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AND OTHER PARABLES.
BY EDWARD HENRY BICKERSTETH.
AUTHOR OF YESTERDAY, TO-DAY, AND FOREVER."
Though what, if earth
Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought."
I' "- ...)
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, LOW, AND SEARLE,
CROWN BUILDINGS, FLEET STREET.
[All rights reserved.]
CHISWICK PRESS:-PRINTED BY WHITTINGHAM AND WILKINS,
TOOK COURT, CHANCERY LANE.
.. %N ''^^^
TO MY YOUNG FRIENDS IN ENGLAND
HESE parables were most of them written
in a home, which for long years had been
one of sunshine and of song. The storms
had indeed lately fallen upon us once and again;
but God, who is rich in consolation, granted us a
season of clear shining after rain, until, as these
pages were passing through the press, a cloud of
sorrow greater than any we had known before almost
suddenly overshadowed us. The light of earth was
darkened and the voice of laughter hushed. But
you, dear friends, who are disciples in the school of
Jesus, have learned at His feet that the golden glow
of heaven can shine down upon our pilgrim path
in the cloudy and dark day, and its melodies be heard
by those who listen for them over the waves of this
troublesome world. May I then venture to ask (for
I set great store by the prayers of young warm
hearts) that, if you find your trust and love and
patience quickened by any of the stories in this little
volume, you will sometimes pray that the writer and
his motherless children may, in their shadowed
home, see the far-off glory and catch the music of
that better land, to which he has striven in every
parable to lead your footsteps on.
E. H. B.
Christ Church Vicarage, Hampstead,
14 October, 1873.
T.. -- v-, F- K --- ,
THE REEF 1
AVEHDAH OR THE LOST ISLAND 15
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD 37
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 58
SEUGENE THE DEBTOR .81
PHAEDRUS AND PHILEMON 98
UNA THE BRIDE 118
BEYOND THE RIVER 145
Y home was situated in an
P island on a wooded hill,
d which rose far above the
"surge-beaten cliff, and from
which, when the air was
peculiarly clear, you could
Discern the faint outline of
the opposite coast. One
A beautiful summer day I
had threaded the zig-zag
path which led down to
the fishermen's cove, and
Swas pacing the shingly
-- -- shore, interspersed as it
was with reaches of silver sand, when, lulled by the murmur of
the waves, I fell into a muse; and, musing, my thoughts shaped
themselves into the waking dream which I will relate.
I thought I was carried in spirit leagues and leagues away to
a far-off rock-bound land. It was early morning. The mists of
night still clung around the stern cliffs ; but just emerging from
2 T'HE REE.
their skirts, as they rolled themselves up in massive folds of
vapour, I saw a little boat with a snow-white sail, and in it a
sailor-boy all alone. The boat was gaily painted, and the spark-
ling waters fell in drops of light on either side of its prow, as the
sun arose in the distant east. The boy held the rudder with a
cheerful but somewhat reckless air; and I could not doubt
from the direction in which he steered that he was purposing to
cross the straits, which separated the shore he had left from the
My heart misgave me when I remembered all I had heard of
those dangerous straits, so often vexed with sudden squalls, so
intricate with opposing currents, and so thickly set with sunken
rocks and shoals and perilous sandbanks. I said to myself, How
could his friends allow so young a boy to venture alone ? I did
not know then what I learned afterwards, that they had strictly
charged him to solicit the aid of an experienced pilot, who had
indeed that very morning proffered to go with him, but whom
the sailor-lad, confident in his own powers, had gaily refused.
For a long while I watched the little boat, and all went well.
The wind and tide at first were favourable. And I marked with
joy how one, and another, and yet another dangerous spot was
passed in safety by the young unheeding voyager. At last,
however, when a bold prominent headland was cleared, the wind
died away to a mere breath. The tide was now at the lowest.
The sail flapped against the mast; and a strong current bore
the little vessel out of its course. A shade of vexation passed
over the sailor-boy's countenance; but he lowered his useless
sail, and betook himself to his oars.
Now for the first time he observed that his boat had sprung
a leak. It was somewhere near the keel; but with his utmost
efforts he could not discover the exact spot. Perhaps he had
THE REEF. 3
grazed unawares some sharp sunken rock, or it might be some
decayed plank admitted the oozing wave-he could not tell; but
the water, though very slowly, was evidently deepening in the
bottom. He tried to bale it out with a bucket which he fortu-
nately had with him; but though this for a while abated the
danger, he was soon conscious that, notwithstanding his utmost
efforts, the leak was steadily gaining on him instead of his gain-
ing on the leak. What could he do ? He was already many
miles from the land he had left, and he was quite sure his boat
could not live to make that shore. He pressed his hands over
his eyes for a few seconds in troubled thought; when his now
painfully anxious ear caught the sound of breakers ; and looking
steadily in the direction in which his boat was drifting, he
plainly saw a reef of rocks, which at low tide was left dry.
There was nothing else to be done. He continued his strenuous
labour of baling. It was of no avail. The boat, water-logged
as it was, was drifted by the strong current into the breakers
-for you must note, though the wind had sunk, the heavy
ground-swell that set upon the reef made the water broken and
troubled. The tiny craft was just settling down when the
boy sprang into the waves, and partly by swimming, partly by
wading, not without many bruises, reached the ledge upon which,
soon after, his boat was cast shivered and useless.
Hapless boy, what could he do now ? A few hundred feet of
barren rock were all that he could call his own; and this wretched
lodgment would be covered by the advancing tide. He looked
round; some timbers from the wreck of a noble vessel were
firmly embedded in one cleft of the reef, and told in language,
which he could read only too well, of some former terrible dis-
aster. He thought of making a raft, and toiled long with a few
old timbers, which with great difficulty he tore from the old
4 THE REEF.
wreck, and with the fragments of his shattered boat. But he
was compelled to abandon the attempt ; he lacked tools, he
lacked skill, he lacked time. One hour and another passed. He
became very hungry, but the only food he had was an old biscuit,
which had been soaked when he cast himself into the sea, and
was salt and nauseous; and, far more, he became thirsty, terribly
thirsty, and there was not a drop of fresh water on the reef.
He cast his eye round the horizon: not a friendly sail was to be
seen: nothing but the wide waste of ocean, and the sea-gulls
sweeping through the sky.
What could he do ? He had been noted among his companions
as a very expert swimmer for his years. And though to any one
who knew those straits the attempt was perfect madness, the
poor boy thought it was his only chance :-he might float or
drift towards the shore:-he might be picked up by some pass-
ing vessel:-so with a heavy heart he stripped himself of his
clothes and plunged into the sea on the side nearest the land
from which he had started that morning so merrily. Happily for
him, by the turn of the tide, the current now set dead towards
the rocks. He could hardly make any way. By immense
efforts he swam a few hundred yards from the reef, when he
became quite exhausted, and, knowing he could not hold out
much longer, he turned, and by the aid of the strong current
regained, though with great difficulty, the now slippery edge of
the reef, and, shaking in every limb, dressed himself once more,
and laid himself down as if to die.
I think he would have died but for a sudden heavy shower of
rain. It slaked his parched lips, it cooled his feverish thirst ; it
prevented his giving way to utter despair. Yet another precious
hour had passed, and his little island of rock was almost covered
with the advancing tide. Suddenly the oar of his little boat,
THE REEF. 5
which had been washing among the waves, floated to his feet.
As a last forlorn hope he tied his red kerchief to one end of the
oar, and, raising it for a signal, cried aloud for help. There was
no answer but the sighing of the wind, which had now risen
again, and the wild call of the sea-mew. Still he cried again
and again; and, though his hands were very weary, he held up
the signal of distress. But now the waves washed his feet: they
covered his ankles : they rose to his knees. Seeing that the bare
gaunt framework of the wrecked vessel would afford him a little
vantage ground, he contrived to wade to it, still holding up the
oar with one hand.
But the waters rose higher and higher: they reached his loins.
His brave young heart failed him (I am sure my heart misgave
me for him) and his brain began to reel. He raised one faint
last cry:-it was a very feeble cry-but I thought I caught the
words, "Save me: I perish !"-when he heard-oh, no, he could
not be mistaken-he heard a man's voice, though it sounded far
away. It came again and again. It nerved him to hold out a
few minutes longer. And now he distinguished words bidding
him cheer up and keep his head above the waters, which, with
the aid of his oar, he contrived to do. And at last, for the minutes
seemed hours, he saw through the mist and spray of the break-
ers a boat approaching, and in it his true old friend, the pilot,
whose company and skill he had so madly refused in the early
Dear lad, will you come with me now ? was the only ques-
tion. The friendly hand was held out to him. He grasped it
with the tenacity of a drowning boy, and was dragged into the
safety boat. It did my heart good to see how tenderly the pilot
nursed him. There was no frown on his brow, no harsh look in
his eye, no word of reproach on his lips. He was as gentle with
6 THE REEF.
the poor lad as any mother could have been. He stripped him
of his dripping garments: he chafed his trembling limbs: he
bound up the cuts and bruises, which he had received when dashed
against the sharp rocks: he wrapped him in warm and dry ap-
parel: he gave him a cordial which seemed fresh life: he per-
suaded him to take some nourishing food: until the poor lad
wept, and thanked him with a voice broken with gratitude, and
then, quite overcome, sank into a short delicious slumber.
He soon awoke, for the wind had freshened. And now again
the pilot asked him, "Will you trust me, dear lad, now, and work
our boat under me to yonder shore ? The bright eye of the
saved sailor-boy flashed the answer, before the words passed his
lips-" Yes, master, yes; if you'll have me."
He now looked more carefully at the boat, on board of which
he thus found himself, and handled all its tackling and gear with
earnest inquisitive interest. It was built like a lifeboat, being so
constructed that it could not sink ; and it was provided with
every requisite for storm or calm, for night or day, for repairing
any damage that might occur, and for taking observations of the
sun or stars. There was the little anchor with its strong but
slender cable; and, what the sailor-lad chiefly admired, a most
beautiful compass, and in the chest beside it a roll of parchment,
which was a chart accurately noting every sunken rock and reef
and shoal and sandbank, indicating the prevalent set of the cur-
rents, and marking the distances of the various tracks across the
straits from shore to shore. Seeing him bending over it, the
pilot took occasion to instruct and examine him in the use of this
compass and chart; nor did he desist, until he found the boy could
tell him how they ought to hold the rudder and shift the sail under
every combination of wind and tide. Indeed, they had much
close conversation together. The pilot told him, how he had
THE iEE 1F. 7
guided scores and scores of voyagers over these straits, not one of
whom had failed of safely reaching the opposite coast. He told
him also the sad story of the vessel to the wreck of which the
boy had clung, and of many a noble ship which had been cast
away in these perilous waters. He also spoke in most glowing
words of the beauty of the further shore.
All this converse was held while they both were diligently at
work, for it must not be supposed the boy all this time was idle.
The pilot continually called him, as he said, to lend a hand.
But it was pleasant work under such a master. For the boy
could not but mark the wondrous skill with which the pilot used
the rising wind, how. he availed himself of the changing cur-
rents, how he avoided every rock, and threaded his way through
the deceptive shallows. Many a sudden squall of wind fell on
them, but the pilot always discerned indications of these gusts
beforehand; they tacked on their course, or reefed the sail, and
all was well. Often it seemed to the boy the vexing squall had
hastened their voyage. Indeed he himself was rapidly learning
his master's art.
They had hitherto steered by a lofty mountain on the opposite
coast, to which the pilot had early directed the eye of the boy.
But once it chanced, though it proved only for a short half-hour,
they were wrapped in the sudden mist of a sea-fog. Then the
pilot closely and anxiously consulted the compass and chart-
and when the fog cleared they found they had been steering
quite rightly, though they had shortened sail, lest unawares
they should fall among breakers.
But the sun was slowly sloping to the west ere they sighted
the white cliffs, which guarded the entrance on this side and on
that of the haven to which they were bound. The time seemed
long to the boy, who longed to be on that shore of which the
8 THE REEF.
pilot had spoken such excellent things-though they were really
making very good progress. However, the evening twilight fell
upon them, when they were yet two or three leagues from the
shore. But then the harbour lights were kindled, and a more
favourable breeze than any they had had the. whole voyage
before sprang up and bore them swiftly on their way-and at
length, though the last few waves were the roughest, to the
boy's inexpressible delight they shot into the haven. They
were now at rest. There were no waves in that tranquil
harbour. And very soon they moored themselves with their
grappling-iron to the massive pier ; and the pilot himself led
the boy he had rescued that day from a watery grave to a mag-
nificent mansion, which far surpassed in its beauty and delights
his fondest and most ardent anticipations.
UCH was the parable which an old white-haired
pastor, whose name was Oberlin, told to a group
of his grandchildren one Sabbath evening. I must
introduce you to this little circle. There was the
thoughtful Aim6e, a lovely girl of nearly fourteen summers; her
twin brothers, the somewhat pensive Adolphe and the merry-
hearted Gustave, aged twelve years; and, lastly, the blue-eyed,
flaxen-haired Rischen, whose ninth birthday had been kept the
day before: she was everyone's darling. Oberlin was himself of
Huguenot extraction; but his son, whom God had early called
to rest from his labours, had married a German lady, and she
had joined her sainted husband in the presence of Jesus when
THE REEF. 9
her infant, the sweet RSschen, who bore her name, was barely
three years old. The children, therefore, were brought up in
their grandfather's home, which was on the lovely coast of South
Devon, being watched, and tended, and nursed with almost a
mother's care by an aged nurse, named Marie, who was as much
a part of the family as any member of it. The Oberlins had,
indeed, for so many generations now found a home in England
that they all esteemed it their fatherland, while yet you could
not but trace the irrepressible vivacity of the French character
blended with the imaginative cast of German thought in the
children. It had been Oberlin's custom for many years to give
them a story or parable, sometimes from Holy Writ, sometimes
from the Pilgrim's Progress," or some like allegory, which he
expected them to explain or prove by their Bibles, every Sunday
evening. And now he had promised them a new series of stories,
to which they looked forward with most eager interest.
When he had finished reading The Reef," they drew a deep
breath, and one and all exclaimed, 0, grandfather, what a
delightful story "
"Well, my children," replied the old man, with a beaming
eye, I am glad you like my tale; but can you tell me what is
all means? "
Grandfather," said Aim6e, while you were reading I could
not help thinking of the prayer we all prayed for Robin's little
baby [Robin, be it :known, was the gardener] at the font this
afternoon, that she, being received into the ark of Christ's
Church, might so pass the waves of this troublesome world that
finally she might come to the land of everlasting life."
"I am glad you thought of those words," said Oberlin; the
figure of the voyage is just the same, though there we speak of
a mighty ark, and my story told of a little boat. They are both
10 THE REEP.
true, only we cannot grasp all truth at one time. What do you
understand, Adolphe, by the stormy straits ? "
This short life," answered Adolphe, which separates time
And what you, my R6schen, by the cliffs half hidden in
mists from which the gaily-painted boat emerged ? "
"The land of babyhood and childhood, I suppose," replied
Rischen, "where everything looks so large and wonderful."
"And what you, Gustave, by the sailor-boy who would set
forth to cross those dangerous waters by himself?"
Is it not one who hopes to get to heaven by himself-I
mean by his own strength and wisdom ? answered Gustave.
" I hope, dear grandfather, you do not look so earnestly on me as
if you thought I wished to do this-once I did, but I don't now."
"No," said Oberlin, I believe God has taught all my grand-
children now to seek and welcome the aid of the Good Pilot.
But what do you think the sailor-boy's refusing the pilot's
proffered assistance represents ?"
The children were silent.
