[Illustration: Looking anxiously at the babe in her arms. See
A TALE OF THE BLACK FOREST
BY THE AUTHOR OF
LITTLE HAZEL, THE KING'S MESSENGER
UNDER THE OLD OAKS; OR, WON BY LOVE
THOMAS NELSON AND SONS, LTD.
LONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Looking anxiously at the babe in her arms Frontispiece
Ere the child consented to go to bed she
opened the little brown book 17
Come, Frida, she said, let us play the last
passage together 66
CHAPTER I. LOST
IN THE WOODS.
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. THE
ELSIE AND THE
CHAPTER VII. IN
AND THE CONCERT.
CHRISTMAS IN THE
CHAPTER XI. IN
CHAPTER XII. IN
CHAPTER XIII. IN
CHAPTER XIV. THE
CHAPTER XV. THE
CHAPTER XVI. THE
CHAPTER I. LOST IN THE WOODS.
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will
take me up.
See, Hans, how dark it gets, and thy father not yet home! What
keeps him, thinkest thou? Supper has been ready for a couple of hours,
and who knows what he may meet with in the Forest if the black night
fall! and the speaker, a comely German peasant woman, crossed herself
as she spoke. I misdoubt me something is wrong. The saints preserve
The boy, who looked about ten years old, was gazing in the direction
of a path which led through the Forest, but, in answer to this appeal,
said, Never fear, Mütterchen; father will be all right. He never loses
his way, and he whistles so loud as he walks that I am sure he will
frighten away all the bad
But here his mother laid her hand on his mouth, saying, Hush, Hans!
never mention them in the twilight; 'tis not safe. Just run to the
opening in the wood and look if ye see him coming; there is still light
enough for that. It will not take you five minutes to do so. And then
come back and tell me, for I must see to the pot now, and to the infant
in the cradle.
The night, an October one, was cold, and the wind was rising and
sighing amongst the branches of the pine trees. Darker and darker
gathered the shades, as mother and son stood again at the door of their
hut after Hans had returned from his useless quest. No sign of his
father had he seen, and boy though he was, he knew too much of the
dangers that attend a wood-cutter's life in the Forest not to fear that
some evil might have befallen his father; but he had a brave young
heart, and tried to comfort his mother.
He'll be coming soon now, Mütterchen, he said; and won't he laugh
at us for being so frightened?
But the heart of the wife was too full of fear to receive comfort
just then from her boy's words.
Nay, Hans, she said; some evil has befallen him. He never tarries
so late. Thy father is not one to turn aside to his mates' houses and
gossip away his time as others do. It is always for home and children
that he sets out when his work is done. No, Hans; I know the path to
the place where he works, and I can follow it even in the dark. Stay
here and watch by the cradle of the little Annchen, whilst I go and see
if I can find thy father.
Nay, Mütterchen, entreated the boy; thee must not go. And all
alone too! Father would never have let you do so had he been here. O
Mutter, stay here! Little Annchen will be waking and wanting you, and
how could I quiet her? O Mütterchen, go not! and he clung to her,
trying to hold her back.
Just as his mother, maddened with terror, was freeing herself from
his grasp, the sound of a footstep struck her ear, and mother and child
together exclaimed, Ah, there he comes!
Sure enough through the wood a man's figure became visible, but he
was evidently heavily laden. He carried, besides his axe and saw, two
large bundles. What they were could not be distinguished in the
With a cry of joyous welcome his wife sprang forward to meet her
husband, and Hans ran eagerly to help him to carry his burden; but to
their amazement he said, though in a kindly tone, ElsieHans, keep
off from me till I am in the house.
The lamp was lighted, and a cheerful blaze from the stove, the door
of which was open, illumined the little room into which the stalwart
young wood-cutter, Wilhelm Hörstel, entered.
Then, to the utter astonishment of his wife and son, he displayed
his bundle. Throwing back a large shawl which completely covered the
one he held in his arms, he revealed a sleeping child of some five or
six years old, who grasped tightly in her hand a small book. In his
right hand he held a violin and a small bag.
Elsie gazed with surprise, not unmingled with fear. What meaneth
these things, Wilhelm? she said; and from whence comes the child?
