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her lips, especially as his devoted attention seemed to be heaping coals of fire upon her head. Meanwhile John, being quite unconscious of her state of mind, was greatly distressed at her danger, and yet feared to say a word to irritate her, as the doctor had most emphatically said that absolute quiet was her only chance of recovery. Following him out of the bedroom one day, John ventured to say: "Do you think, sir, I might speak to my wife about her soul?"
"Certainly not: that is, not if it will alarm or annoy her."
"But, she is in danger?"
"Most decidedly she is; but you know I have told you all through that she must be kept quiet."
John went back to his post with a heavy heart, and as he sat watching his beloved Mary, he sought relief by once more casting his burden of care for her upon the Lord— especially did he pray for wisdom to act rightly in his present perplexity.
The same evening Mary suddenly said, during a short respite from pain, "I wish you'd read to me a bit." "What shall I read?"
"Oh, anything. I'm tired of tossing about, and perhaps it may put me to sleep."
In fear and trembling John replied, "May I read a few verses from the Bible?"
"Oh yes, that'll do," was the unexpected answer. And as John read the fifty-first Psalm, in which David confesses and seeks forgiveness for his sins, tears stole down Mary's pale cheeks; but she made no remark, and a fresh attack of pain, forbade any conversation. But the next evening she again aked to be read to, adding, "I want to hear about the man who came to Jesus by night;l and the next time read about the thief on the cross."
It may be imagined with what a thankful heart her requests were complied with; and knowing her to be natu
1 John iii.
rally reserved, John was content to do simply what he was asked, and leave the rest to Him who had evidently begun a good work in Mary's heart.
The first Sunday after reading had become a regular thing, Mary called John to her in the early morning and said," I've asked your sister to sit with me, while you go to church."
With some difficulty John steadied his voice and answered, "But I don't like to leave you for so long."
"Oh, Jane will take care of me, and "—with a smile— "you can tell me all about the sermon this evening."
"' Bless the Lord, O my soul!' " was indeed John's song that happy Sunday; and in the evening, when Mary said, "Now, read the text and tell me all about it," how joyfully did he comply and repeat all he could remember of what the minister had said of the tender love of the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep.
"That is for us all—for you and me, Mary; because we, like poor, silly sheep, had chosen our own way and not God's, and had not strength nor wisdom to get back by ourselves, and so the dear Lord Jesus came down to earth to seek and to save that which was lost."
When John had finished talking, Mary lay thinking quietly for a few minutes, and then said,
"I should like to hear more about it. Do you think the clergyman would come and see me?"
"That I am sure he would."
"Well, then, go and ask him to-morrow."
This John did; and the afternoon found Mr. Fordyce sitting by Mary's bedside, reading and explaining to her the Word of God. To his teaching Mary lent a willing ear, and drank in Bible-truth with an avidity that plainly showed her soul to be athirst for the Water of Life.
One night she was seized with a frightful spasm of agony, and gasped out, "John—I'm—going 1"
"Are you afraid?"
"No—He died for me."
But Mary's life was to show the necessity of her faith, and she was given back from the very gates of the grave, though for many days it was believed she could not possibly recover. During this time of suspense, her sister-inlaw remarked, one day,
"Mary, the neighbours are always pitying you and saying it's time you got better."
Mary shook her head and answered quietly, "I don't think there'll be any getting better for me in this life."
"But you don't seem to mind, and you don't look unhappy."
"I am not unhappy."
"But don't you care about leaving John and the children?"
"Of course, I would like to live for their sakes; but God will care for them, if He takes me."
"Well, you've always been very good, Mary."
But at this Mary's reserve gave way, and, with all the energy she could muster, she exclaimed, "Never say that again. Only God knows how bad I've been—so bad, I thought He never could forgive me. But now I know that my Saviour loved me and gave Himself for me, and it's that makes me happy."
She sank back exhausted; but her lips had been unsealed, and she and John never wearied of testifying to the power of a Saviour's love—that love which, in different ways, had sought and found these two wanderers from His fold. That same love is watching over you, my reader, ready and willing to succour and to save. All that God asks from you is to feel your need, and in your helplessness to come to Him, in humble, simple faith; and you will find, with John and Mary, that He is ever " Mighty to save."
A. H. NEWMAN.
Hen spending a holiday at the sea-side, my little children were greatly pleased to find the hull of an old vessel, which had lived out its life upon the waters, and was left high and dry in a sheltered nook upon the beach. High and dry, that is to say, when the tide was out, but when the waters returned to the shore they flowed high around the sides of the ship, and were deep enough at that time to drown anybody who could not swim. Well, my little ones were on the old vessel one day, having clambered up the steep black sides at low water, and after playing for awhile in the lower part—called the hold—one of them, Tommy, aged seven, came up on to the deck, and spied something he had never seen before,—a piece of a mast, which went from the deck right over the bulwark. He no sooner saw it, than he wanted to climb out upon it, for he is a little, eager, restless fellow, who always likes to be doing something that looks dangerous, and likely to try his strength and courage. In his eagerness to scramble on to the mast, which stuck out lengthwise, five or six yards from the ship, he did not notice that the tide had risen, and was lapping it around on every side. Calling to his brother, and his two little sisters to watch him, he crept on to the mast, and using his hands and knees and feet to make his grip strong, he went forward slowly, until he had got to within a few feet of the end of the mast. He was very pleased and proud, and so were the children behind him, who clapped their hands and shouted, "Well done, Tommy!" But on a sudden, Ethel saw the great waters beneath and around them, and knew that if Tommy loosed his hold for an instant, he would slip from the narrow mast, and tumble right into the midst of them. She ought to have kept very still; but love for her brother filled her with terror, and she was lost to everything but the thought of his danger, and cried aloud, "Oh! Tommy, the water! the water!" At the sound of her voice, Tommy looked down, and seeing the big waves beneath him, his courage went out of him, and he reeled, and almost fell from the mast. He managed to turn round, so as to face the ship, and crawled forward for a few feet, and then could go no farther, but remained there shivering and dumb with fear, and his hands and limbs losing their firmness. Every moment they thought that he would fall into the water; and had he done so, only a miracle could have saved him from drowning, for he could not swim a single stroke, and the water was deep enough to cover two Tommys, standing one on the head of the other. Just then I was coming up in a. boat to take my little ones from the ship. I turned a corner of the cliff, and saw in a moment what was happening. You may think how great my fears were, for I, too, thought that my little lad would fall before I could come up to save him. I was a good distance from the ship, but taking the oars well in hand, I began to row with all my strength, and I prayed silently with all my heart, that God would not suffer the child to drown before my eyes. As I came nearer, I could see that all the colour had gone from Tommy's face, and his body seemed quite limp and nerveless from fear and exhaustion. He was slipping: in another instant he must fall. I saw that a thin strong rope hung down from the mast, about three or four yards in length. "Catch the rope, and fasten it round you!" I cried to him. He stretched out one hand and caught hold of the rope, but had not strength enough to fasten it round him. "Cling to it," I cried; "don't let go: I will be with you in an instant!" It was a new thing to hold by, and the touch of it seemed to strengthen his fingers, for in another moment his body reeled and fell from the mast; but the rope remained gripped in his hand, and he hung by that until you might have counted four, when I rowed underneath him, and he dropped right into my arms. Think of the joy of us all, for Tommy, though he lay pale and panting in the boat, was safe, and in a few moments was