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Remember you have sinned against God as like these, and trust all his generous schemes well as against him."
to a self-indulgent, worthless nature like this? “I have, Justin, I have !" sobbed Richard, But Justin could no longer do evil that good overcome for the moment, but for the mo- might come. He had entered into the kingment only, by conflicting feelings. It was dom of realities, where perfect integrity was characteristic of him that he gave no thought essential, at whatever sacrifice. He must go to Justin and the change in his circum- straight onwards, and trust all the results to stances. The old lurking terror of his father's God. curse was gone for ever. He had been for " I'll go and meet Uncle Watson,” said given and reinstated by the poor old man, Richard. whom he had deserted, and whom he could For a short time Justin remained alone in now afford to forget. He was no longer the the church, pacing up and down the sunlit penniless, dependent brother, liable to be cut aisle. He almost marvelled at himself that adrift at any time, and sent back into the he could have run into such a snare, as to
cold inhospitable world. He was the real give up his lowly station for the possession of | master and owner of Herford, and Justin, his step-father's lands. What would not
the supplanter, was giving up the birthright have given to be merely the vicar of Herford to him. It was his own place; who else once again, with no aspirations after a wider could have
claim to it?' He must get to sphere ! know all the ins and outs of this extraordi
CHAPTER XXX.—A FULL CONFESSION. nary story. Why had he been left wandering about, in poverty and loneliness, while there RICHARD HERFORD hurried away to the was a good estate waiting for him ? He stables, his own stables now, and ordered the should like to have a clear understanding groom to saddle Justin's horse for him. The about it.
man demurred, and said his master might “Not here,” said Justin, when he gave want to ride himself, whereupon Richard utterance to this wish. "Your uncle Watson struck him sharply across the shoulders, managed all your father's affairs, and as soon quite after the manner of old times. He felt as he comes I will go through it all. I wish himself the master again. to hide nothing, nor to keep anything back. He did not spare the horse as he galloped I will deliver my own soul, and I pray God along the highway to Lowborough, for he yours may be delivered also.”
was impatient to see his uncle, and pour out “I wonder how long he will be?" re- the whole story, as far as he knew it, to him. joined Richard impatiently. “ You're a He overshot his mark in his eagerness, and parson, Justin, and bound to talk good, you missed his uncle, who had taken another road know; but I can't think of anything else, to Herford. By the time Richard had ridden till I know all. I'm glad enough to know to Lowborough and back, all thought of his the old man forgave me," he added in a lower father's curse, and his father's forgiveness, or voice.
of his own faint resolutions of reformation "He forgave you fully," Justin reiterated had faded from his mind. He felt no anxiety with the greater emphasis, as he saw that his except to enter speedily upon the inheritance father's pardon had taken hold on his shallow so long withheld from him. nature.
It was to a very unsympathetic, though not “And I'll promise to forgive you fully," an unmoved audience, that Justin made his said Richard, once more holding out his full and candid narration of the circumstances hand to his brother; "yes, I'll forgive you attending his stepfather's death. His mother beforehand, though I don't clearly under- and uncle set him down as a fool; and his stand it all. You need not be afraid of me, brother as a knave. They sat looking at one Justin."
another in silence when the avowal was He spoke in a tone of superiority, such as ended, which none of them seemed inclined Justin had heard often in the later years of to break. his brother's boyhood, when they had half “ This is a pretty kettle of fish,” thought angered and half amused him. He could Mr. Watson; "why could he not come first not feel either anger or amusement at this to me, and let us talk it over quietly? We moment. With a foreboding heart he looked might have taken proper measures, without earnestly into his handsome face, with its letting Dick know all about it. Now he will voluptuous, vacillating expression. Was he never rest without every inch of land, and called upon to relinquish all the goodly every penny of money passing into his hands. work of his life into grasping, selfish hands | I'll be hanged if I know how the law stands!”
