
Shield of Faith.”



CHAPTER IIL.
PLUNGING IN.

Ir was not long before the sailor was
called upon to relate his adventure in
Madagascar to the boys of his school: even
Tom Mullins, who, as he owned, hated a
iecture, loved a story, and was not the
least attentive listener to the sailor’s tale.
[ shall not give the account in Ned Franks’
words, but in my own, which will enable me
to say more of his character and conduct
than he would have dreamed of saying
himself.

Ned Franks had been brought up for
the first fourteen years of his life by a
pious father, the retired captain of a small
fishing smack. Ned was his only child by
his second marriage, and his sons and



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 27

daughters by the first were out in the
world before this—his youngest boy, had
left his cradle, so that the parents’ almost
undivided attention. had been given to little
Ned. To bring him up in the fear and
love of God had been the earnest effort of
both: the rosy-cheeked, golden-haired boy
had been the child of many prayers, and
those prayers had been early answered.
Ned could not remember the time when
he had first felt his heart drawn towards
God, when he had first, kneeling at his
mother’s knee, confessed his childish faults,
or told his childish wishes to his Father in
Heaven. Ned was known while yet very
young, as the boy who loved his Bible, and
never would tell a lie. If hasty temper
ever led him into passion, or a love of fun
into mischief, Ned never attempted for a
moment to deny his fault or conceal it.
His character was open as daylight. He
possessed a natural courage which often
helped him to take the straight manly
course, when more timid spirits might have
wavered. Ned liked to look danger in the
face, and do at once what he knew should
be done. A little trait of this resolute
temper shown when he was five years of
age delighted his father, and was charac-



28 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

teristic of Ned’s way of acting all through
his succeeding life. Old Franks was going
to teach his little one to swim. “I say, my
boy,” asked the father, laying his hand on
the golden curls in which he took a fond
pride, “ will you wade into the water from
the shore like the shrimpers, or from yon
little rock take a header into the sea?”

“ll take a header, father,” said the child,
looking fearlessly into his face; “you'll be
by, so I can’t be drowned, and T’ll learn to
swim all the quicker.”

“ That's right, my boy!” cried the father;
“and mind if ever you have anything in
life which conscience bids you do, but
which tries your courage, like learning to
swim, don’t go wading on timidly step by
step, or you'll maybe turn back like a
coward, but take a header at once, know
the worst, and you'll swim like a duck
through it all!”

The boy neither forgot the counsel, nor
failed to act upon it ; Ned was always tak-
ing “headers” when difficulties were before
him. In every ship in which the young
sailor served, he at once let his principles
be known, at once faced the jeers and
ill-will which his religion might bring upon
him, and by his resolute bearing soon



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 29

silenced these jeers, and in some cases even
changed that ill-will into admiration.

“ Better keep your strict notions to your-
self, and serve God without offending your
messmates,” said once to him an old seaman,
who had himself always, as he owned
trimmed his sails according to the wind.
“Can’t you pray when lying in your hai-
mock, when no one will guess what you’re
after! If you don’t do things all of a
sudden, you'll get your own way by de-
grees.”

“My father always told me,” answered
Ned, “that they who serve God must look
for some persecution, and I’d rather have
my share out at once. To go half-yielding
this matter, half-fighting out that, muffling
up one’s religion as if it were a thing to be
ashamed of, and yet trying all the time to
steer rightly, and not be driven from one’s
course, gives one ten times the trouble and
pain that straightforward conduct would do.
If I had to lose my hand,” continued the
young sailor gaily, “I'd think it no saving
of pain to have it taken off finger by finger;
I’d rather hold it out to the hatchet at once,
and have the work done at a blow.”

Though natural courage had something
to do with Ned’s resolution, it was yet, above



30 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

all, his fazth that bore him bravely through
the manifold temptations that beset his
path. This ts the victory that overcometh
the world, even our farth.* The belief that
Christ had indeed died to save him, and yet
lived to bless, was as a strong shield to dash
aside or blunt the enemy’s shafts. Fear-
ing Ged, Ned Franks had no other fear.
And the opposition which the lad had at
first to encounter gradually died away. He
was so frank, cheerful, and obliging, that
no one could long harbour feelings of ill-
willtowards him. Even those who disliked
Ned’s piety, liked him notwithstanding that
piety. It was soon understood that it was
his way to “go in the teeth of the wind,”
and those who would not follow his course,
gave up all attempt to turn him from it
When Ned was about twenty years of
age, he was serving on board a merchant
vessel employed in trading with the Mauri-
tius, and other islands in the Hastern seas.
The captain regarded young Franks as one
of his best hands, a man cheerful in work
and fearless in danger, always active on the
_ sea, and always sober on shore. Franks
possessed another qualification which fur-
ther, raised him in the good opinion of
*1 John v. &



THE SHIELD OF FAITR. 31

Captain Cole. The young seaman had great
ease in picking up foreign languages,—a
facility so great that the sailors used to say
that if Ned was senttoliveamongstmonkeys,
he would soon make out their jabber, and
teach them to understand his. On board
the “Sylph” was a native of the island of
Madagascar, a land at that timealmostclosed
against Europeans. About a year had
passed since the missionaries who had
laboured there in faith had been forced to
fly from Madagascar ; and dark and gloomy
were the accounts now and then received of
the state of that country from fugitives es-
caping from the tyranny of its Queen. One
of these fugitives was Hayo, who was em-
ployed by Captain Cole to perform various
menial offices on board the “Sylph.” “The
nigger,” as he was called by the crew,
though little resembling any of the negro
race, soon attached himself to Ned Franks,
who, naturally disposed to protect the weak,
shielded the poor savage from many an in-
sult and wrong, It was a great amusement
to Franks in his leisure hours to pick up
from Hayo scraps of the Malagasy language;
and he did so with the nobler motive of
teaching the poor heathen the truths of
the Christian religion. Captain Cole en-
B



32 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

couraged his young sailor in these efforts te
learn the Malagasy tongue. “Cruising
about Madagascar,” said he, “ we may have
some day to put into a port for water, and
*tis well to have an interpreter who can hold
parley with the natives.” Ned Franks little
guessed, however, how glad he would be,
ere long, of the knowledge which he was
gaining.

The years spent by Ned Franks on board
the “Sylph” were amongst the pleasantest
of his sea-life. He was in the flower of his
youth and strength, full of buoyant spirits,
and he had become a favourite both with
captain and crew. Opposition on account
of his religious views was over; like the
knight St George, Ned had conquered his
foes, and perhaps, so weak is human nature
so mixed is evil with good, Ned Franks felt
a little proud of his own resolution and
courage. He had become something like a
leader amongst those who had been en-
couraged by his example to show more de-
cision in faith than they otherwise might
have dared to do. And yet at this very
period clouds were rising over the young
Christian’s sky. Ned Franks was living
less closely to his God than he had done in
times of greater trial and temptation. His



"HE SHIELD OF FAITH. 33

outward conduct was unchanged, he read
his Bible, and prayed, and the h manly
voice of “psalm-singing Ned,” as often
heard by his messmates ; yet the heart of
Franks was growing colder in religion ; his
thoughts wandered much in prayer; he
rested more in his strength, and sought iess
for strength from above. There are few,
even of devout Christians, who have not
known such seasons of decline. The hour
of comparative rest is often more full of
peril than that of struggle and strife.



CHAPTER IV.
THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION.

Ir happened one day that the “ Sylph”
having been becalmed for some time off the
western coast of Madagascar, her supply of
water began to run short, and Captain Cole
ordered a boat’s crew to land near the
mouth of a river, and fill some casks. A
few of the sailors were allowed the enjoy-
ment of a ramble on shore after their long
confinement on board, and Ned Franks,
whom the captain especially trusted, was
one of these chosen few. They were to re-



34 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

turn to the boat in an hour, and to take
especial care that they should never be be-
yond sound of the boatswain’s whistle.

Ned gladly availed himself of the leave
with full intention to obey the command.
He had longed to tread on the wooded
shore, on which he had often gazed from
the glowing deck of the “Sylph,” and he
sprang from the boat to land with an ex-
ulting sense of freedom and enjoyment.
After helping to fill the casks with water,
Ned strolled off alone into the deep woods.
which, to one who so keenly admired the
fair scenes of nature, appeared like a para-
dise of beauty. After the glare of the ocean,
it was so refreshing to feed the eyes upon
. the luxuriant green of the forest. There
grew the acacia, the citron, and palm;
splendid creepers, laden with many-coloured
blossoms, hung like garlands from the
trees; a rich undergrowth of grass and
fern formed a thick carpet below, on which,
perhaps, no human foot had ever trodden
before. The trees were alive with green
parrots; and Ned, as he wandered on,
slowly making his way through the tangled
brushwood, caught glimpses of monkeys in
the branches above him, chattering as they
leapt lightly from bough to bough.



THE SHIELD OF FAITH, 35

But what delighted the young sailor above
all was a plant which he found in a clear
flowingstream which wound its way through
a part of theforest. Spread out, just below
the surface of the water, grew a number of
beautiful branching plume-like leaves from
one stem, each leaf from nine to ten inches
long, and formed as it were of open-work,
like exquisite bright green lace. Under the
limpid water, as if in a crystal shrine, every
leaf in its delicate beauty was seen, the larger
ones olive-green, the smaller ones tinted pale
yellow, each looking as if the touch of child
would tear the light fabric to pieces. Air-
bubbles, like tiny globes of silver, were seen
through the opennet-work under the beauti-
ful plant. The ouvirandra* has since been
brought to England, but, at the time of
which I write, was as new to British bota-
nists as it was to Ned Franks.

“ Green lace growing wild for the fairies |”
cried Ned, bending in admiring wonder
over the stream. “I must gather and pre-
serve some of those leaves for my father,
they'll be a rare curiosity in dear old Eng-
land, where one never sees anything like
them!” Ned knelt down on the bank,
grasped the stem of the ouvirandra, under

* Ouvirandra Fenistralis, or lace-plant.



36 fROVED IN PERIL; OR,

its crown of leaves, and drew up the whole
plant with the root at the end, the long
fleshy white root, covered with thick light
brown skin. Ned knew not that the root
was as valuable for food as the lace-leaves
were remarkable for beauty.

A little further up the stream Ned des-
eried other plants of the ouvirandra in
blossom, the stalk with its branching forked
flowers rising from the centre of the leaves.
The sailor was so deeply interested in
collecting this and other curious plants,
that it is scarcely matter of surprise that
he forgot that time was flowing on, silent
and swift as the stream.

“JT wonder that I’ve not heard the
whistle!” said Ned Franks at last, raising
himself from the ground with both his
hands filled with his gathered treasures,
“TJ am sure that at least an hour must have
passed.” The sailor would have been near-
er the truth had he said “more than two
hours.” Ned paused, and bent his ear to
listen. There was no sound to be heard
but the screams of the parrots, the chatter
of the apes, and the rustle of leaves in the
wind. “I’m out of my reckonings,” said
the sailor to himself, “I can’t guess which
way to steer. I'll shout and my mates will



j~y_HE SHIELD OF FAITH, 37

snewer.” Long and Joud rang the clear
“halloo!” through the deep echoing woods,
but no human reply came back on the
breeze. Ned began to feel somewhat un-
easy; he shouted again and again, but
still received no answer. . The utter soli-
tude of these wild untrodden forests now
oppressed the spirit of the young sailor
with a sense of desolation. Ned was not
one, however, lightly to give way to either
anxiety or fear. He struggled manfully
on through the brushwood, pushing aside
the luxuriant creepers that barricaded his
path ; ever and anon stopping to shout, and
listening, but listening in vain.

“Tf I could but tell in which quarter
lies the blue sea, I’d soon join my mates,”
said Ned Franks, wiping his heated brow.
He had already been obliged to drop the
greater part of the plants he had gathered.
“The wood here is so thick that I can’t
see five yards before me. Il mount the
tallest palm-tree I can find; there’s one
overtopping the rest of the wood, high and
straight as a mainmast, Ill go aloft and
look out.”