Ach, how wonderfully beautiful she is! Art sure she is a child of
earth? or is this the doing of some of the spirits of the wood?
At these words Wilhelm laughed. Nay, wife, nay, he replied, and
his voice had a sad ring in it as he spoke. This is no wood sprite, if
such there be, but a little maiden of flesh and blood. Let me rest, I
pray thee, and lay the little one on the bed; and whilst I take my
supper I will tell thee the tale.
And Elsie, wise woman as she was, did as she was asked, and made
ready the simple meal, set it on the wooden bench which served as
table, then drew her husband's chair nearer the stove, and restraining
her curiosity, awaited his readiness to begin the tale.
When food and heat had done their work, Wilhelm felt refreshed; and
when Elsie had cleared the table, and producing her knitting had seated
herself beside him, he began his story; whilst Hans, sitting on a low
stool at his feet, gazed with wondering eyes now on the child sleeping
on the bed, and then at his father's face.
Ay, wife, the wood-cutter began, speaking in the Plattdeutsch
used by the dwellers in the Forest, 'tis a wonderful story I have to
tell. 'Twas a big bit of work I had to finish to-day, first cutting and
then piling up the wood far in the Forest. I had worked hard, and was
wearying to be home with you and the children; but the last pile had to
be finished, and ere it was so the evening was darkening and the wind
was rising. So when the last log was laid I collected my things, and
putting on my blouse, set off at a quick pace for home. But remembering
I had a message to leave at the hut of Johann Schmidt, telling him to
meet me in the morning to fell a tree that had been marked for us by
the forester, I went round that way, which thou knowest leads deeper
into the Forest. Johann had just returned from his work, and after
exchanging a few words I turned homewards.
The road I took was not my usual one, but though it led through a
very dark part of the Forest, I thought it was a shorter way. As I got
on I was surprised to see how dark it was. Glimpses of light, it is
true, were visible, and the trees assumed strange shapes, and the
Forest streams glistened here and there as the rising moon touched them
with its beams. But the gathering clouds soon obscured the faint
moonlight.You will laugh, Hans, when I tell you that despite what I
have so often said to you about not believing in the woodland spirits,
that even your good Mütterchen believes in, my heart beat quicker as
now one, now another of the gnarled trunks of the lower trees presented
the appearance of some human form; but I would not let my fear master
me, so only whistled the louder to keep up my courage, and pushed on my
The Forest grew darker and darker, and the wind began to make a
wailing sound in the tree-tops. A sudden fear came over me that I had
missed my way and was getting deeper into the Forest, and might not be
able to regain my homeward path till the morning dawned, when once more
for a few minutes the clouds parted and the moon shone out, feeble, no
doubtfor she is but in her first quarterand her beams fell right
through an opening in the wood, and revealed the figure of a little
child seated at the foot of a fir tree. Alone in the Forest at that
time of night! My heart seemed to stand still, and I said to myself,
'Elsie is right after all. That can only be some spirit child, some
A whisper in a little voice full of fear roused me and made me
approach the child. She looked up, ere she could see my face, and again
repeated the words in German (though not like what we speak here, but
more the language of the town, as I spoke it when I lived there as a
boy), 'Father, father, I am glad you've come. I was feeling very
frightened. It is so dark hereso dark!' As I came nearer she gave a
little cry of disappointment, though not fear; and then I knew it was
no woodland sprite, but a living child who sat there alone at that hour
in the Forest. My heart went out to her, and kneeling down beside her I
asked her who she was, and how she came to be there so late at night.
She answered, in sweet childish accents, 'I am Frida Heinz, and fader
and I were walking through this big, big Forest, and by-and-by are
going to see England, where mother used to live long ago.' It was so
pretty to hear her talk, though I had difficulty in making out the
meaning of her words. 'But where then is your father?' I asked. I
believe, wife, the language I spoke was as difficult for her to
understand as the words she had spoken were to me, for she repeated
them over as if wondering what they meant. Then trying to recall the
way I had spoken when a boy, which I have never quite forgotten, I
repeated my question. She understood, and answered in her sweet babyish
accents, 'Fader come back soon, he told little Frida. He had lost the
road, and he said I'se to wait here till he came back, and laid his
violin and his bag 'side me, and told me to keep this little book,
which he has taught me to read, 'cos he says mother loved it so. Then
he went away; and I've waitedoh so long, and he's never come back,
and I'se cold, so cold, and hungry, and I want my own fader. O kind
man, take Frida to him. And he's ill, so ill too! Last night I heard
the people in the place we slept in say he'd never live to go through
the Forest; but he would go, 'cos he wanted to take me 'cross the sea.'
