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SLOWLY, very slowly Catherine recovered from the shock of that bitter parting. And then she felt so lonely, so desolate; no mother, no sister, no bosom friend, to give her one comforting look of sympathy, or one sustaining word of affection. And she mourned afresh the loss of that dear, sympathising, maternal friend, always so ready in her loving wisdom, always so ready in any trial or affliction, to give counsel and comfort. And, oh! Catherine needed these; for, like the black scudding fragments of clouds left by the tempest, dark, despairing thoughts drifted through her mind. Yes, she had need, and profoundly felt that need, of counsel and comfort in this bewildering sorrow; but of whom could she seek it? Of none-of none must she seek it. The true wife's instinct taught her that. For even when the retro*spective image of his dead mother, her own beloved bosom friend, recurred in the shape of a once possible mediator between herself and husband, her mind intuitively recoiled from the idea; and she knew that, were that dear mother now living, not even of her could she make a confidant; that the religious unity, the integral sanctity, the cherished exclusiveness of marriage would be invaded and broken, and the sweet charm lost by the introduction of a third party-beloved even as that dear, mutual mother-into its sacred counsels. No, unhappy and bewildered as she was, she felt that, by all her hopes of a future happy union, this wretched division must be kept to herself-upon herself solely recoil the burden and the pain-she "must tread the wine-press alone." And even when she prayed for divine inspiration to guide her, the response came from the depths of her spirit, The Word of God is within you."
And how empty the house seemed because one was awayhow gloomy, how funereal! Even the light footstep of a chambermaid in the distance sounded hollow, sending a dreary echo through the many passages of the great empty house-empty, for that he was gone.
It seemed not worth while to go on with daily life at all—
to keep up the fire on the household hearth, or to light the evening lamp, or to order meals for herself alone.
But if Catherine were for once tempted in her sorrow to forget her duties, her duties were not the least disposed to leave her long in peace-no, not for an hour.
Catherine was roused from her fit of deep thought by the entrance of a field-woman, who, with the usual curtsey, and the customary greeting of Sarvunt, ma'am," stood
Kate raised her heavy eyelids abstractedly.
Sarvunt, ma'am, said the woman, again curtseying. "Aunt Field Mary is well over it, ma'am. It's a boy-chile, ma'am; a likely little boy-chile as ever you see, ma'am. An' Aunt Field Mary told me to tell you, ma'am, how, thank the Lord! an' she's fotch through safe, an' how she wouldn't let dem 'sturve you las' night, caze you were so tired, an' caze it wur the lassest night Marse Archer had to stay home. An' Aunt Field Mary say, would you please to come down der to her quarter an' see her dis mornin', and how she wants some green tea, an' loaf sugar, an’—an’— wine, if you please, ma'am."
"What-what did you say?" asked Catherine, passing her hand over her forehead, to dispel the concentration of sorrowful thought.
"Aunt Field Mary, ma'am; it's a boy-chile, ma'am—a likely little boy-chile as ever you see, ma'am; and she's fotch well through of it, thank Marster, ma'am; an' she say, how will you come an' see her, an' send her some liquor, an' things. Likewise, Uncle Jubilee-its daddy, ma'am-he say, can't he have a holiday to-day, ma'am, an' stay home outn de field, seein' how it's his firstest son an' hier out seven darters."
Passing her hand across her forehead slowly, Catherine dispersed the last lingering fragments of her bitter reverie, and stood up to her simple, practical, household duties; and then her action was clear and decided. She took up her little basket of keys, bade the woman follow her, and went down stairs and into the pantry, where she filled a hamper with tea and sugar, crackers, jelly, and other little matters, and gave it to her attendant, saying, "Take these to Field Mary, and say that I will be down to see her presently."
Yes, ma'am, sure 'nough. But 'bout de liquor, honey?
likewise Uncle Jubilee's holiday, seein' how it's his firstest son an' hier outn seven darters ?"
Tell Mary that I cannot send her wine-it is not good for her now; but tell her to mention any other want, and, if it be a proper one, it shall be supplied. Tell Jubilee to return to the field-his labour cannot possibly be spared from it to-day. And stay-what is your name?" Nelly, ma'am; 'deed it is, honey.
That's my name,
I think I never saw you up at the house before, Nelly ?"
No, ma'am, likely not, chile, indeed. I lives quite distant off, down der on Cedar Creek, unnerneaf of Bushy Hill der, on de outskeerts o' de plantashum."
"Well, Nelly, who is tending Field Mary ?"
