This allusion recalled her more to herself, and without looking at the paper she put it into her bosom. “I’m sure I thank you with all my heart, and shall always try to do my duty by them,” she said.
Here Mr. Armstrong rose, and Faith, putting down the child, that seemed loth to leave her, spoke in a low tone some parting words of consolation.
“I’m sure you’re very good; I’m sure I’m very much obleeged to you,” was all Mrs. Sill could say.
On their way home Faith spoke of the promising appearance of the children, and of what the hopes of the mother must be on their account.
“It is true they are all that are left to her,” said Mr. Armstrong, “and what hopes she has of earthly happiness must be built on them. But who can look into to-morrow? A few days ago, never dreaming of misfortune, she exulted in the enjoyment of her husband and little boys. The first is taken away, and none know how soon the latter may be. So joys and sorrows are mingled together. At this moment she is more miserable for having been happy, and so great is the misery, it outweighs all the happiness of former years. Such is the nature of pain and pleasure. A pang of the former, an instant’s acute agony, may be equivalent to hours of what is called enjoyment. We are so made. We may hope for happiness: we are certain of sorrow. We must seek after the one: the other is sure to find us. When I look round, what evidences of wretchedness do I see! Alas, it is indeed a fallen world, and the ground is cursed for man’s sake.”
“You take a gloomy view, father,” said Faith. “Look beyond. Are we not promised a happier time when the bliss of Eden shall be renewed?”
“Yes, and the time will come. Not only prophets and apostles have had it revealed to them, but grand souls among the heathen have dimly descryed its dawning from afar. But what unimaginable scenes of horror must first be? What doleful misereres must first ascend to cloud the brightness of the heavens and dim the joy of the blest! Long, long before then, your and my remembrance, Faith, will have perished from the earth. You will be then a seraph, and I—. If there be ever an interval of pain, it will be when I think of your blessedness, and you, if angels sometimes weep, will drop a tear to the memory of your father, and it shall cool his torment.”
What could the grieved and alarmed daughter say? She spoke in gentle and loving tones. She combated by every possible argument these miserable fancies. She entreated him for her sake as well as his own, to cast them off. He listened to her without impatience, and as if he loved to hear the sound of her voice. But he shook his head with a mournful sadness, and his melancholy remained. As may well be supposed, the dark cloud that had settled down upon his mind was not thus to be dissipated. Faith, though troubled, did not despair. She trusted the impression of the late calamity, to which she attributed much of his unhappiness, would in time wear off. Meanwhile, she commended him to the kind protection of that Gracious Being who is loving to all his works.