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Colin of the Ninth Concession
Chapter LVIX - Mother


I SHALL raise the curtain upon one more scene in the little drama that has been presented in these pages, and then my task is done. The reader has seen how Mrs. McNabb lived and he is now invited to a lowly bedside at the old Canadian homestead on the Ninth Concession, where he is permitted to see how she died.

The widow had taught her family and had herself practised the matchless and eternal truth that the sum of life and its greatness does not consist in the wealth, power, or position acquired, or in the space occupied on the pages of the world’s history, but in the character attained, and in the performance from day to day of the simple duties that lie in our pathway. That, and that only, she counted real success.

The scene at the death of this great woman is described by Helen, who with Willie, her husband, was at the widow’s bedside when the last moment came. Katie allowed me to copy the letter, and I give it here just as it is written :

* * * * * * * *

THE SCOTCH SETTLEMENT, May 26, 18—.

My DEAR KATIE: Willie has asked me to write to you and Colin, and let you know that your dear mother is gone from us. She passed away last night, surrounded by all the members of her family with the exception of you and Colin, and she left her blessing and a message for you both. As you know, she has not been in good health for six months or more; her heart bothered her a great deal, and the doctor warned us that the end might be expected soon. Last Saturday, a telegram informed us in New York that she was sinking, and that if we desired to see her in life we must come at once. Willie and I reached here the day before her death.

When we had all gathered about her bedside, she said, in that dear voice now grown so weak (and oh, Katie, how worn and spent she looked!) :

"My children, I have called you to me, because the hour of my departure is at hand, and I wish to give you my blessing before I go.

"Here, Wallace," she said, handing her first-born her well-worn Bible, "I am going to give you this book as my last gift. Won’t you read to me the Twenty-third Psalm?"

Wallace opened the book and read :

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul."

"Pause a moment, Wallace," said the widow, "while I tell you all what a Shepherd the Lord has been to me, how He has led me by the still waters, and how He has so oft restored my soul." And the good mother, in beautiful, touching, and tender words briefly sketched her experience since widowhood, and bore such eloquent testimony to the love, favour, and tenderness of the Good Shepherd that we all felt as if we were in the presence of one of Heaven’s saints, as indeed we were.

"Won’t you please finish the Psalm now, Wallace, my boy?" she finally said. Wallace continued to read —

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

When Wallace ceased reading, there was a profound silence in the room for a few minutes, which no one dared to break. The beloved but wasted form lay before us. The face was lit up with a smile as if an invisible angel had whispered in her ear. Presently the lips moved, and although the eyes were still closed, she said, "How beautiful, how very beautiful! ‘He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters; He restoreth my soul. My cup runneth over; I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’"

Then she opened her eyes wide, and looking at us all in the sweetest manner, she said she felt better, and asked Lizzie to raise her head and shoulders, and place the pillows beneath them. After this was done she spoke to each one of us separately, and gave each a text from the good book, which she must have selected beforehand in anticipation of the separation that was now at hand. I shall send you later the Bible, with the passages she had marked with her own hand for you and Colin.

When she had finished talking to us, she turned her head wearily to one side, and lay very still. When she opened her eyes again she motioned to Willie, and spoke with failing voice, but loud enough for us all to catch the words : —

"Here, my boy, take down the New Testament and read to me from the fourteenth chapter of John. You will find the book opened at that chapter. I want you all to know that that chapter has been a constant wellspring of life to me; and now, when my last moments are come, I want its sacred music and its promises echoing in my ears, as I enter the mansion my Father has prepared for me."

We all felt that the end was near, for her breathing became faster and more laboured; but her face continued to shine and reflect the glory of the perpetual sunshine into which the soul was entering. Willie read : —

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also."

When Willie had reached that point, his mother raised her hand for him to stop.

"Yes," she said faintly, "that where I am there ye may be also.’ Just think of it, I shall be with Him, — with Him in so brief a time! I can almost feel myself going into His presence now!"

The widow spoke the last words eagerly, while her face indicated the seraphic nature of her experiences. The music was very real to her.

Presently she lapsed into semi-consciousness, but it was only for a moment. When we noticed her eyes opening again, Willie continued to read : —

"I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you."

"He has kept His word," came the feeble whisper from the widow. "He has never left me comfortless, and now — He —has — come — for — me." And again the eyes closed.

Willie continued reading in a low, subdued, faltering voice : —

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said I go unto the Father."

For the last time the widow’s wasted hand was raised. We all held our breath, and waited for her to speak.

"I go," she murmured so low that we had to bend down to catch the words, "unto — the — Father."

She turned her head sidewise on the pillow, as if she was very tired.

We all stood silently and reverently about the bedside. We knew she was gone, but no one seemed desirous of breaking the sacred silence.


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