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Lucy Raymond; Or, The Children's Watchword By Agnes Maule Machar Characters: 11034

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

A Farewell Chapter.

"Come near and bless us when we wake.

Ere through the world our way we take,

Till in the ocean of Thy love

We lose ourselves in heaven above."

hough Mr. and Mrs. Brooke marked with much delight the improved appearance of their darling Stella, her medical attendant was far from considering the improvement a radical one, and strongly advised that she should be removed to a warmer climate for the winter. On her account, therefore, as well as on that of Sophy, who very much needed change of scene, it was decided that the family should spend the winter months in the south. Stella was anxious that her cousin should accompany them; but just at this time Lucy received a summons-by no means unwelcome-in another direction, in a letter from Mrs. Steele.

Her aunt had been feeling her strength fail very much during the past year, and expressed a very strong desire that her niece should come to her again, for a time at least. Lucy owed her aunt almost a daughter's affection; and as she had not seen her brother Harry for nearly two years, and as her lessons at school must necessarily be discontinued, it seemed the best arrangement that she should accede to Mrs. Steele's request, and go to the West under the escort which had been proposed for her,-that of a friend of Alick who had come eastward for his wife, and was soon to return to his prairie home.

There was some doubt as to what should be done with Nelly during the long absence of all her friends, but an unexpected event which happened previous to Lucy's departure settled that question most satisfactorily. A young market-gardener, who had lately started in business for himself, came to Mr. Brooke's to be paid for vegetables, furnished during the summer. Lucy was sent down to pay him, and was surprised to find Nelly, who had happened to pass through the hall where he was waiting, staring at him in an unaccountable manner, with an excited look in her dark eyes.

"Miss Lucy," she said in a trembling undertone, seizing Lucy's dress in her eagerness, "won't you please ask him his name?"

Lucy, considerably bewildered, did as she desired, and was startled by the answer. "Richard Connor," and equally so by the joyful exclamation with which Nelly rushed forward: "Oh, it's my own brother Dick!"

It turned out to be really Nelly's long-lost brother. He had followed the rest of his family out to America by the next vessel in which he could procure a passage, but had never been able to discover any trace of them. Getting work for a time as he best could, he had at last entered the service of a market-gardener, where he had done so well as to be able in time to begin business on his own account. He could not have recognised his little sister Nelly in the tall, good-looking girl before him; but time had not changed him so materially as to prevent Nelly's loving heart from recognising her only relative, and the moment her eye fell upon him, a thrill of almost certain recognition chained her to the spot.

It is unnecessary to dwell upon the delight of both brother and sister at their unexpected reunion, and the torrent of inquiries and replies that followed. Dick had for so long a time given up all hope of finding his kindred, that the joy of recovering Nelly overpowered his sorrow at finding that she was the only one who survived to him; and as the young gardener had been intending to live in a small cottage of his own, he was only too glad to claim Nelly as his housekeeper. And before Lucy went away, she had the pleasure of seeing Nelly comfortably installed in a home which she could consider as really her own.

It was no small trial to Lucy, when the time came, to say a long farewell to her aunt and cousins, especially to Sophy, between whom and herself there was now a strong bond of attachment; and to Stella, as to whom she felt a strong foreboding that she should never see her again. Her only comfort was that she could leave the matter in the hands of Him who knew best, and that Stella could safely be trusted to that protecting love which will never leave nor forsake any who humbly seek its true blessing.

With Mary Eastwood, too, it was another hard parting. She spent a day or two at Oakvale before her departure, and both long looked back to that short visit as to a time tinged indeed with sadness, but charged with many sweet and blessed memories.

At last the preparations for the long journey were all made, the packing completed, even to the stowing away of the little gifts from each, and of the large packet of bonbons and cream-candy which Edwin brought in at the last moment for his cousin's regalement during her long journey. Then the cab was at the door before half had been said that they wanted to say, and the long-dreaded good-bye was crowded into such a brief space of time, that when Lucy found herself on the way to the station, she could scarcely believe that the formidable separation was really over, and that she had finally left her home of nearly two years. She well remembered the winter afternoon of her arrival, and thought with gratitude how many blessings had met her there, and with what different feelings she left it from those with which she arrived there.