Do you not think," continued Oberlin, that when Christian
parents give their babes to Jesus, as your parents gave you, in
His own covenant of baptism, as they grow out of infancy into
childhood Jesus comes to their hearts-yes, comes very often-
and offers to be their teacher, and guardian, and guide? Some
welcome Him, but some, like the sailor-boy of our story,
thoughtlessly but successfully refuse Him. But what do you
understand by the boat passing safely so many dangerous spots,
while it was under the shelter of the headland ? "
Is it," said Adolphe, that we are sheltered from so many
temptations here at home ? "
It is," replied Oberlin; only remember the time will come
THE REEF. 11
when you must pass from this sheltered spot to encounter the
currents, and calms, and gusts, of this present evil world.
What think you, however, the lad's discovery of that fatal leak
somewhere near the keel of his little boat means ? "
"0, surely," said Gustave, with a deeper thoughtfulness of
tone than before, the first sense of sin and of danger."
Quite right," said Oberlin. "What, then, is the attempt to
bale out the water?"
Is it not," replied Adolphe, "the trying to overcome sin in
our own might without Christ ?"
"Yes, my boy," answered Oberlin. "And if so, then the
boat filling with water despite all his efforts, and the poor lad
being cast upon the reef, while his boat was broken up before
his eyes, will show the utter failure of such struggles. Some
make fatal shipwreck on this rock, like the noble vessel whose
skeleton framework the boy saw. Yet you remember the hope
of saving himself had not died in his bosom. First he toiled
long to make a raft. This is like a poor sinner trying hard to
get to heaven by his own good works. It cannot be; they will
not bear the weight of his soul. He will become very hungry
and thirsty like the sailor-boy, and the whole world cannot give
him the bread of life or slake his feverish thirst for everlasting
joy. And if he makes a last, effort, stripping himself of every
earthly pleasure to merit salvation, as some self-righteous ones
have sought to do in every age, it will be still of no avail. If
he is to be saved at last he must be driven back to self-despair.
But such experience is not gained without many painful wounds
Grandfather," asked little Rischen, what is meant by the
shower of rain which fell upon his parched lips ? Oh I was
so glad for him,'"
12 THE REEF.
"Well," said Oberlin, "I think God's grace often secretly
keeps the soul from utterly perishing, even before the heart has
found peace in Christ. It seems to me to set forth this. And
what do you understand, Adolphe, by the boy tying his kerchief
to the oar, and crying out for help ? "
"Is it not prayer, grandfather ?" answered Adolphe, "that
strong prayer that goes on asking, and won't take a denial, of
which you spoke to us last Sunday from Jacob's wrestling all
night, who said, I will not let thee go except thou bless me?'"
Quite so," replied Oberlin; such prayer as Martin Luther
said wrings a yea out of God's nay '-not that our Father is
unwilling to give, but that He would test the sincerity of those
who ask. And as at last, when the sailor-boy had given up
every other hope, the voice of the pilot was heard bidding him
hold on and hold out, so Jesus will surely come to those who
cry after Him, even though they may have for many years
refused Him. And when He comes His only question is,' Will
you trust yourself to Me and My salvation ? He will not up-
braid the sinner for all the past, but will tenderly heal, and
nourish, and revive him till the soul is lost in loving wonder,
and sinks down to rest in His bosom."
But, grandfather," said Adolphe, the voyage was far from
over when the boy got on board the pilot's boat. While you
were reading, I guessed what so many things meant. The boat
being a lifeboat, which could not sink, I suppose signifies that
fo one who trusts in Christ can perish. Then is not the anchor
hope ? And the compass and chart, whose use was explained by the
pilot, the Bible which Jesus opens out to us by His Holy Spirit ?
And the distant mountain peak by which they steered so long a
glimpse of heaven ? And when this was shut out by the fog-
bank, and they were driven only to the compass and chart, the
THE BEEF. 13
Christian cleaving to the promises when all seems dark ? And
the pleasant talk which the pilot had with the boy regarding the
voyage and the land to which they were going, our speaking to
Jesus here, and hearing from Him of His Father's house and
kingdom ? "
"You are quite right, my boy," replied Oberlin; "I think
almost every sentence of my story has some counterpart in the
voyage of life. But what do you understand by the boy's work-
ing so diligently, if Jesus Christ has done all for us ? "
"Oh! grandfather," said Gustave, "is it not like the text
you preached on this morning :-' Work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God which worketh
in you to will and to do of His good pleasure ? I am sure it
will be pleasant enough work with Jesus for our captain."
Gustave is quite right," said Oberlin. "Are we not called
to watch and pray, to read and learn God's Word, to fight the
good fight, to take up our cross, to keep under our body, to
deny ourselves, to visit the sick, and help the poor? All this
will only be done and. borne cheerfully, as we do and bear it for
Jesus and with Jesus. But if He is with us and we with Him,
then, as the pilot steered his boat safely through every toil and
peril, and even availed himself of the gusts and squalls to hasten
their voyage, so our Master's presence will lighten every toil,
and teach us to escape dangers on the right hand and the left,
and even enable us to use the troubles of time to further our
heavenward course, and at last, as our martyred forefathers used
'Be the day weary or be the day long,
At length it ringeth to Evensong.'
They sighted the haven at last."
"What does it mean, dear grandfather," asked Aim6e, by
14 THE REEF.
the evening twilight falling on them, when they were yet two or
three leagues from the shore? "
Failing strength or advancing years," said Oberlin, with a
happy tranquil smile, "before the rest is won. But often the
toil is eased at the last, and a favouring breeze bears the soul
onward swiftly towards the haven. The lights on the shore are
seen; and though there may be some rough waves in the saint's
last illness, some sharp pain or weary struggles, the time is then
very short; and soon, very soon, he will be borne into the har-
bour of everlasting peace, and go to the Palace Home of the
King, to be with Him for ever,"
Tr M UST give you a story to-day
From the closing chapters
Avehdah-in very ancient
times called Shulam-was a
large and beautiful island,
larger than England, and
S was situate in the wide
.,. ocean, many hundred miles
S away from the nearest con-
tinent. It was clothed with
noble forests, in which grew
a-.- almost every kind of fragrant
t 'and fruitful tree. It was in-
tersected by solemn moun-
tains, whose snowy peaks seemed to mingle with the blue heavens
into which they climbed; and from the glaciers and springs of
these mountains there flowed many rapid crystal rivers to the
purple sea. It was altogether a delightsome land, and was
owned by the mightiest monarch of the continent, who was
so fond of its beauty and freshness that he designed it for a
marriage-portion for his only son. In the records of Avehdah
this monarch is always called THE KING, and his son THE PmINCE.
The island had been originally peopled by a hardy, truthful,
and affectionate race. The easy tribute of fruits and spices and
gems-for Avehdah abounded not only, as I said, with fruit
trees, but with all aromatic shrubs, and also with precious stones
-was cheerfully and punctually delivered to the royal mer-
chants. The voice of song was heard from every home, and it
seemed that the peaceful inhabitants were as happy and secure
as the peerless isle in which they dwelt.
But the event proved far otherwise. For a cruel and crafty
enemy of the king, a satrap who had revolted from his sway,
and had already usurped a vast dominion far stretching towards
the north, fixed his baleful regards on Avehdah, and determined
if possible to wrest it from the sceptre of its rightful sovereign.
This usurper's name was Abaddon, or "the destroyer." He
knew that to accomplish his purpose would be impossible so
long as the simple-hearted dwellers in that land were true to
their allegiance. He therefore came over at first in disguise,
with a few like-minded associates; and under pretence of traf-
ficking in the island-by offering rich vestments. of a foreign
manufacture, and vessels embossed with many a strange device,
in exchange for the simple produce of their gardens and vine-
yards-he so ingratiated himself with the people that they
freely admitted him to their hearts and homes.
Abaddon was in an ecstasy of delight at his success. This,
however, he carefully concealed, and only spoke of himself as
one who longed to raise those among whom he was sojourning
to a far higher standard of knowledge and enjoyment. And it
was only very gradually, and with consummate skill, that he
and his comrades began to insinuate questioning and doubts as
to the wisdom and goodness of the King. It was long, very
long since their monarch had set foot on their shores." Surely,
A VE HDAH. 17
if he cared for it so much, he would visit them more frequently."
"What, after all, was his claim to the sovereignty over an isle
which lay so far away from his own dominions ?" "Why should
they send away the choicest of their fruits and spices and jewels
to a land from which they never returned?" It is true the
King spoke of his son fixing his home here; but the promise was
still delayed." Would it rot' be better to have a Ruler of
their own choice, and at once ?"
These words of Abaddon sank into the hearts of the people of
Avehdah. It was all in vain that the royal merchants and col-
lectors of tribute warned them of his true character. The
islanders resented what they called base and baseless suspicions.
They entered into daily closer league with their new friends;
until Abaddon thought he might safely send for a larger body of
his adherents. They came in troops, and brought all the muni-
tions of war with them; but these were hidden from view in
countless bales of merchandize. New tastes for foreign goods
were rapidly springing up among the people.
Well, years rolled on, and still the followers of Abaddon in-
creased in number; until, little by little, he had introduced a
vast army into that island. Then at last he threw off the mask.
Partly by persuasion, partly by suspicion, partly, as he waxed
stronger, by threats, he induced the nobles and elders of the
people to raise the standard of revolt, and to refuse any longer
to pay the appointed tribute. Shortly after, by the aid of his
emissaries, who were dispersed all over the land, Abaddon
caused himself to be elected the Governor of Avehdah. And
now, to rivet his dominion more closely, he changed both times
and laws. He abolished the former sacred days in which the
people had rested from their easy toil, alleging that every day
was alike their own, for pleasure or for work. He loosened by
18 AVEHD AH.
degrees all the ties of kinship. Children no longer cherished
the same respect for their parents, nor neighbour for neighbour,
nor friend for friend. LET EVERY MAN DO WHAT IS RIGHT IN HIS
OWN EYES," was proclaimed as the Magna Charta of the island.
Soon worse evils forced an entrance; distrust bred faction; and
faction, feuds; and feuds, violence. Deeds of rapine and of
wrong were done. The soil of Avehdah was for the first time
stained with the blood of murder. And now you might hear, as
evening deepened into night, the cries of injured innocence from
hamlets whence once ascended only the songs of overflowing
These were dark days for Avehdah. For now the soldiers of
Abaddon began to show themselves in their true colours. They
trampled on everything that was good. They maltreated all
who opposed them. They compelled many of the islanders-
women and children as well as men-to work in dark and
gloomy mines, which their restless avarice discovered among the
mountains. Over these miners and their families they appointed
hard taskmasters. What deeds of cruelty and crime were
wrought in those dark abysses of the earth I cannot and dare
not tell. For the soldiers of the governor encouraged every
vice, and jeered at every remnant of virtue. One thing I marked,
they seemed to infuse into the bosoms of their victims their own
insatiable greed of lucre.
Then it was that the royal merchants first called the island
"Avehdah," which signifies in the Hebrew tongue that which
was lost;" for its former name Shulam," or she that is at
peace," was dropped by universal consent, and never heard of
You must not think, however, that all this while the King
was careless of the high dishonour which had been done to his
: -* "'.
.work in dark and gloomy mines.
A.I.I .L .
Thy omeledmayofth ilaclr-wme ad hidrnaswel s en t
working arkand looy mnes
""; Page 18.
authority, or to the deep miseries into which the dwellers of
Avehdah had plunged themselves. He sent them messengers
after messengers, who expostulated with them, sometimes in the
strongest, sometimes in the tenderest terms. Nor were their
warnings and entreaties altogether fruitless. Some of the
islanders welcomed them, and pledged their faith anew to the
King, and entered into a solemn league to oppose Abaddon and
his soldiers to the uttermost. These faithful ones were few and
far between compared with the teeming myriads of the revolted
inhabitants ; yet some were never wanting in every province, nor
was their testimony ever altogether silenced.
Abaddon's most strenuous efforts were directed to intercept
these messengers, and to pervert, or, if he could not pervert, to
destroy, those who gave heed to them. He denounced them as
his enemies. He beat, he imprisoned, he put them to death.
Indeed, for many long years it was a state of suppressed civil
war in the unhappy island of Avehdah.
There was a time when the usurper fondly imagined he had
succeeded in establishing his undisputed sway. All open oppo-
sition seemed crushed. There were secret servants of the King
in all ranks, of whom Abaddon knew not, and the murmurs of
serfs and groans of prisoners did not seem worth his regard-
ing. But then (so I have read in the chronicles of the island),
when he was boasting most loudly of his success, tidings were
brought to his court which troubled him greatly. It was an-
nounced that the Prince, laying aside his royal estate, had landed
from a little boat on the shore of Avehdah, and was himself
passing quietly from home to home among his true-hearted sub-
jects, and giving them tokens of his royal approval.
What happened at that eventful time belongs altogether to
another chapter of Avehdah's story, nor must I enter on it now.
20 AVEHDI AH.
Suffice it to say that the Prince met Abaddon face to face and
rebuked him. And though he was afterwards seized by the
rebels and soldiers, and suffered foul indignities at their hands,
he broke loose from the prison in which they immured him.
Nor did he leave the island till he had confirmed all his faithful
ones in their allegiance and banded them together in a common
covenant to fight against the usurper and his hosts in a panoply
of proof, which he told them his messengers would always be
ready to supply from a secret arsenal in the metropolis. More-
over, he solemnly promised them that, when he had been pro-
claimed as heir of the island by his father, he would return with
an overwhelming army and take possession of his rightful
inheritance. He said that he could not tell them exactly what
day, or month, or year, he should return, for this depended on
the will of his royal father and the counsel they should hold
together. But he said that, when he came, he would certainly
bind Abaddon and his hosts in chains from which they should
never be loosed, and consign them to a penal fortress, in a far-
off land, from whence they should never escape. He said, more-
over, that those of the islanders who cast in their lot with
Abaddon now, and refused all the messages of the royal
clemency, must share the doom of the rebel satrap then; but
that he himself would reward his true followers with large
and lasting recompense from the boundless treasury of his
As aforesaid, I do not profess to give you the whole history
of the wars of Avehdah. The records are very interesting; but
they fill many volumes. For after the departure of the Prince
the intestine war between the hosts of Abaddon on the one side,
aided and abetted as they were by the revolted islanders, and
the scattered but brave and ever-increasing adherents of the
Prince on the other, became sharper than ever. The conflict was
waged with very varying success. Now, for a while, a secluded
valley would be entirely occupied by the Prince's loyal subjects,
and they would persuade those on every side to embrace the same
righteous cause. Then, not seldom, a legion of the usurper's
soldiers would come and violently take possession of the valley,
slaughtering or capturing its inhabitants. Yet it was generally
observed that the flame of devotion to the Prince, if apparently
crushed in one spot, burst forth anew and unexpectedly in many
surrounding places. And, what is worthy of especial note, im-
mediately after the Prince's return to his father's court, his
personal friends, by dint of heroic courage, effected a lodgment
in one quarter of the metropolis of Avehdah. Nor could Abad-
don, with all his power and subtlety, drive them out, for they
were supplied with armour from the royal arsenal, which his
boldest warriors could not withstand. What rendered this of the
more importance was, that quarter of the city embraced a small
haven, by which continual intercourse was kept up with the
King's country, and supplies received, though from time to time
the cruisers of the enemy captured some of the smaller craft.
But here and elsewhere many acts of dauntless intrepidity were
wrought, all of which were reported by the royal merchants to
Well, so years passed on. But the hearts of the Prince's
servants in Avehdah grew faint and weary, and when they com-
puted the long time that had elapsed, they hardly knew how to
answer the contemptuous question which was ever on the lips of
their taunting foes: Where is the promise of his coming ? "
They did answer in his own words, for he had sent them several
letters in his own handwriting and sealed with his own signet:
"The time is short; he will surely come; he will not tarry; "
22 A VEJIDAIH.
but the reply was not seldom uttered. with a trembling voice.
