"You might all have a home there," said the clergyman, "if you would only come to the fountain, if you would only say from the bottom of your heart, 'Lord, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.'"
And Christie smiled when the clergyman said his little prayer, for he thought of the snowdrops. And the clergyman thought of them, too.
Then Mr. Wilton went on to say that he wished to-night to speak to those who had come to Jesus; who had taken their sin to Him, and who had been washed in His blood.
"That's me and old Treffy," said Christie to himself.
"My dear friends," said the clergyman, "all of you have an inheritance; you are the sons of a King; there is a place in the kingdom waiting for you. Jesus is getting that place ready for you, and I want to show you to-night that you must be made ready for it, meet or fit for the inheritance. One day, the Prince of Wales will be the King of England. This kingdom is his inheritance. As soon as he was born, he had a right to it. But he has been educated and trained with great care, that he may be meet for the inheritance, that he may be fit to enjoy it, and able to use it. If he had had no education, if he had been brought up in one of these dismal black courts, though he might have a perfect right to be king, still he would not be able to enjoy it; he would feel strange, uncomfortable, out of place.
"Just so," said the clergyman, "is it with our inheritance. As soon as we are born again we have a right to it, we become sons and daughters of the King of Kings. But we need to be prepared and made meet for the inheritance. We must be made holy within; we must be trained and taught to hate sin and to love all that is pure and holy. And this is the work of God's Holy Spirit.
"Oh! my friends, will you not ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit to renew your heart? It will not be all done in a day. You came to Jesus to be washed from the stain of sin. He did that at once; He gave you at once the right to the inheritance. But you will not be made holy at once. Little by little, hour by hour, day by day, the Holy Spirit will make you more and more ready for the inheritance. You will become more and more like Jesus. You will hate sin more; you will love Jesus more; you will become more holy. But, oh! let no one think," said the clergyman, "that being good will ever give you a right to the inheritance. If I were to be ever so well educated, if I were to be taught a hundred times better than the Prince of Wales has been, it would never give me a right to be King of England. No, my friends, the only way into 'Home, sweet Home,' the only way to obtain a right to the inheritance, is by the blood of Jesus. There is no other way, no other right.
"But, after the dear Lord has given us the right to the kingdom, He always prepares us for it. A forgiven soul will always lead a holy life. A soul that has been washed white will always long to keep clear of sin. Is it not so with you? Just think of what Jesus has done for you! He has washed you in His blood; He has taken your sins away at the cost of His life. Will you do the very things that grieve Him? Will you be so ungrateful as to do that? Will you?
"Oh! surely not; surely you will say, in the words of the third verse of our hymn,—
'Lord, make me from this hour Thy loving child to be, Kept by Thy power, Kept by Thy power, From all that grieveth Thee.'
And surely you will ask Him very, very earnestly, to give you that Holy Spirit who alone can make you holy. And when the work is done," said the clergyman, "when you are made meet, made fit for the inheritance, the Lord will take you there. He will not keep you waiting. Some are made ready very quickly. Others have to wait long, weary years of discipline. But all the King's sons shall be ready at last, all shall be taken home, and shall enter upon the inheritance. Will you be there?"
And with that question the clergyman ended his sermon, and the little congregation broke up very quietly, and went home with thoughtful faces.
Christie lingered near the door till the clergyman came out. He asked very kindly of old Treffy, and then he put a few questions to Christie about the sermon; for he had been afraid whilst he had been preaching that he had not made it so clear that a child might understand. But he was cheered to find that the leading truth of the sermon was impressed on little Christie's mind, and that he would be able to carry to old Treffy something, at least, of what he had heard.
For Christie was taught of God, and into hearts prepared by the Holy Spirit the seed is sure to sink. The Lord has prepared them for the word, and prepared the word for them, and the sower has only to put his hand into his basket and scatter the seed prayerfully over the softened soil. It will sink in, spring up, and bring forth fruit.
The clergyman felt the truth of this as he walked home. And he remembered where it was written, "The preparation of the heart is from the Lord." "That is a word for me, as well as for my hearers," he said to himself. "Lord, ever let Thy preparation go before my preaching."
TREFFY ENTERS THE CITY.
"Christie, boy," said Treffy, that night, when Christie had told him all he could remember of the sermon, and had repeated to him the third verse of the hymn, "Christie, boy, the Lord will have to get me ready very fast, very fast indeed."
"Oh, maybe not, Master Treffy," said Christie, uneasily, "maybe not so fast as you think."
"The month's nearly up, Christie," said old Treffy; "and I think I'm getting very near the city, very near to 'Home, sweet Home.' I can almost see the letters over the gate sometimes, Christie."
But Christie could not answer. His face was buried in his hands, and his head sank lower and lower as he sat beside the fire. And, at length, though he tried to keep it in, there came a great sob, which reached old Treffy's heart. He put his hand lovingly on Christie's head, and for some time neither of them spoke. But when the heart is very sore, silence often does more to comfort than words can do, only it must be silence which comes from a full heart, not from an empty one. Treffy's old heart was very full of loving, yearning pity for poor little Christie.
"Christie, boy," he said, at length, "you wouldn't keep me outside the gate; would you?"
"No, no, Master Treffy," said Christie, "not for the world I wouldn't; but I do wish I was going in too."
"It seems to me, Christie, boy, the Lord has got some work for thee to do for Him first. I'm a poor, useless old man, Christie, very tottering and feeble, so He's going to take me home; but you have all your life before you, Christie, boy, haven't you?"
"Yes," said Christie, with a sigh, for he was thinking what a long, long time it would be before he was as old as Master Treffy, and before the golden gates would be opened to him.
"Wouldn't you like to do something for Him, Christie, boy," said old Treffy, "just to show you love Him?"
"Ay, Master Treffy, I should," said Christie, in a whisper.
"Christie, boy," said old Treffy, suddenly raising himself in bed, "I would give all I have; yes, all, Christie, even my old organ, and you know how I've loved her, Christie, but I'd give her up, her and everything else, to have one year of my life back again—one year—to show Him that I love Him. Just to think," he said regretfully, "that He gave His life for me, and died ever such a dreadful death for me, and I've only got a poor little miserable week left to show that I love Him. Oh, Christie, boy! oh, Christie, boy! it seems so ungrateful; I can't bear to think of it."
It was Christie's turn now to be the comforter.
"Master Treffy," he said, "just you tell the Lord that; I'm sure He'll understand."
