Divers Women
by Pansy and Mrs. C.M. Livingston
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Strange that these stabs come not alone from the lost sheep of the family, but from the son who is the honoured citizen; from the daughter who shines in her circle as a woman of many virtues; from grandchildren trained up in the Sabbath-school.

"Into each life some sunshine must fall, as well as rain," and Mrs. Kensett had much of hers from Benjie's letters; they were regular as the dew and cheery as the sun, a balsam for the wounds in the poor heart. They were not mere scribbles either—"I am well, and I hope you are; I haven't time to write more now"—but good long letters, with accounts of all his comings and goings, the people he met, the books he read, here a dash of fun and there a poetical fancy; and through them all ran like a golden thread the dear boy's tender love and reverence for his mother. Never did maiden watch for lover's missive with more ardour; sometimes he wrote one day, sometimes another, but always once a week, and Mrs. Kensett kept a sharp look out for the postman; when the time drew near for him to come she made many journeys down the stairs to see if she could get a glimpse of him. When the expected letter was not forthcoming she felt somehow as if the postman were to blame. But when he did come, ah! that was the one bright day of the week; how she read and re-read it, and put it in her pocket and thought it over, while she went on with her knitting, then when some little point was not quite distinct in her mind, brought it out and read it again, so that by the time another one came this one was worn out. John's wife thought to regulate this one small pleasant excitement of her mother-in-law's life by remarking to her husband that "somebody ought to tell Benjamin to write on a particular day, mother was so fidgety when it was time for the mail."

How small a thing is a letter to make one happy! and yet some of us let the sword pierce the dear mother heart by withholding that which costs us so little. God pity us when our mothers are gone beyond the reach of voice or pen.

One day her letter contained news of great importance. It was read and pondered long. Benjie was going to be married! The mother did not like the news; somehow in all her plans for Benjie the wife had not come in. Now this would be the last of her comfort in him; he would marry and settle down, and probably be just like John—given up to business. He pictured out his future bride as good and lovely. Of course he thought so, but poor Mrs. Kensett could get no vision of a daughter-in-law except a tall woman with severe expression. "She is an heiress," Benjie wrote. Well, what of that? John's wife had property too. She would likely be proud, and ashamed of a plain old woman like her.

Benjamin was no fortune-hunter; he was hard at work in his profession with no other ambition directly before him but to get together a humble home to which he might take his mother; he intended to surprise her as soon as his income would at all warrant it. But as John Milton when he met Mary Powell fastened his eyes earnestly upon her, knowing that he had found "Mistress Milton," so Benjamin, the first Sabbath he took a class in the mission Sabbath-school, and found himself near neighbour to a sweet-faced young teacher, knew that no other face in all the world could so closely resemble the ideal picture he had sketched of that dim, shadowy, far-off person, his wife.

Marian Ledyard, too, would not willingly have confessed with what a thrill of pleasure she noticed the young stranger was in his place again on the following Sabbath, nor how for a time she searched diligently through every assembly for that one face that had such strange power to attract her; in no place, though, did she happen to meet him except that one, where there was no opportunity for acquaintance.

Benjamin had fully resolved to seek her out, but learning that she was an orphan who possessed a large fortune in her own right, he was too proud to be counted one of the moths that flutter about a candle, so he made another resolve, to think no more about her, which stoical purpose was not easy to carry out, especially as the blue eyes were often meeting his, much to the discomfiture of their owner. The coveted opportunity came at last. The holidays brought the annual entertainment for the children, and under the friendly boughs of the Christmas tree the acquaintance began, and progressed remarkably fast. It was not strange either, considering that each had been in the other's thoughts constantly for the last six weeks. They walked home in the moonlight wondering at the singular beauty that crowned the earth. The tell-tale eyes of each must have revealed the secret to the heart of the other, for the usual preliminaries, formalities, windings and turnings of modern courtship seemed unnecessary; the two drifted together as naturally as fleecy, white clouds in the blue sky. He forgot that she was worth half a million, and what did she care that he possessed not anything but his own precious self! Had she not enough for both?

