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A Child of the Glens by Edward Newenham Hoare

Yet Robert Hendrick loved and prayed for the child


"Where's

the wains, 'Lisbeth, I wonder?"

"How should I know?" was the somewhat Jesuitical reply. "Maybe they 're gone to the town end; but they 'll be right enough, you may be sure." And there the matter dropped for many a day.

Meanwhile school-work went on. The precocious Jim made amazing progress in reading and writing--arts from which Elsie's impatient nature revolted. This distaste was, however, counterbalanced by the girl's quickness in other respects. By dint of memory, and an excellent ear, she soon had at her finger ends whole passages of Scripture, together with a number of psalms and hymns, from one to the other of which she ran with a vivacity and heedlessness, that often pained her teacher. She was soon the leader of the little choir, and could sing, with wonderful correctness, "Shall we gather at the river?" "I think when I read that sweet story of old, How when Jesus was here among men." "As pants the hart for cooling streams," &c.

Robert Hendrick was deeply interested in his little pupils. Jim seemed likely to grow up a pattern boy. Punctual and diligent, with grave, attentive eyes and quiet demeanour, he could not but elicit the approval of his teacher. Yet Hendrick could not conceal from himself that Elsie was his favourite--Elsie, so reckless and so irreverent, so headstrong, and at times even violent. He used to tremble for the child's future, as, attracted

by the sweet, true ring of her voice, he saw the eager, merry eyes wandering all round the room, while the lips were singing the most sacred words. Those awful and profound truths, that were to him the only realities, and which animated his every effort, were apparently to this sweet young singer but as fairy tales, or even as mere empty words on which to build up the fabric of her song; and at times he even doubted whether it was right to lay bare the mysterious agonies of redeeming love to such a careless eye, and to familiarise such a child with scenes so awful, but which seemed to wake no note of love or reverence. Yet Robert Hendrick loved and prayed for the child, content to work on for her, as for so many others in the glen, in simple faith and loving hope.

With the approach of winter the Friday evening class had to be discontinued. Most of the children lived at a considerable distance from the place of meeting; nor was a walk across the moors always feasible in rough weather. Even for a time the Wednesday service had to be suspended; so that for a couple of months the glen relapsed into its former state of spiritual night. Not altogether, however. The good seed cast upon the waters had found a resting-place in several hearts; and the opening of spring, and with it the resumption of the Scripture-reader's visits, were eagerly looked forward to by many, both young and old.

CHAPTER IV.

It was the end of March, when an event occurred which would have been a more than nine days' wonder even in a busier spot than Tor Bay. The equinoctial gales had been protracted and severe. For days the sea off Fair Head, and through the strait that separates the mainland from Rathlin Island, had run mountains high; and now, though the surface was smooth and glistening in the bright spring sun, the long, heavy swell, as it broke in thundering rollers on the shore, bore witness to the fierceness of the recent conflict. The night had been wild and dark, but it was succeeded by one of those balmy days that are sent as harbingers of coming summer. Elsie and Jim had been busy ever since the return of the tide, about noon, dragging to shore the masses of sea-wrack that the recent storms had loosened and sent adrift.


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