Then the pretty little creature began to cry bitterly, and beg me again
to take her to father. I told her I would wait a bit with her, and see
if he came. For more than an hour I sat there beside her, trying to
warm and comfort her; for I tell you, Elsie, she seemed to creep into
my heart, and reminded me of our little one, who would have been about
her size had she been alive, though she was but three years old when
Well, time went on, and the night grew darker, and I knew how
troubled you would be, and yet I knew not what to do. I left the child
for a bit, and looked here and there in the Forest; but all was dark,
and though I called long and loud no answer came. So I returned, took
the child in my arms (for she is but a light weight), and with my tools
thrown over my shoulder, and the violin and bag in my hand, I made my
way home. The child cried awhile, saying she must wait for fader, then
fell sound asleep in my arms. Now, wife, would it not be well to
undress her, and give her some food ere she sleeps again, for she must
CHAPTER II. THE WOOD-CUTTER'S HUT.
Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me;
Bless Thy little lamb to-night.
Indeed you are right, Wilhelm, said his wife. No doubt the poor
little maid must be hungry, only I had not the heart to waken
her.See, Hans, there is some goat's milk in the corner yonder. Get it
heated, whilst I cut a bit of this bread, coarse though it be. 'Tis all
we have to give her; but such as it is, she is right welcome to it,
poor little lamb.
As she spoke she moved quietly to the bed where the child lay
asleep. As she woke she uttered the cry, Fader, dear fader! then
raised herself and looked around. Evidently the story of the day
flashed upon her, and she turned eagerly to the wood-cutter, asking if
fader had come yet.
On being told that he had not, she said no more, but her eyes filled
with tears. She took the bread and milk without resistance, though she
looked at the black bread as if it were repugnant to her. Then she let
herself be undressed by Elsie, directing her to open the bag, and
taking from it a nightdress of fine calico, a brush and comb, also a
large sponge, a couple of fine towels, a change of underclothing, two
pairs of stockings, and one black dress, finer than the one she wore.
[Illustration: Ere the child consented to go to bed she opened the
little brown book.]
Ere the child consented to go to bed she opened the little brown
book, which was a German Bible, and read aloud, slowly but distinctly,
the last verse of the Fourth Psalm: Ich liege und schlafe ganz mit
Frieden; denn allein Du, Herr, hilfst mir, dass ich sicher wohne (I
will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest
me dwell in safety"). Then she knelt down, and prayed in simple words
her evening prayer, asking God to let father come home, and to bless
the kind people who had given her a shelter, for Christ's sake.
Elsie and Wilhelm looked at each other with amazement. Alas! there
was no fear of God in that house. Elsie might cross herself when she
spoke of spirits, but that was only as a superstitious sign that she
had been told frightened them away.
Of Christ and His power to protect and save they knew nothing. Roman
Catholics by profession, they yet never darkened a church door, save
perhaps when they took a child to be baptized; but they only thought of
that ordinance as a protection to their child from the evil one. God's
holy Word was to them a sealed book. True, all the wood-cutters were
not like them, but still a spirit of ignorance and indifference as
regarded religion reigned amongst them; and if now and then a priest
sought their dwelling, his words (such as they were) fell on dull ears.
Things seen and temporal engrossed all their thoughts. The daily work,
the daily bread, and the nightly sleepthese filled their hearts and
excluded God. So it was not to be wondered at that little Frida's
reading and prayer were an astonishment to them.
What think you of that, Elsie? said Wilhelm. The child spoke as
if she were addressing some one in the room.
