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Day and night, and night and day,
Time, the mower, cuts down all,
Ready for Time's whetted scythe.
When the stubble-fields are cleared, and the loaded waggon is driven, with loud shouts, into the farmer's yard; when, too, the sheaves are safely housed in the barn, where the bright warm sun tints them with a golden hue, then comes the harvest-home. Harvest-home! What pleasing associations are blended with those words! They bring, perchance, before the mental view of many a lone dweller in crowded cities the same old farm-house, with its gable end and rows of pigeon-holes, its crowded elms, and the ceaseless cawing of the sable brotherhood. And what more cheerful than the reality of such a wellremembered scene! Busy, bustling troops of fowls and turkeys, geese and pintadoes, throng around the open door, where the farmer's wife and merry damsels scrub and sing, and make all ready for the promised feast: village children return from out the fields, with baskets filled with poppies, and meadow-sweets, marjorams, and wild bazils, golden-coloured corn, sow-thistles, and yellow goats'-beards, with which to deck the hearth-stone. Lastly come the harvest-men, accompanied by their wives and children, passing in due order through the ample door-way, and ranging on either side the long oak tables. This ancient festivity, still honoured in its observance through many parts of Britain, is one to which the farming-men look forward throughout the year, and concerning which old people love to speak when their work is done; eras in the peasant's unvaried life-way-marks, from which to reckon marriages, and births, and christenings, and the laying to rest of aged ones beneath the shadow of the old grey church. Often, too, are higher thoughts awakened in the reapers' minds, when listening to the harvest-shout, which tells that the grain is sheltered in the garner. This ancient custom prevails in the west of England. Equally solemn and affecting, it recalls to mind the admonition of the prophet, to beware lest any should remain ungathered when the shouting for the summer fruits and for the harvest is fallen. The gathering of apples and making them into cyder forms another era in the history of September. An apple orchard is beautiful both in spring and autumn. The pure white or delicate pink of its early blossoms is unrivalled; and, when the drooping branches are covered with ripe fruit, how goodly is the appearance which they present! Brown russets and spice apples, with bright streaks, golden pippins and winter rennets, hang ready to the hand; and often do the loaded boughs require propping with strong stakes, lest they should break down with their own weight. Passing, some years since, through that part of Devonshire which abounds with orchards, at the time of apple gathering, our
| way led through green lanes, bordered on either side by noble trees, loaded with ripe fruit of various tints and hues: apples lay in heaps upon the ground, ready for removing to the cyder-mill; and, though neither cottages nor farm-houses met the view for a considerable distance, so plentiful were they that none remained to watch them. At length a turn in the road brought us within view of one of those cottage-homes which are the pride of England, where a range of bee-hives and a garden filled with flowers tell of plenty and security. An orchard adjoined the garden; and the cottager, having climbed a richly-laden tree, was carefully gathering the choicest fruit, while his wife assisted her boys in shaking the branches of contiguous trees, with long poles. Down came the apples in showers upon the grass; and, when they had ceased falling, young children came joyfully to collect them into heaps. This simple wayside scene was one of exceeding beauty it brought to my remembrance days long past, when I watched with childish glee the shaking down of apples, and the carrying them in large baskets to a rustic cyder-mill, which stood on the verge of a large orchard; and I remember it the more vividly because that mill was worked by a dumb man, with whom a kind of mysterious awe was connected, in consequence of a wild and terrible story that pertained to his young days. Few among the village children liked to go near him-no, not even the most dauntless youths, such even as boasted that they could pass through the churchyard when the tall white tombstones stood forth in the bright moonbeams; and I question whether the finest fruit would not have been perfectly safe, though laid in heaps beside the mill, when worked by old Robin.
