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lies across his path. Its bright leaves and fresh white blossoms are drooping and dying. He turns his plough sharply, as if his eyes had found in the sight an emblem of Hugh's fate.
The minister's words, the prodigal is found,' are constantly before him. Found! and what has Elias to welcome him with ?--neither rich garments to put on him, nor fatted calf to kill. He must do his meanest labourers' work to win him common bread. Prodigal ! of what has he been prodigal ? Did not Elias send him portionless from his father's house? In his toilsome progress he again comes to the bough with its withering blossoms, and the word 'broken-broken' issues from his stern, compressed lips.
'I knew he was less strong than Hirell, yet I sent him out, and kept my own—and kept my own.'
All day he toiled in the sun, and in the evening was somewbat comforted to look back on the stony field, and see that he had done the work of two men. The birds were singing as he came home, but Elias found nothing but sadness in their burden. He thought of how Hugh whistled or sang as he came home at his side, and how their singing and all the sounds of the evening used to seem to become a part of his song.
Would he never walk by him again across these fields in the sunset, lifting his rich, sweet voice, which the echoes sent back, as if proud to repeat such music? The sunset was as beautiful as on those last-year summer evenings, when the brothers returned together from their labour. There was a silent cry in the heart of Elias, to which the birds seemed to give voice, till he forgot it was from himself, and could almost fancy they really sang them to him reproachfully as he went along; instead of which, it was his heart that gave words to their voices, which seemed to cry—'Elias, Elias, what hast thou done with him ? Where is the sweet musician?'
In the evening, several times his head was turned sharply towards the door, at slight noises. If Hugh were to die, could the moment of his death be to Elias as all other moments ?-would he not be allowed to know it by any sign or warning?
In the night, when he was asleep, his rest was troubled by sounds of music, piercingly sweet. He dreamed he saw his father beside his bed, and that he asked him what they were, and he answered him with a stern voice- Turn to your sleep, Elias; the burden that I left you is removed. The music you now hear is your brother playing in God's choir.'
Elias went out early to his ploughing, feeling very lonely in the glory of sunrise, as he thought he might be the only one of his father's house left for it to shine upon. He came in his laborious turns upon the broken bough, and found all its blossoms withered.
A few minutes before the letters arrived, he stood in the little post-office garden, looking down the winding road. When he saw the postman's white horse galloping across the bridge, he gazed at him as if he expected to see some sign about him of the kind of news he brought. He came close ; one of his bags whirled through tho air and fell in the midst of the cabbage-bed in the post-office garden, and the white horse dashed on.
Some miners were waiting for their letters, and Elias watched them as the bag was sorted-almost passionately envious of those who received what they had come for, and full of pity for such as turned away empty-banded.
Elias Morgan !' called the postmaster. Elias took the packet held out to him, and turning quickly from all inquisitive looks, went homeward with his prize.
It was from the minister, and these were the contents, which Elias, as usual, read aloud to Kezia :
*DEAR FRIEND,—My hearty supplications, and the prayers which I know you have offered up for him at Bod Elian, have prevailed with the Lord, who has given your brother back into my hands out of the valley of the shadow of death. He is not yet safe ; he lies, as it were, upon the slippery bank; hut as strongly as one mortal may hold another, will I hold him for you, Elias. I will now tell you how it came to pass that I was permitted thus to find and succour him even at the eleventh hour. My mission for the last week has been to preach in the place of a well-meaning, but feeble brother, at
-Street, a crowded, poor, and sinful neighbourhood, as doubtless you may have heard. Large bills, certifying my intent and the subjects of my discourse, had been displayed for some days previous to my arrival in the locality; and I make no doubt but that the unfortunate lad saw my name on them, and was moved, not by its associations with the Master I serve, but by its carnal associations with home and kindred, to enter into the little tabernable, that he might see me and hear my voice. Probably he intended to depart as he came in, unnoticed by me; but even as the presence of the nightingale is made known by her song, so was his betrayed to me by the peculiar power given him by the only Giver of those gifts of the spirit.
The day of our meeting was Saturday, the busiest in the week with the tradesmen of that tinsel and gingerbread booth of vanity fair; and, owing to this accident, it transpired that the young organist, a shoemaker's apprentice, was not at the chapel. When, therefore, having grown warm with my discourse, and wishing to take rest, I called for a hymn, no response was made to me, till presently one of the congregation whispered to me the state of the case, whereat I was vexed in spirit, for melody is as healthful to the soul as dew to your fields. “Brethren," said I, “is there not amongst you one whose hands have cunning to do our missing brother's duty ? Can no one play upon this instrument?”
