« AnteriorContinuar »
and wilfully putting out the lamp of life. No! I will here abide, and pray for their souls !' Then as she knelt down, she looked at the useless fire burning away so cheerfully, when all she loved might be dying of cold ; and unable to bear the thought, she shrieked out a prayer, as if she might pierce the sky up to the very throne of God, and send with it, her own miserable soul to plead before him for the deliverance of her child and husband. She then fell down in blessed forgetfulness of all trouble, in the midst of the solitary cheerfulness of that brightburning hearth, while the bible, which she had been trying to read in the pauses of her agony, remained clasped in her hands.
16. Hannah Lee had been a servant for more than six months. Soon after she had left the house, her master's son, a youth who had been among the hills, looking after the sheep, came home, and was disappointed to find that he had lost an opportunity of accompanying Hannah part of the way to her father's cottage. But the hour of eight had gone by, and not even the company
young William Grieve could induce the kind hearted daughter to delay setting out on her journey, a few minutes after the time promised. I do not like the night,' said William ; there will be a fresh fall of snow soon, for a snow cloud is hanging o'er the Birch-tree-linn, and it may be down to the Black-moss as soon as Hannah Lee.' So he called his two sheep dogs, that had taken their place under the long table before the window, and set out, half in fear, to overtake Hannah, and see her safely across the Black-moss.
17. The snow began to drift so fast, that before he had reached the head of the Glen, there was nothing to be seen but a small part of the wooden rail of the bridge across the Burn. William Grieve was the most active shepherd in a large pastoral parish; he had often passed the night among the wintry hills for the sake of a few sheep, and all the snow that ever fell from beaven would not have made him turn back when Hannah Lee was before him ; and, as his terrified heart told him, in immi. nent danger of being lost. As he advanced, he felt that it was no longer a walk of love or friendship, for which he would have been glad as an excuse. Death stared him in the face, and his young soul, now beginning to feel all the passions of youth, was filled with phrenzy.
18. He had seen Hannah every day; at the fireside; at work ; in the kirk; on holidays ; at prayers ; bringing supper to his aged parents ; smiling and singing about the house from morning to night. She had often brought his own meal to him, among the hills, and he now found that he loved her beyond father or
mother or his own soul. I will save thec, Hannah,' he cried, with a loud sob, or lie down beside thee in the snow; and we will die together in our youth.' A wild whistling wind went behind him, and the snow flakes whirled so fiercely round his head, that he staggered on for a while in utter blindness.
19. He knew the path that Hannah must have taken, and went forward shouting aloud, and stopping every twenty yards to listen, for a voice. He sent his well trained dogs over the snow, in all directions-repeating to them her name, Hannah Lee,' that the dumb animals might, in their sagacity, know for whom they were searching; and as they looked up in his face, and set off to scour the moor, he almost believed that they knew his meaning, (and it is probable they did) and were eager to find the kind maiden by whose hand they had so often been fed. Often went they off into the darkness, and as often returned, but their looks showed that every quest had been in vain. Meanwhile the snow was of a fearful depth ; and falling without intermission or diminution.
20. Still there was no trace of poor Hannah Lee; and one of his dogs at last came close to his feet, worn out entirely, and afraid to leave its master ; while the other was absent, and, as the shepherd thought, probably unable to force its way out of some bollow, or through some floundering drift. Then he all at once felt that Hannah Lee was dead-and threw himself down in the snow in a fit of despair. God,' he then thought, 'has forsaken me; and why should he think on me, when he suffers one so good and beautiful as Hannah, to be frozen to death. God thought both of him and Hannah. His voice bas told us to love one another; and William loved Hannah in simplicity, innocence, and truth. That she should perish was a thought so dreadful, that, in its agony, God seemed a ruthless being — blow-blow-blow-and drift us up for ever-we cannot be far asunder-O Hannah—Hannah-think ye not that
21. As Wm. Grieve groaned these words passionately through his quivering lips, there was a sudden lowness in the air, and he heard the barking of his absent dog, while the one at his feet hurried off in the direction of the sound, and soon loudly joined the cry. It was not a bark of surprise-or anger-or fear-but recognition and love. William
sprung up from his bed in the snow, rushed headlong through the drifts, with a giant's strength, and fell down half dead with joy and terrour beside the body of Hannah Lee.
22. But he soon recovered, and listing the cold corpse in its arms, he kissed her lips, and her cheeks, and her forehead, and
the fearful God has forsaken us?
her closed eyes, till, as he kept gazing on her face in utter de spair, her head fell back on his shoulder, and a long deep sigh came from her inmost bosom.
• She is yet alive, thank God! I am not worthy to be saved ; but let not this maiden perish, for the sake of her parents, who have no other child.'
