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THE MINISTER’S DREAM., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 285, 5 March 1881
THE MINISTER’S DREAM.
Before commencing my story, I wish to state it is perfectly true in every particular. “ We quite understand that,” said the sceptic of our party, who was wont, in the security of friendly intercourse, to characterise ail such prefaces as mere introductions to some tremendous blank, blank, blank, which trio the reader can fill up at his own pleasure and leisure. Qn the occasion in question, however, we had donned our best behavior, a gartpent;which did not sit ungracefully'on some of us; and our host, who was about to draw out from the stores of memory one narrative for our entertainment was scarcely the person before whom even Jack Hill would have cared to express his cynical and unbelieving views.
We were seated, an incongruous company of ten persons, in the best room of. an old manse among the Scottish hills. Accident liad thrown US together, and accident had driven us under the minister’s hospitable roof. Cold, wet and hungry, drenched with rain, sorely beaten by the wind, we had crowded through the door opened by a friendly hand, and now, wet no longer, the pangs of hunger assuaged with smoking rashers of ham, poached eggs, and steaming potatoes, we sat around a blazing fire drinking toddy out of tumblers, the two ladies who graced the 1 assemblage partook of a modicum 7 of the same beverage from wine-glasses. . Everything was eminently comfortbut ; done upon , the most correct Jack could rib more have taken it upqn him to shock the minister’s ears with some of the opinions he aired in Fleet street than he could have asked for more whisky with his water.
“ Yes, it is perfectly true,” continued the: minister, looking thoughtfully at the fire. “ I can’t explain it. I cannot even try to explain it. I will tell the story exactly as it occurred, and leave yo'd to draw your own conclusions from it” .. ftdne of us answered.. We fell into listening attitudes instantly, and eighteen eyes fixed themselves by one accord upon our host. He was an old man, but hale. The weight of eighty winters had whitened his head, but not bent it. He seemed young as any of us—younger than Jack Hilt who was a reviewer and a newsprfpgf whose way through life had not been altogether on easy lines. “Thirty years ago, upon a certain Friday morning in August,” began the minister, “ I was sitting at breakfast in therirbdm *on : the other side of the passage, where you ate your supper, when the servant came in with a letter sKp- 4aid a laddie, all out of breath, had brought oyer from Dendeldy Manse. *He was bidden rin a’ the way,’ she weal:on, ‘and he’s fairly beaten.’ I told her to make the messenger sit down and put food before him ; and then, when she went to do my bidding, proceeded, I must confess with some curiosity, to break the seal of a missive forwarded in such hot haste.
i-rlt, was from the minister of Dendeldy, who had been newly chosen to occupy -the pulpit his father occupied for a quarter of a century and more. “The call from the congregation originated rather out of respect to the facer's memory than any extraordinary liking for the son. He had been reared for -the most part in England, and: was- somewhat distant and formal in his manners; and, though full of Greek and Latin and Hebrew, wanted the true Scotch accent that goes straight td the heart of those accustomed t® the broad, haass^Jffider Scottish tongue^ “ His people were proud of him, but they did not just like all his ways. They could remember him a lad running about the whole country side, and they could ;not understand, and did not approve of, his holding them at arm’slength and shutting himself up among his books, and refusing their hospitality, and sending out word be was busy, when maybe some decent man wanted speech with him. I had taken upon myself to point out that he was wrong, and 'that he would alienate his flock ftom him. Perhaps it was for this very because I was blunt and plain, hO took to me kindlj r , and never got on his . high horse, no matter what I said “ Well, to return: to the letter. It written in the wildest haste, and mp pot to ; lose a moment in coming to him, as he was in the very greatest distress and anxiety, ‘ Let nothing delay you,’ he proceeded. *lf I' tanriot speak to you soon I believe I of my senses.’
What could be the matter ?’ I thought. ‘ What, in all the wide earth, could have happened ?' “ ]fhad seen him a few days before, apd.he was in good health-and spirits, getting on better with his people, feeling hopeful of so altering his style of preaching as to touch their hearts more sensibly. ‘‘ ■ I must lay aside Southern ideas as well as accent, if I can,’ he went on, smiling, ‘ Men who live such lives of hardship and privation, who cast their seed into the ground under such rigorous skies, and cut their corn in fear and trembling at the end of late uncertain summers,who take the sheep out of the show drifts and carry the lambs into shelter besides their own Mn®le r 4iMrth&, Ti must want - a different sprt pf Sermon from him who sleeps soft and walks delicately.’ ; hdd implied something of all this myself, aud it amused me to find my own thoughts come back clothed in different fashion and presented to jfte%¥ttiiiigers, Still, all I wanted was learn. aAlWkal could have happened, however, puzzled me sorely. As I made jjljF-fiTOied preparations for setting out I fairly perplexed Imyself with- speculation. kiteteo, where l»»3fi«®e»gerwa3«atiDg some break--Parley was IMK'TO « pf'jfl.-.ifni; - ! • tjldM idit»na ken,’ he . answered.-:: ‘.He Mad’-pp.icmlplaiht, but be luiked awfu' way ? ’ I inquired. “ * As if he had seen a ghaist,’ wais 1 ! ■ conclusion .the .trouble TO«dnw>ecled- wjft 'mosby matters. V«i»gi<nßfenfwi]lbeyoung:men>'’and here toe mjmiste* Ippked sighifitfantly At the canow bird* of dbreompany, a
I bad never owed a sixpence in i vis life or given away a cent; while • jack Hi;!- no chicken, by the way — i was over head and ears in debt, and could not keep a sovereign in his pocket, though spending or bestowing it involved going dinnerless the next day. “ Young men will be young men,” repeated the minister in his best pulpit manner. (“Just as though anyone expected them to be young women ! ” grumbled Jack to me afterwards), “ and I feared that now he was settled and comfortably off, some old creditors he had been paying as best he could, might have become pressing. I knew nothing of his liabilities, or, beyond the amount of the stipend paid him, the state of his pecuniary affairs ; but having once in my own life made myself responsible for a debt, I was aware of all the trouble of putting your arm out further than you could draw it back involved, and I considered it most probably money, which is the root of ell evil ” (“ and all good,” Jack’s eyes suggested to me), “ was the cause of my young friend’s agony of mind. Blessed with a large family—every one of whom is now alive and doing well, I thank God, out in the world—you may imagine I had not much opportunity tor laying by; still, I had put aside a little for a rainy day, and that little I placed in my pocket book, hoping even a small sum might prove of use in case of emergency.” : “ Come, you arc a trump,” I saw written plainly on Jack’s face; and he settled himself to listen to the remainder of the minister’s story in a manner which could not be considered other than complimentary. Duly and truly I knew quite well that he had already devoted the first five-guinea cheque he received to the poor of that minister’s parish. “By the road,” proceeded our host, “ Dendeldy is distant from here ten long miles, but by a short cut across the hills it can be reached in something under six. For me it was nothing of a walk, and accordingly I arrived at the manSe ere noon.” He paused, and, though thirty years had elapsed, drew a handkerchief across his forehead ere he continued his narrative. “ I had to climb a steep brae to reach the front door, but ere I could breast it my friend met me. ; “‘Thank God you are come,’ he said, pressing my hand in his. ‘O, I am grateful.’ ( To he continued.)
THE MINISTER’S DREAM., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 285, 5 March 1881
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