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A Child of the Glens by Edward Newenham Hoare

McAravey was surprised by a visit from two bright


Thus

time slipped by uneventfully, as far as external circumstances were concerned, but not purposelessly. The hard lot of the poor suffering old woman was being lighted, and her spirit trained for that eternity which was now growing large upon her vision, as earthly affairs shrank into a smaller compass. Elsie, too, who had never yet crossed the hill that seemed to meet the sky at the top of the glen, was learning lessons of perseverance and patient endurance, which would not be lost upon her, whatever the future of the child might be. Jim was seldom at home, and, alas! but little of the old childish attachment survived. The boy was ambitious, business-like, and plodding. His heart was in the town, and he seemed to retain no affection for the associations of his childhood: some of them were absolutely abhorrent to him. George Hendrick was profoundly disappointed in the lad. Not that a word could be said against his character. He was steady, diligent, and submissive. And when he was placed in a position where he could earn something, he never failed to send what he could to the old woman who had sacrificed so much to bring him on. But there seemed a total absence of feeling or religious sentiment about the lad. If he was sober and steady, it was merely because he scorned the weakness and waste consequent upon dissipation. He was pushing and ambitious, well spoken of and respected, but his old teacher failed not to see that all his thoughts were "of the earth, earthy."

style="text-align: justify;">When she was nearly fifteen (as far as her ago was known) a new world was opened up for Elsie. The rector's family were now growing up, and he was blest enough to find in his children, not a hindrance, but the greatest comfort and assistance in his arduous and often cheerless work. Miss Smith and her sister Louisa had recently taken the musical arrangements of the church in hand, and not before it was needed, were now busying themselves to select and train a rustic choir. The fame of Elsie's vocal abilities had been brought to Rossleigh Rectory by Hendrick, and so one day Mrs. McAravey was surprised by a visit from two bright, fresh young girls. In her reception of them you could not recognise the hard, rude woman who had so sorely repulsed their father on his first visit to the glen.

"Mr. Hendrick has been telling us about you and Elsie," began Miss Smith, "and we have only been waiting for the moors to be tolerably dry to come over and see you. Now we 've once got here, I hope we shall be good friends."

"Thank ye, miss; thank ye kindly. I shall be glad to see ye, and I hope ye won't be strangers. It's not often any one passes this way, and I often think very long when Elsie's out."

"We hear Elsie has a very good voice, and we want to know whether she could not manage to come over and sing in the choir, in summer-time at least."

"Aye, the lass has a good voice enough, and a good heart too, God bless her! She 'll sing her hymns to me here half the night when I'm kept awake with the pain. But, begging your pardon, young ladies, I don't care much for these new-fangled hymns; it's the good old psalms that I like--them's the Lord's work and not man's. And, as for Elsie singing in the church, it's very kind of you to think of her; but it 'a a long road, or rather no road at all. But here 's the lass, and she 'll speak for hersel'."

At this moment Elsie entered the cottage, and was delighted at the invitation, for which, it may be told, George Hendrick had already prepared her. "But how could she leave poor gran?" The old woman thought this could be managed if she was only wanted for the morning. And so it was finally settled that Elsie should, on fine Sundays, walk over to Rossleigh in time for the half-past eleven service, remaining for dinner at the rectory, in order that she might attend the afternoon Sunday-school, and thence return to Tor Bay at about four in the afternoon. To all this Mrs. McAravey assented, though probably the three young girls had no conception of the sacrifice it was to the invalid thus to consent to her being left alone from ten o'clock of a Sunday morning till nearly five.


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