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´╗┐Title: Stephen Grattan's Faith - A Canadian Story
Author: Robertson, Margaret M. (Margaret Murray), 1821-1897
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stephen Grattan's Faith - A Canadian Story" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Stephen Grattan's Faith, A Canadian Story, by Margaret M Robertson.

________________________________________________________________________
This book was transcribed with acknowledgements to Early Canadiana
Online from their website.  The scans available there were of good
quality, and the transcription went easily and well.

The book warns against the effects of the Demon Drink, at least at that
time, for it appears that wages were low but that alcohol was expensive,
so that a drunkard father could easily ruin the life of his wife and
children, and perhaps cause serious, even fatal, accidents, due to
violence or causing fires from a carelessly placed candle.

There are three families involved in this short book.  The Morelys,
where the father is a drunkard who runs out of job and money just as a
very severe winter is coming on; the Grattans, where the father had
previously been a drunkard, and all of whose children had perished in a
house-fire which he probably had caused; the Muirs, where the old mother
had been married to a dreadful old drunkard, but whose son had never
drunk, and so proved, through Stephen Grattan's recommendation, to be
Morely's saviour.

It is a very short book, but the story is very well told, and quite
adequately so.  You arrive at the end of the book with a very clear idea
of what the author intended to convey.

________________________________________________________________________
STEPHEN GRATTAN'S FAITH, A CANADIAN STORY, BY MARGARET M ROBERTSON.



CHAPTER ONE.

AN OLD STORY.

Stephen Grattan had been a drunkard, and was now a reformed man.  John
Morely had been a drunkard, and was trying to reform.  His father,
though not a total abstainer, had lived and died a temperate man.  But
John Morely was not like his father.  He had in him, the neighbours
said, "the makings" of a better or a worse man than ever his father had
been; and when, after his mother's death, the young builder brought home
the pretty and good Alice Lambton as his wife, a "better man" they all
declared he was to be; for they believed that now he would not be in
danger from his one temptation.  But as his business increased, his
temptation increased.  He was an intelligent man, and a good fellow
besides; and his society was much sought after by men who were lovers of
pleasure.  Some of them were men who occupied a higher position than
his; and, flattered by their notice, he yielded to the temptations which
they placed before him.

He did not yield without a struggle.  He sinned, and repented, and
promised amendment often and often; but still he went away again, "like
an ox to the slaughter; like a fool to the correction of the stocks."

Of course ruin and disgrace were the only ending to such a life as this.
There was but one chance for him, they told his wife, who, through
poverty, neglect, and shame, had still hoped against hope.  If he could
be made to break away from his old companions, if he could begin anew,
and start fair in life again, he might retrieve the past.

It almost broke her heart to think of leaving their native land--of
leaving behind all hope of ever seeing again her father or her mother,
or the home among the hills where her happy girlhood had passed.  But,
for _his_ sake, for the sake of the hope that gleamed in the future, she
could do it.  So, with their six little children, they removed from the
States to Montreal in Canada, to begin again.

At first he struggled bravely with his temptation, though it everywhere
met him; but, added to the old wretched craving for strong drink, was
the misery of finding himself in a strange land without friends or a
good name.  If some kind hand had been held out to him at this time it
might have been different with him.  He might, with help, have stood
firm against temptation.  But, before work came, he had yielded to his
old enemy; and his acknowledged skill as a workman availed him little,
when, after days of absence, he would come to his work with a pallid
face and trembling hands.

I have no heart to enter into the sad details of the family life at this
time.  It is enough to say that the miseries of Alice Morely's former
home were renewed and deepened now.  Here she was friendless.  Here she
could not fall back on the farm-house, as a home to some of her little
ones "when the worst should come to the worst" with them.  She struggled
through some unhappy months, and then they moved again and came to
Littleton, and there the same tale was told over again, with even more
bitter emphasis, and then something happened.

It was something very terrible.  Their child most tenderly cared for,
the dearest one of all to his father's-heart,--a sickly little lad of
seven,--was injured severely, fatally injured, in one of his fits of
drunkenness.  It was quite by accident.  John would have given his own
life gladly to save the little moaning creature; but the child never
recovered.  He died with his little wasted cheek laid close against his
father's, and his arms clasped round his neck.  There was not much said
about it.  No one but Stephen Grattan and his wife, who were very kind
to them in their troubles, ever knew that any accident had happened to
the child.

Things went better with them for a while.  John got work, and took his
family to a little log-house a mile or two from the village; and Alice
began to hope that the better days so much longed for were coming now.
But then came sickness, and then work failed, and--there was no help for
it--the husband must go in search of it, that he might get bread for his
starving family.  So, with heavy hearts, they bade one another good-bye.
The wife stayed with her children in the little log-house on the hill,
while the husband went away alone.

He was very wretched.  The thirst for strong drink, which he had begun
to think was allayed, came upon him in all its strength, in the double
misery of parting with his family, and going away knowing that he left
his wife with more fear than hope in her heart with regard to him.  How
could she hope that he would resist temptation,--he who had yielded to
it so many times?  Physically and morally he felt himself unfit for the
battle that lay before him; and there was no one to help him--no one who
cared to help him--he said bitterly to himself, as one after another
passed by him without word or look.

It did not help him to know that the fault was altogether his own.  It
was all the worse to bear for that.  He had had his chance in life, and
lost it.  What was the use of struggling for what could never be
regained?  If it were not for the wife and babies at home!  And yet
might it not be better even for them if they never were to see him more?

He had come down from his log-house on the hill with a few articles of
wearing apparel made up into a bundle, had bought and paid for a cask of
flour to be sent up to his family, and was now wandering about in a sad
desponding state of mind when Stephen Grattan met him.  Stephen spoke a
few cheery words of comfort and courage to the poor broken-spirited
fellow, begged him to be steadfast in his newly-begun purpose of
reformation, and told him of the loving Saviour who would give him all
needful help; who, if he looked to Him, would give him the grace of His
Holy Spirit to enable him to overcome in the hour of temptation.  Morely
having thanked him heartily for his kindness, asked him to see that
Smith at the provision shop sent up the flour to his wife next day, or
the family would be in want of food.  This Stephen readily promised to
do, and added that he would look after them whilst he was away.  The
cheery words of his friend gave him a ray of hope and courage for a
while.

But when Stephen left him at the corner of the street, it was with a
heavy heart that he took his way to the hotel from which the stage was
to start.  The public room into which Morely stepped was large and lofty
and brilliantly lighted.  There were plenty of respectable people there
at that moment.  There was not the same temptation here as at the low
tavern at which he had so often degraded himself below the level of the
beast.

There was the bar, to be sure, with its shining array of decanters and
glasses.  But the respectable landlord, the gentlemanly bar-keeper,
would never put the cup to his lips, or taunt him into treating others,
for the sake of the "fool's pence," as Bigby, the low tavern-keeper,
would have done.  There were here no hidden corners where the night's
debauch might be slept off, no secret chambers where deeds of iniquity
might be planned and executed.  No; it was a bright, clean, respectable
house--altogether too respectable for such a shrinking, shivering
figure, in such shabby garments as his, Morely thought.  And the
landlord evidently thought so too; for when he had told him that the
stage had not yet arrived, and that it was quite uncertain when it might
come, he looked so much as if he expected him to go, that Morely took up
his bundle and went without a word.

So Morely was turned out to wander up and down the street with his
bundle in his hand; for he had nowhere else to go.  It was not very
cold, fortunately, he said to himself; but the snow was moist and
penetrating, and his threadbare garments were but an insufficient
protection against it.  He went back once or twice within the hour to
see if the stage had come.  He watched at the door another hour, and
then he was told that there had been an accident on the railway, and
that if the stage came it would go no farther that night, so he had
better not wait longer for it.  But he did wait a little.  He was
chilled to the bone by this time, and he trembled and crouched over the
fireplace, wondering vaguely what he should do next.

The landlord was a kind-hearted man.  He could not but pity the
shivering wretch.  He stirred up the fire and set him a chair, and would
gladly have given him a mug of hot drink to revive him, but he dared
not.  It would be like putting fire to a heap of flax, he knew.  John
Morely might be a madman or a frozen corpse to-morrow if he drank a
single glass to-night.  Let him taste it once, and his power of
refraining was gone.

It was a pity, the landlord thought, and it made him uncomfortable for
the moment; and in his discomfort he scolded and frowned, and walked
about the room, till John Morely fancied he was the cause of it all, and
again he took up his bundle to go.

Where was he to go?  Utterly faint and weary and sick at heart, he asked
himself the question as he took his way down the encumbered street.  The
snow was still falling heavily, and he toiled slowly and painfully
through it.  Where could he go?  Should he try to get to the station on
foot?  It would be madness to think of it.  He could never reach home
through the storm.  With cold and weariness and want of food, he was
ready to faint.  He could not even get home.

There were bright lights streaming from many a window along the village
street; and no doubt there was warmth and plenty within.  But there were
no places open to him save those where the devil lay in wait for him;
and he had not courage to face the devil then.  He would be too much for
him, weak and miserable as he was; and, for Alice's sake and the
children's, he must keep out of harm's way.  He looked about for a
sheltered place, where he might sit down and rest a little.  He thought
of Grattan, and struggled on to his gate; but they were either at
meeting, or they had come home and gone to bed; for the house was dark.
There were few lights along the village street now.  The snow was
deeper, and he stumbled on blindly, not knowing whither.

