Part 2 out of 2
It took me quite ten minutes to reach his house, and I felt as if I had
gone through a battle when I arrived there at length, quite spent and
breathless. I saw a light in the lower room, and I found Mr. Christie
and his wife and children sitting in the room where I had passed through
so much the night before. Marjorie and little Jack were in their
nightgowns, wrapped in a blanket, and sitting in the same arm-chair. My
mother's picture was looking at me from the wall, and I fancied that she
smiled at me as I came in.
'What a terrible night!' said Mrs. Christie. 'The children were so
frightened by the noise of the wind in their attic that we brought them
I told them my errand, and Mr. Christie at once offered to go with me
for the doctor. I shall never forget that walk as long as I live. We
could not speak to each other more than a few necessary words, we were
simply fighting with the storm. Then, to our disappointment, when our
long walk was ended, we found that the doctor was away, and would
probably not return until morning.
The walk home was, if possible, worse than the walk there, for the wind
was dead against us as we came down the cliff. It had changed somewhat
the last hour, and was now blowing from the north-east.
'There will be trouble out at sea,' Mr. Christie said, as we stopped to
'And what about the boats?' I asked.
'Yes,' he said, almost with a groan, 'what about the boats?'
We could see very little out at sea, though it was beginning to grow
light, but we determined to make our way to the shore, to see all that
it was possible to distinguish. He went home for a moment, and then
followed me to my lodging. Polly and her old friend were still watching
'I think he's a little better, sir,' she said; 'he's quieter. Oh, Mr.
Christie, I _am_ glad to see you, sir! Will you pray, sir? I think
I shall hear the wind less if you pray!'
We knelt down beside the child's bed, but the noise of the storm almost
drowned his voice. At the end of the prayer the child began once more to
cry for his father, so piteously, so beseechingly, that at last I could
bear it no longer, but ran downstairs, to be out of the sound of that
touching little voice. Mr. Christie soon followed me, and we went out
together in the grey light of that terrible morning.
'The child is dying, Jack,' he said.
'Oh, don't say so, Mr. Christie!' I answered; 'dying before his father
'God grant he _may_ come back!' he said; 'look at the sea, Jack.'
The sea was dashing wildly against the rocks, and the noise of the wind
was so great we could hardly hear our own voices. In the dim uncertain
light we could at length distinguish a group of anxious watchers on the
shore. Some old fishermen were there trying to hold a telescope steady
in the gale, that they might look across the water for any sign of a
boat, and mothers and wives and sweethearts of the absent fishermen were
there also, with shawls tied over their heads, and with troubled and
tear-stained faces, peering out into the dismal light of that sorrowful
Mr. Christie and I stood near them, and he spoke from time to time a
word of encouragement and hope to the anxious women beside him. As the
light increased the wind dropped somewhat, and the gale seemed to have
spent its violence. We were thankful to notice, that although the sea
was still very rough, and would be so for hours, the wind was gradually
subsiding; instead of howling and shrieking, as it had done the whole
night long, it was dying away with gentle moans, like a child weary with
passion who is crying himself to sleep. But still there was no sign of
The women on the shore were wet through, and Mr. Christie tried to
persuade them to go home. Their men would want good fires and hot tea on
their return, he told them, and they ought to make ready for them. I was
glad to notice that one by one they followed his advice, and turned to
climb the hill towards their cottages. Then we turned also, and went
back to my lodging. We crept into the room, and found old Betty asleep
in her chair, and Polly holding the little hand in hers as the child
'Have the boats come, sir?' she said as we went in.
'Not yet, Polly; but please God they will come soon.'
We sat down beside her for a little time, but we presently heard a shout
from the shore.
'Thank God,' said Polly, 'he's come!'
The child seemed in some strange way to have heard that shout, and to
have understood its meaning, for he opened his eyes and said, 'Come,
daddy, come to little John.'
We hurried down to the shore, where a large crowd had already collected.
The whole of Runswick Bay seemed to have gathered together in that short
space of time. We could distinctly see the boats far out at sea, but
wind and tide were with them, and they, were coming rapidly nearer. What
a night they must have had, and what a welcome they would receive from
the watchers on the shore!
'How many boats went out last night, Bob?' said one man as they drew
'There was eight, Jem,' he said--'the Jane Ann one, Lady Hilda two, the
Susan three, the Mary Ann four, Princess Alice five, the Lightning six,
the Eliza seven, the Alert eight.'
'Are you sure, Bob?'
'Quite sure, I saw them start.'
'Well, there's one missing, Jem,' he said; 'catch hold of this glass,
and just you count.'
'One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.'
There _was_ one missing, and I felt that I knew which it was before
they came in sight.
It was the Mary Ann.
ASK WHAT YE WILL
We had run down the hill as quickly as we possibly could, but we were in
no haste to return. We waited until the boats were drawn in, and the
worn-out fishermen had come on shore. They knew nothing of the Mary Ann;
they had lost sight of her soon after the beginning of the gale. They
told us they had had an awful night, and had thought they would never
reach home in safety.
'However shall we tell Polly?' I groaned.
But a cold hand was laid on mine at that instant, and I turned round to
see Polly herself just behind me. She could wait no longer, but had run
down to the shore to hasten her husband up the hill. She was trembling
from head to foot, and seemed ready to faint. The kind-hearted fishermen
crowded round her with words of cheer and comfort.
'He'll be all right, my lass, never fear. He's put into Saltburn or
Staithes maybe; these gales they drive so far. He'll be home all safe
and sound afore night.'
But Polly did not seem to hear them. She stretched out her hands feebly
to Mr. Christie and to me as she said:
'Take me home; I can bear it better there.'
The fishermen turned away sorrowfully, and there were very few dry eyes
amongst the group which we left on the shore.
When we reached the house again all was quite still, and as we entered
the bedroom I thought the little soul had passed away, but I bent over
him to listen and to my relief I found he was still breathing.
As I look back, I hardly know how we lived through that sorrowful day.
The doctor came, and did nothing but shake his head in the ominous way
which doctors have when they feel a case is beyond their power. I think
Polly had so little hope herself that she did not care to ask him what
his real opinion was.
I went out for a short walk in the afternoon, to get a little fresh air
to strengthen me for the coming night, when I had determined to watch
with Polly beside little John, if he was still living. My young friends,
Bob and Harry, joined me, and we were pacing up and down together
watching the tide come in when we thought we saw a dark speck far out to
There were others who saw it also. The coastguard was looking at it
through his telescope, and before very long the shore was covered with
fishermen and their wives, all gazing in the same direction. Whatever
the object was, it was coming rapidly shoreward; wind and tide were both
with it, and it was being borne swiftly along. After a little time we
could distinguish, even without the help of a telescope, what it was,
and I do not think there was anything which we could have been more
aghast to see, for the floating object was a boat bottom upwards, and
being driven rapidly before the tide.
A groan came from the group of fishermen who were watching, and as the
capsized boat neared shore they ran into the water to meet it. I do not
think it was necessary to look at the name upon it as it was dragged out
of the water: we all did look, however, and we found there the name
which we knew we should see before we looked. It was the Mary Ann.
I shall never forget the piercing shriek which came from the wife of one
of Duncan's mates, who was standing just behind me, when she read the
name on the boat. I thought the shock and the sorrow had driven her mad,
for she ran screaming up the hill; indeed, I firmly believe that for the
time she was quite out of her mind.
Poor Polly heard the shrieks of the woman as she ran under her window,
and looking out, she saw the boat on the shore, and guessed the truth at
once. _She_ did not scream nor cry, but she looked as if she had
been turned into stone. No word escaped her lips, not a tear was in her
eye; but she looked as if all her youth had gone in a moment, and as if
she had suddenly become an old and worn-out woman.
