Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

24 FRIEND OR FOE.2

half so bad. Why it is almost beautiful! See how the sun is shining on the red leather, it looks like a glory-crutch now ! How do I know but Jesus sent it to me to help me on my way to the New Jerusalem? I’d rather limp there than not get there at all, would’nt you? O Ennie, I believe I shall almost love it after this; perhaps when I see Him I shall have reason to thank Him for this more than any other gift. Sing ‘Jesus, I my cross have taken, for I have taken it, Yensie, and if He'll help me, I'll carry it like a man.”

[ocr errors][merged small]

A sulTRY evening in August; the western sky made lurid by the sinking sun, which still sends to earth fierce oppressive heat; not a rustle made by the trees; not a puff of air abroad. People saunter lazily along the parched and dusty streets, complain of the want of air, look into shop windows, glance up at yonder bank of angry clouds hanging ominously in the north-east, and seem to have no desire but to sit or lie down, and leave business and life to care for themselves. A little party is gathered in the garden of Mr. Bradford’s pretty villa at Victoria Park: a party the members of which, save one, some of us have met before. Mr. Bradford, twelve years older than when we saw him last, is there: a fine, hale man, with hair just turning grey; a successful tradesman, owning several excellent shops, in addition to a promising share in the wholesale trade, but weighted with one great regret in not seeing his dear wife beside him (for she has been dead these eight years), and one great enemy that seldom leaves him, and that is present with him now as he sits nursing his bandaged foot— namely, the gout. Oliver Raymond, too, is here, keeping his “uncle” company in a cigar, lounging lazily in one of the rustic seats which his own hands have made, and giving himself up to the indolent influence of the air. He is no longer the boy we knew him, but a tall, well-made, good-natured-looking fellow, proud of the little brown moustache on his upper lip, proud of his position as Mr. Bradford’s adopted nephew and manager and right-hand man, and no less proud of being looked upon as engaged to the graceful girl standing near him. That young lady, also, we know, and therefore may be forgiven for thinking, as we gaze on the erect, shapely figure, the sweet face, the golden curls and blue eyes here before us: “Ah, just the young lady I should have said little Elsie Waughan would become !” These are old friends. But another, who completes the party, is a new one. As he lies back in his rustic seat, toying with his cigar, the smoke of which hangs listlessly before him, so that occasionally he has to wave his hand, we can see that he is of a lithe and active figure, and that about him, in every way, in all his movements, there is that indefinable air of the free, frank sailor, which is such a charm to most of us. This is Amos Rearden, Mr. Bradford's sub-manager, and Oliver's close friend. Until this moment, the conversation, which is on “Temperance,” has been easy and careless, Elsie now playing on the lawn with a tennis-ball and bat, now standing still and joining in. But just now Oliver is saying, playfully, as he takes his eyes off the angry-looking clouds above and fixes them on Elsie: “I’ve never been tipsy yet: I think I’ll go and see what it is like. It must be good, since men who have had the experience seem to like it more and more.” “You should never speak to me again, if you did l’” suddenly answers Miss Waughan, stopping, and half-turning, in the act of playing her ball. Something in her manner of speaking—some tinge of sharpness, or spice of pride—causes Oliver's eyes, already on her face, to grow more intense in their FRIEND OR FOE 2 25