"Well, Justin !” exclaimed his mother, remember you have not a tittle of evidence when the silence grew too much for her to but what Justin says." bear, “I never heard such an extraordinary “I am quite ready to say all I have now story in my life. I can take my oath I said in any court of law,” remarked Justin. burned the will my poor husband gave me “Oh! go to law, go to law !” cried the with his own hands. 'Take this packet,' he old attorney, “and beggar the estate to ensaid, and let me see it burn away to a rich the lawyers. What I advise is : let Dick cinder,' and so he did. He gave the other have the inheritance of course, as his father packet to Justin, and said, 'That's my last meant him to have it, and let him allow you will; and you can testify I'm of sound mind.' a younger brother's share ; £300 a year or If
you believed it was the wrong one, why so out of it”. did you not speak up at once, before the “What?” exclaimed Richard, interrupting other was destroyed ?
him. “Do not you all understand ?” asked “I say," continued his uncle doggedly, Justin, “I did not know of the fatal mistake you ought to be so grateful to Justin for till we opened the one that was kept, the day giving you an estate, that you should allow after my step-father's death."
him a fair income out of it. Why, man alive! “Well, well !” murmured Mr. Watson, nothing on earth could have shaken him out who was overwhelmed by the intricacies and of it! There was no flaw in the will ; not a the importance of the case. He was growing doubt about it. We drew it up, and have the a little puzzle-headed in his old age, and was instructions still in your father's own hand. in the habit of handing over all out-of-the- Everybody said you richly deserved to be way matters to his younger and shrewder disinherited, and you would be a disgrace to partner, Mr. Frost. He threw himself back the name of Herford; whilst he was worthy in his chair, and pushed his spectacles high of taking the name and the lands. If you up on his bald forehead, staring at Justin with don't give him a share, you are a mean unassisted vision. Mrs. Herford tossed back scoundrel." her cap-strings, and smoothed her dress upon “ Then I am a mean scoundrel,” replied her lap, and gazed from one to the other of Richard, with a sneer. “ I should call it mean her sons.
to keep a brother out of his own for ten years “I always said right was right,” she said, or more. He ought to be thankful if I do in her most oracular tone, “and I must say not sue him for the income he has spent, of I always thought poor Dick was the rightful my money. Could you reckon how much heir to his own father. It is a true saying, would be coming to me if he had put it into 'Murder will out. Conscience is too much trust ten years ago? By George, I've borne for us all, you see, Justin. I never suspected enough loss, without charging myself with you were carrying such a burden on your any more." conscience; and you a clergyman, and a “ I wish for nothing from you," said Justin, magistrate. I hope you won't be brought to "and I need hardly say it is out of my power a public trial; for that would be a great trouble to restore anything to you, of the spent income to me, as you are my own son. I wonder of the estate. If you had come back when what your poor dear father, Mr. Webb, would you saw the advertisements begging of you to have felt, if he had lived till now! But I'm come, you would have entered into possession sure my dear Dick will not prosecute, for my then, and I should have remained vicar of sake.”
Herford.” “Don't be silly, Susan," growled Mr. Wat- “There should be a law that all wandering son angrily. “What is Justin to be prose- heirs put in an appearance once in seven cuted for? It was the old man's own blunder, years," said Mr. Watson, “or forfeit their not Justin's; and Dick never gave a sign of claims and rights. Of course Dick must being alive till nine or ten days ago. I can have the estates ; but what is to become of testify how Justin did his utmost to find him. you? You've fallen out of the ranks of the And now he gives it all up nobly. He is not clergy almost, and there's small chance of a standing out for any terms for himself
, as he preferment for you. Besides, this strange might have done, and as I should have story will run through the country like wildadvised him. I suppose the law would give fire, and nobody will understand it rightly. the estate to Dick, for the disherison of an I'll be whipped if I quite understand it myheir must be beyond question the intent of self. I think you might have kept quiet with the parent; and in this case the old man a pretty clear conscience. If every man is to plainly intended Dick to inherit. But point out the flaw in his titles property would always be changing hands. I'll go home and We'll soon put some life into the place, I consult Frost; he's as keen as a hawk. But promise you." we must make some terms, you know. You “But, Dick, my dear, dear boy," said his cannot be turned out like a beggar on the mother pathetically, “ I should like to have world, at your age ; and with our pretty little my money matters settled now, whilst we are blossom into the bargain. What shall you all talking about it. Your father left me do with Pansy?"