She never looked up as we went in, but bent over little John, moistening
his lips from time to time, and watching his every movement. We tried to
say a few words of comfort, but she did not seem even to hear our
voices. Yet no moan, no sigh from the child was unheard by her; she
seemed to be listening to every breath he drew, as if it might be his
I thought that terrible day would never have an end. Mr. Christie stayed
with us until dark, and then he took me home with him to supper, that I
might get a little change and rest before my night watch. I think they
knew how tired I was, worn out more by feeling than by want of sleep,
and they were very good to me. I do not think my own mother could have
been more kind to me than Mrs. Christie was that night. She told me that
she would have had a boy nearly as old as I was if he had lived, but he
had died when he was very young; and then they had had no children for
many years, not until Marjorie was born.
'Your mother was so good to me when my baby died,' she said. 'I thought
I should never be happy again, but she came and talked to me, and made
me look from my sorrow to my little boy's gain, and I think her kindness
to me and the loving words she spoke made me love her more than ever.'
I felt much better for the good supper, and for the kind words of these
dear people, and I went back determined to do all I could for poor Polly
and her child through that sorrowful night. I felt so grateful to the
Lord Jesus Christ for all He had done for me, and I was very glad to be
able to do any little thing to show my love to Him. It seemed to me
then, and it seems to me still, that the way in which we can please Him
best is by showing kindness to His children. I remembered a verse about
a cup of cold water being noticed by Him, if given for His sake, and I
thought to myself, 'Polly is not in need of cold water, for she is too
cold already, but I might make her a cup of tea.'
The fire was out, and the little kitchen, which was usually so neat, was
all in confusion. I lighted the lamp that I might see what I was about,
and then I tried to put the little place in order. First I found sticks
and coal, and lighted a fire; then, whilst my fire was burning up, I
cleared the table, carried the dirty plates and cups into the small back
kitchen, found a tablecloth and a clean cup and saucer, and filled the
kettle. As soon as the fire was hot enough I put the kettle on, and
cutting a slice from the loaf I made some nice crisp toast, such as my
aunt used to like when she was ill. Then I heated a plate, and buttered
the toast, and set it down by the fire. By this time the kettle was
boiling and I made the tea, and I said in my heart when all was
finished, 'Lord Jesus, I do this for Thee.'
Then I went upstairs to my hardest task of all, namely, to persuade
Polly to come down to eat the little meal I had prepared.
Polly was, as I had expected, most unwilling to leave the child, and at
first she firmly declined to move, and would not listen to my pleading
words. Yet I could see that she was almost fainting, and I knew that she
would need all the strength that she could muster for the night which
lay before us. Who knew what that night would bring?
I therefore spoke to her very firmly, telling her that I was willing and
anxious to help her in her trouble, but that, if I was to be any use to
her, she must not refuse to go downstairs for a few minutes at least,
and I promised her to watch little John very carefully, and to call her
at once if I saw any change in the child. She obeyed me at last, and I
heard her weary footsteps descending the steep stairs.
When I was left alone, I saw that Polly's Bible was lying open by the
little oil-lamp which stood on the table, upon which had been placed the
medicine and milk for little John's use. I went up to it, and my eye
fell upon these words:--
'If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask _what ye
will_, and _it shall be done unto you_.'
It seemed to me as if that verse was God's direct message to me that
night. I saw it as clearly and distinctly as if the page had been
lighted with electric light. 'Two conditions and a promise,' I said to
myself; 'if only the conditions are fulfilled, the promise is sure.'
What are the two conditions? (1) 'If ye abide in Me.' I asked myself if
I was fulfilling _that_ condition. I humbly hoped I was; for, oh, I
longed to be in Christ, saved by Him, more than I longed for anything
else in this world.
(2) 'If My words abide in you.' Was I fulfilling the
second condition? Again I humbly hoped that I was;
for I felt that if Christ told me to go to the North
Pole, or to an African desert, I would obey gladly. I
would go anywhere, I would do anything, to show Him
how grateful I was for His love to me.
Then might I claim the promise? I believed that I might.
I laid Polly's Bible on the bed. I knelt down beside little John. I put
my finger on the promise, and I prayed, as I had never prayed before,
for help in this time of need. I felt very strongly that all power was
in the hands of Christ, and that He who healed the sick on earth had
lost none of His power, now that He was exalted to the throne of God. I
besought Him to come into that room that very night, and to touch and
heal little John. And as I rose from my knees I felt that my prayer was
Polly had not returned, so I went to the top of the stairs and listened,
and I heard the sound of sobbing. I was thankful to hear it; the tears
had come at last, and they would relieve the poor, weary, over-strained
Little John was very quiet, so I crept downstairs. I found to my joy
that Polly had eaten most of the toast, and had drunk the tea, and now
she was sitting with her feet on the fender and her head in her hands,
sobbing as if her heart would break. What was it that had brought the
tears? She had not cried when the empty boat had come ashore; she had
shed no tear when the doctor's face had told her that he had no hope for
the child; what was it that had helped her to give way to the tears
which were such a relief to her? It was a very simple thing. She had
picked up from the floor a little toy, a tiny roughly-shaped boat, which
Duncan had made for the child, and which had been little John's greatest
treasure. There had come over her such a rush of memories of the happy
days of the past, gone, as she believed, for ever, of the father whose
fingers had so busily carved the boat for his boy, but who would never
come back to her again, and of the little lad passing away from her
also, and leaving his treasured toy behind him. All these sad but lovely
memories came before her, as she took up the little boat and pressed it
to her lips. They came so strongly and with such power, that the tears
which had refused to come before came with them, and brought, as I felt
sure they would, wonderful relief to her over-strained heart.
'Polly,' I said, 'cheer up, don't lose heart; I believe little John will
'Thank you, sir, thank you,' she said; as she dried her eyes. 'I feel
better now, a deal better, I do. You _have_ been good to me, sir.
I'll go up again to him now.'
'All right, Polly,' I said; 'I'll make up the fire, and then I'll come
and help you. He's asleep now, Polly.'
'I'll creep quietly up, then, sir,' she said, and I saw as she rose to
go that the stony look had gone out of her face and that she was herself
That sleep lasted for hours. It was a quiet night, the wind had quite
gone down, and everything seemed more still after the tumult of the
previous night. I was glad to see that Polly herself at length fell
asleep in her chair; little John's hand lay in hers, and I knew she
would wake with his least movement; but I was pleased to see it, for I
felt sure that even a light sleep would soothe and strengthen her.
I had just looked at my watch, and had seen that it was nearly half-past
two, when I thought I heard footsteps outside, and a moment afterwards
there came a gentle knock at the door. It seemed a strange time for a
visitor, but I thought probably it was some neighbour come to offer to
help Polly in her long night watch, or perhaps it was Mr. Christie come
to see how we were getting on. I crept softly downstairs, lest either
Polly or the child should wake, and carefully unfastening the bolts I
opened the door.
I nearly yelled with joy when I saw who was standing there. Never in all
my life have I been more glad to see any man than I was that night to
see Duncan, alive and uninjured, whilst all day long I had been
picturing him being driven backwards and forwards by the waves, a
drowned corpse at the mercy of the relentless sea.
He grasped my hand and came in to the fire, but at first he could not
'Sir,' he said at last, in a broken voice, 'am I too late? Tell me the
truth, sir; don't hide it over like; is little John dead?'
'No, Duncan,' I said, 'he still lives, and he is asleep; and, Duncan, I
believe he will be given back to you.'
'Thank God!' he said; 'thank God for that!'
For just a moment a doubt crossed my mind as to whether I ought to give
him this hope, and yet I rebuked myself for this doubt, for I was
clinging to the promise, and the word of the Lord was sure, and I
believed that if what I asked was good for these poor souls it
_must_ be granted to me.