gaze. Rearden, too, glances at her, quickly, and then bends his look on his friend. “I wonder how you can indulge in athletics on such an evening as this, Elsie,” says Mr. Bradford, putting his gouty foot in an easier position, and breathing hard with the heat, which seems to increase as the darkness increases, and the clouds get closer and closer together and darker and darker in hue, “As to a glass now and then,” he goes on, turning off into the subject under discussion, while Elsie bats her ball up and down, “I’ve always had it, and mean to continue doing so, and should never blame anyone for doing the same.” “It’s quite useless, and wasteful in every way, uncle,” says Elsie, remembering a lecture she had lately heard. “But to hear an abstainer, as Oliver is, indulge in such dreadful jests!”— “Pooh!” interrupts Mr. Bradford, his face in contortions as he attempts to rise, “you catch us up too sharply, Elsie. Come, its getting dark, and we had better go indoors. Oliver, your arm, if you please.” With just the faintest light of defiance on her pretty face, Elsie gathers up the rackets and balls lying about, while Oliver and Rearden assist Mr. Bradford to get indoors; a feat always attended with difficulty, and requiring a large amount of generalship. By and by, after supper, Amos takes out his watch, saying, with a glance at Oliver, “Half-past nine. If you go at once you will just catch Morbey at home. I'm certain the only way to get that debt, is to look him up personally. I’ll go with you, if you like.” Oliver being agreeable and ready, the two are, a few minutes afterwards, making their way, arm-in-arm, towards a point in the Old Ford Road. For a while there is silence between them, Oliver thinking, perhaps, of the sharp answer, and the little gleam of defiance—which he had not missed—and Rearden dwelling : as he had dwelt lately, though hardly himself knowing it: on the exceeding grace of figure and sweetness of face of the lady engaged to his friend. Suddenly, Rearden, becoming conscious of theincreased oppression in the air, draws a deep breath, looks at the black sky, and, as they arrive before a tavern, stops, and brings up his friend with him. “I must have a glass of beer,” he says, “ or there’ll be an end of me. You won’t take your uncle's advice and join me, I suppose P” “I don’t know,” Oliver answers, irresolutely, while Rearden, being hitherto accustomed to have his invitations to drink met by a quiet and firm refusal, looks surprised. Oliver has three particular thoughts in his mind as he answers, and they are the cause of his wavering mood, namely: Why should he continue to abstain when others, as, for instance, Mr. Bradford and Rearden, can drink, in moderation, with perfect safety, and be so much more sociable P Elsie had, in effect, defied him to drink : should he endure that? And again, he really would like to taste what he has never, to his knowledge, tasted before. “Will you join me?” says Rearden, in his persuasive tone, fixing his bright eyes on the other's slightly darkened face. “Oh, I forgot!” he adds, quickly, looking at the blazing tavern and taking his friend on. “That house sells abominable stuff. I know one further on where it's worth having. Come on.” There is another pause, during which, while the two walk on, Rearden is eagerly looking forward to a tavern he has in his mind, and Oliver has his eyes bent on the ground. Presently, the latterlooks at Amos and says, discontentedly, “I think you noticed how Elsie spoke to me to-night. Did you?” Rearden glances at him, and then looks down. “I am your friend, Oliver, I know. Still, a friend cannot say all he thinks, at times.” “I thought we were close enough friends to say anything. What are you thinking now P” “Well, Oliver, I’ll tell you, if it will not offend. It's this: that if I were engaged to a lady who defied me to do anything, I should just go and do it straightaway.” Rearden lifts himself up, expressive of determination. “A woman always requires checking, else, by and by, when she is a wife, she will certainly usurp the domestic command. That's my opinion. But, of course, you will take your own line of action.”

26 FRIEND OR FOE 2

Oliver flushes, and his eyes grow bright with rising anger. “There is something of late about Elsie that I don’t like at all—carelessness, wilfulness, or what it is, I don’t know. But I don’t like it.” “Yet you put up with it.” “Have you, too, noticed it?” “It needed no eyes to do so.” “You answer carelessly l’” says Oliver, with some petulance. “How would you have me answer, old fellow P Is it the work of a friend to make war between his friends P” “But you say you would not endure this treatment”— “I speak for myself. If there were a lady whom, it was probable, I should by and by make my wife, I should show her, beyond possibility of mistake, that I intended to be captain. That's all. Timely firmness prevents mutiny,” Another pause; Oliver indistinctly sees the gathering gloom overhead; is conscious of growing thirst; comes into violent collision, once, with another passenger; vaguely remembers a gentle face, familiar in the far distance of time, and a kind voice speaking to him and warning him; and yet another gentle face and kind voice, farther away still, but more solicitous of him; feels his heart give an extra bound as it fills with resolution; and then his companion again stops him. “Now—are you coming in, or will you wait for me?” They are outside the tavern, the brilliant lights in the windows of which shed a bold glare across the pavement, and far into the road. “I don’t see why I should’nt,” Raymond returns, taking a step forward as Rearden leads the way— Ah, what a blinding flash of lightning was that How it lit up the gloomy heavens and the darkened streets; how it seemed to swallow up the petty brilliance streaming from the tavern-windows | What a revealing light, in truth, to show up the evil and foolish deeds of men Well might Oliver stand a moment aghast, and feel half-afraid to use his eyes, with that dazing power abroad. But Rearden, who has entered the house, and has not seen this herald of the coming storm, puts his head out at the door, saying, with half a smile : “Come on, old man. Don’t be afraid; there's no one here to hurt you.” The jesting words sound like a taunt in Raymond's ears, and he dashes forward, and is the next moment in the midst of the glare of lights, the hubbub of many voices, the fumes of hot spirit and bad tobacco. Yet the door : the door of perdition to many: has not fairly closed behind him, before lights, and voices, and fumes, and smoke, -everything, seems to be lost in a sudden, crashing, terrifying roar of thunder; so terrible, that it is as though the heavens had fallen; so near, that it seems no higher than the housetops. And now the storm is abroad in all the mighty and deadly strength which, for hours past, it has been gathering together. Flash succeeds flash so closely that heaven and earth seem lit up by a continuous light, and the light is so keen that the eye cannot look upon it steadily. The rolling, bursting peals of thunder come so fast upon one another, that there is no apparent interval between; while, presently, the rain begins to fall in a deluge. A terrible storm, truly The babel of tongues in the tavern ceases, and faces, marked by excess and carelessness, forget to smile at the jest, and turn, awe-struck, to look through the window at the storm without. “No going out in this, for an hour or two,” says, Rearden. “Come, let us drink, in our first glass together, to a better temper in Miss Vaughan.” The glasses are tossed off. “Now,” continues Rearden, “we’ll spend an hour in the billiard-room; we can’t do better.” A little later, when midnight is chiming, and the two friends issue forth into the cool sweet air again, the lightning has played itself out, the rain has ceased, and a sharp breeze has risen, driving before it the wild and torn clouds, between which, every now and then, gleams the sad face of the moon, looking as though it had tears upon it. And in the far distance, as it were in the far distance of time, a low moaning of thunder is still heard, and it seems—at least to one ear, in spite of itself—like the dying, sorrowful accents of one who has warned in Walla,