Ned quickly made his way to the tree,
dropped his remaining plants at its foot
and with great agility and lightness began



38 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

climbing the lofty stem. Even for him,
the most active of the crew of the “Sylph,”
it was no easy task to gain the leafy crest.
Ned did not, however, so much as pause to
takebreathtill hehad reached a height which
commanded a somewhat extensive view
over the wood and the beach beyond. He
saw distinctly to the west the horizon of
blue sea rounding the prospect, with but a
single object breaking its clear, soft line.
Upon that object the eyes of the sailor
were fixed, as he clung to his leafy perch,
with a gaze almost wild in its eager inten-
sity. Ned could scarcely believe what he
saw, and it was several minutes before he
could give utterance to his feelings in words.

“Tt is—it is—the ‘Sylph!’ all sails set
—bearing away to the west! my faithless
messmates have weighed anchor, and left
me here to perish !”

The vessel had already sailed much too
far from the island for it to be possible for
any cry from the shore to reach the ears of
those on board. Franks remained gloom-
ily gazing at the white sails gradually
lessening in the distance, bearing away, as
it seemed, allhis earthly hope! Then, with
his heart glowing with indignation at the
base desertion. the sailor descended the



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. ao.

tree, and, exhausted in spirit as well as in
strength, flung himself down on the ground
at its foot.

It was then that temptation, in a new
form, assailed the heart of the brave young
seaman, left alone in the wild forests of an
anknown and savage land! A deep sense
of cruel wrong from man, mingled with a
dark distrust of the love of Him who seem--
ed to have deserted His faithful servant in
his need! Night was soon coming on, but
deeper gloom than night could bring was
brooding over a tempted soul! Weary,
hungry, and faint, Ned Franks was less
able to struggle against the evil thoughts
that crowded now on his spirit.

“JT would not have deserted a dog so !”
the seaman muttered between his clenched
teeth. “They did not think it worth an
hour’s search to save a messmate from
starving on roots and berries, dying inch by
inch in these woods ; or becoming a prey
to the wild beasts, or maybe the cannibals
of this island !”

And was this the reward of faithful, fear-
less obedience to his Heavenly King? Ned
had not been ashamed of his religion, he
had dared to confess his God before men,
and had lived a life mere consistent with

B2



40 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

his faith than any other man in his vessel.
How readily now rose the thought, “Z have
cleansed my heart in vain, and washed
my hands in innocency.”

Then was the time when, as an old half-
forgotten song will sometimes come to
memory, drawn back by some links of ideas
which we are hardly able to trace, Ned
thought of the story of the knight which
had taken his fancy in childhood. He re-
membered St George alone and weary,
tempted to drop his good shield as he toiled
on in the burning heat. Then Ned thought
of St George, stretched like himself under
a palm-tree, when the glowing, fiery sun
was sinking over the desert.

And I have my serpent too!” thought
the seaman, as he traced out the allegory in
hismind. “ Rebellion against God—anger
against man—it is fazth that shows me the
enemy, and it is by fazth that 1 must crush
it!” Ned Franks sprang to his feet, and
raised his eyes towards the sky above him.
“Oh! God, help me! Oh! my God, for-
give me! Let me put away all hard
thoughts of others, all mistrustful thoughts
of Thee! Whatever I may have to suffer
in this wild and desolate land, let my faith
be firm and unshaken! Let me be able to



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 41

say of Him who died to save, and lives to
bless me, J know whom I have believed.*
though He slay me, yet will I trust im
Aim+



CHAPTER V.
A NARROW ESCAPE.

NepD Franks slept that night on the
ground. Hard was his couch, dreary his
lot; unknown dangers might surround hin,
yet sound and sweet was his sleep. His
first thought when he unclosed his eyes in
the morning, and the sight of waving
boughs, and thick, dank fern, reealled his
desolate state to his mind, was, in the words
of David, Z will fear no evil, for thou art
with me.t In that thought was hope, and
peace, and joy. It was the sweet refreshing
draught which the soul, when earthly com-
forts fail, can yet find, like the rain from
above, gathered and retained in the shield
of faith !

Ned tried to appease the cravings of
hunger by eating such berries as he could
gather, thankful for even the wild provision

*2 Tim. i, 12. +2 Job xiii. 15.
t Psalm xxiii. 4.



42 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

whieh the woods afforded. Then, to slake
his thirst, he made his way in the direction
where he saw the silvery gleam of water
through the thick screen of copse.

The sailor soon found himself on the
bank of a river of considerable size, doubt-
less the same as that at the mouth of which
the boat had put in to water. This might
both supply him with fish, and guide his
course to the beach. Ned made his way
down a somewhat steep bank, and was
about to stoop to drink when he observed,
stretched on the muddy margin, at about
the distance of thirty yards, what at the
first careless glance he thought was a log
of dry wood, but which at the second he
recognised to be a large crocodile, apparent-
ly quite stiff and dead. Ned was too pru-
dent to trust himself near those huge jaws
till he had made sure whether the motion-
less creature were really lifeless. He flung
a large stone, which rebounded from the
scaly back of the monster, and the croco-
dile, roused perha;s out of sleep, instantly
turned and plunced heavily into the river.
Ned heard the loud splash, and saw the
big rising bubbles where the reptile had
disappeared, and watched the widening
circles on the disturbed surface of the water.



THE SHIELD OF FAITH, 43

*T shall be careful how I take to swim-
ming that river,” thought Ned, “if it’s the
home of gentry such as that! The croco-
dile is a dangerous foe in the water, how-
ever awkward and timid on land. One
snap of these mighty jaws would crunch
one’s bones like a nutshell!”

Ned now resolved to track the river to
the sea, from whose shore it was just pos-
sible that he might catch sight of some
passing vessel. He would fasten up a
bamboo as a flag-staff, with his blue necker-
chief tied to the top to wave in the wind as
a signal, with the hope, faint and feeble in-
deed, that it might, even on that desolate
beach, be seen by some human eye.

“Perhaps, however,” reflected Ned, “I
may here be in more danger from men
than from reptiles or prowling beasts.
Better be the crocodile’s prey than the
slaveof some heathen savage. Ha! what was
chat !” he exclaimed aloud, as a wild, terrific
cry rose from the water, like that of some
human being in mortal fear or pain. A
bend of the river hid the spot from the view
of Ned Franks, but in a moment he bound-
ed over the brushwood, and came in sight
of what sent a wild thrill through his soul.
Struggling and splashing amongst the rank
reeds which overgrew the shallower parte of



44 PROVED LN YERIL; OB,

the river, Ned saw the form of a uative,
whose face wore an expression of horror,
such as would have told its dreadful tale,
nad the sailor not beheld at the same time
the scaly head of one of the river monsters,
that seemed to be dragging down its victim.
Ned did not stop an instant to think of
danger to himself, or to ask whether the
wretched native might prove a friend or a
foe, is was enough that he was a man, and
in most horrible peril. The English sailoc
wrenched up a young cane that was grow-
ing close beside him, and, armed with no
better weapon, rushed into the water to the
rescue, with a loud ringing halloo, and
struck the monster on the eye with all the
force of a strong right arm! Startled and
alarmed by the shout and the splashing, as
much, perhaps, as hurt by the blow, the
crocodile seemed to forego its prey; but
the native was too much paralysed by ter-
ror to avail himself of the momentary pause. -
Franks, with his left hand, seized hold of
the man, and bya violent effort of strength
which made every muscle quiver, struggled
back to the bank, and up it, dragging with
him the native whom he had snatched from
death, before the crocodile had time to re-
new his attack in the water.

“Thank God, he’s safe ! but ’twas a close



THE SHIELD OF FAITH, 45

run for life,” exclaimed Franks, as, gasping
and panting, he stood on the bank watching
the baulked and furious monster below lash-
ing the water to foam. The sailor then
turned with kindly anxiety to see what in-
juries the native had sustained in his late
desperate encounter. Great was Ned’s sur-
prise to find that, though but lightly clad in
a garment of woven fibre, with no protection
whatever from the crocodile’s ravening teeth,
the man was evidently unwounded. There
was no stain of blood on the dress, not only
life but limb was preserved. Franks could
not account for what appeared like a miracle,
till, as the native, sinking on his knees,
stretched out his clasped hands towards his
preserver, he noticed iron bands on the poor
creature’s wrists, from each of which hung
loosely a few links of a broken chain.
“The monster must have seized him by
his fetters, and snapped them in the struggle
in the water. But how could a wretch in
chains attempt to cross that river? He
must be some prisoner trying to escape.”
Franks looked with compassionate inte-
rest on the form kneeling at his feet, thin
and wasted, as if by famine, the wrist bruised
and chafed by the irons which still they
wore. But with what a thrill did he hear



46 PROVED iN PERIL; OB,

the first words, spoken in the Malagasy lan-
guage, which burst from the poor creature's
lips, as he raised his clasped hands and eyes
towards Heaven. “Lord Jesus, I thank
Thee!” Ned Franks could hardly believe
his own ears. Had he indeed found a
Christian in that wild and dreary land ?
under that olive-tinged skin did a heart
beat with grateful love to the Saviour?
Such a hope had never before entered the
sailor’s mind.

“Do you know the Lord Jesus?” ex-
claimed Ned Franks in the Malagasy lan-
guage.

The countenance of the native beamed
with sudden delight at the question, asked
in his own mother tongue. Pressing his
hand to his heart, he replied, “He is my
only Saviour ; I have left all for Him.”

“Then we are friends—brothers!” cried
Ned, with heartfelt joy at having been made
the means of saving the life of a persecuted
believer. “I thank God from the bottom
of my soul for what I thought the greatest
of misfortunes. Had I not been deserted
by my messmates yesterday, this poor Chris-
tian would have perished to-day.”



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 47

CHAPTER VI.
THE MARTYRS.

NeEpD FRANKS soon found that Ramonga,
such was thename of the native, might prove
a blessing to his preserver in various ways.
Accustomed to a wild life in the woods, Ra-
monga knew far better than the Englishman
could do how to find sustenance in them.
He pointed out to Ned the pandanus tree,
with its immensely long drooping leaves,
and told him of nuts growing amongst them.
From Ramonga the sailor learnt that the
root of the beautiful lace-plant, when cooked,
resemblesa yam. The native of Madagascar
led his new friend to the foot of the travel-
ler’s tree, whose bark, when wounded, yields
a draught of refreshing water. Such know-
ledge was to the sailor far more precious
than gold. But when Franks expressed to
Ramonga his hopes that some ship might
pass, and his signals be seen from its deck,
the native shook his head and sighed, as if
such hopes must prove utterly vain.

“The moon has nine times filled up her
erescent since I have wandered cn that



48 PROVED IN PERIL; OB,

shore,” said Ramonga, “with weary heart
and bleeding feet ; and at morn and eve I’ve
looked over the blue waters, and prayed that
a sail might appear. But what white man
twould now care to tread on our land of
tears and blood? Many times have the
trees shed their leaves since the missionaries,
the men of the Book, who carried here the
seed of truth, were forced to flee from our
island. The winds and the waves bring no
longer to Madagascar messengers of peace.
It is a great prison, and its wall is the sea.
Oh ! stranger, those who come hither can
hope no more to depart.”

“While there’s life there’s hope,” said
the sailor. “But tell me,” he continued,
speaking with difficulty in Malagasy, and
helping out his sentence? with many an Eng-
lish word, while Ramonga gathered in the
meaning as much with his eyes as his ears,
—*“tell me how you come to be here, the
only Christian in a nation of heathen?”

“Theonly Christian !” repeated Ramonga,
with a wondering, questioning look, as if he
thought he must have misunderstood what
the white man hadsaid. “Oh! we are here
a large family of the followers of the Lord ;
some in the palace, some in the prison, some
wandering in the forest” -—he waved his hand



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 49



round with an expressive gesture,—“ some
hiding in pits,”—he pointed downwards —
“ and some’—he raised his hand towards
Heaven,—“ some at home with the Lord.”