Look towards the church tower, should you have one contiguous, but, if not, to some cottageroof, for the assembling of the swallow people. The swift went hence in August; and now, when additional constellations are added to those of last month, and stars seen dimly heretofore begin to sparkle in the immensity of space, the hirundines are all in motion. Their arrival in the spring was hailed with joy; and a feeling of regret mingles with their going hence, although their nimble evolutions form an interesting feature in the present month, and none are more amusing in the little world of rural sights by which we are surrounded. They congregate as if in serious consultation: a looker-on might almost fancy that the older and more experienced were giving counsel to the younger; but in a moment resound loud twitterings; and away they fly, wheeling in sportive circles, or darting to some distance, and then perching on the roof. Thus they deliberate and exercise their wings, till he who rises in the morning, and goes forth to observe their agile movements, sees them no more in their accustomed places of resort. The old church tower is deserted, and lonely looks the cottage roof where their jet wings were contrasted with the yellow lichens and bright houseleek. They pass unseen from the shores of Britain-for no one has yet observed them-traversing the fields, and speeding over the wide sea, without chart or compass. No trees grow beside their course, neither shrubs nor Howers to serve as way-marks remembered in their beauty and uprising; nor yet the mellow tints of
autumn tinging one tree, then another, as when last they left the shores of Britain: boundless space is round them, the roar of waves below them; yet, nothing daunted, they still press on. They neither linger, as at a fault, nor lose their way, but halt occasionally at such islands or quiet restingplaces as suit their purpose, and then fly off again. "This cometh of the Lord, who careth for all that he has made."
Different species migrate also at the same time, but without exciting equal interest. Siskins and white-throats, wood, reed, and grasshopper-larks desert their accustomed haunts, and fly to other lands: willow-wrens and flycatchers, blackcaps, and pettichaps, ring-ouzels, wheatears, and waxen chatterers are departing from the woods and fields: we hear no longer their pleasant voices; and very solitary seem the places which they used to en
But the fieldfare (turdus pilaris) is come back, with large companies of the common rock or wildpigeon (columba anas); the one feeding on haws and berries, and spreading over the meadows in search of food; the other frequenting woods and sheltered places, beside streams of water. Their arrival announces that change of leaf which gives to September and October their own peculiar beauty. Leaves of the cherry become red, those of the willow hoary: the oak and elm, the ash and maple, assume different tints of orange and yellow; while in woods the plane present, that sober hue which mellows the gorgeous beauty of its sister trees.
Uprising from among the grass appears the meadow-saffron (colchicum autumnale) or tuberoot; that orphan flower, which has neither leaf nor calyx to defend it from the nightly cold; when too the sun begins to decline in the ecliptic, and the soft south wind is rarely felt. Those who delight in observing the wonders of creation may do well to consider the admirable formation of this simple plant. The seed-vessel is enclosed within the bulbous root, and buried at least ten inches beneath the ground. A long slender purple tube, which forms the blossom, encloses within its petals styles of a peculiar construction and great length, extending even to the seed; and of this the cause is obvious. The colchicum flowers late, and is consequently unable to perfect its seeds before the setting-in of winter. This important office is therefore carried on at a depth inaccessible to frost. Another year, and numerous egg-shaped capsules may be seen among the grass in that lovely meadow which rises vividly before me, with its clear trout-stream and skirting wood, where first I saw the meadow-saffron: those capsules contain innumerable pearl-shaped seeds, which ripen when exposed to the influence of air and light, and become perfected in July and August, at which time the capsules open longitudinally, and the seeds are scattered to the earth.
Those orphan flowers, thus blooming beneath September suns, and visited by chilling winds, awoke within me thoughts, which, although elsewhere embodied, I may perhaps be allowed to associate with the mention of September. They were suggested by thinking how solitary seemed that flower, unfolding when most others were about to close, when all summer's birds were gone,
and the sere and yellow leaves boded of frosts and chilling winds.
Methought a voice thus answered low,
THE OLD MAN'S CHILD.
"WE shall never see her again," were the first words addressed to me by the farmer, on our meeting some days after Kitty's departure; " never see her again," he repeated, still more mournfully.
"Never is a long time," I replied, in a cheerful tone of voice, wishing to drive away the cloud of gloomy sadness which hung upon his brow.
"Ay, sir, so it is," he answered; " and it will be a very long time before I see my child again, or I am much mistaken: I feel as if we should never meet again this side of death, sir."