Duncan had now sat down in his arm-chair, and by the light of the fire I
could see that he was faint and exhausted. He leant back wearily for
some time and seemed unable to speak. I had left the kettle on the fire,
and I hastened to give him a cup of tea and something to eat.
Then I crept upstairs to see what was going on, but finding Polly and
little John were still both fast asleep, I came back to him. He was
better for the tea, and able to talk to me.
'I've had an awful time, sir,' he said, in answer to my inquiry. 'Many
and many's the time since I was a boy that I've been near the dark
valley, but this time, why, I think I've been half-way down it, sir.
How's my poor lass, sir?'
'Very cut up, Duncan,' I said. 'She thinks you are dead. Your boat came
up with last night's tide.'
'Poor Polly, poor lass!' he said; 'I'll go to her.'
'Wait a little, Duncan,' I said; 'she is asleep now, and she will bear
the joy better when she wakes.'
'And my little lad?' he asked.
'Sleeping too, Duncan, so peacefully and quietly.'
'Well, it's hard not to go up, sir, but may be you're right.'
He waited very patiently for an hour, and when I crept up again at the
end of that time Polly and the child were both awake, and she was giving
him some milk. Little John was quite conscious, and looked more like
himself than he had done since his illness began. He had no sooner
finished his milk, however, than he began his old weary cry, 'Come,
daddy, come to little John.'
Polly burst into tears again when she heard him calling for the father
whom she believed to be dead; but I bent over the child and said, 'Yes,
little John, daddy will come to you.'
I believe Polly fancied that I thought the child was dying, and that I
meant his father's spirit was coming to fetch him, for she only cried
the more bitterly and said, 'Oh, little John, little John!'
But when I added, 'Shall I fetch daddy, little John?' she sprang to her
feet and looked at me wildly, but without speaking a word.
There was no need for me to say more, for she heard the sound of a
well-known footstep on the stairs, and in another moment she was in her
I felt then that my work was over, and that the best thing that I could
do would be to go to bed. But I glanced back from the door as I went
out, and I saw the little hands held out, and I heard Duncan sob like a
child as he cried, 'Oh, my little lad, my own little John, I never
thought to see you again!'
The next day Duncan was able to tell me what he had passed through
during that terrible night. It seems he was separated from the other
boats by the very first outburst of the gale, and never saw them again
through the long hours of that night of storm. For some considerable
time he and his mates, by straining every nerve, were able to keep the
water out of their boat; but as the night went on, and the sea grew
rougher and the waves seemed mountains high, they were compelled at last
to own that their attempt was hopeless. 'At that time,' said Duncan, 'I
just trusted my soul again to Christ, for I expected the next wave would
sweep us to the bottom.'
'Was I frightened, sir, did you say? No, I think not; I felt more awed
like, if you understand, and in them few moments all sorts of thoughts
seemed to be running through my head, but through them all was the
thought of my poor lass, of Polly and little John. Yes, sir, of Polly
and little John, and I cried to Him as alone could help me, "O God," I
said, "save me, for Polly and little John want me so bad!" And He heard
my prayer, sir. I've often thought how them fishermen cried to Him in
the storm that day, "Master, save us, we perish!" they said; and He
heard their cry, didn't He, sir? And He heard mine. Yes, He heard mine,
for when the wave did come which carried us over, the Mary Ann was
driven right past where we were struggling in the water, and we caught
hold on her. We clung on for dear life, sir, but we couldn't have clung
there many minutes, for the sea was that cold and icy our hands was
well-nigh frozen. But God Almighty knew how to save us, and He sent a
steamer to pick us up, in less than ten minutes after we went overboard.
And they _were_ good to us, sir, for all they were foreign folk
aboard. They warmed us, and gave us hot coffee, and lent us dry clothes,
and they ran into the Hull docks in the afternoon and landed us there.
Well, sir, you may be sure I came home as quick as ever I could, for I
thought maybe I should never see my little lad again. Hasn't God been
good to us, now hasn't He, sir?' he concluded, as he gently patted his
little boy's hand.
The doctor gave a much better report of little John that day, although
he said he was not yet out of danger. But from that time he improved
slowly but steadily, and before very long he was able to lie once more
in his father's arms, and to stroke his face with his little thin hand.
It was very touching to see the love and the gratitude of both Duncan
and Polly; they could not say enough about the help and comfort I had
given them in their time of trouble, small though I felt these to have
been. If I had been a prince, I think they could not have made more of
me, and I believe I should have been altogether spoiled if I had stayed
in Runswick Bay much longer.
I had not touched my picture the whole of that week, for whilst our
anxiety lasted I had no heart or desire to paint. On Saturday I saw
Marjorie and little Jack giving out their pink papers, and I went to
'One for you, big Mr. Jack,' said the merry little rogue, as he threw it
up in the air for me to catch.
The subject for the following day I saw was to be these two words--WE
KNOW. I thought, as I put the paper in my pocket, how much had passed
since last Sunday, and I thought also how differently I felt with regard
to the service on the shore, from what I had done when I received the
last pink paper. I had certainly no wish to run away to Kettleness, to
be out of the way when it took place.
Sunday morning was bright and beautiful, and little John was so much
better that his father was able to leave him and to take his place in
the choir. I stood close to the old boat, and Jack put his hand in mine,
and let me look at his hymn-book as he sang.
There was a large congregation, the fine day had tempted them out, and I
think the danger of their companions and their narrow escape from death
had stirred the hearts of the fishermen, and had made many of them feel
that 'it is not all of life to live, nor all of death to die.'
'My mates are here to-day, sir,' whispered Duncan, as he went forward to
take his place in the boat; 'it's the first time I've been able to
persuade them to come. They see the good of it now, sir, you see.'
Never have I heard any man pray more earnestly for a blessing than Mr.
Christie did that day, but I do not think even he prayed more earnestly
than I did. My whole heart went out to God that day, for was it not my
first Sunday on the right side of the line?
And then came the address, and I never noticed a congregation more
attentive than was that one gathered on the shore that September
morning. I can remember even now a good deal of the sermon.
'WE KNOW,' he said; 'those are strong words, confident words. It is not,
_We imagine_, or _We think_. It is not even _We hope_, that would be
wonderful; but it is something clearer and far more distinct than that;
it is WE KNOW.
'If I were to ask you fishermen, you visitors, you mothers, you little
children, this question, "Do you _imagine_ you are on the shore
now? Do you _think_ you are here to-day? Do you _hope_ you are
listening to me?" what would you answer me?
'You would say, "Mr. Christie, it is not a case of imagining, or
thinking, or hoping; we _know_ we are here; we are sure of it."
'Now notice, that is the strong, confident word used in my text to-day.
The holy apostle John stands side by side with all of us who have come
to Christ, and he bids us join with him in these glad, happy, thankful
words, "We know that we have passed from death unto life." We know, we
are persuaded, we are sure, that we are on the right side of the line.
We know that we have left the company of the servants of sin, and are
now the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
'Dear friends, I would now ask each of you very earnestly, Can you say
that? Can you take your stand by the apostle John, and say, "_I
know_ that _I_ have passed from death unto life?"
'I think I hear some one answer in his heart, "Well, that's a great deal
for any man to say, and I don't see that any man can know in this life
if he is saved or not; when he gets to heaven he'll know he is all
right, but not till then."
'Now look again at my text. It does not say, "We _shall_ know"; it
does not say, "We hope soon to know"; but it speaks in the present. It
runs thus: "We _know_ that we have passed from death unto life." So
you see it _is_ possible, nay, it is right, that you and I should,
one by one, take up the words and say, "_I know_."