I is, ma'am. Hardbargain Henny, she long o' her now; but I tends her. I tends all de wimmin hands when dey's sick 'deed I does, chile. But, poor creeturs, dey alluz wants der missis-alluz. I never knew dem to fail o' fretting arter her-dey don't seem to feel kinder safe widout her, dough I alluz tells de poor ignoran' creeturs der missis can't do nuffin 't all; dere in de han's o' de Lord, not in de missis's. An' dar Fiel' Mary, 'ceitful thing, sendin' you word how she didn't want you 'sturved, arter keepin' on arter us all night to send for you; but I telled her good I wan't a-goin' to have the young madam wurritted long o' her 'fernal nonsense, bein' as it was de lassest night marster had to stay at home."
"Yes, there, go now," said Catherine, waving her hand wearily.
"Nyther wan't it any sort o' use, case I myse'f, dough I shouldn be de fuss to bray affen it, am as knowin' a 'oman as if I wur book edified, bein' as I has had thirty years 'speriments, ten years practisin' on ole Marse Roger Gower plantashum, down in ole Si' Mary's, 'fore I came here, nuss long o' Miss Car'line Gower, wid her fuss baby, which was our Miss Car'line Clif'n. An' dat war twenty odd year ago, an' I'se had twenty years' 'speriments here. Lord, missis, ma'am, whenever you 'quires any 'vice and 'sistance, you ain't no 'cassion to call in any dem derned, infunnelly, roguing doctors, as makes you worse sick, purpose o' gettin' more credit and money for makin' you well."
"There-there-there-there, Nelly, return to your
"Yes, missis, I'm gwine now, ma'am, only I wanted to tell you, while I trought of it, how when eber you 'quire of de aid an' comfort, you no call to send offen de plantashum,
Nelly, there is one thing that I must say to you now and which I wish you to remember. It is that when I give a direction, I intend it to be followed."
The old woman looked mortified, and took up the hamper, settled it upon her head, and went out. It pained Catherine's gentle heart to speak so peremptorily; but this was one among the abuses she felt it to be her imperative duty to reform the habits of idleness and listlessness, and the propensity to stand and gossip among the domestics. Trifling as this little incident was, it served to arouse Catherine and place her on her feet; and she did not utterly sink again.
The evening fire was kindled on the household hearth, and the evening lamp lighted, though there was but one lonely woman to feel their cheering influence.
The next day was the Sabbath; and Catherine, as usual, attended church. She felt deeply the need of religious consolation; her spirit hungered, thirsted, failed, and fainted for the feeding, refreshing, strengthening ministrations of the gospel. The old, sad, unanswered problem of unmerited suffering perplexed her. She felt herself sinking into that sad and nearly hopeless state of mind induced by great and singular trials to be borne perforce alone and in secretwhen, wanting human sympathy and failing of divine comfort, the soul loses sight of the Merciful Father in the Omnipotent Creator, or, in other words, of especial providence in general providence, and falls sadly, despairingly back upon its helpless self, and says that the Supreme Ruler of the universe, the Governor of countless millions of suns and systems, never stoops to care for a poor, lost atom like itself. She needed to hear the gospel message of love and hope again. But when she entered her pew, and raised her eyes to the pulpit, she was disappointed in missing from his place the mild and venerable face and form of the parish clergyman, whose teachings every Sabbath morning sent her home with renewed love, and sustained her through the week, and she was pained to see in his stead a young man, a mere
youth in seeming, some student newly ordained, she supposed, and she sank back in her seat, saddened with the thought that she would not get the greatly-needed spiritual help from him; for what could a student in his youth know of life's dread trials of the heart's mournful experiences, or the spirit's deep needs? She felt sure he could not help her; and she sank back, resigning herself with a deep sigh. The opening hymn was given out
God moves in a mysterious way
Ye fearful souls, fresh courage take,
The first words of this hymn fell upon Catherine's surprised ear, filling her soul with awe, for it seemed a direct answer to her thought; and all that hymn--every stanza, every line was filled with meaning for her, and powerful in its effect upon her mind, in its peculiar state of experience. She listened in penitent, grateful, reverent silence, folding her hands meekly and saying within her heart, "Father, forgive my doubts and fears! I will believe it! Yes, I will believe that even this heavy cloud is laden with mercy, and will shower blessings! I will believe that even this bitter trial— this bitter, bitter separation and disunion-is in some way necessary to our moral growth and future welfare, and that I shall see it. I do believe it, for I have had blessed answers before to doubts. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.' I do believe
God is His own interpreter,
were the solemn last words of the divine song that awed her into stillness. This hymn was sung, Catherine's beautiful voice joining the choir; and, when it was ended, followed the prayer, so singularly coincident that every word gave voice to the deep silent cry in her own suffering heart.
And then the young minister arose to give out the textMatthew x. 29: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall to the ground without your