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Book of Scottish Story
The Snow-Storm

In summer there is beauty in the wildest moors of Scotland, and the wayfaring man who sits down for an hour’s rest beside some little spring that flows unheard through the brightened moss and water-cresses, feels his weary heart revived by the silent, serene, and solitary prospect. On every side sweet sunny spots of verdure smile towards him from among the melancholy heather ; unexpectedly in the solitude a stray sheep, it may be with its lambs, starts half-alarmed at his motionless figure; insects, large, bright, and beautiful, come careering by him through the desert air; nor does the wild want its own songsters,—the gray linnet, fond of the blooming furze, and now and then the lark mounting up to heaven above the summits of the green pastoral hills. During such a sunshiny hour, the lonely cottage on the waste seems to stand in a paradise; and as he rises to pursue his journey, the traveller looks back and blesses it with a mingled emotion of delight and envy. There, thinks he, abide the children of Innocence and Contentment, the two most benign spirits that watch over human life.

But other thoughts arise in the mind of him who may chance to journey through the same scene in the desolation of winter. The cold bleak sky girdles the moor as with a belt of ice—life is frozen in air and on earth. The silence is not of repose but extinction; and should a solitary human dwelling catch his eye, half buried in the snow, he is sad for the sake of them whose destiny it is to abide far from the cheerful haunts of men, shrouded up in melancholy, by poverty held in thrall, or pining away in unvisited and untended disease.

But, in good truth, the heart of human life is but imperfectly discovered from its countenance; and before we can know what the summer or what the winter yields for enjoyment or trial to our country’s peasantry, we must have conversed with them in their fields and by their firesides, and made ourselves acquainted with the powerful ministry of the seasons, not over those objects alone that feed the eye and the imagination, but over all the incidents, occupations, and events, that modify or constitute the existence of the poor.

I have a short and simple story to tell of the winter life of the moorland cottager—a story but of one evening—with few events and no single catastrophe—which may haply please those hearts whose delight it is to think on the humble underplots that are carrying on in the great drama of life.

Two cottagers, husband and wife, were sitting by their cheerful peat-fire one winter evening, in a small lonely hut on the edge of a wide moor, at some miles’ distance from any other habitation. There had been, at one time, several huts of the same kind erected close together, and inhabited by families of the poorest class of day-labourers, who found work among the distant farms, and at night returned to dwellings which were rent-free, with their little gardens won from the waste. But one family after another had dwindled away, and the turf—built huts had all fallen into ruins, except one that had always stood in the centre of this little solitary village, with its summer-walls covered with the richest honeysuckles, and in the midst of the brightest of all the gardens. It alone now sent up its smoke into the clear winter sky—and its little end window, now lighted up, was the only ground-star that shone towards the belated traveller, if any such ventured to cross, on a winter night, a scene so dreary and desolate. The affairs of the small household were all arranged for the night. The little rough pony, that had drawn in a sledge, from the heart of the Black-moss, the fuel by whose blaze the cottars were now sitting cheerily, and the little Highland cow, whose milk enabled them to live, were standing amicably together, under cover of a rude shed, of which one side was formed by the peat-stack, and which was at once byre, and stable, and hen-roost. Within, the clock ticked cheerfully as the fire-light reached its old oak-wood case, across the yellow-sanded floor; and a small round table stood between, covered with a snow-white cloth, on which were milk and oat-cakes, the morning. mid-day, and evening meal of these frugal and contented cottars. The spades and the mattocks of the labourer were collected into one corner, and showed that the succeeding day was the blessed Sabbath; While on the wooden chimney-piece was seen lying an open Bible ready for family worship.

