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Nothing but drought and dearth, but bush and brake, Which way soe'er I look, I see. Some may dream merrily, but when they wake, They dress themselves, and come to thee. GEORGE HERBERT.--Home.
He got his writing materials, and wrote to the effect, that a graduate of a Scotch university was prepared to give private lessons in the classics and mathematics, or even in any of the inferior branches of education, &c., &c. This he would take to the Times next day.
As soon as he had done this, Duty lifted up her head, and called him. He obeyed, and wrote to his mother. Duty called again; and he wrote, though with much trepidation and humiliation, to David Elginbrod.
It was a good beginning. He had commenced his London life in doing what he knew he ought to do. His trepidation in writing to David, arose in part, it must be confessed, from the strange result of one of the experiments at Arnstead.
This was his letter. But he sat and meditated a long time before he began it.
"MY DEAR FRIEND,--If I did not think you would forgive me, I should feel, now that I have once allowed my mind to rest upon my conduct to you, as if I could never hold up my head again. After much occupation of thought and feeling with other things, a season of silence has come, and my sins look me in the face. First of them all is my neglect of you, to whom I owe more than to any man else, except, perhaps, my father. Forgive me, for forgiveness' sake. You know it takes a long time for a child to know its mother. It takes everything as a matter of course, till suddenly one day it lifts up its eyes, and knows that a face is looking at it. I have been like the child towards you; but I am beginning to feel what you have been to me. I want to be good. I am very lonely now in great noisy London. Write to me, if you please, and comfort me. I wish I were as good as you. Then everything would go right with me. Do not suppose that I am in great trouble of any kind. As yet I am very comfortable, as far as external circumstances go. But I have a kind of aching inside me. Something is not right, and I want your help. You will know what I mean. What am I to do? Please to remember me in the kindest, most grateful manner to Mrs. Elginbrod and Margaret. It is more than I deserve, but I hope they have not forgotten me as I have seemed to forget them.
"I am, my dear Mr. Elginbrod,
"Your old friend,
I may as well insert here another letter, which arrived at Turriepuffit, likewise addressed to David, some six weeks after the foregoing. They were both taken to Janet, of course:
"SIR,--I have heard from one who knows you, that you believe--really believe in God. That is why I write to you. It may seem very strange in me to do so, but how can I help it? I am a very unhappy woman, for I am in the power of a bad man. I cannot explain it all to you, and I will not attempt it; for sometimes I almost think I am out of my mind, and that it is all a delusion. But, alas! delusion or not, it is a dreadful reality to me in all its consequences. It is of such a nature that no one can help me--but God, if there be a God; and if you can make me believe that there is a God, I shall not need to be persuaded that he will help me; for I will besiege him with prayers night and day to set me free. And even if I am out of my mind, who can help me but him? Ah! is it not when we are driven to despair, when there is no more help anywhere, that we look around for some power of good that can put right all that is wrong? Tell me, dear sir, what to do. Tell me that there certainly is a God; else I shall die raving. He said you knew about him better than anybody else.
"I am, honoured Sir,
"Your obedient servant,
"Arnstead, Surrey, &c., &c."
David's answer to this letter, would have been something worth having. But I think it would have been all summed up in one word: Try and see: call and listen.
But what could Janet do with such letters? She did the only thing she could: she sent them to Margaret.
Hugh found it no great hardship to go to bed in the same room in which he sat. The bed looked peculiarly inviting; for, strange to tell, it was actually hung with the same pattern of old-fashioned chintz, as the bed which had been his from his earliest recollection, till he left his father's house. How could he mistake the trees, growing with tufts to the ground, or the great birds which he used to think were crows, notwithstanding their red and yellow plumage? It was all over red, brown, and yellow. He could remember, and reconstruct the very faces, distorted and awful, which, in the delirium of childish sicknesses, he used to discover in the foliage and stems of the trees. It made the whole place seem to him homely and kind. When he got tired, he knelt by his bedside, which he had not done for a long time, and then went to bed. Hardship! No. It was very pleasant to see the dying fire, and his books about and his papers; and to dream, half-asleep and half-awake, that the house-fairies were stealing out to gambol for a little in the fire-lighted silence of the room as he slept, and to vanish as the embers turned black. He had not been so happy for a long time as now. The writing of that letter had removed a load from his heart. True, we can never be at peace till we have performed the highest duty of all--till we have arisen, and gone to our Father; but the performance of smaller duties, yes, even of the smallest, will do more to give us temporary repose, will act more as healthful anodynes, than the greatest joys that can come to us from any other quarter. He soon fell asleep, and dreamed that he was a little child lost in a snow-storm; and that just as the snow had reached above his head, and he was beginning to be smothered, a great hand caught hold of him by the arm and lifted him out; and, lo! the storm had ceased, and the stars were sparkling overhead like diamonds that had been drinking the light of the sun all day; and he saw that it was David, as strong as ever, who had rescued him, the little child, and was leading him home to Janet. But he got sleepy and faint upon the way, which was long and cold; and then David lifted him up and carried him in his bosom, and he fell asleep. When he woke, and, opening his eyes, looked up to him who bore him, it was David no longer. The face was that which was marred more than any man's, because the soul within had loved more; it was the face of the Son of Man, and he was carrying him like a lamb in his bosom. He gazed more and more as they travelled through the cold night; and the joy of lying in the embrace of that man, grew and grew, till it became too strong for the bonds of sleep; and he awoke in the fog of a London morning.
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