All at once a bright light flashed upon his dazzled eyes.  It came from
a low, wide door beyond the side-walk.  He put out his hands blindly,
feeling his way towards it, not daring to think where his wanderings had
brought him, till mocking laughter startled him into the knowledge that
he was once more at the mouth of that hell.  He turned as though he
would have fled; but he suffered himself to be drawn into the wretched
tavern.

I cannot tell what happened there that night.  Just what happens, I
suppose, to many a poor lost wretch every night in the year, in the dark
places hidden away in lanes and back streets of our cities and towns.

When Stephen Grattan went next morning to fulfil his promise to Morely
he did not see Mr Smith; but the clerk told him it was all right--for
he had himself helped to lift the barrel of flour onto the sled which
was to take it away.  No doubt it was all right.

He did not tell Stephen--perhaps he did not know--that the barrel of
flour had been taken away by the tavern-keeper in payment for drink, and
that there was no chance of its ever reaching the little log-house on
the hill.  Stephen would have liked to go up to the cottage; but the
storm still continued.  The snow lay deep and unbroken on the road, and
it would have been a dangerous walk.

"Besides, I could not tell her truly that his courage was good--poor
soul!--and without that I might as well stay at home."  That worse news
awaited them Stephen himself did not know as yet.



CHAPTER TWO.

A SNOW STORM.

Perched on a hill-top overlooking the village of Littleton, stood the
humble log-house in which the Morelys had taken refuge.  It was on the
other side of the river from the village, and was by the road full two
miles distant.  It had been a poor place when they took possession of
it; and it was a poor place still--though Morely's skilful hands had
greatly improved it.

In summer it was a very pleasant place.  Behind it lay a wide stretch of
sloping pasture-land, and the forest crowned the hill.  It was not a
very fertile spot, to be sure.  It was full of hillocks and hollows, and
there were great rocks scattered here and there through it, and places
where the underwood had sprung up again after the first clearing.
Later, when the November rains fell, and the wind blew through the
hollows, it was dreary enough.  It needed the sunshine to make it
bright.  But the hill screened it from the bitter north; and it was with
a thankful heart that poor Alice Morely looked forward to a safe and
sheltered winter for her children.

At the time when the merry boys and girls of Littleton were enjoying the
last of the skating on the mill-pond, the little Morelys were watching
the departure of their father for the distant city of Montreal.  Their
clothes looked scant and threadbare, and quite too thin for the season;
but there was an air of cleanliness, and order about them which is
rarely seen in connection with the poverty which comes of evil-doing.
Only five gravely watched the retreating form of their father; the
youngest--a babe of three months--lay in the cradle, and little Ben was
in heaven.

There was something more than gravity in the mother's face as she stood
watching also,--something more even than the sadness that would
naturally follow the separation from her husband.  It was an unchanging
look--not of pain exactly, but as if the face could not easily be made
to express any pleasing emotion, such as hope or joy.  She was a brave
little woman.  She had dared much, and borne much, for her husband's
sake; she had accepted the sorrowful necessities of her lot with a
patient courage which could not have been predicted of one whose
girlhood had been so carefully sheltered from evil.  Through all her
troubles she had been strong to endure, and never, even in the worst
times, had she quite lost faith in her husband.

But as she saw him disappear round the turn of the hill, and then came
out of the sunshine into the dimness of the deserted room, where her
baby lay in his cradle, a sense of being utterly forsaken came over her,
and for the moment she sank beneath it.  The want to which her children
might be soon exposed, the danger of temptation which she had so dreaded
for her husband, and the bitter feeling of utter friendlessness and
loneliness, overcame her.  She did not hear her baby cry, nor did she
see her little daughter's look of wonder and terror, as, with bitter
weeping, she cast herself down, calling aloud upon her father and her
mother.

It was only for a moment.  The child's terrified face recalled her to
herself, and by a great effort she grew quiet again.  Well might poor
little Sophy look on with wonder and terror.  She had seen many
sorrowful sights, but never, even when they left their old home, or when
little Ben died, had her mother given way like this.  "What is the
matter, mother?  Are you ill?  Speak to me, mother."

But her mother had no power to speak; she could only lay herself down by
her wailing baby, quite exhausted.  Sophy took up the child, and cared
for it and soothed it.  She shut the door, to keep her brothers out of
the room, and in a little while she said again--

"What is it, mother?  Can I do anything?"

"Yes, love; you must do all for me and your brothers.  I am quite
unfitted for anything to-night.  If I can keep quiet, I shall be better
to-morrow.  Give me baby, and keep the boys out a little while.  Oh!  I
must get strong again!"

The house was quiet enough; the boys needed no bidding to stay out among
the falling snow; and Sophy, having covered the window, that her mother
might sleep, crept in behind the curtain to watch the snow-flakes.

Before it grew dark the earth was white as far as the eye could see; the
snow fell all night too, and when Sophy opened the door in the morning,
it lay on the threshold as high as her waist.  In the single glimpse of
sunshine that flashed forth, how dazzling the earth looked!  The fields
around, the valleys beneath, the river, the pond, and the hills beyond,
all were white.

"How beautiful!" she repeated many times.  It was a little troublesome,
too, she was willing to acknowledge by the time she had gone backward
and forward through it to the spring for water, and to the wood-pile for
wood, to last through the day.  It was neither pleasant nor easy to do
all that she had to do in the snow that morning; but little Sophy had a
cheerful heart and a willing mind, and came in rosy and laughing, though
a little breathless when all was done.  She needed all her courage and
cheerfulness, for her mother was quite unable to rise; and whatever was
to be done either in the house or out of it, must be done by her to-day.

"I am afraid the storm may prevent the coming of the things your father
was to get for us," said her mother; "and, Sophy dear, you must make the
best of the little we have till I am strong again."

"Oh, mother, never fear; there's plenty," said the cheerful little
Sophy.  "There's some meal and flour, and some tea and bread, and--
that's all," she added, coming to a sudden stop.  She had not been
accustomed of late to a very well-stored pantry, yet even with her
limited idea of abundance she was a little startled at the scantiness of
the supply.

"There's no use in vexing mother, though," said she to herself; "if the
things don't come to-day, they will be sure to come to-morrow.  There's
enough till then if we take care."

It snowed all the morning, but it cleared up a little in the afternoon;
that is, there was every now and then a glimpse of sunshine as the
hurrying clouds failed to overtake each other in the changing sky.  Now
and then, before it grew dark, down the shallow ravine where the road
lay there came driving clouds of snow--tokens of the mountainous drifts
that were to pile themselves up there before the storm should be over.

How the wind raved round the little house all night, threatening, as it
seemed to Alice Morely, to tear it down and scatter its fragments far
and wide!  The first sight the weary little Sophy saw in the morning was
her mother's pale, anxious face looking down upon her.

"How you sleep, child!  I have been awake all night, expecting every
moment that we should be blown away.  It does not seem possible that the
house can stand against this dreadful wind much longer."

"It is much stronger now than when we came, mother dear," said Sophy;
"it must have fallen long ago if the wind could blow it down.  Go to bed
again, mother, and I will bring your tea and take baby, and you shall
rest."

Mrs Morely had no choice but to lay down again.  She was trembling with
cold and nervous excitement, quite unable to sit up; and again Sophy was
left to the guidance of their affairs, both within and without the
house.  This was a less easy matter to-day, for the boys were growing
weary of being confined to the house, and the little ones were fretful,
and it needed all their sister's skill and patience to keep them amused
and happy.

She did her very best.  The daily reading of the Testament was
lengthened out by questions and little stories, and then they sang the
sweet Sabbath-school hymns, which tell the praises of Him who came to
save sinners; and who in the greatness of His love died on the cross,
that all who believe in Him might have everlasting life.  So she kept
them quiet while the weary mother sought a little rest: and thus the day
wore on.

But all through the reading and the singing and the talk, a vague fear
kept crossing the little girl's mind.  What if the things so confidently
expected from the village should not come?  Their little store of food
was diminishing rapidly.  What if their father had forgotten them?  What
if there was nothing awaiting them in the village?  Oh, that was too
dreadful to be thought of!  But if there was food in the village for
them, how was it to be brought to them through the drifted snow?

She eagerly watched the window for some sign that the storm was abating.
The snow that had seemed so beautiful at first filled her with a vague
fear now; it no longer fell softly and silently; the wind bore it by in
whirling masses, that hid the river and the pond and the changing sky,
and then laid it down in the valleys and on the hill-sides, to lie
there, Sophy knew, till April showers and sunshine should come to melt
it away.  It was vain to look for any one coming with the expected food.
Except now and then in a momentary lull of the storm it was quite
impossible to see a rod beyond the window, and these glimpses only
served to show that they were, on one side at least, quite shut in by a
mountainous drift.

