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Page 146

25. XXV.

Not long afterwards, Kavanagh and Mr.
Churchill took a stroll together across the fields,
and down green lanes, walking all the bright,
brief afternoon. From the summit of the hill,
beside the old windmill, they saw the sun set;
and, opposite, the full moon rise, dewy, large,
and red. As they descended, they felt the
heavy dampness of the air, like water, rising to
meet them,—bathing with coolness first their
feet, then their hands, then their faces, till they
were submerged in that sea of dew. As they
skirted the woodland on their homeward way,
trampling the golden leaves under foot, they
heard voices at a distance, singing; and then
saw the lights of the camp-meeting gleaming
through the trees, and, drawing nearer, distinguished
a portion of the hymn:—


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“Don't you hear the Lord a-coming
To the old church-yards,
With a band of music,
With a band of music,
With a band of music,
Sounding through the air?”

These words, at once awful and ludicrous,
rose on the still twilight air from a hundred
voices, thrilling with emotion, and from as many
beating, fluttering, struggling hearts. High above
them all was heard one voice, clear and musical
as a clarion.

“I know that voice,” said Mr. Churchill; “it
is Elder Evans's.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Kavanagh,—for only the
impression of awe was upon him,—“he never
acted in a deeper tragedy than this! How
terrible it is! Let us pass on.”

They hurried away, Kavanagh trembling in
every fibre. Silently they walked, the music
fading into softest vibrations behind them.

“How strange is this fanaticism!” at length
said Mr. Churchill, rather as a relief to his
own thoughts, than for the purpose of reviving
the conversation. “These people really believe
that the end of the world is close at hand.”


Page 148

“And to thousands,” answered Kavanagh,
“this is no fiction,—no illusion of an over-heated
imagination. To-day, to-morrow, every
day, to thousands, the end of the world is close
at hand. And why should we fear it? We
walk here as it were in the crypts of life; at
times, from the great cathedral above us, we
can hear the organ and the chanting of the choir;
we see the light stream through the open door,
when some friend goes up before us; and shall
we fear to mount the narrow staircase of the
grave, that leads us out of this uncertain twilight
into the serene mansions of the life eternal?”

They reached the wooden bridge over the
river, which the moonlight converted into a river
of light. Their footsteps sounded on the planks;
they passed without perceiving a female figure
that stood in the shadow below on the brink of
the stream, watching wistfully the steady flow
of the current. It was Lucy! Her bonnet
and shawl were lying at her feet; and when they
had passed, she waded far out into the shallow
stream, laid herself gently down in its deeper
waves, and floated slowly away into the moon-light,
among the golden leaves that were faded
and fallen like herself,—among the water-lilies,


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whose fragrant white blossoms had been broken
off and polluted long ago. Without a struggle,
without a sigh, without a sound, she floated downward,
downward, and silently sank into the silent
river. Far off, faint, and indistinct, was heard
the startling hymn, with its wild and peculiar
“O, there will be mourning, mourning, mourning, mourning,—
O, there will be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!”

Kavanagh's heart was full of sadness. He left
Mr. Churchill at his door, and proceeded homeward.
On passing his church, he could not
resist the temptation to go in. He climbed
to his chamber in the tower, lighted by the
moon. He sat for a long time gazing from
the window, and watching a distant and feeble
candle, whose rays scarcely reached him across
the brilliant moon-lighted air. Gentler thoughts
stole over him; an invisible presence soothed
him; an invisible hand was laid upon his head,
and the trouble and unrest of his spirit were
changed to peace.

“Answer me, thou mysterious future!” exclaimed


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he; “tell me,—shall these things be
according to my desires?”

And the mysterious future, interpreted by those
desires, replied,—

“Soon thou shalt know all. It shall be well
with thee!”