“Plunged in a gulf of dark despair.”
Spell-bound, she listened to its close, never stirring from her tracks till a group of people passed near, then slowly walking on, you might have heard her talking again to herself:—
“O Ruth Jones, where are you? I used to sing that, too, in the same old church where I carried the roses, only it was years after. I used to pray, too. I wonder if God would hear me now.”
That night, and many nights after, she could not sleep; the words of song kept ringing in her ears, bringing up the old scenes and associations, till the great deep of her soul was broken up.
In her darkness she felt gropingly, feebly, for the old paths, and the good Spirit was all the time leading her back to the light. I can not retrace for you all the way that she came. I only know that gradually, surely, the night wore away, and the Sun of peace shone upon her soul. She went to the church, where the song had that night staid her footsteps, and listened to the words of life.
Her life became a blessing; for her nature was broadened, deepened and purified. The sick and needy learned to be glad at her coming, and little children ran to meet her.
And did Bessie Lane ever come again?
Yes, when June smiled upon the earth, the childish figure once more paused at the gate, but the blue eyes gazed bewildered around. “This isn’t the place. Aunt Ruth must have moved away.” Well might she think so; the house was neatly painted, the yard fence repaired, and up and down the path all sorts of flowers were blooming. Just then Bessie descried a neatly dressed old lady tying up some vines.
[Illustration: “Aunt Ruth must have moved away.”]
[Illustration: “Bessie sprang into the woman’s arms.”]
“Can you tell me where Aunt Ruth Jones has gone that used to”—Bessie stopped, and with one bound sprang into the woman’s arms, for it was Aunt Ruth herself.
“It is so beautiful here! how did it all happen?” cried the delighted child.
Aunt Ruth smiled brightly, and, taking Bessie by the hand, passed into the neat, cheerful room, and up to the south window, where the carefully tended rose was putting forth beauty and fragrance.
Bessie fairly danced with delight at sight of the rose, but Aunt Ruth seated the child gently by her side, and told how it had happened; how the little flower had at first whispered to her heart of the long ago; of the holy song that would not let her sleep; and, lastly, of God’s good Spirit that had so tenderly led her straying steps to the sun-gilt path of peace.
It was recess at Miss Capron’s school. The girls stood together in one large group, talking very earnestly.
“I think it was a shame,” said Marcia Lewis, “for her to make me face the corner for an hour, just because I spoke half a dozen words to Nellie Jones.”