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Chapter XXIV.

“The world receded from her rising view,
When heaven approach'd as earthly things withdrew;
Not strange before, for in the days of love,
Joy, hope and pleasure, she had thoughts above.
Pious when most of worldly prospects fond,
When they best pleased her, she could look beyond.”


GERTRUDE'S acquaintance with the family to whom her rambles with Miss Watchorn had introduced her, was destined not to terminate there.

Some large orders had kept Miss Lenny and her assistants occupied during each succeeding day, and till late in the night; and when the work was completed, and leisure hours returned, the dress maker kindly suggested that Gertrude should take a change, and visit some of the country customers. Accordingly she dwelt upon the young girl's pale cheek in the presence of Mrs. Wedlake, the farmer's wife.

“I am getting anxious about her,” she said with truth—“she is a delicate looking girl, and for the last ten days we have been so busy, and she will not spare herself.”

“Let her come out with me Miss Lenny, exercise as I say, is the best medicine.”

“You are very good. It is just what she wants.”

“I have the cart in near.”

Gertrude was really glad of the freedom from small rooms, littered with dresses and other articles of apparel, in every state of progress, and lighted by tallow candles which assumed to her weary eyes great misty flames, encircled by halos.

Mrs. Wedlake drove her own vehicle, and Gertrude's timid glance from the fat hand holding the reins, to the horse, reassured her that her hostess was no novice—a manly chirrup, and intimation to “get along,” put them in motion.

Mrs. Wedlake was a round little woman with a face perfectly lubricated with complacency; and she soon informed Gertrude that Mr. Wedlake was very well to do in [the] world; and that her butter and poultry were the best in the market; and her daughters very nice girls; although she as their mother should not say so.

The rude extension to the cottage had not led the visitor to look for refinement within, the room they entered was of that convenient class which serve for kitchen and sitting room. Above the blazing logs, hung the tea kettle and beneath a set of shelves containing a rather large assortment of earthenware, some cooking utensils shewed their homely proportions.

The opposite wall was adorned with a few shelves of books, and several colored prints; the Crucifixion, Moses in the bulrushes, the martyrdom of Stephen, and an English fox hunting scene, all equally brilliant in coloring and style.

Some rather yellow anti-macassars were displayed in various parts of the room; and a chest of drawers covered with a crochet cover glittered with glass and grotesque specimens of shepherdesses, and dogs in china.

The welcome was cordial from all. Mr. Wedlake said “it was very apt-repo to the purpose,” kindly explaining to his ignorant auditory his foreign words, “that Mrs. Wedlake should go up to Miss Lenny's, Miss Gonthier.”

“I am sure sir, I am very much obliged to you for this, and your former kindness.”

“No need. We should help each other in all contingencies, as I say.”

“You helped us most famously in our contingency, for I am sure, I do not know how I should have walked home” returned she smiling cheerfully, “but who is this?”

She had just noticed a little delicate child standing near her, and with a pair of most expressive eyes earnestly searching her face.

“That's my youngest Miss Gonthier.”

Gertrude held out her hand. “Will you come and make friends with me?” she enquired.

The kind voice was unheard, the child was deaf and dumb, but she saw the expression of the face, and reading, as children do, the character of those around, as if by a heaven inspired power, which leads them to recognize at once the loving and the kindly, the child accepted the invitation.

“I do declare” ejaculated the comely little woman, “just look at that—there's Mary in Miss Gonthier's arms.”

Gertrude looked up smiling, she was twisting a thread round her fingers to make a cat's cradle; and already had taken a place in the child's heart.

Whenever Gertrude raised her eyes during the evening, it was to encounter the keen glance of the afflicted girl's eyes rivetted on her—something wonderful was there in the expression of that look—a language of great intelligence; silently communing—not with outward things, but it seemed with the soul. A look to make the evil tremble, though it was given by a puny child, on whose little form was written in unmistakable characters—death.

What might be the communings which that imprisoned spirit held through the medium of those wondrous eyes, it was only for imagination to define.