“Has Madagascar, then, its martyrs?”
eried Franks. }

An expression of solemn sweetness gave
a strange beauty to Ramonga’s dark counte-
nanceas he replied, “ Ask the earth, red with
the blood that flowed from the spear wounds.
—ask the steep rock of Antanarivo, down.
which thequivering forms were hurled—ask
the breezes of Heaven, laden with the smoke:
of the burning,—whether the land of the
Hovas* has not had its martyrs for the faith.
of Christ Jesus, our Lord.”+

The words had tenfold effect on the heart:
of the young English sailor from the lips.
that spoke them. Franks looked on the
native, who was scarcely older than himself,
but who was wasted and bowed by suffer-
ing, with deep lines of care on his brow.
Franks looked on those wrists from which

*The principal race in Madagascar.
+See for a description of the sufferings of the
noble martyrs of Madagascar, the Rev. Mr Ellis’
“Visits to Madagasear,” a more recent volume by
Mrs Ellis, and a work by the Bishop of the Mau-
ritius.



50 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

still hung the remains of the chain that had
galled for months, cruelly lessening the
power of the sufferer to procure even such
berries and roots as might keep soul and
body together. There was nothing of the
savage in Ramonga. As with many of the
Hova race his brow was high, his eye clear
and bright, though softened into an expres-
sion that spoke much of sorrow, and more
of submission. Here was one who had in-
deed fought the good fight of faith, suffer-
ing, bleeding, but yet unsubdued ; one who
had endured the loss of all things rather
than deny the Lord whom he loved !

“Did you make your escape from pri-
son ?” asked Franks. Ramonga shook his
head, and glanced at the irons on his arms.

«Some of us were thrust forth into the
woods,” he replied, “ bearing with us such
tokens as these of the wrath of the priests.
One carried the heavy wooden collar, which
allowed no rest day or night to him who
wore it; another had fetters on his feet;
others, and I was of them, had chains
fastened to their wrists. We dared not
enter the villages, we dared not ask even
for a handful of rice if a traveller chanced
to pass! And so my companions, one by
one, were called home by their Master to



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 51

the land where chains can bind no more,
where there is no more sound of weep-
ing.”

“ And God gave you strength to endure
all this !” exclaimed Franks.

“The sorest pang was when I beheld
them scourge my dear old father!” said
Ramonga, heaving a deep-drawn sigh.
“He was full of years, and weak, and the
blows were heavy on him; they sent his
soul to God! He died with the word on
his lips, ‘tsara!’” (it is well !)

“Oh!” exclaimed the young sailor, in-
voluntarily clenching his fist and setting
his teeth at the thought of what his own
feelings would be were any one in his pre-
sence so much as to hurt a hair of his
grey-headed parent, “did not your blood
boil with rage, did you not long to trample
these wretches into dust !”

Again Ramonga’s dark eyes were fixed
with a wondering look on the stranger.
« Are we not followers,” said the Hova,
“of Him who bade us love our enemies,
and, dying, prayed for His own?”

Ned Franks was silent under the rebuke
He was learning a lesson of humility that
day ; he was being taught the power of
Christian faith and love from a man whom



52 PROVED IN PERIL; OB,

he, at first sight, had deemed to be a poor
ignorant savage.

Ramonga, who for months had wandered
alone, without being able to utter his feel-
ings to any human ear, felt great relief
andcomfort in pouring out his tale of suffer-
ing to the sailor, who showed such keen
sympathy with his woes. He told of
Rasolama,* his mother’s friend, the first
Christian martyr in Madagascar. Ramonga
as a child had known her well, had played
in her house, and received from her pine-
apples, and pieces of the sweet sugar-cane.
She, the gentle, tender-hearted woman, had
drawn on herself the vengeance of the ter-
rible queen, by the kindness which she
showed to her poorer brethren in the faith.
Rasolama was seized, questioned, tormented ;
but the grace of God kept her woman’s
heart firm through all the terrible trial.
Ramonga, with emotion, related his own
recollections of that fearful time.

“T heard my mother say, wringing her
hands as she spoke, that Rasolama, who was
dear to her as a sister, was to be speared to -
death in the morning, because she would
not deny the Lord. I thought then, child

* The touching story of the martyrdom of Raso-
lama is related by Mrs Ellis.



THE SBIRLD OF FAITH. 53

as I was, that God would send his angel in
the night, as He sent to Peter, and bring
her out, and set her free, for she was too
good to die. I comforted my heart with
this thought all through the dark hours of
night, while I was kept awake on my mat
by the sound of my mother’s sobbing.
Weary I dropped asleep, just as the dawn
was breaking ;—when I awoke our hut
was empty, and the full light shone upon
earth. It was to me like the. glance of
God, and I did not think that he could
look on, and let Rasolama be slain. I
forgot that her feet were but treading
the way that her Saviour had taken before
her, and that she was going to Him! 1]
heard a great noise of drums and yelling,
and then I shuddered and trembled, for I
knew that the cruel ones must be taking
dear Rasolama to her death. I ran and hid
myself in the hut in which the white mis-
sionaries from beyond the seas had been
wont to preach the Word. It was silent
then, and deserted, but I knew from the
distant drums that the crowd were coming
that way. And I saw Rasolama,” continued
Ramonga, with glistening eye and quiver-
ing lip, “I saw her in the midst of the

throng that were taking her to die, and



54 PROVED IN PERIL; Ok,

her face seemed to me as the face of
an angel! She turned to take a last
wistful look of the chapel, and I caught
the sound of her voice as she said, ‘ there
[ heard the words of my Saviour!’ She
was faithful unto death, and the Lord has
given her a crown of lite.”

Thus Ramonga beguiled the weary hours
by recounting the sufferings of the martyrs
of Madagascar ; worthy followers of those
of whom we read in the eleventh chapter of
Hebrews, who, through fatth, endured to
the end!

CHAPTER VIL.
RELEASE.

‘ | COULD not but feel shame, boys,” was
Ned Frank’s remark as he ended his account
of the martyrs, “I could not but feel
shame,” he repeated, “to think how strong
their faith was, and how wretchedly weak
had been mine! I had thought it some-
thing to bear a few scoffs and jeers, I who
had been taught religion from my cradle
by my good parents ; and these poor help-
less creatures, just called froma heathen
darkness, were ready cheerfully to meet



THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 55

death in its most terrible forms! My
faith quailed when I thought myself de-
serted by my messmates ; their faith in the
wisdom and goodness of God remained un-
shaken by all the torments men could in-
flict.*

“ Is Ramonga alive now?” asked Stephen.

“ Alive, ay,and doing God’s work, preach-
ing to his own people,” answered Ned,
“The weather’s clearing up in Madagascar.
that thunder-cloud passed away. Tis said
that ‘the blood of martyrs is the seed of
the Church ;’ I look for a goodly harvest
in that far-away isle of the sea !”

“ But how did you leave it!” enquired
Tom Mullins, who cared little for the
spread of the Gospel, and only wanted the
end of the adventure.

“ Ay, ay, you must have the end of the
yarn. It was only the third day after I
had seen the hull of the ‘Sylph’ disap-
pearing under the blue waves, when as Ra-
monga and I were trying to light a fire
of dry brushwood to cook some roots, we
heard a sound that made us both start
suddenly to our feet! Ramonga was

* Four were burned alive. Thirteen dashed to

pieces over a precipice. Many others suffered
greatly in various ways.



56 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

alarmed, I believe he took the noise for
some savage yell, and looked to see the
enemy bearing down on us through the
forest. But I knew better!” exclaimed
Ned Franks, his blue eye kindling at the
recollection of the thrill of rapture which
that sound had sent through his frame, “I
knew the cheer of a British tar, and I
answered it with another so loud, that I
startled the native at my side. Ha! ha!”
laughed the sailor at the remembrance,
“ Ramonga must have thought I had lost my
wits when I caught sight of the blue-jackets
through the trees, and the next minute
was shaking hands all round with a party
of our own jolly crew! They seemed as
heartily glad to see me as I was to see
them again, though they scarcely knew at
first what to make of my Hova companion.”

“ But what had made them desert you
before?” asked one of the boys.

“Don’t call it desertion,” cried Ned. “I
should have had faith in my own good cap-
tain, and never have suspected for a mo-
ment that he could ever forsake the meanest
of his crew. But you see, boys,” continued
Ned Franks, with his peculiar earnestness
of manner, “when I began to doubt even
the loving kindness of my God, of Him



THE SHIELD Uf FAITH. 57

who had not spared His own Blessed Son
for my sake, no wonder if I lost faith in
the honour and truth of man.”

“But had you not séen the ‘Sylph,’ sail
right away ?” asked Tom Mullins.

“Tl tell you how it all came about,” said
Ned Franks. “While the vessel was lying
off shore, waiting for the return of her boat,
the man on the look-out reported a vessel
in sight. Now this vessel wasa suspicious-
iooking craft, from her build and her kind
of rigging, as well as the captain could
make them out through his glass, he set
her down for a pirate, cruising about in
search of prizes. Now, you see, the ‘Sylph’
carried no guns, so she could not of course
show fight; her only chance was to make a
tun for it, and, being a first-rate sailer, she
was not likely to be overtaken by any vessel
that might give her chase. But there was
no time tv be lost. Captain Cole signalled
for the instant return of the boat. All but
myself saw the signal, and I had cruised so
far into the woods, that I could not so
much as hear the boatswain’s whistle. The
safety of the whole ship could not be sacri-
ficed because one of the hands was missing;
the boat made for the vessel, the ‘ Sylph ’
weighed anchor and soon left the shore



38 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

and the enemy far behind. I did not see
the pirate when I looked from my perch
aloft over the water—a turn of the shore
must have hidden her from view—or I’d
have understood the state of the case at
once. Ned, though left for awhile, was
neither forsaken nor forgotten. Though so
much time had already been lost in the
calms, and though the captain was impa-
tient to get to the end of his voyage, no
sooner had he reason to think that the
coast was clear of the pirate, than he put
the ship about and returned to the place
where the boat had watered, and sent some
of the crew ashore to look out for the miss-
ing hand. God bless him for it!” added
the sailor ; “it was a kindness which I shall
never forget to my dying day!”

“ And was poor Ramonga taken on board
the ‘Sylph,’ ” asked Stephen White.

“You may be sure that we would not
put off without him,” replied Ned Franks,
with a smile. “Not a jolly tar who heard
the tale of his sufferings but treated him
as a brother. Hayo, above all, welcomed
his fellow-countryman with a joy.that it
did one good to behold, and learned Chris-
tianity much faster from him than he would
ever have done from me Ramonga’s very



‘fH SHIELD OF FalTH. 59

scars and irons preached a sermon to those
who saw them more stirring than could be
put into words; for, my boys, though we
may think and talk over-what faith can do,
to see what faith has done, is, after all, the
lesson that goes straight to the heart.”

“ Ramonga would have his irons knocked
off as soon as he got on board an English
ship,” observed Tom.

“We made short work of that,” said Ned
Franks ; “but the marks which they left
behind them were not so soon got rid of.”

“ He would scarcely wish to lose them,”
cried Stephen, “they were such honourable
scars !”

“Tt was odd enough,” laughed Tom Mul-
lins, “that the first thing to snap the iron
chain was the gnash of the crocodile’s teeth.”

“Tve often thought of that,” said the
sailor. “It seemed tomeakind of emblem
of the way in which God brings good out of
evil, turns His people’s misfortunes to bless-
ings, and makes seeming enemies real
friends. I never felt so lonely, so deserted,
so wretched in all my_life, as I did when I
found myself left on that island; and it
would scarcely have raised my spirits to
have known that I should, the next day,
have an eneonnter with a crocodile in the



60 PROVED IN PERIL

water. Yet,” continued the maimed sailor,
glancing down at his left sleeve, “I would
not forego now the good that came out of
that trial, to have again my lost hand, and
more treasure than it, or a thousand hands
could grasp. And go, in a better world,
we shall look back upon whatmostperplexes
us here, and know that God made all things
to work for good to them that loved Him.
Then, the fight fought, and the victory won,
we may, like the knight returning from the
wars, hang up our red-cross buckler ; for
then there will no longer be enemies to meet
in the strength of the Lord, nor heavy
strokes of misfortunes to try the strength
of the
SHIELD oF FaitTH.