Not alone in stocks and bonds were Marian Ledyard's riches. She had been a mere butterfly of fashion and frivolity, absorbed in worldly gaieties, but the Lord met her, and she fell at his feet, saying, "What wilt thou have me to do?" And as she had eagerly, unreservedly followed the world, so now she gave herself up body, soul, time and wealth, to the service of the Lord, and she was far more sweet and fascinating in her joyful abandonment to her blessed Master's service than ever she had been in the service of that other master. She was that rare combination, a young, wealthy, consecrated Christian.

"Now, mother," wrote Benjamin, "just as soon as we are married, which will be very soon, you are to come to us. Marian says she remembers her own dear mother, and has been lonely without her these many years." This was no welcome news to the weary mother; had it been dear Benjamin alone that she was to live with, how she would have hailed her deliverance, but another son's wife! How could she face her, and be dependent on her? It would be her house and her money that provided everything. She would feel like a beggar she was sure. She could by no stretch of imagination conceive of a son's wife to be other than a person to be dreaded. She spent many sleepless nights over it and shed tears in secret. Her triumphant faith was never more tried than now.

It may be that in some far-off day, by means of some wonderful instrument yet uncreated, our eyes shall look upon our friends, separated from them by long distances, shall know their comings and goings, their thoughts and motives. Being not possessed of any such power, mother Kensett vexed her soul in one city, while in another, two young people, happy as birds, held long consultations as to which should be mother's room, just how it should be furnished, and ran here and there with the eagerness of children gathering moss and bits of china, and all rare and pretty things for a play-house under the trees.

Marian's ancestral home had been closed for a long time. It was a stately mansion, of wide halls and towers and spacious apartments, surrounded by magnificent grounds. During the last few months it had been thoroughly remodelled and refurnished, and now the young couple, after a brief bridal tour, were fairly established in it.

One might suppose that Mrs. Kensett would have felt some risings of pride, as, leaning on the arm of her youngest son, she mounted the marble steps, and walked through the spacious halls and beautiful parlours of his home.

But John's home was handsome, too; the carpets were soft and rich, the chairs luxurious, and curtained windows spread their drapery about them in soft fine folds.

What of all that when hearts were frozen? Wealth to this mother meant pride, selfishness, and irreligion.

She looked about her, feeling sure that a tall, elegant lady in a stiff silk train would sweep in, extend the tips of her fingers, and call a servant to get her off to her room with all possible despatch.

There was no one in the parlours, and Benjamin led his mother on into the dining-room—a room full of warmth and light—the tea-table already spread, and a delicate, home-like aroma of toast and tea pervading it.

A slight girlish figure in a simple dress of dark blue, her bright hair rippling away into a knot behind, was bending over the grate toasting a piece of bread by the coals. So noiselessly had they approached, that she heard no sound until they stood before her.

Mrs. Kensett was still looking for Benjamin's wife to appear in the shape of a cold, grim person of imposing appearance, wearing gold eye-glasses—when suddenly the toasting-fork was dropped, and with a low cry of joy Marian sprang into her husband's arms; then, without waiting for formal words of introduction, clasped loving arms about the tired mother, and nestled a rosy face close to hers, and gave her warm clinging kisses, such as are reserved only for our best beloved.

"Dear mother," she said, "I am so glad you have come! You are cold; sit right here," and she wheeled a large chair into the warmest corner, and with her own hands removed the wrappings and carried them away. "I wanted to have the toast just the right brown, so I was doing it myself," she explained, as she took up her toasting-fork and went on with her work, and the old mother sat and feasted her eyes on the pretty picture—the bright, happy face, the quick, graceful movements, as she dexterously put last little touches to the table, chatting pleasantly meanwhile, making tender inquiries about her health and her journey. Mrs. Kensett began already to feel as if this was a dear daughter separated from her years ago and now restored. "It seemed just as if I had been away visiting and got home again," she told someone afterward.

After tea and resting, they both went with her in merry procession to her room, carrying shawls and satchel, and waiting with the eager joy of two children to see how she liked everything. She would have been hard to suit if she had not liked it. The room was a large, pleasant one, with a sunny bay window, a stand of plants, a case of books, and every other thing that she could possibly need or desire.