Treffy clasped his hands at once, and said earnestly,—
"Lord Jesus, I do love Thee; I wish I could do something for Thee, but I've only another week to live,—only another week; but, oh! I do thank Thee, I would give anything to have some of my life back again, to show my love to Thee; please understand what I mean. Amen."
Then old Treffy turned over and fell asleep. Christie sat for some time longer by the fire. He had tried to forget the last day or two how short a time he had with his old master, but it had all come back to him now. And his heart felt very sad and desolate. It is a very dreadful thing to lose the only friend you have in the world. And it is a very dreadful thing to see before you a thick, dark cloud, and to feel that it hangs over your pathway, and that you must pass through it. Poor Christie was very full of sorrow, for he "feared as he entered into the cloud." But Treffy's words came back to his mind, and he said, with a full heart,—
"Lord Jesus, do help me to give my life to Thee. Oh! please help me to spare old Treffy. Amen."
Then, rather comforted, he went to bed.
The next morning he looked anxiously at old Treffy. He seemed weaker than usual, and Christie did not like to leave him. But they had very little money left, and Treffy seemed to wish him to go; so Christie went on his rounds with a heavy heart. He determined to go to the suburban road, that he might tell little Mabel and her mother how much worse his dear old master was. It is such a comfort to speak of our sorrow to those who will care to hear.
Thus Christie stopped before the house with the pretty garden in front of it. The snowdrops were over now, but the primroses had taken their place, and the garden looked very gay and cheerful. But Christie had no heart to look at it; he was gazing up anxiously at the nursery window for little Mabel's face. But she was not to be seen, so he turned the handle of his organ and played "Home, sweet Home," her favorite tune, to attract her attention. A minute after he began to play he saw little Mabel coming quickly out of the house and running towards him. She did not smile at him as usual, and she looked as if she had been crying, Christie thought.
"Oh, organ-boy," she said, "don't play to-day. Mamma is ill in bed, and it makes her head ache."
Christie stopped at once; he was just in the midst of the chorus of "Home, sweet Home," and the organ gave a melancholy wail as he suddenly brought it to a conclusion.
"I am so sorry, missie," he said.
Mabel stood before him in silence for a minute or two, and Christie looked down upon her very pitifully and tenderly.
"Is she very bad, missie?" he said.
"Yes," said little Mabel, "I think she must be, papa looks so grave, and nurse won't let us play; and I heard her tell cook mother would never be any better," she added, with a little sob, which came from the bottom of her tiny heart.
"Poor little missie!" said Christie, sorrowfully; "poor little missie, don't fret so; oh, don't fret so!"
And as Christie stood looking down on the little girl a great tear rolled down his cheek and fell on her little white arm.
Mabel looked up suddenly.
"Christie," she said, "I think mother must be going to 'Home, sweet Home,' and I want to go too."
"So do I," said Christie, with a sigh, "but the gates won't open to me for a long, long time."
Then the nurse called Mabel in, and Christie walked sorrowfully away. The world seemed very full of trouble to him. Even the sky was overcast, and a cutting east wind chilled Christie through and through. The spring flowers were nipped by it, and the budding branches were sent backwards and forwards by each fresh gust of the wind, and Christie felt almost glad that it was so cheerless. He was very sad and unhappy, very restless and miserable. He had begun to wonder if God had forgotten him; the world seemed to him so wide and desolate. His old master was dying, his little friend Mabel was in trouble, there seemed to be sorrow everywhere. There seemed to be no comfort for poor Christie.
Wearily and drearily he went homewards, and dragged himself up the steep staircase to the attic. He heard a voice within, a low, gentle voice, the sound of which soothed Christie's ruffled soul. It was the clergyman, and he was reading to old Treffy.
Treffy was sitting up in bed, with a sweet smile on his face, eagerly listening to every word. And, as Christie came in, the clergyman was reading this verse: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
"That's a sweet verse for you, Treffy," said the clergyman.
"Ay," said Treffy, brightening, "and for poor Christie too; he's very cast down, is Christie, sir."
"Christie," said the minister, laying his hand on his shoulder, "why is your heart troubled?"
But Christie could not answer. He turned suddenly away from the minister, and, throwing himself on old Treffy's bed, he sobbed bitterly.
The clergyman's heart was very full of sympathy for poor Christie. He knelt down beside him, and putting his arm round him, with almost a mother's tenderness, he said gently,—
"Christie, shall we go together to the Lord Jesus, and tell him of your sorrow?"
And then, in very plain, simple words, which Christie's heart could understand, the clergyman asked the dear Lord to look on the poor lonely child, to comfort him and to bless him, and to make him feel that he had one Friend who would never go away. And long after the clergyman had gone, when the attic was quite still and Treffy was asleep, Christie heard, as it were, a voice in his heart, saying to him, "Let not your heart be troubled." Then he fell asleep in peace.
He was wakened by his old master's voice: "Christie," said Treffy; "Christie, boy!"
"Yes, Master Treffy," said Christie, jumping up hastily.
"Where's the old organ, Christie?" asked Treffy.
"She's here, Master Treffy," said Christie, "all right and safe."
"Turn her, Christie," said Treffy, "play 'Home, sweet Home.'"
"It's the middle of the night, Master Treffy," said Christie; "folks will wonder what's the matter."
But Treffy made no answer, and Christie crept to his side with a light, and looked at his face. It was very altered and strange. Treffy's eyes were shut, and there was that in his face which Christie had never seen there before. He did not know what to do. He walked to the window and looked out. The sky was quite dark, but one bright star was shining through it and looking in at the attic window. "Let not your heart be troubled," it seemed to say to him. And Christie answered aloud, "Lord, dear Lord, help me."
As he turned from the window, Treffy spoke again, and Christie caught the words, "Play, Christie, boy, play."
He hesitated no longer. Taking the organ from its place, he turned the handle, and slowly and sadly the notes of "Home, sweet Home," were sounded forth in the dark attic. The old man opened his eyes as Christie played, and, when the tune was over, he called the boy to him; and, drawing him down very close to him, he whispered,—
"Christie, boy, the gates are opening now. I'm going in. Play again, Christie, boy."
It was hard work playing the three other tunes, they seemed so out of place in the room of death.
But Treffy did not seem to hear them. He was murmuring softly to himself the words of the prayer, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow; whiter than snow, whiter than snow."
And, as Christie was playing "Home, sweet Home," for the second time, old Treffy's weary feet passed within the gates. He was at home at last, in "Home, sweet Home."