THE END.







Se
=X COA

\ \ \ \\ :
. _. . ES N \





Full Text


WEE SSS
S88 SS ODA AO












St. Peter’s Bons’ School, Coventry.





AWARDED TO

BEAM mae cat Ca Anna 5; Standard x42 @,,
for attending.at. AaZ..times during the School
year, and for excellence at the Examination
by H.M. Inspector, April 1st and 2nd, 1879,
which comprised the following subjects :—















Reading,
Writing,
Spelling,
Arithmetic.

(Signed )

The following is the Inspector’s Report on
the state of the School—344 Boys examined :

“This is a REALLY GOOD School ; the Pupils at-
tending it are fortunate to be under a Master so
THOROUGHLY qualified IN EVERY WAY to have the
charge of them.”

. J.D. B. FABER, Esq,, H. M. Inspector,









The Baldwin Library

University
RMB we
Florida








































































mre

“‘ Where the battle was hottest, there would the sunshine flash
on his glittering shield, and its red cross might ever be seen
in the thick of the fight !”—p. 137.
PROVED IN PERIL;

oR,

Che Shield of faith.

Br

A O7E:

AUTHORESS OF THE CLAREMONT TALES, THE YOUNG PILGRIM,
THE COTTAGE BY THE STREAM, HARRY DANGERFIELD ,
GLIMPSES OF THE UNSEEN, ETC. ETC,

GALL & INGLIS.

Edinburgh: Londo:
BERNARD TERRACE. | 25 PATERNOSTER SQ?

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I.

II.
TI.
LV:

Vic

VI.
VI.

Tur Rep-Cross KNIGHT ......0cccccccrseeees, OD
nn WASH .7 cs ywer ra sots coamnarenk soos vere

PGUNGEN GUNG eet eects


Tue Hour or TEMPTATION
A Narrow Escapm........... ich ueerete oe 41
Hm MARTYRS <.c1scrso- ici ee

REBAR St eae. pocessoeaic
Arobed in Peril;

THE SHIELD OF FAITH.

CHAPTER I.
THE RED-CROSS KNIGHT.

THERE have been many school-teachers
more clever than Ned Franks, the one-
armed sailor, many possessing deeper know-
ledge, and greater power of imparting it to
others; but there have been but few who
could make themselves more popular with
their pupils. It was not merely that Ned
was ready with a story upon every subject,
that after school hours were over he would
tell anecdotes of life at sea; but that his
genial, kindly nature drew the young around
him with a power resembling that by which
needles are drawn toa magnet. The secret
of this influence was—Ned was beloved
because he loved. He did not go through
6 PROVED IN PERIL, OR,

his duties as a task, thankful when they
were over, merely performing the work for
the salary which it brought him. Ned
Franks rejoiced in the work itself ; what he
did, he did as unto the Lord. In all his
labours of love Ned looked to his Saviour
for wisdom to guide him, for hope to cheer,
for the blessing which gives success. There
was not a boy in his school whom Franks
did not remember by name in prayer; but
few to whom he had not spoken in private
on the subject of religion. Most of them
looked upon him as a friend and counsellor
in need, and a grave look from the sailor
had more effect than a blow from another
man might have had.

“Come, teacher, now for a story!” ex-
claimed Stephen White on one wintry day,
when torrentsof rain were descending, when
the howling blast rattled the window-
frames and shrieked in the chimnies, and
dashed the shower against the panes, while
ever and anon the growl of the thunder
was heard ! Slates and well-thumbed books
had been hurried back into their places,
for Ned delighted in order, and tried to in-
troduce into the school something of the
neatness and discipline which he had learn-
ed on board a man-of-war.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 7

“Well, my hearties,” said the cheerful
young sailor, “as this is not weather for
cricket or football, ’m ready to spin one of
my yarns if you're willing to have it.” A
general stamping of boots and clapping of
hands was the answer. “ What shall it be
about?” continued the sailor, passing his
hand through his curly brown locks.

“Something about battle and blows !”
cried a youthful voice from one of the far-
ther benches.

“JT have it,” said Franks; “Tll tell you
the story of the shield ; not just because it
amused myself when I was a boy, but be-
cause I’ve thought on it many and many a
time since, and it seems to my mind that
it bears right on the subject which the
vicar bade you all prepare for his next
Bible class.”

The boys were quite accustomed to
Ned’s habit of drawing a lesson from what
at first seemed only meant for amusement.
He liked to accustom them to think.
“Sea-weeds,” he would say, “float on the
surface, but we must dive for the pearls:
there be many stories from which.we can
draw a precious moral, if we but care to go
deep enough down to find it.”

The lads soon pos their places, some cn

AS
8 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

the forms, some on the floor to be nearer
their favourite teacher, who, resting his
single arm on the desk before him, leant
forward, and thus began :—

“ When I was a younker like yourselves,
before I’d ever crossed the salt sea, I re-
member that my good father once took me
to see an old castle in Wales. There is not
much about it that I can recollect now;
I’ve a dim notion of old stone walls, over-
grown with lichen, a portcullis with its
rusty chains that was hung over the gate-
way, and little slits of holes through which
the archers shot long before guns were in-
vented. But there was one thing in the
grey chapel which I remember well; ‘twas
an old battered shield that hung there, with .
a red cross painted upon it, and I shall
never forget the legend told of that ancient
shield. It had been carried to the Holy
Land many hundred years ago by a crusad-
ing knight who followed Richard the First.
The knight’s name has escaped my memory,
but we will call him St George.

“Many and great were the perils and
hardships encountered by the bold knight.
Mounted on his strong war-horse, with his
lance in rest, often would he charge the
Saracen foe. Where the battle was hottest,
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. o

there would the sunshine flash on his glit-
tering shield, and its red cross might ever
be seen in the thick of the fight!

“One day, I forget by what accident, St
George had dropped astern of therest of the
Christian host,and found himself riding all
alone on a glowing sandy plain. Suddenly
two Saracens hove in sight, bearing down
upon him, the sand under their horses’
hoofs rising like a light cloud. St George
uttered a short prayer—he was a brave and
pious knight—then couched his lance, set
spurs to his steed, and rode to meet the
foe. His spear laid the foremost low, but
snapped itself in the shock; St George
drew his sword, and dashed at the second
Moslem, who was a man of giant strength.

“The struggle was long andfierce. Blows
came so thick and fast that sparks flew
from the whirling swords. Well was it
for St George that his shield was of metal
tried and tempered! Thrice it saved him
from blows that would have cleft his skull !
The third time the scimitar of the enemy
was shivered against that shield! The
Saracen, thus disarmed, turned his rein and
fled across the desert. St George had no
power to give chase. his horse had been
sorely wounded, and scarcely had the Mos-
10 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

lem enemy disappeared in the distance, be-
fore the faithful charger sank dying upon
the sand!

“St George, grieved for his brave steed,
and he grieved for his own desolate state,
adrift on that dreary desert, with no port
of safety in view, and the sun glaring down
upon him till the sand under his feet, and
the very air that he breathed seemed from a
burning fiery furnace! St George saw a
few palm-trees in the distance, lifting their
feathery tops athwart the clear blue sky,
and he steered his course towards them ;
but, heavily laden with helm, hauberk, and
shield, the weary foot-sore traveller made
but slow way: it seemed as if he never
would gain the shade of those few trees,
Sorely tempted, then, was St George to
fling away the shield that hung so heavily
on his arm, even though other enemies
might be cruising on his lee; once ana
again he resolved to drop it down on the
sand, but the sight of the red cross upon it
changed the purpose of the knight.

“<«Ho!’ quoth St George, ‘no infidel
foot shall ever be able to trample on that
sign of my holy faith. Come weal, come
woe, I’ll never fling it away, or leave my
shield in the dust!’
THE SHIELD OF FAITH, il

“At length, almost exhausted, the knight
dragged his weary limbs as far as the little
isle—oasis, I should say—in the desert !
He threw himself down to rest under the
welcomeshadeof the palms, pillowed hishead
on his shield, and speedily dropped asleep.

“ Presently he opened his eyes ; the broad
fiery sun was sinking in a red haze on the
horizon of the desert, flat and rounded as
a sea-line: St George felt very desolate and
lonely. He looked down on his shield,
perhaps to cheer up his courage with the
sight of the cross upon it. The metal was
smooth, polished, and bright, and shone
like a mirror, save where here and there
the enemy’s steel had left a scratch or a
dint. St George could see the green
feathery top of a palm reflected in it; he
could see its slim fluted stem; and he
could see something besides which startled
even his bold spirit. In the shield he saw
a serpent, with forked tongue and gleam-
ing fangs, coiled round the reflected trunk,
as if just in act to spring! Warned in
time, the knight started aside as the vene-
mous creature darted down,—it missed its
prey, and the next moment was crushed
beneath the weight of the shield, which the
knight dashed with force upon it !
12 PROVED IN PERIL} O8,

“*God be praised!’ cried the pious knight,
as he looked on the lifeless serpent: ‘had
I not seen that deadly creature reflected
in my bright shield, I would soon have
been lying where it now lies, slain by its
poisonous fang! Well was it for me that
I cast not aside my red-cross shield !”

“ Again sleep overcame the exhausted
man, though, anxious to keep watch through
the night, lest new dangers should come
upon him, he would not again rest his head
on his shield. It lay beside him in the
position in which it had crushed the ser-
pent, with the arm-fastening upturned; the
red cross pressing the sand.

“ Long and deeply slumbered the knight,
so deeply that he was not even roused by
a sudden storm which came down during
the night, though the noise of it mixed
with his dreams. Parched as he was—
almost dying of thirst—St George dreamed
that the skies were pouring down their
showers upon him, but that fast as they
fell they were sucked in by the barren
sand! He was wet, yet perishing for want
of water! At length he awoke, to find
that his dream had been but too true! The
storm had come, and had gone; the sand
was steaming, the palm-trees were wet.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 1?

drops hung on the feathery leaves, the
knight’s mantle was damp and dank; but
where could he find one draught of water
to slake his feverish thirst ?

“«Oh ! cried the knight, as he tried to
gain a wretched relief by pressing his own
damp mantle to his lips, ‘one cup of cold
water now were worth a king’s ransom to
me!’

“It was then just on the hour of dawn,
and the first ray of light that streamed over
the desert fell on the down-turned shield.
The heavy drops had fallen on the hollow
buckler, it had caught and it had kept them
within its shallow round! The men of
the Hast speak of water still as the gift of
God ; never had it seemed more truly to
- deserve the name ; never had it been more
like life to a perishing soul than when
the knight drank it, sweet and pure, out of
his red-cross shield !

“That draught gave St George strength
to rise and go on his way. He was miles
astern of the camping-ground of the Chris-
tian host ; but before the day was over he
sighted white tents and waving pennons,
and his signals of distress were noticed at
last by his mates. He was brought into
camp half dead with heat, thirst, and ex-
14 PROVED IN PERIL; Ox,

haustion, but there, with food and rest, he
soon recovered his strength. The knight
lived to strike many a good blow for the
cause which he thought so holy.

“When the crusade was over, and St
George re-crossed the seas and came back
to his country and friends, he hung up his
shield in the chapel where I saw it when I
was a child. He had carried it in troubles
and dangers, it had been his defence through
them all, it had guarded him from open
assault, it had saved from the serpent’s, bite,
it had relieved his thirst in the desert ; ‘and
now, cried St George, ‘ whenever I wor-
ship God in this chapel, the sight of it
will serve to remind me of all I owe to His
mercy ; and when my days are ended, and
my dust lies in the vault, the shield that I
bore in battle shall hang there over my
tomb !’”