However, after many seasons had passed and gone, vessels of
war bearing the royal flag were more frequently observed on the
far horizon; and the watchword, "He cometh quickly," was
passed continually from one to another of his servants. Still
days and weeks rolled on, and he came not. The usurper
Abaddon redoubled his diligence; his troops were constantly on
the alert; he kept the more daring spirits among the islanders
far away from the sea-coast, and tried to wear them down with
incessant labour. Howbeit from time to time a message reached
the island through the city port; and the hope of the faithful
inhabitants, though it often burned low, never went out.
It was at this time, (spring had given way to summer, and
summer to autumn, and autumn had already passed into winter
with its long nights,) that a messenger of the King, with a band
of true-hearted comrades clothed in armour of proof, breaking
through the cordon of guards which surrounded the locality,
made their perilous way in the fourth watch of the night through
a deep defile of the mountains, and down a long cavernous pas-
sage, which led to a vast subterranean silver mine. There a
most melancholy spectacle met their view. In that mine the
miners were compelled to work in gangs or relays, day and
night, so that the work never ceased. Accordingly at one spot
men and women and children, all clothed in rags, might be seen
hewing the rocky soil with pickaxes, or bending to the earth
under heavy burdens, or smelting the ore in furnaces of suffo-
cating heat; while often the lash of the taskmaster was heard
and the answering groan of the hapless slave. At another spot
large numbers had sunk down in heavy slumber. Not far off
from these a fierce dispute was raging among another group.
And again a little distance off there was a large knot of miners
pointing with a sad pleasure to the heaps of precious metal they
Now, when he had gained a little vantage ground in the midst
of the mine, the messenger put a silver trumpet to his lips and
blew a long and musical blast. It was strange, you may be sure,
to hear such a sound in such a place. The echoes repeated
themselves in the impenetrable gloom of the further recesses,
and the whole cavern rang again with the unwonted strain.
Most of the poor toiling labourers stood still to listen. Some of
the sleepers awoke; not all,-though the associates of the mes-
senger laid their hands upon them and even pushed them with
their staves. Those, who watched the heaps of silver ore,
clutched the barrows in which it was piled, as if they thought
some one was come to deprive them of the fruit of their toil.
And most of the angry disputants stilled their quarrel, as again
and yet again the blasts of the silver trumpet reverberated
through the mine. And when its latest echo died away, the
voice of the messenger was distinctly heard proclaiming, The
night is far spent; the day is at hand. Cast off therefore the works
of darkness ; and put on the armour of light.
It is impossible here to narrate all the arguments which the
messenger used; how he spoke to them of their present misery
and degradation; how he unmasked the hideous character of the
governor Abaddon; how he charged them with the basest in-
gratitude in throwing off their allegiance to the best and most
generous of monarchs; how he assured them that the Prince
had sent this latest embassy to certify them of a free pardon for
all the past, and of a place among his own followers, if they
would only now receive his overtures of grace; how he set forth
the high honour of being numbered with the Prince's servants
and enrolled among his soldiers ; and, lastly, how he told them
the time for decision was short, very short, for the Prince was
at hand with his father's irresistible army ; but the messenger
ended even as he began-The night is far spent ; the day is at hand.
Cast of therefore the tzorks of darkness ; and put on the armour of
Thereupon the messenger and his companions opened out to
the wondering eyes of these poor enslaved miners chests of
white apparel and of gleaming armour, which they had brought
with them. And now it was a goodly sight to see one and
another of these long oppressed and degraded ones throwing
down the pickaxe and shovel, casting off their miserable
rags, and clothing themselves with the beautiful uniform and
panoply of the King. The father encouraged the son to come,
and the son the father; a brother persuaded his brother, and a
friend his friend. And it was said to the women and children
that there was a part for them to bear, so they likewise were
clad in raiment and armour suitable to their strength and
Oh would that all had enrolled themselves among the Prince's
followers at the royal messenger's invitation that morning But
not a few replied that they had become accustomed to the mine
now, and did not care to leave it. Some would not awake;
though shaken and aroused, they muttered as men in a half-
dream, Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of
the hands to sleep. Some answered, We will settle the matters
we have in dispute with our comrades first, and will then accept
this invitation. Others roundly affirmed they would never quit
the heaps of silver they had so laboriously gathered. Indeed
only two or three came forward from that group, and they not
without many a sharp pang as they looked back on their forsaken
hoards. And many, when urged again and again, replied, Go
thy way for this time: to-morrow we will come; why should
you think the Prince will come to-day ? Come to-morrow, and
we will handle that brave armour and put on that beautiful
apparel. Persuasions were useless: that one word to-morrow"
blunted every appeal.
However, a goodly band of nearly a hundred souls gathered
round the trumpeter, and enrolled their names in his book, and
pledged themselves to fight for the Prince. These were all
clad in white robes, and furnished with armour of proof. And
now the messenger led them forth from the dark mine. The
morning was just flushing the eastern horizon with a faint tinge
of pearl. A troop of Abaddon's forces had mustered to oppose
their escape, and attacked them as soon as they emerged from
the cavern. More wounds were received than given, for they
were unskilful in the art of sword and shield. But though it
was a sore conflict for such inexperienced soldiers, the trumpet
note was continually sounding-" The time is short; and, led
by the messenger and his comrades, the emancipated slaves ac-
quitted themselves bravely and fought their way to a small en-
campment of friends which was situate on a neighboring hill.
These allies, who welcomed them heartily, they found in a
state of most eager joy. For no less than three couriers had
arrived, in as many hours that morning, announcing that the
Prince's fleet was lying off the shores of Avehdah, and that the
sea, far as the eye could reach, was covered with the snowy
sails of his countless vessels of war. Each courier brought a
letter in the Prince's own handwriting. The first simply con-
tained the words, Behold, I come quickly." The second was
somewhat longer, and ran thus, Behold, I come quickly, and
my reward is with me to give every man according as his work
shall be." And the third was to the same effect as the first,
26 AVE HD AH.
"Surely, I come quickly;" only this courier said that he was
ordered to ask for some answer to the gracious message of the
Prince. So, after a short consultation, it was determined to
reply in terms which might be a humble and reverent echo to
his own words, So be it: even so, come, Lord, come."
This reply, therefore, with the full consent of those so recently
set free from the mine, was hastily written and despatched. All
cordially consented to it; only some looked sad when they re-
membered how long they had served the base usurper, and how
short a time they had been enrolled in the King's army, until
they recalled again the messenger's assurance that all the past
should be forgiven: then their countenances again grew serene
and bright. And others felt grieved at heart when they thought
on their companions in the mine, who had refused every entreaty.
However, there was no time now to renew the invitation.
Things moved on with a strange rapidity that day. For it
seemed the last courier had scarcely time to reach the coast,
when tidings were brought that the fleet was casting anchor in
a spacious bay; and, an hour after, that the Prince himself, sur-
rounded with a noble staff of officers, had landed. And so indeed
it was; nor had the sun sunk beneath the western waves before
his whole army was safely disembarked, and his standard raised
on the shores of Avehdah.
I must not dwell on all that followed; how the hosts of
Abaddon, after a faint ineffectual resistance, fled overwhelmed
with terror; how the usurper was taken captive in the midst of
his stricken followers, and loaded with chains; how the whole
land was subdued under the sceptre of the Prince; what just
and terrible punishment he inflicted on his guilty enemies, and
on those who had persisted in their rebellion; and what magni-
ficent rewards and tokens of his royal favour, such as lands, and
titles of honour, and priceless treasures, and positions of trust near
AVEHt DAII. 27
himself, he ungrudgingly and unsparingly bestowed on his faith-
ful servants. It was delightful to see how the Prince made him-
self one with them in all their joys, how he consoled them for all
the sorrows they had endured for his name's sake, and how he
employed them according to the capacity of each in his recovered
Now was that beautiful island itself again; nay, it recovered
more than its former glory, for the Prince made it his especial
kingdom. Indeed, his nuptials were celebrated here according
to his father's first design. I must not attempt to describe the
joy of that lofty bridal. One thing only I record: on that day
it was ordered by royal proclamation and blowing of trumpets,
that the island should no longer be called Avehdah, or "that
which is lost," but Beulah, which signifies married," and that
the metropolis where he fixed his palace home should henceforth
be named Hephzibah, that is, "My delight is in her."
"'i..,v HtIEN the venerable Oberlin had finished his story,
S, he looked round on the bright eager faces of the
.. ( children Aimie, Adolphe and his twin brother
Gustavo, and the darling RSschen, as if lie ex-
pected an immediate shower of questions as to the meaning of
his parable. Nor would he have had many moments to wait,
only Marie, the old nurse, who had been admitted to the little
group of listeners at her own earnest request, anticipated all by
saying, "May I make so bold, sir, as to ask whether all this
really happened or not ? For I thought, as you were speaking,
My master, be sure, got that from one of the brassbound vellum
folios that take up all the lowest shelf of the study book-case."
28 AVEID AH.
"Not quite, good Marie, from either Chrysostom or Augus-
tine," replied Oberlin smiling. But we will try and make out
together by the aid of our Bibles, whether something very like
this is not happening every day in the history of Christ's Church
militant here on earth. What, my children, do you understand
by the large beautiful island, Avehdah, or Shulam, as it was first
The island," said Aimbe, must mean our world which God
created so pure and lovely that it is said, God saw every
thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.' "
And the King, then," said Gustave, "must represent God,
who owns and governs the world."
And the Prince," said little R6schen, is of course the Lord
Jesus Christ. I soon saw that."
And the revolted satrap, Abaddon," added Adolphe, "can
only be the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning and
abode not in the truth.2 I remembered the name, as soon as I
heard it, occurring in Revelation. Here it is," And they had
a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit,
whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek
tongue hath his name Apollyon.' And the meaning is given in
the margin, that is to say, a destroyer.'"
But before we pass on," inquired Oberlin, what think you
is meant by the easy tribute of fruits, and spices, and jewels,
which the inhabitants rendered to the King, before Abaddon
came among them ?"
Are they not," answered Adolphe, after a little pause, the
thoughts and words and acts of loving praise which our Father
in heaven requires from all His children?"
Gen. i. 31. a John viii. 44. 3 Rev. ix. 11,
IE: AVEHDAH. 29
"Quite right," replied Oberlin, with a beaming look of appro-
val. And what can be easier or more delightful for His chil-
dren to render ? Do you remember that even Satan confesses
this, in the lines of Milton, which you repeated to me last week ?-
Ah, wherefore ? He deserved no such return
From me, whom He created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with His good
Upbraided none : nor was His service hard.
What could be less than to afford Him praise
The easiest recompense, and pay Him thanks
How due ? yet all this good proved ill in me.'
And so, alas, it proved in the poor islanders of Avehdah. What
do you understand by Abaddon, coming over so subtly at first,
and stealing the hearts of the people by vessels of curious device
and promises of freedom ?"
Why, sir," interposed Marie, "I think I see that now: it
was the serpent tempting Adam and Eve with the fruit in the
garden, and promising them that they should be as gods if they
would only eat it."
Quite so, Marie," replied Oberlin, "and then you know how
when once our first parents gave the devil a foothold in their
hearts, the evil spread apace. As men multiplied, sin multiplied.
Sin entered into the world and death by sin. The land was as
the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate
wilderness; until the whole earth, which God created pure, was
filled with violence."
Grandfather," said Aimee, who are meant by the royal
merchants and the King's messengers ? "
Let us take the royal merchants first, my children," answered
Oberlin. Will one of you read Gen. iii. 24; and another Gen.
xxviii. 12; and another Matt. xviii. 10; and another Heb. i. 14?"
Aim6e reads, And God placed at the east of the garden of
30 AVE IIDAII.
Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way,
to keep the way of the tree of life."
Adolphe reads, And Jacob dreamed, and behold a ladder set
up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold
the angels of God ascending and descending on it."
Rischen reads, Take heed that ye despise not one of these
little ones ; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do
always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."
Gustave reads, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent
forth to minister to the heirs of salvation ?"
So you see, my children," continued Oberlin, "the Bible
tells us of a constant intercourse betwixt heaven and earth from
the fall to the present hour, by means of angels. I think then
that angels may be well signified by the royal merchants."
And the King's messengers," said Adolphe, "must surely be
the prophets and apostles and evangelists, for I have turned to
that verse you pointed out to us the other day-' And the Lord
God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up
betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people,
and on His dwelling-place.' '
"You are right," answered Oberlin, "though the word angels,
being interpreted, signifies messengers, and though these celestial
couriers have often brought God's messages to man, as we read
both in the Old and the New Testaments, yet our Father gene-
rally employs human lips to utter His words. How I long to
know, Adolphe, if you will ever be able to use the words your-
self, We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech
you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to
God.'2 But we must hasten on. What shall we say of those
2 Cbron. xxxvi. 15. 2 2 Cor. v. 20.
few faithful adherents to the King's cause, whom the messengers
sought out in every province of Avehdah ?"
0 grandfather," said Gustave, as you spoke of them, I could
not help thinking of the Lord's answer to Elijah, when he com-
plained, 'I, even I, only am left,' and God said to him, Yet have
I left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not
bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.'" '
"Yes," continued Aim6e, "and did not the time when Abad-
don fondly thought he had crushed the witnesses for the truth,
mean the long ages between the captivity of Jerusalem and the
birth of our Saviour ? Oh, I am so often glad that I did not
live then. I think they must have been almost the gloomiest
times the world ever knew."
"How I wish, grandfather," said Rsschen, "you had not
passed over that chapter of Avehdah's story which told of the
Prince's first visit, when he came without his royal robes or
retinue. I thought the little boat was like the manger of Beth-
lehem. But I shall coax you to read me that chapter one day."
"0 Rsschen," interrupted Gustave, "you do not understand
that all is not written in a parable. Grandfather only meant us
to think what would have been in it, if it had been written. I
suppose the prison from which the Prince broke loose was the
grave from which Jesus rose, and his charge to his servants,
before he loft them, the last words of the Saviour before He
ascended to His Father's right hand."
Rischen and I," said Oberlin, will have a talk alone some
day about that omitted chapter of the story of Avehdah. But
now, what is meant by the chequered success of the long war
that followed the Prince's departure ?"
1 Kings xix. 18.
Is it not," said Aim6e, "the history of the last eighteen
hundred years-Christianity now apparently conquering whole
cities and countries, and now apparently itself conquered and
driven from them ? "
It is," replied Oberlin. What can be more affecting than
to think of the once flourishing Churches of Jerusalem, and An-
tioch, and Ephesus, and Corinth, and Carthage, and then to
reflect what they are now ? But the gates of hell have never
prevailed against Christ's holy Church universal, and in every
age our dear Master has had His faithful witnesses-sometimes
few and feeble-who have borne testimony to the truth, and
looked for His promised return. Their hearts have often been
faint and weary; but the Church has still held fast to her early
creed, He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick
and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.' But what
say you to the messenger's visit to the silver mine among the
mountains, and gathering a troop of soldiers from those poor
enslaved miners on the very eve of the Prince's return ?"
Grandfather," said Adolphe, "is it not what ministers are
doing in our own day, when they call men to overcome this
present evil world, and fight the good fight of faith ?"
It is, Adolphe, it is," replied Oberlin, with emotion. "For
is not the gaining of this world, its pleasures and honours and
riches, as the soul's portion, a hard slavery? Men toil early
and late, and heap up treasures, but they cannot tell who shall
gather them. Then often they fall a-wrangling over the posses-
sions they have so laboriously won. And many are so weary
and worn out, they have no heart left to listen to the voice of
Jesus. And others, who have gained the world, seem only bent
on grasping it tightly and more tightly, as the time draws nearer,
when they must go and stand before God. I know this has al-
A VEI DAH. 33
ways been so from the beginning, but it seems to me more and
more the character of these last days."