And little Christie was left outside.
"NO PLACE LIKE HOME."
The next morning, some of the lodgers in the great room below remembered having heard sounds in the stillness of the night, which had awakened them from their dreams and disturbed their slumbers. Some maintained it was only the wind howling in the chimney, but others felt sure it was music, and said that the old man in the attic must have been amusing himself with the organ at midnight.
"Not he," said the landlady, when she heard of it; "he'll never play it again, he's a dying man, by what the doctor says."
"Just you go and ask him if he wasn't turning his old organ in the middle of last night," said a man from the far corner of the room. "I'll bet you a shilling he was."
The landlady went upstairs to satisfy his curiosity, and rapped at the attic door. No one answered, so she opened it and went in. Christie was fast asleep, stretched upon the bed where his old master's body lay. The tears had dried on his cheeks, and he was resting his head on one of old Treffy's cold, withered hands. The landlady's face grew grave, and she instinctively shuddered in the presence of death.
Christie woke with a start, and looked up in her face with a bewildered expression. He could not remember at first what had happened. But in a moment it all came back to him, and he turned over and moaned.
The landlady was touched by the boy's sorrow, but she was a rough woman, and knew little of the way of showing sympathy; and Christie was not sorry when she went downstairs and left him to himself. As soon as the house was quiet, he brought a neighbor to attend to old Treffy's body, and then crept out to tell the clergyman.
Mr. Wilton felt very deeply for the desolate child. Once again he committed him to his loving Father, to the Friend who would never leave him nor forsake him. And when Christie was gone he again knelt down, and thanked God with a very full heart for having allowed him to be the poor weak instrument in bringing this soul to Himself. There would be one at least at the beautiful gates of "Home, sweet Home," watching for his homegoing steps. Old Treffy would be waiting for him there. Oh, how good God had been to him! It was with a thankful heart that he sat down to prepare his sermon for the next day, on the last verse of the hymn. And what he had just heard of old Treffy helped him much in the realization of the bright city of which he was to speak.
Mr. Wilton looked anxiously for Christie, when he entered the crowded mission-room on Sunday evening. Yes, Christie was there, sitting as usual on the front bench, with a very pale and sorrowful face, and with heavy downcast eyes. And when the hymn was being sung, the clergyman noticed that the tears were running down the boy's cheeks, though he rubbed them away with his sleeve as fast as they came. But Christie looked up almost with a smile when the clergyman gave out his text. It was from Revelation 7:14, 15: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God."
"To-night," said the clergyman, "I am to speak of 'Home, sweet Home,' and of those that dwell there, the great multitude of the redeemed. It is a very holy place, there is no speck on the golden pavement, no evil to be found within the city. The tempter can never enter there, sin is unknown; all is very, very holy. And on the white robes of those who dwell there is no stain; pure and clean and spotless, bright and fair as light, are those robes of theirs. Nothing to soil them, nothing to spoil their beauty, they are made white for ever in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God.
"Oh!" said the clergyman, "never forget that this is the only way to stand before that throne. Being good will never take you there, not being as bad as others will avail you nothing; if you are ever to enter heaven, you must be washed white in the blood of the Lamb.
"St. John was allowed to look into heaven, and he saw a great company of these redeemed ones, and they were singing a new song, to the praise of Him who had redeemed them. And since St. John's time," said the clergyman, "oh! how many have joined their number. Every day, every hour, almost every moment, some soul stands before the city gates. And to every soul washed in the blood of Jesus those gates of pearl are thrown open; they are all dressed one by one in a robe of white, and as they walk through the golden streets, and stand before the throne of glory, they join in that song which never grows old:—'Amen. Blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever, Amen.'
"And, my friends," said the clergyman, "as the holy God looks on these souls He sees in them no trace of sin, the blood has taken it all away; even in His sight they are all fair, there is no spot in them. They are faultless and stainless, perfectly pure and holy.
"Oh! my friends, will you ever join their number? This is a dark, dismal, dying world; will you be content to have your all here? Will you be content never to enter 'Home, sweet Home'? Oh! will you delay coming to the fountain, and then wake up, and find you are shut out of the city bright, and that for ever?
"One old man," said the clergyman, "to whom I was talking last week is now spending his first Sunday in that city bright."
A stillness passed over the room when the clergyman said this, and Christie whispered to himself, "He means Master Treffy, I know he does."
"He was a poor sin-stained old man," the clergyman went on, "but he took Jesus at His word, he came to the blood of Christ to be washed, and even here he was made whiter than snow. And two nights ago the dear Lord sent for the old man, and took him home. There was no sin-mark found on his soul, so the gates were opened to him; and now in the snowy dress of Christ's redeemed he stands, 'faultless and stainless, faultless and stainless, safe in that happy home.'
"If I were to hear next Sunday," said the clergyman, "that any one of you was dead, could I say the same of you? Whilst we are meeting here, would you be in 'Home, sweet Home'? Are you indeed washed in the precious blood of Christ? Have you indeed been forgiven? Have you indeed come to Jesus?
"Oh! do answer this question in your own heart," said Mr. Wilton, in a very earnest voice. "I do want to meet every one of you in 'Home, sweet Home.' I think that when God takes me there I shall be looking out for all of you, and oh! how I trust we shall all meet there,—all meet at home!
"I cannot say more to-night," said the minister, "but my heart is very full. God grant that each of you may now be washed in the blood of Jesus, and even in this life be made whiter than snow, and then say with a grateful heart, 'Lord, I will work for Thee, love Thee, serve Thee, all I can:'—
'Till in the snowy dress Of Thy redeemed I stand, Faultless and stainless, Faultless and stainless, Safe in the happy land."
And then the service was over, and the congregation went away. But Christie never moved from the bench on which he was sitting. His face was buried in his hands, and he never looked up, even when the clergyman laid his hand kindly on his shoulder.
"Oh!" he sobbed at last, "I want to go home; my mother's gone, and old Treffy's gone, and I want to go too."
The clergyman took Christie's little brown hand in both of his, and said, "Christie, poor little Christie, the Lord does not like to keep you outside the gate; but He has work for you to do a little longer, and then the gates will be opened, and home will be all the sweeter after the dark time down here." And with other gentle and loving words he comforted the child, and then once more he prayed with him, and Christie went away with a lighter heart. But he could not help thinking of the last Sunday evening, when he had hastened home to tell Treffy about the third verse of the hymn.