Ay, ay, answered his wife. It was gruesome to hear her. She made
me look up to see if there was really any one there; and she wasn't
speaking to our Lady either. Art sure she is a child of earth at all,
Ay, she's that; and the question is, wife, What shall we do with
her? Suppose the father never turns up, shall we keep her, or give her
over to them that have the charge of wanderers and such like?
Here Hans sprang forward. Nay, father, nay! Do not send her away.
She is so pretty, and looks like the picture of an angel. I saw one in
the church where little Annchen was baptized. Oh, keep her,
father!Mutter, do not send the little maid back into the forest!
But Elsie's woman's heart had no thought of so doing. No, no, my
lad, she said. Never fear; we'll keep the child till some one comes
to take her away that has a right to her. Who knows but mayhap she'll
bring a blessing on our house; for often I think we don't remember the
Virgin and the saints as we ought. My mother did, I know; and as she
spoke great tears rolled down her cheeks.
The child's prayer had touched a chord of memory, and recalled the
days of her childhood, when she had lived with parents who at least
reverenced the Lord, though they had not been taught to worship Him
Wilhelm sat for a few minutes lost in thought. He was pondering the
question whether, supposing the child was left on his hands, he could
support her by doing extra work. It would be difficult, he knew; but if
Elsie were willing he'd try, for his kind heart recoiled from sending
the little child who clung to him so confidingly adrift amongst
strangers. No, he would not do so.
After a while he turned to his wife, who had gone to the cradle
where lay their six-weeks-old baby, and was rocking it, as the child
had cried out in her sleep.
Elsie, he said, I'll set off at break of day, and go amongst my
mates, and find out if they have seen or heard aught of the missing
gentleman.Come, Hans, he said suddenly; 'tis time you were asleep.
A few minutes later and Hans had tumbled into his low bed, and lay
for a short time thinking about Frida, and wondering who she had been
speaking to when she knelt down; but in the midst of his wondering he
Wilhelm, wearied with his day's work, was not long in following his
son's example, and was soon sound asleep; but no word of prayer rose
from his heart and lips to the loving Father in heaven, who had guarded
and kept him from the dangers of the day.
Elsie was in no hurry to go to bed; her heart was full of many
thoughts. The child's prayer and the words out of the little book had
strangely moved her, and she was asking herself if there were indeed a
God (as in her childhood she had been taught to believe), what had she
ever done to please Him.
Conscience said low, Nothing; but she tried to drown the thought,
and busied herself in cleaning the few dishes and putting the little
room to rights, then sat down for a few minutes beside the stove to
Where could the father of the child be, she asked herself, and what
would be his feelings on returning to the place where he had left her
when he found she was no longer there? Could he have lost his way in
the great Forest? That was by no means unlikely; she had often heard of
such a thing as that happening. Then she wondered if there were any
clue to the child's friends or the place she was going to in the bag;
and rising, she took it up and opened it.
Besides the articles we have already enumerated, she found a case
full of needles, some reels of cotton, a small book of German hymns,
and a double locket with chain attached to it. This Elsie succeeded in
opening, and on the one side was the picture of a singularly beautiful,
dark-eyed girl, on the verge of womanhood; and on the other a
blue-eyed, fair-haired young man, a few years older than the lady.
Under the pictures were engraved the words Hilda and Friedrich.
Elsie doubted not that these were the likenesses of Frida's father and
mother, for the child bore a strong resemblance to both. She had the
dark eyes of her mother and the golden hair of her father, if such was
the relationship she bore to him.
These pictures were the only clue to the child's parentage. No doubt
she wore a necklace quite unlike anything that Elsie had ever seen
before; but then, except in the shop windows, she had seen so few
ornaments in her life that she knew not whether it was a common one or
She put the locket carefully back in its place, shut the bag, and
slipped across the room to take another glance at the sleeping child.
Very beautiful she looked as she lay, the fair, golden hair curling
over her head and falling round her neck. Her lips were slightly
parted, and, as if conscious of Elsie's approach, she muttered the word
fader. Elsie patted her, and turned once more to the little cradle
where lay her infant. The child was awake and crying, and the mother
stooped and took her up, and sat down with her in her arms. A look of
anxiety and sadness crossed the mother's face when she observed that
although she flashed the little lamp in the baby's face her eyes never
turned to the light.