When the family knelt down at the evening prayer and she knelt with them, did she indeed hold converse with the Unseen—and when with entranced faculties she watched the sun retire behind the western mountains, gilding the sky and earth, did she receive impressions of the Great Creator? who could say.

To Gertrude, the little mute was of all the family most interesting—but she soon found occupation in assisting Mrs. Wedlake among her dairy dishes, or in feeding her poultry. By no means despicable was the collection: not to refer to cocks and hens, and ducks and geese, there were guinea and pea fowl, and pigeons; crowing and cackling, and shrieking resounded from the feathered throng, from earliest morning to sunset. Then when the sun was near the horizon, the thin blue veined hand of the mute would be placed in Gertrude's, and yielding to the light command, she would put down the skimmer, or the dish of corn, and follow where she led.

The undulating character of the ground in that district, had diversified Mr. Wedlake's little farm in a manner far more agreeable to the artistic eye, than to the farmer's.

A green knoll rose above the cottage, thinly wooded by large old Eucalypti, grey and rugged, with scanty leaves scattered over the lofty branches; what a prospect rewarded the ascent! for miles spread out the alternating farms and wood; now rising into an eminence, now sinking abruptly into a vale, or widening into a little plain; and beyond all, those ethereal shades of blue mountains—then the fiery kiss of the sun upon the distant horizon, and the lighting up of the before grey cloud, as if to proclaim once more “Peace on earth, and good will towards man.”

So long the child gazed with such an enraptured air, that Gertrude had gently to take her hand, and point to the cottage; a quick drawn breath, the relaxing of the faculties from tension, replied, and they softly descended the brow.

The area of logs with which Gertrude had already made acquaintance, was again to be ignited that evening, and she readily agreed to join the party who were engaged in the work.

The large trees had been sawn asunder in many places, and rolled together into funeral pyres, in which to consume nature's children. The females of the family rendered assistance in setting fire to them.

“What a magnificent illumination” remarked Gertrude, as they paused to watch the result of their labour: the flames were rushing up, making ruddy the black sky, and throwing the surrounding woods into deeper obscurity.

“Will these trees be quite consumed, Mr. Wedlake?”

“Well, I comprehend not Miss Gonthier,” returned that individual, pausing with his arms full of dry branches, which were to assist the kindling of some large logs. “I more than expect that we shall be at this yere work for some nights to come.”

“It looks very grand, much better than it did last time I was here.”

“I mean after awhile, God permitting, to clear that piece.”

Gertrude looked in the direction he was pointing towards.

“When I first took this land, there wasn't an acre, no nor half an acre clear. I did not stick the plough in before some labour, I can tell you.”

“I am sure of that: and when these trees are burnt, what then?”

“What will I do?”

“Yes.”

“Break it up as fast as I can; and my son will fence it round— it will yield a good crop I expect.” Mr. Wedlake moved on, and presently a fiery track marked his progress.

The girls imitated his example, and talking ceased till another rest was requisite.

“La! Miss Gonthier you are quite black with smoke,” exclaimed Johanna Wedlake, approaching her.

“Am I? no matter, it will soon wash off; but here is a large hole burnt in my apron.”

“Oh my! what a pity.”

“Look out, catch him Nipper—Bob catch him” cried young Wedlake. The two dogs set up a cry, and ran madly about and all paused in their labours to enquire the cause of the confusion. “It was a native cat, he was in this ere hollow log; a grey un.”

“There was no end to varmint when we came here first,” remarked his father, turning to Gertrude.

“What has become of it?” she enquired nervously balancing the horrors of being burnt, or worried to death.

Notwithstanding Josiah's orders to “hold him,” the dogs appeared more likely to make a noise, than to do so.

“There were lots of dogs,” pursued Mr. Wedlake.

“Are they gone?”

“Gone, no, I set baits of meat with stricnine on it.”

“What is that?”

“A most mortal, deadly pison; there ant nothing like stricnine.”

“Indeed; but was not it dangerous? your own dogs, or pigs, might have eaten the baits.”

“We secured them first, but we must not spell too long—if you get tired you see, just go home; don't knock yourself up.”

