Page images
PDF
EPUB

Way at Last.

A TRUE STORY, IN TWO CHAPTERS.

CHAPTER I.

ERY chequered and very strange are the life-histories

of many people; especially of such as have been wanderers from the strict paths of rectitude and

duty. What tales of sin and suffering will the unfoldings of the last judgment reveal, when the books shall be opened, and the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest! It will be seen, then, that sin and sorrow have always gone hand in hand ; that those who have sowed the wind have invariably reaped the whirlwind in some form or other; and that those who have tried to live without God in the world have found Satan's service a very bitter

one.

Alexander Lloyd was one of these. His childhood was an unfortunate one, for at an early age he was bereaved of his mother, and left to the training of a nurse who alternately petted and scolded him. His father was a man of business, and being absorbed in labour for the "gold which perisheth,” left his children to the care of servants and teachers. As a consequence, they grew up self-willed and half-educated. When Alexander was of a suitable

age

his father apprenticed him to a draper. He entered upon his new duties eager to see life in this fresh aspect, and thinking, doubtless, that it would afford greater scope for self-will. But the confinement and restraint, were more irksome than school-life; and he rebelled against the rules of the establishment at every possible opportunity.

He spent about two years in this situation, and then, being angered by something which had occurred between himself and the principal, resolved to run away. His boyish imagination had been fired by reading various books of foreign travel and adventure; and the quiet life of a country town appeared intolerable to the high-spirited, wilful lad. Accordingly, taking a few shillings and a small bundle of clothes, he set off for London ; thinking, doubtless, that once there, it would be easy to succeed in a more congenial manner, or, at any rate, to see life in some more stirring way.

This attempt was, however, unsuccessful; for, after journeying a few miles his little bundle and his stock of money were taken from him by tramps; while he himself, being seen and recognised by persons from his native town, was sent back ignominiously to his employer.

Being forgiven, and received back into his former position, Alexander continued quiet and well-behaved for some time. As winter drew on, however, he once more grew restless and discontented, full of fault-finding and disobedience ; and, taking base advantage of the holiday allowed at Christmas, once more started secretly for London. This time, after some adventures, he succeeded in reaching the metropolis, and strolled aimlessly about, until all his money was exhausted in making his first attempt at“ seeing life.” Finding himself penniless and hungry, however, in a few days he went down to one of the docks, and bound himself to the master of a brig plying between Newcastle and Hamburg, but which, for purposes of trade, lay for a day or two in dock.

The life of a sailor seemed to afford him an opportunity of visiting foreign lands, and of mixing in strange and stirring scenes; but there was a restlessness and daring about Alexander which effectually prevented any thorough learning of any calling. As a consequence, after making the voyage between Newcastle and Hamburg twice, he once more ran away, and this time joined a party of strolling players, who employed him to collect pence after their performances. He travelled with these players for several months, seeing many vicissitudes, and journeying through most of the southern counties. Winter coming on, however,

[ocr errors]

the band worked their way back to London, when they cast Alexander adrift upon his own resources.

Homeless and starving, alone in the world, it is not surprising that the poor misguided lad fell into ways of dishonesty, and stole in order to procure food and shelter. He soon fell into the hands of justice, and was committed to prison.

All this time his friends were ignorant of his whereabouts, and had mourned for him as for one lost without hope. The chaplain of the prison, however, was attracted to the lad by his youth, sufferings, and evident superiority, in manner and education, to those who usually are confined in that dreary building, and talked to him, affectionately and closely, respecting his past history. He succeeded in obtaining Alexander's home address, wrote to his father, describing all particulars, asking forgiveness for the now apparently penitent lad; and further, when his terın of imprisonment was expired, supplied him with money sufficient to pay his fare home to his father's house.

Alexander received a cordial welcome and full forgiveness; for his father's anxiety respecting him made him willing to receive his prodigal boy upon almost any terms. This boy, however, after being received, forgiven, clad, and fed, soon gave all concerned to understand that he by no means intended to remain at home, but that it was his settled wish to go to sea; and that, further, if not sent honourably and openly, he intended once more to run away.

Mr. Lloyd was almost at his wits end to know how to deal with his wayward son. Despairing of any change for the better in his conduct, but determined to give him one last chance of retrieving his character, he took him to Portsmouth, and endeavoured to enter him on board a man-of-war. Unfortunately, Alexander could not pass the requisite medical examination, because of a slight natural deformity, and the door into the Royal Navy was closed.

Friends, however, came to the rescue upon hearing of the

matter, and using their influence, obtained a berth for the lad on board a merchant vessel bound for the West Coast of Africa. The West Coast is known to be unhealthy for all Europeans; and Mr. Lloyd could not endure the idea of shipping his only son off to the “ White Man's Grave.” Hardened and careless, however, as Alexander was, he bade defiance to danger, and sailed off in high spirits, while the almost broken-hearted father returned home alone, to wrestle and plead with God on behalf of his wandering son.

E. R. P.

* Rock of Iges."

* "R

OCK of Ages, cleft for me,”

Thoughtlessly the maiden sung,
Fell the words unconsciously
From her girlish, guileless tongue,
Sang as little children. sing;
Sang as sing the birds in June ;
Fell the words like light leaves down
On the current of the tune
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee."
Felt her soul no need to hide ;
Sweet the song as song could be,
And she had no thought beside.
All the words unheedingly
Fell from lips untouched by care,
Dreaming not they each might be
On some other lips a prayer-
" Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee."
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me”-
'Twas a woman sung them now,
Sung them slow and wearily-
Her hand upon her aching brow.
Rose the song as storm-tossed bird
Beats with weary wing the air ;
Every note with sorrow stirred,
Every syllable a prayer-
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.”

“ Rock of Ages, cleft for me”-
Lips grown aged sang the hymn,
Trustingly and tenderly ;
Voice grown weak and eyes grown dim-
Let me hide myself in Thee."
Trembling though the voice and low,
Ran the sweet strain peacefully
Like a river in its flow.
Sung as only they can sing
Who life's thorny paths have pressed ;
Sung as only they can sing
Who behold the promised rest-
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.”
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Sung above a coffin lid ;
Underneath all restfully,
All life's joy and sorrow hid.
Never more, O storm-tossed soul,
Never more from wind and tide,
Never more from billows' roll
Wilt thou ever need to hide !
Could the sightless, sunken eyes,
Closed beneath the soft white hair ;
Could the mute and stiffened lips
Move again in pleading prayer,
Still, aye still, the word would be-
“Let me hide myself in Thee."

By permission, reprinted from Public Opinion.

Echoes.

BY CRONA TEMPLE.

VERYBODY knows what echoes are, and yet very few

people have heard an echo such as I once heard when I was a child.

We lived on the western coast of Ireland then, and near our house was a wonderful place called Crowey Hole. It was very deep, and big enough for two churches, towers and all, to be hidden within it completely! It was

« PreviousContinue »