There was no one to-night to whom Christie could tell what he had heard. He waited a minute outside the attic door, as if he was almost afraid to go in, but it was only for a minute, and when he walked in all fear passed away.
The sun was setting, and some rays of glory were falling on old Treffy's face as he lay on the bed. They seemed to Christie as if they came straight from the golden city, there was something so bright and so unearthly about them. And Christie fancied that Treffy smiled as he lay on the bed. It might be fancy, but he liked to think it was so.
And then he went to the attic window and looked out. He almost saw the golden city, far away amongst those wondrous, bright clouds. It was a strange, glad thought, to think that Treffy was there. What a change for him from the dark attic! Oh, how bright heaven would seem to his old master!
Christie would have given any thing just to see for one minute what Treffy was doing. "I wonder if he will tell Jesus about me, and how I want to come home," said Christie to himself.
And as the sunset faded away and the light grew less and less, Christie knelt down in the twilight, and said from the bottom of his heart,—
"O Lord, please make me patient, and please some day take me to live with Thee and old Treffy, in 'Home, sweet Home.'"
ALONE IN THE WORLD.
Little Christie was the only mourner who followed old Treffy to the grave. It was a poor parish funeral. Treffy's body was put into a parish coffin, and carried to the grave in a parish hearse. But, oh! it did not matter, for Treffy was at home in "Home, sweet Home;" all his sorrows and troubles were over, his poverty was at an end, and in "the Father's house" he was being well cared for.
But the man who drove the hearse was not inclined to lose time upon the road, and Christie had to walk very quickly, and sometimes almost to run, to keep up with him; and on their way they passed another and a very different funeral. It was going very slowly indeed. There was a large hearse in front, and six funeral carriages filled with people followed. And as Christie passed close by them in the middle of the road he could see that the mourners within looked very sorrowful, and as if they had been crying very much. But in one carriage he saw something which he never forgot. With her head resting on her papa's shoulder, and her little white sorrowful face pressed close to the window, was his little friend Mabel.
"So her mother is dead!" said Christie to himself, "and this is her funeral! Oh, dear! what a very sad world this is!"
He was not sure whether Mabel had seen him, but the little girl's sorrow had sunk very deep into Christie's soul, and it was with a heavier heart than before that he hastened forward to overtake the hearse which was carrying his old master's body to the grave.
So the two funeral processions—that of the poor old man, and that of the fair young mother—passed on to the cemetery, and over both bodies were pronounced the words, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust." But all this time their happy souls were in "Home, sweet Home," far, far away from the scene of sorrow. For a few days before, just at the same hour, two souls had left this world of woe, and had met together before the gates of pearl. And as they were both clean and white, both washed in the blood of the Lamb, the gates had been opened wide, and old Treffy and little Mabel's mother had entered the city together. And now they had both seen Jesus, the dear Lord whom they loved well, and in His presence they were even now enjoying fulness of joy.
Christie was obliged to give up the little attic after Treffy's death, for the landlady wished to let it for a higher rent. However, she gave the boy leave to sleep in the great lodging-room below, whilst she took possession of all old Treffy's small stock of furniture, in payment for the rent which he owed her.
But the organ was Christie's property; his old master had given it to him most solemnly about a week before he died. He had called Christie to his side, and told him to bring the organ with him. Then he had committed it to Christie's care.
"You'll take care of her, Christie," he had said, "and you'll never part with her, for my sake. And when you play 'Home, sweet Home,' Christie, boy, you must think of me and your mother, and how we've both got there."
It was hard work for Christie, the first day that he took out his organ after old Treffy's funeral; he did not so much mind playing "Rule Britannia," or the "Old Hundredth," or "Poor Mary Ann," but when he came for the first time to "Home, sweet Home," such a rush of feeling came over him that he stopped short in the middle and moved on without finishing it. The passers-by were surprised at the sudden pause in the tune, and still more so at the tears which were running down Christie's cheeks. They little thought that the last time he had played that tune had been in the room of death, and that whilst he was playing it his dearest friend on earth had passed away into the true "Home, sweet Home." But Christie knew, and the notes of the tune brought back the recollection of that midnight hour. And he could not make up his mind to go on playing till he had looked up into the blue sky and asked for help to rejoice in old Treffy's joy. And then the chorus came very sweetly to him, "Home, sweet home; there's no place like home; there's no place like home." "And old Treffy's there at last," said Christie to himself as he finished playing.
One day, about a week after Treffy's funeral, Christie went up the suburban road, in the hopes of seeing poor little Miss Mabel once more. He had never forgotten her sorrowful little face at the window of the funeral coach. And when we are in sorrow ourselves, it does us good to see and sympathize with those who are in sorrow also. Christie felt it would be a great comfort to him to see the little girl. He wanted to hear all about her mother, and when it was that she had gone to "Home, sweet Home."
But when Christie reached the house he stood still in astonishment. The pretty garden was there just as usual, a bed of heartseases was blooming in the sunshine, and the stocks and forget-me-nots were in full flower. But the house looked very deserted and strange; the shutters of the lower rooms were up, and the bed-rooms had no blinds in the windows and looked empty and forlorn. And in the nursery window, instead of little Mabel and Charlie's merry faces, there was a cross-looking old woman with her head bent down over her knitting.
What could be the matter? Where were the children gone? surely no one else was lying dead in the house. Christie felt that he could not go home without finding out; he must ask the old woman. So he stood at the garden-gate, and turned the handle of the organ, hoping that she would look out and speak to him. But, beyond a passing glance, she gave no sign that she even heard it, but went on diligently with her work.
At length Christie could wait no longer; so stopping suddenly in the middle of "Poor Mary Ann," he walked up the gravel path and rang the bell. Then the old woman put her head out of the window and asked what he wanted. Christie did not quite know what to say, so he came out at once with the great fear which was haunting him.
"Please, ma'am, is any one dead?" he asked.
"Dead? No!" said the old woman, quickly. "What do you want to know for?"
"Please, could I speak to little Miss Mabel?" asked Christie, timidly.
"No, bless you," said the old woman, "not unless you'd like a walk across the sea; she's in France by now."
"In France!" repeated Christie, with a bewildered air.
"Yes," said the old woman, "they've all gone abroad for the summer;" and then she shut the window in a decided manner, as much as to say, "And that's all I shall tell you about it."
Christie stood for a few minutes in the pretty garden before he moved away. He was very disappointed; he had so hoped to have seen his little friends, and now they were gone. They were far away in France. That was a long way off, Christie felt sure, and perhaps he would never see them again.