Gertrude promised not to fatigue herself; but her slight little figure was seen at intervals among the work, all the evening; now hidden in the shadow, now emerging into the full brilliant light.

“I say Johanna,” remarked Mr. Wedlake to his eldest daughter, “that's a remarkable girl, quiet and tender looking, but something uncommon.”

So his helpmate decided, when Gertrude's nimble fingers had been among caps and bonnets; and when the lifted cover of the camp-oven displayed such a very excellent cake, at the precise tint of brown most suitable.

Every evening till the logs were consumed she was ready cheerfully to assist; and though her strength was puny for the toil, the fragile form gliding among the smoke wreaths, was cheering.

The rude shock which had suddenly severed her from protection and love, and thrown her upon her own resources, was of all others the most likely to mature her character.

“When heaven would kindly set us free,
And earth's enchantments end;
It takes the very surest way,
And robs us of a friend.”

Gertrude had come to the colony a Christian indeed, in feeling, but in the quiet routine of her village life, if simplicity and patience had been cultivated, many other cardinal virtues were rather in embryo; whilst with a heart just expanding to womanly affections, she fell into the emigrant girl's common error, an attachment which her mature judgment, and strengthened Christian character condemned.

The melancholy scenes which had terminated her residence at Murrumbowrie, had cast a shadow over her, which gratitude and affection forbade her to cast off; whilst she bowed to the hand which ordered her thorny way.

How vast a difference between a morbid indulgence in grief, or stoical contempt of affection, and the feeling submission to Him “whom not having seen, we love.”

If, during those busy days, Gertrude's alacrity was earning her golden opinions, the most delightful of all times was the evening, when the labour of the day was closed, with the horse in the stable, or the hoe in the tool shed; then Mr. Wedlake sat himself down to read, and give Gertrude his opinions. Very positive were those opinions, for the farmer was one of the class of self-educated men, who having formed an opinion, never alter it; and meet all opposition with overwhelming contempt. It was not often he had such an auditor as Gertrude, so he made the most of it, and held forth in a manner that awestruck his better half; for though the worthy woman had a will of her own, she had a great dread of her husband's learning and abilities; and an undefined way of speaking of him, that might have led a stranger to suppose that he was a very Blue Beard, though she never meant such a thing.

In town she used to say, “I must be getting home, for he'll be coming in 'fore things are ready, and you know Mr. Wedlake that would never do.” And so at home she used to caution the young people—“Good gracious me if your father only knew that; I durst'nt let father know that for my life,” and so on. Now all the while Mr. Wedlake was an excellent man, and no one more truly appreciated him, than did his comely little wife.

“Eddication's a great thing, Miss Gonthier,” began Mr. Wedlake on one of these occasions, laying down a book he had been reading.

Gertrude assented—

“I was always for my family getting an eddication, because, I says, it gives them a standing in the world.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“We're wiser in this generation than last was, and them after us, will be wiser than us.”

Gertrude did not feel competent to offer an opinion; besides Mr. Wedlake spoke positively, as if he were personally cognisant of the fact.

“I'll just give you my 'pinion.”

Mrs. Wedlake hushed Johanna, who was disposed to hum a tune over her needlework, and cousin Tom like a young rogue as he was, whispered, “hear, hear” in a very under tone.

“I always was for keeping up with the times; so my gals had a year at a boarding school, and learnt the pianny.”

Gertrude had seen the piano, it stood in the best room, keeping a few chairs and a table company, as they stood in gloomy state, only broken in upon when the young ladies were musically inclined, or some grand visitor called.

“But my 'pinion is, that learning's nothing without natural sense. A man can't get brains out of a book.”

“Certainly not, but he may cultivate and strengthen his mind. Do you not think so?”

“I wouldn't say no Miss Gonthier, but without natural abilities it won't do him much good, won't learning, a man may be rough and rude, but if he's got a mind—”

“ ‘All is not attractive that's good,’ Mr. Wilberforce tells us,” returned Gertrude.

“Certainly, very true, a very good idea, quite my 'pinion, and apt-repo to what I was a saying.”

