“Contentment is better than wealth,” he murmurs. “Oh that I had comprehended the truth.”
The words were not meant for others; but the utterance had been too distinct. They have reached the ears of Robert, who instantly recognises in the stranger his long-wandering, long-mourned brother.
The stranger is on his feet. A moment or two the brothers stand gazing at each other, then tenderly embrace.
How the stranger starts and trembles! He had not seen, in the quiet maiden, moving among and ministering to the children so unobtrusively, the one he had parted from years before—the one to whom he had been so false. But her voice has startled his ears with the familiar tones of yesterday.
“Ellen!” Here is an instant oblivion of all the intervening years. He has leaped back over the gulf, and stands now as he stood ere ambition and lust for gold lured him away from the side of his first and only love. It is well both for him and the faithful maiden that he cannot so forget the past as to take her in his arms and clasp her almost wildly to his heart. But for this, conscious shame would have betrayed his deeply-repented perfidy.
And here we leave them, reader. “Contentment is better than wealth.” So the worldling proved, after a bitter experience, which may you be spared! It is far better to realize a truth perceptibly, and thence make it a rule of action, than to prove its verity in a life of sharp agony. But how few are able to rise into such a realization!
BENDING over a steamer’s side, a face looked down into the clear, green depths of Lake Erie, where the early moonbeams were showering rainbows through the dancing spray, and chasing the white-crusted waves with serpents of gold. The face was clouded with thought, a shade too sombre, yet there glowed over it something like a reflection from the iris-hues beneath. A voice of using was borne away into the purple and vermilion haze that twilight began to fold over the bosom of the lake.
“Rainbows! Ye follow me everywhere! Gloriously your arches arose from the horizon of the prairies, when the storm-king and the god of day met within them to proclaim a treaty and an alliance. You spanned the Father of Waters with a bridge that put to the laugh man’s clumsy structures of chain, and timber, and wire. You floated in a softening veil before the awful grandeur of Niagara; and here you gleam out from the light foam in the steamboat’s wake.
“Grateful am I for you, oh rainbows! for the clouds, the drops, and the sunshine of which you are wrought, and for the gift of vision through which my spirit quaffs the wine of your beauty.
“Grateful also for faith, which hangs an ethereal halo over the fountains of earthly joy, and wraps grief in robes so resplendent that, like Iris of the olden time, she is at once recognised as a messenger from Heaven.