'Do I hear some one saying in his heart, "I do wish I could say that? I
should be a happier man if I could. When I go out in my boat, and the
storm rages, and I don't know whether I shall ever see land again, it
would be a good thing if I could look up through the wind and tempest,
and could say gladly, I know that I have passed from death unto life."'
I thought I heard a groan when he said this, and I looked round, and saw
one of Duncan's mates burying his face in his hands.
'Do I hear one of you mothers say, "When I lie awake at night, and the
baby will not let me sleep, and I get out and look from my window at the
stars shining down upon me, I would give a great deal to say, as I think
of the heaven above those stars, 'I know that I have passed from death
'And you, my friend, when the day comes, as come it will, when you lie
on your bed, and you see by the doctor's face that you will never get
out of it again; when you say to yourself, as the neighbours sit round,
"This is my dying bed, and they are watching to see me die," oh, what
would you not give at that solemn time to be able to say, "I know that I
have passed from death unto life"?
'Do you want to be able to say it? You cannot want it more than God
wants to hear you say it. The Christ stands on the shore beside us
to-day, and He yearns with unutterable longing, that each man, each
woman, each child here present, should be able to take up the words of
my text, and say, "I know that I have passed from death unto life."'
Then he went on to tell us that it was not a long, weary, toilsome
journey which we had to travel to reach the Christ. He was present
amongst us now. He was very near to each one of us; His arms were wide
open. He was waiting to receive each one who was willing to cross the
line; one step would be sufficient, one step into those open arms. Then
we ended by singing a hymn, which seemed to me a very beautiful one:--
'Only a step to Jesus!
Believe, and thou shalt live:
Lovingly now He's waiting,
And ready to forgive.
Only a step to Jesus!
A step from sin to grace:
What has thy heart decided?
The moments fly apace.
Only a step to Jesus!
Oh, why not come and say,
"Gladly to Thee, my Saviour,
I give myself away?"
Only a step, only a step,
Come, He waits for thee;
Come, and thy sin confessing,
Thou shalt receive a blessing:
Do not reject the mercy
He freely offers thee.'
I was glad to see at the end of the service that Duncan's mate was still
sitting under the old boat with his hands over his face. He had
evidently felt the sermon very much, and when he rose to go home after
the others had dispersed, I saw Mr. Christie walking by his side.
That was a lovely Sunday evening. The storm of the week before seemed to
have cleared the air, and there was a golden light over everything,
until the sun went down behind the hill. I spent the evening at Mrs.
Christie's, for Polly was still fully occupied with the child, and was
not able to attend to much of the work downstairs. Duncan did the
cooking now, and the washing up and the cleaning, and I never saw a more
handy man. He waited on me hand and foot, as if I was a lord; but I felt
that I was giving the dear fellow a great deal of trouble, and was glad,
therefore, to accept Mrs. Christie's invitation to have tea and supper
at their house.
Little Jack welcomed me with the greatest joy. He was so delighted to
have me at tea, and contemplated me with so much delight and interest
from his high chair by my side, that he quite forgot to eat his own tea,
and had to be recalled from his admiration of me, time after time, by
his mother. After tea he told her he had a great secret to confide to
her; he dragged her from the room and led her upstairs, and then with
closed doors, and in a whisper so low that she could scarcely
distinguish the words, he told her solemnly, 'I do love big Mr. Jack
very much,' which secret his faithless mother was treacherous enough to
reveal to me, after we had been upstairs that evening to see little Jack
After we came down, Mrs. Christie lighted the lamp, and we were sitting
cosily round the fire talking of my mother, when suddenly there came a
knock at the outer door.
'Who can it be?' said Mrs. Christie hastily; 'some one must be ill, I
think, so few people come on Sunday.'
She was going to the door, but her little maid had already opened it,
and coming into the parlour she announced,--
'There's a gentleman, sir, at the door, says as how he wants Mr.
'A gentleman!' I repeated in astonishment, 'wanting me!'
'Yes, sir, he says he wants you very pertickler, he does.'
I went quickly to the door, wondering very much who could be there, and
to my great astonishment I found my friend Tom Bernard, with a black bag
in his hand, eagerly awaiting my approach.
'Found at last, old chap,' he cried when he saw me; 'why, I've been
hunting for you all over in this rabbit-warren of a place, till at last
some of these fisher-lads told me you were in here.'
'And what are you doing here, Tom?' I exclaimed.
'Doing here! Why, I've come to see you, of course, old fellow; what else
should I have come for? I set off early this morning, and I thought I
would give you a bit of a surprise. Are these your diggings?'
'No,' I said, 'I'm only spending the evening here; but I'll come back
with you at once.'
I went in for a moment to explain my sudden departure to Mr. and Mrs.
Christie, and then I went with Tom to my lodgings. He looked vastly
amused when he saw Duncan's house, and when I told him that I had been
there all the time he seemed to think it a capital joke.
'There's no room for me, I'm afraid,' he said, as he looked with an
amused smile round my bedroom.
'No, indeed, Tom,' I said, 'and, joking apart, I would not ask you to
come here if there was room; the hotel at the top of the hill will suit
Polly was sitting beside little John, but I tapped at the door, and told
her a friend of mine had just arrived from London, and asked her if she
thought it would be possible to get him some tea. Just at this moment
Duncan came in, and the two good souls did all in their power to do
honour to my guest. The whitest tablecloth was spread on the round
table, the very finest herrings were cooked, round after round of crisp
brown toast was buttered and put before the fire to keep hot, and all
was ready in so short a time that Tom was astonished.
He did full justice to the meal, and seemed to appreciate my quarters
better after he had partaken of it. Then he declared himself tired out,
so I walked with him up to the hotel. He was in high spirits, and was
much looking forward to the time we were to have there together, and to
all the walks we should take to the places round.
Was I glad that he had come? I asked myself this question many times
that night. I was fond of Tom; he had been like a brother to me, and
yet--and yet--I wished he had not come to Runswick Bay.
Why was this? Why would I have kept him away if I could? I asked myself
this question many times, as I came slowly down the hill that night.
Was it because it would be a hindrance to my work? No, for my picture
had made good progress, and I could work it up even better in my studio
at home. Besides which, Tom was a good-natured fellow, and would sit
smoking and chatting in the old boat whilst I painted.
Was it that I wanted to be quiet, and to enjoy my present surroundings
without interruption? No, surely, for Tom's company had always been
pleasant to me, and I could not look upon him as a stranger.
Why was it, then, that I felt almost sorry that he had followed me here?
I had a suspicion of the right answer to that question, but I did not
own it, even to myself, till I entered my lodging.
Duncan was reading a chapter aloud to Polly, as he always did before
going to bed. He stopped when he saw me come in, but I said, 'Go on,
Duncan, never mind me; I shall like to listen.' And the very first words
that Duncan read seemed to me to contain the answer to my question.
'He that is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of Man
Yes, that was the reason. I was sorry that Tom had come, because I was
ashamed of my Master. Since I had seen him last I had changed my
service. I used to be a servant of sin, living for self, pleasing self
in all things. Now, I had crossed the line, I had joined the company of
Christ's servants, and I was afraid of Tom finding it out.
In London I thought I should have seen less of him, and it would have
dawned on him gradually; but here he would discover it at once. And I
dreaded his doing so. Yes, I was a downright coward, ashamed of the One
who had died for me. This was not a comfortable reflection, but I was
convinced that it was the truth.
What would be the best thing to do? Should I say anything to Tom about
it in the morning? I thought at first that I would speak, and I made up
several sentences with which I meant to begin; but the more I thought of
it so much the more my heart failed me, and I decided at length that my
best plan would be to let Tom find it out for himself.