Do you think then, grandfather," asked Aimde, "that these
are the very last days, and that the Prince is so very near ?"
"Of the day and hour of His return, my child," answered
Oberlin, "knoweth no man. But surely there are signs enough
to make us think very often and seriously of the words of Jesus,
'When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and
lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.' I The
royal herald's trumpet-call in the depth of the cavern, 'The
night is far spent, the day is at hand,' has had its counterpart in
the widespread preaching of the Second Advent of our Lord
in these latter times. And I often think we may expect a
great ingathering of guests to the King's supper-table from the
streets and lanes of the city, and from the highways and hedges
of the country, just before the Bridegroom comes, and the door
is shut. But what Scriptures do you think bear out the different
issues of the herald's invitation ? "
I thought of the prophet's cry, Who hath believed our re-
port ?' said Gustave.
And I, of John Baptist's voice," said Adolphe, Prepare ye
the way of the Lord." 3
And I," said R6schen, of the words of Jesus, in my favour-
ite story of the Ten Virgins-' At midnight there was a cry
made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.' "
That does not answer to the hours at all, Rischen," said
Gustavo. One was early morning, the other midnight."
"Ah, my children," interposed Oberlin, "the world's midnight
may be the Church's morning. But who are signified by those
Luke xxi. 28. 2 Isa. liii. 1. 3 Luke iii. 4. Matt. xxv. 6.
miners who obeyed the messenger and ranged themselves on his
side ? And what is meant by the white apparel and thb gleam-
ing armour of proof which they put on ? "
"Surely, grandfather," said Aimbe, "they are all who obey
the glad tidings of salvation, and make the promise of their
baptism real and true, to fight manfully under Christ's banner
against sin, the world, and the devil.' And do not the white
robes mean the graces of the Holy Spirit ? I have never for-
gotten your telling us of those beautiful garments, mercy, kind-
ness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, all knit together by the
golden girdle of love." 1
And then," said Gustave, St. Paul tells us plainly what
the armour is, 2 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about
with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able
to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the helmet
of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of
God.' How I wish it was a visible conflict! There would
be something so heart-stirring in actually seeing the enemy and
grasping the wonderful armour and dealing the blows "
It is none the less real, my boy," replied Oberlin, for being
invisible. Perhaps if you had one sight of the hosts of darkness,
it would be too much for you to bear. Be sure the Captain of
our salvation has done wisely in veiling the unseen world till
His time is come."
I suppose," said Adolphe, the encampment, which the libe-
rated miners joined, points out some belovedChurch like our own."
"Yes," answered Oberlin, "and here we may safely wait till
Col. iii. 12-14. Ephes. vi. 14-17.
the Prince returns. Only let us heartily welcome every message
which he sends us by his couriers. I think you will recognize
the three Advent watchwords, Behold I come quickly.' Oh,
that our very souls may answer Amen: even so, come, Lord
Jesus,' for no heart can conceive and no tongue can tell either
the misery of His enemies on the one side, or on the other the
felicity of His own servants when He sits upon the throne of
His glory and says to them, Come, ye blessed children of My
Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the begin-
ning of the world.' Then will He reward every one according as
his work shall be. No act of loyalty and love shall be forgotten.
And then shall take place the marriage of the Lamb and the
everlasting reunion of heaven and earth. May not the name of
that Kingdom be well called Beulah, and of its metropolis Heph-
zibah ? "
Rev. xxii. 7, 12, 20.
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
_-t I HERE was a secluded valley
I lying some twenty miles in-
land from the coast of the
southern continent in the
Now World. Betwixt it
s and the sea was a range
Sof precipitous hills, partly
wooded and partly rugged
N with bluffs of bare granite.
The valley itself was fruitful
and well watered; though
a e s it was liable to the incursions
of wild beasts that prowled
Sin the surrounding forests;
f and, what was a far more
serious danger, the region was not seldom exposed to the shocks
of severe earthquakes.
It was in this valley that there was the wasted remnant, about
thirty in number, of a gallant band of boys and youths who had
been induced to leave their native 1,nd and settle in this far
away sequestered spot. It were long to thread all the mazes of
their sad story; but the main outlines of it were as follows:-
A crafty and unprincipled colonist obtained a grant of the vale
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 37
from the semi-barbarous tribes who were the only inhabitants of
this zone, in exchange for glass beads and ornaments of trifling
value. Having gained their rough signature to a deed of pur-
chase, he left them and sailed away to his mother country, and
there described the fertility and resources of the valley in most
glowing terms; and by means of his plausible address and
forged testimonials he persuaded many parents and guardians,
some of them people of substance and of sterling excellence, to
commit their children or wards to his care. The ordinary
avenues of life were thronged. Some of the lads had failed in
passing sundry examinations; and there were many others who
had no taste for the quiet occupations of long-established society,
in whose hearts the love of enterprise beat quick, and whose
friends were not unwilling to pay a substantial premium that
the boys should be taught the art of farming in tropical climes,
and become themselves in time the proprietors of extensive lands
for a mere nominal sum of money.
The issue was that the father and founder, as he called him-
self, of the proposed colony obtained the charge of nearly one
hundred youths, ranging between the ages of fourteen and
eighteen; with whom, and in possession of a very considerable
capital of ready money, he set sail from their native land. He
had consummate address in conversation. The voyage was
cheered by his wit and anecdotes and the golden prospects he
sketched of certain riches in the country, to which they were
bound. The ship was forced by stress of weather to land them
in a natural haven far to the north of their proposed point of
disembarkation, which, to tell the truth, was very rarely visited
by ships, as it lay out of the usual route of mercantile traffic
and the anchorage was exposed and dangerous. The conse-
quence wns that their journey to the valley was long and tedious,
38 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
encumbered as they were with baggage and provender, and
much of it lying through a sandy desert, though they escaped
the rugged path over and through the hills.
However at last their bourne was gained, and for a few weeks
all went well. The founder explored with them the marvels and
beauties of the valley, and gave them some easy directions as to
the cultivation of the plantains and date-palms and vines and
other trees of the country. But after a while his instructions
became less and less frequent; he was not seen by his pupils for
days together ; and at last he was nowhere to be found. His tent
was empty. His choice portables were all gone. The founder had
absconded and left this band of boys and youths to themselves.
Months passed on. For a long while they expected their
president would surely return. But he came not. They had no
master. Some continued their light labour in the rich loamy soil.
Others idled away their time in useless pastime. Some wandered
into the neighboring woods and became the prey it is supposed
of lions and leopards, for their companions saw them no more.
And now their store of provision was exhausted; and, though
the light food of the country supplied many of their necessities,
diseases in various forms set in-fevers and agues and dysentery.
This valley, beautiful as it was, proved at certain seasons, from
the rankness of its vegetation and the malaria arising from some
undrained swamps, most perilous for Europeans. They died off
like sheep. All hope of establishing a settlement there was
utterly broken up. But how should they return ? Weakened
and dispirited, they declared that they could not essay the long
journey through the desert. The way to the coast over the hills
was unknown and beset with dangers-and what should they
do if they gained the shore ? However, at last a stray native
pilgrim, who chanced to pass through the valley, and commise-
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 39
rated their forlorn estate, offered to carry a letter for them to
the distant port at which they had landed, whither he himself
was bound, and to place it in the hands of the captain of the first
vessel which might touch there. This buoyed up their hopes for
a while. But as week after week passed by they feared that it
was all in vain.
And now all the remaining bonds of discipline were loosed in
their little community. The elder youths violently seized that
which belonged to the younger. The vicious enticed the weak.
There were only three or four among them at most who seemed
to remember the lessons of their far off homes.
One morning, however, when they had given up all hope of
receiving any answer to the letter they had entrusted to the pil-
grim (the early dews were scarcely dried from the long luxuriant
grass), a stranger suddenly appeared among them. His garb
was that of a foreigner, but he spoke their language perfectly.
He told them that their letter had been faithfully delivered at
the distant port, and had fallen into the hands of a captain whose
heart was deeply touched by their piteous story; that the cap-
tain had diverted his vessel from its ordinary course for their
sakes, and that the ship was now lying in the open roadstead on
the nearest point of the coast over the hills; that he himself
who spoke to them, knowing the country well, had travelled the
distance in little more than eight hours, having only set forth
long after sunset on the previous evening; but that the captain
bade him say he would remain till the same hour on the following
morning, so that all might reach the ship. The stranger urged
them to set forth without delay; for he said that his own path lay
.far into the interior of the continent, or he would gladly have re-
turned with them; but that, if they would follow the mountain
defile straight towards the sun-rising, they would find at the
40 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
end of the ravine a narrow track, which though sometimes
faintly marked was still sufficient to guide them by aid of a tra-
veller's map, of which he would give a copy to each. It was a
map of the pathway across the hills, on which every rock
and dell and wood and swamp and bypath was indicated,
and the true track was traced in a deep red line all the
way. He said that if they set out at once, they might even
hope by strenuous effort to reach the coast before or soon
after sunset; but that, in case night should overtake them, he
would also give to each one who would receive it a traveller's
lamp. He showed them how to kindle and feed and trim the
lamps, which he said, small though they were, would by reason
of the brightness of the light cast from the silver reflector scare
even a wild beast from its attack. And he urged them, if
they were in any perplexity, to let the light of the lamp fall upon
the map, and they would find their right path marked by arrow-
heads all the way to the coast.
I confess I expected that this kind and good man's words
would have been greeted with one shout of gratitude from the
group of boys, some twenty in number, who listened to him. All
had not obeyed the summons to come and hear his message.
But I was grievously and bitterly disappointed.
One said that he could not think of leaving behind what re-
mained of his possessions-they were sorely dwindled as it was
-and how could he carry them over the hills ?
Another said they should have had longer warning: how
could the captain expect them to start at an hour's notice ?
A third said he doubted whether they could do the distance,
all over those rugged hills, in twenty-four hours ; while a fourth,
contradicting his comrade, replied that if the stranger had tra-
versed the route in eight hours, so might they; and that for
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 41
himself he should wait for the cool of the evening, for he much
preferred travelling by night to the glare of a tropical sun.
A fifth answered that he would go so far as to see whether
there was such a track at the end of the defile, for he had never
observed it, and had grave doubts of its existence.
Another hesitatingly intimated that his decision should depend
on that of the rest: he would go if all agreed to go.
While yet another (my heart glowed with indignation as he
spoke) asked with the keen suspicious air of superior wisdom,
How they could be sure they were not being duped and deceived ?
Very likely the man wanted to lead them into some ambush, and
to seize and sell them as slaves.
I expected to see the stranger at once turn away in utter dis-
gust. But no: he drew from the folds of his dress a letter in
the captain's handwriting, signed with his name, and sealed with
his seal, which verified every word he had uttered. The stranger
offered to leave the letter in their hands. He even made excuses
for their doubts and suspicions, after the cruel deception they
had suffered from the duplicity of the man who had brought
them to this valley. He invited explanations. He answered
every objection. He again and again urged the need of imme-
diate action. And when most of them still looked upon him
with a cold and incredulous gaze, he even entreated them with
tears, for he said his heart yearned over their pitiable condition.
He then brought out from his traveller's scrip a number of fac-
simile maps of the mountain track and several little lamps of
beautiful and easy construction, which he took round and offered
to one and another.
About half the lads accepted the maps, which they could
thrust at once into their bosom ; and some five or six of them
took the lamps as well. It struck me that more of them wished
42 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
to do so, but were kept back by false shame, dreading the scorn
of one jesting companion, who did not cease from pouring con-
tempt on the stranger's words and turning his gifts into
ridicule. However, among those who accepted both map and
lamp, I especially marked two boys; one of whom I will call
Fidelis, for his trustful nature was written on his open brow;
and the other, Hilaris, for his joyous spirit made him a favourite
with all. Fidelis also, I saw, craved a map and lamp for a
bosom friend of his, named Urban, who from indolence had not
risen from his couch that morning to listen to the stranger's
words. These were freely given; and a small supply was left
for any boys who might be afterwards disposed to make use of
them. And so the stranger passed on his way, not without many
an earnest word of advice to Fidelis and Hilaris and the others
who had taken the maps and lamps; and not without many a
sorrowful and compassionate look on those who had refused them.
When he was gone, Fidelis at once sought out his friend Urban
and told him all the stranger had said, and pleaded his cause so
successfully that Urban thanked him with tears in his eyes,
sprang from his couch, and hastily dressing himself thrust the
map and lamp into the folds of his garment; and together they
joined the large group of lads, amid which Hilaris was standing
and talking full of a joyous hope of. seeing his fatherland once
more. His bright words had evidently quickened the hopes of
However, one boy would stay to change his attire, another to
mend his sandals, another to find a jewelled ring which he had
lost; while another insisted, and with more show of reason, that
they should at least partake of one hearty meal before their long
journey. Hilaris in vain reminded them that the stranger said
the track, along which they were to travel, had supplied him
OVER3 TIE HILLS HOMEWARD." 43
and would supply them with all the food they would require for
their one day's journey, and that they might fearlessly drink of
the crystal streams which would cross their path. But this and
other like questions were so long debated, that Fidelis looking
up saw to his dismay that the sun was already past midday.
Then he and Hilaris frankly said they would not stay one
minute more; those might join them who liked; but that for
themselves they were resolved to set out then and there. Urban
at once started up, and two or three more, and they set forth,
though some implored them to tarry if only half an hour more,
and others pointed the finger of scorn at them, and others hurled
stones in derision after them.
The three friends, Fidelis, Hilaris, and Urban, pressed on in
front; for they agreed that so many precious hours had been
lost they must now redouble their efforts. But as they walked
on they exchanged many pleasant thoughts of the stranger's
kindness, and of the captain's disinterested goodness, and of the
delight it would be to be on board a homeward-bound vessel, and
above all to tread the shore of their beloved country. Engrossed
with this converse they had almost forgotten the comrades who
set out with them, till looking back they saw them loitering by
a flowery bank, upon which one had thrown himself at full length.
They shouted to them aloud to come on, but the sultry air only
brought the answer, There is no need for haste, tarry awhile,
we are weary." So the three pressed on alone, and at length
made their way to the end of the defile. There looking carefully
among the bushes they found the narrow foot-track of which the
stranger had told them; and having certified themselves by the
map that it was the right path they pushed on bravely and
cheerily, and climbed the glen by the side of the torrent.
How glad they were then that they had not put off their
44 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
journey till nightfall; for the track, though it always revealed
itself to a careful search and could then be identified with the
red arrow-pointed line traced in their chart, was often difficult
to distinguish at first from other paths by which it was intersected.
When they emerged from the brushwood at the head of the
glen, they came to an open moorland stretching in far ranges
upward; and here they were even more thankful for their maps,
for the waters from the hills had settled in the hollows and
turned many a spot, which looked from a distance like a beautiful
greensward, into a dangerous quagmire. Their pathway often
wound round the edge of a treacherous morass; or they had to
spring from one rocky stepping-stone to another, through swamps
on either side all overgrown by moss and luxuriant rushes.
But though they occasionally slipped, and more than once had to
retrace their steps when they thought they had discovered a
short cut to a distant point and found to their cost that way was
impassable,-yet they never consulted their maps in vain; and
at length the moors were safely passed, and they trod with more
confidence the elastic heather which clothed the ridges of the
Fidelis however often had to point out to Urban, who was
disposed to lag behind, how fast the sun was sloping toward the
west, and how the purple clouds toldthat they should have to finish
their journey under the wing of night. Thus spurring each
other to fresh efforts, they pressed on the more eagerly, and by
dint of arduous walking and climbing they reached the crest of
the range of hills just as the sun was sinking in the western
horizon. Its last rays fell upon the blue far off ocean. The boys
shouted, "The sea, the sea!" and leapt for joy. Here they
found a spring of delicious water, and freely partook of the last
grapes and maize-corn they had plucked in passing down the
The boy shouted, "The sea, the sea!" and leapt for joy.
OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 45
valley. They looked back on the way they had trodden with
much thankfulness and forward with hopefulness, though Hilaris
confessed himself much disappointed at not seeing the sails or
even mast-head of the vessel on the distant sparkling sea. Fidelis
answered it was doubtless moored beneath the lofty cliffs, and
that they could not expect to see it till they neared the shore.
But now, for twilight is very short in the tropics, the darkness
soon came down upon them. So they lit their lamps, and kept
carefully along the narrow track, Hilaris first, then Urban, and
Fidelis bringing up the rear. But on that high table-land there
were no mists. The air was life. The cool of night was most
invigorating after that long sultry afternoon. And the burning
stars above them, among which Fidelis pointed out with deep
joy the Southern Cross, seemed like angel friends now the sun
So they walked on in good cheer, till they came to a sudden
dip in the hillside, where was a deep glen forming a little ravine
by itself. This glen was filled with a white silvery mist that
clung around the rocks and furze-bushes. It was an exhalation
from a neighboring marsh, but was as impenetrable as a fog-
bank. They could not see three feet before them. Here they
were in doubt. Urban strongly advised that they should de-
scend the hill on the grassy ridge which hemmed in the glen on
every side. But to this Fidelis would by no means consent;
for on consulting their maps they all agreed that the red arrow-
pointed line lay through, not round it. So they began to feel
their way; but, oh this was weary work. Now they had to
hold the lamp close to the map, and now quite low to their feet,
to be sure that they were in the right track. Again and again
Urban would have had them turn aside, but the hopefulness of
Hilaris and the trust of Fidelis held on and held out. More
46 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
than once they thought they heard the roar of wild beasts,
though apparently not very near them; and shortly after the very
ground beneath their feet seemed to shake as with the tremour of
an earthquake. Several times they were compelled to stop from
sheer exhaustion; for you must be aware that it was a very
different thing breathing that thick oppressive mist from imbib-
ing the free mountain air. Their lungs seemed cloyed, and their
heart heaved wearily. Fidelis said that he thought they must
have been more than two hours threading their way through
that glen, and bitterly lamented the time they had lost on the
previous forenoon. Had they started at once, as the stranger
urged them, they would have escaped this marsh-fog. How-
ever, their only comfort was, the map said they were in the
And so it proved. At last they arrived at the lower edge of
the glen, and the mist became thinner, and the outline of the
rocks clearer, and the furze-bushes and the trunks of trees more
discernible; and soon the beautiful stars again gladdened their
The trees of which I spoke, though few and sparse at first,
became thicker aid closer continually, until it was evident that
their onward path lay through a dense forest. The track now was
narrower and more overgrown with brambles than ever, and in the
dini light their hands and faces were often torn with the entangling
briars. As thus they painfully struggled on, Fidelis, who was
behind, heard the stealthy tread of some beast of prey. He told
Urban, and Urban Hilaris. Their hearts beat quick; but stand-
ing closely together they held their bright lamps aloft. It was
enough; with a low growl the lion (for such it was) slunk into
the thick bushes, and molested them no more. The thought,
however, of this ravenous beast being so near them made them
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 47
forget their weariness and the sharpness of the thorns. They
pressed on with redoubled speed, until they left the forest behind
them and stood at the base of a rugged ascent.
And here a greater sorrow befell Fidelis and Hilaris than any
they had yet experienced. Urban, who had kept with them so
long, refused to accompany them any further. And this was
the reason. He had seen from the sunset ridge the line of the
country sloping toward the sea, and had counted on a gradual
descent from that vantage ground. And now, when travel-
worn and foot-sore, after passing through the foggy ravine and
the briary forest, he found the track again climbing one of the
lesser hills which he had overlooked from the summit, instead of
winding along its base, he was altogether discouraged and
chagrined. He was sure the track would deceive them. He
was certain the map was wrong. Why should they not turn to
the right, and then keep straight down toward the sea ? They
could not be very far off now from the coast. Had they not
walked on and on for twelve hours ? Fidelis and Hilaris might
climb the steep without him. But as for himself, now that they
had gained the open, where there were no mists and where the
beasts of prey came not, he should rest where he was for awhile,
and then strike downward in the direction he pointed to the sea-
It was in vain that Fidelis argued with him, and Hilaris
sought to cheer him. They even took him by either arm and
began to drag him up the slope. All was of no use; Urban
was doggedly resolute. Perhaps they wasted an hour in per-
suasion, and then Fidelis sorrowfully said to Hilaris :-" Brother,
we must go on; we shall only die with him here, and if we reach
the ship we may induce the captain to stay a few hours for
him." Their hearts were torn with anguish. But what could
48 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
they do more? Twice they returned several hundred yards
down the steep to entreat him. But Urban threw himself on the
ground, and bade them leave him to himself.
So the two friends finally addressed themselves to the remainder
of their journey. Their hearts were knit more closely than ever
together; and many were the earnest prayers they prayed for
their companion. Yet their own path had its toils and in-
tricacies, its doubts, and difficulties, and dangers ; up one steep
and down the next, climbing many a slippery rock, and footing
wearily the stony path with here and there a beautiful meadow
of tender grass as they drew nearer and nearer the coast. Here
also vines bent over them, of which they plucked the refreshing
clusters of grapes, until at last Hilaris said to his brother:
" Surely the eastern sky is tinged with streaks of pearl; and a
few minutes afterwards, "See that ruby glow;" and a few
minutes later, "See that golden belt of cloud;" and a few
minutes more, Oh, joy here is the first beam of the morning
That very moment they came from behind a natural wall of
cliff along which the track had wound, and stood upon the bold
headland. And there, a few hundred feet below them, lay the
gallant vessel. The boys shouted and threw their caps into the
air for joy. The signal was seen by the look-out man at the
foremast, and their feeble shout was answered by a hearty cheer
from the ship. A boat's crew put off. The boys rapidly
descended a rough gully worn by a winter torrent, hurried as
fast as they might over the shingly beach, sprang into the boat,
and in less than half an hour stepped on board that noble
ship, called Salvator," whose sign was an anchor biting the
It was some time before they could speak. But when some-
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 49
what revived with food, they told their story to the captain,
while the officers and crew clustered round, Hilaris taking up
the tale when Fidelis broke down. They both wept when they
spoke of Urban. The kind-hearted captain, though he said
the mercury was falling in his weather-glass, and he dared not
remain on that exposed coast twelve hours more, and, indeed,
himself had little hope of the boy's finding his way, promised
to delay sailing till noon. Hour after hour passed by. The
twelve o'clock bells were struck. And then the captain bid the
sailors weigh anchor; and the foresail was set, and the ship swung
round; when suddenly Fidelis, who had kept his eye ranging the
shore, shouted, There he is ; yes, there is Urban." And he it
was indeed, bemired, and bruised, and bleeding, his clothes torn
to shreds-yet Urban himself. Seeing the vessel set sail, he
recklessly dashed into the sea, as he was, and swam out into the
waves. Again the boat was lowered, and willing hearts and
arms pulled towards the lad, as he wildly buffeted the billows.
And well it was they rowed so hard; for not only was his
strength failing, but just as they dragged him into the boat a
shark turned on its side and opened its ravenous jaws to devour
him. A few seconds more and he would have been the prey of
the sea monster. So nearly was Urban lost.
I must not attempt to tell at length the tale of his sufferings
and hair-breadth escapes, as he told it to Fidelis and Hilaris that
day: the sense of utter desolation he experienced, when he found
they had indeed gone on their way: the hour of unrest as he lay
upon the heather, for he heard more than once the roar of lions
in the skirts of the forest through which they had passed, and
was afraid to close his wearied eyelids even for a moment: the
vexation with which at last he sprang up and hurried along the
level moor till he came to broken ground and sharp declivities
50 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
again: the utter perplexity he felt when he found his progress
stopped by an impetuous torrent which had worn a deep channel
among the slippery precipitous rocks: the despair with which he
remembered his chart was utterly useless now, and his lamp of
very little avail without the map: the trouble with which he
made his way along the side of the torrent, often falling heavily
and bruising himself severely in the darkness: the tearing of his
clothes every step by cactuses and other prickly shrubs which
baffled him on every side: how his face, his hands, his arms, his
legs were lacerated with thorns: how once, springing from a
thicket upon what he thought was an open plot of grass, he sank
into a deep quag almost up to his armpits, and, hardly grasping
a furze-bough, struggled out, but not without the loss of both
his shoes in the slough, and the quenching of the lamp which he
still held in the other hand: how then he thought he should
have laid him down and died, if he had not caught a glimpse of the
Southern Cross to which Fidelis had directed them at the beginning
of the night: how this had encouraged him to struggle on with
bleeding feet hour afterhour, now flounderingthrough swamps, now
on firmer ground, and now again through glens perplexed with
briars and thorns : how at last the morn began to break, but his
heart sank within him as he thought it would be the signal for the
ship setting sail: how still he toiled on, and as the day dawned was
astonished and grieved beyond measure to find himself, after all
his efforts, not far from the spot where he had parted from his
friends. But could he be wrong ? There was the long range of
hills which they had descended together; there was the forest;
there was the steep they had climbed, not so very high or hard
after all in the daylight. And then he told with what trembling
anxiety he felt in the folds of his tattered dress for his long-for-
gotten map. Yes, there it was, wet and stained, but safe. And
now an eager search discovered the track. His tears fell fast
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 51
upon it, for he feared it was too late. Still it was his only
chance. Snatching a few berries as he passed to stay his
hunger, and scooping in his hands the water from a wayside
burn, he allayed his craving hunger and thirst, and hurried on
as fast as his poor naked feet would suffer him. Many were the
groans the sharp rocks cost him. But he never took his eye
from the track, save to look upon his now doubly precious chart
and certify himself that he was right. Oh the intense relief
when he passed from the stony wold to a beautiful meadow, and
when without slackening his pace he could pluck the grapes
which festooned the trees above him! Still often a few hundred
yards of turf would be succeeded by rocky climbing again. The
sun now beat upon his head. But at last he, like his friends,
passed from under the shelter of the granite bluff, and stood
almost unawares upon the edge of the cliff. lie said he well-
nigh fainted with joy when he saw the vessel still moored below
the cliff: but listening intently he heard the measured song of
the sailors as they heaved the anchor, and his heart leapt into
his mouth as the canvas was sheeted home and the vessel began
to move. He sprang from rock to rock down the channel which
the torrent had worn in the cliff, and throwing up his arms wildly
into the air dashed into the waves.
Fidelis and Hilaris knew the rest. They could only grasp
his hands for joy, and the three lads knelt down together on the
deck and thanked God for his escape.
But I must not stay to tell all the kindness of the captain and
the crew, and all the comfort of their rapid voyage home, and all
the sorrowful memories of the valley and those left behind, and
all the joy with which they sighted the shores of their native
land, and all the hearty welcome of beloved ones there, and how
they found the hymn which they often sang together delightfully
52 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
Why these fears? behold, 'tis Jesus
Holds the helm and guides the ship.
Spread the sails and catch the breezes
Sent to waft us through the deep
To the regions where the mourners cease to weep.
O what pleasures there await us;
There the tempests cease to roar;
There it is that those who hate us
Can molest our peace no more :
Trouble ceases on that tranquil happy shore."
% HEN Oberlin stopped there was a pause of some
"i minutes. The hearts of his grandchildren were
touched with the story, and their eyes were full
of tears. But when at last the old man broke
the silence by saying that his parable had taken him so long
to read they had but a short time to discuss it, Adolphe hesi-
tatingly replied, Grandfather, I think I saw the meaning of
the night journey over the hills ; but I could not at all make
out what the fraud of that bad man, who drew the boys from
their native land to that far-off valley and then went off with the
money given him, signified."
"A parable, Gustave," said Oberlin, "seldom stands on four legs.
See that solid globe of glass upon yonder polished rosewood table.
It rests upon one point not larger than the point of a needle, and
yet all its weight presses on the table. So often many things in
a parable go to make up the picture ; and it is the central thought
of the picture which speaks to our hearts. But, do you know,
something very like that bad man's conduct really happened a
few years ago, and many young friends of mine were actually
enticed away by him. However, it will be enough for us to
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 53
think to-night of the meaning of the latter part of my story, only
reminding ourselves that the world is something like that beauti-
ful sequestered valley, with its rich fruitful soil, but with wild
beasts of prey, such as sin and Satan, ranging near, and ex-
posed to sudden earthquakes which may wrap all in ruin; that
they, who will have their portion in this life, are like those young
colonists doomed to certain disappointment; that the god of this
world, who promises them all kinds of pleasure and profit in his
service here, will never redeem his pledges; that blight, like the
malaria fevers of that valley, will sooner or later fall on the
fondest hopes of those who set their affections here; and that
the voice is heard in the hearts of the children of wisdom,' Arise
ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted,
it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.' This is
our pilgrim call."
Then, grandfather," said AimBe, "was not the messenger
like Evangelist in Pilgrim's Progress' who pointed Christian to
the wicket gate ?"
"Yes," answered Oberlin, my parable might be called a short
'Pilgrim's Progress,' compressed into one day's journey; and I
often, when making it, thought of the text, Give glory to the Lord
your God, before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble
upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, He turn
it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.' "2
OI did so wish," said little R6schen, that all the boys had
started at once, when the stranger entreated them to go, and
offered them maps and all they wanted. It was so foolish of
them not to go. He said they might have even reached the
ship before nightfall."
SMicah ii. 10. 2 Jer. xiii. 16,
54 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
God grant," said Oberlin, "that all my children may start
for home in the early dewy morning; and the old man leaned
his head on his clasped hands for a few moments in solemn
prayer; and then looking round his circle asked, Can you
explain from your bibles the excuses they made ? "
Was not the lad who would carry his possessions with him,"
said Gustave, "like the young man who came running to
Jesus,' but would not sell all that he had and follow Him ? "
And," said Aimie, "was not the one who replied they
could not be expected to start at an hour's notice like Felix,
who answered Paul, Go thy way for this time; when I have a
convenient season, I will call for thee ? 2
"Now I thought," interrupted Gustave, the one who would
wait for the cool of the evening was like Felix, and the boy
who said he would go so far as to look for the track at the end
of the defile like Agrippa when he answered Paul,' Almost
thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' 3 What cowards those
were who waited to see what the others would do "
"And yet," replied Oberlin, "it requires no small courage
and no little faith to do what Lot did, when he forsook Sodom,
though his alarm seemed mockery to his sons-in-law. And
there are many would-be wise men, and many doubters, and
many infidels, who will throw scorn on the warnings of the
Gospel. But I see you quite understand the key to this part of
my parable, and we must speak for a few minutes of those who
obeyed the stranger's invitation."
Why, grandfather," said Adolphe, Fidelis I know means
'faithful,' and Hilaris 'joyful,' for I had them both in my Latin
exercise last week. What does Urban mean ?"
SMark x, 17. Acts xxiv. 25. 3 Acts xxvi. 28.
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 55
"Polished and refined," answered Oberlin, "like one who
dwells in a city (urbs) and knows all the courtesies of society.
Perhaps to live the pilgrim's life and to march over the hills
homeward is the harder for such an one than for those who
move in a lower walk of life; for we read God has chosen the
poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which
He hath promised to them that love Him.' 1 What do you under-
stand by the map and lamp, Marie ? "
Well, sir," answered the old nurse humbly, I thought the
map surely meant the Bible; but I do not know what the lamp
"I thought at first," said AimEe, "that the lamp was the
light of the Holy Spirit-but then they did not want it when
the sun shone, and we want the teaching of the Holy Spirit at
May not light in itself, whether the light of the sun by day
or of the lamp bynight," asked Oberlin, well signify the teach-
ing of the Blessed Spirit who teaches us by His own written
word ? What was the prayer one of you repeated to me this
morning about light ? "
"That was my verse," little Rbschen said: "'0 send out
Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring
me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles.' 2 I did not
think it would come into our parable this evening."