CHAPTER II.
THE FLASH.
«“ Now, my boys,” said the sailor, after

he had finished his story, “when the old
dame who showed us the castle and chapel
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 14

had told us of the knight’s adventures, my
father went all over the legend again, turn-
ing every part of it into a picture of real
life, as he had a fashion of doing in his own
allegorical way. I think that the ‘ Pil-
grim’s Progress’ had made a great impres-
sion on my father, and led him to try to
turn other stories to the same use as
Bunyan’s dream. I listened gladly enough,
for I was a wild merry boy, and nothing
took my fancy more than the notion of
going to the wars like a knight. Thus my
visittothe castle, and the story of the shield,
were fixed in my memory like a flag-statt
ou the top of a cliff; and often in the
troubles and tossings of life, I have turned
my eyes that way, and thought of St George
in the desert. But never,” continued th

sailor, “ did the tale come so strongly to my
mind, as when I was myself deserted and
alone on the wild shore of Madagascar!
That was a time, indeed, when I was sorely
tempted, like the weary knight, to throw
away my good shield !”

“Your shield!” cried one of the boys,
“T did not know that sailors ever had
shields !”

“ There’s a shield which every Christian
must carry, whereurth ye can quench all
16 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

the fiery darts of the wicked.* We read
of it in the Bible; which of you can tell
me the name of that shield ?”

“The Shield of Faith!” cried almost
every voice in the room.

“‘ Ay, ay,” said the one-armed sailor ;
“that’s the shield that defends from open
attack and secret temptation, that pillows
the head in trouble, and gives the pure
draught of comfort to the parched and
perishing soul! But let us examine it
more closely. Which of you can tell me
what is really meant by Faith ?”

Fewer voices replied to this question
and these gave various answers. “Trust,”
said one ; “ belief,” cried another ; “ being
sure that there isa God!” exclaimed a third.

“T_ suspect,” said Ned Franks, “ that
some here may not have a very clear view
of what Saving Faith, Christian Faith, Liv-
ing Faith, can be. ‘To be sure that there
is a God, is indeed a kind of Faith, but it
may be held by those who fear and dread,
but do not love Him. The devils also be-
lieve and tremble.t Such faith in the
being of God is a grand thing, a solemn
thing, it is like the deep ocean,’—Ned
stretched out his handas he spoke,—“which
* Ephes iv. 6 + James ii. 19,
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 17

no man can sound, an ocean which may
overwhelm and drown, but which, vast as
it is, does not afford one draught of water
that sinful mortals such as we could drink
of and live. Many of the poor heathen
believe that there is a great mighty God,
but that Faith only fills them with terror ;
it is not likea shield to defend them, it is
more like a sword to slay.”

“Then what is Christian faith?” asked
shy, thoughtful Stephen White, who sat on
a low bench near Franks, leaiiing his chin
on the palm of his hand.

The sailor paused for some seconds be-
fore he replied. “I should like you to ask
that question of one better able to answer
it clearly,” said he, “for, as ’tis written
three times in God’s Word, the just shall
lave by faith,* it must be of mighty import-
ance that we should know what that faith
really is. I should call it, believing from
the bottom of our hearts that Jesus Christ,
our Lord, died to save us, and lives to bless
us. What must I do tobe saved ? eried a
sinner, anxious for his soul; believe im the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,+
was the answer given by an apostle.”

* Hab. ii. 4; Rom i. 17; Gal. iii. 11.
t Aets xv, 30, 31.
18 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

“T say,”—began a voice from the lower
part of the room, in the surly tone of one
who, having formed an opinion, resolves to
hold by it right or wrong,—that rough
“JT say,” and the preparatory cough that
followed, drew all eyes to the place where
stood Tom Mullins, the butcher’s son, a boy
with a bull-dog face, under a low retreating
forehead, half-hid by a mass of red hair.
The interruption excited the more attention,
as Tom’s father, the butcher, was known to
be a man who never entered the church,
who was barely civil even to the vicar, and
who was said to read many of the bad books
against which Mr Curtis had warned his
flock from the pulpit.

“Well, my lad, what do you say?” asked
Ned, after a moment’s pause of listening.

“T say,” repeated Tom, “that there’s a
deal of talk about faith, but the best faitb
is’ a good life!’ and he stood with his
thumbs in his pockets, looking boldly at the
sailor teacher, as if to defy him to give an
answer to that. Ned knew that both young
Mullins and his father often spoke with
open scorn of his appointment to his pre-
sent oftice, and said that he was no more fit
to teach boys than the vicar was to steer a
vessel. Ned knew that, to “put him down,”
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 19

and what they called “his religious cant,”
would be regarded as a triumph, both by the
butcher and his son. The sailor saw that
the whole school was eagerly attentive to
what should pass between him and Tom
Mullins ; and before he replied, had raisea
a silent prayer for wisdom and command of
temper, that neither ignorance nor impa-
tience on his part might do wrong to the
holiest of causes.

“You assert, my lad,” answered the
sailor, “that the best faith 1s a good life.
{ reply that there can be no good life with-
out faith, for whatsoever is not of faith rs
sin.”* Ned rested his hand as he spoke 02
a Bible that lay on the table before him.

« Well,” said young Mullins, with a less
reverential air than became one speaking on
such a subject, “I believe that Jesus Christ
once lived in Judea, and set men a good
example, and I suppose that is what you call
faith.”

“Christian faith is much more than
thinking of the blessed Lord as we might
think of any holy man in history,” said
Franks. “The Son of God came down
from Heaven, where he had dwelt with His
Father, rot only to be our example, but to

* Rom. xiv. 23.
20 PROVED 1N PERIL; OR,

be a sacrifice for our sins. The faith by
which the just shall live is faith in a bleed-
ing, dying Saviour, such faith as made St
Paul declare,-—I determined not to know
anything among you but Jesus Christ, and
Him crucified.” *

“But I don’t quite understand,” said
Stephen White, in a very different spirit
and tone from those of the butcher’s son,
“T can’t see why sins could not have been
forgiven without the Lord Jesus Christ
dying that terrible death for us.”

“That,” answered the sailor, is one of the
deep mysteries that we, with our short line
of reason, will never be able to fathom ; we
must wait for that time when in Heaven
we shall know even as we are known. Of
this we may be certain, nothing less pre-
cious than the blood of Christ could have
washed away the sins of a world, or the
Son of God would never have paid such a
price for man’s salvation.”

“God is merciful,” began Stephen, but
in a timid, hesitating tone.

“ Most merciful,” cried the sailor ; “but
we must not forget that God is also holy,
just, and true. God hates sin, for He is
holy; must punish it, for God isjust ; must

*1 Cor. ii. 2.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 2)

fulfil His threatenings, for God is truth.
There was a terrible debt to be paid—the
Lord Jesus came down to pay it, not with
silver, or gold, or gems, but with His own
precious life. He ts the Lamb of God that
taketh away the sins of the world.* It is
faith in His perfect sacrifice that is the
faith of the Christian.”

“What is a sacrifice?’ asked a young
boy.

“YT don’t know how I can explain the
subject, either of sacrifice or of faith, better
than by reminding you of the first passover
held by the children of Israel,” said Franks,
turning over the Bible to the twelfth chap-
ter of Exodus. “You know that a terrible
judgment from God was to come over the
whole land of Egypt in which the Israel-
ites dwelt. An angel was to pass through
the realm, and smite with death the first-
born in every house, from the first-born of
the king in his palace, to that of the prisoner
in his dungeon. The Israelites were com-
manded by God to kill a lamb for each of
their households on the evening before that
terrible night, and to take of the blood of
that lamb and strike it on the side-posts
and the upper door-posts of each of their

* John i. 29.
22 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

dwellings; and there was a promise that,
wherever the angel of death should see that
sign of blood, he would pass by that house,
and no one init should perish. Now, mark
you, my boy,” continued Ned Franks, with
emphatic earnestness, “the Israelites believed
the Word of God, they believed that they
should be saved, not for any merit of their
own, but through the blood of the Lamb.
This was fazth, simple, trusting faith.”
They said not “ how can this thing be? how
can the blood of a lamb save our lives?’
they obeyed, and they were delivered. Now,
here is a type or picture of faith and salva-
tion for us. Christ, owr passover ts slain,*
His precious blood, through faith, sprinkled
in our hearts, saves us from the terrible de-
struction which all, through sin, have de-
served. In Him alone we are safe; if not
in Him we must perish ; without shedding
of blood ts no remission.ft This is the one
means of salvation which God has ap-
pointed, which God has made known; to
accept that means with thankful trust, that
is faith, and a faith which must lead toa
holy life. For the love of Christ con-
straineth us . . . that they which
live should not henceforth live unto them-
“1 Cor. v. 7 + Heb. ix. 22.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 23

selves, but unto Him which died for them,
and rose agatn.”*

The words were yet on the lips of the
sailor, when a sudden vivid flash litup the
room, instantly followed by a tremendous
clap of thunder, which shook the building to
its foundation, and so startled the boys that
many of them sprang to their feet in alarm,
for the peal was just over their heads.

“ Fear nothing—keep your seats—there’s
2 lightning-conductor aloft,” cried Ned
Franks.

“ See—see !” exclaimed Tom Mullins, his
lips quivering with terror, as he pointed to
& pine-tree but a few yards from the porch
of the school. The lightning had struck it
and rent it asunder, and laid half its leafy
honours in the clay while the trunk stood
erect, a blighted thing, which never more
would put forth fresh foliage to hail the re-
turn of spring.

“Thank God that we had a lightning-con-
ductor fixed to this building,” cried Franks.
“ But for it I believe that flash would have
struck the school-house, and at this moment
we might all have been buried beneath its
ruins !”

Not another word was spoken for several

* 2 Cor. y. 14.15.
24 PROVED IN PERIL; Ok,

minutes, all the boys were breathlessly
watching for the next flash, the next awful
peal above them. Tom Mullins’ teeth chat-
tered with fear; he leant against the wall
with his staring eyes fixed on the stricken |
pine-tree, which stood there an image of the
fate which he dreaded. The flash came,
but it was far less dazzling, and the time
which elapsed before it was followed by the
thunder, showed that the storm was rolling
away to the west.

“Were you not afraid?” said a pale boy
to Stephen White, drawing a deep breath
of relief.

“T was afraid at the crash of that great
thunder-clap till our teacher cried, ‘ there’s
a lightning-conductor !’ but then I knew
we were safe.”

“That was faith in my word,” exclaimed
Franks, eager to turn to account the terrors
of the storm, which had for a while awed
even the insolent spirit of Mullins. Oh!
boys, can you not trace a likeness between
ourselves with the thunder-storm raging
around us, and sinners in danger of des-
truction from the wrath of a holy God!
The conductor, the slender rod of iron
fixed aloft, which draws on itself the
electric flash, and carries it down to spend
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 25

its force unharming, that is a faint type of
salvation offered to us. The lightning of
wrath fell on Him who was lifted up on
the cross for our sakes, and but for that
love which consented thus to become a
sacrifice for our sins, we might have seen
in that blasted shattered pine-tree a type of
our own lost state !”

Nothing more was said at that time on
the subject of faith. Gradually the storm
rolled away, the rain ceased, the sun came
forth and glittered on the drops that hung
on every spray until they sparkled like
diamonds. The boys left the school and
dispersed to their homes, some first linger-
ing awhile by the blasted tree, tracing down
its charred blackened trunk the course of
the destroying lightning. Stephen White
was the one who staid longest, turning
thoughtfully over in his mind what he had
heard from the teacher on that day.

“Then it is facth if I believe with my
whole heart that the blood of the Lord
Jesus Christ saves my soul from death, as
the blood of the lamb saved the Israelites
from the destroying angel! it is faith if I
believe with my whole “heart that the Son
of God bore the punishment of sin in our
stead, as the lightning-conductor draws on
26 PROVED 1N PERIL; OR,

itself the flash that might strike us dead !
And this faith isa shield tothe soul! Ican-
not quite understand that yet; I will ask
Ned Franks to explain. Perhaps he will
tell us some day of the adventure which he
had on some wild distant shore, when, as he
said, he was tempted to drop his good
Shield of Faith.”



CHAPTER IIL.
PLUNGING IN.

