' Very poorly, indeed, lady,' she answered, without any movement; ' my poor bones ache so, that I can get no rest'.
' But your soul rests—does it not ?—in the love of the Lord Jesus'.
' It does—blessed be my gracious Lord !'
'Well, I am come, at the request of our dear Mr. H. and his sister to see you'.
In a moment her hands wrere raised to grasp a cord that hung loosely across the head of her bed, and by means of which, with a forcible effort, she turned herself to the side where I sat, exclaiming, with a blaze of animation, ' Oh, do tell me something of them! And did they send you to me V
I told her much of those precious friends; and then we talked of the Master whom they served : and then I read a portion of God's word, astonished and instructed by the deep observations that she continually made. I found her, in fact, one of the most experimental Christians that I had ever met with; and before I left her, every object had become lovely in my sight: so manifestly did the glory of the Lord rest on all around me. Many an after hour did I pass, holding her poor withered hand in mine, while we discoursed upon the love of God in Christ; and many a Christian friend, including ministers and missionaries, did I take to learn of my blind old dame such heights, and depths, and breadths of that redeeming, enlightening, sanctifying love, as few of them had ever attained to.
On my second visit, I took my dumb boy : he was deeply affected, and after gazing intently on her countenance whilst I read the scriptures to her, though not comprehending a word that passed, he said to me with tears in his eyes, ' Poor blind woman loves Jesus Christ.' I then told her of his presence and his state ; and very lovely it was to see the trembling hand of the blind old saint pressed on ,the head of the deaf and dumb youth, while she invoked the richest blessings of covenant grace on his path—already, and evidently tending to an early grave.
One peculiar characteristic marked that singular dwelling: it was the zeal of both mother and daughter for the soul of the idiot boy : his story was very touching. His mother, led astray and abandoned, had sought shelter there—had given him birth—and died with every appearance of having been led to Christ during her short but bit-ter trial. The only connexion of either parent who could do any thing for the babe, was asked where he should be sent: ' Toss him behind the fire !' was the savage reply; and from that hour he wras cherished in the poverty-stricken abode of faith and love ; receiving a most scanty dole from the parish towards his support, with a weekly threat of its withdrawal. ' And if they do,' said the dame's estimable daughter, ' we can but trust to the Lord, and go on. I am sure he has a soul, and at times I see little gleams of sense in him ; and I am sure that, poor sinful child of a sinful race though he be, the blood of Jesus Christ can save him too.' And then she clasped her arm round him, and earnestly talked to him of the love of Christ; observing, 'How do I know but that he understands more than he can express !'
It will readily be believed that my heart became knit to this family ; and after my poor boy was confined to his home, I went continually to give and receive supplies of strengthening hope, in conversing with Dame C. Never was gratitude so overpowering as that wherewith our little offices of kindness were received : never were spiritual things more abundantly reaped, in return for such poor services in carnal things.
I was often deeply humbled to perceive in how fierce a furnace the Lord still kept what to man appeared gold fully refined. The dame's trials were dreadful. One part of her malady was the nightly, and often daily, appearance of the most horrible shapes and countenances, menacing and rushing at her, as if commissioned to tear her in pieces. Not being able to account for this, she naturally supposed them to be evil spirits ; and most heart-rending were her cries to the Lord, for help and defence against them. A medical friend explained to me the origin of those optical illusions ; and I was able to convince her that they sprang altogether from her disease. It was joyful news to her harassed mind : but in the beautiful simplicity of her faith she said, 'When I thought them devils, I did not really fear them : it was sad to have devils for company, and they are very frightful too : but since neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord, I felt that they could do me no harm'.
The dame found out my love of flowers, and often charged her daughter to pick the best for me. The little garden was as rich in them as tasteful industry could make it; and, by careful cultivation, the family of pinks and carnations had overspread the borders in splendid profusion. I have no floral association more distinct, than that of these lovely specimens with the cottage of Dame C.
When, after a period of most agonizing suffering, my dumb boy underwent what the country people call the " change for death," about a week before his actual departure, I went to seek comfort from my dame, and was greeted with the tidings that a change exactly similar had passed on her. I could not then bear to see her ; but, five days after, I went and beheld her laid out, in the perfect semblance of death. No perception of any kind seemed to exist, her respiration only, now and then rising to a groan, indicated that life still lingered. 'She will never speak nor move again,' said her daughter, ' thus she will breathe her last.' But she was mistaken; another day and night passed by, and every moment appeared likely to be the final one. At seven o'clock in the morning of the ensuing day, to the amazement of her watchful nurse, the old woman lifted up her hands, and in. a loud clear voice exclaimed, ' When you hear the bell toll for me, then rejoice—rejoice—rejoice ; for I shall be in glory.' The word ' rejoice' was each time accompanied with a clap of the hands—the word 'glory' was uttered in a tone of rapturous exultation—and then the hands fell, and the soul was gone in a moment.
Thus she entered into her joy of the Lord, at the age, as she used to say, of twenty-eight. 'For though it is eighty-six years since I came into the wrorld, you know I was dead till the voice came, " Awake ! thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Yes, I was dead in trespasses and sins, and I will only number my days from that whereon He quickened me'.
I had anticipated much solace from discoursing with her of my dumb boy's state, when he should be taken away; she died fourteen hours before him; and he called her, playfully, ' Bad blind woman,' for not waiting for him. I stifled the selfish feeling of disappointment, and feasted on the assurance of their glorious meeting, when the eyes of the blind are indeed opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped, and the tongue of the dumb makes melody in heaven. It is so realizing to witness the short and sprightly step wherewith some of God's children spring from time into eternity- The bursting of a bud into the sudden expansion typifies it sweetly ; but I must not anticipate the Evening Primrose. For this month it will suffice me to bend over the gracefully-drooping carnation, and send out my heart's warmest affections towards the poor of this world, rich in faith, whom God hath chosen to be heirs of his kingdom, in glory that shall never fade away.