"Should such be God's good pleasure, Kyle, your duty will be to bow unmurmuringly to his will; but there is no need to meet sorrow half way, you know; so why not hope for better things?"
"Hope, sir! hope is not for the old: I've hoped, and been disappointed too often to have your lightsome spirit, Mr. Relton: there's nothing like that, sir-nothing like disappointment for crushing one.
"Come, come," I said, "this is not right; you are giving way to the discontented feelings which the loss of your daughter's society have aroused in your breast: your troubles, you must confess, Kyle, have as yet been few and light; and you do not look like one crushed by the burden of disappointed hopes," I added, laughing, as I glanced at his strong-built frame and ruddy cheek, which had lost none of its healthful hue, although time had well bleached his hair, and he "went for an old man" among his neighbours. He observed my glance, and could not forbear smiling at its meaning.
"Well, well," he said; "I believe you are right, sir my life has been an easy one until now; but there is no denying that the loss of my child is a real trouble; and she is lost to me, Mr. Relton." Let us trust that she may one day be restored to you, Kyle," I said. "In the mean while may
not the sorrow which the separation causes you be salutary in its effects? Should it not lead you to review your past life, and that of your child, and to reflect on your conduct with regard to her? You cannot but be aware that had she behaved as a dutiful daughter," I continued, “a child of God, and a true member of the church into which by baptism she was admitted, she would still be with you think, then, whether the training you have given Kitty was likely to make her either a good daughter or a good Christian."
"There is no denying, sir, that in the matter of her marriage she has not done well either by her mother or me; but I do not see why we are to suffer for her faults, and to be blamed as the cause of them also. Kitty had a good education, and was kept regularly to her church: what more could we have done for her?"
"In the first place, you might have prayed for her," I replied, perhaps a little pointedly.
Kyle started, and answered rather sharply: Prayed for her! who says we did'nt pray for her? I'm sure never a night did we go to bed without praying she might be spared to us, and grow up to be a blessing to our old age."
"And was that the only prayer which you as a Christian father had to offer for a child endowed with a soul, which (whether for happiness or misery) must 'live for ever, and never see death'? O, Kyle, it is my duty to say to you, in the words of St. James: 'Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss you sought not 'first the kingdom of God and his righteousness' for your child, how could you therefore expect that all those things' which you so earnestly desired should be added unto you'? The blessings you wished for, both on her account and your own, were earthly blessings, and for a time they were vouchsafed to you. You knew no want, you had no trial: your labours were prosperous, your barns were full, your wife was healthful and affectionate, your child you considered perfect; and in your heart you said, 'I shall never be moved'-was it not so?"
“I'm afraid, sir, there is some truth in what you say, though I believe I hardly knew it at the time."
"And do you remember," I asked, "long ago, my quoting these words to you- Earthly blessings, possessions, relationship must fail you: they would not be earthly were it otherwise'? And do you not also remember my saying that they were the words of a wise and good man, and that you would surely see the day when you would find by experience their truth?"
"Aye, sir, I remember it all well enough, now you remind me; but I do not think I have thought of the words from the time you said them till now."
May you never again forget them," I replied: "Earthly possessions have not failed you, Kyle; but the dearest relationship you had has, and-" "And that is much harder to bear-much harder!" the old man exclaimed; and I could see that he with difficulty restrained his tears: "Anything but the loss of my child, I could have borne," he added.
"O do not say so, Kyle," I said: "it is one of the wiles employed by the devil in working the work of man's destruction, to persuade him that
he could bear any trial well but the one which God ordains for him. Such a feeling makes the mourner not only miserable, but a murmurer also, against the all-wise Dispenser of good and evil. Never, I do entreat you, Kyle-never say that, had you not this or that sorrow, you could bear any other better: it is a dangerous and a wicked feeling which prompts the utterance of such words."
During this conversation I had been walking beside Kyle's horse, up the lane leading from Elford to Elm End, and, as I finished speaking, we came in sight of the prim-looking yew trees, which, carved into pyramids, bounded and seemed to guard the farm-house garden on that side. Kyle pointed to them, saying: "We are close home, you see, sir: you will step in, and see my wife, won't you? You'll find her more your way of thinking about Kitty than she ever was before; much more than I can bring myself to be, sir."
