“True, my dear. That makes it all the more necessary to look after them carefully”.
After a few moments of chat, Adele left the room to give orders for hastening supper.
During her absence, Mr. Norton, with his eyes fixed upon the glowing grate, fell into a fit of musing. Look at him a moment, while he sits thus, occupied with the memories of the past. Twenty years have passed since he was introduced to the attention of the reader, a missionary to a remote and benighted region. He is now sixty years old, and very few have passed through greater toil and hardships than he has endured, in asserting the claims of the Redeemer to the gratitude and love of the race. Yet his health and vigor of mind are scarcely impaired, and his zeal continues unabated.
Beginning his journey early each spring and returning to his family late every autumn, he had spent sixteen successive summers in Miramichi, engaged in self-imposed labors. Each winter, he wrought at his anvil, and thus helped to maintain an honest independence.
Four years previous, a parish having become vacant, in the town where he resided, it was urged upon his acceptance, by the unanimous voice of the people. By his efforts, a great change had been wrought in the field of his past labors and a supply of suitable religious teachers having been provided there, he accepted the invitation as a call of Divine Providence, and had ministered to the spiritual wants of the people of Rockdale since.
Business called him occasionally to the city of P. His visits there were always regarded by the Lansdownes as especial favors. The two families had frequently interchanged visits and had grown into habits of the closest intimacy.
Having been in the city several hours and dispatched the affairs which drew him thither, he had now come to look in upon his friends for the night, expecting to hasten away at day dawn.
There was something in his situation this evening, thus housed in warmth, light, and comfort, protected from the darkness and the storm without, and ministered unto by a lovely young maiden, that reminded him of a like scene, that had occurred, twenty years ago. He vividly recalled the evening, when, after a day of toil and travel on the banks of the distant Miramichi, he reached the house of Dubois, and how while the tempest raged without he was cheered by the light and warmth within, and was ministered unto by another youthful maiden, in form and feature so like her, who had just left him, that he could almost imagine them the same. A glance around the apartment, however, dispelled the momentary fancy. Its rich and beautiful adornments afforded a striking contrast to the appointments of that humble room.
He was roused from his meditations by the ringing of the street bell, and in a moment Mr. and Mrs. Lansdowne came forward to welcome their early and long-tried friend.
The good man, who loved them with an affection akin to that which he felt for his own family, had preserved a watchful care over their earthly and spiritual welfare. Sometimes he feared that their wealth and fame might draw away their hearts from the highest good and impair the simplicity of their religious faith.