The father and the mother were sitting together without opening their lips, but with their hearts overflowing with happiness, for on this Saturday night they were, every minute, expecting to hear at the latch the hand of their only daughter, a maiden of about fifteen years, who was at service with a farmer over the hills. This dutiful child was, as they knew, to bring home to them "her sair-won penny fee," a pittance which, in the beauty of her girlhood, she earned singing at her work, and which, in the benignity of that sinless time, she would pour with tears into the bosoms she so dearly loved. Forty shillings a-year were all the wages of sweet Hannah Lee; but though she wore at her labour a tortoise-shell comb in her auburn hair, and though in the kirk none were more becomingly arrayed than she, one half at least of her earnings were to be reserved for the holiest of all purposes; and her kind, innocent heart was gladdened when she looked on the little purse that was, on the long-expected Saturday night, to be taken from her bosom, and put, with a blessing, into the hand of her father, now growing old at his daily toils.

Of such a child the happy cottars were thinking in their silence. And well, indeed, might they be called happy. lt is at that sweet season that filial piety is most beautiful. Their own Hannah had just outgrown the mere unthinking gladness of childhood, but had not yet reached that time when inevitable selfishness mixes with the pure current of love. She had begun to think on what her affectionate heart had felt so long; and when she looked on the pale face and bending frame of her mother, on the deepening wrinkles and whitening hairs of her father, often would she lie weeping for their sakes on her midnight bed, and wish that she were beside them as they slept, that, she might kneel down and kiss them, and mention their names over and over again in her prayer. The parents whom before she had only loved, her expanding heart now also venerated. With gushing tenderness was now mingled a holy fear and an awful reverence. She had discerned the relation in which she, an only child, stood to her poor parents, now that they were getting old, and there was not a passage in Scripture that spake of parents or of children, from ]oseph sold into slavery to Mary weeping below the Cross, that was not written, never to be obliterated, on her uncorrupted heart.

The father rose from his seat, and went to the door to look out into the night. The stars were in thousands, and the full moon was risen. lt was almost light as day, and the snow, that seemed encrusted with diamonds, was so hardened by the frost, that his daughter’s homeward feet would leave no mark on its surface. He had been toiling all day among the distant Castlewoods, and, stiff and wearied as he now was, he was almost tempted to go to meet his child; but his wife’s kind voice dissuaded him, and, returning to the fireside, they began to talk of her whose image had been so long passing before them in their silence.

"She is growing up to be a bonny lassie," said the mother; "her long and weary attendance on me during my fever last spring kept her down a while—but now she is sprouting fast and fair as a lily, and may the blessing of God be as dew and as sunshine to our sweet flower all the days she bloometh upon this earth."

"Ay, Agnes," replied the father, "we are not very old yet—though we are getting older—and a few years will bring her to woman's estate; and what thing on this earth, think ye, human or brute, would ever think of injuring her?

Why, I was speaking about her yesterday to the minister, as he was riding by, and he told me that none answered at the examination in the kirk so well as Hannah. Poor thing—l well think she has all the Bible by heart-—indeed, she has read but little else—only some stories, too true ones, of the blessed martyrs, and some o’ the auld sangs o' Scotland, in which there is nothing but what is good, and which, to be sure, she sings, God bless her, sweeter than any laverock."

"Ay,—were we both to die this very night, she would be happy. Not that she would forget us all the days of her life. But have you not seen, husband, that God always makes the orphan happy? None so little lonesome as they! They come to make friends o’ all the bonny and sweet things in the world around them, and all the kind hearts in the world make friends o’ them. They come to know that God is more especially the Father o’ them on earth whose parents he has taken up to heaven; and therefore it is that they, for whom so many have fears, fear not at all for themselves, but go dancing and singing along like children whose parents are both alive. Would it not be so with our dear Hannah? So douce and thoughtful a child—but never sad or miserable-—ready, it is true, to shed tears for little, but as ready to dry them up and break out into smiles! I know not why it is, husband, but this night my heart warms towards her beyond usual. The moon and stars are at this moment looking down upon her, and she looking up to them, as she is glinting homewards over the snow. I wish she were but here, and taking the comb out o’ her bonny hair, and letting it all fall down in clusters before the fire, to melt away the cranreuch!”