Yes, Sophy began to be quite afraid of the snow; tales that she had
heard during her summer visits to the mountains came to her mind--how in
a single night the valleys would be filled, and how whole flocks of
sheep, and sometimes an unwary shepherd, had perished beneath it.  She
remembered how her grandfather had showed her a cottage where a mother
and her children had been quite shut in for two nights and a day, till
the neighbours had come to dig them out; and how a lad who had gone out
for help before the storm was over had never come home again, but
perished on the moor, and how they only found him in the spring time,
when the snow melted and showed his dead face turned towards the sky.
These things quite appalled her when she thought of venturing out in the
storm.

The little store of meal held out wonderfully; the bread was put aside
for her mother--hidden, indeed, that no little brother, hungry and
adventurous, might find it.  That night the storm abated, but towards
morning it grew bitterly cold, so cold that the little lads in their
thin garments could not venture out to play at making roads in the snow,
and they had to submit to another day's confinement.  They went out a
little towards afternoon, and came in again merry and hungry, and by no
means satisfied with the scanty supper which their sister had prepared
for them.



CHAPTER THREE.

HOME TRIALS.

We could never tell you all that the poor mother suffered as she lay
there day after day helpless among her children.  Her own illness and
helplessness was the last drop, which made her cup overflow.  Gradually,
as she lay there listening to the roaring of the storm, it became clear,
to her how little she had come to trust to her husband's promises of
reformation.  It was to her own efforts she must trust for the support
of herself and her children; her faith in him quite failed after so many
hopes and disappointments; and now what was to become of them all?

She was angry and bitter against herself, poor woman, because her hope
of better days had quite perished.  She called herself faithless, and
said to herself that she did not deserve that it should go well with her
husband, since she had ceased to believe in him and trust him; but, sick
in body and sick at heart, she had no power, for the time at least, to
rally.  She prayed in her misery often and long, but it was to a God who
seemed far away--a God who had apparently hidden His face from her.

The third day was drawing to a close.  Sophy gathered the children to
their daily reading near their mother's bed, and, with great pains and
patience, found and kept the place for them.  John was ten, and a good
reader--quite equal to Sophy herself, he thought; but Ned and little
Will were only just beginning to be able to read with the rest, and
their sister took all the pains in the world to improve them and to make
them really care for the reading; and almost always, this hour was a
very pleasant time.  The lesson to-day was the fifth of Mark.

"Now, boys, you must attend carefully," said Sophy, when they were
seated; "because there are many wonderful things in the chapter.  I read
it last night by the firelight after you were all in bed; and I want
each of you to tell me which part you think most wonderful.  You must
begin, Will, and then Ned; and then I'll read your verses over after
you, so that you may understand them."

For the two little lads could make but little of anything they read
themselves as yet, though they listened with pleasure to the reading of
their sister.  And, besides, the double reading would help to pass the
time and make her brothers contented in the house.

Mrs Morely was beguiled from the indulgence of her own sad thoughts,
first as she watched the little girl's grave, motherly ways with her
brothers, and then by listening to the words they were reading.  First,
there was the story of the man who had his dwelling in the tombs.  They
read on slowly and gravely, Sophy reading each verse again, except when
it was John's turn, till they came to the eighth, "For He said unto him,
Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit."

"And of course he came out of him," exclaimed Sophy.  "For Jesus can do
anything--yes, anything.  Think of the most difficult thing in the
world--Jesus could do it, as easy as I can do this."  And she stooped
and touched her lips to little Will's brow.  The children paused to
think about it, and so did the mother.

"Come out of him, thou unclean spirit."

Was it true?  Had the unclean spirit obeyed the voice of Jesus then, and
was that voice less powerful now?  Surely not.  To her He seemed far
away, and yet He was near.  It came upon her, as it had never come
before, how if ever her husband was saved it must be through God's power
and grace.  If ever her husband was to be saved from the love of strong
drink, it must be through a Divine power that should cleanse him and
keep him and dwell in him for ever.  Even the power of the Holy Ghost,
which could convert his heart, and make him "a new creature in Christ
Jesus."

"Sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind," spelt out little Will,
slowly; and Sophy repeated, "clothed, and in his right mind."

The mother's soul went up in an agony of prayer for her husband, that he
might be saved from suffering and shame, and be found "in his right
mind", "sitting at the feet of Jesus."

"Surely He can do it!  Surely He will do it!  Oh, if I were not so
faithless--so unworthy!"

Still the reading went on, and she listened to the twenty-eighth verse:
"For she said, If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole."

"Lord, give me that poor woman's faith, that I may trust and be blessed
as she was," she entreated, covering her face, that her children might
not wonder at seeing her so moved.  She seemed to see the Saviour now.
She cast herself at His feet, "fearing and trembling."  Surely He would
say to her, as to that other, "Go in peace!"

And still they read on, how Jesus went to the ruler's house, and how,
having put the unbelieving people out, He took the maiden's hand, and
cried, "I say unto thee, Arise.  And straightway the damsel arose."

"Of course she arose," said Sophy.  "It made no matter that she was
dead; because, you know, it was Jesus who said it.  Think of all these
wonderful things!"

"Wonderful indeed!  Oh, for faith!  Lord, I believe; help Thou mine
unbelief!" prayed the poor mother--her face still covered.  Sophy
thought she slept, and sent her little brothers out for a while, cold as
it was, that she might be quiet; and then she went about the house,
softly doing what was to be done.  In a little while she brought in her
mother's cup of tea; and, as the light fell on her face, she said,
cheerfully, "Your sleep must have done you good, mother.  You look
better."

"Something has done me good, I think, love," said her mother, kissing
the little girl's upturned face.  "You are looking pale and weary.  I
hope I shall soon be well now."

"I hope so, mother,--not that I am tired; but it will be good to see you
up again."

Still it grew more bitterly cold.  The nails and the boards of the old
house cracked so often, and with such violence, that the children grew
terrified lest it should fall upon them.

As for Sophy, the thought that she ought to brave the bitter cold and
all those mountainous drifts, never left her for a moment.  She had been
hoping all along that the expected food night come.  But the fear of
actual want was now drawing nearer every moment; and soon, she knew, she
would have no choice but to go.

That night she divided into two parts the small quantity of meal that
remained.  One part she put aside for the morning, and of the other she
made for her brothers' supper some thin gruel, instead of their usual
hearty porridge.  The hungry little lads eyed with undisguised
discontent the not very savoury mess; but, fortunately, the table was
laid in the corner of the room most distant from their mother's bed, and
their murmurs were unheard by her.

"Now, boys, I have something to say to you," began Sophy, gravely.
"There is not much supper; but you must be content with it.  We shall be
sure to have something more to-morrow.  If the things don't come
to-night, I shall go myself to the village to-morrow, to see what has
become of them.  At any rate, we must not fret mother about it.  It will
be all right to-morrow, you may be sure."

She made quite merry over little Will's fears that the things might
never come, and that they all might starve, as sometimes children did in
books.  She laughed at him, and made him laugh at himself.  But, though
Sophy spoke hopefully to her brothers, she had her own troubled thoughts
to struggle with still.  That was a long, long night to her, and to her
mother too.  Though Mrs Morely did not know how nearly they were at the
end of their stores, she knew they could not last long; and the thought
would come back, What if there was nothing awaiting them in the village?
What if her husband had fallen again?  She could not hope for immediate
help from him, even if he were to hold firm after his arrival in
Montreal and get immediate employment.  How were the next few weeks to
be got through?  She thought and planned, till she grew weary and
discouraged; but she never quite let go of the hope that had come to her
through the children's reading in the afternoon.  He who had cast out
devils, He who had raised the dead, could He not also save her husband?
He who had been merciful to the poor woman who trusted in Him, would He
not be merciful to her?  Was not His love unchanged, and were not His
promises the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever?  She clung to the
thoughts of the wonderful works of Jesus, going over and over them in
her mind, turning the poor woman's words into prayer to suit her own
case; and so the night wore away.

Sophy slept now and then; but she might just as well have kept awake,
for in her dreams she fancied she was lost in the snow, and that she was
struggling on through it with the baby in her arms.  The night seemed as
long as a whole winter to her, she told her mother afterwards; but it
came to an end at last.

The first thing that Mrs Morely saw, on waking from a momentary
slumber, was her little daughter taking a coverlet from the bed to
fasten it over the low window.  She must have fallen asleep again; for
the next thing she saw was Sophy standing by her bed, with a cup of tea
and a bit of toast in her hand.  There was a small, bright fire on the
hearth; but there was no other light in the room.  It seemed early to
her; but the children were all awake, and clamouring to be allowed to
rise, notwithstanding their sister's entreaties that they would lie
still till the room was warm.  But little Harry was cold and hungry, and
would not be persuaded; and at last he made a rush towards his mother's
bed.  In passing the window he caught hold of the coverlet that hung
over it; and down it fell, and the bright sunlight streamed in.  A cry
of surprise, which soon changed to indignation, burst from the children.

"Mother," exclaimed Sophy, entreatingly, "I did it to keep out the cold,
and to make the day seem shorter."

"But, dreary as the days are, surely the nights are drearier," said her
mother, wonderingly.

"Yes, mother; I know--but--" She paused.  What could she say, but that
she wished to keep the children asleep, because there was so little to
give them when they awoke?  She saw from her mother's face that she
understood her reason, and she hastened to say, "I must go to the
village, mother.  It is no use waiting any longer.  I ought to have gone
yesterday.  They have forgotten to send the things--or my father has
forgotten to get them," she added to herself, with a sense of pain and
shame.