Mr. Wedlake's brother here joined the party; he lived near, and was a frequent visitor. They were two very different men; Luke Wedlake was a careless easy man, who had few opinions beyond his ploughshare, and whose education was strictly rural. Even the political leading article of the newspaper, received scanty attention.

Young Luke was clearly growing up in the same views, and disposed to take the same steps.

A week had been the period fixed for Gertrude's visit, but the family appeared disinclined to part with her, and the entreating eyes of the mute, who gathered from their manner when the subject was discussed, decided her to remain a few days longer.

The freemasonry of kindred spirits united her with the child; it needed no vocal power to communicate the emotions which the lover of nature is inspired with, in her domains—they knew the thrill of sympathy in the tightening fingers, as hand in hand they strolled—in the sudden pause, and the meeting glance— words were superfluous—

“And walking 'mid the fading blooms,
At Summer's midnight shalt thou feel
A softened heart, a will subdued,
A holy sense of gratitude,
An influence from the source of good,
The bitterest griefs to heal”

   MRS. HOWITT.

Many a heartache Gertrude lost in a chat with nature.

Unlike the district from which Gertrude had come, instead of the country being divided among large landholders, or leased from government for pasturage, for flocks and herds, almost to the exclusion of the small settler, unless the tenantry, or workmen of the landholders, her present abode was in the midst of small farmers, and a dairying, poultry and pig rearing community, whose land was not counted by the thousand acres, but by the unit. Very busy, hard working folks, living in very huts, with fatting calves, and downy chicks round old hens, incessantly making warlike sallies against dogs, and sly stepping cats; with ducks quacking round the threshold, and pea fowl mournfully screaming. Yet, from among these and sundry other occupants of the timber dwelling, appeared on high-days and holy-days such round faced, red handed damsels, in flounced dresses, and kid gloves, bursting at the seams, and revealing the afore mentioned hands of honest hue, which were then doing duty in supporting a parasol of rather lively coloured silk; whilst the feet usually disdaining any covering, were genteelly uncomfortable in patent leather—such stout ruddy mothers too, with a weakness for black satin, and artificial flowers; and fathers, upon whom the long tailed dress coat and black hat sat uneasily; and whose hands left free, by the shirt cuff rolled back, wandered uneasily into pockets perfumed by tobacco.

These were the people whose delight it was, upon a marriage, or christening, to collect and have a dance; when the toast to the ladies was drunk with great animation, not in champagne, but in rum punch.

There were various degrees of intellect, and class, in the community; and many of those sterling, excellent characters, which no where show to greater advantage than in the cottage; sound sense, and high Christian principles, not unfrequently were united.

But above all these, like luminaries, shone here and there at wide intervals, patrician families. Several of these families patronised Miss Lenny; among these were one family named Markarld; people of wealth and influence, and great arrogance; but as all that they patronised gained a sort of dignity from that patronage, and became, at least in their own eyes, satellites revolving round the centre of their greatness, Miss Lenny was treated with condescending pride, if the anomaly be allowable; and she indemnified herself for present obsequiousness, by detailing all their little faults and failings, to her less haughty customers.

While Miss O'Brien's wedding order was still in hand, Mrs. Markarld of Markarld Park and her step daughters visited the shop; and whilst Miss Turkinton took the young ladies' measure, and Miss Lenny remarked upon the weather to their mama, the pretty face, rather pale and grave now, of Gertrude, caught her attention.

“An apprentice?” she enquired, eyeing the object of her remark.

“No, only a visitor Mrs. Markarld; we are looking out for a place for her; something of an upper place in a gentleman's family.”

Mrs. Markarld made no remark. She was many years younger than Mr. Markarld, a small woman, with a quiet subdued manner, almost approaching to apathy; but who was known to do kind actions, and to be amiable in her own way. She had come to the colony some twelve years previously, and soon afterwards, occupied her present position. The three Miss Markarlds were grown to womanhood now.

“We want a needle woman ma,” said one of the trio in reply to Miss Lenny's information, and she turned to carefully survey the young seamstress.

Strangely enough, Gertrude's thoughts flew back to Mr. Tudor, with a half formed idea, that had he been there, he would have screened her from the painful ordeal. She had a habit of flying to his memory, in times of trial.