LITTLE JACK AND BIG JACK
I think Tom very much enjoyed that week at Runswick Bay. The more he saw
of the place the more he liked it. He and Duncan got on famously
together. They smoked together on a seat above the house, and Duncan
told him stories of shipwrecks and storms, whilst I sat painting just
One night he even persuaded Duncan to let him go out with him fishing,
and Duncan confided to me afterwards, 'That there friend of yours, sir,
he's a real handy chap; knows how to use his fingers, sir, and isn't
afraid of a drop of salt water neither.'
We came across Mr. Christie on the shore the very first time that we
went out together, and I introduced him as a friend of my mother whom I
had been delighted to find in this out-of-the-way place; and Tom talked
very pleasantly to him, and I think liked him.
'What is he doing here, Jack?' he said. 'He does not look like the rest
'He is a lay-preacher,' I said.
'Whatever in the world is a lay-preacher?' said Tom laughing.
I did not answer, but called his attention to little Jack, who was
running along the shore after his red cap, which had been carried off by
a gust of wind.
'That's his little boy,' I said, 'and my namesake; they lived in my
father's parish in London, and Mr. Christie and his wife adored my
mother. It was seeing her photograph on the wall of their room which
made them discover who I was.'
'What a splendid little fellow!' said Tom as the child came up to us.
'So you are Jack, are you?'
'Yes, I'm little Jack, and he's big Jack,' said the boy roguishly,
looking at me.
I was not surprised that Tom made friends very quickly with my little
favourite, for he was wonderfully fond of children, and many were the
games which he and the two children had together whilst I was at work.
Every evening Tom and I walked together, and we explored all the country
for miles around. Sometimes we went by train and walked back by the
cliffs. The train seemed to land us at each station in the midst of
fresh beauty, and I came to the conclusion that Yorkshire was indeed,
what I had always been told by my mother, the most beautiful county in
'Now, Jack,' said Tom on Saturday morning, 'we'll have a really good day
to-morrow. You won't want to paint, will you?'
'No,' I said hurriedly, 'I don't paint on Sundays.'
'All right,' he said, 'it's much the best plan; you come fresher to it
on Monday. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." That old
couplet must have been made for you, Jack. Well, then, let's see, where
shall we go? Suppose we make a long day of it, and go to Scarborough. We
must see Scarborough before we go home, must we not? We will go by the
early train, and come back as late as we can. The worst of it is there
are not so many trains to choose from on Sunday, but I daresay we shall
find one that will suit'; and, without saying another word, he went off
to my lodging for a _Bradshaw_.
What was I to do? A few weeks ago a Sunday spent in pleasure would have
been just what I should have chosen, and many a time had Tom and I been
up the river on Sunday together. There was hardly a place within easy
distance up the Thames which we had not visited in this way. But now I
felt very differently about these things. Sunday was my Master's own
day: every moment of it, I felt, must be consecrated to Him. No one had
talked to me about Sunday observance, but my conscience told me very
clearly what was right in the matter. Yet, although I had no doubt as to
what I ought to do in the matter, I am ashamed to say that for some time
I hesitated. Tom would be so terribly disappointed, I said to myself,
and he had been a good friend to me, and I did not want to vex him;
surely there would be no great harm in obliging him this once! Besides,
when I get to Scarborough I may have time to go to church, and then,
after all, where is the difference? I argued with myself; I shall take a
longer journey to church, that is all.
And then Tom came back, full of his plans for the day. He had already
settled the train we were to catch, and he told me that he looked
forward to seeing Scarborough immensely, as his mother had stayed there
a year ago, and she had told him it was the most beautiful
watering-place she had ever visited.
I tried to feel pleased with what Tom had arranged, but in my heart I
was very miserable, and just at that moment who should appear but
Marjorie and Jack, distributing the pink papers containing the
invitation to the service on the shore. I turned away when I saw them
coming. I looked towards the sea, and took my little telescope from my
pocket, that I might seem to be intent on watching a distant steamer.
What would Duncan say? What would Mr. Christie say? What would my little
friend Jack say, when I did not appear at the shore service? And how
shocked they would be when they heard I had gone off for a day's
I hoped that the children would pass us by, and would go to a large
group of fishermen standing on the shore just beyond us. But I was not
to escape thus. Marjorie came up to Tom and presented him with a paper,
and she was going to give one to me, but my little friend stopped her,
'No, no, Marjorie,' he said in his most fascinating tones, 'let me give
one to my own Mr. Jack. I always give you one my own self, don't I, big
I patted him on the head and took the paper, but I did not answer, and
the children passed on. Tom opened his paper and read it aloud,--
'"There will be a short service on the shore next Sunday morning." Oh,
indeed,' he said, 'that's what they're after, is it? Distributing
notices for some Methodist meeting. Is that where Christie holds forth?'
'Yes,' I said, 'he preaches every Sunday.'
'Well, Mr. Christie,' he went on, 'you won't have _me_ there to
hear you. I hate those canting meetings, don't you, Jack?
_Subject_. Ah, he tells us his subject beforehand, does he? Very
kind of him, I'm sure! _Subject: Where are you going_? Ah,' said
Tom, 'that's soon answered: I'm going to Scarborough, old fellow, and a
jolly good day I hope to have there'; and he threw the little pink paper
into the air, and the wind carried it far out to sea.
All this time I had never spoken a word. A great battle was going on in
my heart. Conscience was speaking very loudly, and telling me that I
could not possibly take my pleasure on my Master's own day, but the
tempter's voice was arguing that the time to speak had not yet come, and
that perhaps for this once it would be better to yield to Tom's wishes,
and that I might talk to him quietly about it, and make a fresh start
after our return to London.
And so the day wore away, and evening came, and Tom had no idea whatever
that I had even hesitated about going with him to Scarborough. I never
spent a more unhappy day. I avoided Mr. Christie, lest he should say
anything to me about the service on the following day. I was not even
happy with Duncan. Tom had gone off to Saltburn, leaving me, as he
supposed, to put some finishing touches to my picture; but I had no
heart for painting, and only got my easel and painting materials out to
put them away again directly.
Polly was in good spirits that day, for little John was so much better
that he was able to sit on the floor and play, and, as I stood looking
out of my small casement window, I watched her washing up in a tub
standing on a wooden stool outside her door, and I heard her singing to
herself as she did so. Most of the visitors had left Runswick Bay now,
for it was late in the season, but the shore was covered with the
village children--boys and girls without shoes and stockings, wading in
the pools and running far out into the shallow sea. It was a pretty
sight, the grey, quiet water, the strips of yellow sand, and the cliff
covered with grass and flowers.
But I could not enjoy the scene that Saturday evening; even my artistic
eye, of which I used sometimes to boast, failed me then. I was feeling
thoroughly uncomfortable, and the most lovely view on earth would have
failed to charm me at that moment.
There is a verse in the Bible which says, 'A little child shall lead
them,' and whenever I hear that verse I think of that evening in
Runswick Bay. For I was still gazing out of my window, looking at I knew
not what, when I heard a well-known little voice just beneath me.
It was Jack. He had come down the hill beneath Duncan's cottage, so that
I had not seen him until he spoke to me below the window.
'Mr. Jack,' he said, 'what are you doing up there? Are you _very_
'No, old man,' I said, 'I'm not busy.'
'Then _do_ come out, that's a dear, big Mr. Jack; I do want you so
Who could resist the pleading little face, and the pretty, fascinating
voice of that child? He would have a hard heart who could do so. I ran
downstairs, and a minute afterwards I was racing with Jack on the wet
sands, for the tide was fast going out, and was helping him to fly a
small kite which his father had bought for him in Whitby. We had a fine
time together on the shore, until at last a towel was hung out of the
top window in the Christies' house, as a sign that it was Jack's
bedtime. Though he was wild with joy and excitement, the obedient little
fellow at once stopped his play, and told me mother wanted him, and he
'I'm coming for you to-morrow morning, Mr. Jack,' he said.
