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drowned yesterday whilst out fishing ; his body was this morning washed ashore. I must carry the comfort of the Gospel to the mourning widow.'
He walked hurriedly on. Almost unconsciously Deena followed him through the fog. She presently found herself before a low-built cottage that seemed suddenly to have started up out of the ground. Within, on the hard-pressed clay floor, lay the corpse of the young fisherman in complete attire ; a shallow streak of water had settled round it. Sonka Powes, a gray-haired, aged woman, sat beside it near the baking-oven. She neither wept nor spoke nor stirred, but fixed her eyes steadfastly upon the dead. It was not easy to say whether her wrinkled features bore the impress of stupidity or submission. Some half-dozen other women, and a couple of men, stood silently about the hearth; their faces also indicated no surprise, simply expectancy. All at once the bony hands of each were clasped together; the young pastor entered. With
With a hasty glance at the lifeless body, he strode towards the bereaved mother, and said aloud :
· The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord !
Deena heard none of the words that followed. It was the first time that death had met her eye; a cold shudder passed through her frame at the sight, and at the same time a strong desire for life seemed to stir within her; a natural impulse made her retire quickly from the dismal scene.
Outside she met with other women who were hastening to the house of death; she spoke to one of them, and, introducing herself as the parson's newly-arrived wife, begged for some hot gleeds wherewith to light a fire. The woman, who was a near neighbour, readily granted the request. She brought at once a shovelful of burning coal, and afterwards, from her own household supplies, all that was requisite for the preparation of a simple morning meal. The gray sky gave no indication of the hour of day, and the old clock in its wooden case had never been wound up since the death of the old pastor. But Deena felt it must be past noon; healthy as she was, both in body and mind, and having eaten nothing since early on the previous day, she now began to feel the pangs of hunger, and was sorely tempted to appease them before the entrance of her husband, who still delayed his return; but she held out bravely, and at last Remmert Meynolt came in. They took their seats
at the table. Deena had found some linen in an old press, and had contrived to hunt up other requisites, so as to make everything appear neat and clean. She had already given to the dwelling-room an unusual air of comfort, but her husband made no remark about it. He showed no surprise at the arrangements for his reception, but merely said:
'I see you have found your way about the house and kitchen ; it is a wife's business to do so. God bids us despise earthly things and use them simply for the sustenance of the body, so that the soul may thereby be nourished and sustained unto life everlasting. In order to obtain the reward promised in the heavenly mansion, God requires the strict performance of every duty, even of household duties. It is the special duty of a pastor's wife to display in her own person, and to her sisters in the parish, a perfect pattern of domestic management. It was your evident ability in this respect, my dear Deena, that first attracted my attention to you in
your father's house, and I feel quite sure that your example will prove a blessing to the women and girls of this island.'
During the brief repast, the young husband took the opportunity of imparting further information about various families in the village, over whom he hoped soon to gain a wholesome influence through Deena's visiting them; then he set about unpacking his cases, and arranging the books, which had been sent on before. The bride's dowry of linen and clothes was also there in trunks and baskets, so Deena busied herself at the same time in taking it all out and putting it in order. Thus the afternoon slipped by in busy occupation. As the various articles passed through Deena's hands, she seemed once more to hear the voices of her sisters alluding with merry jests to the future destination of the garments that they were buying or busily stitching. Deena's disposition was bright and cheerful. In her father's house she had always had others to share her labours; it seemed to her now more like a dream to be toiling all alone in this solemn, silent house. Still, the active occupation and its pleasing results made her feel blithe and gay. As evening approached she looked at her day's work with satisfaction. She had perfectly arranged all her household affairs; under the ashes of the hearth live coal was buried for lighting the fire next day; the lamp, well supplied with oil, burned brightly in the sitting room ; she had also lighted the lamp in her husband's study. The pastor was already
seated there, deeply engrossed with the preparation of his sermon for the coming Sunday, and after the evening meal he favoured Deena with some extracts from it. His voice had a deep, rich tone, and she loved to listen to it. Her soul, filled with a simple, childlike faith, seemed wafted by his words into a loftier region, and to be borne nearer to him. She knew that she stood in need of his help; that she was far beneath him in mental power and knowledge, and that her life, to be spent by his side, was regarded by her sisters with envy. With wondering humility her ear hung upon his words; she taxed her brains to grasp the lofty things of which he spoke. What bliss when she thought she understood him! Still, even failure and misconception need cause her no fear. Her lack of instruction drew from him no word of disappointment, nor did her childishness provoke a sign of impatience; he calmly repeated what she had failed to grasp, and thus strove to make things clear to her mind. In the dark night outside the winds and waves still roared incessantly, but within, by the lamplight, everything looked warm and comfortable, and the old clock on the chimney-piece ticked to and fro.