He walked slowly down the dusty road. He felt very lonely this afternoon, very lonely and forsaken. His mother was gone; old Treffy was gone! the lady was gone! and now the children were gone also! He had no one to cheer him or to comfort him; so he dragged the old organ wearily down the hot streets. He had not heart enough to play, he was very tired and worn out; yet he knew not where to go to rest. He had not even the old attic to call his home. But the pavement was so hot to his feet, and the sun was so scorching, that Christie determined to return to the dismal court, and to try to find a quiet corner in the great lodging-room.
But when he opened the door he was greeted by a cloud of dust; and the landlady called out to him to take himself off, she could not do with him loitering about at that time of day. So Christie turned out again, very heart-sore and disconsolate; and, going into a quiet street, he sheltered for some time from the hot sun under a high wall which made a little shadow across the pavement.
Christie was almost too hot and tired even to be unhappy, and yet every now and then he shivered, and crept into the sunshine to be warmed again. He had a strange, sharp pain in his head, which made him feel very bewildered and uncomfortable. He did not know what was the matter with him, and sometimes he got up and tried to play for a little time, but he was so sick and dizzy that he was obliged to give it up, and to lie quite still under the wall, with the organ beside him, till the sun began to set. Then he dragged himself and his organ back to the large lodging-room. The landlady had finished her cleaning, and was preparing the supper for her lodgers. She threw Christie a crust of bread as he came in, but he was not able to eat it. He crawled to a bench in the far corner of the room, and putting his old organ against the wall beside him, he fell asleep.
When he awoke, the room was full of men; they were eating their supper, and talking and laughing noisily. They took little notice of Christie, as he lay very still in the corner of the room. He could not sleep again, for the noise in the place was so great, and now and again he shuddered at the wicked words and coarse jests which fell on his ear almost every minute.
Christie's head was aching terribly, and he felt very, very ill; he had never been so ill in his life before. What would he not have given for a quiet little corner, in which he might have lain, out of the reach of the oaths and wickedness of the men in the great lodging-room! And then his thoughts wandered to old Treffy in "Home, sweet Home." What a different place his dear old master was in!
"There's no place like home, no place like home," said Christie to himself. "Oh, what a long way I am from 'Home, sweet Home!'"
CHRISTIE WELL CARED FOR.
"What's the matter with that little lad?" said one of the men to the landlady, as she was preparing their breakfast the next morning. "He's got a fever, or something of the sort. He's been talking about one thing or another all night. I've had toothache, and scarcely closed my eyes, and he's never ceased chatting the night through."
"What did he talk about?" asked another man.
"Oh! all sorts of rubbish," said the man with the toothache, "bright cities, and funerals, and snowdrops; and once he got up, and began to sing; I wonder you didn't hear him."
"It would have taken a great deal to make me hear him," said the other, "tired out as I was last night; what did he sing, though?"
"Oh! one of the tunes on his old organ. I expect he gets them in his head so that he can't get them out. I think it was 'Home, sweet Home,' he was trying at last night;" and the man went to his work.
"Well, Mrs. White," said another man, "if the boy's in a fever, the sooner you get him out of this the better; we don't want all of us to take it."
When the men were gone, the landlady went up to Christie to see if he were really ill. She tried to wake him, but he looked wildly in her face, and did not seem to know her. So she lifted him by main force into a little dark room under the stairs, which was filled with boxes and rubbish. She was not an unkind woman; she would not turn the poor child into the street in his present condition; so she made him up a little bed on the floor, and giving him a drink of water, she left him, to continue her work. That evening she fetched the parish doctor to see him, and he told her that Christie was in a fever.
For many days little Christie hung between life and death. He was quite unconscious of all that went on; he never heard the landlady come into the room; he never saw her go out. She was the only person who came near him, and she could give him very little attention, for she had so much to do. But she used to wonder why Christie talked so often of "Home, sweet Home;" through all his wanderings of mind this one idea seemed to run. Even in his delirium, little Christie was longing for "the city bright."
But, after a time, Christie began to recover; he regained his consciousness, and slowly, very slowly, the fever left him. But he was so weak that he could not even turn in bed; and he could scarcely speak above a whisper. Oh, how long and dreary the days were to him! Mrs. White had begun to grow tired of waiting on him, and so Christie was for many a long hour without seeing any one to whom he could speak.
It was a very dark little chamber, only lighted from the passage, and Christie could not even see a bit of blue sky. He felt very much alone in the world. All day long there was no sound but the distant shouts of the children in the court, and in the evening he could hear the noise of the men in the great lodging-room. Often he was awake the greater part of the night, and lay listening to the ticking of the clock on the stairs, and counting the strokes hour after hour. And then he would watch the faint gray light creeping into the dark room, and listen to the footsteps of the men going out to their daily work.
No one came to see Christie. He wondered that Mr. Wilton did not ask after him, when he missed him from the mission-room. Oh, how glad Christie would have been to see him! But the days passed slowly by, and he never came, and Christie wondered more and more. Once he asked Mrs. White to fetch him to see him, but she said she could not trouble to go so far.
If little Christie had not had a friend in Jesus, his little heart would almost have broken, in the loneliness and desolation of those days of weakness. But though his faith was sometimes feeble, and he was then very downcast in spirit, yet at other times little Christie would talk with Jesus, as with a dear friend, and in this way he was comforted. And the words which the clergyman had read to his old master were ever ringing in his ears, "Let not your heart be troubled."
Still, those weeks did seem very long and tedious. At last, he was able to sit up in bed, but he felt faint and dizzy whenever he moved. For he had had a very severe attack of fever, and he needed all manner of nourishing things to bring back his strength. But there was no one to attend to the wants of the poor motherless boy. No one, except the dear Lord; He had not forgotten him.
It was a close, tiring afternoon. Christie was lying upon his bed, panting with the heat, and longing for a breath of air. He was faint and weary, and felt very cast down and dispirited. "Please, dear Lord," he said aloud, "send some one to see me."
And even as he spoke the door opened, and the clergyman came in. It was too much for little Christie! He held out his arms to him in joy, and then burst into tears.
"Why, Christie," said the clergyman, "are you not glad to see me?"
"Oh," said little Christie, "I thought you were never coming, and I felt such a long way from home! Oh, I am so glad to see you."
