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prospect of leaving Richard. His were feelings of no common poignancy; for, in persuading him to remain, seeking independence for himself in that rural district, Mr. Barlow had dropped some hints with respect to the injurious effect of factory employment on the health and characters of the rest, which, while they confirmed him in his path of duty, gave rise to more distressing apprehensions than the good minister would willingly have excited. He did not know how far the boy's mind had outgrown his years. Helen's indeed appeared an easier choice; for the only road that seemed open to her was one which kept her beside her benefactress, holding out a fair prospect of repaying to the family some part of her obligation; but her young heart had so entwined itself round the objects familiar from infancy, that the breaking up of the little establishment, the removal of each article as it passed into the hands of a purchaser, and the consciousness that in a few hours she must for ever quit that peaceful home, would have been a heavy grief, even had she not imbibed a secret dread of the untried experiment, and shrunk from what her own fancy, far as it fell below the reality, would picture of the noise, the confusion, and other painful contrasts of a large town.
But none suffered like the widow: she had her portion of what each around her felt, and with it a depressing apprehension that she had acted wrong in preferring the counsel of worldly advisers before that of her long-tried, pious friend. It is no uncommon case to seek direction in prayer, and then to act from the impulse of our own choice, without waiting for an answer. Of selfishness in any shape she stood acquitted, even in her own eyes; but not so of precipi
tation. She was, in fact, one among many victims to a most nefarious device: the waste of human life in the factories, like that in the plantations of the west, occasions so pressing a demand for a supply of new labourers, that it gives rise to a traffic not very dissimilar from the slave trade. A brisk market is always open; and those who consider it a meritorious work to decrease the burdens of their respective parishes at any cost, are equally ready to recruit it with their paupers, as the natives of Madagascar of old were to sell their prisoners. Even where no such desire exists among parochial authorities, emissaries are employed, who, by means of such false representàtions as those contained in the pamphlet shewn to the widow, written and published for that express purpose, allure the industrious countryman from his healthful sphere, to perish, with his little ones, amid the noxious exhalations of those unnatural dens. It is no fiction that such books are circulated in districts remote from the scenes described in them; or that they often prevail when other means would not succeed.
But the die was cast, the cottage was dismantled, and the little party who sat grouped on the large bundle were to know their place within its walls no more. Evening was closing; a bright moon had surmounted the tops of the old elms that separated two adjoining fields, and looked in, as if for a farewell greeting, through the interstices of a woodbine, that had been carefully trained over the casement, and formed a graceful lattice. Mary broke the long silence.
Our poor honeysuckle! I do hope whoever gets the place will take care of the honeysuckle.'
“Ah,'sighed Richard, many a pleasant hour I have passed, training and trimming that old plant. Some hand will cut it down before long.'
“Never mind,' said James, “I'll have one just like it growing over our window at M. It will make us more happy.'
Tears sprang into Helen's eyes at the contrast thus forced upon her of the future with the past. The widow felt it also, and remarked, “We are not going to a place of ease and enjoyment, my dear; but to labour for a living in a very different situation. The only thing we can promise ourselves there, of all that has made us so happy here, is the presence of God.' Then clasping her hands, and looking up with a burst of tears, she exclaimed, “ If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence!”
"The answer to that prayer, granny,' said Richard, ‘is very gracious: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Honeysuckles on the window there may not be; but the sweet moonlight will come through, and remind you of what Mr. Barlow said last Sunday, when he preached on the light shining in a dark place. One thing, I am sure, you will carry away with you, that has helped more than anything else to make us happy here, and that is the old bible, granny.' The boy turned away to bide bis tears, overpowered by the thought that he must no more listen to the sacred book in the midst of those he loved so well.
The moonbeam, now broad and strong, fell upon them as they sat, and bathed them in its silvery light, passing through the pure clear atmosphere peculiar to a healthful sea-coast. They looked upon each other, and again to the fair orb, while the natural
thought so beautifully expressed by the poet seemed spontaneously to arise in their comparatively uncultivated minds, that it would be a sort of rallying point for their fond gaze, when widely severed in place and circumstance. After a silence of some minutes, the widow called on Helen to repeat the twenty-third psalm ; and never had the preciousness of its soothing assurance so commended itself to their bearts as while in the low deliberate accents of deep feeling each clause fell from her quivering lip. They then kneeled down, and fervent, though broken by many sobs, was the prayer of that fond parent as she commended the children of her anxious love, together with herself, into the hands of Him who is a Father to the fatherless, and a judge of the widow, in his holy habitation. Oh, it is an awful thought that so many believing, confiding prayers of the poor destitute are recorded in the book of His remembrance, whose piercing eye is never for one moment averted from the hidden plannings of the mercenary deceiver's heart! Very terrible will be the day of public inquisition and divine retribution. God keeps silence now: the oppressor secretly flatters his own soul that the Lord is even such a one as himself; and the sufferer is tempted to ask “Hath God forgotten to be gracious ?-is his promise come utterly to an end?” No: he hath appointed a day for the open vindication alike of his justice and his faithfulness-a day that both shall see, when, in the presence of men, of angels, and of devils, it shall be shewn that the Judge of all the earth doeth right.
The little family, so barbarously exiled from their industrious home, to avert a possible, a paltry burden from the parish books, and so craftily ensnared into
lingering destruction to swell the gains of a wealthy manufacturer, arose from their knees, exchanged one parting embrace in silence, under the subduing influence which they had just besought, and presently separated for the night. Richard, after accompanying the travellers to the doors of two neighbouring cottages, where beds were hospitably prepared for their few hours' rest, returned to fling bimself upon the bundle, in the agony of a sorrow no longer to be repressed; and the moon had stolen her soft beam away from the little casement, ere the boy had wept himself to sleep.
We will not accompany the wanderers through every stage of their progress: an agreement had indeed been made with the barge-owner, to whose charge they were committed ; but abundant opportunity was left for him to advance demands alike unexpected and unreasonable. It was a sad specimen of what they might look for among mercenary strangers; but even the imposition which pressed so heavily on their very slender purse was less galling than the coarse familiarity and contemptuous rudeness alternately exbibited towards them. Disrespect was new to the Widow Green: the independence both of her disposition and circumstances, together with her exemplary line of conduct towards the helpless young charges who shared her generous care, had imparted a moral elevation to her character, demanding and receiving the homage of a general deference from her equals, with more than common courtesy on the part of those above her. She was now to learn the value of an humbling dispensation; and in the pain inflicted by it she first discovered how needful it was.
There are corruptions in every human heart