Mrs. Kensett started as her eye fell on familiar objects; there was the claw-footed mahogany centre-table with antique carvings, her straight-backed old rocker, and "father's" dear arm-chair, both newly cushioned, and otherwise brightened up. The sofa, too, of ancient pattern, that had stood in her parlour at Hawthorn for forty years, looked like an old friend in a new dress. Benjamin had ransacked all the carpet stores to find a carpet that would resemble as nearly as possible, in colour and design, his mother's parlour carpet when he was a boy. He succeeded so well that his mother put on her glasses and bent nearer to make sure that it was not that identical one.

In an out-of-the-way corner she discovered her little three-legged stand holding a tiny brass candlestick (one of her wedding presents) and the snuffers on the japanned trays. It was not alone that the old times were brought back so vividly that made the tears come, but this one little thing showed such loving thoughtfulness for her comfort. (John's wife would never have allowed a candle in the house.)

This was Benjamin's hour of triumph and gladness; for this he had spent years of patient toil, and now it had come in such a strange, unexpected way, it, and so much more than he had asked or looked for; this princely home, this precious wife, and mother abiding with them all the rest of her days; it was too much, such loving-kindness!

Marian understood; she did not express surprise when he brought out a little worn psalm-book that she had never seen, and said:

"Sing this for me, dear, to some old tune that fits it; I wish I knew what my father sang it to when I was a boy."

"I have a book of old music here, perhaps I can find the very one," she said; and then the pure voice soared out in the song of praise his father had loved:

"Praise God, for he is kind; His mercy lasts for aye; Give thanks with heart and mind To God of Gods alway. For certainly His mercies dure, Most firm and sure, Eternally."

The quaint rendering—new to her—pleased her, and she sang others, closing in low, soft notes, with:

"The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want, He makes me down to lie; In pastures green he leadeth me The quiet waters by."

And the dear old mother dreamed, as a strain or two of Lenox and St. Martin's floated up to her room, that she was in the old home, and "father" was conducting family worship. Little by little, with her coaxing ways, Marian succeeded in effecting a change in her mother-in-law's dress, and when one day everything was finished, and she had her arrayed in a fine black cashmere, made according to her own ideas of simplicity, the white hair crowned with a soft white lace cap, and the same soft folds about hep neck, her delight was complete.

"You dear, beautiful mother," she said, clasping the lace with a plain jet pin; "it is just delightful to fix you up, everything sets you out so; its better than dressing dolls. Won't Benjie be delighted?"

When Maria, and John, and John's wife came to visit their new sister-in-law, they were astonished beyond measure to find that mother had been transformed into that handsome old lady who moved about this elegant home with easy dignity, as if it were her own. This rare son and daughter never made their mother feel that she was that uncomfortable third person who spoiled delightful confidences for young people; they talked freely together, and with her, and she renewed her youth in their lively intercourse. When company was announced she was given to retiring in haste from the room, just as she did at Maria's and John's, but Marian stopped that with "Please do stay, mother, and help us entertain them; besides, I want you in that corner with your bright knitting to make our rooms picturesque; you're the greatest ornament they contain." Then the old lady would say, "Pooh! you don't want an old body like me," albeit she was well pleased that she was wanted, and would remain, occasionally throwing in her quaint remark, adding zest to the conversation.

If an old lady could be easily spoiled, Mrs. Kensett was in danger; these two fond children were continually bringing offerings to her shrine, flowers, choice fruit, new books, wherever they went they remembered her. It was an altogether new and delightful life that she had entered upon. With Marian she visited charitable institutions, dispensed bounties—read the Bible to the sick and poor, and ministered comfort to many a distressed soul. They attended wonderful meetings, and sat in heavenly places, and Marian and she enjoyed each other quite as much as they did everything else. The tie that united them was not Benjamin alone; each recognised in the other the lineaments of the Lord she loved, their sympathies flowed together as if half a century did not stretch between them.

Is there any other influence known that levels all differences and brings souls so near together as this strange personal love to Christ? They talked and read together, they were dear, confidential friends—such intercourse is rarely found between mother and daughter.

The following summer, when they all took up their abode in Hawthorn, in the old home that Marian had purchased and refitted for a summer residence, and Mrs. Kensett trained again the vines in her garden, her cup was full; especially when in the old church she joined her voice to the great congregation and sang her joy and thanks in the sweet psalm:

"O thou my soul, bless God the Lord; And all that in me is, Be stirred up, his holy name To magnify and bless. Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God, And not forgetful be Of all his gracious benefits."



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