When the others returned from church, it was with some surprise that Mrs. Ford heard from Bessie the words of the text.
“I heard Mr. Raymond preach from that same text long ago, just after we were married, John,” she said.
“Well, if you remember it, it’s more than I do. But if he did preach the same sermon over again, it is well worth hearing twice.”
“Yes, indeed,” said his wife. “I wish I had minded it better. It would have been better for us all if we had. Bessie, are you too tired to read a chapter as soon as the boys come in? We don’t any of us read the Bible enough, I’m afraid.”
And Bessie, struck by something unusual in her mother’s tone and manner, cheerfully read aloud, at Mrs. Ford’s request, the thirteenth of Matthew and the tenth of Hebrews, although the tempting Sunday-school book still lay unread on the table up-stairs.
Nelly’s Sunday Evening.
“Oh, say not, dream
not, heavenly notes
To childish ears are vain,—
That the young mind at random floats,
And cannot catch the strain.”
In the meantime let us go back to Nelly Connor, and see how she spent her Sunday afternoon.
When she had wistfully watched the last of the groups of children disappearing in the distance, she walked slowly away toward her “home”—a dilapidated-looking cottage in a potato patch, enclosed by a broken-down fence, patched up by Nelly and her new mother with old barrel-staves and branches of trees. The outdoor work which fell to her lot Nelly did not so much dislike. It was the nursing of a screaming baby, or scrubbing dingy, broken boards—work often imposed upon her—which sorely tried her childish strength and patience.
Nelly found the house deserted. Sunday being Mrs. Connor’s idle day, she usually went to visit some of her friends in the village, taking her children with her. A piece of bread and a mug of sour milk on the table were all that betokened any preparation for Nelly’s supper; but she was glad enough to miss the harsh scolding tones that were her usual welcome home.
Nelly sat down on the doorstep to eat her crust, watching, as she did so, a little bird which was bringing their evening meal to its chirping little ones in a straggling old plum-tree near the house. For in animal life there is no such discord as sin introduces into human life, marring the beauty of God’s arrangements for His creatures’ happiness. Then, having nothing to keep her at home, she took up her dingy, tattered straw hat, and strolled slowly along towards the village, keeping to the shady lanes on its outskirts till she came out upon the fields across which Bessie had taken her way home.