And yet," said her grandfather, "in that verse you have both
the chart, and the light we need to shine upon the chart, beau-
tifully expressed. And just as those young travellers found
the map of no use without the light, and the light of little use
without the map, so the Bible is of no use to us without the
1 James ii. 5. Psalm xliii. 3.
56 "OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD."
teaching of the Holy Spirit; and generally the Holy Spirit, who
has given the Bible to be our guide, does not lead us many steps
without it. But we must hasten on."
"Was not the glimpse of the sea, which they got from the
crest of the hills," asked Aim6e, a prospect of the rest which
remaineth for the people of God? x And yet they did not see
the ship. Does this mean we do not see the angels, who are to
carry us to glory, till we get to the very end of life ? "
And did not the foggy glen mean a time of trial and dark-
ness, like that David passed through when he said, Yea, though
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear
no evil: for Thou art with me' ? 2 asked Adolphe.
"And I suppose then," said Gustave, "the tangled forest
means the world with its pleasures and cares, and the growl of
the lion the wrath of the devil."
When the lion slunk away," said R6schen, I thought of
the text, 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.'3 But
why, oh! why, grandfather, did Urban forsake them when he
had come so far ? "
Do we not read of many pilgrims, my child," answered
Oberlin, "who walk steadily on for a while, and then have sad
grievous backslidings or falls, from which they suffer all their
after life? Such was Jacob, and such was David; though
these saints had a brighter after path than poor Urban's was."
"Does Urban's lamp being quenched in the swamp mean that
the Holy Spirit ever quite refuses to show those, who forsake
the narrow path, what is their duty ? asked Adolphe.
"I think it may set forth," answered Oberlin, "that they
sometimes quite lose the comfort of His help and the joy of His
1 Heb. iv. 9. 2 Psalm xxiii. 4. 3 James iv. 7.
"OVER THE HILLS HOMEWARD." 57
salvation.' God's own faithful servants too sometimes walk in
darkness and have no light.2 But Urban, you remember, after
a while caught a glimpse of the Southern Cross, which may
well tell under another figure of the Holy Spirit pointing the
sinner's eye to Jesus and Him crucified. But our time is gone.
We may speak to-morrow of many other lessons which this
parable suggests. Only now remember that the three boys,
though Urban's lot was very different from that of Fidelis and
Hilaris, pressed on till they reached the shore and the ship,
and so were safely borne over the waters to their distant father-
land. God grant that not one of us may fail of reaching that
better heavenly country, that region where the mourners cease
to weep! "
SPsalm li. 12. Isaiah 1. 10.
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
HERE was a gloom in the
marble city, the city of pala-
ces, Genoa la Superba. The
dreaded plague, which ap-
Speared first in the kingdom
of Kathay, had gradually
proceeded westward to Con-
stantinople and Egypt :
- thence it had passed into
Greece, and creeping along
the shores of the Mediterra-
nean, had at length, in the
autumn of A.D. 1348, enve-
-loped in its disastrous em-
brace the sunny clime of
Italy. In Florence the people
were dying by thousands; and it is credibly reported, that in
that beautiful city and its immediate environs sixty thousand
persons fell victims to this scourge of God. Genoa, favoured by
the freshness of prevailing winds from the north-west and by the
salubrity of its encircling hills, was spared to the last. But when
the wind veered round to the south and east and then died away
to a mere breath, it was far different. The sultry air had never
been known to be so oppressive. A heavy cloud rested over the
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 59
city by day and night, obscuring the sunshine and blotting out
the stars. A boding dread seemed to overshadow all hearts.
And this was quickened into lively alarm when one morning it
was rumoured that several cases of the fatal distemper had cer-
tainly appeared in the Lazaretto.
The Genoese, however, that day tried to console themselves by
the thought that the sufferers in that Hospice were of the lowest
order, and already enfeebled by disease. Their comfort was
brief-lived. The next night physicians were hastily summoned
not only to the lowly tenements of artisans, but to palaces of
the nobles, and mansions of the wealthy merchants in every part
of the city. The old streets of Genoa, as you know, are built
so closely together to shut out the burning rays of the summer
sun, that you might almost shake hands with your opposite
neighbour from the upper stories across the narrow causeways.
It was a strange unwonted sight to see messengers making
their way by torchlight through the intricate passages, not with
instruments of music and gaily attired guests, but in silence and
haste seeking out those who professed any knowledge of medicine.
And all the next day the cases multiplied with fearful rapidity;
and on the third night the physicians, worn out with fatigue,
were far too few for those who imploringly demanded their aid.
Now was heard the sharp cry or the low groan of pain. The
heavy air seemed to sigh and sob with the grief of mourners.
And the frequent tolling of the great bell in the Campanile
added to the general consternation. To allay this cause of alarm,
a Council was hastily summoned very early in the morning,
and a decree made that no passing-bell for the dying or the
dead should be rung within the city walls. Also, to prevent
contagion, it was enacted that on the door of each house contain-
ing infected persons or corpses, a black cross should be painted,
60 THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
and a black flag hung across the head of those streets which were
most severely visited with the plague. But, alas, it was soon
found that the pestilence which walketh in darkness had spread
in that one night to almost every quarter of the city.
As the hours wore on, all faces gathered blackness and all
hearts meditated terror. The symptoms of this awful malady
greatly varied with the different constitutions of those it attacked.
In some cases all the agony was in the throat; and the very
channel of the breath of life was choked with putrifying sores in
the course of three or four hours: the unhappy patient died of
suffocation. In other cases a strange dizziness seized the brain :
the man was struck to the earth when sitting in his house or
walking in the street; and though there were few signs of
suffering, these instances were generally fatal in less that twelve
hours. In many more cases the first indication was the breaking
out of burning spots, which in an incredibly short space of time
became ulcerous sores on the chest or arms or other parts of the
body; while in not a few instances it appeared that without any
visible sign, except a hectic flush in the cheek and a strange
lustre in the eye, the disease attacked the region of the heart in
all its virulence. The corpses of those who died thus turned
black very shortly after death. But with one and all the stroke
of pestilence seemed accompanied with an insatiable thirst. Water
was eagerly swallowed, but it did not seem to slake the raging
fever within. Some thought that the wells of the city must
themselves be poisoned by the subtle infection of the plague.
Others thought that the meat was the source of danger; and
indeed much cattle died; so they abstained from all animal food.
But, do what men might, death met them at every turn. And
when once stricken, despair was written in the face of every
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 61
Hour by hour the deaths multiplied. No one put on mourning
apparel for the nearest relatives. Funerals ceased. Few could
bury their own dead. But at intervals of six hours what was
called the dead cart" passed through the streets: a hand-bell
was rung; and the driver, as he came near any house with the
cross upon it, cried aloud, Bring out your dead." To this call
the answer of the' inmates was often a wail of sorrow as they
brought their dead to the door, for the most part only wrapt in
the winding-sheet of the couch where they had breathed their
last. The bodies, thus borne away on this general bier, were
thrown indiscriminately into deep trenches which were dug on
the inner side of the quay.
Genoa had been noted for the vivacity of its society, and for
the strength of those ties which bind kindred and neighbours
together. But the plague had not brooded one short week over
the city, before this sympathy of hearts seemed to have almost
disappeared. There were some noble exceptions. But for the
most part, under the icy touch of a hopeless despondency, parents
looked coldly and gloomily on their stricken children, and child-
ren on their stricken parents. Neighbours shrank from neigh-
bours, and friends deserted friends. The physicians in many
instances themselves succumbed to the pestilence; and oftentimes
it was only by the offer of very large rewards they could be per-
suaded to attend at some rich man's bed-side. Nor is this to be
marvelled at; for, when they came, their drugs were almost
powerless and their skill unavailing.
Many more of the inhabitants would fain have escaped on
board the galleys and merchant vessels, with which a few days
before the noble harbour had been crowded. But these had most
of them slipped their cables the second night and put out to sea
and of the few terror-stricken fugitives who reached their decks,
62 THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
several had the seeds in them of the dreadful plague, and so
infected the crews that the ships were left absolutely without any
hands to work them, and drifted helplessly over the waters with-
out captain or helmsman oi any to set or reef the sails.
The hills, however, surrounding the town on every side but the
harbour, afforded some a more accessible shelter. They were dotted
with rudely constructed huts, in which hundreds of survivors,
leaving sick friends behind them, sought to escape the malaria of
the city. But the hill-sides proved no secure asylum: the pestilence
followed them there. Yet their flight added to the strange soli-
tude of the streets ; and the ninth day of the plague in Genoa
realized the eloquent words of Tacitus, Dies modo per silentium
vastus, modo ploratibus inquies.1
It was at this time of Genoa's sorest need that a stranger, clad
in mean attire, rowed in a little boat into the harbour. The ship,
on board of which he came, hove to three or four miles off shore,
dropped this tiny craft astern, and then sailing away was seen no
The stranger's name was Fra Benedict. He seemed scarcely
fifty years of age; but his benevolent brow was worn with deep
lines of thought and care. To one who questioned whence he
came, he simply answered, "From the sunrising:" to another
who demanded how he ventured to set foot on their infected shore,
he replied, "For love:" and to a third who asked him whether,
if he survived the plague, he intended to settle in Genoa, he said
with a sweet and tender smile, "No, brother: I am going home."
But in truth he came so quietly and unobtrusively, and men's
hearts were so pre-occupied by their terrible calamities, that few,
except those who were listlessly standing on the water's edge,
A day now desolate in its silence, and now perplexed with lamentations."
THE PLAGUE.STRICKEN CITY. 63
concerned themselves about the landing of this solitary stranger
in their harbour. Yet had they known all he was and all the
help he could minister to the sick and dying, I think the
whole city would have flocked to the marble pier to welcome
One breath may speak volumes. Fra Benedict had discovered
a sovereign remedy for the plague He made no secret of the
healing virtue of the drug he used. It was an inexpensive simple,
but needed skilful and careful application; and then no case had
been found too hard for its wonderful properties. When adminis-
tered in the earliest stage of the disease, its effects were generally
marked and often immediate. And, even when the distemper had
taken deeper root, by patient and persevering endeavours the suf-
ferer usually recovered after a few days. It was only in a very
few and rare instances, and these generally far advanced towards
the fatal end, when the sick man desperately refused to comply
with his directions, that the malignity of the disease seemed to
baffle the art of the physician.
As he said, he came from the East; and he had tracked this
terrible plague from land to land and city to city. It-were long
to tell all the privations and perils he had endured in ministering
to those stricken down by it. And probably fame would have
heralded his glory far and wide, but for one thing, which gene-
rally in everyplace set the great and learned against him: he always
refused payment. Indeed his only condition of attendance was
that men should receive his services freely and without price ; for
he said the work was wages and the hue of returning health in
the sick man's face his reward. So his ministry had always
chiefly lain among the poor.
So it was in Genoa. On landing at the quay, Fra Benedict
at once made his way to the lowest part of the city where the
64 THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
plague was raging most violently. This gave great offence to a few
wealthy traders who heard of it, and who affirmed the man's cre-
dentials probably would not bear investigation, or he would no
doubt have first inquired for the College of Physicians, who were
consulting that day for many hours on the best steps to retard
the progress of the pestilence. Benedict chose his lodging in what
was known as a plague house; for it was set apart as a hos-
pital to which the poor, if they were so minded, might bring their
stricken friends. From thence he sent forth messages and letters
of invitation, simply stating the fact that he had found a certain
cure for the pestilence, and entreating all sufferers to send for
him without delay. And forthwith he began his work and
treated many cases among the poor with marvellous success.
Perhaps more would have applied to him; but just at that time
the priests affirmed that one of their number had been favoured
with a miraculous vision, revealing to him that if the Genoese
would build a chapel or hermitage in honour of a nun who had
died a few years before, the plague would begin to subside; and
that those who contributed to its erection would be cured if ill,
and protected if whole. It was perfectly marvellous how this
fiction obtained credit with the people. But so it was ; the nobles
showered jewels and gems of priceless value, and the traffickers
gold and silver, and even the poorest would bring their last copper
coins to cast into the votive treasury. Nay, the chief men and
women of the city vied with each other who should have the
honour of carrying the stones and timber and mortar to the
hermitage, which was being built on a gentle slope without the
To give one instance, out of many, of the way in which
this foolish superstition thwarted Fra Benedict's ministry of
mercy. The third day after his arrival he had been summoned
Benedict took him kindly by the hand and said: My friend, the plague is work in
your veins: suf m to help yu."
P e 65.
,~ i ii'-
Benedict took him kindly by tie hand and said: "My friend, the plague is work in
your veins: suffer me to help you."
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 65
hastily to the glorious palace of Leonardi, whom report said to
be the richest merchant prince of Genoa, but who now lay among
his crimson silks shuddering with the first chills of the pestilence.
Benedict was ascending the marble staircase, when he was met
by a procession of several priests and servants, with bags of gold
and caskets of jewels, which they were carrying to the site of
the hermitage. He with difficulty made his way through the
throng, and when he came to the sick man's chamber door, was
refused admittance. Leonardi was so satisfied with the immense
sums he had given, far exceeding any offerings the saint had
received elsewhere, that he believed the assurance of a priest who
persuaded him that a tribute of such fabulous wealth would
certainly purchase his recovery, and that now to submit to the
treatment of a poor vagrant physician would offend the saintly
patron whose aid he was invoking. So Fra Benedict was cour-
teously but firmly urged to depart.
As he was sadly leaving the beautiful portico, where the cool
fountain, scattering spray on the orange blossoms, seemed almost
a mockery of this death-shadowed home, Benedict observed the
runner, who had fetched him hither so hastily, lying at the foot
of a marble column. His countenance was ashy pale. Going up
to him, Benedict took him kindly by the hand and said, My
friend, the plague is work in your veins : suffer me to help you."
The man demurred for a while, saying he had cast his mite into
the coffer of the procession as they swept by, and he thought all
would be well. Bat as the good physician reasoned with him,
a sharp spasm of pain convulsed his frame, and he murmured,
"Do what you can for me." Benedict, having ministered his
remedy to him, left him in the charge of an attached fellow-
servant; and, returning a few hours after, found him already con-
valescent. But a loud wailing from the upper story told that the
66 TITE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
master had died, just as the procession re-entered the house,
having deposited their offerings at the shrine of the saint.
The record of Fra Benedict's experiences that morning may
serve as an example of the treatment he generally met with
among the rich and great men of the world. Shortly after he
left Leonardi's palace, he passed the stately porch of Rinaldo,
the treasurer of the city. Rinaldo himself was there, gazing
anxiously down the street, apparently looking for some persons
who came not. Seeing Benedict pass, Rinaldo called to him,
and begged him if he met a group of servants whom he had sent
to summon Lorenzo de' Medici, a learned and celebrated leech,
to his wife, to hasten their steps, as she was in great agony and
he did not like to leave her. Benedict entreated that he might
be allowed himself to minister to her. But the treasurer replied
by asking hurriedly what the nature of his treatment might be,
and what his charge for administering it. And when the other
answered that it was a very inexpensive drug, and that his attend-
ance was free to all without money, Rinaldo almost rudely im-
plored him to go on his way, assuring him he had discovered
long ago that gratuitous remedies were worthless. He would
not be reasoned with.
