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THE THEOLOGIAN'S (SECOND) TALE.

ELIZABETH.

I.

“Ah, how short are the days ! How soon the night over

takes us ! In the old country the twilight is longer; but here in the

forest Suddenly comes the dark, with hardly a pause in its com

ing, Hardly a moment between the two lights, the day and

the lamplight; Yet how grand is the winter! How spotless the snow

is, and perfect!”

Thus spake Elizabeth Haddon at nightfall to Hannah Then with a smile on her lips made answer Hannah

the housemaid, As in the farm-house kitchen, that served for kitchen and

parlor, By the window she sat with her work, and looked on a

landscape White as the great white sheet that Peter saw in his

vision, By the four corners let down and descending out of the

heavens. Covered with snow were the forests of pine, and the fields

and the meadows. Nothing was dark but the sky, and the distant Delaware

flowing Down from its native hills, a peaceful and bountiful river. sayeth, Be thou on the earth, the good Lord sayeth; he is it Giveth snow like wool, like ashes scatters the hoar-frost." So she folded her work and laid it away in her basket.

the housemaid : “ Beautiful winter! yea, the winter is beautiful, surely, If one could only walk like a fly with one's feet on the

ceiling But the great Delaware River is not like the Thames, as

we saw it Out of our upper windows in Rotherhithe Street in the

Borough, Crowded with masts and sails of vessels coming and going ; Here there is nothing but pines, with patches of snow on

their branches. There is snow in the air, and see! it is falling already ; All the roads will be blocked, and I pity Joseph to-mor

row, Breaking his way through the drifts, with his sled and

oxen; and then, too, How in all the world. shall we get to Meeting on First

Day?

66

But Elizabeth checked her, and answered, mildly re

proving : Surely the Lord will provide ; for unto the snow he Plates and cups from the dresser, the brown rye loaf,

Meanwhile Hannah the housemaid had closed and fast

ened the shutters, Spread the cloth, and lighted the lamp on the table, and placed there

and the butter Fresh from the dairy, and then, protecting her hand

with a holder, Took from the crane in the chimney the steaming and

simmering kettle, Poised it aloft in the air, and filled up the earthen tea

pot, Made in Delft, and adorned with quaint and wonderful

figures.

Then Elizabeth said, “ Lo! Joseph is long on his

errand.

I have sent him away with a hamper of food and of

clothing For the poor in the village. A good lad and cheerful

is Joseph; In the right place is his heart, and his hand is ready

and willing.”

Thus in praise of her servant she spake, and Hannah

the housemaid Laughed with her eyes, as she listened, but governed

her tongue, and was silent, While her mistress went on : 66 The house is far from

the village : We should be lonely here, were it not for Friends that

in passing Sometimes tarry o’ernight, and make us glad by their

coming."

Thereupon answered Hannah the housemaid, the thrifty, “ Yea, they come and they tarry, as if thy house were a

the frugal:

tavern; Open to all are its doors, and they come and go like

the pigeons In and out of the holes of the pigeon-house over the

hayloft, Cooing and smoothing their feathers and basking them

selves the sunshine.”

But in meekness of spirit, and calmly, Elizabeth an

swered: “All I have is the Lord's, not mine to give or withhold

it; I but distribute his gifts to the poor, and to those of

his people Who in journeyings often surrender their lives to his

service. His, not mine, are the gifts, and only so far can I make

them Mine, as in giving I add my heart to whatever is given. Therefore my excellent father first built this house in

the clearing ; Though he came not himself, I came; for the Lord was

my guidance, Leading me here for this service. We must not grudge,

then, to others Ever the

сир of cold water, or crumbs that fall from our table.”

Thus rebuked, for a season was silent the penitent house

maid ; And Elizabeth said in tones even sweeter and softer : “Dost thou remember, Hannah, the great May-Meeting in

London,

When I was still a child, how we sat in the silent as

sembly, Waiting upon the Lord in patient and passive submis

sion ? No one spake, till at length a young man, a stranger,

John Estaugh, Moved by the Spirit, rose, as if he were John the Apos

tle, Speaking such words of power that they bowed our hearts,

as a strong wind Bends the grass of the fields, or grain that is ripe for

the sickle. Thoughts of him to-day have been oft borne inward

upon me, Wherefore I do not know; but strong is the feeling

within me That once more I shall see a face I have never forgot

ten."

II.

E'en as she spake they heard the musical jangle of

sleigh-bells, First far off, with a dreamy sound and faint in the dis

tance, Then growing nearer and louder, and turning into the

farmyard, Till it stopped at the door, with sudden creaking of run

ners.

Then there were voices heard as of two men talking

together, And to herself, as she listened, upbraiding said Hannah

the housemaid, “ It is Joseph come back, and I wonder what stranger is

with him.”

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