"I ought to have gone yesterday, mother," repeated Sophy, "but I was
afraid of losing my way in the snow.  I was foolish, I know, but I could
not help thinking of the little lad you told us about once, who never
came back."

"We must do something," said her mother; "and I am afraid it would be
impossible for me to go to the village myself.  Surely the road must be
opened by this time.  Is it still as cold, do you think?  You must take
John with you.  Two are better than one."

"No; it is not so cold, I think," said Sophy.  "And, dear mother, you
are not to fret.  We can go easily, and it will all come right, you'll
see."  And Sophy made a great pretence of hastening the dressing of her
little brothers, that she might get their breakfast first and then hurry
away.



CHAPTER FOUR.

HELP IN THE HOUR OF NEED.

The breakfast was prepared and eaten, such as it was.  Sophy made all
things neat, and kept the baby while her mother dressed herself, and
then she prepared for her walk to the village.  But she was not to
struggle through the snow that day.  Just as she was bidding her
good-bye, they were startled by the sound of voices quite near, and the
boys rushed out in time to see a yoke of oxen plunging through the drift
that rose like a wall before the door.  The voice of Stephen Grattan
fell like music on their ears.  The things were come at last, and plenty
of them.  There were bags and bundles manifold, and a great round basket
of Dolly Grattan's, well known to the little Morelys as capable of
holding a great many good things, for it had been in their house before.

"I don't know as you would speak to me, if you knew all, mother," said
Stephen at last, approaching Mrs Morely, who was sitting by the fire
with her baby in her arms.  "You are all alive, I see,--at least the
boys are.  How is baby, and my little Sophy?  Why, what ails the child?"

He might well ask; for Sophy was lying limp and white across the baby's
cot.  Poor little Sophy!  The reaction from those terrible fears--the
doubt that her father had forgotten them, and the fear of what might
become of them all--was too much for her, weakened as she was by anxiety
and want of food.  She had borne her burden well, but her strength
failed her when it was lifted off.  It was only for a moment.  As
Stephen lifted her on the bed, she opened her eyes, and smiled.

"Mother, dear, it is nothing,--only I'm so glad."  Her eyes closed again
wearily.

"That ain't just the way my folks show how glad they be," said Stephen,
as she turned her face on her pillow to hide her happy tears.

"She's hungry," said Ned, gravely.  "There wasn't much; and she didn't
eat any dinner yesterday--nor much supper."

"Now I know you'll have nothing to say to me," said Stephen.  "These
things--the most of them, at least--might have been here, as well as
not, the night your husband went away, if I had done my duty, as I
promised."

"Thank God!" she murmured as she grasped Stephen's hand.  "He did not
forget us.  The rest is as nothing."

"And," continued Stephen with a face which ought to have been radiant,
but which was very far from that, "the very last word he said to me that
night, when I bade him good-bye, was, `I'll hold on to the end.'"

And, having said this, Stephen seemed to have nothing more to say.  He
betook himself to the preparation of dinner with a zeal and skill that
put all Sophy's attempts to help him quite out of the question.  How the
dinner was enjoyed need not be told.  Breakfast the boys called it, in
scornful remembrance of the gruel.  There were very bright faces round
the table.  The only face that had a shadow on it was Stephen's; and
that only came when he thought no one was looking at him.  He was in a
great hurry to get away, too, it seemed.

"For the roads are awful; and you may be thankful, little Sophy, that
you hadn't to go to Littleton to-night.  I started to bring the things
on a hand-sled, but would never have got through the drifts if it hadn't
a' been for Farmer Jackson and his oxen.  Don't you try it yet a while.
I'll be along again with Dolly one of these days."

Stephen Grattan's face might have been brighter, as he turned to nod to
the group of happy children watching his departure at the door of the
log cottage.  The "good-byes" and the "come agains" sent after him did
make him smile a little, but only for a moment.  The shadow fell darker
and darker on his face, as he made his way through the scarcely-open
road in the direction of the village.  For Stephen's heart was very
heavy, and with good cause.  Sad as had been his first sight of the
sorrowful mother and her children, he had seen a sadder sight that day.
In the dim grey of the bitter morning he had caught a glimpse of a
crouching, squalid figure hurrying with uncertain yet eager steps--
whither?  His heart stood still as he asked himself the question, "To
the foot-bridge over Deering Brook?  To the gaping hole beyond?"

Stephen Grattan had not what is called "a rapid mind."  He was not bold
to dare, nor strong to do.  But in the single minute that passed before
he found himself on Deering Bridge he realised all the miserable
circumstances of Morely's fall, balanced the chances of life and death
for the poor wretch, and took his own life in his hand for his sake.  He
knew that one more wicked deed had been added to the tavern-keeper's
catalogue of sins,--that the children's bread had been stolen, and the
father brutalised and then cast forth in the bitter cold, to live or
die, it mattered little which.

"To live, it must be," said Stephen; "at least for repentance--perhaps
for a better life.  He must be saved.  But how?"

Stephen could have touched him with his hand as he asked the question.
Could he win him by persuasion and gentle words, or must he master him
by force, and save him from the death on which he was rushing?  Must he
wrestle with the madman's temporary strength?--perhaps yield to it, and
share his fate?

If these two men knew just what happened, when, by a sudden movement of
Stephen, they were brought face to face, they never spoke of it, even to
each other.  Dolly's brief "Thank God!" as she opened the door to let
them in, was like heavenly music to Stephen's ear, he told her
afterwards; but never, even to Dolly, would he go beyond the opening of
the door in speaking of that day.

After three terrible hours, Stephen left Morely in a troubled sleep, and
set out for the log-house on the hill with the help so much needed.  All
the way there he had been going over the question in his mind whether or
not he should tell Mrs Morely of her husband's situation.  His first
thought had been that she must not know it; but, seeing Morely as he had
seen him for the last few hours, he feared to take upon himself the
responsibility of concealment.  Should his troubled sleep grow calm and
continue, a few days' rest and care would suffice to place him where he
was when he left home; but, otherwise, none could tell what the end
might be.  Weakened by illness, by want of food, and by his late excess,
Stephen well knew the chances were against his recovery; and ought not
his wife to be made aware of his situation?  The first glance at Mrs
Morely's pale face decided him.  She must not know of this new misery
that had befallen her husband, at least not now.

So it was no wonder that Stephen turned towards home with a sad face and
a heavy heart, knowing all this.  He had not been so downcast for a long
time.  It broke his heart to think of poor Morely.  Even the misery and
destitution that seemed to lie before the poor wife and children were
nothing to this; and, as he dragged himself through the heavy snow,
panting and breathless, he was praying, as even good men cannot always
pray, with an urgency that would take no denial, that this poor soul
might have space for repentance,--that he might not be suffered to go
down into endless death.  He did not use many words.  "Save him, Lord,
for Thy Name's sake--for Thine own Name's sake, Lord!"  These were
nearly all.  But his hand was on the hem of the Lord's garment.
Hundreds of times the cry arose.  Sometimes he spoke aloud in his agony,
never knowing it, never seeing the wondering looks that followed him
over the bridge and up the street to his own door.

"Well, Dolly!" he said, faintly, going in.

Dolly was never a woman of many words; she nodded her head towards the
closed door and said, "A leetle quieter, if anything."

"Thank God!" said Stephen, and the tears ran down his brown old face
with a rush that he could not restrain.  Dolly did not try to comfort
him.  She did better than that; she took from the stove a vessel
containing soup, and having poured some into a basin and broken some
bread into it, she set it before him, saying, "It's no wonder you feel
miserable.  Eat this."

"Can I, do you suppose?" said Stephen.

"You've got to!" said Dolly, taking such an attitude as a hen-sparrow
might be supposed to assume should she see fit to threaten a barn-yard
fowl.  And he did eat it, every drop.

"I feel better," he said, with a grateful sigh.

"I expect so," said Dolly, briefly, as she removed the basin.  It was
Mrs Grattan's acknowledged "object in life," her recognised "mission,"
to provide her husband with "something good to eat."  In the old days,
when Stephen's reformation was new, she had many a time satisfied
herself with a crust, that he might have food to strengthen him to
resist the old fierce craving for stimulants, and thus doing, she
helped, more than she knew, God's work of grace in him.

"Did you tell the poor creetur?" she asked.

Stephen shook his head, and told her of poor Mrs Morely's illness, and
of all that had been happening at the little log-house during the days
of the storm.  "It seemed as though it was more than she could bear to
hear: so I told her what he said to me the other night, and nothing at
all of to-day."

They were both silent for a while, thinking.  It was a great
responsibility for them to take thus to conceal Morely's situation from
his wife, for it might be that he was in real danger.  But it was not of
this they were thinking.  Even if he were not in danger--if, after a few
days' nursing, they were able to send him to Montreal as though nothing
had happened--their troubles would not be at an end.