"I am glad to hear it," I replied; "and, if you think Mrs. Kyle would like me to call, I shall be | happy to do so."
The worthy woman herself opened the little garden-gate for me, and bade me welcome; while her husband led his horse round to the stable.
"I'm right glad to see you, sir," she said; "for I've many things to say to you: I've done little but think for the last few days, and I should like to tell you what I've thought about; but come in, sir, come in: the wind blows keen, though the sun does shine."
So saying, Mrs. Kyle led the way into her snug parlour; and we seated ourselves by the small, but cheerful fire, which, though not a necessary comfort, was decidedly an agreeable companion.
"You found him very downhearted, sir?" she began, glancing at the same time towards the farm-yard, where we could see her husband speaking to one of the labourers.
"Yes," I replied; "Kyle does indeed seem very much cut up at Kitty's departure."
"Well, sir; and it's no wonder, is it? A stranger might perhaps think it all nonsense to grieve so at a girl's being married, and going away, and say it is all natural like, and what fathers and mothers must put up with; but you, sir, who have seen how her father was wrapt up in the child, ar'n't surprised, I'm sure, at his taking her loss so to heart; are you, sir?"
No, I am not surprised: you both, especially your husband, idolized Kitty; and, shall I tell you that I believe her removal to such a distance from you to be a judgment on you for loving a creature with the love which belongs exclusively to the Creator?"
"You only tell me what I begin myself to feel, sir. Many a night, lately, I've cried myself to sleep, thinking of the blind way in which we have acted towards our daughter."
"You have indeed acted blindly, Mrs. Kyle: your system of treating Kitty was from the very first wrong, and injurious. In the delight with which you received the unexpected gift, you almost forgot the Giver; and your child has been trained for yourselves and this world, instead of for the high destiny awaiting her as a regenerate child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. You educated her for time instead of for eternity; and, though you did not exactly neglect
religion, either in your own practice or in the instruction you gave her, yet you never made it the one thing needful; and, believe me, Mrs. Kyle," I continued, "religion must be all in all, or it is nothing: no one can serve two masters; and he, who is conscious that he does not fight manfully under Christ's banner, may be quite sure that he is serving in the ranks of the prince of darkness."
"It is an awful thing to think of, sir!" "Awful, indeed, to those, Mrs. Kyle, who spend their lives in trying to find a middle way in religion -a middle way between godliness and sin; which does not, and never can exist."
“And you think, sir, that my husband and I have tried to do so?"
"Not knowingly," I replied; "but, in fact, you have done so, for you have striven to live at peace with the world, which your bible tells you is enmity against God; and, in the education you have given your child, you have made the acquisition of knowledge-mere head-learning-the important object; and religion, and the training of the heart, and forming of the character, have well nigh been overlooked, or have, at least, been considered as of secondary importance to the other." Mrs. Kyle did not make any remark on what I said; and there was a momentary silence, which I broke by saying, "I was reading somewhere, not many days ago, that there are four essential qualifications to be sought for in those who have the training of children committed to them: they are, "first, a desire to be right in the matter; secondly, sense; thirdly, kindness; and, fourthly, firmness." "O, Mr. Relton, I can't pretend, or make even myself believe, that my good-man or I showed any of these in the rearing of Kitty; except, indeed, kindness; a desire to be right in the matter, though, I think we had in a sort of a way; but-" "A sort of wish, as you say, to train up your child in the way she should go may now and then have crossed your minds; but I'm afraid it was very passing; for, if I am right in my supposition, you rarely gave the subject a thought, but acted throughout without method and without plan: was it not so ?"
"I fear to speak the honest truth-it was, sir." "Of course, then, 'sense,' the good common sense with which heaven has gifted you, and which you usually display, was not called into action at all; nor could you be firm,' when there were no rules laid down either for you to adhere to, or to which to compel submission; and as for kindness, O, Mrs. Kyle, it is cruel kindness which yields to all a wilful child's caprices; which ruins a child's character, to save it a few tears; and which is pernicious in its effects on the character, both of those who exercise it, and those on whom it is lavished."
