Ester’s grave face brightened. “I’m so glad,” she answered eagerly. “I did want to go to church to-night, and I was afraid it would be imprudent on account of my tooth.”
Alfred and Julia sat right before them in church; and Ester watched them with a prayerful, and yet a sad heart What right had she to expect an answer to her petitions when her life had been working against them all that day? And yet the blood of Christ was all-powerful, and there was always his righteousness to plead; and she bent her head in renewed supplications for these two, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear.”
Into one of the breathless stillnesses that came, while beating hearts were waiting for the requests that they hoped would be made, broke Julia’s low, trembling, yet singularly clear voice:
“Please pray for me.”
There was a little choking in Alfred’s throat, and a good deal of shuffling done with his boots. It was so much more of a struggle for the sturdy boy than the gentle little girl; but he stood manfully on his feet at last, and his words, though few, were fraught with as much meaning as any which had been spoken there that evening, for they were distinct and decided:
THE TIME TO SLEEP
Life went swiftly and busily on. With the close of December the blessed daily meetings closed, rather they closed with the first week of the new year, which the church kept as a sort of jubilee week in honor of the glorious things that had been done for them.
The new year opened in joy for Ester; many things were different. The honest, straightforward little Julia carried all her earnestness of purpose into this new life which had possessed her soul; and the sturdy brother had naturally too decided a nature to do any thing half-way, so Ester was sure of this young sister and brother. Besides, there was a new order of things between her mother and herself; each had discovered that the other was bound on the same journey, and that there were delightful resting-places by the way.
For herself, she was slowly but surely gaining. Little crosses that she stooped and resolutely took up grew to be less and less, until they, some of them, merged into positive pleasures. There were many things that cast rays of joy all about her path; but there was still one heavy abiding sorrow. Sadie went giddily and gleefully on her downward way. If she perchance seemed to have a serious thought at night it vanished with the next morning’s sunshine, and day by day Ester realized more fully how many tares the enemy had sown while she was sleeping. Sometimes the burden grew almost too heavy to be borne, and again she would take heart of grace and bravely renew her efforts and her prayers. It was about this time that she began to recognize a new feeling.