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   Chapter 18 THE LAST.

Salome By Emma Marshall Characters: 28969

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


HE surprise and delight which the sight of "Under the Cedars" caused in Elm Cottage I cannot describe. However many thousands of books are written year by year, however many thousands are launched on the stream to win popular favour, there is always a special charm and interest in the first book written by one we love. It raises the person for the time to an important place in the family; and though the poor little book may soon be engulfed in this stream of which I speak, and lost to sight, or beaten down by the lash of reviewers, or, worse still, left to die the natural death of utter indifference, the author's position amongst her own immediate friends is not altered by it.

"Under the Cedars" was fresh and bright, full of imagination and that subtle power which touches the commonplace with interest. It had many faults-faults of youthful exuberance of fancy-faults of construction; but it deserved the praise of the local newspapers, which said it was perfectly simple and pure in its style, and the descriptions of child-life and nature alike true and unaffected. Then "Under the Cedars" had the advantage of being well revised and corrected by an able hand. It was well printed and well illustrated, and Hans and Carl danced about with excited delight as they recognized their own portraits in two knickerbockered boys of their own age.

Ada laughed at this. "All little boys look alike," she said. "You don't suppose the man who did the pictures knew anything about you or Salome."

But Ada was none the less delighted to take back a copy to Eva Monroe on the day when twelve presentation copies arrived from London. And Dr. Wilton was pleased to show one to his wife.

"That child has done something to be proud of though she is so unpretending."

All the cousins admired and applauded, and Digby was triumphant.

"Did I not always tell you that Salome was awfully clever? Not one of us could ever come up to her."

Even Aunt Anna was pleased when a lady, of whom she thought a great deal, said, "I have bought a charming story for children, called 'Under the Cedars.' Have you seen it?"

It was something to take it from her writing-table and to say, "It is written by a niece of mine, a very clever girl of seventeen. So young, and so full of talent."

Thus did dear little Salome win praise, and in her simple heart this was all as nothing to the joy of feeling that she had helped to lift the burden of care from those she loved.

Raymond sailed with Philip Percival, and was full of spirit and pleasure at the change. It was grief to his mother to lose him, but when she saw how happy he was in the prospect, she was comforted.

Raymond was improved and daily improving, but naturally selfish people do not suddenly become unselfish, and the whole complexion of a life is not changed with one sudden impulse. But he had really awakened to some sense of responsibility, and the continually good influence of Philip Percival kept up the impression of the past which might have otherwise died out.

When the parting was over, and the letters from Barbadoes came regularly, Mrs. Wilton began to feel the relief of knowing that Raymond was out of temptation and happy in the change of scene and people.

A bright prospect opened out to Philip Percival. He settled the affairs on the sugar-plantation with great skill, and returned in the spring with an account of what he had done so satisfactory to the partners in the large concern, that he had a permanent appointment with a large salary, and Raymond was to remain with him for another year.

"Then I shall come back," Philip said to Salome, "and ask you a question."

They were walking together from Roxburgh one beautiful May evening. Salome had been to spend the day with his mother, his last day in England, at his special request.

"The question has been on my lips many times," he said, "since the night-so long ago now-when I picked up this, which a careless person dropped in the road." He took out of his pocket a large case which held his letters, and drew from it a handkerchief. "Look," he said, "whose property is this?"

"My handkerchief! I remember I dropped it that afternoon, and how Stevens scolded me and said I should lose my head next."

"Well," Philip said, "I lost my heart then, and kept the handkerchief as a compensation. Do you understand?"

"Yes," she said.

"And if I asked the question now, could you answer it, Salome?"

"I think I could," she replied.

"I have loved you ever since that evening when you looked up at me, your face so dimly seen in the twilight," he went on; "the little brave sister coming out to meet a stranger to save her brother from disgrace and her mother pain. Every month, nay, every day I have lived since then, I have loved you more. Can you love me, and, when I come back next time, be my wife?"

"Yes," was the simple answer. Then, as if to strengthen it, she repeated, "Oh yes; let us go home and tell mother."

How happy they were as they walked to Elm Cottage together, and how bright and joyous were all the inhabitants of the little home that evening. The next morning, Puck, after an extra washing, had a piece of red ribbon tied round his neck, which was a long established custom on birthdays, and Salome said, as she tied it on between smiles and tears, for she had just parted with Philip for a whole year,-

"Ah, Puck, this is a grand day, not a birthday, but such a happy day to me; and, Puck, my new story is to be called 'Under the Quarry!'"

"A very poor prospect for Salome," Aunt Anna said; "still, it is something that the Percivals are a good old family."

"A greater comfort still," rejoined Dr. Wilton, "is that Percival is one of the best and noblest of men. May our daughters be equally fortunate."

So we leave Salome standing on the threshold of her great happiness. Patience has had her perfect work in the days of her girlhood. Will she need it no more in the womanhood which is dawning upon her with the soft, sweet radiance of a faithful heart on which she may rest?

Yes; Patience, that fair and beautiful angel, with its calm, sedate presence, will be needed for Salome as for us all through every stage of the journey. When the gates of love open for us, and we enter into what seems an Eden, we know that there are thorns amongst the flowers, rough places to tread, sharp angles to meet. Salome will take Patience with her, nor leave her gentle guidance till she comes to the Paradise of God. For there are no crosses to bear and no imperfect work to mourn, no sin to be hid in secret places, no sorrow, nor any more pain. The former things have passed away, and Patience, having had her perfect work, is exchanged for the rest of those who have fought the good fight, and bear the palms of victory in their hands through Him who has redeemed us to God by His death, and given to His faithful ones the life everlasting.

* * *

"Safe home! safe home in port!

Rent cordage, shattered deck,

Torn sails, provisions short,

And only not a wreck:

But oh! the joy upon the shore

To tell our voyage-perils o'er!"

"The prize! the prize secure!

The athlete nearly fell;

Bore all he could endure,

And bore not always well:

But he may smile at troubles gone

Who sets the victor's garland on."

THE END.

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Transcriber's Notes:

Spelling and punctuation errors were corrected.

Retained: devonport, ascendency, fire-place and fireplace, ink-stand and inkstand, practice (for medical) and practise (for repeatedly do).

Locations of illustrations have been moved to the action in text that they illustrate. Most of these moves were slight changes, but the illustration on p. 66 originally displayed as a frontispiece before the title page illustration.

On caption in illustration list, original "Dr. Wilson" changed to "Dr. Wilton."

P. 22, "any more if-- If you come upstairs"; space after em dash deleted.

P. 42, "'I should have thought,' said Dr. Wilton", original read Mr. Wilton.

P. 100, "Edith and Maude", original read "Maud."

P. 139, "walking with them, and-- But if mother"; space after em dash deleted.

P. 191, quotes were added around "It was far better ... time."

P. 245, Poem at the end, "Safe home!", inconsistent indentation is faithful to the original as printed.

The ten pages of ads at the end of the text each displayed "T. Nelson and Sons, London, Edinburgh, and New York." at the bottom of the page. These have been reduced to one occurrence, at the bottom of the last ad page.

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