While the parents were thus speaking of their daughter, a loud sough of wind came suddenly over the cottage, and the leafless ash-tree under whose shelter it stood, creaked and groaned dismally as it passed by. The father started up, and, going again to the door, saw that a sudden change had come over the face of the night. The moon had nearly disappeared, and was just visible in a dim, yellow, glimmering den in the sky. All the remote stars were obscured, and only one or two were faintly seen in a sky that half an hour before was perfectly cloudless, but that was now driving with rack, and mist, and sleet, the whole atmosphere being in commotion. He stood for a single moment to observe the direction of this unforeseen storm, and then hastily asked for his staff. "I thought I had been more weather-wise—a storm is coming down from the Cairnbrae-hawse, and we shall have nothing but a wild night.” He then whistled on his dog—an old sheep-dog, too old for its former labours—and set off to meet his daughter, who might then, for aught he knew, be crossing the Black-moss. The mother accompanied her husband to the door, and took a long frightened look at the angry sky. As she kept gazing, it became still more terrible. The last shred of blue was extinguished, the wind went whirling in roaring eddies, and great flakes of snow circled about in the middle air, whether drifted up from the ground, or driven down from the clouds, the fear-stricken mother knew not, but she at least knew that it seemed a night of danger, despair, and death. "Lord have mercy on us, James, what will become of our poor bairn!" But her husband heard not her words, for he was already out of sight in the snow-storm, and she was left to the terror of her own soul in that lonesome cottage.

Little Hannah Lee had left her master’s house, soon as the rim of the great moon was seen by her eyes, that had been long anxiously watching it from the window, rising, like a joyful dream, over the gloomy mountain-tops; and all by herself she tripped along beneath the beauty of the silent heaven. Still as she kept ascending and descending the knolls that lay in the bosom of the glen, she sang to herself a song, a hymn, or a psalm, without the accompaniment of the streams, now all silent in the frost; and ever and anon she stopped to try to count the stars that lay in some more beautiful part of the sky, or gazed on the constellations that she knew, and called them, in her joy, by the names they bore among the shepherds. There were none to hear her voice, or see her smiles, but the ear and eye of Providence. As on she glided, and took her looks from heaven, she saw her own little fireside—her parents waiting for her arrival—the Bible opened for worship—her own little room kept so neatly for her, with its mirror hanging by the window, in which to braid her hair by the morning light—her bed prepared for her by her mother’s hand—the primroses in her garden peeping through the snow—old Tray, who ever welcomed her home with his dim white eyes—the pony and the cow;—friends all, and inmates of that happy household. So stepped she along, while the snow diamonds glittered around her feet, and the frost wove a wreath of lucid pearls round her forehead.

She had now reached the edge of the Black-moss, which lay half-way between her master’s and her father’s dwelling, when she heard a loud noise coming down Glen-Scrae, and in a few seconds she felt on her face some flakes of snow. She looked up the glen, and saw the snow-storm coming down fast as a flood. She felt no fears; but she ceased her song; and had there been a human eye to look upon her there, it might have seen a shadow on her face. She continued her course, and felt bolder and bolder every step that brought her nearer to her parents’ house. But the snow-storm had now reached the Black-moss, and the broad line of light that had lain in the direction of her home was soon swallowed up, and the child was in utter darkness. She saw nothing but the flakes of snow, interminably intermingled, and furiously wafted in the air, close to her head; she heard nothing but one wild, fierce, fitful howl. The cold became intense, and her little feet and hands were fast being benumbed into insensibility.

"lt is a fearful change,” muttered the child to herself; but still she did not fear, for she had been born in a moorland cottage, and lived all her days among the hardships of the hills. "What will become of the poor sheep!" thought she,—but still she scarcely thought of her own danger, for innocence, and youth, and joy, are slow to think of aught evil befalling themselves, and, thinking benignly of all living things, forget their own fear in their pity for others’ sorrow. At last, she could no longer discern a single mark on the snow, either of human steps, or of sheep-track, or the footprint of a wild-fowl. Suddenly, too, she felt out of breath and exhausted, and, shedding tears for herself at last, sank down in the snow.

lt was now that her heart began to quake with fear. She remembered stories of shepherds lost in the snow, of a mother and a child frozen to death on that very moor—and in a moment she knew that she was to die. Bitterly did the poor child weep, for death was terrible to her, who, though poor, enjoyed the bright little world of youth and innocence. The skies of heaven were dearer than she knew to her—so were the flowers of earth. She had been happy at her work, happy in her sleep,—happy in the kirk on Sabbath. A thousand thoughts had the solitary child,—and in her own heart was a spring of happiness, pure and undisturbed as any fount that sparkles unseen all the year through, in some quiet nook among the pastoral hills. But now there was to be an end of all this—she was to be frozen to death—and lie there till the thaw might come; and then her father would find her body, and carry it away to be buried in the kirk-yard.