So long a silence ensued, that I was about to tell them to sing without accompaniment, when a slight movement took place among those near to the door, and in a few moments, without seeing the person who had just seated himself before it, the sounds of the organ rose, and rolled with a vast power and most melting sweetness; and over our heads there began, as it were, a mighty converse-in which human and divine voices seemed mingled. It was to me as if a band of angels had come rushing down to meet and to embrace the ascending but still chained souls; and that the spirits of earth and the spirits of Heaven did for the time hold passionate communion with each other, uttering piercing complaint, and profound and tender comfort-deep-voiced despair, and clear, thrilling whispers of hope—which seemed to be all rending the air at once, in a harmony so grand, so tumultuous, I could but think thus at the Judgment-Day men and spirits shall meet.
The music ceased, and I bethought me of the master-hand to whom we were indebted for moments of such exalted
G"We thank thee, brother," I said, looking at the curtains that concealed the lower part of the organ; and not unwilling to take advantage of the incident, according to my wont, to stimulate the attention and keep alive the curiosity of the very
rough congregation that these special services call together, “ Who art thou ? For fain would I know the name and calling of one so gifted by the Lord.”
Without answer, without a look towards me, a form rose up and went down the steps leading from the organ. The form so slim and slight, and now so thin; the motion of the arm; the pale downcast face-Elias, I knew it-I knew him. I understood the power of the music-it was that lost, misguided youth, thy brother. I saw him hastening towards the chapel door, and was moved to call out his name in a loud voice. He only hastened the more I was determined he should not escape me.
«« Brethren," I said, “I have much to say to you. My evening's mission is not fulfilled, but stopped midway by another. What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it ? Such a one I go to seek. Brother Robert will pray with you the while. I may return presently.”
'I left the chapel, and went in search. I was in time to see his form again, before he turned the street corner, and hastened after him. Before I reached within a few yards of him he had heard my hurrying and somewhat heavy footstep and turned. Seeing me, he fled ; but speed was given me to bear him yet in sight, which I did for the length of several small streets. At last I saw him stop and enter a house, and then saw him no more, and neither could I remember with any certainty when I came to the spot which house in the row it was that he had gone into. I therefore took note of the name and position of the buildings, went back to the chapel, and brought our meeting to a more decent conclusion.
Early in the morning I went again to the place to seek him. I enquired at three houses, without discovering that any such person as I described lodged there. At a fourth I obtained tidings of the wanderer, and sad tidings, too, friend Elias. A woman, as dark of aspect and almost as loud-voiced as a thunder-cloud, began to rail at him as soon as I pronounced his name. “ Lodge here? ” quoth she; "a wheedling young swindler! I reckon he lodges at the bottom of the Thames by this time anything with some folks to cheat honest, hard-working people of their due." She then bade me come up to her young lodger's room, and witness for myself whether it was not left by one who was bidding farewell to life as well as to it. And truly the sight of letters in your handwriting, my friend, in small pieces on the floor, and sheets of written music torn as by a passionate hand that wildly seeks to silence life itself, as it silences these evidences of lifegave me the gloomiest forebodings.
'I picked up some of the scraps of paper, thinking to find a clue to his trouble, but was as prompt to put them down again as if they had been covered with plague-spots. My very hands felt blistered. My cheeks grew hot. Then my heart was moved within me to a transport of indignation against the iniquity of our time and state, that allows iniquity to sow broadcast its seed through our streets and waysides, so that our young and undefiled country children, when they come up full of hope and belief of great things in store for them-pure, simple-hearted, unsuspicious children find harlotry in silks and satins, vice no longer shame-faced but triumphant, and systematically fed by a thousand different agencies. What wonder then if they cannot see and understand the hideous truth beneath, till it is too late to profit by the knowledge ? Oh for the days of our puritan forefathers ! But they will yet come again ; and then, God willing, we will make one clean sweep of the whole, and breathe once more the pure air ofan uncorrupted dwelling—this dear old England, which has been and shall again be the abode and dowry of the saints. In God's time! Yea, in God's own time!
'I made the woman promise to send me word instantly by a private messenger, should her lodger return. But I could not sleep, Elias, that night, for thinking of the lad and thee; and so I got up and walked the streets for some hours, obey. ing first this thought, then that, but had to return emptyhanded to my poor, lonely, bereaved wife; who by this time had, 1 verily believe, transferred all the hidden away love of her heart for the child we lost to thy brother, and lamented my every failure as if Hugh were indeed our son. “Woman," I said to her once, “ am I this lad's keeper?” for she began almost to persuade me the guilt and misery lay all at my door, that I had not more and better looked after him.
Next day I went again to the lodging; the same the day after; and yet again on the third day, when I was later than I had intended, and so evening had come. As I approached I heard the high-pitched voice of the woman sounding angrily