|CHAPTER XV. -- GOING HOME.|
DURING all these weary months, Harry Hazeley had not once written home; and neither his mother nor sister knew where he was.
His friend, Joel Piper, had written to his mother, but to his regret, had as yet received no reply. This saddened him, as in his letter he had told of the changes in him, not only in his body, but in his heart and life, for he wished his mother, who had done so much for him, to know.
Harry as yet had no news to write home. Joel was working slowly, it is true, to induce Harry to attend some meeting which were being held successively in different churches. Harry became interested, and later he had the happiness of knowing that he had accepted Christ, and been received by him.
In the meantime he had applied himself steadily and faithfully to his business, and not only earned the respect of his employers, but saved a good share of his money.
"And now," he thought, triumphantly, "there is nothing to prevent me from going home."
This thought took complete possession of him, and in his leisure moments he did little else than picture to himself his home-coming, and the sight of mother, sister, and brother. They would rejoice, he was sure, in his new life. He wondered if Flora had changed much, and in what way Alec passed away the days.
These thoughts of home and home-folks, together with the great desire to see them again, gradually wore away the feeling of shame with which he had been assailed whenever his thought had turned that way before.
"Joel!" he exclaimed, as they were sitting together, one pleasant evening, "I see no other way but to do it!"
"What is it you mean, my boy?" asked Joel, as he looked at Harry for a moment, and then returned to his book.
"To go home, and see them all," returned Harry.
"Believe I will too," said Joel, slapping his book by way of emphasis. "By the way, Harry,"he continued, "my home isn't so very far from yours; only a couple of hour's ride. You live at Bartonville and I live at Brinton, or rather, I did."
"Is that so? Well, then, let us go together."
"What do you intend to do? Give up your situation here for good, or just ask for leave of absence?" asked Joel.
"Oh, I shall give it up entirely," was the answer. "I prefer to get, something to do nearer home. What will you do?"
"I shall come back," said Joel, decidedly. "My people are farmers. I could be of no service now on a farm, you know, even if I cared for it, which I don't."
Thus the matter was decided, and arrangements were made accordingly.
One evening, as Mrs. Hazeley sat in her home, all alone, stitching away busily, she was started to hear a loud rap on the door.
"Who can it be?" she thought, rising to answer the knock. She found herself confronted by a tall, rather slight young man, with a grave face, which, however, was now illuminated by a smile of expectancy.
"Harry!Harry! my boy Harry!" she cried, holding open her arms. The mother's quick instinct and penetrating love could not be deceived by appearances, no matter how altered. The form might be changed, and
After the first greetings were over, Harry settled down, and prepared to unburden his mind. His mother noticed that he glanced about him wistfully and inquiringly.
"No," said Mrs. Hazeley, answering the query in his eyes, "Flora is not here. She went to stay with your Aunt Sarah, who is very ill. I am expecting to go myself, whenever I hear from her to that effect. Alec too, is away. He is living with that good old man, 'Major Benson,' you used to call him, you remember. Alec enjoys a country life. He intends to be a farmer, he says. It was very kind of him to give the boy such an opening. The poor child was so afraid of being a burden to us. I have every reason to be grateful for my children."
"Except me, mother," said Harry.
"No, my boy," returned his mother, looking keenly at him. "I am sure I have reason to be grateful for you too. But tell me, Harry, where have you been, and why did you not write to us, and keep us posted?"
The entire absence of reproach or fault finding, and the warm affection with which he was received by his mother, touched the young man very deeply, and with his heart
When the story was told, Mrs. Hazeley could but exclaim, "Bless the Lord, oh my soul!."
"And forget not all his benefits," added Harry reverently.
They were interrupted at that moment by a knock upon the door--a quick, business like, energetic knock.
"I know who that is," said Mrs. Hazeley, smilingly, as she arose to admit the newcomer. It was Flora.
"Did ever returned prodigal receive a more hearty welcome than I?," exclaimed Harry, laughingly, but gratefully.
His old habit of reserve was being gradually overcome, and he was becoming accustomed to express his feelings quite freely, much to the present and subsequent delight of his family.
This evening, a memorable one in the history of the little family, was by no means over. Just as the happy trio were seated, with heads bowed reverently in thankfulness to the giver of all good, the knocker was raised another time.
As the heads were lifted, and 'Flora arose to open the door, she remarked, merrily:
"That must be Alec. I suppose the magnetism of our presence is drawing him to us."
It was not Alec. It was our good friend Joel Piper.
"I was told Mrs. Hazeley lived here," said he.
"So she does," answered Flora, trying to recall where she had seen the familiar face before her. Joel was doing the same. He was the first to ask, however, "Haven't I met you before?"
"I was just thinking I had seen you somewhere," said Flora, looking puzzled.
"In Brinton, perhaps?" suggested Joel.
"That is just it--you know--Lottie Piper,"exclaimed Flora disconnectedly.
"Yes, yes," said Joel, eagerly; "I'm her brother. I remember now. You are Flora Hazeley. Well, well," he cried, accepting Flora's invitation to enter the room, where he saw his friend Harry, for whom he was hunting. "I was just looking for you, Hal,"said he, having first been presented to Mrs. Hazeley, who was delighted to welcome the young man who had done so much for her Harry.
"I was looking for you, Hal, but I had no idea I should
"How could that be?" asked Harry.
"I know," said Flora, gently. "I saw Lottie for a few moments the other day, and she told me all about it. I am so sorry."
"Is my sister here?" Joel asked, eagerly.
"Yes, she is here--in Bartonville; she is living with her aunt."
"I know," said Joel, "my father's sister. I shall be glad to see Lottie; but mother is gone, and now it is too late."
"No, no, Joel, don't talk that way," said Harry, soothingly. "You have no need to say that. You haven't come home as you left it. And suppose your mother is not here, don't you think she knows all about it? And then, there is your sister, you know."
"That is all true. Harry. It would have been hard to have come back as I went away, and found her gone. I could not have helped the little girl then. But one thing
"Lottie says he went away somewhere, to work."
"Then I shall hope to see him, some day, and that will be one consolation." Joel was comforted by his friends, and his own kind, helpful deeds were bearing fruit for him.
It was arranged that Joel should board--he would hear of no other arrangement--with Mrs. Hazeley until he should find his sister, and see how she was situated, before returning to his employment.
Flora's news was almost forgotten in the general rejoicing over Harry's unexpected return and the equally unexpected addition to the little household in Joel. But when things were somewhat quieted down, she had something wonderful to relate also.
"Well, well, well," said Mrs. Hazeley. "To think of sister Sarah softening, at her age. When will wonders cease!"
Harry did not approve of this proposed breaking up of their own little home. He feared it might be but a passing whim of Aunt Sarah's.
"Oh, no," maintained Flora, stoutly. "Whatever else
"That's very true," said her mother. So it was settled that, after due preparation, the family should move to Brinton.
The only regret that Flora felt at leaving her home in Bartonville was that she would be obliged to part with her class of girls, whom she loved and who loved her. She comforted herself with the thought that she would have another, if possible, in Brinton. The girls she left behind always cherished the memory of their young teacher, and strove to imitate her gentle, earnest ways, and noble traits. Surely, the seed she had sown in their hearts would spring up, blossom, and bear fruit for the Master's kingdom.