The tears were frozen on her cheeks as soon as shed ; and scarcely had her little hands strength to clasp themselves together, as the thought of an over-ruling and merciful Lord came across her heart. Then, indeed, the fears of this religious child were calmed, and she heard without terror the plover’s wailing cry, and the deep boom of the bittern sounding in the moss. "I will repeat the Lord’s Prayer;" and, drawing her plaid more closely around her, she whispered, beneath its ineffectual cover,—"Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Had human aid been within fifty yards, it could have been of no avail—eye could not see her, ear could not hear her in that howling darkness. But that low prayer was heard in the centre of eternity—and that little sinless child was lying in the snow, beneath the all-seeing eye of God.

The maiden, having prayed to her Father in heaven, then thought of her father on earth. Alas! they were not far separated! The father was lying but a short distance from his child ; he too had sunk down in the drifting snow, after having, in less than an hour, exhausted all the strength of fear, pity, hope, despair, and resignation, that could rise in a father’s heart, blindly seeking to rescue his only child from death, thinking that one desperate exertion might enable them to perish in each other’s arms. There they lay, within a stone’s—throw of each other, while a huge snow-drift was every moment piling itself up into a more insurmountable barrier between the dying parent and his dying child.

There was all this while a blazing tire in the cottage, a white-spread table, and beds prepared for the family to lie down in peace. Yet was she who sat therein more to be pitied than the old man and the child stretched upon the snow. "I will not go to seek them—that would he tempting Providence, and wilfully putting out the lamp of life. No; I will abide here, and pray for their souls!" Then as she knelt down, looked she at the useless fire burning away so cheerfully, when all she loved might be dying of cold; and unable to bear the thought, she shrieked out a prayer, as if she might pierce the sky up to the very throne of God, and send with it her own miserable soul to plead before Him for the deliverance of her child and husband. She then fell down in blessed forgetfulness of all trouble, in the midst of the solitary cheerfulness of that bright-burning hearth, and the Bible, which she had been trying to read in the pauses of her agony, remained clasped in her hands.

Hannah Lee had been a servant for l more than six months, and it was not to be thought that she was not beloved in her master’s family. Soon after she had left the house, her master’s son, a youth of about eighteen years, who had been among the hills looking after the sheep, came home, and was disappointed to find that he had lost an opportunity of accompanying Hannah part of the way to her father’s cottage. But the hour of eight had gone by, and not even the company of young William Grieve could induce the kind-hearted daughter to delay setting out on her journey a few minutes beyond the time promised to her parents. "I do not like the night," said William; "there will be a fresh fall of snow soon, or the witch of Glen-Scrae is a liar, for a snow-cloud is hanging o’er the Birch-tree-linn, and it may be down to the Black-moss as soon as Hannah Lee. So he called his two sheep-dogs that had taken their place under the long table before the window, and set out, half in joy, half in fear, to overtake Hannah, and see her safely across the Black-moss.

The snow began to drift so fast, that before he had reached the head of the glen, there was nothing to be seen but a little bit of the wooden rail of the bridge across the Sauch-burn. William Grieve was the most active shepherd in a large pastoral parish; he had often passed the night among the wintry hills for the sake of a few sheep, and all the snow that ever fell from heaven would not have made him turn back when Hannah Lee was before him, and, as his terrified heart told him, in imminent danger of being lost. As he advanced, he felt that it was no longer a walk of love or friendship, for which he had been glad of an excuse. Death stared him in the face, and his young soul, now beginning to feel all the passions of youth, was filled with frenzy. He had seen Hannah every day—at the fireside—at work—in the kirk—on holidays—at prayers—bringing supper to his aged parents—smiling and singing about the house from morning till night. She had often brought his own meal to him among the hills; and he now found that, though he had never talked to her about love, except smilingly and playfully, he loved her beyond father or mother, or his own soul. "I will save thee, Hannah,” he cried, with a loud sob, "or lie down beside thee in the snow—and we will die together in our youth.” A wild whistling wind went by him, and the snow-flakes whirled so fiercely round his head, that he staggered on for a while in utter blindness. He knew the path that Hannah must have taken, and went forwards shouting aloud, and stopping every twenty yards to listen for a voice. He sent his well-trained dogs over the snow in all directions—repeating to them her name, "Hannah Lee," that the dumb animals might, in their sagacity, know for whom they were searching; and, as they looked up in his face, and set off to scour the moor, he almost believed that they knew his meaning (and it is probable they did), and were eager to find in her bewilderment the kind maiden by whose hand they had so often been fed. Often went they off into the darkness, and as often returned, but their looks showed that every quest had been in vain. Meanwhile the snow was of a fearful depth, and falling without intermission or diminution. Had the young shepherd been thus alone, walking across the moor on his ordinary business, it is probable that he might have been alarmed for his own safety; nay, that, in spite of all his strength and agility, he might have sunk down beneath the inclemency of the night, and perished. But now the passion of his soul carried him with supernatural strength along, and extricated him from wreath and pitfall. Still there was no trace of poor Hannah Lee; and one of his dogs at last came close to his feet, worn out entirely, and afraid to leave its master, while the other was mute, and, as the shepherd thought, probably unable to force its way out of some hollow, or through some floundering drift.

Then he all at once knew that Hannah Lee was dead, and dashed himself down in the snow in a fit of passion. It was the first time that the youth had ever been sorely tried; all his hidden and unconscious love for the fair lost girl had flowed up from the bottom of his heart, and at once the sole object which had blessed his life and made him the happiest of the happy, was taken away and cruelly destroyed; so that, sullen, wrathful, baffled, and despairing, there he lay cursing his existence, and in too great agony to think of prayer. "God," he then thought," has forsaken me, and why should He think on me, when He suffers one so good and beautiful as Hannah to be frozen to death?"

God thought both of him and Hannah; and through His infinite mercy forgave the sinner in his wild turbulence of passion. William Grieve had never gone to bed without joining in prayer, and he revered the Sabbath-day and kept it holy. Much is forgiven to the human heart by Him who so fearfully framed it; and God is not slow to pardon the love which one human being bears to another, in his frailty—even though that love forget or arraign His own unsleeping providence. His voice has told us to love one another—and William loved Hannah in simplicity, innocence, and truth. That she should perish was a thought so dreadful, that, in its agony, God seemed a ruthless being. "Blow—blow—blow—and drift us up for ever—we cannot be far asunder—Oh, Hannah—Hannah, think ye not that the fearful God has forsaken us?”

As the boy groaned these words passionately through his quivering lips, there was a sudden lowness in the air, and he heard the barking of his absent dog, while the one at his feet hurried off in the direction of the sound, and soon loudly joined the cry. It was not a bark of surprise, or anger, or fear—but of recognition and love. William sprang up from his bed in the snow, and, with his heart knocking at his bosom even to sickness, he rushed headlong through the drifts with a giant’s strength, and fell down, half dead with joy and terror, beside the body of Hannah Lee.

But he soon recovered from that fit, and, lifting the cold corpse in his arms, he kissed her lips, and her cheeks, and her forehead, and her closed eyes, till, as he kept gazing on her face in utter despair, her head fell back on his shoulder, and a long deep sigh came from her inmost bosom. "She is yet alive, thank God !”—and, as that expression left his lips for the first time that night, he felt a pang of remorse: "I said, O God, that Thou hadst forsaken us—I am not worthy to be saved; but let not this maiden perish, for the sake of her parents. who have no other child." The distracted youth prayed to God with the same earnestness as if he had been beseeching a fellow-creature, in whose hand was the power of life and of death. The presence of the Great Being was felt by him in the dark and howling wild, and strength was imparted to him as to a deliverer. He bore along the fair child in his arms, even as if she had been a lamb. The snow-drift blew not; the wind fell dead; a sort of glimmer, like that of an upbreaking and disparting storm, gathered about him; his dogs barked, and jumped, and burrowed joyfully in the snow; and the youth, strong in sudden hope, exclaimed, "With the blessing of God, who has not deserted us in our sore distress, will I carry thee, Hannah, in my arms, and lay thee down alive in the house of thy father." At this moment there were no stars in heaven, but she opened her dim blue eyes upon him in whose bosom she was unconsciously lying, and said, as in a dream, "Send the ribbon that ties up my hair as a keepsake to William Grieve." "She thinks that she is on her deathbed, and forgets not the son of her master. It is the voice of God that tells me she will not now die, and that, under His grace, I shall be her deliverer."

The short-lived rage of the storm was soon over, and William could attend to the beloved being on his bosom. The warmth of his heart seemed to infuse life into hers; and, as he gently placed her feet on the snow, till he muffled her up in his plaid, as well as in her own, she made an effort to stand, and, with extreme perplexity and bewilderment, faintly inquired where she was, and what fearful misfortune had befallen them? She was, however, too weak to walk; and, as her young master carried her along, she murmured, "O William! what if my father be in the moor?—For if you, who need care so little about me, have come hither, as I suppose, to save my life, you may be sure that my father sat not within doors during the storm." As she spoke, it was calm below, but the wind was still alive in the upper air, and cloud, rack, mist, and sleet were all driving about in the sky. Out shone for a moment the pallid and ghostly moon, through a rent in the gloom, and by that uncertain light came staggering forward the figure of a man. "Father—father !" cried Hannah—and his gray hairs were already on her cheek. The barking of the dogs, and the shouting of the young shepherd, had struck his ear, as the sleep of death was stealing over him, and, with the last effort of benumbed nature, he had roused himself from that fatal torpor, and pressed through the snow-wreath that had separated him from his child. As yet they knew not of the danger each had endured, but each judged of the other’s sufferings from their own; and father and daughter regarded one another as creatures rescued, and hardly yet rescued, from death.

But a few minutes ago, and the three human beings who loved each other so well, and now feared not to cross the moor in safety, were, as they thought, on their deathbeds. Deliverance now shone upon them all like a gentle fire, dispelling that pleasant but deadly drowsiness; and the old man was soon able to assist William Grieve in leading Hannah along through the snow. Her colour and her warmth returned, and her lover—for so might he well now be called—felt her heart gently beating against his side. Filled as that heart was with gratitude to God, joy in her deliverance, love to her father, and purest affection for her master's son, never before had the innocent maiden known what was happiness, and never more was she to forget it. The night was now almost calm, and fast returning to its former beauty, when the party saw the first twinkle of the fire through the low window of the Cottage of the Moor. They soon were at the garden gate, and, to relieve the heart of the wife and mother within, they talked loudly and cheerfully—naming each other familiarly, and laughing between, like persons who had known neither danger nor distress.

No voice answered from within—no footstep came to the door, which stood open as when the father had left it in his fear, and now he thought with affright that his wife, feeble as she was, had been unable to support the loneliness, and had followed him out into the night, never to be brought home alive. As they bore Hannah into the house, this fear gave way to worse, for there upon the hard clay floor lay the mother upon her face, as if murdered by some savage blow. She was in the same deadly swoon into which she had fallen on her husband’s departure three hours before. The old man raised her up, and her pulse was still—so was her heart-—-her face pale and sunken—and her body cold as ice. "I have recovered a daughter," said the old man, "but I have lost a wife;" and he carried her with a groan to the bed, on which he laid her lifeless body. The sight was too much for Hannah, worn out as she was, and who had hitherto been able to support herself in the delightful expectation of gladdening her mother’s heart by her safe arrival.