'To-morrow morning, Jack?'
'Yes, for church,' said the child, putting up his dear little chubby
face to be kissed. 'Don't go without me, will you, Mr. Jack?'
'Well, I'm not sure I'm going to-morrow, little man,' I said
reluctantly, 'so you had better not call for me.'
'Not going to church!' said Jack, in a very shocked voice. 'Why not,
'I'm going to Scarborough for the day with my friend Tom,' I said.
'I shall go to church in Scarborough, Jack.'
I shall never forget the expression of that child's face as long as I
live; it was a mixture of surprise, sorrow and dismay. 'Mr. Jack, do you
know it's God's day to-morrow?' was all that he said, however; and as at
this moment his mother called him from the bedroom window, he ran off
without another word.
'Do you know it's God's day?' I asked myself when the little boy had
gone. 'Yes, I do know,' I answered aloud, 'and He is my Master, and my
Master's day shall be kept for Him and for His service.'
I walked to a lonely place on the shore where the sea had undermined the
cliff, and had made strange holes and caves, which could only be entered
at low tide. I clambered over the rocks, and crossed about half a mile
of slippery seaweed, until I came to one of these weird places. Creeping
inside, I felt myself safe from any human eye. I was alone--alone with
I cannot tell you all that passed during the half-hour that I spent in
that lonely cave, but I know this, that I came out of it feeling that my
Master had indeed given me the strength for which I had pleaded, the
strength to act as His faithful and true servant.
I was waiting outside the station when Tom's train came in from
Saltburn. He had not expected to see me again that night, and seemed
pleased that I had come to meet him.
'I think we shall have a fine day to-morrow, old boy,' he said; 'what
a dew there is! My feet are quite wet with it.'
'Tom,' I said, 'I came to meet you to-night because I wanted to tell you
something. I am sorry, very sorry, to disappoint you, but I can't go
with you to-morrow.'
'Why ever in the world not, Jack?' he said. 'I thought you were so keen
on seeing Scarborough.'
'Yes, Tom,' I said, 'but I am still more keen on something else.'
'What's that?' he asked; 'do you mean Redcar? It's a stupid place, Jack:
nothing in the world to see, I assure you.'
'No, Tom, I don't mean that. I don't want to change our plan. I had
rather see Scarborough than any other place; I'll give myself a holiday
on Monday, and go with you gladly, Tom; but I can't go to-morrow.'
'Nonsense, Jack!' he said angrily. 'You _can_ go if you like;
what's to hinder you? If you are willing to go at all, why on earth
can't you go to-morrow?'
'Simply because to-morrow is Sunday, Tom.'
'And if it is Sunday, what of that?' said my friend. '"The better the
day, the better the deed," and it's ridiculous your talking in this
saintly way about Sunday, when to my certain knowledge you've spent
every fine Sunday boating on the river for the last two years or more.
No, no, my friend, that won't go down with me.'
'Tom,' I said, 'it's all quite true what you say. I have, I know I have,
spent my Sundays in boating or in taking my pleasure in some other way,
and I am more sorry for it, Tom, than I can tell you. But since I came
'Since you came here,' Tom interrupted me, 'you've gone and turned
Ranter or Methodist, or something of that sort, and you've got your head
full of all sorts of insane and ridiculous ideas.'
'Since I came here, Tom,' I said, taking no notice of his last remark,
'I have seen what I never saw before--that I am a great sinner; and I
have found what I never found before--that Jesus is a great Saviour.'
'Well, I wish you had never come to Runswick Bay, if this is the absurd
way you are going on, Jack, and after all the good old times we've had
'And why shan't we have good times together still, dear old Tom?' I
said. 'I have entered the service of a new Master, that's all; and,
Tom,' I said timidly, 'I wish He was your Master too.'
Tom made no answer, but swung his stick round and round, and slashed at
the thistles and the ox-eye daisies which grew by the roadside. I tried
to make one or two remarks, but I saw he was very much upset by what I
had said, and he did not answer me. He was vexed with me, and perhaps he
was a little uncomfortable besides, and I felt it was far wiser to say
He did not speak again until we reached the hotel, and then he simply
said, 'Good-night, Jack, I'm sorry you've gone and made such a fool of
yourself'; and I went down the hill, feeling as if I had lost my friend,
and as if the old days and old companionship were dead and buried for
But if I had lost one friend, I felt I had gained another. Mr. Christie
was waiting for me at the bottom of the hill, and he proposed that we
should take a turn together on the shore. Nellie was expecting me to
supper, he said; he had told Duncan I was going there, and the moon was
coming out, and a good stretch on the sands would make us enjoy it all
We had walked across the bay, and were standing gazing out seawards,
when he suddenly put his arm in mine.
'What is it, Jack?' he said kindly, 'something is troubling you this
'Yes, you are right,' I said. 'However did you know, Mr. Christie? I am
bothered a bit; the fact is, I'm ashamed of myself, I've been such a
'What have you been doing, Jack? You don't mind telling me, do you?'
'Not at all, Mr. Christie, I would rather tell you,' I said; and then I
gave him an account of the last week, of my fear of Tom, and how very
nearly--I was ashamed to say it--I had yielded to him about the outing
to-morrow. Then I spoke of my friend, and I told him I was afraid I had
lost him through my plain speaking.
'Never mind, Jack,' he said, 'the Master must come first, and it does
happen very often that when He is put in His right place we have to give
up a great deal. He knew we should have to do it, and He spoke some very
plain words about it: "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is
not worthy of Me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not
worthy of Me." You would like to be worthy of Him, Jack?'
'I shall never be that, Mr. Christie,' I said.
'No,' he said; 'you are right, we are all unworthy of Him; but when we
love Him, we do long to do that which is pleasing in His sight. And,
remember, there is always the hundredfold, Jack, always the Master's
reward for anything we give up for Him.'
'Yes, in heaven,' I said softly.
'No, Jack, not in heaven, but on earth. Do you remember how the Master's
words run: "He shall receive an hundredfold _now, in this time_,
and in the world to come, life everlasting." The hundredfold is to be
enjoyed _here_, the everlasting life _there_.'
'I never noticed that before,' I said.
'I have proved it true, Jack, abundantly true. I sometimes think I have
got beyond the hundredfold. And then beyond, there lies the life
'My mother is enjoying that,' I said.
'Yes, indeed,' he answered; 'and her boy will enjoy it too in God's good
time, for does not the Master say of all those who belong to Him, "I
give unto them eternal life?" "I am come that they might have life, and
that they might have it more abundantly"?'
WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
I shall never forget my last Sunday in Runswick Bay. It was at the end
of September, and was one of those gloriously brilliant days which we
get in the early autumn, when the sky is cloudless, when the air is
fresh and clear, and when the autumnal tints on trees, hedges, ferns and
brambles make the landscape gorgeous and extremely beautiful and
The high cliff above the bay was a perfect study in colour that morning;
I have never seen more splendid colouring, every varied shade of red and
gold and green was to be found there.
'Tom will be off to Scarborough,' I said to myself as I dressed. 'What a
grand day he has got!'
But I did not wish myself with him; no, I was both glad and thankful to
look forward to a quiet and peaceful Sunday.
There were not many visitors still at Runswick, most of them had left
the week before; but the fishermen came in great numbers to the service,
and the green was covered with them when little Jack and big Jack
appeared, hand-in-hand as usual. Duncan was in the choir, but Polly
thought the wind rather cold for little John, so had remained with him
at home. A good many women and children were present, however, and the
bank was covered with mothers and babies, sitting at a little distance,
lest the noise of the children should disturb the preacher or the
What was it that made me think of Tom just as the service began? Was it
a shepherd's plaid cloth cap, of the kind Tom wears, which I saw on the
head of some visitor who was sitting almost out of sight on the seaward
side of the bank? Such small things bring people and things before us
sometimes, and my thoughts wandered to Scarborough for a few minutes,
and I wondered what Tom was doing at that moment. I thought to myself
how he would smile, if he saw me sitting under the old boat and
listening attentively to an open air preacher.