For some time the terrible fear had been rising in her head that her
little Anna was blind. She had mentioned this to her husband, but he
had laughed at her, and said babies of that age never took much notice
of anything; but that was three weeks ago, and still, though the eyes
looked bright, and the child was intelligent, the eyes never followed
the light, nor looked up into the mother's face.
The fear was now becoming certainty. Oh, if only she could make
sure, see some doctors, and find out if nothing could be done for her
A blind child! How could they support her, how provide for the wants
of one who could never help herself?
Poor mother! her heart sank within her, for she knew nothing of the
One who has said, Cast all your cares upon me, for I care for you.
Now as she gazed at the child she became more than ever convinced
that that strange trial had fallen upon her. And to add to this new
difficulty, how could she undertake the charge and keeping of this
stranger so wonderfully brought to their door?
Elsie, although no Christian, had a true, loving woman's heart
beating within her, and putting from her the very idea of sending away
the lost child, she said to herself, The little that a child like that
will take will not add much to the day's expense; and even if it did,
Elsie Hörstel is not the woman to cast out the forlorn child. Oh, the
pity of it that she did not know the words of Him who said, Inasmuch
as ye did it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto
me; and again, Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name
receiveth me. But these words had never yet reached her ears, and as
yet it was only the instincts of a true God-created heart that led her
to compassionate and care for the child lost in the forest.
Taking the babe in her arms, she slipped into bed and soon fell
CHAPTER III. FRIDA'S FATHER.
And though we sorrow for the dead,
Let not our grief be loud,
That we may hear Thy loving voice
Within the light-lined cloud.
Early in the morning, ere wife or children were awake, and long
before the October sun had arisen, Wilhelm Hörstel arose, and putting a
hunch of black bread and goat-milk cheese into his pocket, he
shouldered his axe and saw and went out into the Forest.
The dawn was beginning to break, and there was light enough for the
practised eye of the wood-cutter to distinguish the path which he
wished to take through the Forest.
Great stillness reigned around; even the twittering of the birds had
hardly begunthey were for the most part awaiting the rising of the
sun, though here and there an early bird might be heard chirping as it
flew off, no doubt in search of food. Even the frogs in the Forest
ponds had not yet resumed their croaking, and only the bubbling of a
brooklet or the falling of a tiny cascade from the rocks (which abound
in some parts of the Forest) was heard. The very silence which
pervaded, calmed, and to a Christian mind would have raised the
thoughts Godward. But it had no such influence on the heart, the kindly
heart, of the young wood-cutter as he walked on, bent only on reaching
the small hamlet or Dorf where stood the hut of the man with whom he
sought to hold counsel as to how a search could be instituted in the
Forest for the father of little Frida.
As he reached the door, and just as the sun was rising above the
hill-tops, and throwing here and there its golden beams through the
autumn-tinted trees, he saw not one but several wood-cutters and
charcoal-burners going into the house of his friend Johann Schmidt.
Somewhat wondering he hastened his steps, and entered along with them,
putting as he did so the question, Was gibt's? (What is the
matter?) His friend, who came forward to greet him, answered the
question by saying, Come and help us, Wilhelm; a strange thing has
happened here during the night.
Soon after Gretchen and I had fallen asleep, we were awakened by
the noise of some heavy weight falling at the door; and on going to see
what it was, there, to our amazement, lay a man, evidently in a faint.
We got him into our hut, and after a while he became conscious, looked
around him, and said 'Frida!' Gretchen tried to find out who it was he
wished, but could only make out it was a child whom he had left in the
Forest; but whether he was still delirious none could tell. He pressed
his hand on his heart and said he was very ill, and again muttering the
word, 'Frida, Armseliger Frida,' he again fainted away.
We did what we could for him, and he rallied a little; and then an
hour ago, Gretchen stooping over him heard him say, 'Herr Jesu. Ob ich
schon wandelte im finstern Thal fürchete ich kein Unglück: denn Du bist
bei mir' ('Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
will fear no evil: for thou art with me'); and giving one deep breath
his spirit fled.
