« AnteriorContinuar »
warning, they might, by hoisting another farther on, entice the schooner on to the rocks, and thus bring to themselves a plentiful supply of food.
It was a dreadful thing to think of doing, but the men were made hard by their privations, and they determined to make the attempt. Let it be remembered that it is many years ago since this occurred, and that such practices were then far from uncommon; it is to be hoped that in these more enlightened times even the greatest hardships would not induce a number of men to enter into such a plot.
Among those who were consulted as to the plan was Red Mike, who was as badly off as any of his neighbours, but he stedfastly set his face against it .
"Look ye here, boys," he said, "we shall never gain any good by wrong-doing; and look at it, if any of the poor fellows were drowned, would you like to have that on your consciences all your lives, let alone the stealing?"
"But, Mike, we are nigh upon starving, and here is a real godsend for us," argued one.
"Not a godsend," answered Mike; "God would never send us a vessel to wreck. Maybe, if we trusted Him more He might send us help, but not the way you are thinking of."
A great deal more was said on both sides, but nothing could make Red Mike move; "He might starve," he said, "but he would never do that wrong."
After arguments came threats; threats of violence to the man who would not help to "bring the starving people food;" that is the way it was put.
He was called a coward, and taunted with want of manliness; but to every taunt he answered that he would not consent to the wicked act that was proposed.
"If you won't go in with us we will give you a taste of the sea," said one of the men; and the cry was taken up by the others. "Chuck him over the rock; he'll turn traitor on us, if we let him have the chance!" So enraged became the men at last, that they seemed likely to carry the threat into effect; but Mike still held firm to his resolve to have nothing to do with their proposed plan. He said it would be a wicked thing to do, and reminded them that by causing the wreck of the schooner they would be likely also to cause the death of some of the crew. "And how could you get up on the Christmas morn," he added, "and feel sure that you had made widows and orphans that might suffer, poor things, far more than we are suffering? You must not do it, boys; don't you think that the Great Father of us all can provide for us, in His good time? Ay, and He will too, if we only put our trust in Him."
Mike said this with such confidence that none but those who knew how he was situated would have thought he was about the poorest of all in the village.
"And how can He send us food for to-morrow?" asked one of the men.
"I don't know how" Mike answered; "but if He sees well He can do it, and He will."
It was long before Red Mike could prevail upon the others to give up their idea; but he did so at length, and he went home rejoicing that he had used his influence in the right direction.
On reaching his cottage Mike was met by his wife, who knew nothing of the proposed scheme for obtaining the muchneeded supply of food. When her husband first caught sight of her, she was standing at the cottage door looking seaward.
"Look, Mike," she said, "there is a vessel coming this way; where can she be making for?"
On looking round her husband could see the lights of a vessel which was evidently coming as close inshore as possible. It must be the very schooner the fate of which had apparently been decided by him half an hour before, so he thought, although he did not answer the question put to him.
For some time he watched the approaching lights, till at last they ceased to move, and became stationary close to the shore; then across the waters he could hear the sound of voices and the splash of oars, and soon a shout, which' was answered by some of the fishermen who lived nearer the sea than himself.
"I'll just go down and see what it is," he said. "There are none of our boats out to-night."
When he arrived at the beach, the boat had just reached the little jetty where the fishermen landed their fish.
"Lend us a hand, men, as quick as you can," shouted one of the rowers. "Here is something that will make your hearts rejoice."
"What is it you have?" asked several voices.
"Never mind what it is; help haul them up;" and in a few minutes the boat was unloaded, and cask after cask of meal and other provisions stood before the wondering men.
"Is Michael O'Harran among you?" asked the skipper of the boat, as soon as the last package was on the jetty.
"Yes," answered Mike, "I'm here."
"Well, then, here's a letter for you ; and there is another load to come ashore yet. Lend a hand lads, we must be off again."
With a wondering look Mike took the letter that had been handed to him, and ere long had mastered it contents. It explained that the gentleman who owned nearly all of the houses in the little village had heard of the distress among his tenants, and had sent, by a schooner going north, a present of food and other things to be divided amongst them, and that, knowing Mike would do it fairly, he had deputed him to deal them out to his neighbours.
Need it be said that there were great rejoicings among the people, and that they all agreed with Mike, that the gift so unexpectedly received was one that they could call a real godsend? Need it be said, either, that there were rejoicings that they had been prevented from committing the crime they had been so near to perpetrating? We think not.
One thing certainly need not be told, and that is that the Christmas dinner eaten on the morrow was none the less sweet because it had not been obtained by an act of wickedness, the consequences of which might have been ruinous to all.
Whether that night's experience taught a lesson of faith to any of the other fishermen we cannot say, but we know that Red Mike's trust was strengthened, and that ever afterwards he could repeat with the greatest confidence the words of the Psalmist, "Trust in the Lord, and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed."
How well it would be if we could all feel the same confidence in our Heavenly Father as was felt by the poor Irish fisherman. It would lighten all our burdens, and help us on till we reached that shore "where faith will be changed for sight." Here we must have trials, and we may have privations; but we may be sure of this, that if we are real followers of Christ, and children of God, all things, yes, trials and privations included, will work together for our good.
Thy second coming, Lord, when will it be?
Unshrinking at the worldling's sneer and frown,
That blessed Saviour, who from heaven came down
When will His chariot wheels sound in the sky—
As we shall fly to meet Him in the air,
And see that face Divine, beyond compare;
Hear the blessed words, "Ye faithful servants, come,
And claim the kingdom, your eternal home." E. S. P.
Nd so this happy Christmas season has come round again. It seems but a short time since we, like others, were busy planning and plotting all sorts of pleasant surprises for that happy morning last year; and yet let us think with tender sympathy of the many homes where tears must mingle to-day with the smile that would try to conceal them, and of others where there can be no smiles at all, but where want has taken the place of abundance, and vacant chairs look dreary, and where the last Christmas gifts from dear ones now gone are tenderly looked at and treasured as being the very last. For us who have been spared such trials, shall we not ask for very grateful hearts and very tuneful lips, that our song of praise may be deep and true and hearty ?" Open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise." 1
What a busy, often fatiguing and perplexing, and yet always happy time it is, when we try to make, it may be, a little money do a great deal, and busy brains and fingers are called into requisition to make it go farther. There are also such delightful little mysteries going on among the dear children; the younger ones so pleased to be taken into counsel, and to add their small coins to the larger savings of the elder ones; these elder ones, again, so important, so delighted for this time to go shopping by themselves, and all so carefully keeping the secrets which parents and aunts would not wish to discover.
Sweeter still is the desire to make Christmas a bright and joyful day to the poor; and here mothers and children and servants can all help and work together, so that the widow and the fatherless, and the sick and the sorrowful, may be cheered by finding that they are not forgotten.
But, after all, surely it is the great gift of gifts, God's
"unspeakable Gift" to us, that makes the true joy of
Christmas; all the rest are like little sparks shining with
*• Psalm li. 15.