“Oh Ralph!” said Ester, as soon as she could speak. “Then all this misery comes because that driver was intoxicated.”
“Yes,” said Ralph, with compressed lips and flashing eyes.
* * * * *
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
Rom. 13: 11.
* * * * *
LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS.
Slowly, slowly, the night wore away, and the eastern sky grew rosy with the blush of a new morning—the bridal morning! How strangely unreal, how even impossible did it seem to Ester, as she raised the curtains and looked drearily out upon the dawn, that this was actually the day upon which her thoughts had centered during the last three weeks What a sudden shutting down had there been to all their plans and preparations! How strangely the house looked—here a room bedecked in festive beauty for the wedding; there one with shrouded mirrors, and floating folds of crape! Life and death, a wedding and a funeral—they had never either of them touched so close to her before; and now the one had suddenly glided backward, and left her heart heavy with the coming of the other. Mechanically, she turned to look upon the silvery garment gleaming among the white furnishings of the bed, for she was that very morning to have assisted in arraying the bride in those robes of beauty. Her own careful fingers had laid out all the bewildering paraphernalia of the dressing-room—sash and gloves, and handkerchief and laces. Just in that very spot had she stood only yesterday, and talking the while with Abbie; had altered a knot of ribbons, and given the ends a more graceful droop, and just at that moment Abbie had been summoned below stairs to see Mr. Foster—and now he was waiting down there, not for Abbie, but for the coffin and the grave, and Abbie was——. And here Ester gave a low, shuddering moan, and covered her eyes with her hands. Why had she come into that room at all? And why was all this fearful time allowed to come to Abbie? Poor, poor Abbie she had been so bright and so good, and Mr. Foster had been so entirely her guide—how could she ever endure it? Ester doubted much whether Abbie could ever bear to see her again, she had been so closely connected with all these bright days, over which so fearful a pall had fallen. It would be very natural if she should refuse even to see her—and, indeed, Ester almost hoped she would. It seemed to her that this was a woe too deep to be spoken of or endured, only she said with a kind of desperation, “Things must be endured;” and there was a wild thought in her heart, that if she could but have the ordering of events, all this bitter sorrow should never be. There came a low, tremulous knock as an interruption to her thoughts, and Maggie’s swollen eyes and tear-stained face appeared at the door with a message.