Through a small window, across which a spider had woven its web, a shaft of sunlight lay tremulous with the dance of multitudinous motes; and, falling on the dust-covered table, lighted up with its halo a corroded pen and stained stone jar, half filled with congealed ink.
On the right of this window stood a cupboard, with its panels of dark oak, behind which lay the parchments and papers of the Rehoboth Church—parchments and papers whose inscriptions were fast fading, whose textures were fast rotting—companioning in their decay the decay of the creeds they sought to preserve and proclaim.
It was to this cupboard Mr. Morell turned, taking therefrom two time-stained, leather-bound volumes—the one a record of the interments of the past hundred years, the other containing the roll of Rehoboth communicants since the establishment of the Church. Laying the former aside, he took up the latter with a tenderness and devoutness becoming one who was touching the sacred books of some fetish of the East. It was, indeed, to him a book to be reverenced; and as he slowly and sadly turned over its time-stained pages, his eye rested on many names entered in his own small handwriting—names which carried him back to companionship with lives for ever past. Some he had known from birth to death, blessing them in their advent, and committing them at the grave to Him who is the sure and certain hope. There were those, too, whom he piloted along the rocky coasts of youth—those with whom he once wept in their shadowed homes, and from whom he never withheld his joy in their hour of triumph. As name after name met his eye, it was as though he travelled the streets of a ruined city—a city with which in the days of its glory he had been familiar. Memories—nothing but memories—greeted him. He heard voices, but they were silent; he saw forms, but they were shadowy.
As he turned over page after page he read as never before the record of his half-century’s pastorate—his moorland ministry among an ever-changing people, and there passed before him the pageant of a life—not loud in blare, nor brilliant in colour—but sombre, stately, and true.
Continuing to turn over the pages, he came to where a black line was drawn across the name of Amanda Stott, and where against the cancelled name a word was written as black as the ink with which it was inscribed.
Again there came a pause. Long and tearfully the old pastor looked at that name disfigured, as she, too, who bore it had been, by the hand of man. Then, taking up the corroded pen and filling it, he re-wrote the name in the space between the narrow blue-ruled lines, and, looking up with smiling face, said:
‘Yet there is room.’
And the shaft of sunlight that fell in through the cobwebbed window of the Rehoboth vestry lay on the newly-inscribed name, as though heaven sealed with her assent the act of the old man who felt himself the servant of the One who said, ’I will in no wise cast out.’