As their mate said these words, exclamations of sorrow were heard
around. Ach, poor man! said one. Thinkest thou the child he
spoke of can be in the Forest? And the words he said about fearing no
evil, what did they mean? said another. Well, said one who looked
like a chief man amongst them, I believe he was ein Ketzer, and
if that be so we had better send to Dringenstadt, where there is a
ketzer Pfarrer [heretic pastor], and get his advice. I heard the
other day that a new one had come whom they called Herr Langen.
Then as a momentary pause came, Wilhelm Hörstel stepped forward and
told the tale of the child he had found in the Forest the night before,
who called herself Frida. The men listened with amazement, but with one
breath they all declared she must be the child of whom the dead man had
Ay, said Wilhelm, and I am sure she is the child of a Ketzer
[heretic]; for what think ye a child like that did ere she went to bed?
She prayed, and my wife says never a word said she to the Virgin, but
spoke just straight to God.
Ach, poor Mädchen! said another of the men; does
she think the Lord would listen to the prayer of a child like her? The
blessed Virgin have pity on her; and as he spoke he crossed himself.
If these things be so, said the chief man, by name Jacob Heine,
then it is plain one of us must go off to Dringenstadt, see the
Pfarrer, and settle about the funeral.
His proposal was at once agreed to, and as he was overseer of the
wood-cutters, and could not leave his work, Johann Schmidt, in whose
hut the man had died, was chosen as the best man to go; whilst Wilhelm
should return to his home, and then take the child to see her dead
Yes, bring the Mädchen (little maid), said all, and let us
see her also; seems as if she belongs to us all, found in the Forest as
There was no time to be lost, for the sun was already well up, and
the men should have been at work long ago.
So they dispersed, some going to their work deeper in the Forest,
Wilhelm retracing his way home, and Johann taking the path which led
through the wood to the little town of Dringenstadt.
As Wilhelm approached his door, the little Frida darted to him,
saying, Have you found my fader? Oh, take me to him! Frida must go to
her fader. Tears rose to the wood-cutter's eyes, as lifting the child
in his arms he entered the hut, and leaving Frida there with Hans, he
beckoned his wife to speak to him outside; and there he told her the
story of the man who had died in Johann's cottage.
Ah, then, said Elsie, the little Frida is indeed an orphan, poor
lambie. How shall we tell her, Wilhelm? Her little heart will break.
Ever since she woke she has prattled on about him; ay (and the woman's
voice lowered as she spoke), and of a Father who she says lives in
heaven and cares both for her earthly father and herself. And, Wilhelm,
she's been reading aloud to Hans and me about the Virgin's Son of whom
my mother used to speak.
Well, never mind about all that, wife, but let us tell the child;
for I and my mates think she should be taken to see the body, and so
make sure that the man was really her father.
* * * * *
Fader dead! said the child, as she sat on Wilhelm's knee and heard
the sad story. Dead! Shall Frida never see him again, nor walk with
him, nor talk with him? Oh! dear, dear fader, why did you die and leave
Frida all alone? I want you, I want you! and the child burst into a
flood of tears.
They let her cry on, those kind-hearted peoplenay, they wept with
her; but after some minutes had passed, Wilhelm raised her head, and
asked her if she would not like to see her father once more, though he
could not speak to her now.
Yes, oh yes! take me to see him! she exclaimed. Oh, take me!
Then looking eagerly up she said, Perhaps Jesus can make him live
again, like he did Lazarus, you know. Can't he? But alas! of the story
of Lazarus being raised from the dead these two people knew nothing;
and when they asked her what she meant, and she said her father had
read to her about it out of her little brown book, they only shook
their heads, and Wilhelm said, I feared there was something wrong
about that little book. How could any one be raised from the dead?
Frida's passionate exclamations of love and grief when she saw the
dead body of the man who lay in Johann Schmidt's hut removed all doubt
from the minds of those who heard her as to the relationship between
them; and the manner in which the child turned from a crucifix which
Gretchen brought forward to her, thinking it would comfort her,
convinced them more firmly that the poor man had indeed been a heretic.
