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Her murmurings were silenced, as, in a clear, steady voice, the words of Scripture were uttered in that narrow room. With her hard hands clasped on her knees, and her features expressing earnest attention, she sat and listened, repeating the well-known sentences of consolation, after Lewis, in a low but impressive tone. Truly, to the poor is the Gospel preached; and it is those who have the least portion on this earth, who hold its promises most precious. As Lewis knelt by the children's bedside, their little hot hands stole into his, their parched lips murmured blessings. Whatever might be her faults, their grandmother had taught them, morning and evening, to say a prayer; and on the lone hills where they tended Roger Pemberton's sheep, from dawn of day till dark night, the boys took with them the hymn-books Lewis had given them, and conned their lessons for his Sabbathschool teaching. If their harsh master kept them to their work when others were learning,
it was never too late for Lewis to attend to the petition of the hard-tasked children to hear them read, and help them in their slow progress towards the little knowledge they could ever hope to attain.
Through the tiny window, the sound of his voice penetrates into the quiet field across which the poacher and his dog are returning sullenly.
But even that man's hard countenance is softened, as he stops for a moment to listen; and presently, when Lewis comes forth, he stands aside, respectfully, to let him pass. He does not go by without speaking a word in season to the bold sinner. He tells him of his sick wife and starving children.
Lewis is the friend of the poor, and not one of them mistrusts him. Daily and nightly, he walks among them; and, while they know him to be singularly pure of heart, they yet dare to open the dark secrets of their own breasts to their young pastor.
Each one of them is aware that he feels for them; and though they think him the best of men, there is a compassionate tenderness in his tone, which springs from the deepest source of Christian humility. If Sir Frederick's fishponds are not dragged to-night, it is young Pemberton's voice, more than the vigilance of the keepers, and the loud, passionate threats of their choleric master, that keeps them untouched.
The poacher draws his hard hand across his eyes, as he turns down the lane to face Maggie in her troubles; and the dog that has, all day long, skulked at his heels, now bounds forward to meet the children, with whom no silkenhaired lap-dog could be a greater favourite, than the rough-coated, ragged-looking, but sharpwitted companion of their father; the worsttempered animal in the parish-Fox.
Though Laura and Clarice sat up late, that night, nothing was heard of Sir Frederick. Laura was greatly alarmed and consulted Mrs.
Dixon on the expediency of sending to enquire after him at the town to which he had said he was going; but the housekeeper took his absence very quietly, advised the young ladies to go to bed, and assured them that her master would come home quite safe in the morning. As she seemed to think that he would highly disapprove of any active measures being taken, they were forced, at length, to comply with her advice.
SIR FREDERICK's kind heart was greatly shocked, when he returned, soon after breakfast, the next morning, at seeing, by his niece's agitated reception of him, how great her anxiety on his account had been. The sudden bereavement which Miss Derwent had recently undergone made her nervously ready to anticipate evil. She had not slept, and her pale cheek and tearful eyes showed that the vigil had been a painful one.
He felt ashamed, when he looked at his niece's altered countenance, of having heedlessly yielded to the solicitations of his friends. Even the merry Clarice was grave, and seemed inclined to reproach him for her friend's distress. The cares of a family were come upon him; and he perceived that he could not