Kyle entered at this moment; and, as he seated himself beside his wife, he said: "You find her come round to your way of thinking wonderfully, don't you, sir?"
Before I could reply, Mrs. Kyle exclaimed: "To be sure I am, David! and hav'nt I had good reason to see that all Mr. Relton used to say to us about Kitty was true? The misfortune is, I've found it too late!"
"Too late, it is to be feared, for Kitty's good, but not too late for your own, Mrs. Kyle,” I an
swered: "I told you long ago that you loved your child not wisely, but too well:' then you did not believe me; but now you have felt the sad consequences of the undue affection against which I warned you, in the wilful conduct, which is the effect of spoiling, and which has led to the separation you deplore, and the placing Kitty in a most dangerous, and probably unhappy, position. You allow that I was right. You confess that you loved God's gift with the love you should have felt for himself; that Kitty stood, as it were, between you and heaven; and that he who is a jealous God has vindicated the honour of his name by removing the cause of your transgression; and, while he punishes your folly and your sin, he remembers mercy, and has taken away the stumblingblock which lay in the way of your coming unto him. Most thankful am I that you view your present trouble as you do; for, whenever God executes vengeance upon us, or in any way tries us, 'we should pray against sins; and our eye of sorrow should be more upon that which dishonours him than upon that which afflicts us; and, when we are enabled (the Holy Spirit aiding us) to do so, the chastening rod, we may humbly yet firmly hope, will work its perfect work in us, and will leave us very different to what it found us."
"All that's very true, I dare say, sir," said the farmer, somewhat impatiently; "and, if it wer'n't, I'm an unlearned man, and couldn't answer you; but, for all that, I don't see what we have done with regard to Kitty that we need expect punishment for."
"God spake these words, and said, 'Thou shalt have none other gods but me," " I replied gravely; "You have broken this command by making an idol of your daughter; by worshipping her in your heart; by preferring her will to that of the Almighty; and by never denying her wishes, even though (as in the case of her marriage) you knew them to be unreasonable and unpleasing in God's sight. Again," I continued, "God says to each one of us, My son, give me thy heart:' you professed to do so; but your heart was not really right towards your Maker and Redeemer: your treasure was on earth, earthy; and to it your heart clung with the too fond love, which makes him who bears it towards wife or child unworthy of Christ and of his service."
"God will have all thou hast; thy mind, thy will,
"True words, true words," Mrs. Kyle exclaimed, while she brushed a tear from her eye; then, turning to her husband, she said: “O David, we have sinned against God, and against our Kitty also; for we have dishonoured him by loving her more than our Lord; and we have brought sorrow upon her, by letting her grow up with all the self-will and natural depravity of heart which it was our duty to try and overcome, and which will prove her curse through life."
The poor woman spoke rapidly and with emotion; and when she ceased speaking there was a pause, during which the farmer looked half vexed, half sorrowful, while within his soul I could see that
"The thought like troubled waters roll'd."