So Fra Benedict passed on, and scarcely half a mile from
Rinaldo's house met the servants, carrying the empty palan-
quin in which Lorenzo de' Medici was to have been borne by
them. Giving them their master's message, he asked where
Lorenzo might be. They shook their heads and answered, He
is himself sick of the plague." This was enough to attract
Benedict: he made his way to the great physician's house, and
asked permission to see him. This was courteously accorded
him. But the dying man firmly refused his offers of help, saying
that he had himself lost faith in all means of cure, but was certain
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 67
that if any could avail, the potent drug he had just swallowed
would carry him through the crisis of this attack. Alas, it proved
a mere palliative. Lorenzo de' Medici died that night.
But from Lorenzo's lips Benedict heard that the noted philo-
sopher and naturalist, Giovanni, whose house joined to his own,
was likewise stricken down with the plague. As his custom
was, Fra Benedict went immediately and offered his remedy;
but he was doomed again to meet with repulse. For the philo-
sopher having demanded to see the recipe of his cure, at once
pronounced that it was far too simple to touch so terrible a
disease, adding that he had the utmost confidence in an elaborate
concoction of his own devising, which was distilled from more
than fifty herbs and aromatic spices.
A shade of mournful pity, not unmingled with disappointment,
saddened the countenance of Benedict as he left the wealthy
quarter of the city and made his way to his lodgings through the
squalid dwellings of the poor. As he was passing down a very
narrow thoroughfare, in former days thronged, but now almost
deserted, he heard the signal bell of the dead cart: it paused
before a house that was tenanted in apartments by artisans, and
two shrouded forms were cast in. When the cart passed on,
Benedict lingered at the threshold, and thinking that he caught
the faint echo of a child's groan, he went in. There he saw, in
a large but scantily furnished room, three children, all stricken
with the same pestilence, of which their father and mother had
died a few hours before. They were the bodies of their parents
which had just been borne from the door. The names of the
three children were Claude, Guido, and Beatrice. It was the
wailing cry of little Beatrice, her mother's darling, which had
fallen on Benedict's ear, and arrested his onward footstep.
The three children, though all ill, were suffering in different
68 THE PLA'GUE-8TRICKEN CITY.
ways. Claude, who had been attacked first, was frequently con-
vulsed with sharp spasms of pain, and then his eyes seemed as
if they would start from their sockets; and when the paroxysm
was over he would lie for a few minutes as if he were dead, only
to be roused by a new agony. Benedict drew near and spoke to
him in the gentlest voice; but the poor boy turned away his
face in utter hopelessness, saying, For me you can do no-
thing, nothing, nothing: see if you can aid poor Guido or little
Benedict turned and looked on Guido, but he shook his head
doubtfully. The lad seemed overpowered with a heavy slumber.
There was a terrible numbness about his heart, and a cold stare
in his eye. Once Benedict roused him and put the healing
medicine to his lips. Oh, had he swallowed it, all might yet
have been well! But with a sudden and strange energy he cried
out aloud, "It is too late: too late! and thrust away the
ministering hand, and, clenching his teeth firmly, sank down
into a state of apparent unconsciousness.
The kind-hearted physician turned to Beatrice-the quick-
silver little Beatrice-who at first said, "She had not the
plague; only her cheeks burned; she should soon be well.
Who had taken mother away ? However, she was soon won
by Benedict's loving eye and tender hand. He chafed her
limbs with oil; he administered his wonderful medicine; he
threw open the back casement that looked toward the blue sea
far away; he wrapped round her his own traveller's cloak. And
in less than an hour the dear child looked up and said, "How I
thank you: I am better; and fell into a sweet sleep.
Scarcely had she uttered the words when a deep groan was
heard from the couch of Guido : it was his last. Guido was dead.
And then Fra Benedict came again to Claude and said, Your
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 69
dear sister will recover : your brother is dead. Be persuaded:
let me help you." And now Claude looked up with tears in
his eyes and said, Dear sir, have I not refused too long ? "
But the good physician answered thoughtfully and calmly, Be
of good cheer, yet there is hope."
Yet had Claude reason dearly to repent the precious time he
had lost. He took the medicine indeed; but it seemed at first
only to aggravate his sufferings. The spasms of pain were so
severe he could not help groaning and crying out in his misery.
And sometimes delirium seized his brain. But Fra Benedict
cooled his brow, and kept his hand upon the weak agitated pulse,
until he felt it grow stronger and more regular beneath his
touch. Then he knew the remedy was grappling with and
mastering the disease. And so it proved. Claude fell into a
perturbed slumber, which was broken with frequent starts and
cries as of nightmare alarm. Still there were intervals of quiet,
and they became longer.
In one of these, Fra Benedict hearing the bell of the dead
cart again, quietly and reverently wrapped the father's best
cloak around the lifeless body of Guido, and himself bore it to
the door and laid it on that mournful bier. At another time he
ministered food to Beatrice, who was now awake. Still he
kept his eye on Claude, until at last he had the joy of seeing the
beads of dewy perspiration on the boy's open noble brow, and
the breathing became more regular: and Claude too sank into
delicious and refreshing repose.
It were too long to tell all the tender care which Benedict be-
stowed on Beatrice and Claude. Though he had scores of other
patients, he seemed especially to regard these two orphans as his
own children. For the next three days they were very feeble,
but he procured the choicest viands for them and the most
70 THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
cordial wines, until the colour of health again flushed their
cheeks. And then the good man told them, that while the
plague continued in Genoa he would be to them as father and
mother, and when he left them would provide that they should
never want. And indeed they clung to him, as if they had been
his very own. They felt they owed him a debt which they
could never repay; and one day Claude said so. But Benedict
replied, Dear children, would you try to requite me anything I
have done for you ? The plague has yet been scarcely a fort-
night in the city. It may have reached its height; but, if it
tarries here as in other places, you cannot expect that it will
subside for two months to come. Now I want to make you my
messengers to other sufferers. You shall tell them what my
medicine has done for you. They will believe you perhaps
rather than myself. But I will never be far off from you, and
you shall tell me every day all that you have said and done."
The children gratefully promised to do what they could; and
most touching it was to see them moving, like angels of mercy,
among the sick and the dying. But I must not attempt here to
narrate all that befell them during the next few weeks. Fra
Benedict's work and theirs lay chiefly among the poor, though
not altogether so. He was summoned again to Leonardi's house
by the servant, whose life he had saved, to attend Lucrece, the
merchant's eldest daughter, who fell sick the week after her
father died; and though the attack was a very severe one, and
the priests, strange to say, still opposed his attendance, Lucrece
insisted on trying his remedy. She did so, and recovered. Her
gratitude was intense. Also Giovanni's brother, Agathon, a
princely patron of the fine arts, sent for him and was healed.
But, as I said, Fra Benedict's chief work lay among the poor.
One lone and aged woman, whom most men would have thought
THE' PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 71
beneath their notice, he nursed as tenderly as if she had been a
duchess, and gave Beatrice the most careful instructions for her
comfort. And then a blind beggar, whose miserable existence
seemed a weariness to himself and others, Fra Benedict wooed
back to life, and often left under the care of Claude. And these
also, like the children, he made his messengers and attendants
upon other sufferers. It was surprising how many the blind
man induced to send for his aid, and how tender a nurse the
aged grandmother proved. More orphan children, too, were
healed. And now the tidings spread from one to another, until
every minute of every hour of the day was filled up with healing
the sick or ministering to the convalescent.
It was a frequent marvel to others, whence Fra Benedict
obtained his supplies of medicine and food. He appeared to be
quite a poor man himself, and lived on the plainest diet, yet he
never seemed at a loss to supply the wants of the sick and the
suffering. Whether any wealthy friend of his in Genoa sup-
plied him with large charity funds, as some maintained; or
whether, as others thought, he had a secret store of jewels in
his purse, was never known.
But one day the heavens were black with clouds and tempest.
A heavy thunderstorm broke over the city. The rain descended
in floods. The stagnant air was purified by incessant flashes
of lightning. Fra Benedict's face was radiant with joy. He
calmed the fears of the children, and assured them that the pes-
tilence would now rapidly abate and soon pass away.
And he was right. The number of daily deaths which had
before fallen from thousands to hundreds, now sank to tens and
soon to threes and twos. The dead cart scarcely gleaned any
victims in its long circuit. Those who had fled from the city
retiitpd. The deserted houses were re-opened. The grass-
72 THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
grown streets were again trodden. The voice of joy and health
was heard again in many homes, and the merry laughter of
children once more greeted the ear of the passer-by. Ships
again ventured from the Gulf of Genoa into the harbour. And
after the lapse of another fortnight it was announced, in the
market-place and in the churches, that the city was free from
Then a day of public thanksgiving was proclaimed; and it
was ordered that all who had deserved well of their city in this
its time of sorest calamity should repair to the Council Hall,
and receive a medal of honour. Many a healed sufferer said
Fra Benedict will assuredly receive the highest honour which
Genoa can bestow. On the evening before the day of public
rejoicing he stole quietly to the homes of those whom he had
made his friends. They vainly urged him to present his claim
on the morrow; but he answered mysteriously, My presence
is needed elsewhere: farewell." Leonardi's daughter, Lucrece,
at his request, undertook with tears of gratitude the guardian-
ship of Beatrice; and Agathon, with joy, that of Claude. And
then Benedict went among his own friends, and bade them adieu,
saying, "We shall meet again in a City which no pestilence
shall ever shadow, and where never a mourner's tear shall be drop-
ped on the pavement of transparent gold. Till then, farewell."
And so it fell out: after midnight no man saw him more.
Some thought that he went, as he came, in a little boat to a
vessel lying off shore. Others affirmed that a strange chariot
was seen waiting after sunset outside the city gates. While
others boldly maintained their belief that he was translated like
Enoch. But as the citizens met in groups on the morrow morn-
ing, the question instinctively passed from lip to lip, "Was he
not rightly named Fra Benedict ?"
THE PLAGUE.STRICKEN CITY. 73
"? HEN Oberlin laid down his manuscript, his grand-
;. ,',i children looked up silently for a few moments
"' i'li into his still speaking countenance, just as if he
were in their eyes what Benedict had been to the
orphans of Genoa. But the silence was broken by Robin the
gardener (for whom Marie had pleaded a seat next herself at
their Sunday evening readings), saying, Well, that is the beau-
tifullest story that ever I did hear: not that I know the meaning
of all the words in it; still it went to my heart. But pray, sir,
why was that kind-hearted doctor rightly called, Fra Benedict ? "
"Because," said Oberlin, Fra means brother, and Benedict'
means blessed: and is not one who heals the sick a blessed brother
to them ?"
Then, sir," eagerly asked Marie, is not Fra Benedict in
your story Jesus Christ?"
"Just so far," answered Oberlin, "as the Lord Jesus is the
Good Physician of our souls. But we must remember that, while
He is the Great and Good Physician, He employs thousands
and thousands of His servants in the same work in every land;
and they too are good physicians: only they derive all their
skill and power from Him. But you have begun with the last
words of my parable. Let us examine it a little more in order.
Our time is very short; but this matters less, as the parable
almost interprets itself. My little Rischen will tell us what
that dreadful plague represents ?"
"Sin, grandfather, is it not?" answered R6schen, "and all
the sorrow that sin brings with it. But was there ever such a
plague in Italy? "
74 THE PLAGUE-8TRICKEN CITY.
"Indeed, there was," said Oberlin, "in the year of our Lord
1348, too: nor did I exaggerate the numbers which Antoninus,
Archbishop of Florence, said died in that city. But it was not
confined to Italy only. In the course of a few years it over-
spread most of Europe."
"I read," said Adolphe, "not long ago, an account of the
Plague of London in the reign of Charles II.; that is hardly,
you know, more than 200 years ago, and I do not think any-
thing in grandfather's parable was more terrible than that
history. I remember there, it was said, many became mad from
terror, and threw themselves into the Thames. They had the
same kind of dead-cart' going about to collect the bodies, the
same kind of hospitals which they called 'pest houses,' the
same deep trenches for burying the corpses. The grass grew
then in the middle of what had been crowded streets. And the
people thought they saw fearful signs in the heavens."
But, grandfather," said Gustave, surely people never were
really so foolish as to think that building a hermitage outside
the city-walls would stop the plague. That you put in," he
added archly, "did you not, to make up the parable ?"
"You shall read us aloud, Gustave," replied Oberlin, "just
one extract from a history of the plague which desolated Naples
A.D. 1656 (reach me the sixteenth volume of the Encyclopaedia
Britannica'), that you may see I have not overdrawn the
terrors and superstitions of a people who have not the Word
of God in their hands, in such a visitation as the plague.
[Gustave reads.] 'The distemper being neglected made a
most rapid and furious progress, and filled the whole city with
consternation. The streets were crowded with confused proces-
sions, which served to spread the infection through all the
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 75
quarters. The terror of the people increased their superstition
and it being reported that a certain nun had prophesied that the
pestilence would cease upon building a hermitage for her sister
nuns upon the hill of St. Martin, the edifice was immediately
begun with the most ardent zeal. Persons of the highest
quality strove who should perform the meanest offices; some
loading themselves with beams, and others carrying baskets full
of lime and nails, while persons of all ranks stripped themselves
of their most valuable effects, which they threw into empty
hogsheads placed in the streets to receive the charitable contribu-
tions. Their violent agitation and the increasing heats diffused
the malady through the whole city, and the streets and the
stairs of the churches were filled with the dead, the number of
whom for some time of the month of July amounted daily to
fifteen thousand .... A violent and plentiful rain falling about
the middle of August, the distemper began to abate; and on
December 8th the physicians made a solemn declaration that the
city was entirely free from infection.'
"Well," continued Qberlin, "there you have the dry facts of
history; but I think you will find almost all the points of my
story have some counterpart in the ravages of sin and the
healing virtue of the Gospel. What does the Bible say about
the close connection between sin and death ?"
Do you mean that text in the Romans, grandfather," said
Adolphe, "where St. Paul says: By one man sin, entered
into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon
all men, for that all have sinned;'1 or that where St. James
says, Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his
own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived it
SRum, v. 12.
76 THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth
And you know," continued Aim6e, there is a terrible pic-
ture of a sinful land as smitten by disease, in the beginning of
Isaiah:-' The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no sound-
ness in it; but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores: they
have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with
They would not let them toll the bell, lest it should frighten
people more. What does that mean, grandfather ?" asked
"Well, my child," answered Oberlin, the world says as
little as it can about sin and death ; but its silence does not alter
the fact, the plague is there. Could any of you see a meaning
in the different symptoms of the malady? "
The children were silent, and Oberlin continued:-" You re-
member the pestilence sometimes attacked the throat, and some-
times the brain; in some cases it broke out with burning spots
all over the body, and in others, while affecting the heart, was
discernible only by a flush in the cheek and a wild lustre in the
eye; but in all there was a craving thirst. Well, does not the
love of sin seem so to choke some people that they cannot breathe
the pure air of life, and makes others dizzy, so that they fall
headlong, or cast themselves away ? Does not sin break out in
loathsome spots in some lives which all may see; and in others
only appears by a strange excitement and unrest ? But do not
all alike thirst for a happiness they have not, and never can
have apart from Jesus Christ ? "
I James i. 14, 15. 2 Isaiah i. 5. 6.
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 77
Oh, yes, grandfather," said Gustave, but one thing puzzled
me. I do not think that all bad people are so horribly selfish
as those who left their sick friends to suffer and die alone. I
am sure wicked people sometimes seem to me very kind to one
Oberlin smiled, and answered:-" Thank God, you have not
come across the path of many wicked people yet, Gustave. But
you may take this for certain: the natural kindness of bad
people who are kind (and I quite agree with you, there are some
such) does not come from their badness, but from better in-
stincts not yet crushed in them. And those, who are called to
deal with evil men, must always try and fasten on any of these
good feelings, and make the most they can of them, while
directing the sinner's eye to Jesus the only Saviour. But this,
too, is certain-that sin, so far as it gets possession of a man,
shuts God out of the heart, and so shuts love out, for God is
love. But our time is rapidly passing. What did you make,
my children, of the helplessness of the Genoese physicians to
cure those stricken of the plague ? "
I thought," said Marie, "of that poor woman of whom you
read, sir, this morning, who 'had suffered many things of many
physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing
bettered, but rather grew worse.' "1
"And I remembered," said Aim6e, "that which always seems
to me one of the most tearful texts in the Bible:-' Is there no
balm in Gilead; is there no physician there ? Why then is not
the health of the daughter of my people recovered ?' "2
And see," said Adolphe, "here is a text, also in Jeremiah,3
which answers exactly, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound
Mark v. 26. Jerem. viii. 22. 3 Jerem. xxx. 12, 13.