£300 a year, and it's no more than I ought “Oh! Pansy need not turn out,” said to have. It must be made chargeable on the Richard ; “ let her stay with her grandmother. estate, as it is now. Thomas Watson, do There's plenty of room in the old place, and open your lips, and speak a word of common I like to see pretty girls about it.”
sense about it, if you can." “ Pansy can stay with me, of course,” “I don't know what to say," he answered. interposed Mrs. Herford, “though she has "If the will that was destroyed is to stand, he been a little too much petted to be of any left you nothing; and if the other will is to real use. This will be a sad blow to her, but stand, he left Dick nothing. It's a pretty it will do her good, I hope; poor, spoiled kettle of fish. I think I'd better go home, child! She won't be quite so flighty and and talk it over with Frost." high-spirited; not made so much of. If she “I say I'll take care of my mother," said was a little more humble, and kept herself Richard, in an irritated tone. “My father left more in the background, she would be really me all or nothing ; and all or nothing I'll a nice girl; though I am her grandmamma. have. Besides, she has been saving money She looks much too big to be my grand-ever since my father died. If any provision child,” added the vain old woman, glancing is to be made for Justin and Pansy it is her at herself in the mirror, and lifting her shapely place to do it. She's their mother, and a hands to the braids of hair upon her fore- sight closer relationship than I am to them. head.
I've got to think it all over; and all I'll pro"Pansy will go when I go,” said Justin mise now is that I won't go to law, for shortly, “I can make a home for her.
I am Justin's sake—if he'll act fairly without it. I ready to transfer the estates to you as soon can't say anything fairer than that.” as the necessary documents are ready. Of “I only wish to do what is right,” answered course it will be burdened by a dower of Justin as shortly as before. It was of no use £300 a year to our mother, bequeathed to to argue with natures as selfish and shallow her in the later will ? "
as those of his mother and brother. They Mrs. Herford started from her chair in could not understand him; that was impossudden alarm. Any insecurity as to her own sible. The elevated mood, which had been income had not occurred to her. But now it his since the evening before, was descending, occurred to her that the will which had been step by step, into a more earthly one. Not destroyed by mistake had left her absolutely that he repented of his decision, or wished to dependent upon her younger son. Justin recall his confession; but there was a blank had paid her handsome allowance as re- disappointment hanging like a cloud over gularly as Christmas and Midsummer came ; him. He scarcely knew what he had exand she had never offered to take the least pected from his mother and Richard; but his share of the household expenditure. The own motion had been so deep and vivid, that tears stood in her eyes, as she gazed im- he could hardly bear in patience the silly ploringly at Richard, whose face was im- selfishness of the one, and the haughty penetrable.
superiority of the other. “ There must be no charge upon the He left his three kinsfolk still discussing estate,” he said. “If my father left me every- his narrative; for though Mr. Watson was thing, everything I will have. You can surely puzzled and vexed, he could not bring himtrust my mother to me? This is a question self to act on his conviction that it would be to be settled between her and me; not be best to go home and talk it over with his tween me and you. I've no intention of partner. Justin had put the matter out of his going to law in this affair. I said I'd forgive own hands; and so far that was a satisfacyou, and I'll stick to my word. If you like tion. But there was no satisfaction in thinkto leave Pansy here, I'll be good to her; for ing of his successor, and of the change that she is an uncommonly nice young girl, and Herford must speedily undergo. He went she'd help to keep the house alive. Not but away, heavy at heart, to seek his daughter what it will be alive when I'm master of it. Pansy.