Mrs. Markarld did require a needle woman, but was afraid of compromising her dignity, by saying so, or appearing to take an interest in any young woman behind Miss Lenny's counter; and presently departed.

Gertrude's mind, cultured above her position in life, and naturally keenly susceptible of impressions, was open to a thousand joys and woes, springing from apparently trivial sources. She had become almost morbidly sensitive, from the want of sympathy and the incessant little wounds inflicted by ignorance; but now when earth had no spring bloom to her, and her sky lowered above her, she turned more utterly and fully to her God: not withdrawing from the world as a recluse, not frowning ascetically upon its harmless pleasures, but ever trying to be useful, to drop sweets into the bitter cup, wherever it was presented; and what hand is there that at some period has not grasped with trembling hold, the bitter portion, and sipped perhaps unseen the venom which distils through every joy and pleasure, whispering, “This is not thy rest.”

Gertrude was not unrewarded, though compensation had not been sought for, a more genial spirit unknown to themselves sprang up around her. Miss Turkinton said “she was cold, and that she could not make her out,” but she did not despise her. There was too much of the dignity of goodness for that, about her. Miss Lenny valued her, and perhaps she spoke in her praise to Mrs. Markarld, for after awhile came an intimation that she might go down and speak to that lady, on the subject of the situation, and the result was, that Gertrude and her little possessions were transferred to Markarld Park.

The air of lofty patronage extended toward the emigrant girl, shocked her, it placed her in the establishment so thoroughly as the servant, a situation she had never felt she previously occupied. Mrs. Doherty would have taken any allusion of the kind as a personal insult; she was not the woman to pursue such a system. Gertrude had been respected, and had respected herself; but now she was like John Bunyan's pilgrim, descending the valley of humiliation: a hard journey at all times, it needed a careful eye, and many an earnest prayer to heaven, to subdue some rebellious feelings.

Privately, Mrs. Markarld assured her lady friends in the drawing-room, that Gertrude was quite a treasure. Mrs. Eddy, one of her visitors, whispered to her daughter that all the Markarld's people were treasures at first, but quite the reverse when they left them; and aloud congratulated her friend on the possession of such a rarity; and the ladies descanted on the merits, and demerits of their servants, till the gentlemen from the dining-room joined them.

Gertrude in the little room, where she sat and sewed, was trying to work out a double dress, busily plying her needle, and striving to clothe her heart with the sentiment which Quarles quaintly, but happily, expresses thus. “If thou desire happiness, desire not to be rich; he is rich, not who possesses much, but he that covets no more; and he is poor, not that enjoys little, but wants too much: the contented mind wants nothing that it hath not, the covetous mind wants, not only what it hath not, but likewise what it hath.” She was making the best of existing circumstances; but the heart craved for affection and companionship.

Miss Watchorn had pressed Gertrude to visit her as soon as possible, but it was some little time before a leisure hour presented itself, and she then gladly seized it, to fulfil her promise. She had not previously called at Miss Watchorn's cottage, for that lady had come to Miss Lenny's to take her for those long rambles which she was so addicted to.

A very minute garden enclosed by white palings, spread before the door; Gertrude's little gloved hand was on the wicket, when an agitated movement of the window drapery called her attention, and Miss Watchorn's eyes were visible above the leno, and below the blind; and presently she appeared, and warmly welcomed her dear friend.

The little sitting room bore evidences of its occupant's skill, in those thousand little arts which throw the mantle of beauty over homeliness. Her visitor was in a mood to see every thing in “rose colour”, and for a little while was occupied in admiring d'oyleys and mats, and jars covered with gilt paper, and china, &c.. Then Miss Watchorn entered into her present position, and was rather minute in her enquiries; very kind and very curious, it took a long while to exhaust this subject. Just then Miss Watchorn's nephew, Mr. Ben entered, and was formally introduced, although his aunt felt some cold shivers, lest the known susceptibility of the youth should be endangered.