Then Mr. Wilton told Christie that he had been away from home, and that another clergyman had been taking his duty. But the night before he had preached for the first time since his return in the little mission-room, and he had missed Christie from the front bench. He had asked the woman who cleaned the room about him, and she had told him that Christie had never been there since he went away. The clergyman had wondered what was the matter, and had come as soon as he could to hear.
"And now, Christie," he said, "tell me all about these long, weary weeks."
But Christie was so glad and so happy now, that the past seemed like a long, troubled dream. He had waked up now, and had forgotten his sorrow and his loneliness.
The clergyman and Christie had much pleasant talk together, and then Mr. Wilton said,—
"Christie, I have had a letter about you, which I will read to you."
The letter was from little Mabel's papa, who was a friend of the clergyman.
"MY DEAR MR. WILTON,—There is a poor boy of the name of Christie (what his surname is I do not know) living in a lodging-house in Ivy Court, Percy Street. He lived formerly with an old organ-grinder, but I believe the old man was thought to be dying some weeks ago. My dear wife took a great fancy to the boy, and my little Mabel frequently talks of him. I imagine he must be left in a very destitute condition; and I should be much obliged if you could find him out and provide for him some comfortable home with any respectable person who will act as a mother to him.
"I enclose a check which will pay his expenses for the present. I should like him to go to school for a year or two and then I intend, if the boy desires to serve Christ, to bring him up to work as a Scripture-reader amongst the lowest class of the people in your neighborhood.
"I think I could not perpetuate my dear wife's memory in any better way than by carrying out what I know were her wishes with regard to little Christie. No money or pains will I spare to do for him what she herself would have done, had her life been spared.
"Kindly excuse me for troubling you with this matter; but I do not wish to defer it until our return, lest I lose sight of the boy. The dismal attic where Christie and his old master lived was the last place my dear wife visited before her illness; and I feel that the charge of this boy is a sacred duty which I must perform for her dear sake, and also for the sake of Him who has said, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'
"Believe me, dear Mr. Wilton,
"Yours very sincerely,
"Christie," said the clergyman, "the dear Lord has been very good to you."
"Yes," said little Christie, "old Treffy was right; wasn't he, sir?"
"What did old Treffy say?" asked the clergyman.
"He said the Lord had some work for me to do for Him," said Christie, "and I didn't think there was any thing I could do; but He's going to let me, after all."
"Yes," said the clergyman, smiling; "shall we thank Him, Christie?"
So he knelt down by Christie's bed, and little Christie clasped his thin hands and added his words of praise:—
"O Jesus, I thank Thee so much for letting me have some work to do for Thee; and, please, I will stay outside the gates a little longer, to do something to show Thee how I love Thee. Amen."
"Yes, Christie," said the clergyman, as he rose to go, "you must work with a very loving heart. And when the work is over will come the rest. After the long waiting will come 'Home, sweet Home.'"
"Yes," said Christie, brightly, "'there's no place like Home, no place like Home.'"
CHRISTIE'S WORK FOR THE MASTER.
It was a hot summer's afternoon, some years after, and the air in Ivy Court was as close and stifling as it had been in the days when Christie and old Treffy lived there. Crowds of children might still be seen playing there, screaming and quarrelling, just as they had done then. The air was as full of smoke and dust, and the court looked as desolate as it had done in those years gone by. It was still a very dismal and a very forlorn place.
So Christie thought, as he entered it that sultry day; it seemed to him as far as ever from "Home, sweet Home." Yet, of all the places which he visited as a Scripture-reader, there was no place in which Christie took such an interest as Ivy Court. For he could not forget those dreary days when he had been a little homeless wanderer, and had gone there for a night's lodging. And he could not forget the old attic which had been the first place, since his mother's death, that he had been able to call home. It was to this very attic he was going this afternoon. He climbed the rickety stairs, and as he did so he thought of the night when he had crept up them for the first time, and had knelt down outside old Treffy's door, listening to the organ. Christie had never parted with that organ, his old master's last gift to him. And scarcely a week passed that he did not turn the handle, and listen to the dear old tunes. And he always finished with "Home, sweet Home," for he still loved that tune the best. And when Miss Mabel came to see him, she always wanted to turn the old organ in remembrance of her childish days. She was not Miss Mabel any longer now, though Christie still sometimes called her so when they were talking together of the old days, and of Treffy and his organ. But Mabel was married now to the clergyman under whom Christie was working, and she took great interest in the young Scripture-reader, and was always ready to help him with her advice and sympathy. And she would ask Christie about the poor people he visited, and he would tell her which of them most needed her aid. And where she was most needed young Mrs. Villiers was always ready to go.
And so it came to pass that when Christie knocked at the old attic door, it was opened for him by Mrs. Villiers herself, who had just come there to see a poor sick woman. She had not met Christie in that attic since the days when they were both children, and Mabel smiled as he came in, and said to him, "Do you remember the occasion when we met here before?"
"Yes," said Christie, "I remember it well; there were four of us here then, Mrs. Villiers, and two out of the four have gone to the bright city which we talked of then."
"Yes," said Mabel, with tears in her eyes; "they are waiting for us in 'Home, sweet Home.'"
The attic did not look any more cheerful that day than it had done when old Treffy lived there. The window-panes were nearly all broken and filled with pieces of brown paper or rag. The floor was more rotten than ever, and the boards seemed as if they must give way when Christie crossed the room to speak to a forlorn-looking woman who was sitting on a chair by the smouldering fire. She was evidently very ill and very unhappy. Four little children were playing about, and making so much noise that Christie could hardly hear their mother speak when she told him she was "no better, no better at all, and she did not think she ever should be."
"Have you done what I asked you, Mrs. Wilson?" said Christie.
"Yes, sir, I've said it again and again, and the more I say it the more miserable it makes me."
"What is it, Christie?" said Mrs. Villiers.
"It's a little prayer, ma'am, I asked her to say: 'O God, give me Thy Holy Spirit, to show me what I am.'"
"And I think He has shown me," said the poor woman, sadly; "anyhow, I never knew I was such a sinner; and every day as I sit here by my fire I think it all over, and every night as I lie awake on my bed I think of it again."
"I've brought another prayer for you to say now, Mrs. Wilson," said Christie, "and I've written it out on a card, that you may be able to learn it quickly: 'O God, give me Thy Holy Spirit, to show me what Jesus is.' God has heard and answered your first prayer, so you may be sure He will hear this one also. And if He only shows you what Jesus is, I am sure you will be happy, for Jesus will forgive you your sin, and take away all its heavy burden."
