’None as soon as thaa thinks, Matt. They’ve gan o’er sperrin (being inquisitive) long sin’, and when they’re off th’ scent they’re on th’ wrang scent.’
‘Aw think aw’d tell mi mother, lass, if aw were thee.’
’Let her find it aat, as t’others ‘ll hev to do.’
’As thaa likes, lass. But thaa knows hoo’s fretted and prayed and worrited hersel a deal abaat thee for mony a year. And if hoo deed afore th’ child were born we sud ne’er forgive aarsels.’
’Thaa’rt mebbe reet, lad. It’ll pleaz her to know, and hoo’s bin a good mother to thee.’
’Yi. Hoo’s often said as if hoo could nobbud be a gron’mother hoo’d say, as owd Simeon said, “Mine een hev sin Thy salvation."’
‘Well, we’ll go up and see her when th’ chapel loses to-morrow afternoon. Put that leet aat, lad; it’s time we closed aar een.’
Matt turned down the lamp, and shot the bolt of his cottage door, and followed his wife up the worn stone stairway to the room above, to rest and await the dawning of the Sabbath.
That night, as the moonbeams fell in silver shafts through the little window, and filled the chamber with a haze of subdued light, a mystic presence, unseen, yet felt, filled all with its glory. The old four-poster rested like an ark in a holy of holies, its carved posts of oak gleaming as the faces of watching angels on those whose weary limbs were stretched thereon. The rugged features of Matt were touched into grand relief, his hair and beard dark on the snowy pillow and coverlet on which they lay. On his strong, outstretched arm reposed she whom he so dearly, and now so proudly, loved, her large, lustrous eyes looking out into the sheeted night, her pearly teeth gleaming through her half-opened lips, from which came and went her breath in the regular rhythm and sweetness of perfect health. Long after her husband slept she lay awake, silently singing her own ’Magnificat’—not in Mary’s words, it is true, but with Mary’s music and with Mary’s heart.
And then she slept—and the moonbeams paled before the sunrise, and the morning air stirred the foliage of the trees that kissed the window-panes, and little birds came and sang their matins, and another of God’s Sabbaths spread its gold and glory over the hills of Rehoboth.
HOW DEBORAH HEARD THE NEWS.
It was Sabbath on the moors—on the moors where it was always Sabbath.
Old Mr. Morell used to say, ’For rest, commend me to these eternal hills;’ and so Matt Heap thought as he threw open his chamber casement and looked on their outline in the light of morning glory. Their majesty and strength were so passionless, their repose so undisturbed. How often he wondered to himself why they always slept—not the sleep of weariness, but of strength! And how often, when vexed and jaded, had he shared their calm as his eyes rested on them, or as his feet sought their solitudes! How they stirred the inarticulate poetry of his soul! At times he found himself wondering if their sweeping lines were broken arcs of a circle drawn by an infinite hand; and anon, he would ask if their mighty mounds marked the graves of some primeval age—mounds raised by the gods to the memory of forces long since extinct.