He loosed his grasp then, and opened the door wide. The master muttered a few words indistinctly, but he did not linger in the cabin beside that awful little corpse. The night had already deepened into intense darkness; and Stephen, standing at the door to listen, thought, with a quick tingling through all his veins, that perhaps the master would himself fall down the open pit. But no, he passed on securely; and Martha, coming in shortly afterwards, ventured to remark that she had just brushed against the master in the lane, and wondered where he was going to at that time of night.
Miss Anne came to see Stephen the next day; but, though he seemed to listen to her respectfully, she felt that she had lost her influence over him; and she could do nothing for him but intercede with God that the Holy Spirit, who only can enter into our inmost souls and waken there every memory, would in His own good time recall to Stephen’s heart all the lessons of love and forgiveness he had been learning, and enable him to overcome the evil spirit that had gained the mastery over him.
All the people in Botfield wished to attend little Nan’s funeral, but Stephen would not consent to it. At first he said only Tim and himself should accompany the tiny coffin to the churchyard at Longville; but Martha implored so earnestly to go with them, that he was compelled to relent. The coffin was placed in a little cart, drawn by one of the hill-ponies, and led slowly by Tim; while Stephen and Martha walked behind, the latter weeping many humble and repentant tears, as she thought sorrowfully of little Nan; but Stephen with a set and gloomy face, and a heart that pondered only upon the calamities that should overtake his enemy.
But God had not forsaken Stephen; though, for a little time, He had left him to the working of his own sinful nature, that he might know of a certainty that in himself there dwelt no good thing. God looks down from heaven upon all our bitter conflicts; and He weighs, as a just Judge, all the events that happen on earth. From the servant to whom He has given but one talent, He does not demand the same service as from him who has ten talents. Stephen’s heavenly Father knew exactly how much understanding and strength he possessed, for He Himself had given those good gifts to the boy, and He knew in what measure He had bestowed them. When the right time was come, ’He sent from above, He took him, He brought him out of many waters. He brought him forth also into a large place; He delivered him, because He delighted in him.’