The sadness of her departure soon wore off amid the pleasant excitement of the long and interesting journey, made doubly pleasant by the lively and genial companionship of her new friends, who won her heart at once by their warm praises of Alick and Harry; and

she began already to look forward to the happiness of their complete reunion as a family,-for Fred was to follow her to the West at the close of his theological studies, in the ensuing spring.

When at last the somewhat fatiguing but very pleasant journey was at an end, Lucy found Mrs. Steele ready to receive her with a warm maternal welcome, and Harry wild with delight, as much grown and improved as they all declared she was. Alick had grown considerably older and graver-looking under the responsibilities of life and his profession, though he still retained much of his old flow of spirits; and Lucy had the very great pleasure of finding that he had become an earnest Christian man, using his profession to the utmost of his power as a means not only of doing temporal good, but of advancing his Master's cause.

Lucy soon saw that her household aid was so much needed by her aunt, whose health had become very feeble, that she relinquished the plan she had formed of endeavouring to get employment in teaching during the winter; and between her housekeeping avocations and the claims of Alick's poor patients, whom she often visited on errands of charity, and the carrying on of her own studies, which she was anxious to continue, the winter flew past with incredible rapidity.

When the season of budding leaves and opening blossoms returned, there came tidings-sad indeed, yet by no means unexpected-from the sandy plains of Florida. Stella was dead, but she had died "looking unto Jesus," and in the feeling of her perfect safety and happiness with her Saviour. Lucy could acquiesce in the earthly separation from her. She had seemed to be one over whom "things seen and temporal" held so much power, that perhaps only the pressure of physical disease, and the realization of the possible approach of death, could have brought her to the invisible but ever-present Saviour. Her temporal loss had thus been her great gain; yet still "more blessed are they" who without such pressure "have believed."

Our young friends have now arrived at an age when their history is scarcely so well adapted for the youthful readers of these pages. But as we all like to hear tidings of our friends after years have elapsed, it may be pleasant to catch at least a glimpse of their later life. Lucy never returned to her uncle's house: she became too valuable a member of her cousin's household to be spared from it, and she is now its mistress in a legal and permanent sense, aiding her husband most efficiently in his labours of love. Fred has long since finished his studies and been settled as the minister of a village church near his sister's home. Thither he has lately brought Mary Eastwood as the minister's wife, and has found that she admirably fills that important post. The two old friends, united now by closer ties than ever, still delight to maintain their Christian companionship, and to revive, in the frequent visits interchanged, the happy memories of former days.

Nelly still keeps house for her brother, who would not know how to dispense with her multifarious services in weeding his beds, gathering his fruit for market, and tying up his flowers. But as some of his friends are equally sensible of her good qualities, he has made up his mind that, sooner or later, he will have to let her go.

Ada Brooke has been married for several years, and is much, the same, in her present luxurious home, as when we first made her acquaintance, with no more aspiration beyond the transient pleasures of the world. Sophy, who has remained faithful to the memory of her betrothed, is a very angel of mercy, ministering continually to the poor and sick and disconsolate, and finding therein a higher happiness than she ever knew, even in the days when she was most admired and envied. Mr. and Mrs. Brooke, since the death of their darling Stella, have thought more of that unseen world into which she has entered, and less of the present one, which formerly so completely engrossed them. And Edwin, finding all earthly sources of pleasure to be but "broken cisterns," has at last turned to drink of "the living water, of which if a man drink he shall never thirst again."

Bessie Ford is still the wise, motherly eldest daughter at Mill Bank Farm. If, from the uneventful character of her quiet country life, she has not filled so prominent a place in these pages as her classmates, it is not that the watchword "Looking unto Jesus" has had less influence on her life than on theirs; and though its fruits may have been more obscure, they have been as real, in the thorough Christian kindness and faithfulness, patience and industry, which make her a much-prized blessing to her family and her friends.

And now, my young reader, that you have seen the effect of taking "Looking unto Jesus" for the watchword of life to some extent illustrated, will you not, henceforward, take it as your own?

If only you come by faith to that Saviour who is waiting to receive you and to renew your sinful heart, and go on living by that faith in Him, you will find, ever flowing from Him, a life-giving power, which will furnish you with the strength that you need more than you now know, for the battle of life before you. And though you may never be called upon to do things which the world calls great and noble, you will do common things in a noble spirit, which is the same thing to Him who looks upon the heart, and

"So make life, death, and the vast for ever,

One grand, sweet song."

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