The life-long sorrow that remain'd became
A healing and a chastening grief, and brought
To put an end to a silence which I saw was painful to him, and which he could not sufficiently command his voice to break, I took from my pocket a small book of extracts (which was usually my Might not, would not such be the case with her companion when making a round of parochial whom I had just left? Yes; the mother had lost visits), and read from it these few but striking her daughter, but she had surely found her Lord. words of archbishop Leighton: "Grief is like a "Would," I exclaimed, "that I could feel the two-faced picture, which, beheld on the one side as same assurance with regard to her father!" painful, hath an unpleasant visage; yet go round Meanwhile months passed away. Winter a little, and view it as thy Father's will, and then had worn out its darksome hours: spring had it is smiling, beautiful, and lovely." "Look on smiled and wept, as is her wont: then summer your trial, my friends," I continued, " in this light, brought sunny June in her brilliant train; and and you will not only become reconciled to it, but that was the month which was to re-unite the little will regard it as a merciful dispensation. When family at the farm. That was the month to which Ephraim turned unto idols, God said, 'Let him Kyle had looked forward with such intense anxiety alone; but, whom the Lord loveth he chasten- (O why in this world of chance and change will eth; and do you not see that, as a father correcteth we fix our hopes so fondly, so madly on objects the son in whom he delighteth, so hath the Lord which, though seemingly within our reach, we corrected you? You made unto yourselves an may never grasp!); and that was the month of idol, you deemed it perfection; and, in a striking which the thought had soothed the old man's pilway, its frailty has been brought home to your low when he laid him down to rest, and had cheered hearts, and wounded them to the quick. You his days of toil and dreary winter evenings. "But looked upon your child as wholly your own: you the farmer's evenings, in his comfortable home, expected to have her to cheer the last years of with such a wife as his, ought not to have been your life, and to smoothe your dying pillow. She dreary," do you say, reader? And you are right; has been taken away from you: the desire of your but, unhappily, Kyle was not a holy man: he had eyes has been removed far hence, to force you not the blissful conviction that God was his Father; to acknowledge that the Lord gave and the Lord therefore he looked on the separation from his hath taken away,' and to induce you, for his beloved child, not as a merciful correction, but as mercy's sake, to say, 'Blessed be the name of the a sore and unexpected trial; and as such he Lord. Your comfort in this life or your mourned it, aye, and murmured at it too. happiness in the next must be paid as the true it is that "a man's discontent is his worst forteit of your transgression; and infinite love enemy"! True, because discontent is the offspring has ordained for you the far lesser punish- of irreligion; and what like irreligion can blast ment, and has taken away the occasion of your a man's hope of happiness, whether temporal or sinning, to save you from the awful curse de- eternal ? And Kyle was irreligious because he nounced against him who 'maketh flesh his arm,' was not truly religious; and there are but two reand loves this world and the things thereof, rather lations in which God's creatures can stand to him: than the treasure which is heavenly and eternal. they must either be his obedient children, or his I will now," I added, "read you one more short enemies; and those who are not the former neextract from my book, and then I must be going. cessarily are the latter. The farmer was honest, The words are from the pen of a holy man, who, sober, and industrious: he was a regular churchhaving fought a good fight, we may humbly hope goer; and the character which he bore among his has found above that his reward is sure. If neighbours was irreproachable; but alas! neither you are a child of God,' he says, 'wherever you of these virtues are recommendations, nor all of propose to nestle, there your heavenly Father will them put together can make a good Christian and plant a thorn, until you are driven from spray to a truly happy man! To render him such, spay, and from leaf to leaf, and are taught, by sad real faith in Christ, resignation to the divine experience, that God, and God alone, is, from ever-will, constant prayerfulness, and the in-dwelling lasting to everlasting, the dwelling-place of his people.' May he, of his tender mercy, cause you to feel this; and feel it speedily, to the great and endless comfort of your souls," I added, as, rising from my seat, I held out my hand to Mrs. Kyle. She took it, with a look full of gratitude and hope; and, after a few words of kindly import had been spoken on either side, I took my leave.
My visit, I felt, had been productive of good: the words of peace which, as a minister of the gospel of glad tidings I had been enabled to speak, had, I could not doubt, been blessed to the consolation of a bleeding heart; and, as I retraced my steps to the village, and thought over the occurrences of the morning, these words occurred to me, and the reflections to which they gave rise were hopeful and happy.
"When she heard the tale....
.... it chang'd the nature of her woe,
of the Holy Spirit, are necessary. Kyle neither exercised the former nor experienced the latter; consequently he was happy only when things went well with him: when "fortune was smiling" he also could smile; but, when tried in the balance of God's justice, he was found wanting: his heart was not stayed upon God; therefore, when the "arm of flesh" failed, no other support was at hand to sustain and comfort him. But this has been too long a digression: I must at once proceed with my tale.
The long talked-of and hoped-for June arrived; but it brought no Kitty to her anxious parents: a letter came instead! O how many times was that letter read, albeit the news it contained was sad and most unwelcome! In it Kitty said that McHale was detained at L- by his business, which had of late become more complicated, and engrossed his whole time and attention, and that she could not make up her mind to leave him. She