‘Nay, lass; luv’ noan drives folk mad. It’s sin as does that. As Mr. Penrose towd ’em at Rehoboth t’other Sunday, it were luv’ as saved th’ world, and not wrath; and they say they are baan to bring him up at th’ deacons’ meeting abaat it. But he’s reet. It’s luv’ as saves. It’s saved thee to me; it’s kept mi heart warm, and it’s kept that lamp leeted every neet for five year.’ And then, seeing tears slowly stealing down her daughter’s face, the old woman said: ‘I think we mud as weel put th’ leet aat naa thaa’s comed wom’, ‘Manda?’ and as the girl gave no more evidence of resistance, the mother went to the window, turned down the lamp, and drew the blind, saying, ‘He’s answered mi prayers.’
At the going out of that light there went out in Amanda’s heart the false fires of lust and pride and defiance, and in their place was kindled the light of repentance—of forgiveness and of love. For five years that faithfully-trimmed lamp told the whole countryside that Widow Stott was not forgetful of her own; and when once or twice rebuked by some of the Rehoboth deacons at the premium which she seemed to put on sin by thus inviting a wanderer’s return, she always replied:
‘Blame Him as mak’s a woman so as hoo cornd forget her child.’
Now that the lamp was out a flutter of excitement was passing through the village, Milly Lord being the first to discover it. She, poor girl! was sitting at her little window listening to the beat of the rain, and the swish of the grasses that grew in her garden below—sitting and wondering how it was there were no ‘angel een’ looking down at the earth, and keeping her eye fixed on the gable light of Mrs. Stott’s lone homestead. Suddenly this light disappeared. If the sun had gone out at noonday Milly would not have been more startled. Night after night she had watched that light, and night after night she had heard her mother tell the oft-repeated story of Amanda’s fall. Once, indeed, Milly startled her mother in its repetition by saying:
‘Happen, if I hadn’t lost mi leg, mother, I should ha’ sinned as Amanda did.’
And then Milly’s mother drew the girl close to her heart, and thanked God for a lamb safe in the fold. No wonder when Milly saw the light go out that she cried:
‘Mother! mother! Amanda Stott’s come wom’!’
‘Whatever will hoo say next?’ gasped Mrs. Lord.
‘I tell yo’ Amanda’s come wom’. Th’ leet’s aat—thaa con see for thisel!’ and the girl was beside herself with excitement.
‘So it is,’ said Mrs. Lord. ’Bud it’s noan Amanda; it’s happen her mother as is takken bad. Awl put o’ mi things, and run up and see.’
Hurrying up the Pinner Brow, it was not long before Mrs. Lord reached the home of Amanda, and raising the latch, with the permission which rural friendship grants, she saw the daughter and mother together on the so long lonely hearth. Taken aback, and scarcely knowing how to remove the restraint which the sudden interruption was imposing, she fell upon the instinct of her heart, and said: