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The Starling, A Scotch Story
Chapter XI. - The Old Soldier and his young Pupil on Sunday Evening


ON his return home after these visits, he placed Mary on Charlie's chair, beside himself, resolving, although the other members of the class were still absent, that he would nevertheless teach Mary as their representative,. as well as for her own sake. There had come into his possession one of those small books of guidance and instruction which many intellectual people—so called by men, but probably not so recognised by the angels, who minister even to children—affect to despise, just as they would despise any "still small voice" when compared with the loud storm, the brilliant' fire, and the
powerful, rock-moving earthquake. This book was but a number of texts, wisely arranged by a bedridden Christian, for each day of the year, with one of special and deeper import for its Sabbaths. The text for this Lord's Day was— "They who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee;" and Adam said to Mary, when she had repeated it as the lesson for the day, "Do ye understan' what is meant, my deane, by trusting God?"

"I'm no' sure," she replied,

"But ye surely ken what it wad be to trust me, Mary?" continued the Sergeant.

Mary looked up and smiled. She made no reply, but was evidently puzzled by an attempt she was unconsciously making to understand the possibility of want of trust in the Sergeant. So, finding no response, he again asked, "Wad ye trust me, my wee woman?"

Mary seemed vexed, and said, "What wrang hae I dune? Ye telt me aye to ca' you faither; I canna help it; sae ye maunna be angry, foe I hae nae faither but you."

"Richt ! verra richt !" said the Sergeant;' but, Mary dear, wad ye trust God as weel as me

"No!" said Mary, very decidedly.

"What for no'?" asked the Sergeant, kindly.

"I'm awfu' frichtened for him," said Mary.

 "Why are ye frichtened for Him?" asked Adam.

Mary seemed to be counting the buttons on his coat.

"Tell me, bairn!" he continued.

"Because," said Mary, sorrowfully, yet encouraged by his tone, "Mrs. Craigie aye telt me he wad sen' me to the bad place; and when I got my fit burned she said that I wad be a' burnt thegither some day, as I was a bad lassie; and I'm .sure I wasna' doing her ony ill to mak' her say that."

"God will never," remarked the Sergeant, reverently, "send ye to the bad place, unless ye gang yersel'."

"I'll never do that!" exclaimed Mary.

"I hope no', my lassie," said Adam; "for I wish you no to be bad, but to be good; and to trust God is the way to be good. Noo tell me, Mary, why wad ye trust me?"

"Because—jist because," said Mary, looking up to his face, "ye're faither."

"Weel dune, Mary!" continued the Sergeant "Noo tell me what's the beginning o' the Lords Prayer?"

"Our Faither which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy—"

"That'll do, Mary," interrupted Adam. But can ye tell me noo wha's yer Faither as weel as me?"

After a pause, Mary said, as if she had made a discovery, "Our Faither in heaven!"

"That's a clever woman! Failher! that's God's Name. And noo that ye ken his Name, ye maun trust Him fair mair than me: for He lo'es ye mair than I can do, and is aye wi' ye; and never will forsake ye, and can aye help ye; and He has said that when faither and mither forsake you, He will tak' ye up. That will He, my lassie!"

"But," said Mary, "my mither and faither, they tell me, dee'd wi' fever, but didna forsake me."

"That's true; but I mean, my bairn," said Adam, "that ye can never be an orphan lassie wi' God as yer Faither."

"But," said Mary, "for a' that, ye maun aye be my faither as wee!. Oh! dinna sen' me back to Mrs. Craigie."

"Dinna fear, Mary," replied Adam; "but maybe I maun hae to leave you. God may tak' me awa', and tak' yer mither there awa' too; and then when ye're alane in the world, ye maun trust God."

"I'll no' trust Him," replied Mary; "if you and mither dees, I'll dee tae, and gang wi' ye." And she fairly broke down, and clung to him as if he was about to leave her.

The Sergeant took Mary on his knee. "Be cheerie, Mary—be cheerie!" he said. "If ye kent God, ye wad aye be cheerie, my lassie. Mrs. Craigie has frichted ye."

"Ay, awfu'!" said Mary.

The Sergeant felt as if Mary had not quite learned her lesson, and he continued:- "D'ye mind what I telt ye ae nicht aboot mithers bringing their bairns to Christ?—and hoo some folk that didna ken Him were for keeping them awa'?—and hoo Jesus was angry at them?—and hoo the bairns gaed till Him—"

"And did they no' squeel wi' fricht?" asked Mary.

"Did ye squeel, Mary," asked the Sergeant, with a smile, "when I took ye into my arms?"

"No. What for should?" replied Mary.

"Aweel, my lassie," argued Adam, "why do ye think that bairns like yersel' should be frichted to trust that same Jesus wha was Himsel' a bairn and kens a bairn's heart? He wad be unco' sorry, Mary, if ye didna trust Him, when He dee'd, as ye ken, on the cross to save you and me and ilka body, and aye thinks aboot us and prays for us."

Mary sighed, and crept closer to the Sergeant.

Adam, taking her little hand in his, said, "Mind what I tell ye, my bairn. Learn ye to speak aye to God and tell Him yer heart in yer ain prayer, and never gang ony road He wadna like; and stick till Him as ye wad to me if we were gaun ower the muir thegither at nicht, or through a burn in a spate; and never, Mary, in the hour o' distress think that He doesna care for you or has forgotten you. For nae doot whan ye grow up to be big ye'll hae mony a distress, like ither folk, ye dinna ken aboot yet."

Mary turned her face to his bosom as if to sleep, but never was she less inclined to sleep.

The Sergeant added, with a sigh, "Think, my wee deane, on what I tell you noo, after I'm dead and gane."

Katie, seated on the opposite side of the fire, had been reading Boston's "Crook in the Lot." She seemed not to have heard a word of her husband's lesson; but her ears drank in the whole of it. The Sergeant had evidently forgotten her presence, so quiet was she, and so absorbed was he with Mary, who was to him a new life—his own child restored. But as Katie caught his last words, she put down her book, and looking almost in anger at her husband—could she have felt jealous of Mary?—said, "Tuts, Adam! what's the use o' pitting me and Mary aboot wi' discoorsin' in that way! It's really no' fair. I declare ane wad think that Andra Wilkie, the bederal, was diggin' yer grave! What pits deem' in yer head e'enoo? An' you an auld sodger! Be cheerie yersel', man!:

"I daursay ye're richt, gudewife," said Adam, with a smile, and rather a sheepish look, as if he had been caught playing the woman with an unmanly expression of his feelings and dim forebodings "Gie Mary her piece," he added, "and sen' her to her bed. She has dune unco' weel." He passed into the bedroom, closing the door while Katie was putting Mary to rest.

It was a peaceful night. He sat down near the small window of the bedroom, from which was a pleasant peep of trees, their underwood now hid in darkness, but their higher branches, with every leafy twig, mingling with the blue of the starry sky, partially illumined by a new moon. He had felt during these last days an increasing dulness of spirits. But this evening he had been comforting himself while comforting Mary; and remembering the lesson he had given her, he said to himself, "Blessed are all they who put their trust in Thee." And somehow there came into his mind pictures of the old war—times in which, amidst the trampling of armed men and words of command, the sudden rush to the charge or up the scaling-ladder, the roar and cries of combat, the volcano of shot and shell bursting and filling the heavens with flame and smoke and deadly missile, he had trusted God, and felt calm at his heart, like a child in the arms of a loving parent. These pictures flashed on him but for a second, yet they were sufficient to remind him of what God had ever been to him, and to strengthen his faith in what He would ever be.


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