Ir was not long before the sailor was
called upon to relate his adventure in
Madagascar to the boys of his school: even
Tom Mullins, who, as he owned, hated a
iecture, loved a story, and was not the
least attentive listener to the sailor’s tale.
[ shall not give the account in Ned Franks’
words, but in my own, which will enable me
to say more of his character and conduct
than he would have dreamed of saying
himself.

Ned Franks had been brought up for
the first fourteen years of his life by a
pious father, the retired captain of a small
fishing smack. Ned was his only child by
his second marriage, and his sons and
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 27

daughters by the first were out in the
world before this—his youngest boy, had
left his cradle, so that the parents’ almost
undivided attention. had been given to little
Ned. To bring him up in the fear and
love of God had been the earnest effort of
both: the rosy-cheeked, golden-haired boy
had been the child of many prayers, and
those prayers had been early answered.
Ned could not remember the time when
he had first felt his heart drawn towards
God, when he had first, kneeling at his
mother’s knee, confessed his childish faults,
or told his childish wishes to his Father in
Heaven. Ned was known while yet very
young, as the boy who loved his Bible, and
never would tell a lie. If hasty temper
ever led him into passion, or a love of fun
into mischief, Ned never attempted for a
moment to deny his fault or conceal it.
His character was open as daylight. He
possessed a natural courage which often
helped him to take the straight manly
course, when more timid spirits might have
wavered. Ned liked to look danger in the
face, and do at once what he knew should
be done. A little trait of this resolute
temper shown when he was five years of
age delighted his father, and was charac-
28 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

teristic of Ned’s way of acting all through
his succeeding life. Old Franks was going
to teach his little one to swim. “I say, my
boy,” asked the father, laying his hand on
the golden curls in which he took a fond
pride, “ will you wade into the water from
the shore like the shrimpers, or from yon
little rock take a header into the sea?”

“ll take a header, father,” said the child,
looking fearlessly into his face; “you'll be
by, so I can’t be drowned, and T’ll learn to
swim all the quicker.”

“ That's right, my boy!” cried the father;
“and mind if ever you have anything in
life which conscience bids you do, but
which tries your courage, like learning to
swim, don’t go wading on timidly step by
step, or you'll maybe turn back like a
coward, but take a header at once, know
the worst, and you'll swim like a duck
through it all!”

The boy neither forgot the counsel, nor
failed to act upon it ; Ned was always tak-
ing “headers” when difficulties were before
him. In every ship in which the young
sailor served, he at once let his principles
be known, at once faced the jeers and
ill-will which his religion might bring upon
him, and by his resolute bearing soon
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 29

silenced these jeers, and in some cases even
changed that ill-will into admiration.

“ Better keep your strict notions to your-
self, and serve God without offending your
messmates,” said once to him an old seaman,
who had himself always, as he owned
trimmed his sails according to the wind.
“Can’t you pray when lying in your hai-
mock, when no one will guess what you’re
after! If you don’t do things all of a
sudden, you'll get your own way by de-
grees.”

“My father always told me,” answered
Ned, “that they who serve God must look
for some persecution, and I’d rather have
my share out at once. To go half-yielding
this matter, half-fighting out that, muffling
up one’s religion as if it were a thing to be
ashamed of, and yet trying all the time to
steer rightly, and not be driven from one’s
course, gives one ten times the trouble and
pain that straightforward conduct would do.
If I had to lose my hand,” continued the
young sailor gaily, “I'd think it no saving
of pain to have it taken off finger by finger;
I’d rather hold it out to the hatchet at once,
and have the work done at a blow.”

Though natural courage had something
to do with Ned’s resolution, it was yet, above
30 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

all, his fazth that bore him bravely through
the manifold temptations that beset his
path. This ts the victory that overcometh
the world, even our farth.* The belief that
Christ had indeed died to save him, and yet
lived to bless, was as a strong shield to dash
aside or blunt the enemy’s shafts. Fear-
ing Ged, Ned Franks had no other fear.
And the opposition which the lad had at
first to encounter gradually died away. He
was so frank, cheerful, and obliging, that
no one could long harbour feelings of ill-
willtowards him. Even those who disliked
Ned’s piety, liked him notwithstanding that
piety. It was soon understood that it was
his way to “go in the teeth of the wind,”
and those who would not follow his course,
gave up all attempt to turn him from it
When Ned was about twenty years of
age, he was serving on board a merchant
vessel employed in trading with the Mauri-
tius, and other islands in the Hastern seas.
The captain regarded young Franks as one
of his best hands, a man cheerful in work
and fearless in danger, always active on the
_ sea, and always sober on shore. Franks
possessed another qualification which fur-
ther, raised him in the good opinion of
*1 John v. &
THE SHIELD OF FAITR. 31

Captain Cole. The young seaman had great
ease in picking up foreign languages,—a
facility so great that the sailors used to say
that if Ned was senttoliveamongstmonkeys,
he would soon make out their jabber, and
teach them to understand his. On board
the “Sylph” was a native of the island of
Madagascar, a land at that timealmostclosed
against Europeans. About a year had
passed since the missionaries who had
laboured there in faith had been forced to
fly from Madagascar ; and dark and gloomy
were the accounts now and then received of
the state of that country from fugitives es-
caping from the tyranny of its Queen. One
of these fugitives was Hayo, who was em-
ployed by Captain Cole to perform various
menial offices on board the “Sylph.” “The
nigger,” as he was called by the crew,
though little resembling any of the negro
race, soon attached himself to Ned Franks,
who, naturally disposed to protect the weak,
shielded the poor savage from many an in-
sult and wrong, It was a great amusement
to Franks in his leisure hours to pick up
from Hayo scraps of the Malagasy language;
and he did so with the nobler motive of
teaching the poor heathen the truths of
the Christian religion. Captain Cole en-
B
32 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

couraged his young sailor in these efforts te
learn the Malagasy tongue. “Cruising
about Madagascar,” said he, “ we may have
some day to put into a port for water, and
*tis well to have an interpreter who can hold
parley with the natives.” Ned Franks little
guessed, however, how glad he would be,
ere long, of the knowledge which he was
gaining.

The years spent by Ned Franks on board
the “Sylph” were amongst the pleasantest
of his sea-life. He was in the flower of his
youth and strength, full of buoyant spirits,
and he had become a favourite both with
captain and crew. Opposition on account
of his religious views was over; like the
knight St George, Ned had conquered his
foes, and perhaps, so weak is human nature
so mixed is evil with good, Ned Franks felt
a little proud of his own resolution and
courage. He had become something like a
leader amongst those who had been en-
couraged by his example to show more de-
cision in faith than they otherwise might
have dared to do. And yet at this very
period clouds were rising over the young
Christian’s sky. Ned Franks was living
less closely to his God than he had done in
times of greater trial and temptation. His
"HE SHIELD OF FAITH. 33

outward conduct was unchanged, he read
his Bible, and prayed, and the h manly
voice of “psalm-singing Ned,” as often
heard by his messmates ; yet the heart of
Franks was growing colder in religion ; his
thoughts wandered much in prayer; he
rested more in his strength, and sought iess
for strength from above. There are few,
even of devout Christians, who have not
known such seasons of decline. The hour
of comparative rest is often more full of
peril than that of struggle and strife.



CHAPTER IV.
THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION.

Ir happened one day that the “ Sylph”
having been becalmed for some time off the
western coast of Madagascar, her supply of
water began to run short, and Captain Cole
ordered a boat’s crew to land near the
mouth of a river, and fill some casks. A
few of the sailors were allowed the enjoy-
ment of a ramble on shore after their long
confinement on board, and Ned Franks,
whom the captain especially trusted, was
one of these chosen few. They were to re-
34 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

turn to the boat in an hour, and to take
especial care that they should never be be-
yond sound of the boatswain’s whistle.

Ned gladly availed himself of the leave
with full intention to obey the command.
He had longed to tread on the wooded
shore, on which he had often gazed from
the glowing deck of the “Sylph,” and he
sprang from the boat to land with an ex-
ulting sense of freedom and enjoyment.
After helping to fill the casks with water,
Ned strolled off alone into the deep woods.
which, to one who so keenly admired the
fair scenes of nature, appeared like a para-
dise of beauty. After the glare of the ocean,
it was so refreshing to feed the eyes upon
. the luxuriant green of the forest. There
grew the acacia, the citron, and palm;
splendid creepers, laden with many-coloured
blossoms, hung like garlands from the
trees; a rich undergrowth of grass and
fern formed a thick carpet below, on which,
perhaps, no human foot had ever trodden
before. The trees were alive with green
parrots; and Ned, as he wandered on,
slowly making his way through the tangled
brushwood, caught glimpses of monkeys in
the branches above him, chattering as they
leapt lightly from bough to bough.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH, 35

But what delighted the young sailor above
all was a plant which he found in a clear
flowingstream which wound its way through
a part of theforest. Spread out, just below
the surface of the water, grew a number of
beautiful branching plume-like leaves from
one stem, each leaf from nine to ten inches
long, and formed as it were of open-work,
like exquisite bright green lace. Under the
limpid water, as if in a crystal shrine, every
leaf in its delicate beauty was seen, the larger
ones olive-green, the smaller ones tinted pale
yellow, each looking as if the touch of child
would tear the light fabric to pieces. Air-
bubbles, like tiny globes of silver, were seen
through the opennet-work under the beauti-
ful plant. The ouvirandra* has since been
brought to England, but, at the time of
which I write, was as new to British bota-
nists as it was to Ned Franks.

“ Green lace growing wild for the fairies |”
cried Ned, bending in admiring wonder
over the stream. “I must gather and pre-
serve some of those leaves for my father,
they'll be a rare curiosity in dear old Eng-
land, where one never sees anything like
them!” Ned knelt down on the bank,
grasped the stem of the ouvirandra, under

* Ouvirandra Fenistralis, or lace-plant.
36 fROVED IN PERIL; OR,

its crown of leaves, and drew up the whole
plant with the root at the end, the long
fleshy white root, covered with thick light
brown skin. Ned knew not that the root
was as valuable for food as the lace-leaves
were remarkable for beauty.

A little further up the stream Ned des-
eried other plants of the ouvirandra in
blossom, the stalk with its branching forked
flowers rising from the centre of the leaves.
The sailor was so deeply interested in
collecting this and other curious plants,
that it is scarcely matter of surprise that
he forgot that time was flowing on, silent
and swift as the stream.

“JT wonder that I’ve not heard the
whistle!” said Ned Franks at last, raising
himself from the ground with both his
hands filled with his gathered treasures,
“TJ am sure that at least an hour must have
passed.” The sailor would have been near-
er the truth had he said “more than two
hours.” Ned paused, and bent his ear to
listen. There was no sound to be heard
but the screams of the parrots, the chatter
of the apes, and the rustle of leaves in the
wind. “I’m out of my reckonings,” said
the sailor to himself, “I can’t guess which
way to steer. I'll shout and my mates will
j~y_HE SHIELD OF FAITH, 37

snewer.” Long and Joud rang the clear
“halloo!” through the deep echoing woods,
but no human reply came back on the
breeze. Ned began to feel somewhat un-
easy; he shouted again and again, but
still received no answer. . The utter soli-
tude of these wild untrodden forests now
oppressed the spirit of the young sailor
with a sense of desolation. Ned was not
one, however, lightly to give way to either
anxiety or fear. He struggled manfully
on through the brushwood, pushing aside
the luxuriant creepers that barricaded his
path ; ever and anon stopping to shout, and
listening, but listening in vain.

“Tf I could but tell in which quarter
lies the blue sea, I’d soon join my mates,”
said Ned Franks, wiping his heated brow.
He had already been obliged to drop the
greater part of the plants he had gathered.
“The wood here is so thick that I can’t
see five yards before me. Il mount the
tallest palm-tree I can find; there’s one
overtopping the rest of the wood, high and
straight as a mainmast, Ill go aloft and
look out.”