Mr. Ben was employed in some useful trade, but had a poetic genius, and a habit of writing on fly-leaves, and margins of his friend's books, in a style in which the words “love” and “dove,” “bleeding heart” and “bliss impart” took prominent places. On this account, the young gentleman was looked shyly upon by persons who did not consider his verses an embellishment to their library.

Then there was the Dress-maker's establishment to visit; here she was cordially received.

“Have you heard from Julia lately?” Gertrude enquired.

“Since you went out to the Park.”

“Did she mention Kitty?”

“Kitty?”

“She said she would write to Kitty to come to Sydney.”

“Bless you, Julia will talk of it for a year before she does it, and I don't think she would come.”

Gertrude smothered a sigh; so many hallowed associations twined round the country girl; thoughts of the dead, and living. She had clung to the idea of Kitty's going to Sydney with more tenacity than she was aware.

“Where does Mr. Kenlow live now Miss Lenny?”

“Somewhere Windsor way, Gertrude. I don't know exactly, I'll ask Julia next time I write, if you like.”

“Do if you please,” she spanned the dark stream of silence, with the arch of hope: but “Hope deferred, maketh the heart sick.”

The females had a good deal of news to tell Gertrude, and she took a seat to listen; but it was of that trifling kind which wearies a well regulated mind; the costs of bonnets, and dresses among the farmers' wives; or the private concerns of the wearers of the bonnets and dresses, were rather received in patience, than pleasure; and with a grateful sense of kindness past and present, which called for some self sacrifice.

They made her take some refreshment, and were really kind.

“But where is my basket?” said Gertrude as she sipped her tea. It was a little fancy thing, a parting gift from Julia Lenny, and she had brought it into town full of flowers for Miss Watchorn, and must have left it at her house.

“Leave it till you come to town next.”

“No, I could not do that, your sister gave it me, and it may be long before I can come in again. I must go back.”

“It will knock you up.”

“Not quite so easily accomplished,” she said, cheerfully replacing her bonnet and gloves.

Miss Watchorn had a visitor, the sight of whom stirred old recollections in Gertrude's mind, and yet she did not remember where she had seen him; but her thoughts flew back to Comb Ending, and further still, to the days of her earliest childhood; just as old music heard after the lapse of years, is mingled with dreamy associations which we cannot unravel.

He was a little man, in a quaint brown coat, with a round face, and round blue eyes, which looked dreamy and perplexed, from the arch of the brows above them.

Miss Watchorn was not in the room, and Gertrude stood at the door, uncertain whether she should enter, for the stranger after one glance at her, had fixed his eyes again upon the ceiling. On the sofa lay her basket, and at last she summoned resolve to go in and recover it; and was just making her exit, when Miss Watchorn came in, followed by her servant, with the tea tray.

“Why my love,” ejaculated that lady.

Gertrude explained.

“Yes indeed. I saw the basket, and was intending to take care of it for you: but you must come in now, and be introduced to my friend, a most excellent gentleman, Dr. Jeleware.”

“Jeleware—Dr. Jeleware.”

“Certainly, my dear what”—

“He—does he know me, does he remember,” began Gertrude much excited, for the village surgeon who had attended her mother through the closing hours of her life, was before her. She passed her hostess, and approaching the little man, said quickly.

“Dr. Jeleware! do you not remember me? Gertrude Gonthier: the little Gertrude, you used to give broth and medicines to, for her sick mother;” her tears were falling as she spoke.

“Very remarkable,” said Miss Watchorn, a little “tiffed” at not being allowed time to introduce Gertrude, in a more courteous manner.

He passed his hand over his grey hair, and shining round forehead, as if trying to collect his scattered ideas.

“Do you not remember” pursued the girl in a tone low and tremulous, for she was weeping. “The day my mother died, and how you lifted me from her side, and spoke kindly to me, and then Mr. Vyner took me in his arms and let me cry on his shoulder.” She could not proceed.

“What was the case?” he said in a puzzled tone.

“Typhus fever.”

“The year?”

She told him.

“There were a great many cases of typhus that year.”

Gertrude drew back; to her there was but one case, one which could never be associated, nor lost, in a crowd—that one was her mother's. She did not observe that he looked kindly, but she begged pardon in a low tone, and retired.

