Leonard slowly and sorrowfully returned to Wood-street. On arriving there, he assured his master that he might with entire safety open his house, as he proposed, on the morrow; and Doctor Hodges, who visited the grocer the same evening, confirmed the opinion. Early, therefore, the next morning, Mr. Bloundel summoned his family to prayers; and after pouring forth his supplications with peculiar fervour and solemnity, he went, accompanied by them all, and threw open the street-door. Again, kneeling down at the threshold, he prayed fervently, as before. He then proceeded to remove the bars and shutters from the windows. The transition from gloom and darkness to bright daylight was almost overpowering. For the first time for six months, the imprisoned family looked forth on the external world, and were dazzled and bewildered by the sight. The grocer himself, despite his sober judgment, could scarcely believe he had not been in a trance during the whole period. The shop was scarcely opened before it was filled with customers, and Leonard and Stephen were instantly employed. But the grocer would sell nothing. To those who asked for any article he possessed, he presented them with it, but would receive no payment.
He next dispatched Blaize to bring together all the poor he could find, and distributed among them the remainder of his store—his casks of flour, his salted meat, his cheeses, his biscuits, his wine—in short, all that was left.
“This I give,” he said, “as a thanksgiving to the Lord, and as a humble testimony of gratitude for my signal deliverance.”
THE MIDNIGHT MEETING.
The first day of his deliverance being spent by the grocer in the praiseworthy manner before related, he laid his head upon his pillow with a feeling of satisfaction such as he had not for months experienced. A very remarkable dream occurred to him that night, and its recollection afterwards afforded him the greatest consolation. While thinking of Amabel, and of the delight her presence would have afforded him, slumber stole upon him, and his dreams were naturally influenced by his previous meditations. It appeared to him that he was alone within his house, and while visiting one of the upper rooms, which had formerly been appropriated to his lost daughter, he noticed a small door in the wall that had never before attracted his attention. He immediately pushed against it, and yielding to the touch, it admitted him to an apartment with which he seemed acquainted, though he could not recall the time when he had seen it. It was large and gloomy, panelled with dark and lustrous oak, and filled with rich but decayed furniture. At the further end stood a large antique bed, hung round with tarnished brocade curtains. The grocer shuddered at the sight, for he remembered to have heard Doctor Hodges assert, that in such a bed, and in such a room as this, his daughter had breathed her last. Some one appeared to be within the bed, and rushing forward with a throbbing heart, and a foreboding of what was to follow, he beheld the form of Amabel. Yes, there she was, with features like those she wore on earth, but clothed with such celestial beauty, and bearing the impress of such serene happiness, that the grocer felt awe-struck as he gazed at her!