She, too, now swooned away, and, as she was placed on the bed beside her mother, it seemed, indeed, that Death, disappointed of his prey on the wild moor, had seized it in the cottage and by the fireside. The husband knelt down by the bedside, and held his wife’s icy hand in his, while William Grieve, appalled and awe-stricken, hung over his Hannah, and inwardly implored God that the night’s wild adventure might not have so ghastly an end. But Hannah’s young heart soon began once more to beat—and, soon as she came to her recollection, she rose up with a face whiter than ashes and free from all smiles, as if none had ever played there, and joined her father and young master in their efforts to restore her mother to life.

It was the mercy of God that had struck her down to the earth, insensible to the shrieking winds, and the fears that would otherwise have killed her. Three hours of that wild storm had passed over her head, and she heard nothing more than if she had been asleep in a breathless night of the summer dew. Not even a dream had touched her brain, and when she opened her eyes, which, as she thought, had been but a moment shut, she had scarcely time to recall to her recollection the image of her husband rushing out into the storm, and of a daughter therein lost, till she beheld that very husband kneeling tenderly by her bedside, and that very daughter smoothing the pillow on which her aching temples reclined. But she knew from the white steadfast countenances before her that there had been tribulation and deliverance, and she looked on the beloved beings ministering by her bed, as more fearfully dear to her from the unimagined danger from which she felt assured they had been rescued by the arm of the Almighty.

There is little need to speak of returning recollection, and returning strength. They had all now power to weep, and power to pray. The Bible had been lying in its place ready for worship, and the father read aloud that chapter in which is narrated our Saviour’s act of miraculous power by which He saved Peter from the sea. Soon as the solemn thoughts awakened by that act of mercy, so similar to that which had rescued themselves from death, had subsided, and they had all risen up from prayer, they gathered themselves in gratitude round the little table which had stood so many hours spread; and exhausted nature was strengthened and restored by a frugal and simple meal, partaken of in silent thankfulness. The whole story of the night was then calmly recited; and when the mother heard how the stripling had followed her sweet Hannah into the storm, and borne her in his arms through a hundred drifted heaps—and then looked upon her in her pride, so young, so innocent, and so beautiful, she knew, that were the child indeed to become an orphan, there was one who, if there was either trust in nature or truth in religion, would guard and cherish her all the days of her life.

It was not nine o’clock when the storm came down from Glen-Scrae upon the Black-moss, and now in a pause of silence the clock struck twelve. Within these three hours William and Hannah had led a life of trouble and of joy, that had enlarged and kindled their hearts within them; and they felt that henceforth they were to live wholly for each other’s sakes. His love was the proud and exulting love of a deliverer, who, under Providence, had saved from the frost and the snow, the innocence and the beauty of which his young passionate heart had been so desperately enamoured; and he now thought of his own Hannah Lee ever more moving about in his father’s house, not as a servant, but as a daughter—and, when some few happy years had gone by, his own most beautiful and loving wife. The innocent maiden still called him her young master, but was not ashamed of the holy affection which she now knew that she had long felt for the fearless youth on whose bosom she had thought herself dying in that cold and miserable moor. Her heart leapt within her when she heard her parents bless him by his name; and when he took her hand into his before them, and vowed before that Power who had that night saved them from the snow, that Hannah Lee should ere long be his wedded wife, she wept and sobbed as if her heart would break in a fit of strange and insupportable happiness.

The young shepherd rose to bid them farewell—"My father will think I am lost," said he, with a grave smile, "and my Hannah’s mother knows what it is to fear for a child." So nothing was said to detain him, and the family went with him to the door. The skies smiled as serenely as if a storm had never swept before the stars; the moon was sinking from her meridian, but in cloudless splendour; and the hollow of the hills was hushed as that of heaven. Danger there was none over the placid night-scene; the happy youth soon crossed the Black-moss, now perfectly still; and, perhaps, just as he was passing, with a shudder of gratitude, the very spot where his sweet Hannah Lee had so nearly perished, she was lying down to sleep in her innocence, or dreaming of one now dearer to her than all on earth but her parents.

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