“What a singular meeting!” remarked Miss Watchorn, following her to the outer door, “the doctor has only just come out: things went bad at home, so his friends procured him a post as emigrant ship doctor, and he has just landed. He will settle here I think. A most excellent man, a friend of my poor dear brother Ben's, who died in the Indies.” Miss Watchorn carried her handkerchief to her eyes; and with a mutual grasp of the hand they parted.

Gertrude wept till her strength was nearly exhausted; and when a pedestrian enquired the way to Markarld Park, she could scarcely reply through her tears that she was going there.

“Then perhaps,” he returned “you will act as my guide, for I am a stranger in these parts, and am about to make a short visit to Mr. Markarld.”

Gertrude was trying to compose herself; her companion had that quiet grave manner which elicits confidence, but his kind tone had unhinged her again: he did not make any remark for a while, further than enquiring if he could mitigate her affliction; and the gentle “no thank you,” silenced him.

The road was rather solitary; carts and wayfarers passed occasionally; they were persons belonging to farms bordering the road; high trees cast their shadows across the path, but occasionally yielded as if to reveal some rural scene of beauty; at one of these spots both paused involuntarily; the woods intermingling with fields, and orchards, and homesteads, the lowing of cattle, and the chirping of birds presented a peaceful picture.

“Do you ever hold communion with nature?” enquired the traveller.

“Often, particularly when I am sad, or weary.”

“And you find it refreshes your spirit?” he said, so kindly that Gertrude's timidity was forgotten.

“Yes, very frequently, but sometimes I seem to need a stronger power than its gentle influences.”

“And you cannot account for that,” very gently.

“No.”

“Shall I tell you.”

Gertrude's face looked her reply.

“Do you not think it is the purity which breathes over nature, and the idea which it carries with it of God's presence and fatherly care, that acts as a balm upon our earth-weariness; but if we do not recognize the spirit, and look only at the visible objects, must they not fail to communicate the peace and calm we seek from them?”

“Sometimes it is so hard to see the hidden meaning of things.”

“Have you not found a sure resting place?” he enquired in a grave earnest tone.

Gertrude's eyes glistening in tears spoke her reply.

“Of all these things we might employ the words of Ezra,” he continued after a pause, during which, both had taken a survey of the fine landscape, “Ye are holy unto the Lord, the vessels are holy also, and the silver and gold are a free will offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. Watch ye and keep them until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests.” Gertrude thought of that weighing of all things, before the Chief of Priests with a slight sinking of heart; her companion appeared to divine her feelings, for he continued.

“I have ever found that in all trials however great, unexpected, or insupportable, that strength has been meted out as my need required; not extra strength. He who commanded the fragments to be gathered up that nothing be lost, does not supply what we cannot use, therefore in effect waste; but ‘as thy day so shall thy strength be.’ This is the promise, and observe it well; the trouble looming on the horizon appears quite beyond our powers of endurance, it is so now, but when its day comes, the spirit to bear it will have been supplied—Fear not: in some respects we have no right to look forward, or back; but live only in the present. Faith makes all easy. ‘It is good always to wait on the Lord.’ ”

Such words had long been strangers to Gertrude, they moved her to tears; but the load was lifted off her heart: she wondered who her companion was; and as he swung his portmanteau over his shoulder to resume their way, he said.

“I have been travelling through these colonies for some time on business connected with science; but I am about to return to Europe immediately.”

They went on, Gertrude rejoicing in the kind tone, and quite respectful manner which added a peculiar weight to his words it was the union of the Christian and accomplished man of the world, but the latter, without the former, would have been but the gilding—the richest acquirements and conquests of mind would be but the strong man beating the air; a victory over shadows, if divested of Christianity.

By the time the short distance intervening between the scenes they had admired, and the Park was traversed, Gertrude had recovered her composure though her cheeks were white, and when the drawing-room door closed upon the visitor, she ran up stairs to her little work-room, feeling that beneath the same roof was a friend; and all the evening over her sewing, she recalled his words; his manner had forcibly reminded her of Mr. Tudor; but the stranger was many years his senior.