“O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days.”—Psalm cii. 24. THE 'HE Psalm in which these words occur am withered like grass !” Ah, he was no
the recorded cry of an anxiously wistful longer young !--carried away into bondage soul-is entitled, you observe," a prayer of probably in his early youth, he has survived the afflicted when he is overwhelmed, and all the hardships and afflictions of the weary poureth out his complaint before the Lord;" exile, until at length its destined term is and the Psalm answers to the title.
almost completed, and the hour of emancipaIt is manifestly the devotional utterance of tion approaches : but alas ! in the course of one who spoke out of the depths of some nature, the end of his own mortal term great and sore trouble; nor is it less evident approaches also, and can hardly be far off; what the trouble was; there are expressions“ his strength is weakened, his time is short," which indicate clearly enough the secret of he may never live after all to go back with the writer's grief. The Holy Land lay de- the rejoicing tribes to his native soil and solate, the sacred metropolis of Palestine in watch with them the rebuilding of the House ruins; and for this he was mourning, and of the Lord; and out of the anguish of this had long been mourning, apparently in exile, fear breaks the cry, “Oh my God, take me “like a pelican of the wilderness ; like an not away in the midst of my days !” A cry, owl of the desert; as a sparrow alone on the however, which is instantly followed by a housetop." Yet while weeping bitter tears, devout effort to rest content with the asa promise of better days near at hand would surance, that, whoever dies Jehovah and his seem to have dawned to cheer him.
“ Thou purposes
abide. shalt arise and have mercy on Sion ; for the It is very beautiful to see the eager time to favour her, yea the set time is come; yearning old man, endeavouring to face the Lord will regard the prayer of the desti- serenely the possibility of his fading away tute, He hath looked down from Heaven to and his falling short of the land, -the land hear the groaning of the prisoner, to liberate he so pined to revisit; in remembrance of the children of death; that His praise may God's eternity, and the consequent undoubted be declared in Jerusalem, when the people redemption and reinstatement of the elect are gathered together and the kingdoms to people. And those of us who are living, serve Him." These sentences may be said worn and grey, amid growing signs of a freer, to justify the conclusion of most Biblical grander time in store for the earth, a time of students, that the Psalm was written by some wider thought and clearer vision, “of nobler expatriated Israelite, during the Babylonian modes of life, with sweeter manners, purer captivity, but towards the close of the seventy laws;" we should feel satisfied, that although years which the prophets of the nation had we ourselves may be doomed to depart hence foretold as the limit of its duration ; when before it arrives; that though, in spite of therefore the outcasts from their country strong desire, our eyes may not be permitted were beginning to look for deliverance, and to behold it, yet with it, men shall be blessed; to count on the restoration of the city and that when we are no more in these streets temple, that had been burned with fire. and under these skies to enjoy, not having
Our author perhaps had suffered in silence, been suffered to continue by reason of death, hitherto; for in the deep midnight of our the world of mankind will be climbing higher, distress, we do not sit down to describe it, beneath the guidance of the everlasting God are not wont to breathe it musically. But who fainteth not, neither is weary; higher now that the darkness was sostening a little toward the summits of a perfect day. with hopes of returning day, he could give But now, the prayer of the text represents, himself to articulate and relate his woe in it seems to me, that which is peculiar to the plaintive song, song rising gradually to a middle-aged; and I am moved somehow to higher key, a livelier strain, under the sweet address myself for a little, especially to such. expectation of coming relief. It was still Being one of them, they naturally interest me gloom around him; but not the dense un a good deal. I love and delight exceedingly mitigated gloom that had been ; surely the in the young; the star-eyed, sparkling children, morning was drawing nigh. The happy con- full of motion, full of wonder, the lusty, sanviction, nevertheless, brought with it to the guine, conceited youths, and dainty, dream. writer a new anxiety and disquietude: “My ing maidens; and I revere the old, whether days are like a shadow that declineth, and I wise or otherwise, looking up to them with a