For they were very poor people.  By the utmost economy they had been
able, during the last five years, to buy and pay for the little house in
which they lived; but they had nothing laid up for the future; and now
that Littleton was growing to be a place of some importance, as the new
railway was nearly completed to it, there were new shops of all kinds to
be opened in it, and Stephen's business would be interfered with; for he
could not make good boots and shoes as cheaply as other people could buy
and sell poor ones, and his custom was dropping off.  It would all come
right in the end, he told Dolly; but in the meantime a hard winter might
lie before them.



CHAPTER FIVE.

WORKING AND WAITING.

So, as they sat there in silence, Dolly was thinking with some anxiety
that they were making themselves responsible for all the food needed in
the little log-house for the next two months at least, and Stephen was
thinking the same.  Dolly could see no possible way of doing this
without putting themselves in debt, and there were few things that Dolly
dreaded more.  Stephen saw his way clear without the debt, but it was a
way almost as much to be regretted as the running up of a long bill at
Smith's would be.  The little sum that he had collected with much
effort, and kept with much self-denial, which was to purchase a supply
of leather at the cheapest market in Montreal, must be appropriated to
another purpose, for nothing but ready money would do now.  Morely's
expenses must be paid to Montreal, and, indeed, in Montreal till he
could get employment; and the children must in the meantime be cared for
as well; and therefore Stephen's leather must be purchased piece by
piece as before; and how could he ever compete with the cheap shoe-shops
that had taken away some of his customers already?  His face took an
anxious look, and so did Dolly's, till she caught sight of the wrinkles
on her husband's forehead, and then she thought best to brighten up
immediately.

"It ain't best to worry about it," said she.

"No, worry never helped nobody yet." said Stephen; but his face did not
change.

"And there's nothing we can do about it, to-day, but wait," continued
his wife.

"Nothing but wait--and pray," said Stephen, quietly.

"If you could go to work now, you'd feel a sight better; but the
noise--" and her voice sank into a whisper.

"Yes; I promised young Clement that I should have little Teddy Lane's
boots ready for him to-night," said Stephen.  "It's too late now, I'm
afraid; you'll have to keep all the doors shut for the noise," he added,
going; and then he turned back to say in a whisper:

"I wish I could have that Bigby in my hands for just two minutes?  Eh,
Dolly?"

Dolly shook her head.

"You might do him good," said she, gravely.  "But then, again, you might
not."

It never came into these people's minds that they could shirk this care
that had fallen on them.  To keep Morely's fall a secret would save his
wife from terrible grief and pain, and would give the poor broken man a
better chance to retrieve the past; and kept from her it must be, at
whatever cost and trouble to them.

"For don't I remember how worse than death to me was my old man's
falling back after my hopes were raised?  The poor creetur shan't have
this to bear, if I can help it," said Dolly to herself, as she went to
Morely's door.

"And don't I remember the hole of the pit from which I was drawn time
and again by God's mercy?" said Stephen, as he sat down on his bench.
"I'll do what I can; and when I can't do no more, then the Lord will put
His hand to it Himself, I expect."

It would not be well to enter the wretched man's room, or lift the
curtain which hid from all but these kind people the next few miserable
days.  It was enough to say that, at their close, John Morely, weak as a
child in mind and body, found himself with the old battle before him
again.  If he could have had his choice, he would have had it all end
there.  There was nothing but shame in looking backward--nothing but
fear in looking forward.  He was helpless and hopeless.  Why had Stephen
Grattan troubled himself to save him from deeper sin and longer misery?
There was no help for him, he thought, in his utter despondency.

As for Stephen, if his faith did not hold out for his friend now, no one
would have guessed it from his prayers, or from his words of
encouragement to Morely.  According to him, it was the helpless and
hopeless sort that the Lord came to save.  He had done it before; He
could do it again; and He would do it.

"I've been a sight deeper down in this pit than ever you've been yet.
But, down or up, it's all the same to Him that's got the pulling of you
out.  There's no up nor down, nor far nor near, to Him.  `O ye of little
faith, wherefore do ye doubt?'  He's a-saying this to you now; and He's
a-saying, too, `This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.'  But
_He_ drove that kind out by a word, just as He drove all the rest.  Hang
onto His own word, John.  He's said, time and again, that He'll save the
man that trusts in Him; and don't you let go of that.  You've been
trying to be sober, and to get back your good name, for the wife's sake
and the babies.  You would give all the world to know again how it feels
to be a free man.  Just you give all that up.  Seek to be the Lord's.
His grace is all-sufficient.  His strength will be made perfect in your
weakness.  If you're His, He'll keep you, and no mistake.  Give all the
rest up, and hang on to the Lord in simple faith.  You can never do this
thing of yourself; but the Lord'll give you the help of His grace, if
you ask Him.  I _know_, because I've tried Him."

Whatever was said, it always ended thus: "You can do nothing of
yourself; but with the Lord's help you can do all things.  Hold fast to
Him.  Let your cry be, `Lord Jesus, save, or I perish.'"

Poor Morely listened, and tried to hope.  If ever he was saved from the
power of his foe, the Lord must surely do it, he felt, for he could do
nothing; and, in a blind, weak way, he did strive to put his trust in
God.

When the time came that he was well enough to go away, Stephen would
fain have gone with him, to encourage him and stand by him till he could
get something to do.  But this could not be.  They lived by his daily
labour, and his business had been neglected of late, through his care
for his friend; and he could only write to a friend of his, praying him
to interest himself in Morely's behalf.

His letter, written out word for word, just as he sent it, would very
likely excite laughter.  But it answered the end for which it was sent.
It awoke in another true heart sympathy for the poor desponding Morely;
it strengthened another kind hand to labour in his behalf.  So he did
not find himself homeless and friendless in the streets of a great city,
as he had been before.  In Montreal a welcome awaited him, and a home;
and something like hope once more sprang up in Morely's heart, as he
heard his new friend's cheerful words and responded to the warm grasp of
his hand.

Stephen and his wife saw hard times after Morely went away.  And yet not
so very hard, either, seeing they were endured for a friend.  They never
said to each other that the times were hard.

There were no more suppers or breakfasts of thin gruel at the little
log-house on the hill.  In a few days after his first memorable visit,
Stephen Grattan was there again, and again Farmer Jackson's oxen called
forth the wonder and admiration of the little Morelys.  For Stephen, as
he took great pains to explain to Mrs Morely, had taken advantage of
the opportunity afforded by the return of the farmer's empty sled, to
bring up the barrel of flour and the bag of meal that ought to have been
sent up the very night her husband went away.  There were fish, too, and
meat, and some other things, and a piece of spare-rib, which, Stephen
acknowledged, his Dolly had been saving for some good purpose all
through the winter.

And Stephen brought something for which Mrs Morely was more grateful
than even for the spare-rib.  He brought an offer of needle-work from a
lady in the town who had many little children.  The lady, it seemed, had
a strange prejudice against sewing-machines, and in favour of skilful
fingers, for the doing of fine white work.  This did much to restore the
mother's health and peace of mind; and a letter that came from her
husband about this time did more.  Not that it was a very hopeful
letter.  He said little, except that he had got work, and that he hoped
soon to be able to send much more than the trifle he enclosed.  But,
though he did not say in words that he had withstood all temptation, yet
at the very end he said, "Pray for me, Alice, that I may be strong to
stand."  And her heart leaped with joy, as she said to herself, "He did
not need to ask me to do that."  And yet she was really more glad to be
asked that than for all the letter and the enclosure besides.



CHAPTER SIX.

A LIFE HISTORY.

And so the winter wore away.  January, February, March, passed; and when
April came in there were only here and there, on the hillocks, bits of
bare ground to tell that the spring was coming.

"And to think that all my father's fields are sown and growing green by
this time--and the violets and the primroses out in all the dales!" said
Mrs Morely, with a sudden rush of homesick tears.

Mrs Grattan was with her, paying a long day's visit; for they had been
all the morning talking cheerfully of many things.

"Our winter is long," she said.

"Oh, so long and dreary!" sighed Mrs Morely.  "No, you must not think
me discontented and unthankful," she added, meeting Mrs Grattan's grave
looks.  "Only a little homesick now and then.  If I were sure that all
was well with--" She hesitated.

"`I will trust, and not be afraid,'" said Mrs Grattan, softly.

They had not spoken much to one another about their troubles,--these two
women.  Mrs Morely's reserve, even at the time of little Ben's death,
had never given way so far as to permit her to speak of her husband's
faults and her own trials.  And Mrs Grattan's sympathy, though deep,
had been silent--expressed by deeds rather than by words.  She knew well
how full of fear for her husband the poor wife's heart had been all the
winter; but she could not approach the subject until she herself
introduced it.

"`I will trust, and not be afraid,'" said Mrs Morely, repeating her
friend's words.  "I can do naught else; and not always that."

"`Lord, increase our faith!'" murmured Dolly.

There was a pause, during which Mrs Morely went about, busy with some
household matter.  When she sat down again, she said:

"You must not think I am pining for home.  If I were sure that it is
well with my husband, nothing else would matter."

"You have good hope that it is well with him," said Mrs Grattan.

"Oh, I do not know.  I cannot tell.  I can only leave him in God's
hand."  But she did not speak very hopefully.

"And surely there's no better thing to do for him than that," said Mrs
Grattan.

