It was the voice of Amanda, and its sound called back the ebbing tides of maternity as the clear notes of a bugle rally the dispirited and flying forces on an undecided field.
‘Mother, will yo’ draw that blind?’
‘What doesto want th’ blind drawin’ for, Amanda?’
‘I want to see th’ morn break.’
‘Whatever for, lass?’ asked Mrs. Stott, as she drew the cord with tremulous hand.
For a few minutes the girl looked out at the distant horizon with a breaking light in her own eyes. Then, taking her mother’s hand, she said:
‘Dun yo’ see that rim o’ gowd (gold) on the hills yonder?’
‘Yi, lass; forsure I do. What abaat it?’
‘Watch it, mother! See yo’, it geds broder—more like a ribbin—a brode, yollow ribbin, like that aw wore i’ mi hat when I were a little lass. Yo’ remember, durnd yo’?—I wore it one charity sarmons.’
‘Aw remember, Amanda,’ said the parent, choking with the reminiscences of the past which the old hat and its yellow ribbon aroused.
‘Naa see, mother,’ continued the girl, her eye fixed on the opening sky; ‘it’s like a great sea—a sea o’ buttercups, same as used to grow in owd Whittam’s field when yo’ couldn’t see grass for flaars.’
‘Yi, lass, I see,’ sobbed Mrs. Stott.
‘And thoose claads, mother! See yo’ haa they’re goin’. And th’ hills and moors? Why I con see them plainer and plainer! Haa grond they are! They’re awlus theer. Them, Mr. Penrose said, stood for God’s love, didn’t he, mother?—and them claads as are lifting for my sins.’
‘Yi, lass; he did, forsure.’
The dawn advanced, and before its majestic march there fled the shadows of night that for such long hours had made earth desolate. In the light of this dawn were seen those infinite lines of strength which rose from broad and massive bases, and, sweeping upwards, told of illimitable tracts beyond—mighty waves on the surface of the world’s great inland seas, on whose crests sat the green and purple foam of herbage, and in whose hollows lay the still life of home and pasture. Silent, changeless, secure, perpetual sublimity rested on their summits, and unbroken repose lay along their graceful sweeps. They were the joy-bearers to the poor child of sorrow, who with eager eye looked out on their morning revelations. To her the mountains had brought peace.
That day was a new day to Amanda—a birthday—a day in which she realized the all-embracing strength and sufficiency of a Divine love. As the hours advanced the clouds gathered and showers fell, only, however, to be swept away by the wind, or dissolved into the light of the sun. These ever-changing, ever-dissolving, many-coloured vapours were watched by Amanda, who now saw in them the fleeting and perishable sins of her past life, and again and again, as one followed the other into oblivion, she would breathe a sigh of relief, and then allow her eyes to rest on the great hills that changed not, and which seemed to build her in with their strength.