Štraps from fit obitor's &aste-34sket.

I. THE CIRCULATION OF THE MAGAzINE.-A friend writes saying that the “circulation of our Magazine ought to be doubled, and would be if it were only known.” We trust our friends to make it widely known. Invest in half-a-dozen copies for January, and give them away. It will speak for itself, and, if allowed “a free course,” make its own way. Sunday school teachers in the upper classes may get their elder scholars to read it. Let officers of churches give facilities for its sale, and pastors announce it from the pulpit. It is conducted absolutely and entirely for the churches and the denomination, and is the servant of all. Circulate it widely. We mean to make the issue for 1883 superior to all its predecessors.

II. THE SCHOOL HYMNAL AT A PENNY | is the last marvel in printing. Three hundred and forty hymns, a preface, and an index, in clear type and on fairly strong paper, for four farthings. Why, destructive Mary and Tom can have a new book a month, and only gain in the loss of sweetmeats. If this book is not in all our Sunday schools, and many besides, it is merely because they do not know what is best.

III. CHURCH AND CHAPEL SHAKING HANDs.-Much that is pathetic and beautiful clusters about the following letter. It was written by the Vicar of Chilvers Coton, Nuneaton, to Mr. Asquith, on the occasion of his settlement as pastor of our church; on the day following the writer suddenly expired after preaching. We rejoice in every sign of cordial and fraternal regard amongst the workers for God and men. “Chilvers Coton Vicarage Nuneaton, Dec. 2nd, 1882—Dear Mr. Asquith, You very kindly came and asked me to be present at your recognition service and I made the excuse of bad health, but in fact my presence could do no good. I forget not a kindness one of your deacons, Mr. Copson, did for me at Stockingford, giving an address (which I remember now.) I have the pleasure of Mr. Sidwell's acquaintance, and I dare say there are not a few of your congregation that I should know, and for whom I should have real Christian regard. I desire to cultivate personal Christian fellowship with all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth. You have been brought into our neighbourhood, and in the Providence of God into my parish; you may

be quite sure that I thoroughly wish you God speed in the name of the Lord, and I heartily hope the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in your hands. You said in pleasantry—when I did myself the pleasure of calling on you—you hoped you should be no worry, and my answer was, O dear no, we expect every Christian minister to be a help-God bless you in your work. May you give yourself wholly to it, turning not to the right hand, nor to the left, but keeping straight on, aiming ever at these grand simple things (besides which all else is rubbish), winning souls, comforting the sick, strengthening God's people, reclaiming the backsliding. Keep to these things alone, then may there not be one alone set apart to the work of God in this neighbourhood, but a multitude also with you. May you be an united people, united in the fear and love of our God, and for His work. Your sincere well-wisher, G. R. PENNINGTON.”

IV. DEGENERATING INTo A SECT.-We are astonished to find a man of such learning and culture as Bishop Lightfoot talking about “degenerating into a sect.” Will he tell us what he means? Evidently he is not narrow in his sympathies, for he says that he is “altogether in favour of maintaining friendly relations with the members of the Salvation Army;” but says that their repudiation of being “a church or sect” is more theoretical than real. Is'nt the claim of the Established Church to be anything but a “sect” more theoretical than real? What is that church more than a congeries of “sects"—an amalgam of “sects,” effected by the same power that manages Post Offices and policemen? We are simple enough to think a church is ascending, and evolving a higher life, when it passes into the condition of independence of State control and to complete freedom from external dictation. The “Salvation Army,” in our judgment, whatever it may be now, would “degenerate” sadly if it became a part of the STATE Church.

W. CHRISTIAN Book-KEEPING.—The Spectator for Dec. 15th says:—“With all its boasted, and with its undoubted, if limited, spirit of earnest helpfulness, this is not an age of large giving. “I have so many claims upon me, someone is always begging,’ grumbles the well-to-do, possibly wealthy, man, as he sips his coffee, and throws a begging letter into a waste-paper basket: probably a rigid examination of his yearly expenditure would show, to his own surprise, hardly a £10 note expended on anyone not directly connected with himself. We think it might be broadly stated that if every man in England with an income of over £1000 a year gave a tenth of his surplus to the common weal, not a child need remain uneducated or unapprenticed. Workhouses would cease to be a necessity.” I have a friend, with whom I can be rather frank, who once declined complying with a request of mine, on the ground that he was “doing a great deal too much.” “Are you?” I said. “Well, what are you doing? Do you keep any account? Will you reckon up?” “I will,” he said, “and let you know.” He did so, and reported that he was “positively amazed”; “thought he was giving fifty times as much,” and so on. The fact is, memory is wonderfully tenacious of our generous moods and acts. I have little doubt that honest Christian book-keeping would send up the wealth of the Church a thousandfold. “How much owest thou to thy Lord?”

28 SCRAPS FROM THE EDITOR'S WASTE BASKET.

WI. A GENERAL BAPTIST TEMPERANCE House.—Says the Chester Chronicle:-“In the local page of the Burwash parochial magazine (Home Words) we find the following:—“In a short visit, at the end of July, to Bunbury, his native parish in Cheshire, the rector met with a large farm-house, built about thirteen years ago, in which, since the first brick was laid, there has never been, to this time, a single drop of wine, beer, or spirits, or of alcohol in any shape, purchased by or belonging to its owner. We may add that not only all the work of the house, but all the cheese-making from the milk of sixty cows is managed by the mistress of the house, her two daughters, one servant, and a small boy. So that in this instance, as in ten thousand more, strong drink has certainly not been needed to give strength.”—

That is one of our many Good General Baptist Homes. “We have been there, and still would go:” if we could only get. It is a bright, godly, Teetotal Home !

VII. THE DECAY OF NATIVE RACEs. Is IT INEVITABLE *—It is reported, on the authority of the Secretary of the Indian Department, that the considerate Christian treatment received by the Indians in the British Territories of North America is bearing fruit, not merely in the arrest of their decay, but also in the actual increase of their numbers. It is not inevitable, therefore, that native races, the aboriginal tribes, should be extinguished to find room for the enter

prising and aggressive white man. Let these tribes be treated as consisting of “sons of God"—for we are all His offspring"—and their chances of development, progress, and perpetuity, are every whit as good as were those of our ancestors five, ten, or fifteen centuries ago. We are a “mixed,” and, according to Lord Bacon, an improved people because of the “mixing:” and why should not the same hold good in America. It is only in the United States that the “Indian” is disappearing; and his disappearance is due to the unchristian treatment he receives. Christian men have yet to learn the great law of their Master, that mental, or social, or race inferiority, in itself constitutes a claim on the sympathy, considerateness, and help of the superior race. We are strong that we may bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves by grasping the whole earth, and turning it into a huge market to enrich our supreme selves.

VIII. THE PRESS ON THE STAGE.Christians who “support” the Stage as it is, may read this, and then 1 Thess. v. 22. The Pall Mall Gazette writes, “Commenting on what it describes as ‘the partnership between concubinage and comedy’ which disgraces a section of the London stage, the Birmingham Mail (L.) calls upon the public to set its face resolutely ‘against performers whose charactors are smirched. The Mail says: —“It is idle to blink the truth that in certain London theatres immorality is rampant; actresses form connections which they have not the discretion even to keep in the background; diamonds glitter on their necks and on their wrists, which all the world knows to be the wages of an unchaste life; the whole atmosphere reeks of dishonour, profligacy, and extravagance. This is prejudicial not only to art but to public morality. There is, perhaps, no more melancholy sign of the times than that women whose lives are flagrantly immoral should be suffered to flaunt, with all the ostentation which a public stage affords, the material evidences of their splendid infamy, and that audiences should be found to applaud their appearance without regard to their character.”

IX. The NEw JUDAISM.–The existence and growth of a vigorous Reformation amongst the Jews is one of the most cheering and prophetic phenomena of the religious world. Mr. Claude Montefiore (Contemporary Review, Sept., 1882; Cf. also Con. Review for Nov.) is fairly entitled to be regarded as the herald of the slowly but surely approaching emancipa

« AnteriorContinuar »