"I know it.  But I have hoped so many times, and so few of the poor
souls who have gone so far astray as he has done come back to a better
life.  I fear no more than I hope."

There was a long pause after that, and then, in a voice that seemed
quite changed, Mrs Grattan said, "I never told you about Stephen and
me, did I?"

"No.  I know that you have had some great trouble in your life, like
mine--indeed, your husband has told me that: that is all I know."

"Well, it's not to be spoken of often.  But, just to show what the Lord
can do when He sets out to save a poor creature to the uttermost, I will
tell you what He has done for Stephen and me.  It must be told in few
words, though.  It shakes me to go back to those days.

"We were born in Vermont--as good a State as any to be born and brought
up in.  It was quite a country place we lived in.  My father was a
farmer--a grave, quiet man.  My mother was never very strong; and I was
the only one spared to them of five children.  We lived a very quiet,
humble sort of life; but, if ever folks lived contented and happy, we
did.

"Stephen was one of many children--too many for them all to get a living
on their little stony farm; and his father sent his boys off as soon as
they were able to go, and Stephen, who was the second son, was sent to
learn the shoemaker's trade in Weston, about twenty miles away.

"We had kept company, Stephen and me--as boys and girls will, you know--
before he went; and it went on all the time he was learning his trade,
whenever he came home on a visit.  When his time was out, he stayed on
as a journeyman in the same place; but he fell into bad hands, I
suppose, for it began to come out through the neighbours, who saw him
there sometimes, that he wasn't doing as he ought to do; and when my
father heard from them that they had seen him more than once the worse
for liquor, he would let him have nothing more to say to me.

"You will scarcely understand just how it seemed to our folks.  There
was hardly a man who tasted liquor in all our town in those days.  To
have been betrayed into taking too much just once would have been to
lose one's character; and when my father heard of Stephen's being seen a
good many times when he was not able to take care of himself, it seemed
to him that it was a desperate case.  I think he would as lief have laid
me down in the graveyard beside my little brothers, as have thought of
giving me to Stephen then.

"I didn't know how much I thought of him till there was an end put to
his coming to our house.  I believe I grew to care more about him when
other folks turned against him.  Not that I ever thought hard of my
father: I knew he was right, and I didn't mean to let him see that I was
worrying; but he did see it, and when Stephen came home and worked,
sometimes at his trade and sometimes on his father's farm, a year quite
steady, he felt every day more and more like giving it up, and taking
him into favour again.  He never said so, but I am sure my mother
thought so, and sometimes I did too.

"My mother died that fall, and we had a dreadful still, lonesome
winter--my father and me; and when after a while Stephen came to see me,
as he used to do, my father didn't seem to mind.  And pretty soon
Stephen took courage and asked the old man for me.  He said that I would
be the saving of him, and that we would always stay with him in his old
age--which came on him fast after my mother died.  So, what with one
thing and what with another, he was wrought on to consent to our
marriage: but I do believe it was the thought of helping to save a soul
from death, that did more than all the rest to bring him round.

"Things went well with us for a while--for more than two years--nearly
three; but then one day Stephen went to Weston, and got into trouble;
and the worst was, having begun, he couldn't stop.  It was a miserable
time.  My father lost faith in Stephen after that, and Stephen lost
faith in himself, and he got restless and uneasy, and it was a dreadful
cross to him to have to stay at father's, knowing that he wasn't trusted
and depended on as he used to be.  And I suppose it was a cross to
father to have him there; for when I spoke of going away, though he said
it would break his heart to part from me, his only child, he said, too,
that it would not do to part husband and wife, and perhaps it would be
better to try it, for a while at least.  So we went to live in Weston,
and Stephen worked at his trade.

"Then father married again.  He was an old man, and it never would have
happened if I could have stayed with him.  But what could he do?  He
couldn't stay alone.  The woman he married was a widow with children,
and I knew there never would be room for me at home any more.

"We had a sad time at Weston.  I had always lived on a farm, and, though
Weston wasn't much of a place then, it seemed dreadful close and shut-up
and dismal to me.  I was homesick and miserable there, and maybe I
didn't do all I might have done to make things pleasant for Stephen, and
help to keep him straight.  It was a dreadful time for him, and for me
too.

"Well, after a while our children were born--twin boys.  Stephen was
always tender-hearted over all little children; and over his own--I
couldn't tell you what he was.  It did seem then as though, if he could
get a fair start and begin again, he might do better, for his children's
sake.  So, when I got well, I made up my mind that I would ask a little
help from father, and we'd go west.

"I knew I never could go home to stay now.  But, when I saw the old
place for the last time, I thought my heart would break.  It wasn't much
of a place.  There were only a few stony fields of pasture-land, and a
few narrow meadows; but, oh, I thought, if my babies had only been born
when we were in that safe, quiet place, it might have been so different!
And my father was so feeble and old, and helpless-like, I could not
bear to think of going so far away that I could never hope to see him
again.

"But there was no help for it.  It would give Stephen another chance;
and so, with the little help my father could give us, we went out west
and settled.

"So we left the old life quite behind, and began again.  We had a hard
time, but no harder than people generally have who go to a new country.
Stephen kept up good courage, and stuck to his work; and I helped him
all I could; and if I was sometimes a little discouraged and homesick,
he never guessed it.  And I never _was_ much of either; for I was busy
always, and there was my babies--" Dolly's voice broke into a shrill
wail as she spoke the word, and she sat with her face hidden a little
while before she could go on again.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

WAITING FOR NEWS.

"Well, the time went by till our children were two years old--not, to be
sure, without some trouble, but still we got along, and I was never
without the hope that better days were coming.  About that time we got
some new neighbours; but it was a dark day for us,--the day that Sam
Healy came and took a place near us.  They were kind folks enough, and I
don't think the man began by wishing to do my Stephen harm.  He could
drink and stop when he wanted to--at least, so he said; but Stephen
couldn't, and I was never sure of him after the Healys came.

"They came in the fall and a dreary winter followed their coming; but
when spring opened things began to mend with us.  I did what I could to
help Stephen, and kept by him in the field.  There wasn't much to do
within doors.  There was only one room in the house, and a bed and table
and a bench or two was all the furniture we had; but we might have been
well and happy there till now, if we had been let alone.

"So, having but little to do in the house, as I said, I helped what I
could in the field.  I used to take my boys out and let them play about
on the warm ground while I planted or hoed; and in this way I got
Stephen home many a time when he would have gone over to Healy's, or
some of the neighbours, if it hadn't been for carrying the babies home.
Not that they needed carrying, for they were strong, hearty lads; but
they were fond of their father, and a ride on his shoulders was their
great pleasure.  And he was always good to them when he was himself; and
I kept them out of the way as much as I could at other times.

"We got along somehow, on into the summer.  Healy's wife was a kind
woman enough, but she had been brought up different to me; and it
worried me so to have Stephen hanging round there that I hadn't much to
say to her any way.  I suppose this vexed her, for she was lonesome, and
didn't know what to do with herself; and I used to think she put her
husband up to being more friendly with Stephen on that account: I mean,
partly because she was lonesome, and partly because she saw his being
there worried me.  I suffered everything, that summer, in my mind.  It
was the old Weston days over again, only worse.  It was so lonesome.  I
had no one to look to, nowhere to turn.  It wouldn't have been so if
Stephen had been all right.  With him and my boys well, I would have
asked for nothing more.

"Sunday was worst.  I used to think I was a Christian then; but I didn't
take all the comfort in my religion that I might have done; and Sunday
was a long day.  There was no meeting to go to.  We had been too well
brought up to think of working in the fields, as the Healys and others
of the neighbours did; and the day was long--longer to Stephen than to
me.  I used to read and sing to him and the babies; and if we got
through the day without his straying off to Healy's or some of the
neighbours, I was happy.  He might by chance come home sober on other
nights, but on Sunday--never; and it was like death to me to see him go.

"Well, one Sunday afternoon Healy sent for him.  Some folks had come
from a settlement farther up the lake, and they wanted Stephen for some
reason or other--I can't tell what, now--and me too, if I would come,
the boy said who brought the message.  But I wouldn't go, and did my
best to keep Stephen at home, till he got vexed, and went away, at last,
without a pleasant word.

"Oh! what a long day that was!  The children played about very quietly
by themselves, and I sat with my head upon my hands, thinking some,
praying a little, and murmuring a great deal.  I can shut my eyes now,
and see myself sitting there so miserable, and the little boys playing
about, so hushed and quiet.  I can see the little green patch of
vegetables, and the cornfield, and the roof of Healy's house beyond, and
the blue smoke rising up so straight and still, and on the other side
the prairie, and the gleam of the lake-water far away.  I never hear the
crickets on a summer afternoon but I think of that day, so bright and
warm and still.  Oh, how long it seemed to me!

"The children grew tired, and I put them to bed when I could keep them
up no longer; and then I went and waited on the doorstep till I grew
chilly and sick in the dew; and then I went in.  I did not mean to go to
sleep, though I sat down on the floor and laid my head on the pillow of
my boys' low bed; but I was tired with the week's work, and more tired
with the day's waiting, and I did drop off.  I could not have slept very
long.  I woke in a fright from a dream I had, and the room was filled
with smoke; and when I made my way to the door and opened it the flames
burst out, and I saw my husband lying on the bed.  He had come in,
though I had not heard him.  God alone knows how the fire happened.  I
don't know, and Stephen don't know, to this day.

