The hum of wheels has ceased; the crowd of labourers hurry out to their morning’s meal; a few short minutes, and the discordant whistles again shriek out their call to work. Tom and Susy, where are they? The gates will soon be closed again!
Well, let them close! other gates have opened for those little suffering ones. The gates of pearl have swung upon their golden hinges; no harsh voice of unkind taskmaster greets them on their entrance, but that glorious welcome.
“Come, ye blessed!” and their unloosed tongues join in the loud “Hosannah.”
But those pearly gates are not for ever open. The time may come when those shall stand before them unto whom the words, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me,” shall sound the death-knell of all hopes throughout an inconceivable eternity.
It is night, and the wind is sighing itself away. The snow has ceased to fall, and the moon looks down upon the hills in their spotless covering, shedding her soft, mild light upon all. The little cottage on the hill side would be imperceptible, were it not for the light that streams through the window and the open door. The church clock has just struck eight, and for nearly an hour a woman has stood looking towards the town, her anxiety increasing every moment. She listens to the sound of feet on the crisp snow—they come nearer—they are opposite the turn that leads to the cottage: but they pass on. Again and again she listens:—once or twice she fancies she sees two children in the distance—but they come not. Passersby become less frequent; again the church clock chimes, and all is still.