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Page 30

6. VI.

Meanwhile, a different scene was taking
place at the parsonage. Mr. Pendexter had
retired to his study to finish his farewell sermon.
Silence reigned through the house. Sunday had
already commenced there. The week ended
with the setting of the sun, and the evening
and the morning were the first day.

The clergyman was interrupted in his labors by
the old sexton, who called as usual for the key of
the church. He was gently rebuked for coming
so late, and excused himself by saying that his
wife was worse.

“Poor woman!” said Mr. Pendexter; “has
she her mind?”

“Yes,” answered the sexton, “as much as

“She has been ill a long time,” continued


Page 31
the clergyman. “We have had prayers for her
a great many Sundays.”

“It is very true, sir,” replied the sexton,
mournfully; “I have given you a great deal of
trouble. But you need not pray for her any
more. It is of no use.”

Mr. Pendexter's mind was in too fervid a state
to notice the extreme and hopeless humility of his
old parishioner, and the unintentional allusion to
the inefficacy of his prayers. He pressed the old
man's hand warmly, and said, with much emotion,—

“To-morrow is the last time that I shall
preach in this parish, where I have preached for
twenty-five years. But it is not the last time I
shall pray for you and your family.”

The sexton retired also much moved; and the
clergyman again resumed his task. His heart
glowed and burned within him. Often his face
flushed and his eyes filled with tears, so that he
could not go on. Often he rose and paced the
chamber to and fro, and wiped away the large
drops that stood on his red and feverish forehead.

At length the sermon was finished. He rose
and looked out of the window. Slowly the clock


Page 32
struck twelve. He had not heard it strike before,
since six. The moon-light silvered the distant
hills, and lay, white almost as snow, on the frosty
roofs of the village. Not a light could be seen at
any window.

“Ungrateful people! Could you not watch
with me one hour?” exclaimed he, in that excited
and bitter moment; as if he had thought
that on that solemn night the whole parish would
have watched, while he was writing his farewell
discourse. He pressed his hot brow against the
window-pane to allay its fever; and across the
tremulous wavelets of the river the tranquil moon
sent towards him a silvery shaft of light, like an
angelic salutation. And the consoling thought
came to him, that not only this river, but all
rivers and lakes, and the great sea itself, were
flashing with this heavenly light, though he beheld
it as a single ray only; and that what to him
were the dark waves were the dark providences
of God, luminous to others, and even to himself
should he change his position.