"I tried my best to wake him; but I could not.  What with liquor, and
what with the smoke, he was stupefied.  I dragged him out and dashed
water on him, and then went back for my boys.  I don't know what
happened then.  I have a dream, sometimes, of holding a little body, and
being held back when the blazing roof fell in; and then, they say, I
went mad.

"I don't know how long the time was after that before I saw my husband.
I have a remembrance of long nights, troubled by dreams of fire and the
crying out of little children; and then of seeing kind faces about me,
and of long, quiet days; and then they took me to my husband.  He was
ill, and cried out for me in his fever; and they took me to him, fearing
for us both.

"He did not know me at first.  I had been a young woman when we lived
together on the prairie; but when I went back to him my hair was as
white as it is to-day.  He was changed too--oh, how changed and broken!
He needed me, and I stayed and nursed him till he got well.  I was weak
in mind, and couldn't remember everything that had happened for a while;
but I grew stronger, and it all came back; and then, oh, how I pitied
him!  There was no room in my heart for blame when I saw how he blamed
himself; and we did the best we could to comfort one another.

"Then we said we'd begin again.  We came away here to Canada, because we
thought it was almost the end of the earth, and nobody would be likely
to find us who had known us before.

"And here the Lord met us and cared for us and comforted us.  And I'm
not afraid now.  Stephen's safe now in His keeping and His
loving-kindness--oh, how good!"

The last words were uttered brokenly and with an effort, and Mrs
Grattan leaned back in her chair pale and faint.  Mrs Morely leaned
over her, and her tears fell fast on the hands which she clasped in
hers.

"It shakes me to go back to those old days," said Mrs Grattan, faintly.
"You must let me lie down, so as I shall get over it before my husband
comes along.  It worries him dreadfully to see me bad.  It won't last
long.  I shall be better soon."

She was but a little creature, thin and light, and, though Mrs Morely
was not strong; she lifted her in her arms and laid her on the bed; and
as the poor little woman covered her face and turned it to the wall, she
sat down beside her to take the lesson of her story to herself.  Surely
the grace that had changed Stephen Grattan and given him rest from his
enemy could avail for her husband too.  "`I will trust, and not be
afraid!'" she murmured; and, with her hand clasping the hand of this
woman who had suffered so much and was healed now, Mrs Morely had faith
given her to touch the hem of the Great Healer's garment; and in the
silence, broken only by the prayer-laden sighs of the two women, she
seemed to hear a voice saying to her, "Go in peace."

There were no sorrowful faces waiting the coming of Stephen in the
little log-house that night.  The little lads met him with shouts of
welcome halfway down the hill, and when he came into the house there was
Sophy busy with her tea-cakes, and Mrs Morely sewing her never-failing
white seam, and Dolly was dancing the baby on her lap, and singing a
song which brought the prairie, and their home there, and the long
summer Sabbaths to his mind, and a sudden shadow to his face.  Mrs
Morely's face showed that her heart was lightened.

"You look bright to-night, sister," said Stephen, greeting her in his
quaint way; "have you heard good news?"

"I am waiting for good news," said Mrs Morely, with a quiver in her
voice.

"They never wait in vain who wait for Him," said Stephen, looking a
little wistfully from one to the other, as though he would fain hear
more.  But there was no time.  Little Sophy's face was growing anxious;
for her tea-cakes were in danger of being spoiled by the delay, and
there was time to think of nothing else when they appeared.

"Have you had a good time, Dolly?" asked Stephen, as they went down the
hill together in the moonlight, when the evening's frost had made the
roads fit to walk on again.

"A good time, Stephen--a very good time," said Dolly, brightly.  "I
think that poor soul has renewed her strength; and, indeed I think so
have I.  Yes, dear, I've had a very good time to-day."



CHAPTER EIGHT.

JOHN MORELY'S FRIEND.

In the meantime, John Morely was fighting his battle over again.  He
left the house of Stephen Grattan a humbled man, without strength,
without courage, hardly daring to hope for victory over a foe which he
knew waited only for a solitary desponding hour to assail him.  The
dread and terror that fell upon him when he found himself homeless and
friendless in the streets of Montreal cannot be told.  Feeling deeply
his own degradation, it seemed to him that even the chance eyes that
rested on him as he passed by must see it too, and despise him; and he
hurried on through the bitter cold, eager only to get out of sight.

He had not forgotten Stephen Grattan's letter; but he said to himself
that it would be time enough to present it when he had found work and a
settled place of abode.  But now, weary in mind and in body, and nearly
benumbed with the cold, when he found himself in the neighbourhood of
the great hardware establishment in which Stephen's friend was employed,
he determined to deliver it at once.

Stephen had prepared his friend Muir beforehand for Morely's coming.  He
had written to him how "the Lord had most surely given him this brand to
pluck from the burning,--this poor soul to save from the roaring lion
that goeth about seeking whom he may devour;" and, reading it, his
friend never doubted that Stephen's words were the words of Stephen's
Master; and from the moment that Morely stood before him, pale and
weary, and shivering with the cold, he looked upon himself as indeed his
brother's keeper.

Muir took him to his home that night; and when he saw how weak he was,
how little able to struggle by himself against his enemy, he kept him
there; for he knew all the dangers which might beset him in most of the
places where he might be able to find a temporary home.  From that time,
for the next few months, all things were ordered there with reference to
Morely.  It was a poor place enough, for Muir's wages were not large;
but it was neat and comfortable.  His mother was his housekeeper,--a
querulous old body, with feeble health, one who little needed any
additional burden of household care.  But when she knew that in a poor
home, far away, a mother of little children was waiting, hoping and
praying for the well-doing of this man whom her son had set his heart on
helping, she did what she could to help him too.  That is, she fretted a
little at "her Sam" for thus thoughtlessly adding to her cares, and
murmured a little when, giving up his own room to Morely, he betook
himself to the garret; but all the same she was putting herself about,
and doing her best to make the stranger feel at home with them.  None
knew better than she how much help was needed; for thirty of the
threescore years she had lived had been made anxious, and many of them
wretched, by the same enslaving power that had its grasp on Morely.  Her
husband had lived a drunkard's life; and that he had not died a
drunkard's death was owing to the fact that excess had left him helpless
and bedridden for years, a burden on his wife and son.  To save another
woman from the misery of such a life as hers had been, was a good work
to help in; and she gave herself to it, in her weak, complaining way, as
entirely and as successfully as did her son.

As for Sam, many things united to make this labour of love not a light
one to him.  He looked upon himself as a rising man, as indeed he was,
in a small way.  He had entered the employment of the great firm of
Steel and Ironside as errand-boy, and had gradually risen to occupy a
situation of trust.  Topham, the head clerk, kept the key of the safes
where the books and papers of the firm were stored; but to him was
entrusted the key of the great establishment itself; and there was no
reason--at least, he saw none--why he might not one day stand in
Topham's place.  Nay, he might even be a partner: why not?  The present
chief of the firm had, long ago, been errand-boy in such an
establishment; and it really did not seem to him to be presumptuous to
suppose that, some time hence, he might be a merchant too, as well as
Mr Steel.

By dint of constant and earnest attendance at evening schools, and no
less constant and earnest efforts at home, he had learned a great deal
that would help him in his career.

With all his good qualities of mind and heart, he was a little vain:
nay, it may be said of him at this time of his life that he was very
vain.  His boyhood had lasted more years than boyhood generally does.
Hard times, the force of circumstances, his father's evil life, had kept
him down till lately; and he was now, at twenty-three, going through all
the feverish little attacks with regard to dress and appearance, and
other personal considerations, that sensible boys usually get over
before they are eighteen.  He liked to be seen walking with the clerks
of the establishment, who considered themselves a step above him in the
social ladder, and took pleasure in the success he had enjoyed of late
in the frequent evening entertainments given among his friends.

Yet, in spite of this weakness, he was a true Christian, not in name,
but in reality--one who knew himself to have been bought at an infinite
price; and, knowing this, he realised something of the value of the poor
soul whom he might help to save from the ruin that threatened him, and
he knew himself to be honoured in that he was permitted to do so great a
work.  But being, as has been said, vain and, in a small way, ambitious,
it did come into his mind that to have such a man as this Morely living
in his house--a man who could not be trusted to take care of himself, a
man who in his best days was only, as he thought, a common workman,
earning daily wages by the labour of his hand,--if did come into his
mind that all this would not help him in his upward social way.  To be
seen in his company, to walk with him in the streets, to make the poor
man's interests his own, to care for him and watch over him as he must
do if he was really to help to save him, to win him to live a new life--
might--indeed, must--place him in circumstances not to be desired--
awkward and uncomfortable, as far as some of his friends were concerned.
Being, as we said, a Christian, and having a sincere, true heart, he
did not hesitate because of all this; but being vain, and in some things
foolish, his labour of love, which could in no case have been light, was
made all the heavier.