When nine o'clock struck, Remmert Meynolt said :
"I think in the winter we had better make this the hour of bed-time, so that we may be ready to get up early for the day's work. It is the custom throughout the village, for the sake of economizing light, and even in this the pastor's house should set a good example. Good-night, my dear Deena ; I dare say before you fall asleep you will again think over all that we have been talking about to-night, and try to understand it better.'
He withdrew to his chamber; the young wife looked after him as if she still had something to say—she did not know exactly what. She, too, at last betook herself to rest, but it was long before she fell asleep. She felt there was so much for her to think about, and yet she could see nothing clearly. At last, however, the roaring of wind and waves lulled to sleep the pastor's bride.
Days, weeks, months passed by, each one exactly like the other. Nature seemed never to vary, and domestic life at the parsonage resembled her in this respect. As the wind continually blew the little grains of the sand-hills to and fro, so did the pendulum in the clock-case tick off the seconds; but Time and the downs remained ever the same. The island was like an immense hour-glass, the sands of which run down each night, but, turned over, resume their course on the morrow.
For Pastor Remmert, however, the days flew by all too quickly; each hour brought to him some call of duty. It did not take him long to become acquainted with every member of his community, but he did not stop at the knowledge of their names and faces; his supreme anxiety was to know their inner life of thought and feeling, that he might minister to them wisely in spiritual things. He made himself familiar with the mind and character of each one of his flock, in order to adapt his teaching and spiritual influence personally to them. Nothing could have been more opposed to his nature than religious bigotry; he was gentle, patient, and kind, and only sought to teach and to persuade. His lenience ceased only in the face of a positive Scriptural command; but then, he was inexorable in his requirements. His Sunday duties in the pulpit and at the altar he looked upon as the lighter business of his office ; its essential part consisted in direct personal influence on the souls that were committed to his charge—the combating of their doubts, and the recovery of such as had gone astray. In the houses of the people, amidst their daily toil on the sea-shore, he was to be found, preaching without parade, and striving, with the simplest words, to keep their minds steadily aiming at preparation for the higher life, even in the midst of their earthly pursuits. With this object in view, he would accompany the men
on their fishing expeditions, and their eyes were often fastened upon him with admiration, for he seemed to heed danger even less than they did themselves, and amid storms and raging waves, he was ever the most fearless of them all.
In the indifference which is a frequent characteristic of advancing years, their former pastor had concerned himself but little for the welfare of the children who were growing up around him; but Pastor Remmert at once set apart a room in his house as a schoolroom for them, and made arrangements for the systematic instruction of all the boys and girls on the island. The Government took no trouble in the matter, and made him no grant of pecuniary help; but Remmert did not hesitate to teach these little ones, like the humblest village schoolmaster, the rudiments of reading, writing, and figures. He considered the acquisition of secular knowledge both necessary in itself, and an introduction to that more directly religious teaching and influence which he ever made his supreme aim.
The temporal affairs of his flock also demanded very much of his attention. But it was for their sakes alone that he troubled himself about worldly matters ; his own eye was ever looking unto things eternal.
Deena also took her share in the business of the school, teaching the village girls to knit, to sew, and to darn. She visited the various houses, advising the women, and even giving them, at need, her personal help. The island had been a long time without a pastor's wife, and so Deena's practical skill, and the absence of any assumption of superiority or pretension to a higher position than that of the other female members of the community, soon gained for her the confidence and esteem of every heart. Her own home, which she managed without any outside help, also required her daily attention, so she had spheres of service that made constant and abundant demands upon her time and strength.
But in spite of all her activity and varied interests, Deena often felt that the day was too long for her. Now and again there were spare intervals in which she did not quite know what to do with herself. At first she used to take up one of her husband's books, and try to read, but she found them altogether beyond her comprehension, and she never met with any encouragement from him to continue their perusal. So she would sit idly gazing through the little window-panes across the country, in its robe of wintry brown, towards the scattered little dwellings and the bare sandy downs. Then her imagination recalled the comfortable, spacious sitting-room in her father's house, and her sisters busily going in and out; she even seemed to hear them chatter and laugh and joke. Then