The poor woman read the prayer aloud several times, and then Mrs. Villiers took a book from her pocket and began to read. It was a little, much-worn Testament. It had once been blue, but from constant use the color had faded, and the gilt edges were no longer bright. It was not the first time that same Testament had been in that old attic. For it was the same book from which Mabel's mother had read to old Treffy fifteen years before. How Mabel loved that book! Here and there was a pencil-mark, which her mother had made against some favorite text, and these texts Mabel read again and again, till they became her favorites also. It was one of these which she read to the poor woman to-day: "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." And then Mrs. Villiers explained how ready Jesus is to save any soul that comes to Him, and how His blood is quite sufficient to take away sin.
The sick woman listened eagerly, and a tear came into Christie's eye as he said: "There is no text that I love like that, Mrs. Villiers. Mr. Wilton preached on it in the mission-room the second time I went there, and I felt as if I could sing for joy when I heard it; I well remember how I ran up the stairs to this attic, to tell it to my old master."
"And you've found it true, Christie?"
"Yes, ma'am, indeed I have; and Treffy found it true too."
Then Mrs. Villiers and Christie took their leave; but, as they were going down the steep staircase, Christie said, "Have you time to call on Mrs. White for a few minutes, ma'am? She would be so pleased to see you, and I don't think she will live very long."
Mrs. Villiers gladly agreed to go; so Christie knocked at the door at the bottom of the stairs. A young woman opened it, and they went in.
Mrs. White was lying on a bed in the corner of the room, and seemed to be asleep; but presently she opened her eyes, and when she saw Christie her face brightened, and she held out her hands in welcome. She was an old woman now, and had given up taking lodgers several years before.
"Oh, Christie," she said, "I am glad to see you; I have been counting the hours till you came."
"Mrs. Villiers has come to see you to-day, Mrs. White."
"Oh! how good of you," said the poor woman; "Christie said you would come some day."
"You have known Christie a long time, have you not?" said Mrs. Villiers.
"Yes," said the old woman, "he came to me first as a little ragged boy, shivering with cold; and I liked the look of him, ma'am, he was so much quieter than some that came here; and I used to give him a crust sometimes, when he looked more starved than usual."
"Yes, Mrs. White," said Christie, "you were often very good to me."
"Oh! not as I should have been, Christie; they were only crusts I gave you, bits that were left from the men's meals, and not so much of them either; but you've come to me and you've brought me the Bread of Life,—not just bits and leavings, but enough and to spare, as much as I like, and more than enough for all I want."
"Oh, Christie," said Mrs. Villiers, "I am glad to hear this; the dear Lord has been very good to you; your work has not been in vain."
"In vain!" said the old woman; "I should think not! There's many a one, Mrs. Villiers, that will bless God in the home above for what you and your father have done for this lad; and there's no one that will bless Him more than I shall. I was as dark as a heathen till Christie came to me, and read to me out of his Bible, and talked to me of Jesus, and put it all so clear to me. And now I know that my sins are forgiven, and very soon the Lord will take me home; and oh! dear, how nice that will be—
'When in the snowy dress Of Thy redeemed I stand, Faultless and stainless, Faultless and stainless, Safe in that happy land!'"
"I see that Mrs. White knows your hymn, Christie," said Mrs. Villiers.
"Yes," said Christie, "I taught her it a long time ago, and she is as fond of it as my old master was."
After a little more conversation, Mrs. Villiers took her leave, and Christie continued his round of visits. All that long, sultry afternoon he toiled on, climbing dark staircases, going down into damp cellars, visiting crowded lodging-houses; and everywhere, as he went, dropping seeds of the Word of life, sweet words from the Book of books, suited to the hearts of those with whom he met.
For in that book Christie found there was a word for every need, and a message for every soul. There was peace for the sin-burdened, comfort for the sorrowful, rest for the weary, counsel for the perplexed, and hope for the dying. And Christie always prayed before he went out that God's Holy Spirit would give him the right word for each one whom he went to see. And, as he knocked at the door of a house, he always lifted up his heart in a silent prayer, something like this:—
"Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, give me the opportunity of saying something for Thee, and please help me use it, and show me how to say the right word."
And so it was no wonder that God blessed him. It was no wonder that wherever he went Christie not only found opportunities of doing good, but was able to use those opportunities to the best advantage. It was no wonder that when the people were ill they always sent for the young Scripture-reader to read and pray with them. It was no wonder that the little children loved him, or that the poor, tired mothers were glad to sit down for a few minutes to hear him read words of comfort from the Book of life. It was no wonder that all day long Christie found work to do for the Master, and souls waiting to receive the Master's message. He was generally very tired when he went home at night, but he did not mind this. For he never forgot old Treffy's sorrow, a few days before he died, because he had only a week left in which to show his love to his Saviour. And Christie thanked God every day that He had given to him the honor and privilege of working for Him.
Christie lodged in a quiet street not far from Ivy Court. He used to live some way out of the town, for he liked to have a walk after his day's work was done; but he found that the poor people often wanted him for different things in the evening and at other times, and so he removed nearer to them and nearer to his work. And very often they would come to him with their troubles, and sit in his little room pouring out their grief. The young men especially were very glad to come to Christie's lodging to have a talk with him; and once a week Christie had a little prayer-meeting there, to which many of them came. And they found it a great help on their way to heaven.
When Christie opened the door of his lodging on the day of which I am writing, he heard a sound which very much surprised him. It was the sound of his old barrel-organ, and it was playing a few notes of "Home, sweet Home." He wondered much who could be turning it, for he had forbidden the landlady's children to touch it, except when he was present to see that no harm came to it. He sometimes smiled to himself at his care over the old organ. It reminded him of the days when he had first played it, with old Treffy standing by him and looking over his shoulder, saying in an anxious voice, "Turn her gently, Christie, boy; turn her gently."
And now he was almost as careful of it as Treffy himself, and he would not on any account have it injured. And so he hastened upstairs to see who it could be that was turning it this morning. On his way he met his landlady, who said that a gentleman was waiting for him in his parlor, who seemed very anxious to see him, and had been sitting there for some time. And, when Christie opened the door, who should be turning the barrel-organ but his old friend, Mr. Wilton!
They had not met for many years, for Mr. Wilton had settled in another part of England, where he was preaching the same truths as he had once preached in the little mission-room. But he had come to spend a Sunday in the scene of his former labors, and he was very anxious to know how his friend Christie was getting on, and whether he was still working for the Saviour, and still looking forward to "Home, sweet Home."