Ned quickly made his way to the tree,
dropped his remaining plants at its foot
and with great agility and lightness began
38 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

climbing the lofty stem. Even for him,
the most active of the crew of the “Sylph,”
it was no easy task to gain the leafy crest.
Ned did not, however, so much as pause to
takebreathtill hehad reached a height which
commanded a somewhat extensive view
over the wood and the beach beyond. He
saw distinctly to the west the horizon of
blue sea rounding the prospect, with but a
single object breaking its clear, soft line.
Upon that object the eyes of the sailor
were fixed, as he clung to his leafy perch,
with a gaze almost wild in its eager inten-
sity. Ned could scarcely believe what he
saw, and it was several minutes before he
could give utterance to his feelings in words.

“Tt is—it is—the ‘Sylph!’ all sails set
—bearing away to the west! my faithless
messmates have weighed anchor, and left
me here to perish !”

The vessel had already sailed much too
far from the island for it to be possible for
any cry from the shore to reach the ears of
those on board. Franks remained gloom-
ily gazing at the white sails gradually
lessening in the distance, bearing away, as
it seemed, allhis earthly hope! Then, with
his heart glowing with indignation at the
base desertion. the sailor descended the
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. ao.

tree, and, exhausted in spirit as well as in
strength, flung himself down on the ground
at its foot.

It was then that temptation, in a new
form, assailed the heart of the brave young
seaman, left alone in the wild forests of an
anknown and savage land! A deep sense
of cruel wrong from man, mingled with a
dark distrust of the love of Him who seem--
ed to have deserted His faithful servant in
his need! Night was soon coming on, but
deeper gloom than night could bring was
brooding over a tempted soul! Weary,
hungry, and faint, Ned Franks was less
able to struggle against the evil thoughts
that crowded now on his spirit.

“JT would not have deserted a dog so !”
the seaman muttered between his clenched
teeth. “They did not think it worth an
hour’s search to save a messmate from
starving on roots and berries, dying inch by
inch in these woods ; or becoming a prey
to the wild beasts, or maybe the cannibals
of this island !”

And was this the reward of faithful, fear-
less obedience to his Heavenly King? Ned
had not been ashamed of his religion, he
had dared to confess his God before men,
and had lived a life mere consistent with

B2
40 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

his faith than any other man in his vessel.
How readily now rose the thought, “Z have
cleansed my heart in vain, and washed
my hands in innocency.”

Then was the time when, as an old half-
forgotten song will sometimes come to
memory, drawn back by some links of ideas
which we are hardly able to trace, Ned
thought of the story of the knight which
had taken his fancy in childhood. He re-
membered St George alone and weary,
tempted to drop his good shield as he toiled
on in the burning heat. Then Ned thought
of St George, stretched like himself under
a palm-tree, when the glowing, fiery sun
was sinking over the desert.

And I have my serpent too!” thought
the seaman, as he traced out the allegory in
hismind. “ Rebellion against God—anger
against man—it is fazth that shows me the
enemy, and it is by fazth that 1 must crush
it!” Ned Franks sprang to his feet, and
raised his eyes towards the sky above him.
“Oh! God, help me! Oh! my God, for-
give me! Let me put away all hard
thoughts of others, all mistrustful thoughts
of Thee! Whatever I may have to suffer
in this wild and desolate land, let my faith
be firm and unshaken! Let me be able to
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 41

say of Him who died to save, and lives to
bless me, J know whom I have believed.*
though He slay me, yet will I trust im
Aim+



CHAPTER V.
A NARROW ESCAPE.

NepD Franks slept that night on the
ground. Hard was his couch, dreary his
lot; unknown dangers might surround hin,
yet sound and sweet was his sleep. His
first thought when he unclosed his eyes in
the morning, and the sight of waving
boughs, and thick, dank fern, reealled his
desolate state to his mind, was, in the words
of David, Z will fear no evil, for thou art
with me.t In that thought was hope, and
peace, and joy. It was the sweet refreshing
draught which the soul, when earthly com-
forts fail, can yet find, like the rain from
above, gathered and retained in the shield
of faith !

Ned tried to appease the cravings of
hunger by eating such berries as he could
gather, thankful for even the wild provision

*2 Tim. i, 12. +2 Job xiii. 15.
t Psalm xxiii. 4.
42 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

whieh the woods afforded. Then, to slake
his thirst, he made his way in the direction
where he saw the silvery gleam of water
through the thick screen of copse.

The sailor soon found himself on the
bank of a river of considerable size, doubt-
less the same as that at the mouth of which
the boat had put in to water. This might
both supply him with fish, and guide his
course to the beach. Ned made his way
down a somewhat steep bank, and was
about to stoop to drink when he observed,
stretched on the muddy margin, at about
the distance of thirty yards, what at the
first careless glance he thought was a log
of dry wood, but which at the second he
recognised to be a large crocodile, apparent-
ly quite stiff and dead. Ned was too pru-
dent to trust himself near those huge jaws
till he had made sure whether the motion-
less creature were really lifeless. He flung
a large stone, which rebounded from the
scaly back of the monster, and the croco-
dile, roused perha;s out of sleep, instantly
turned and plunced heavily into the river.
Ned heard the loud splash, and saw the
big rising bubbles where the reptile had
disappeared, and watched the widening
circles on the disturbed surface of the water.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH, 43

*T shall be careful how I take to swim-
ming that river,” thought Ned, “if it’s the
home of gentry such as that! The croco-
dile is a dangerous foe in the water, how-
ever awkward and timid on land. One
snap of these mighty jaws would crunch
one’s bones like a nutshell!”

Ned now resolved to track the river to
the sea, from whose shore it was just pos-
sible that he might catch sight of some
passing vessel. He would fasten up a
bamboo as a flag-staff, with his blue necker-
chief tied to the top to wave in the wind as
a signal, with the hope, faint and feeble in-
deed, that it might, even on that desolate
beach, be seen by some human eye.

“Perhaps, however,” reflected Ned, “I
may here be in more danger from men
than from reptiles or prowling beasts.
Better be the crocodile’s prey than the
slaveof some heathen savage. Ha! what was
chat !” he exclaimed aloud, as a wild, terrific
cry rose from the water, like that of some
human being in mortal fear or pain. A
bend of the river hid the spot from the view
of Ned Franks, but in a moment he bound-
ed over the brushwood, and came in sight
of what sent a wild thrill through his soul.
Struggling and splashing amongst the rank
reeds which overgrew the shallower parte of
44 PROVED LN YERIL; OB,

the river, Ned saw the form of a uative,
whose face wore an expression of horror,
such as would have told its dreadful tale,
nad the sailor not beheld at the same time
the scaly head of one of the river monsters,
that seemed to be dragging down its victim.
Ned did not stop an instant to think of
danger to himself, or to ask whether the
wretched native might prove a friend or a
foe, is was enough that he was a man, and
in most horrible peril. The English sailoc
wrenched up a young cane that was grow-
ing close beside him, and, armed with no
better weapon, rushed into the water to the
rescue, with a loud ringing halloo, and
struck the monster on the eye with all the
force of a strong right arm! Startled and
alarmed by the shout and the splashing, as
much, perhaps, as hurt by the blow, the
crocodile seemed to forego its prey; but
the native was too much paralysed by ter-
ror to avail himself of the momentary pause. -
Franks, with his left hand, seized hold of
the man, and bya violent effort of strength
which made every muscle quiver, struggled
back to the bank, and up it, dragging with
him the native whom he had snatched from
death, before the crocodile had time to re-
new his attack in the water.

“Thank God, he’s safe ! but ’twas a close
THE SHIELD OF FAITH, 45

run for life,” exclaimed Franks, as, gasping
and panting, he stood on the bank watching
the baulked and furious monster below lash-
ing the water to foam. The sailor then
turned with kindly anxiety to see what in-
juries the native had sustained in his late
desperate encounter. Great was Ned’s sur-
prise to find that, though but lightly clad in
a garment of woven fibre, with no protection
whatever from the crocodile’s ravening teeth,
the man was evidently unwounded. There
was no stain of blood on the dress, not only
life but limb was preserved. Franks could
not account for what appeared like a miracle,
till, as the native, sinking on his knees,
stretched out his clasped hands towards his
preserver, he noticed iron bands on the poor
creature’s wrists, from each of which hung
loosely a few links of a broken chain.
“The monster must have seized him by
his fetters, and snapped them in the struggle
in the water. But how could a wretch in
chains attempt to cross that river? He
must be some prisoner trying to escape.”
Franks looked with compassionate inte-
rest on the form kneeling at his feet, thin
and wasted, as if by famine, the wrist bruised
and chafed by the irons which still they
wore. But with what a thrill did he hear
46 PROVED iN PERIL; OB,

the first words, spoken in the Malagasy lan-
guage, which burst from the poor creature's
lips, as he raised his clasped hands and eyes
towards Heaven. “Lord Jesus, I thank
Thee!” Ned Franks could hardly believe
his own ears. Had he indeed found a
Christian in that wild and dreary land ?
under that olive-tinged skin did a heart
beat with grateful love to the Saviour?
Such a hope had never before entered the
sailor’s mind.

“Do you know the Lord Jesus?” ex-
claimed Ned Franks in the Malagasy lan-
guage.

The countenance of the native beamed
with sudden delight at the question, asked
in his own mother tongue. Pressing his
hand to his heart, he replied, “He is my
only Saviour ; I have left all for Him.”

“Then we are friends—brothers!” cried
Ned, with heartfelt joy at having been made
the means of saving the life of a persecuted
believer. “I thank God from the bottom
of my soul for what I thought the greatest
of misfortunes. Had I not been deserted
by my messmates yesterday, this poor Chris-
tian would have perished to-day.”
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 47

CHAPTER VI.
THE MARTYRS.

NeEpD FRANKS soon found that Ramonga,
such was thename of the native, might prove
a blessing to his preserver in various ways.
Accustomed to a wild life in the woods, Ra-
monga knew far better than the Englishman
could do how to find sustenance in them.
He pointed out to Ned the pandanus tree,
with its immensely long drooping leaves,
and told him of nuts growing amongst them.
From Ramonga the sailor learnt that the
root of the beautiful lace-plant, when cooked,
resemblesa yam. The native of Madagascar
led his new friend to the foot of the travel-
ler’s tree, whose bark, when wounded, yields
a draught of refreshing water. Such know-
ledge was to the sailor far more precious
than gold. But when Franks expressed to
Ramonga his hopes that some ship might
pass, and his signals be seen from its deck,
the native shook his head and sighed, as if
such hopes must prove utterly vain.

“The moon has nine times filled up her
erescent since I have wandered cn that
48 PROVED IN PERIL; OB,

shore,” said Ramonga, “with weary heart
and bleeding feet ; and at morn and eve I’ve
looked over the blue waters, and prayed that
a sail might appear. But what white man
twould now care to tread on our land of
tears and blood? Many times have the
trees shed their leaves since the missionaries,
the men of the Book, who carried here the
seed of truth, were forced to flee from our
island. The winds and the waves bring no
longer to Madagascar messengers of peace.
It is a great prison, and its wall is the sea.
Oh ! stranger, those who come hither can
hope no more to depart.”

“While there’s life there’s hope,” said
the sailor. “But tell me,” he continued,
speaking with difficulty in Malagasy, and
helping out his sentence? with many an Eng-
lish word, while Ramonga gathered in the
meaning as much with his eyes as his ears,
—*“tell me how you come to be here, the
only Christian in a nation of heathen?”

“Theonly Christian !” repeated Ramonga,
with a wondering, questioning look, as if he
thought he must have misunderstood what
the white man hadsaid. “Oh! we are here
a large family of the followers of the Lord ;
some in the palace, some in the prison, some
wandering in the forest” -—he waved his hand
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 49



round with an expressive gesture,—“ some
hiding in pits,”—he pointed downwards —
“ and some’—he raised his hand towards
Heaven,—“ some at home with the Lord.”