But my thoughts did not wander long, for when the service began every
word of it seemed to be for me.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I had worked the subject out in my mind before I
came to the service, and had quite decided what line of thought Mr.
Christie would take. I thought he would picture the two roads, the one
leading to life, the other to destruction; and then I imagined that he
would speak of the blessedness of being on the narrow road, and would
dwell very vividly on the awful consequences of continuing to walk on
the road leading to hell. But I found that my idea of what his sermon
would be was quite a mistaken one.
'Where are you going? My question to-day,' he said, 'is addressed only
to some of you; would to God it were addressed to you all! I speak
to-day to those who have crossed the line, who have run into the loving
Saviour's arms, who have become servants of Christ.
'My friends, my dear friends, where are you going? What does the Master
say? He calls to every one of His servants, and He says, "If any man
serve Me, let him follow Me, and _where I am_ there shall also My
'Servant of Christ, where are you going? The Master answers you, WHERE
'And where is that? A little group of men are standing on the Mount of
Olives; above them is the deep blue sky, and they are gazing earnestly
upward, for their Master is rising far above them, and even as they
watch a cloud receives Him out of their sight. Yet still He ascends
higher and yet higher, and as He rises countless angels attend Him. He
is joined by company after company of the heavenly host, who have come
out to meet their King. At length heaven's gates are reached, and the
cry goes forth, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye
everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in." Amidst heaven's
most joyful music the Master passes within to the Heavenly Jerusalem,
the glad, glorious Home. Every care, every sin, every sorrow is left
outside; within all is sunshine, all is joy. And as heaven's gates are
closing, we hear the Master's voice. He leaves us a word of hope, "Where
I am, _there_ shall also My servant be."
'Oh, fishermen, oh, friends, think of that! If you are His servants,
those gates will open for you. Your life may be hard now: some of you
have large families, and heavy work, and long, cold, comfortless nights
tossing on the stormy sea; but never mind, home is coming, heaven is
coming, for "Where I am, there shall also My servant be."
'But that is not all. There is something more wonderful still. For where
is the Master now? He is not only inside the gates of the city, He is
not only walking through the golden streets; but He is in the midst of
the glory of God, He has sat down on the right hand of the throne of
God. Will you and I, dear friends, ever dare to go near that throne?
Will not the glory be too dazzling? Will not the place be holy ground,
too holy for us to approach? Will He allow us to draw near to His
footstool, and even there, close to His glory, to lie low before Him?
'Listen, O servant of Christ, again the Master says, "Where I am,
_there_ shall also My servant be."
'What, on the throne of God! Yes, even _there_ He bids you come;
for what does He say? "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with
Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father
in His throne." Oh, what a wonderful promise! We could never have
thought of it; we could never have believed it; we could never even have
dreamt of such a thing, if the Master had not told us Himself.'
And then he concluded by asking us to remember our glorious future.
'Sometimes,' he said, 'you get downhearted, full of sorrow and fear, and
you say, "I shall never hold on to the end." Oh, dear friends, it is
worth an effort, for at the end lies home, at the end stands the throne
of God, with a place waiting for you upon it. "Where I am, there shall
also My servant be."
'What if you have to bear something for the Master's sake? What if you
have to give up friends or comforts for Him? What if you have to take up
your cross and follow Him? It is only for a few days, only for a little
while, and home is coming. "Where I am, there shall also My servant be."
Is it not worth while?'
Then, as he ended, he spoke a few words to all who were there, and he
begged those who were not servants of Christ, to consider what they were
losing. 'All this might be yours,' he said, 'the wide-open gates, the
Heavenly City, the seat on the glorious Throne; but you are turning your
backs on it all, and you are choosing instead--what? A few of earth's
fleeting pleasures, a little of this world's passing enjoyment. Oh, dear
friends, think before it is too late, what your eternal loss will be!'
He said much more, but I cannot remember it now. I only know that I came
away feeling that I had been very near the golden gates of which he
spoke, and had heard the Master's voice saying to me, 'Where I am, there
shall also My servant be.'
The tide was coming in as we left the service, and I was standing on the
shore watching the waves rolling in over the rocks, when I felt an arm
slipped in mine, and when I looked round, to my great surprise, I found
that it was Tom.
'Why, Tom!' I said, 'back already? how early you have come home!'
'Back, Jack?' he said, laughing; 'why, I've never been.'
'Do you mean you haven't been to Scarborough?'
'No, of course not; you didn't think I would go without you, old boy.
We'll go to-morrow, of course. I thought we settled that last night.'
'Why, I've been thinking of you in Scarborough all day!' I said.
'Then your thoughts have gone in a wrong direction for once, Jack,' he
replied, 'for I've been here all the time.'
'I'll walk with you up the hill,' I said; 'it isn't quite dinner-time.'
I was very pleased to see him, and to find that he did not appear to be
vexed with me. We chatted for some time, and then he said casually, 'He
does not speak badly, that lay preacher of yours, Jack.'
I stood still in astonishment. 'Who?' I said, 'Mr. Christie? Why, you
surely were not at the service, Tom! Oh, I know,' I cried, before he
could answer, 'you were behind the bank; I saw a black and white cap,
and I thought how much it was like yours.'
'It could not be much more like, seeing that it was the very same,' said
'I'm so glad you heard him,' I ventured to say.
He made no answer, so I thought it was better to say no more; but when
we reached the top of the hill, and he was just leaving me, he said:
'Jack, I'm afraid I was a bit crusty last night. You must not think any
more of it, old fellow. We'll have a jolly day at Scarborough to-morrow.
And, Jack,' he went on, 'I was very much annoyed at the time, I own I
was; but I'm not sure after all that you're not right.'
He said no more, but hurried away, and it was many years before he
referred to the subject again; but the day came when he did mention it,
and when he told me, with tears in his eyes, that he looked upon that
Sunday at Runswick as the first link in the chain of God's loving
Providence, by means of which He had led him to Himself. He told me then
that he had never forgotten my firm refusal to go with him, and he had
never forgotten the sermon to which he had listened hidden from sight by
Our day at Scarborough exceeded all our anticipations. The weather was
glorious, and Tom was in excellent spirits, and we thoroughly enjoyed
I could not help feeling sorry when Thursday came, which was to be my
last day at Runswick Bay. It had been such a happy and so eventful a
time. I seemed to have passed through so much, and to have learnt so
much unknown to me before, that I felt very reluctant to bring my
holiday to a close. As for Duncan and Polly, they were quite melancholy
as the time for my departure drew near.
'We _shall_ feel lost without you, sir,' said Duncan. 'We shan't
know what to do'; and there were tears in Polly's eyes as she said
mournfully, when she set the herrings on the table for my supper,
'Them's the last herrings I shall fry you, sir, and I feel as if there
was going to be a death in the house.'
'Cheer up, Polly,' I said, 'who knows? Perhaps you may have to put up
with me next time I get a holiday, and you may be sure I shall want
plenty of herrings then.'
She brightened a little at this, and little John, who was quite well
now, and who had become very friendly with me since his illness, climbed
up on my knee, and stroked my face with his little thin hand, as if he
were trying to coax me to come back to them again.