It was a very affectionate meeting between Mr. Wilton and his young friend. They had much to talk about, not having seen each other for so long.
"So you still have the old organ, Christie," said Mr. Wilton, looking down at the faded silk, which was even more colorless than it had been in Treffy's days.
"Yes, sir," said Christie, "I could never part with it; I promised my old master that I never would, and it was his dying gift to me. And often now when I hear the notes of 'Home, sweet Home,' it takes my thoughts to old Treffy, and I think what a happy time he must have had in 'the city bright,' all these fifteen years."
"Do you remember how you used to want to go there too, Christie?"
"Yes, Mr. Wilton, and I don't want it any the less now; but still I should like to live some years longer, if it is His will. There is so much to do in the world, isn't there, sir? And what I do only seems to me like a drop in the ocean when I look at the hundreds of people there are in these crowded courts; I could almost cry sometimes when I feel how little I can reach them."
"Yes, Christie," said Mr. Wilton, "there is a great deal to do, and we cannot do a tenth part, nor yet a thousandth part, of what there is to do; what we must strive after is, that the dear Master may be able to say of each of us, 'He hath done what he could.'"
Then Mr. Wilton and Christie knelt down and prayed that God would give Christie a blessing on his work, and would enable him to lead many of the people, in the courts and lanes of that wretched neighborhood, to come to Jesus, that they might find a home in that city where Treffy was gone before.
"HOME, SWEET HOME, AT LAST."
It was Sunday evening, and Christie was once more in the little mission-room; but not now as a poor ragged boy, sitting on the front bench, and in danger of being turned out by the woman who lighted the gas-lamps. She would not dream of turning Christie out now, for the young Scripture-reader was a well-known man in the district. He was always there early, before any of the people arrived, and he used to stand at the door and welcome each one as they came in, helping the old men and women to their seats, and looking out anxiously for those whom he had invited for the first time during the week. And if any little ragged boys stole in, and seemed inclined to listen, Christie took special care of them, for he had not forgotten the day when he had first come to that very room, longing to hear a word of comfort to tell to his old master.
Mr. Wilton was to take the service to-night, and Christie had been busy all the afternoon giving special invitations to the people to be present, for he wanted them very much to hear his dear friend.
The mission-room was quite full when Mr. Wilton entered it. How it rejoiced him to see Christie going about amongst the people, with a kind word for each, and handing them the small hymn-books from which they were to sing!
"Come, for all things are now ready." That was Mr. Wilton's text. How still the mission-room was, and how earnestly all the people listened to the sermon! The clergyman first spoke of the marriage feast in the parable, so carefully spread, so kindly prepared, all ready there,—and yet no one would come! There were excuses on all sides, every one was too busy or too idle to attend to the invitation; no one was ready to obey that gracious "Come."
And then Mr. Wilton spoke of Jesus, and how he had made all things ready for us; and how pardon is ready and peace is ready; the Father's arms ready to receive us; the Father's love ready to welcome us; a home in heaven ready prepared for us. That, he said, was God's part of the matter.
"And what, my dear friends," he went on, "is our part? Come; 'come, for all things are now ready.' Come, you have only to come and take; you have only to receive this love. Come, sin-stained soul; come, weary one; 'come, for all things are now ready.' Now ready. There is a great deal in that word 'now.' It means to-night,—this very Sunday; not next year, or next week; not to-morrow, but now,—all things are now ready. God has done all He can, He can do no more, and He says to you, 'Come!' Will you not come? Are God's good things not worth having? Would you not like to lie down to sleep, feeling that you were forgiven? Would you not like one day to sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb?
"Oh, what a day that will be!" said Mr. Wilton, as he ended his sermon. "St. John caught a glimpse of its glory amidst the wonderful sights he was permitted to see. And so important was it, so good, so specially beautiful, that the angel seems to have stopped him, that St. John might write it down at once: Wait a minute, don't go any farther, take out your book and make a note of that,—'Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.'
"Are you one of those blessed ones?" asked the clergyman. "Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Will you sit down to that supper? Have you a right to enter into 'Home, sweet Home?' I know not what is your answer to these questions. But if you cannot answer me now, how will you in that day answer the Great Searcher of hearts?"
And with this question the sermon ended, and the congregation left; those of them who had known Mr. Wilton still lingering behind, to shake hands with him, and to get a parting word of counsel or comfort.
Christie walked home by the clergyman's side.
"And now, Christie," said Mr. Wilton, "do you think you can be ready to start with me to-morrow morning at eight o'clock?"
"To start with you, sir?" repeated Christie.
"Yes, Christie; you have had hard work lately, and I have asked leave from Mr. Villiers to take you home with me, that you may have a little country air and quiet rest. I am sure it will not be lost time, Christie; you will have time for quiet reading and prayer, and you will be able to gain strength and freshness for future work. Well, do you think you can be ready in time?"
Christie thought there was no fear of his being late. He thanked Mr. Wilton with a voice full of feeling, for he had sometimes longed very much for a little pause in his busy life.
And the next day found Christie and Mr. Wilton rapidly traveling towards the quiet country village in which Mr. Wilton's church was to be found.
What was the result of that visit may be gathered from the following extract, taken from a letter written by Christie to Mr. Wilton some months later:—
"I promised you that I would let you know about our little home. It is, I think, one of the happiest to be found in this world. I shall always bless God that I came to your village, and met my dear little wife.
"At last I have a 'Home, sweet Home,' of my own. We are so happy together! When I come home from my work, I always see her watching for me, and she has every thing ready for me, and the evenings we spend together are very quiet and peaceful. Nellie likes to hear about all my visits during the day, and the poor people are already so fond of her they come to her in all their troubles. And we find it such a comfort to be able to pray together for those in whom we are interested, and together to take them to the Saviour.
"Our little home is so bright and cheerful! I wish you could have seen it on the evening on which we arrived. Mrs. Villiers had made all ready for us, and with her own hand had put on the tea-table a lovely bunch of snowdrops and dark myrtle leaves. And I need not tell you that they reminded me of those which she had given me when she was little Miss Mabel, and when she taught me that prayer which I have never forgotten, 'Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.'
"And now, dear Mr. Wilton, you may think of Nellie and me as living together in love and happiness in the dear little earthly home, yet still looking forward to the eternal home above, our true, our best, our brightest 'HOME, SWEET HOME.'"