« ZurückWeiter »
66 You see Thomas believed when he saw," said he, answering her ;—“I will believe too when I see.
“Ah if you wait for that—" said Fleda.
Her voice suddenly checked she bent her face down again to her little bible, and there was a moment's struggle with herself.
" Are you looking for something more to shew me?” said Mr. Carleton kindly, stooping his face down to hers.
“Not much," said Fleda hurriedly; and then making a great effort she raised her head and gave him the book again.
“Look here, Mr. Carleton,--Jesus said, 'Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” ”
Mr. Carleton was profoundly struck, and the thought recurred to him afterwards and was dwelt upon. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” It was strange at first, and then he wondered that it should ever have been so. His was a mind peculiarly open to conviction, peculiarly accessible to truth; and his attention being called to it he saw faintly now what he had never seen before, the beauty of the principle of faith ;-how natural, how reasonable, how necessary, how honourable to the Supreme Being, how happy even for man, that the grounds of his trust in God being established, his acceptance of many other things should rest on that trust alone.
Mr. Carleton now became more reserved and unsociable than ever. He wearied himself with thinking. If he could have got at the books, he would have spent his days and nights in studying the evidences of Christianity ; but the ship was bare of any such books, and he never thought of turning to the most obvious of all, the Bible itself. His unbelief was shaken; it was within an ace of falling in pieces to the very foundation; or rather he began to suspect how foundationless it had been. It came at last to one point with him ;-If there were' a God, he would not have left the world without a revelation-no more would he have suffered that revelation to defeat its own end by becoming corrupted or alloyed; if there was such a revelation it could be no other than the Bible;---and his acceptance of the whole scheme of Christianity now hung upon the turn of a hair. Yet he could not resolve himself, He balanced the counter doubts and arguments, on one side and on the other, and strained his mind to the task ;-he could not weigh them nicely enough. He was in a maze; and seeking to clear and calm his judgment that he might see the way out, it was in vain that he tried to shake his dizzied head from the effect of the turns it had made. By dint of anxiety to find the right path reason had lost herself in the wilderness.
Fleda was not, as Mr. Carleton had feared she would be, at all alienated from him by the discovery that had given her so much pain. It wrought in another way, rather to add a touch of tender and anxious interest to the affection she had for him. It gave her however much more pain than he thought. If he had seen the secret tears that fell on his account he would have been grieved; and if he had known of the many petitions that little heart made for him he could hardly have loved her more than he did.
One evening Mr. Carleton had been a long while pacing up and down the deck in front of little Fleda's nest, thinking and thinking, without coming to any end. It was a most fáir evening, near sunset, the sky without a cloud except two or three little dainty strips which set off its blue. The ocean was very quiet, only broken into cheerful mites of waves that seemed to have nothing to do but sparkle. The sun's rays were almost level now, and a long path of glory across the sea led off towards his sinking disk. Fleda sat watching and enjoying it all in her happy fashion, which always made the most of everything good, and was especially quick in catching any form of natural beauty.
Mr. Carleton's thoughts were elsewhere; too busy to take note of things around him. Fleda looked now and then as he passed at his gloomy brow, wondering what he was thinking of, and wishing that he could have the same reason to be happy that she had. In one of his turns his eye met her gentle glance; and vexed and bewildered as he was with study there was something in that calm bright face that impelled him irresistibly to ask the little child to set the proud scholar right. Placing himself beside her, he said,
“Elfie, how do you know there is a God ?--what reason have you for thinking so, out of the Bible ?"
It was a strange look little Fleda gave him. He felt it at the time, and he never forgot it. Such a look of reproach, sorrow, and pity, he afterwards thought, as an angel's face might have worn. The question did not seem to occupy her a moment. After this answering look she suddenly pointed to the sinking sun and said,
“Who made that, Mr. Carleton ???
Mr. Carleton's eyes, following the direction of hers, met the long bright rays whose still witness-bearing was almost too powerful to be borne. The sun was just dipping majestically into the sea, and its calm self-assertion seemed to him at that instant hardly stronger than its vindication of its Author.
A slight arrow may find the joint in the armour before which many weightier shafts have fallen powerless. Mr. Carleton was an unbeliever no more from that time.
He borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him again when he was able.--MERCHANT OF VENICE.
NE other incident alone in the course of the voyage deON
serves to be mentioned; both because it served to bring out the characters of several people, and because it was not,—what is ?-without its lingering consequences.
Thorn and Rossitur had kept up indefatigably the game of teasing Fleda about her English admirer," as they sometime styled him. Poor Fleda grew more and more sore on the subject. She thought it was very strange that two grown men could not find enough to do to amuse themselves without making sport of the comfort of a little child. She wondered they could take pleasure in what gave her so much pain; but so it was; and they had it up so often that at last others caught it from them; and though not in malevolence yet in thoughtless folly many a light remark was made and question asked of her that set little Fleda's sensitive nerves a quivering. She was only too happy that they were never said before Mr. Carleton, that would have been a thousand times worse. As it was, her gentle nature was constantly suffering from the pain or the fear of these attacks.
“ Where's Mr. Carleton ?" said her cousin coming up one day.
“I don't know," said Fleda, -"I don't know but he is gone up into one of the tops.
“ Your humble servant leaves you to yourself a great while this morning, it seems to me. He is growing very inattentive.”
“I wouldn't permit it. Miss Fleda, if I were you,” said
Thorn maliciously. “You let him have his own way too much."
“I wish you wouldn't talk so, cousin Charlton!” said Fleda.
“ But seriously,” said Charlton, “ I think you had better call him to account. He is very suspicious lately. I have observed him walking by himself and looking very glum indeed. I am afraid he has taken some fancy into his head that would not suit you. I advise you to enquire into it.' ”
I wouldn't give myself any concern about it!” said Thorn lightly, enjoying the child's confusion and his own fanciful style of backbiting, “I'd let him go if he has a mind to, Miss Fleda. He's no such great catch. He's neither lord nor knight-nothing in the world but a private gentleman, with plenty of money I dare say, but you don't care for that;-and there's as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it. I don't think much of him!”
He is wonderfully better than you, thought Fleda as she looked in the young gentleman's face for a second, but she said nothing.
"Why Fleda," said Charlton laughing, "it wouldn't be a killing affair, would it? How has this English admirer of yours got so far in your fancy ?-praising your pretty eyes, eh?-Eh?" he repeated, as Fleda kept a dignified silence.
No," said Fleda in displeasure.--" he never says such things.
6. No?" said Charlton. “What then? What does he say? I wouldn't let him make a fool of me if I were you. Fleda !-did he ever ask you for a kiss ?"
“No !” exclaimed Fleda half beside herself and bursting into tears;~_“I wish you wouldn't talk so! How can
! They had carried the game pretty far that time, and thought best to leave it. Fleda stopped crying as soon as she could, lest somebody should see her; and was sitting quietly again, alone as before, when one of the sailors whom she had never spoken to came by, and leaning over towards her with a leer as he passed, said,
“Is this the young English gentleman's little sweetheart ???