“Has Madagascar, then, its martyrs?”
eried Franks. }

An expression of solemn sweetness gave
a strange beauty to Ramonga’s dark counte-
nanceas he replied, “ Ask the earth, red with
the blood that flowed from the spear wounds.
—ask the steep rock of Antanarivo, down.
which thequivering forms were hurled—ask
the breezes of Heaven, laden with the smoke:
of the burning,—whether the land of the
Hovas* has not had its martyrs for the faith.
of Christ Jesus, our Lord.”+

The words had tenfold effect on the heart:
of the young English sailor from the lips.
that spoke them. Franks looked on the
native, who was scarcely older than himself,
but who was wasted and bowed by suffer-
ing, with deep lines of care on his brow.
Franks looked on those wrists from which

*The principal race in Madagascar.
+See for a description of the sufferings of the
noble martyrs of Madagascar, the Rev. Mr Ellis’
“Visits to Madagasear,” a more recent volume by
Mrs Ellis, and a work by the Bishop of the Mau-
ritius.
50 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

still hung the remains of the chain that had
galled for months, cruelly lessening the
power of the sufferer to procure even such
berries and roots as might keep soul and
body together. There was nothing of the
savage in Ramonga. As with many of the
Hova race his brow was high, his eye clear
and bright, though softened into an expres-
sion that spoke much of sorrow, and more
of submission. Here was one who had in-
deed fought the good fight of faith, suffer-
ing, bleeding, but yet unsubdued ; one who
had endured the loss of all things rather
than deny the Lord whom he loved !

“Did you make your escape from pri-
son ?” asked Franks. Ramonga shook his
head, and glanced at the irons on his arms.

«Some of us were thrust forth into the
woods,” he replied, “ bearing with us such
tokens as these of the wrath of the priests.
One carried the heavy wooden collar, which
allowed no rest day or night to him who
wore it; another had fetters on his feet;
others, and I was of them, had chains
fastened to their wrists. We dared not
enter the villages, we dared not ask even
for a handful of rice if a traveller chanced
to pass! And so my companions, one by
one, were called home by their Master to
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 51

the land where chains can bind no more,
where there is no more sound of weep-
ing.”

“ And God gave you strength to endure
all this !” exclaimed Franks.

“The sorest pang was when I beheld
them scourge my dear old father!” said
Ramonga, heaving a deep-drawn sigh.
“He was full of years, and weak, and the
blows were heavy on him; they sent his
soul to God! He died with the word on
his lips, ‘tsara!’” (it is well !)

“Oh!” exclaimed the young sailor, in-
voluntarily clenching his fist and setting
his teeth at the thought of what his own
feelings would be were any one in his pre-
sence so much as to hurt a hair of his
grey-headed parent, “did not your blood
boil with rage, did you not long to trample
these wretches into dust !”

Again Ramonga’s dark eyes were fixed
with a wondering look on the stranger.
« Are we not followers,” said the Hova,
“of Him who bade us love our enemies,
and, dying, prayed for His own?”

Ned Franks was silent under the rebuke
He was learning a lesson of humility that
day ; he was being taught the power of
Christian faith and love from a man whom
52 PROVED IN PERIL; OB,

he, at first sight, had deemed to be a poor
ignorant savage.

Ramonga, who for months had wandered
alone, without being able to utter his feel-
ings to any human ear, felt great relief
andcomfort in pouring out his tale of suffer-
ing to the sailor, who showed such keen
sympathy with his woes. He told of
Rasolama,* his mother’s friend, the first
Christian martyr in Madagascar. Ramonga
as a child had known her well, had played
in her house, and received from her pine-
apples, and pieces of the sweet sugar-cane.
She, the gentle, tender-hearted woman, had
drawn on herself the vengeance of the ter-
rible queen, by the kindness which she
showed to her poorer brethren in the faith.
Rasolama was seized, questioned, tormented ;
but the grace of God kept her woman’s
heart firm through all the terrible trial.
Ramonga, with emotion, related his own
recollections of that fearful time.

“T heard my mother say, wringing her
hands as she spoke, that Rasolama, who was
dear to her as a sister, was to be speared to -
death in the morning, because she would
not deny the Lord. I thought then, child

* The touching story of the martyrdom of Raso-
lama is related by Mrs Ellis.
THE SBIRLD OF FAITH. 53

as I was, that God would send his angel in
the night, as He sent to Peter, and bring
her out, and set her free, for she was too
good to die. I comforted my heart with
this thought all through the dark hours of
night, while I was kept awake on my mat
by the sound of my mother’s sobbing.
Weary I dropped asleep, just as the dawn
was breaking ;—when I awoke our hut
was empty, and the full light shone upon
earth. It was to me like the. glance of
God, and I did not think that he could
look on, and let Rasolama be slain. I
forgot that her feet were but treading
the way that her Saviour had taken before
her, and that she was going to Him! 1]
heard a great noise of drums and yelling,
and then I shuddered and trembled, for I
knew that the cruel ones must be taking
dear Rasolama to her death. I ran and hid
myself in the hut in which the white mis-
sionaries from beyond the seas had been
wont to preach the Word. It was silent
then, and deserted, but I knew from the
distant drums that the crowd were coming
that way. And I saw Rasolama,” continued
Ramonga, with glistening eye and quiver-
ing lip, “I saw her in the midst of the

throng that were taking her to die, and
54 PROVED IN PERIL; Ok,

her face seemed to me as the face of
an angel! She turned to take a last
wistful look of the chapel, and I caught
the sound of her voice as she said, ‘ there
[ heard the words of my Saviour!’ She
was faithful unto death, and the Lord has
given her a crown of lite.”

Thus Ramonga beguiled the weary hours
by recounting the sufferings of the martyrs
of Madagascar ; worthy followers of those
of whom we read in the eleventh chapter of
Hebrews, who, through fatth, endured to
the end!

CHAPTER VIL.
RELEASE.

‘ | COULD not but feel shame, boys,” was
Ned Frank’s remark as he ended his account
of the martyrs, “I could not but feel
shame,” he repeated, “to think how strong
their faith was, and how wretchedly weak
had been mine! I had thought it some-
thing to bear a few scoffs and jeers, I who
had been taught religion from my cradle
by my good parents ; and these poor help-
less creatures, just called froma heathen
darkness, were ready cheerfully to meet
THE SHIELD OF FAITH. 55

death in its most terrible forms! My
faith quailed when I thought myself de-
serted by my messmates ; their faith in the
wisdom and goodness of God remained un-
shaken by all the torments men could in-
flict.*

“ Is Ramonga alive now?” asked Stephen.

“ Alive, ay,and doing God’s work, preach-
ing to his own people,” answered Ned,
“The weather’s clearing up in Madagascar.
that thunder-cloud passed away. Tis said
that ‘the blood of martyrs is the seed of
the Church ;’ I look for a goodly harvest
in that far-away isle of the sea !”

“ But how did you leave it!” enquired
Tom Mullins, who cared little for the
spread of the Gospel, and only wanted the
end of the adventure.

“ Ay, ay, you must have the end of the
yarn. It was only the third day after I
had seen the hull of the ‘Sylph’ disap-
pearing under the blue waves, when as Ra-
monga and I were trying to light a fire
of dry brushwood to cook some roots, we
heard a sound that made us both start
suddenly to our feet! Ramonga was

* Four were burned alive. Thirteen dashed to

pieces over a precipice. Many others suffered
greatly in various ways.
56 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

alarmed, I believe he took the noise for
some savage yell, and looked to see the
enemy bearing down on us through the
forest. But I knew better!” exclaimed
Ned Franks, his blue eye kindling at the
recollection of the thrill of rapture which
that sound had sent through his frame, “I
knew the cheer of a British tar, and I
answered it with another so loud, that I
startled the native at my side. Ha! ha!”
laughed the sailor at the remembrance,
“ Ramonga must have thought I had lost my
wits when I caught sight of the blue-jackets
through the trees, and the next minute
was shaking hands all round with a party
of our own jolly crew! They seemed as
heartily glad to see me as I was to see
them again, though they scarcely knew at
first what to make of my Hova companion.”

“ But what had made them desert you
before?” asked one of the boys.

“Don’t call it desertion,” cried Ned. “I
should have had faith in my own good cap-
tain, and never have suspected for a mo-
ment that he could ever forsake the meanest
of his crew. But you see, boys,” continued
Ned Franks, with his peculiar earnestness
of manner, “when I began to doubt even
the loving kindness of my God, of Him
THE SHIELD Uf FAITH. 57

who had not spared His own Blessed Son
for my sake, no wonder if I lost faith in
the honour and truth of man.”

“But had you not séen the ‘Sylph,’ sail
right away ?” asked Tom Mullins.

“Tl tell you how it all came about,” said
Ned Franks. “While the vessel was lying
off shore, waiting for the return of her boat,
the man on the look-out reported a vessel
in sight. Now this vessel wasa suspicious-
iooking craft, from her build and her kind
of rigging, as well as the captain could
make them out through his glass, he set
her down for a pirate, cruising about in
search of prizes. Now, you see, the ‘Sylph’
carried no guns, so she could not of course
show fight; her only chance was to make a
tun for it, and, being a first-rate sailer, she
was not likely to be overtaken by any vessel
that might give her chase. But there was
no time tv be lost. Captain Cole signalled
for the instant return of the boat. All but
myself saw the signal, and I had cruised so
far into the woods, that I could not so
much as hear the boatswain’s whistle. The
safety of the whole ship could not be sacri-
ficed because one of the hands was missing;
the boat made for the vessel, the ‘ Sylph ’
weighed anchor and soon left the shore
38 PROVED IN PERIL; OR,

and the enemy far behind. I did not see
the pirate when I looked from my perch
aloft over the water—a turn of the shore
must have hidden her from view—or I’d
have understood the state of the case at
once. Ned, though left for awhile, was
neither forsaken nor forgotten. Though so
much time had already been lost in the
calms, and though the captain was impa-
tient to get to the end of his voyage, no
sooner had he reason to think that the
coast was clear of the pirate, than he put
the ship about and returned to the place
where the boat had watered, and sent some
of the crew ashore to look out for the miss-
ing hand. God bless him for it!” added
the sailor ; “it was a kindness which I shall
never forget to my dying day!”

“ And was poor Ramonga taken on board
the ‘Sylph,’ ” asked Stephen White.

“You may be sure that we would not
put off without him,” replied Ned Franks,
with a smile. “Not a jolly tar who heard
the tale of his sufferings but treated him
as a brother. Hayo, above all, welcomed
his fellow-countryman with a joy.that it
did one good to behold, and learned Chris-
tianity much faster from him than he would
ever have done from me Ramonga’s very
‘fH SHIELD OF FalTH. 59

scars and irons preached a sermon to those
who saw them more stirring than could be
put into words; for, my boys, though we
may think and talk over-what faith can do,
to see what faith has done, is, after all, the
lesson that goes straight to the heart.”

“ Ramonga would have his irons knocked
off as soon as he got on board an English
ship,” observed Tom.

“We made short work of that,” said Ned
Franks ; “but the marks which they left
behind them were not so soon got rid of.”

“ He would scarcely wish to lose them,”
cried Stephen, “they were such honourable
scars !”

“Tt was odd enough,” laughed Tom Mul-
lins, “that the first thing to snap the iron
chain was the gnash of the crocodile’s teeth.”

“Tve often thought of that,” said the
sailor. “It seemed tomeakind of emblem
of the way in which God brings good out of
evil, turns His people’s misfortunes to bless-
ings, and makes seeming enemies real
friends. I never felt so lonely, so deserted,
so wretched in all my_life, as I did when I
found myself left on that island; and it
would scarcely have raised my spirits to
have known that I should, the next day,
have an eneonnter with a crocodile in the
60 PROVED IN PERIL

water. Yet,” continued the maimed sailor,
glancing down at his left sleeve, “I would
not forego now the good that came out of
that trial, to have again my lost hand, and
more treasure than it, or a thousand hands
could grasp. And go, in a better world,
we shall look back upon whatmostperplexes
us here, and know that God made all things
to work for good to them that loved Him.
Then, the fight fought, and the victory won,
we may, like the knight returning from the
wars, hang up our red-cross buckler ; for
then there will no longer be enemies to meet
in the strength of the Lord, nor heavy
strokes of misfortunes to try the strength
of the
SHIELD oF FaitTH.

THE END.

Se
=X COA

\ \ \ \\ :
. _. . ES N \