species of awe, as those who have traversed much slighter the wrench seemed, than I had the whole mortal round, and are waiting to imagined it would be; and curious and eager sail away into the mystery of eternity ; who as I had been to plunge into the untried having experienced all things here, are about mortal life that lay veiled and mysterious to make experience of the vast unknown be- before me, when the conviction came that yond our shores. But they are the middle- all experience of it was likely to be denied aged naturally in whom I am most interested. me, I began to be no less curious and eager Well
, my reader, in the prayer that the in anticipation of that other life, still more Hebrew Psalmist prayed, we are expressed. veiled and mysterious, upon which, according It is characteristic of us, more than any to appearances, I was destined soon to enter. others, that we are loth to die. There are If the sudden new prospect awed, it yet moments with us perhaps, as with all, when strangely drew and fascinated me. But exsomething of a longing seizes us to disappear cept in morbid moments, or intervals of behind the veil, to pass through the gates extreme weariness, the middle-aged are never into the unseen ; but for the most part and so easily weaned to die. Never is death distinctively, we do not want to die. such a rude, violent, unwelcome interruption. Neither for old nor young is it so difficult to Never does it involve such rending asunder surrender to the interruption and change of and plucking up, as in the midst of our days. death, as it is for us, in the midst of our days. Just then it is that we are most vigorous, Either of these may resign themselves more and most interested, and most occupied; at easily to it than we: as to the former, they the height of our powers, in the mid-heat of have begun to expect and arrange for it'; work and enterprise, and alive with widest they stand and wait, aware that it is eventide and keenest mundane sympathies. We have with them, and that the day is far spent got to be thoroughly at home in the world, Besides they are conscious, more or less, of and fastened to it by a thousand ties. There failing powers and appetites, their interest in are the family relations and needs, the ripe things has lost much of its keenness, and they mature friendships that have outlived many are feeling rather tired ; Death, looking in at vicissitudes and survived many a peril, the last, finds them not unready or reluctant to pursuits that have become more engaging receive him: and with respect to the latter, and absorbing than ever, the thoughts, hard as it seems that they should be taken, schemes, and ideas that are being industriand instinctively as they recoil from the ously worked out, the issues of things that thought of it, having life untasted before are being waited for, the conflicts and conthem, and being full of eagerness to sally troversies with which we are mixed up. We forth and drink thereof; yet the very fact are so deeply rooted here, and so closely and that they are comparatively new to life, not variously entwined; and then all is so having become bound to it by long use and familiar; we have grown so habituated and custom, nor by the formation and growth of inured to it all ; while the youthful impatience numerous ties, must need render the pang of of monotony, and susceptibility to the charms separation comparatively light; there is so of change and novelty have diminished in us. much less attachment to overcome, so many We are less ready to seek the new and unbonds the less to break; while if the inter- tried ; our disposition is rather to cleave to vention of death disappoint the curiosity and the accustomed and old. Middle age begins inquisitiveness that are strong in youth, and to be conservative ; although, like St. Paul, thwart the passionate desire to try the un- it may groan in this tabernacle, like St. Paul trodden, and explore the unknown—it does it does not care to be unclothed. also invite, and offer food to the same. longer hankers after fresh fields or inclines "Come with me,” it says, in driving back to fresh ways; it prefers running on in grooves from the gateway of the promised earthly that have been worn, and is reluctant and existence, experience of which was thirsted finds it difficult to quit them; it leans to the for, “come with me into another strange time-endeared state and scenery, does not land to make acquaintance there with what wish to part from a world it knows so well; eye has not seen nor ear heard."
the thought of missing these streets and skies, It is not the hardest thing to die young. these haunts and homes, strikes it with a chill. I can remember, on learning the supposed Never are we so in love with them, and so fatal character of a serious illness that over- knit to them, as in the midst of our days. took me in my juvenile days, with how little With
many of us, moreover, there is apt to difficulty I was able to reconcile myself to be an increasing attraction toward carnal comthe prospect of leaving the world; how forts and material goods, and an increasing