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milk, the peasants had heard of West Indian slave-drivers, and how they tortured their poor workpeople. They were not learned, these poor villagers, but worn down as they were, they instantly and passionately resolved to be revenged on their "slave-driver," farmer Bowen. Reece, as he moved about from day to day, heard ominous whispers of a "blaze!" He heard that it was intended to set fire to the ricks, and to hamstring the horses, and he went home to Hannah with a drooping head and heavy heart. He told her all, speaking to her in the tones of love and earnestness which had first won her young heart.
"I have prayed them to be still, Han," he said, tremulously; "but they won't."
"Then the master must be told," she replied, immediately; "he has not been good to us; but we ought to do our duty by him." Reece thought for half an hour over the turf fire, and then said, quietly, "Han, I'll do it!" It was the hardest business in which he had ever been engaged; but he did not shrink from it, although perhaps he might have done so, had he thought of the way in which his master would have received his warning.
When farmer Bowen could understand what threatened him, his first words were, "You are at the bottom of all this; I know you; I have watched you; and you at least shall not go free. Dick, go and get the constable."
Reece grew pale as death, and could not speak. "I know you," his new master went on, "and you shall be put in the stocks, at all events."
"Master," answered Reece, as soon as he could regain his voice, "I have worked on this farm, man and boy, many, many years. I married Hannah from here; and it was her wish, as well as mine, that you should be made known of what was going to be done to-night."
"Off with him!" cried the farmer to the constable, who now entered.
"But do you know that this is Reece?" said the constable, remonstrating; "he has never been in trouble before:5' Remonstrance, however, was unavailing; and good, honest Reece, who had always been the kindest husband, the most sympathetic neighbour, and the most regular in his attendance at church, was dragged away to the village watchhouse.
That night the village was indeed in a "blaze," and farmer Bowen's precious ricks were consumed; he himself perished in his efforts to secure the ringleaders of the outrage, and to save his property. A few of the guilty parties were taken, and were tried and executed. No one ever believed that honest Reece had had anything to do with the crime, and the magistrates told him so in the kindest manner when he was brought before them. But upon his release he seemed to be another man: to have become old all at once; and Hannah had often to point him to the sampler which contained the gracious promise. They left the neighbourhood, and lived on the scantiest fare, which their wages at another farm would only admit of; but when they were well stricken in years, a relative of their former master, Mr. Edwards, took the old farm on which they had worked in their youthful days. They were immediately sought out, and once more, but with less nimble feet, they were doing their old work. The little hut which had received Reece's bride heard her last sigh; and here it was that he used to wonder, when all had gone from him, why he had lived to be so old; but never without a feeling of gratitude to Him who had been his unfailing support even unto hoar hairs.
|es, sir, there's nothing like being a soldier. I
think, for a man, it's the most glorious thing he
UjSjJj can do to fight for his queen and country and
keep off all enemies."
The speaker was a fine tall youth, and his dark eyes
flashed with energy and enthusiasm as he spoke. The gentleman — his Sunday-school teacher — smiled at his words; but he was unwilling that so promising a young man should join the army, and the smile was quickly succeeded by a grave shake of the head.
"I wish you could be persuaded to settle down steadily to your work here," he said, "and not think of entering upon the life of a soldier."
"But there must be soldiers, sir, as well as sailors; and I've heard you say we can do our duty and serve God in any station of life."
"That is quite true," said the gentleman, "but still—"
"Well, sir, you know I always enjoy reading the Bible better than the Testament because it tells us so much about the wars and fightings," interrupted the lad. "I've sat and wished that I could have lived when the children of Israel went to fight with the Canaanites for the promised land. It must have been so glorious to fight for God's kingdom to be established on earth. It seems that nobody has ever had such a chance since."
There was no time to say more at present, and it seemed useless for any one to oppose what was so evidently the natural bent of the young man's mind; but still the teacher could not help feeling some anxiety as to John Munro's future if he entered the army. He was a young fellow of great impetuosity of character, and his imagination had been fired by reading of battles and victories, till, as he said, "he thought a soldier's life the noblest on earth." He was a most promising member of a Bible Class, but whether he would be able to withstand the temptations of a soldier's life was more than doubtful.
John promised to remember all that had been said, and knelt in prayer to ask God's help and protection in the perils to which he might shortly be exposed. A few days afterwards John enlisted, not to be merely a soldier of Queen Victoria, as he wrote to his teacher, but to fight for his heavenly Master and seek to extend His kingdom in the world. Full of fire and enthusiasm to master all the duties of his profession, the commanding officer had little cause to complain of John Munro. The drill, which to some was a weariness and trouble, was to him a pleasure. But although no one could complain of Munro, and his superior officers soon noticed him for his attention and diligence, he was anything but popular among the men.
This was not very surprising when it came to be considered what a wild, reckless set they were. They were more wild and more reckless than John could have thought possible until he came to live with them in the barracks, and then he took no pains to conceal the disgust he felt at many of their doings. He had come determined to wage war against sin, and he did it with all his might. But, unfortunately, although he earned for himself the name of saint, and provoked the persecution and ribaldry of his companions, he made little impression upon them; indeed it seemed that there was more profanity going on than when he first came, if that were possible, for each one tried to outdo the other now in order to annoy him.
At first John was inclined to pride himself on this persecution. But when months passed and no impression was made, John went upon his knees, not to ask for courage to denounce more strongly what was going on around him, but for grace to learn himself how he might extend God's kingdom. Somehow the way he had taken had proved a signal failure. He had made himself many enemies, but had he succeeded in subduing the least amount of evil? He now set himself to find a more " excellent way" than that of looking down upon his fellow-sinners and loudly denouncing their ways.
He had scarcely risen from his knees before the loud jesting laugh of one of his companions sounded behind him.
"Halloo, Saint Munro, have you heard the news?" asked the man.
"What news?" asked John, unconsciously speaking in a more friendly tone.
"Our company's ordered off to India, for one thing, and Simpson's got himself into disgrace for another. The last, though, will please your saintship mightily, I've no doubt," added the man.
It possibly might have done a few days before, for this man, Simpson, a drunken, disorderly fellow, was one of John's most bitter persecutors, and the ringleader of all the revelry that was carried on in the barracks.
"What's Simpson been doing?" asked John.
"What should it be but fighting?" surlily responded the other. "And why a soldier should be locked up for just taking his own part and doing as everybody else in the world is doing — fighting for his own opinion — I can't understand."
"People don't all fight for their opinion," said John.
"They do, though; at least you do, tooth and nail; and pretty hard fighting it is sometimes."
The man said no more, but went out; and John sat and\ thought over his words. Had he been fighting for the establishment of that kingdom which is essentially one of peace?' If this had been so, he would do it no more, but go upon a different plan in future.
As he was leaving the barracks, to take a walk before evening parade, an old woman met him. The tears were rolling down her withered cheeks, and she was evidently in great distress. "Oh, do you know what has happened to my poor boy?" she asked, stepping up to John.
"What is his name?" asked John.
"Simpson—Tom Simpson; he's a bit wild sometimes, but he's kind to his old mother, and he's my only son now."
John wished he could spare the old woman pain, but how was he to do it?
"I'm very sorry to have such bad news to tell you," he said, "but Simpson's got into trouble again, and been locked up."
"Locked up!" repeated the old woman; "it was the drink then that did it. My poor boy! and he'll be fretting