78 THE PLAGUE-STBICKEN CITY.
is grievous. There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest
be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines.'"
Look on to the 17th verse of that chapter, Adolphe," inter-
posed Oberlin, "and you will find the promise, I will restore
health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the
Lord.' What corresponds to this in our parable ? "
All answered, Why, this is just what Fra Benedict did."
"Yes, my children," Oberlin continued, "this is the blessed
work of the Gospel, God's remedy for sin; that Gospel which
tells of God our Father's forgiving love, and of God our Saviour
dying on the cross for us, and of God the Holy Spirit making
our hearts new and holy; that Gospel which was fore-shadowed
in the Old Testament, and preached by Jesus Christ Himself,
and then committed by Him to His apostles and messengers;
that Gospel which is freely offered to all without money and
without price, which is especially welcomed by the poor, but
which saves all who receive it. Our time will not suffer us to-
night to compare all Fra Benedict's experiences with our Bibles;
but we will talk of them during the week. And you will find
how Leonardi, who trusted in his offerings to the hermitage and
died miserably, while the poor man at his gate was cured, points
out the superstitious man; how Rinaldo, the treasurer, who
scorned a remedy which would cost him nothing, represents the
proud man; how Lorenzo de' Medici, who thought his own
potent drug would save him if anything could, signifies the self-
righteous man; and how Giovanni, who thought the remedy far
too simple, is a type of the learned world, which in its wisdom
esteems the Gospel to be foolishness. Then further you will
see in the three orphan children a picture of three different
classes of character: some, like Guido, have benumbed their
powers and hardened their hearts, and perish in their sins: some,
THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY. 79
like Beatrice, are early and soon convinced of their guilt and
need, and yield gratefully to the treatment of the Good Physician:
while others, like Claude, for a long while refuse, so that sin gets
a stronger grasp of their hearts, but yet submitting at last to the
Gospel are saved through much suffering and many struggles.
Then Claude and Beatrice, becoming messengers to other sick
folk, remind us how all who have found the Lord Jesus them-
selves must tell others of His love. Also Lucrece and Agathon,
being healed, speak of the few rich and noble who embrace the
truth of the Gospel; while the forlorn old woman and the blind
beggar, being raised from their misery and disease and employed
in ministering to others, bid us not to despise or despair of any,
for it is God's good pleasure often to take the poor from the dust
and the beggar from the dung-hill, and to set them among princes,
and to make them inherit the throne of glory." 1
There was a moment's pause, and Rsschen said, Grandfather,
had Fra Benedict jewels in his purse? "
"The parable," answered Oberlin, smiling, "only said that
this was never known; so how can I tell ? This we know, that
Jesus Christ never lets His servants want anything that is really
good. I can only suppose that Benedict's secret store was the
promise, 'My God shall supply all your need according to His
riches in glory in Christ Jesus.' 2
"May I ask one question more?" said old Robin, humbly.
"Why did not the good man wait a few hours more to receive
the medal of honour ? To my thinking he would have found it
useful in other cities."
"Ah, my friend," replied Oberlin, neither does the parable
tell us this. This we know, our Master sought not honour of
I 1 Sam. ii. 8. 2 Phil. iv. 19.
80 THE PLAGUE-STRICKEN CITY.
men; nor did His Apostles snatch at the glories of this world;
and the best saints of every age have been poor in spirit. The
joy of Jesus Christ and of His servants is in the salvation of
sinners and the glory of God. But grateful love is the truest
wealth; and every true-hearted disciple is waiting his reward in
the holy Jerusalem above,-that city of the living God which no
pestilence can ever darken with the shadow of death."
I ?N. r .
EUGENE THE DEBTOR.
N days of old, before the colossal
empire of Rome bestrode the
world, there was an extensive
and fertile province in Asia,
where every city with its sur-
rounding towns and villages
formed a little state or princi-
pality by itself. Some of these
states did not number more than
a few thousand inhabitants; but
each had its own king, its own
laws, its own usages, and not
seldom its own costumes. The
throne of royalty was usually
the throne of judgment. The
monarch not only wielded the sceptre and his sword, but all im-
portant causes were tried before him in person. His decision
was final; there was no appeal. But the land having been
originally colonized by Greek settlers, the names Solon, Lycur-
gus, Aristides, and other wise men of Greece overshadowed the
minds of all; public opinion held the scales very equally, and
injustice was rarely done.
In one of the largest of these states it was that Andronicus
82 EUGENE THE DEBTOR.
reigned. He was the father of his people. He and his only son
Agathos lived not only in their own hospitable palace, but in the
hearts of their people. It appeared that they only held power
that they might use it for the advantage of others. The good-
ness of the king was in everyone's lips. And yet he was
inflexible in the administration of the just and liberal code of
laws which he had himself drawn up for the government of his
state. He never swerved to the right hand or to the left, for
rich or poor. I say rich or poor; for the mother city of his
realm lying on the sea coast, and having a brisk trade with
foreign lands, poverty would have been unknown, but-
There is always a but in human history:-there was a power-
ful and designing merchant, called Draco, whose only object, it
seemed, was to amass immense wealth, and buy up all the houses
and wharves and waste sites for building upon which he could
lay his hands. For this end it was his wont to lend the unwary
trader or the unsuspecting heir large sums of money at extra-
vagant rates of interest; and then, if the gold were not repaid to
the very day, he would come down upon the luckless defaulter
like a vulture on a straying lamb, and claim the immediate for-
feiture of the bond. There had been already many wrecks of
noble families, the unhappy victims either languishing in the
debtor's prison, or fleeing from justice, self-banished exiles from
their native shore. It might have been thought that the sight of
so much misery would have deterred others in the same city from
falling into the same snares. But the headstrong passions of some,
or with others the love of display, or the thirst for pleasure, or the
fever of money-getting, drew them, as moths are drawn to the burn-
ing flame, into the clutches of the sleepless and rapacious Draco.
The king was deeply grieved. He did not think it right, for
reasons of high state policy, to arrest the exacting money-lender
EUGENE THE DEBTOR. 83
at present. The proofs of his injustice were accumulating, but
they were not yet complete. The reckoning-daywould come at last,
and then Draco's ruin would be a terrible example to generations
yet unborn. Moreover, his victims were in all cases themselves
sorely to blame. Andronicus therefore waited, because he saw
further than other men. But meanwhile he issued many royal
letters, warning his subjects plainly of the dangers which they
might otherwise incur unawares, and announcing the inevitable
course of law, namely, that bonds and imprisonment awaited
every condemned debtor till his debts should be discharged.
These letters proved the salvation of many.
But there was a young man, named Eugene, of noble birth,
who had been brought up at the most eminent school of the
city, a school at which the king's son had himself been educated
for a while, upon whom all the counsels of his parents and the
disastrous falls of others, and even the entreaties of Agathos,
seemed thrown away. The love of pleasure and of self-indul-
gence overmastered him. And yet there were some fine and
generous traits in his character; and the royal prince had
already more than once expressed his attachment to the ardent
and impetuous Eugene.
Months and years passed by; Agathos had long since been
called by Andronicus to share with him the weightier duties of
royalty. And Eugene after the death of his father had come
into the possession of wealth, which, though already impaired by
his extravagance, was still amply sufficient to gratify every
reasonable desire. But by degrees he threw off one restraint
after another. Like the prodigal son described in the parable,
he wasted his substance with riotous living. And then it was,
alas, that he was open to the dark and insidious designs of
Draco, who had long coveted the ancestral domains of his house.
84 EUGENE THE DEBTOR.
In an evil hour the hapless young man signed a ruinous bond,
wherein he covenanted, for the immediate advance of a few
thousand pieces of gold, to make over his mansion and lands to
the usurer if the money were not repaid at fixed brief intervals.
For a few short weeks he lived again in luxury and splendour,
and then, being unable to pay the first instalment that was due,
he was seized by Draco's orders in the midst of his indulgences,
and dragged before the magistrates and cast into prison.
The object of Draco, however, was the patriarchal inheritance
of Eugene. For this a trial in the court of assize was necessary.
A day was fixed. The king Andronicus sate on the seat of
judgment. All who had any claims against the debtor were
summoned. And in truth the court was thronged with creditors;
for the debts of the unhappy prisoner extended over a period of
ten years and more.
The confusion depicted on Eugene's countenance grew deeper
and deeper. There were many debts he had altogether forgot-
ten, and which yet upon a single word being spoken flashed upon
his recollection. And there were many things of which he was
bitterly ashamed that they should ever be named before his
fellow citizens and his king. But nothing now could be hidden;
claim after claim was substantiated; debt after debt was incon-
testably proved; yea, being asked whether he himself admitted
the justice of the demands, Eugene could only answer: It is
useless to deny them; I am verily guilty; I can only throw my-
self on the mercy of my king."
But then Andronicus commanded one of the chief men of the
city, who sate near him on the bench of judgment, to read aloud
the statute which related to criminal debt and its punishment.
And the statute was plain and unmistakable, and it ran thus:
Let the house of the debtor who is convicted in open court be
EUGENE THE DEBTOR. 85
sold, together with his wife and children, if he be a husband and
father, and let the proceeds go to satisfy, so far as they will, the just
claims of his creditors ; and let the debtor himself be put in chains
and kept in prison, till the uttermost farthing of the debt be paid."
As these heavy words were slowly read aloud, the face of Draco
assumed a settled cast of malignant satisfaction; but an irrepres-
sible sigh of compassion broke from many in the court to see one
so young, and born to nobler destiny, so miserably cast away.
Now, however, the king asked, as he was wont to do, whether
the prisoner or his friends had anything to urge in arrest of
judgment, and said he would pause half-an-hour for a reply;
but that, if nothing were alleged in that space, he would proceed
to give sentence.
Oh that terrible interval! This vision of his home and of his
wife and innocent babes (for he had married one who was not
unworthy of his father's position) flashed upon his mind, and then
all the folly of his reckless course, and then the long interminable
years of prison life which were before him. He felt faint and
sick at heart, and a deadly paleness overspread his countenance.
But the minutes were slipping by. Half the time had past.
He looked with an anxious agitated glance around the crowded
court. But as he did so, he felt that his case was alike helpless
and hopeless. His debts were of such magnitude that none of
his friends could even dream of discharging them. And the
words broke almost unconsciously from his lips, "Woe is me!
I am undone."
At this moment, when the king must in a few minutes more
pronounce the sentence, and the notary public was preparing to
record the judgment in the register of the city, a voice was heard,
Make way for the prince; Agathos is here." It was even so:
and he advanced quickly but calmly through the crowd, which
86 EUGENE THE DEBTOR.
parted to the right hand and the left, until he stood beside his
father's throne. A few earnest words passed between Androni-
cus and his son; no one heard the whispered sentences; but
some said afterwards that they were narrowly watching the
king's countenance the while, and saw a wonderful benevolence
light up his eye and a tender smile play over his lip. But
after the briefest pause Agathos, now facing the judge and now
the prisoner, spoke as follows:--
Father, I own that the sentence, which has been read from
the statute book of the city, is just. Eugene has heaped up
debts which he can never pay, and has merited bonds and im-
prisonment. But, father, as thou knowest, I have loved that
young man from of old. And thou lovest him, even as I love.
His own folly and our common adversary have ruined him. He
is undone. But love saves the lost. And, father, though it
will cost me one-half of that royal inheritance which thou hast
given me, here in thy presence, and with thy approval-for thou
hast assured me it is thy good pleasure even as it is mine-I
undertake to pay poor Eugene's debts to the very last farthing
and mite. Father, the payment is here."
At the prince's word a train of slaves entered into the court
bearing bags of gold and caskets of jewels. Every creditor was
summoned. Every claim was investigated. Every debt was
paid then and there.
It were quite impossible to describe what feelings were
passing in Eugene's mind, while these words fell from the lips
of his prince and were made good before his eyes. He was
struck dumb with wonder and gratitude. But when the last
receipt was signed, and Agathos stepping up to him said,
" Eugene, my friend, my brother, wilt thou accept these certifi-
cates which assure thee that thy debts are all paid ?" it entirely
S ., --. .i 1 .111 .
"Eugene, my friend, my brother, wilt thou accept these certificates which assure
thee that thy debts are all paid ? "
EUGENE THE DEBTOR. 87
broke him down; he threw himself at the feet of his prince, he
bathed them with tears, and, while he fervently grasped the
certificates and thrust them into his bosom, could only answer with
a voice broken by sobs, My prince, I have nothing but my worth-
less self to offer thee: but such as I am, I am thine for ever."
This memorable day, however, was not over yet. When the
murmur of grateful applause in the court was with difficulty
stilled, Agathos again advanced to the side of Andronicus, and
said in the audience of all, "Father, the debts of Eugene are
paid; but he must not go forth from this court a penniless
pauper. Half of my inheritance still remains to me; and with
part of it I here and now, before all, and with thy full sanction,
O, my father, buy back all the property and estate which Eugene
has from time to time alienated and sold; and of this and of all
the remainder of my wealth I make him joint heir and joint
possessor with myself. If the title deeds stood only in his name
he might be tempted again to endanger or even forfeit them. I
have, therefore, had them drawn in my name and his; but the
free use and enjoyment of them shall belong to him as equal
owner with myself. Here, Eugene, is the deed which makes
thee with me rightful lord of this still magnificent inheritance.
Only stretch forth thy hand and take it; all is thine, for I share
all mine with thee."
To seize the parchment, and cast himself again at the prince's
feet, and to exclaim, 0, princely Agathos, my life, and not my
lips, must speak my love," was the irresistible prompting of the
heart of Eugene. Nor was there a tearless eye in that crowded
hall of justice (save only Draco's, whose baffled greed and
malice were ill concealed by a scowl of defiance), when, to ratify
the words which had been spoken and the covenant which had
been made, the king took his signet ring off his finger, and him-
88 EUGENE THE DEBTOR.
self placed it on the right hand of Eugene in token of his
adoption into the royal family. But they were tears of joy, and
soon followed by exclamations of delight. For now Agathos
threw his own purple cloak over his friend and made him ride
by his side in the royal chariot, and the shouts were taken up by
the multitudes in the streets, as they together drove towards the
mansion of Eugene. Only the prince suffered no one to go in
with him while Eugene broke the glad tidings to his wife. She
had been in an agony of apprehension. One look at his radiant
face was enough. Let it suffice to say that her heart with her
husband's, and the hearts of their children as they grew up,
were for ever kind to the prince and his royal father. In the
few but deep words of Eugene, "Their life spoke their love."
"y -- O O sooner had Oberlin ceased reading than "OldRobin,"
S," as the children called him-though in truth he was
_l but little over fifty years of age and had three
young bairns of his own, having married late in life after his
honourable discharge from the army-exclaimed, "Well, sir,
I have seen a good deal of life, and heard more; but I must
say I never saw or heard of a man doing like that young prince.
I think men were kinder in those heathen times than they are in
No," said Marie, who had never taken her eyes off her master
from the first word of the story to the last, You are wrong
there, Robin. Why, there's many and many a one among our
French Protestant forefathers (I'm often proud to think their