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   Chapter 2 No.2

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 9623

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Morning found the invalid somewhat refreshed by her night's rest, yet too languid and feeble to leave her room, and her day was spent reclining upon a couch, with her daughter by her side. Dr. Conly made an early call, prescribed, talked to her and Eva in a cheerful strain, saying he hoped that rest and a change of weather would soon bring her at least a measure of relief and strength; but in reply to the anxious questioning of Mr. and Mrs. Leland, he acknowledged that he found her far gone in consumption, and did not think she could last many weeks.

"Poor dear Eva! how very sad it will be for her to lose her mother so soon after recovering her!" sighed Mrs. Leland. "I think we must let her remain in ignorance of the danger for a time at least."

"Yes," assented her husband; "though we must not neglect any effort in our power to prepare Laura for the great change which awaits her," he added with a look of anxiety and care.

"Nor fail to offer up earnest petitions for her at the Throne of Grace," said Grandma Elsie, in her low, sweet tones. "Oh, what a blessing, what a comfort it is that we may take there all our fears, cares, and anxieties for ourselves and others! And how precious the Saviour's promise, 'If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that you shall ask, it shall be done for you of my Father which is in heaven'!"

"Yes, mother dear," assented Mrs. Leland, "and we will claim and plead it for our poor dear Laura, and for Eva, that she may be sustained under the bereavement which awaits her."

"Yes," said Dr. Conly, "and there are many of our friends who will be ready to join us in the petition. I am going now to Woodburn-the captain having telephoned me that one of the servants is ill-and we all know that he and his will be full of sympathy for Eva and her sick mother."

"No doubt they will," said Grandma Elsie, "both as Christians and as warm friends of Evelyn. And it will be quite the same with our other friends."

With that the doctor bade good-morning and took his departure in the direction of Woodburn. The family there were surprised and interested by the news he had to tell of the arrival at Fairview, and of Laura's feeble and ailing condition. They were evidently full of sympathy for both mother and daughter, and had any help been needed would have given it gladly. But the doctor assured them that rest and quiet were at present the sick one's most pressing need.

"Poor dear Eva! I am so sorry for her!" sighed Lucilla when the doctor had gone. "Papa, don't you think I might make myself of use helping her with the nursing?"

"Not at present, daughter; though I can testify to your ability in that line, and your services may possibly be needed at some future time," he answered with an affectionate look and smile.

"Yes, Lu is a capital nurse, I think," said Violet, "but whatever she does is sure to be well done."

"Thank you, Mamma Vi," returned the young girl, blushing with pleasure; "it is most kind in you to say that; but if I am thorough in anything, most of the credit belongs to my father, who has never allowed me to content myself with a slovenly performance of my duties."

"No," he said, "what is worth doing at all is worth doing well; that is a lesson I have endeavoured to impress upon each one of my children, and one which I think they have all learned pretty thoroughly."

"And they have always had the teaching of example as well as precept, from their father," remarked Violet with a look of loving appreciation up into his face; "so that it would be strange indeed if they had not learned it."

"Indeed that is true, mamma," said Grace. "It does seem to me that papa does everything he undertakes as thoroughly well as anyone possibly could."

"A very good idea for one's children to cultivate," laughed the captain. Then consulting his watch, "But it is high time we were in the schoolroom, daughters. Elsie and Ned have been there this half hour, and probably have a lesson or two ready to recite."

"And Eva will not be with us to-day; probably not for many more days," remarked Lucilla with a slight sigh of disappointment and regret, as she and Grace rose and gave prompt obedience to her father's implied order.

"Yes," he said, "I fear so; but her first duty is to her mother."

So Evelyn herself felt, and nobly she discharged it; neglecting nothing in her power for the relief and enjoyment of the invalid who, though often fretful, exacting, and unreasonable, was yet nearest and dearest to her of all earthly creatures. The young girl's loving patience seemed never to fail, and her heart was continually going up in earnest, silent petitions that her beloved parent might be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; that she might learn to love Him w

ho had died to redeem her from death and the power of the grave, and to give her an abundant entrance into his kingdom and glory.

The doubt of Laura's preparation for death and eternity, amounting to almost certainty that it was lacking, made this nursing an even sadder one than had been that of Eric, Evelyn's father, years ago. To him talk of things heavenly and divine had ever seemed easy and natural, and with the certainty that he was passing away from earth came the full assurance that he was ready to depart and be with Christ in glory.

But Laura hastily repelled the slightest allusion to eternity and a preparation for it. Evelyn's only consolation was in the knowledge that others were uniting their earnest petitions with hers, and that God is the hearer and answerer of prayer.

It was Grandma Elsie who at length succeeded in speaking a word in season to the dying woman.

"Oh, this racking cough! Shall I never be done with it?" gasped Laura, as she lay panting upon her pillow after an unusually severe and exhausting paroxysm.

"Yes; when you reach the other side of Jordan; for there in that blessed land the inhabitant shall not say 'I am sick,'" returned Grandma Elsie in low, sympathising tones. "The Bible tells us that 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.'"

"Oh, but I am not fit for that place yet!" exclaimed Laura with a look of alarm, "and I don't want to die for years to come, though it is hard to suffer as I do. You don't think I'm a dying woman, Mrs. Travilla?"

"You know, dear friend, that no one of us is certain of life for a day or an hour," returned Grandma Elsie gently, taking the wasted hand in hers and gazing tenderly into the anxious, troubled face, "and surely it is the part of wisdom to make careful preparation for that which we must inevitably meet, sooner or later. And if our peace is made with God-if Jesus is our Friend and Saviour-it will only be joy unspeakable to be called into his immediate presence, there to dwell forevermore."

"Yes, yes, if one is fitted for it, as Eric, Eva's father, was. Death seemed only joy to him, except for leaving us. But oh, I am afraid of death! Hard as life is in my weak, ailing condition, I don't want to die, I can't bear to think of it."

"My poor friend, my heart bleeds for you," said Grandma Elsie in low, tender tones. "'The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law.' But 'Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.' He fulfilled its conditions, he bore the penalty God's justice required against those who had broken it; and now salvation is offered as his free gift to all who will accept it: 'Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.'"

"Is that all? only to believe in Jesus?" Laura asked with a look of mingled anxiety, hope, and fear. "But one must repent deeply, sincerely, and oh, I'm afraid I cannot!"

"He will help you," returned Grandma Elsie in moved tones. "'Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.' Ask him, remembering his own gracious promise, 'Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.'"

"Ah, I see the way as I never did before," said Laura, after a moment's silence in which she seemed in deep thought. "What wonderful love and condescension it was for him, the God-man, to die that painful and shameful death that we-sinful worms of the dust-might live! Oh, I do begin to love him and to hate and abhor my sins that helped nail him to the tree." With the last words tears coursed down her cheeks. "I want to be his, whether I live or die," she added; and from that hour a great change came over her; her sufferings were borne with patience and resignation; and when the end came she passed peacefully and quietly away, leaving her bereaved daughter mourning the separation, but not as those without hope of a blessed reunion at some future day, in that land where sin and sorrow, sickness and pain are unknown.

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