The sight of the village surgeon had been rather painful than otherwise: every one connected with her native place was a friend in her eyes, and to be utterly forgotten, it was too bad: but she half laughed when she recalled how she had startled him, and made him rub his hair on end, and roll his round eyes.

Even moral objects associated in the mind with beings and things we have loved, and which live only in memory, rise in our estimation; how fondly and tenderly we speak of the dead: the little errors, the infirmities of temper, are no longer apparent; death has cleared up the clouds which hang over the living, as the sun rising above the world exhales the nightly vapours, we twine round the dead our affections: our most amiable feelings are exercised in re-producing them in the fairest colors, Ah! tell us not that death separates us from the beings we have loved: for that love binds them to us for ever.

Thus Dr. Muir writes of his dead child:

“Do what I may, go where I will,
Thou meet'st my sight;
There dost thou glide before me still
A form of light;
I feel thy breath upon my cheek,
I see thee smile, I hear thee speak.”

So Gertrude felt as she pondered upon the images of the past, and mentally decided that Dr. Jeleware would remember her when he had time to think of it—how strange that he should have been the college friend of that dear brother Ben, who died in the Indies: about whom Miss Watchorn so often spoke. The anecdotes she had told Gertrude, had conveyed to her the impression that he was a most eccentric and absent minded man. She had heard of his sitting half a day beside a fish stream, and wondering at length that his patience met with no reward, he began to look after his hook, and found that his line was twisted round the branches of an alder tree above his head, and the gay fly swinging listlessly in the air, quite guiltless of piscatory depredations. Many similar reminiscences of Mr. Benjamin Watchhorn crossed her mind; from all of which it appeared that he must have been a very suitable companion for Dr. Jeleware; for Miss Watchorn had infected her with the true colonial fashion of conferring the degree of M.D. indiscriminately.

Gertrude hoped to have seen the man of science again, before he left: but the constant confinement necessary to complete the tasks allotted to her, and the vast difference between the needle-woman and the visitor prevented her wish being accomplished, and he left without her seeing more than an occasional glance of him, through the window in the distance.

Her dislike to her situation had considerably augmented upon a more intimate acquaintance with it. Mr. Markarld was a corpulent man with a stentorian voice, and issued commands in a haughty manner; but she came little in contact with him. The younger members of the family were excessively petted. Like many indolent persons, Mrs. Markarld found it easier to yield to the children's wishes, than by a present firmness to teach them obedience; a constant warfare for whom should be ruler, was the natural result; and trouble multiplied, even while the mother said “let them have, or let them do, this, or that, I cannot be troubled.”

Gertrude could not escape suffering in so ill-regulated a household; it was no uncommon thing for little master Albert to insist on wearing his new best coat, which had taken her hours of patient stitching to braid handsomely; and Victoria the youngest daughter would exact similar indulgences. Many an alarming fit of illness resulted from disobedience in eating green fruit, and other unwholesome things; and indeed the children were the fertile sources of incessant suffering. The nurse, a warm-hearted Welsh woman, used frequently to run up to Gertrude's little workroom, shedding tears of vexation, and lamenting her vexations of that thousand and one description which spoilt little folks inflict; and at other times, some incensed occupant of the nursery would burst in to tell her about nurse. Gertrude was quite perplexed how to steer a middle course, so as to offend neither party.

We speak of little things, there are no little things in life: is not the ocean filled by drops? the mountain built of grains? and the life of man is made up of little things; little sorrows added together, till they become a burden that would be insupportable, were it not for the trivial joys which mingle with them. In great sorrows the whole force of our spirit arises to meet them; but the mass of existence is not made up of violence, as the forest presents more deer than lions; and the air is peopled rather by sparrow and larks, than eagles; then

“Since trifles make the sum of human things,
A small unkindness is a great offence.”

And a yet higher voice says, “Whatever therefore ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so unto them.” To woman especially is the command given, for hers is the hand to smooth the pillow for the aching head, to moisten the parched lips, 'tis hers to point the sufferer to his God, to tell the babe of him who blessed the little children, and to make her dwelling a home of happiness and peace.

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