University of Virginia Library

Search this document 

a tale
collapse section 



Page 132

22. XXII.

The brown Autumn came. Out of doors, it
brought to the fields the prodigality of the yellow
harvest,—to the forest, revelations of light,—
and to the sky, the sharp air, the morning mist,
the red clouds at evening. Within doors, the
sense of seclusion, the stillness of closed and
curtained windows, musings by the fireside, books,
friends, conversation, and the long, meditative
evenings. To the farmer, it brought surcease of
toil,—to the scholar, that sweet delirium of the
brain which changes toil to pleasure. It brought
the wild duck back to the reedy marshes of the
south; it brought the wild song back to the
fervid brain of the poet. Without, the village
street was paved with gold; the river ran red
with the reflection of the leaves. Within, the
faces of friends brightened the gloomy walls; the


Page 133
returning footsteps of the long-absent gladdened
the threshold; and all the sweet amenities of
social life again resumed their interrupted reign.

Kavanagh preached a sermon on the coming
of Autumn. He chose his text from Isaiah,—
“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with
dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious
in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of
his strength? Wherefore art thou red in thine
apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth
in the wine-vat?”

To Mr. Churchill, this beloved season—this
Joseph with his coat of many colors, as he was
fond of calling it—brought an unexpected guest,
the forlorn, forsaken Lucy. The surmises of the
family were too true. She had wandered away
with the Briareus of boots. She returned alone,
in destitution and despair; and often, in the grief
of a broken heart and a bewildered brain, was
heard to say,—

“O, how I wish I were a Christian! If I
were only a Christian, I would not live any
longer; I would kill myself! I am too wretched!”

A few days afterwards, a gloomy-looking man
rode through the town on horseback, stopping at


Page 134
every corner, and crying into every street, with a
loud and solemn voice,—

“Prepare! prepare! prepare to meet the
living God!”

It was one of that fanatical sect, who believed
the end of the world was imminent, and had prepared
their ascension robes to be lifted up in
clouds of glory, while the worn-out, weary world
was to burn with fire beneath them, and a new
and fairer earth to be prepared for their inheritance.
The appearance of this forerunner of the
end of the world was followed by numerous
camp-meetings, held in the woods near the village,
to whose white tents and leafy chapels many
went for consolation and found despair.