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THE MINISTER’S DREAM.

(Concluded). . ‘ " “He was in an awful strait; on the . one hand, how could he remain 'him? self? on the other, how doom another to such fearful torments? Who could^ 5 he send ? Who would come ? And then suddenly there flashed through his mind the thought of an old man to whom it could not matter whether he took up his abode in.this ■ place a few days sooner or a fevy days - later. He was travelling to it as fast as he knew how; he was- the ' reprobate of the parish; the sinner without hope whom successive ters had striven in vain to reclaim from the error of his ways;, a-. . man marked and doomed ; Sandy, - 5 . the tinker; Sandy, who was mostly ! !,’ drunk and always godless; Sandy, who, it was said, believed in nothing, and gloried in his infidelity; Sandy, whose soul did not signify much. He would send him. Lifting his eyes, he saw those of his tormentor surveying him scornfully. “‘Well, have you made your choice ?’ he asked.

“ ‘ Yes; I think I can send a substitute,’ was the hesitating answer. “ * See you do, then,’ was the reply; ‘ for if you do not, and fail to; return yourself, I shall come for you. Wednesday, remember, before midnight;’ and with these words ringing in his ears he was flung violently through the rock, and found himself in the middle of jhis bedroom floor, as if he had just been kicked there.”

“ That is not the end of the story, is . : it?” asked one of our party, as the . ' minister came to a full stop and looked earnestly at the fire. \ “No,” he answered, “it is not the end ; but before proceeding I must ask you to bear carefully in mind the cir--cumstancesalready recounted. Specially remember the date mentioned—Wednesday next, before midnight. . " , “ Whatever I thought, and you may think, about my friend’s dream, it made the most remarkable impression upon his mind. He could not shake off its . influence; he passed from one state of nervousness to another. It was in vain I entreated him to exert his common- ' • sense and call his strength of mind to ‘ his assistance. I might as well have spoken to the wind. He implored me not to leave him, and I agreed to remain ; indeed, to leave him in his then; frame of mind would have been an act of the greatest cruelty. He wanted me also to preach in his place on the Sunday ensuing; but this I flatly refused to do.

“‘ If you do not make an effort, now/ ;; -r I said, * you will never make it. Rouse • ■■■ yourself, get on with your sermon, and if you buckle to work you will soon forget all about that foolish dream.’ . “ Well, somehow, to cut a long story: ■ ; short, the sermon was composed and Sunday came, and my friend; a . little; ' ' ! better, and getting somewhat over Kfs !

fret, got up into the pulpit to prcav. He looked dreadfully ill; but I thought the worst was now over, and that l.e would go on mending. “ Vain hope! He gave out the text, and then looked over the congregation. The first person on whom his eyes lighted was Sandy the Tinker —Sandy, who Jhad never before been known to enter a place of worship of any sort; Sandy, whom he had mentally chosen as his substitute, and who was due on the following Wednesday—sitting just below him, quite sober and comparatively clean, waiting with a great show of attention for the opening words of the sermon. “With a terrible cry, my friend caught the front of the pulpit, then swayed back and fell down in a fainting fit. He was carried home and a doctor sent for. I said a few words, addressed apparently to the congregation, but really to Sandy, for my heart somehow came into my mouth at thought of him ; and then, after I dismissed the people, I walked slowly 'back to the manse, almost afraid of - what might meet me there. “Mr Cawley was not dead, but he was in the most dreadful state, of ■physical exhaustion and mental agitation. It was dreadful to hear him. .How could he go himself? How could he.send Sandy ? Poor old Sandy, whose soul in the sight of God, was just; as precious as his own. “ His whole cry was for us to deliver, him from the Evil One; to save him from committing a sin which would render -him a. wretched man for life. THe counted the hours and the minutes 'tftifpre he must return to that horrible ? place. _V.“ can’t send Sandy,’ he would .moan. ‘ I cannot. O, I cannot save myself at such a price !’ - “ And then he would cover his face -.with the bed clothes, only to start up Wildly and entreat me not to leave him; to stand between theenemy and himto save, him, or, if that were impossible. to give him courage to do .-what was right “ ‘lf this continues,’ said the doctor, Wednesday will find him either dead ’dr u, raving lunatic.’ We talked the matter over, the doctor and I, in the gloaming, as we wailked - tb and Train the meadow be'hind the manse;; and we decided, having to make our choice of two, evils, to risk giving such an opiate as should C&rry him over the dreaded interval; We knew it was a perilous thing to do with one in his condition, but, as I said before, we could only take the least of two evils. “ What we dreaded most was his awaking before the time expired; so I kept "watch beside him. He lay like one dead through the whole of Tuesday night and Wednesday and Wednesday evening. Eight, nine, ten, eleven o’clock came and passed; twelve. * God be thanked !’ I said, as I stooped over him and heard he was breathing “He will do now, I hope,” said the doctor, who had come just before midnight ; “ you will stay with him till he ftakes?*

“ I promised that I would, and in the beautiful dawn of a summer’s mornifag be opened his eyes and smiled. He no recollection then of what had occurred; he was as weak as an infant, and when I bade him to try to go to sleep again, turned on his pillow and sank to rest once more. “ Worn out with watching I stepped Softly from the room and passed into the&esh, sweet air. : I walked down to the; garden gate, and stood looking at the greatmountains and the fair country, and the Deldy wandering like a silver thread through the green fields below.

1 “ All at once my attention was attracted by a group of people coming slowly along the road leading from the hills. I couldrnot at first see that in them midst something was being borne oh men’s shoulders; but when at last I made this but‘l hurried to meet them and.learn what, was the matter. ' / Has there been an accident ? ’ I asked,: as I drew near. . “ They stopped, and one man came towards me. Aye/; he said, ‘ the warst accident that could befa’ him, puir fella’. He’s deid.’ -“'Who is it?’ I asked, pressing finward; ahdlifting the cloth they had flung over his face, I saw Sandy the Tinker!.. “‘He had been fou’ coming home, I tak’ it,’ remarked one who stood by, * puir Sandy, and gaed over the cliff afore he could, save himsel’. We found him Just on the side of the Witches’ Cauldron, where there’s a bonny strip of green turf, and his cuddy was feeding on the hill-top with the bit cart behind her.’ ” ' There was silence for a minute; then one of the ladies said softly, “Poor Sandy! ” “ And what became of Mr Cawley ? ” asked the other. - “He gave up his parish and went optasamissionary. He is stillliving.” ' “ What a most extraordinary story ! ” iMnaafked. j“,YeSj I think so,” said the minister, “if ypu like to go round by Dendeldy to-monroufe, hoy son, who now occupies tbe aaahse, t would show you the scene of;Ae occuttrience’’ The hext day we all stood looking at “the bonny strip of green,” at the framing cliffs, and at the Deldy, swollen, by recent rains, rushing on its vrky. The youngest of the party went up ta the rock and knocked upon it loudly wuh bis cane. “O, don’t do that, pray!” cried both'the ladies,^nervously ; the spirit of the weird story still brooded over us. “ What do you think of the coincidence, Jack ? ” I enquired of my friend, as we walked apart from the “Ask me when we get back to Fleet street,” he

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18810308.2.17

Bibliographic details

THE MINISTER’S DREAM., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 287, 8 March 1881

Word Count
1,438

THE MINISTER’S DREAM. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 287, 8 March 1881

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