This was only a first experience.  Afterwards all this went out of his
mind, as if it had never been there.  He gave himself to the work with a
devotion that was worthy of the holy cause.  What one man may do to save
another, Samuel Muir did for John Morely.  Holidays were rare and
precious to him at this time; but he devoted more than one that fell to
him in going here and there with him in search of work; and when work
was found, he spoke of him to the employers and to the workmen in words
that none but the utterly debased could hear in vain, entreating them
that they would not make the work of reform more difficult to the poor
broken man by placing temptation in his way.  Many a morning and evening
when he had little time or strength to spare from his own duties, he
went far out of his way to see him past temptation, at times when he
knew that the agony of desire was strong upon him, and that left to
himself he must fall.

Many a pleasant invitation he refused at such times, rather than leave
the poor homesick wretch to get through the long, dreary evening alone.
Sometimes--not often, however--he beguiled him into some quiet
pleasure-taking out of the house, to while away the time.  Having given
up his own room for the garret, he now gave up his garret--a matter of
greater self-denial--to share his own room with Morely, that the garret
might be made a place for evening work.  He purchased, at the price of
some self-denial in the way of outward adornment, a set of tools for the
finer sort of cabinet-work; and in the long winter evenings applied
himself to learn to use them, that his friend might have something to do
in teaching him.

It would take long to tell all the ways in which this young man carried
on the labour of love he had undertaken.  He watched over him, cared for
him, denied himself on his account, bore alike with his petulance and
his despondency, sheltered him from temptation from without,
strengthened him to resist temptation from within--in short, laboured,
as in God's sight, to turn this sinner from the error of his way, to
lead him in faith to the blood of Christ, which cleanseth from all sin;
knowing that he was thus "striving to save a soul from death, and to
hide a multitude of sins."

Nor did he strive in vain.  When months of temptation and struggle had
passed, John Morely stood--not, perhaps, with his foe beneath his feet,
but still on firm ground, a man who once more had confidence in himself,
and in whom other men had confidence.



CHAPTER NINE.

RIGHT AT LAST.

The twenty-fourth of May came on Saturday that year.  It was to be a
double holiday to the children in the little log-house on the hill; for
their father had written a letter to say that, if it could possibly be
managed, he should pass it with them.  It need not be told what joyful
news this was to them all.  It was not unmingled joy to them all,
however.  Sophy had some anxieties, which she did her best to hide; but
they showed in the wistful watching of her mother's looks, and in her
gentle efforts to chase all clouds from her face.  As for Mrs Morely,
she had suffered so many disappointments that she hardly dared to hope
now.  And yet her hopes were stronger than her fears this time, and she
and her little daughter helped and encouraged one another without ever
speaking a word.

The father was to come in the night-train of Friday, and go away in the
night-train again, so that he might have two whole days at least at
home; and early as the sun rises on the twenty-fourth of May, the little
Morelys were up before him.  The father came early, but not too early
for the expectant children.  The little lads met him far down the hill.
They would have gone all the way to Littleton, only the bridge had been
carried away by the sudden rise of the river when the ice broke up, and
the mother would not trust so many of them to go over in the ferry-boat.
Sophy waited at the garden-gate, with the baby in her arms, and her
mother sat on the doorstep, pale and trembling, till the voices drew
near and they all came in sight.

"`Clothed, and in his right mind,'" she murmured, as her husband came
with Will on his shoulder and little Harry in his arms,--oh! so
different from him whose going away she had watched with such
misgivings!  It was the husband of her youth come back to her again; and
she had much ado to keep back a great flood of joyful tears as she
welcomed him home.  As for Sophy, she never thought of keeping back her
tears--she could not if she had tried ever so much--but clung sobbing to
her father's neck in a way that startled him not a little.

"What is it, Sophy?  Are you not glad to see me?" he asked, after a
time, when she grew quiet.

"Oh, yes; she's glad," said Johnny.  "That is her way of showing that
she's glad.  Don't you mind, mother, how she cried that day when Mr
Grattan brought the things, just after father went away?"

"She cried then because she was hungry," said the matter-of-fact Eddy.

Sophy laughed, and kissed her father over and over again.  Morely looked
at his wife.  There was something to be told, but not now.  That must
wait.

Nor can all the pleasure of that day be told.  The little log-house was
like a palace in the eyes of Morely.  Indeed, it would have been very
nice in any one's eyes.  The beds had been moved into the inner room,
now that no fire was needed; and the large room, which was parlour and
kitchen all in one, was as neat and clean as it could be made.  It was
bright, too, with flowers and evergreens and branches of cherry-blossom;
and there were many comfortable and pretty things in it that Morely had
never seen there before.

They did not stay much in the house, however.  Mr and Mrs Grattan came
up in the afternoon, and with them one whom John Morely presented to his
wife as the best friend she had in the world, after Grattan and his
wife--his friend Samuel Muir.  Knowing a little of what he had been to
her husband all these months past, Mrs Morely welcomed him with
smiles--and tears, too--and many a silent blessing: and if he had been
the head of the firm--Steel and Ironside in one--he could not have been
a more honoured guest.

They sat out on the hill during most of the afternoon.  The day was
perfect.  It was warm in the sun, but cool in the shadow of the
evergreens.  The maples and elms did not throw deep shadows yet, and the
air was sweet and fresh and still.

It was a very happy day to them all.  To Samuel Muir it was a day never
to be forgotten.  Montreal is not a very great city.  An hour's walk
from the heart of it, in any direction, will bring one either to the
river or to fields where wild flowers grow.  But his life had been town
life--and a very busy one; and to sit in the mild air, amid the sweet
sounds and sweeter silence of the spring time, among all these happy
children, was something wonderful to him.  His constant anxious care for
Morely all the winter had done much to make a man of him.  His little
weaknesses and vanities had fallen from him in the midst of his real
work; and seeing the happy mother and her children, his heart filled
with humble thankfulness to God, who had permitted him to help the
husband and father to stand against his enemy.

As for Stephen Grattan, the sight of his face was good that day.  He did
not say much, but sat looking out over the river, and the village, and
the hills beyond, as though he was not seeing _them_, but something
infinitely fairer.  Now and then, as he gazed, his thoughts overflowed
in words not his own: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so
the Lord is round about His people."  "Ask and receive, that your joy
may be full."  And sometimes he sang Dolly's favourite chorus, repeating
in queer, old, trembling strains,--

  "His loving-kindness, oh, how good!"

But he said little besides.  Even Dolly spoke more than he that day, and
with great pains drew out John Morely to tell how his prospects were
brightening, and how since the first of May he had been foreman among
his fellow-workmen, and how if things went moderately well with him he
should have a better home than the little log-house for his wife and
children before many months were over.

"Not just yet, however," he said, looking with pleased eyes at the
brown, healthy faces of the little lads.  "No place I could put them in
could make up to them for these open fields and this pure air.  I think,
Alice, they will be better here for a time."

As for Alice, it did not seem to her that there was anything left for
her to desire.  Her heart was rejoicing over her husband with more than
bridal joy,--her husband who had been "lost, and was found."  On this
first day of his coming home she suffered no trembling to mingle with
it.  She would not distrust the love which had "set her foot upon a
rock, and put a new song in her mouth."  "Mighty to save" should His
name be to her and hers henceforth.  The clouds might return again, but
there were none in her sky to-day.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Things went well with the Morelys after this.  How it all came about,
cannot be told here; but when the grand cut-stone piers of the new
bridge were completed, it was John Morely who built the bridge itself,--
that is, he had the charge of building it, under the contractor to whom
the work had been committed,--and it was built so quickly and so well
that he never needed to go away from Littleton to seek employment again.

The little Morelys have come to think of the days before that pleasant
May-time as of a troubled dream.  The first fall of the snow-flakes
brings a shadow to Sophy's face still; but even Sophy has come to have
only a vague belief in the troubles of that time.  The little ones are
never weary of hearing the story of that terrible winter storm: but
Sophy never tells them--hardly acknowledges to herself, indeed--that
there was something in those days harder to bear than hunger, or cold,
or even the dread of the drifting snow.

If after that first bright day of her husband's home-coming there
mingled trembling with the joy of Mrs Morely, she is at rest now.  Day
by day, as the years have passed on, she has come to know that with him,
as well as with herself, "Old things have passed away, and all things
have become new;" and, in the blessed renewal of strength assured to
those who wait upon the Lord, she knows that he is safe for evermore.

As for Stephen Grattan, he has had a good many years of hard work since
then, making strong, serviceable boots and shoes, and serving the Lord
in other ways besides.  He is ungrammatical still, and queer, and some
people smile at him, and pretend to think lightly of him, even when he
is most in earnest,--people who, in point of moral worth or heavenly
power, are not worthy to tie his shoes.  But many a "tempted poor soul"
in Littleton and elsewhere has his feet upon a rock and a new song in
his mouth because of Stephen's labours in his behalf; and if ever a man
had the apostle's prayer for the Ephesians answered in his experience,
he has; for he is "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."

He is an old man now, whose "work of faith and labour of love" is almost
over; and I never see him coming up the street, with his leather apron
on, a little bowed and tottering, but always cheerful and bright, but I
seem to hear the welcome, which cannot be very far before him
now,--"Well done, good and faithful servant!  Enter thou into the joy of
thy Lord."





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