23. The distracted youth prayed to God with the same earnestness as if he had been beseeching a fellow creature, in whose hand was the power of life and death. The
of the Great Being was felt by him in the dark and howling wild, and strength was imparted to him as to a deliverer. He bore along the fair child in his arms, even as if she had been a lamb. The snowdrift blew not—the wind fell dead-a sort of glimmer, like that of an up-breaking, and departing storin, gathered about him-his dogs barked, and jumped, and burrowed joyfully in the snow and the youth, strong in sudden hope, exclaimed, • With the blessing of God, who has not deserted us in our sore distress, will I carry thee, Hannah, in my arms, to the house of thy father.' At this moment there were no stars in heaven, but she opened her dim blue eyes upon bim in whose bosom she was unconsciously lying, and said, as in a dream, “send the ribhon that ties up my hair, as á keepsake to William Grieve.' * She thinks that she is on her death bed, and forgets not the son of her master. It is the voice of God that tells me she shall not die, and that under His grace, I shall be her deliverer.' 24. The short-lived rage of the storm was soon over,
and William could attend to the beloved being on his bosom. The warmth of his heart seemed to infuse life into her's; and as he gently placed her feet on the snow, till he muffled her up in his plaid, as well as in her own, she made an effort to stand, and faintly inquired where she was, and what fearful catastrophe had befallen them ? She was, however, too weak to walk ; and as her young master carried her along, she murmured, O William! what if my father be in the moor? For if you, who need care so little about me, have come hither, as I suppose, to save my life, you may be sure my father sat not within doors during the storm.'
25. As she spoke it was calm around them, but the wind was still alive in the upper air, and cloud, mist and sleet, were all driving about in the sky. Out shone, for a moment, the pallid and ghostly moon, through a rent in the gloom, and by that uncertain light, came staggering the figure of a man, Father, father,' cried Hannah, and his grey hairs were already on her cheek: The barking of the dogs, and the shouting of the young shepherd had struck his ear, as the sleep of death was stealing over
him, and with the last effort of benumbed nature, he had roused himself from that fatal torpor, and prest through the snowwreath that had separated him from his child. As yet they knew not of the danger each had endured; but each judged of the other’ssuffering from their own, and father and daughter regarded one another as creatures rescued, and hardly yet rescued from death.
27. But a few minutes ago, and the three human beings who loved each other so well, and now feared not to cross the moor in safety, were, as they thought, on their death beds. Deliverance now shone upon them all like a gentle fire, dispelling that pleasant but deadly drowsiness ; and the old man was soon able to assist William Grieve in leading Hannah along through the snow, whose heart was now filled with gratitude to God, joy in her deliverance, love to her father, and purest affection for her master's son; never before had the innocent maiden known what was happiness—and never more was she to forget it. The night was now almost calm, and fast returning to its former beauty-when the party saw the first twinkle of the fire through the low window of the Cottage of the Moor. They soon were at the garden gate--and to relieve the heart of the wife and mother within, they talked loudly and cheerfully—Daming each other familiarly, and laughing between, like persons who had known neither danger nor distress.
28. No voice answered from within-no footstep came to the door, which stood open as when the father had left it in his fear, and now he thought with affright that his wife, feeble as she was, had been unable to support the loneliness, and had followed him out into the night, never to be brought home alive. As they bore Hannah into the house, this fear gave way to worse, for there upon the hard clay floor lay the mother upon her face, as if murdered by some savage blow. She was in the same deadly swoon into which she had fallen, on her husband's departure three hours before. The old man raised her up, and her pulse was still—so was her heart—her face, pale and sunken and her body cold as ice. I have recovered a daughter,' said the old man, .but I have lost a wife ;' and he carried her, with a groan, to the bed, on which he laid her lifeless body.
29. The sight was too much for Hannah, worn out as she was, and who had hitherto been able to support herself in the delightful expectation of gladdening her mother's heart by her safe arrival, She, too, now swooned away, and, as she was placed on the bed beside her mother, it seemed, indeed, that Leath, disappointed of his prey on the wild moor, had seized it
in the cottage, and by the fire-side. The husband knelt down by the bed-side, and held his wife's icy hand in his, while William Grieve, appalled and awe-stricken, hung over his Hannah, and inwardly implored God that the night's wild adventure might not have so ghastly an end. But Hannah's young heart soon began once more to beat-and soon as she sume to her recollection, she rose up with a face whiter than ashes, and free from all smiles, as if none had ever played there, and joined her father and young master in their efforts to restore her mother to life.
30. It was the mercy of God that had struck her down to the earth, insensible to the shrieking winds, and the fears that would otherwise have killed ber. Three hours of that wild storm had passed over her head, and she heard nothing more than if she had been asleep in a breathless night of the summer dew. Not even a dream had touched her brain, arvoa she opened her eyes which, as she thought, had been but a moment shut, she had scarcely time to recal to her recollection the image of her husband rushing out into the storm, and of a ďaughter therein lost, till she beheld that very husband kneeling tenderly by her bed-side, and that very daughter smoothing the pillow on which her aching temples reclined. But she knew from the white stedfast countenanees before her, that there had been tribulation and deliverance, and she looked on the belored beings ministering by her bed, as more fearfully dear to her from the unimagined danger from which she felt assured theywhad been rescued by the arm of the Almighty.
31. They had all now power to weep, and power to pray, The bible had been lying in its place ready for worshit-and the father read aloud that chapter in which is narrated onr Saviour's act of miraculous power, by which he saved Peter from
Soon as the solemn thoughts awakened by that act of mercy, so similar to that which had rescued themselves from death had subsided, and they had all risen up from prayer, they gathered themselves in gratitude round the little table which had stood so many hours spread—and exhausted nature was strengthened and restored by a frugal and simple meal partaken of in silent thankfulness. The whole story of the night was chen calmly recited and when the mother heard how the stripling had followed her sweet Hannah into the storm, and borne her in his arms through a hundred drifted heaps and then looked upon her in her pride, so young, so innocent, and so beautiful, she knew, that were the child indeed to become an orphan, there was one, who, if there was either trust in nature or truth