Mary kissed her mother. “Mother, you always say what comforts one; you always make me wish to live more patiently and lovingly.”
“And yet, Mary,” said her father, “mother’s life has been one round of small duties.”
Mary sat thinking for a moment. “Yes, father,” she answered slowly, “I see now that mother’s life has been the very best sermon on duty. I shall try to be patient and happy in simply doing well whatever my hands find to do. But I wish Manasseh were home;” and she looked wistfully to the west, where bands of color were spreading up the sky, saffron at the horizon, blending into gold and tender green above, while all melted into a sapphire dome streaked and flecked with rosy pink rays and bars.
“How he would enjoy this glorious sunset! Oh, father, how dreadful if he were to be killed!—if he were nevermore to sit with us looking at the sunsets!” Her voice trembled a little as she spoke.
“We are committing him to the care of Almighty God,” returned Nathan, solemnly. “God is love, and whatever he does will be best.”
“You find great comfort, father, in believing that ’all things work together for good to them that love God,’” said Mary.
“For the children of God, everything that happens must be best.”
“Even persecution and death?”
“Even persecution and death, if God so will.”
Mary looked at his placid face for a long time, then she said: “How very peaceful you and mother are!”
“How could we be otherwise,” the father replied, smiling, “with Jesus with us each hour, each moment? And we know that he ’will never leave nor forsake us.’ I think, too, that he is very close to my daughter. Mary, is there anything in this world that could take the place of Jesus to you? Would wealth or honor or any earthly joy make you perfectly happy if you could never pray to Jesus more, never feel him near you as an ever-present Friend, nevermore have the hope of seeing his face?”
Mary clasped her hands, and her face glowed. “Never, oh, never!” she cried. “I would rather be like poor blind Bartimeus begging by the wayside, yet able to call, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
The sun had now set, and the sky had faded with that suddenness common in Eastern lands.
Nathan arose. “Let us now offer up prayer for the safety of Manasseh, and for the steadfastness of the brethren; for we know that where two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name, there is he in the midst of them. Let us pray!”
The three knelt in the dim chamber, with silence about and the evening stars above, and prayed for the lad who, amid very different scenes, was in the heart of the strange revolution. And then they sang the words of that sublime psalm, than which no grander poem was ever written:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.