There was one thing which I had a great desire to do before leaving
Runswick. I knew that Duncan was much troubled about the Mary Ann. She
had been terribly knocked about in the storm, which was no wonder,
seeing that she had drifted about, bottom upwards, and had been driven
hither and thither on the waves. When Duncan had examined her the day
after his arrival, he had found that she leaked in several places, and
was altogether unseaworthy, and he had been obliged to hire a boat until
such time as the Mary Ann could be properly repaired. Then he went over
to Whitby, and brought an experienced man back with him, and he
overhauled her thoroughly, and gave it as his opinion that it would be a
waste of money to try to patch her up.
When Duncan came in that night I saw that the poor fellow was terribly
downcast. 'The Mary Ann's days are numbered, sir; she'll never be able
to rough it again,' he said. 'She's been a good old boat to me and my
father before me, and it will be like parting from an old friend to give
her up. Yon man, he says she might be cobbled together a bit; but you
would never make a good job of her; she'd do maybe well enough for fine
weather, but you couldn't trust to her in a storm.'
I saw Polly turn pale as he said this. 'Duncan,' she said, going up to
him, and laying her hand on his arm, 'you'll never go in her again;
promise me that. Think of me and little John, Duncan.'
'Ay, my lass,' he said; 'ay, Polly, I do think of thee and little John;
but the worst of it is there's bread must be earnt for thee and little
John. I can't let thee starve, wife.'
'What about the bank-book, Duncan?' I said.
He went to the old oak-chest, and brought it out. I was much touched by
his handing it to me, and bidding me see how it stood. He was perfectly
open with me, and spoke to me as freely as if I had been an old and
tried friend. I added up the amount and read it out to him.
'Well, sir,'he said, 'it's getting on; but it's a good ten pound short
yet. We shall have to hire Brown's boat a bit and do as well as we can,
though it isn't a very paying business when one takes to hiring: it will
be hard enough to make two ends meet, you see, sir, let alone saving up
for the new boat. But I can't see nothing else for it, sir; that is, if
Polly won't let me risk it in the Mary Ann.'
'Duncan,' she said solemnly, 'if thee went to sea in the Mary Ann, and
she went to the bottom, I could _never_ say, "The will of the Lord
be done," for I don't believe it _would_ be God's will for thee to
go in that rotten old thing.'
'Polly is right, Duncan,' I said; 'you must never go in the Mary Ann
'Well, sir,' he said, 'I see what you mean, you and Polly too, and the
Lord will show us what's to be done.'
Nothing more was said about the Mary Ann at that time, but I had already
made my own plan about the new boat. My aunt had just left me her little
property, and a very nice little property it was. I felt myself a rich
man, for in addition to money invested in various ways, about L200 of
ready money had been placed to my account at the bank.
What could be more delightful, I thought, than to spend the first ten
pounds of this in helping Duncan to complete the purchase of the new
boat? The only difficulty would be to get Duncan to accept the money,
for he had all the honest independence of a Yorkshireman, and I knew
would hesitate about receiving help from any one. But, at the same time,
I knew that in this instance his need was great, and his kindly feeling
towards myself was so strong, that I was not without hope that I might
be able to manage what I had contemplated without giving the dear fellow
offence. I thought, at one time, that I would take Mr. Christie into my
confidence, and would consult with him, but on second thoughts I decided
that it would be wiser not to do so, and felt that I should be more
likely to succeed if no one else was in the secret. So I folded my
bank-note in paper, put it into an envelope, and wrote outside, 'With
little John's love to his daddy, to help him to buy another Little
John.' This I determined to slip into the child's hand when I said
That evening I had supper with the Christies. They were kindness itself,
and told me what a great pleasure it had been to them to meet me. 'Not
only because you are your mother's son, Jack, but for your own sake as
well as hers,' said Mr. Christie with a smile.
I wanted to say something in return, but the words would not come--at
least not then. But, just before I left, I went with Mr. Christie into
his study, and he said, 'Jack, I thought perhaps we might have a little
prayer together before we part'; and then the words came,--
'Mr. Christie,' I said, 'I can never, never thank God enough that I came
'Let us thank Him together, Jack,' he said.
Then we knelt down, he by the table, and I with my arms resting on the
old organ, and he thanked God for His mercy in bringing me across the
line, and he committed me to His care and keeping to bring me safely
along the road which leads home.
The next morning I was up early, for our train started at eight, and we
had two miles to walk. I had told Polly I should want nothing but a cup
of tea before I set off, but when I came down I found a most tempting
breakfast prepared for me--ham and eggs, and toast in abundance, and
fresh lettuces from Duncan's small garden.
'Well, Polly,' I said, 'you are spoiling me to the last.'
'We can never make enough of you, sir,' said Polly, and there were tears
in her eyes as she said it.
I ran up to pack my bag and collect my things, and I determined to start
in good time, so that I might allow myself a few minutes to say good-bye
to the Christies.
'I must be off, Duncan,' I said.
He was standing outside with little John in his arms, and Polly, with
her hat on, was standing beside him.
'We're coming along with you, sir, to the station,' said Duncan. 'You
won't think it a liberty will you, sir? but me and Polly and little John
would like to see the last of you.'
'Come, that _is_ good of you,' I said. 'I shall have a grand escort
up the hill!'
Polly took the child from his father, and Duncan carried my bag and
easel, and would not even hear of my giving him a hand with them.
I ran into the Christies, but could find no one below; however, I heard
a great running backwards and forwards overhead, and presently Mr.
Christie called out of the bedroom window, 'Wait one moment, Jack; we
are all coming to see you off.'
So my escort increased as I proceeded, and Tom, as he came out of the
hotel, said he thought the whole of Runswick must be going by the early
train, when he saw us, one after another, come toiling up the hill.
Little Jack rode up the whole way on my back, and his horse was very hot
when the top was reached.
Though it is now so many years ago I can see that little party of
friends standing together on the platform, as the train moved out of the
station. I can feel again the warm grasp of Mr. Christie's hand, and can
hear his whispered, 'God bless you, Jack!' I can see Mrs. Christie
holding Marjorie by the hand, and waving her handkerchief to me, and can
hear little Jack crying out, 'Come back soon, do, big Mr. Jack.' I can
see Duncan bareheaded, with little John in his arms, the child waving
the envelope which I had put in his hand as I stepped into the carriage,
and which was still unopened. I can see Polly wiping her eyes with her
apron, and then holding it up and waving it till I was lost to sight. I
can see them all as they appeared to me that day, kind hearts and true,
not one of them ranking amongst the number whom the world counts great,
and yet all of them well known to Him who calleth His own sheep by name
and leadeth them out.
I must just mention here that I had a very touching letter from Duncan
at the end of that week. The spelling was most wonderful, and the
grammar was quite of his own making; but it was full, from end to end,
of the most simple-hearted affection, and of the deepest gratitude.
'Me, and my missus, and little John, can never be thankful enough, sir,'
he said, 'and when the other 'Little John' is afloat, as please God she
soon will be, we hopes as how you will come and have a sail in her.'
So ended my visit to Runswick; and when I consider all that happened
during those few weeks, I think it is small wonder that the little bay
is still fresh in my memory, and that Ella's yellow ragwort made me
dream of it so distinctly. For surely that month was the most important
month in my life, for was it not the beginning of a new life, which,
thank God, has continued ever since?
I can say to-day, even as I said then, 'One is my Master, even Christ,'
and I can look forward, humbly but hopefully, to the time when the
golden gates will open to me, and when the Master's promise will be
fulfilled to me, 'Where I am, there shall also My servant be.'
O Jesus Christ, my Master,
I come to Thee to-day;
I ask Thee to direct me
In all I do or say:
I want to keep my promise
To be Thy servant true,
I come to Thee for orders;
Dear Lord, what shall I do?
I want a heart not heeding
What others think or say;
I want a humble spirit,
To listen and obey.
To serve Thee without ceasing,
'Tis but a little while,--
My strength, the Master's promise,
My joy, the Master's smile.