No! father never prayed to that, nor would he let her do so,
she saidjust to Jesus, dear Jesus in heaven; and though several of
those who heard her words crossed themselves as she spoke, and prayed
the Virgin to forgive, all were much taken with and deeply sorry for
the orphan child; and when Wilhelm raised her in his arms to take her
back to his hut and to the care of Elsie, more than one of the
inhabitants of the Dorf brought some little gift from their small store
to be taken with him to help in the maintenance of the little one so
strangely brought among them. Ere they left the Dorf, Johann Schmidt
had returned from executing his message to Dringenstadt. He had seen
the Pfarrer, and he had promised to come along presently and
arrange about the funeral.
CHAPTER IV. THE PARSONAGE.
The Lord thy Shepherd is
Dread not nor be dismayed
To lead thee on through stormy paths,
By ways His hand hath made.
On the morning of the day that we have written of, the young
Protestant pastor of Dringenstadt was seated in a room of the small
house which went by the name of Das Pfarrhaus.
He was meditating more than studying just then. He felt his work
there an uphill one. Almost all the people in that little town were
Roman Catholics. His own flock was a little one indeed, and only that
morning he had received a letter telling him that it had been settled
that no regular ministry would be continued there, as funds were not
forthcoming, and the need in one sense seemed small. He had come there
only a few months before, knowing well that he might only be allowed to
remain a short time; but now that the order for his removal elsewhere
had come, he felt discouraged and sad. Was it right, he was asking
himself, to withdraw the true gospel light from the people, and to
leave the few, no doubt very few, who loved it to themselves? Karl
Langen was a true Christian, longing to lead souls to Jesus, and was
much perplexed by the order he had received. Suddenly a knock at the
door roused him, and the woman who took charge of his house on entering
told him that a man from the Forest wished to speak to him. Telling her
to send him in at once, he awaited his entry.
Johann Schmidt was shown into the room, and told his sorrowful tale
in a quiet, manly way.
The pastor was much moved, and repeated with amazement the words, A
child lost in the Black Forest, and the father dead, you say? Certainly
I will come and see. But why, my friend, should you think the man was
an Evangelisch? Then Johann told of the words he had repeated, of the
child's prayer and her little brown book.
Suddenly a light seemed to dawn on the mind of the young pastor.
Oh! he said, I believe you are right. I think I have seen both the
father and the child. Last Sunday there came into our church a
gentleman and a lovely little girl, just such a one as you describe the
child you speak of to be. I tried to speak to them after worship, but
ere I could do so they had gone. And no one could tell me who they were
or whither they had gone. I will now see the Bürgermeister about the
funeral, and make arrangements regarding it. I think through some
friends of mine I can get money sufficient to pay all expenses.
Johann thanked him warmly, and hastened back to tell what had been
agreed on, and then got off to his work.
Late in the afternoon Pastor Langen took his way to the little hut
in the Black Forest.
The Forest by the road he took was not well known to him, and the
solemn quiet which pervaded it struck him much and raised his thoughts
to God. It was as if he had entered the sanctuary and heard the voice
of the Lord speaking to him. It was, as a poet has expressed it, as if
Solemn and silent everywhere,
The trees with folded hands stood there,
Kneeling at their evening prayer.
Only the slight murmuring of the breeze amongst the leaves, or the
flutter of a bird's wing as it flew from branch to branch, broke the
silence. All around him there was
A slumberous sound, a sound that brings
The feeling of a dream,
As when a bell no longer swings,
Faint the hollow echo rings
O'er meadow, lake, and stream.
As he walked, he thought much of the child found in the Forest, and
he wondered how he could help her or find out to whom she belonged. Oh,
if only, he said to himself, he had been able to speak to the father
the day he had seen him, and learned something of his history! Johann
had told him that if no clue could be found to the child's relations,
Wilhelm Hörstel had determined to bring her up; but Johann had added,
We will not, poor though we be, let the whole expense of her
upbringing fall on the Hörstels. No; we will go share for share, and
she shall be called the child of the wood-cutters.
As he thought of these words, the young pastor prayed for the kind,
large-hearted men, asking that the knowledge of the loving Christ might
shine into their hearts and bring spiritual light into the darkness
which surrounded them. The afternoon had merged into evening ere he
entered the wood-cutters' Dorf. As he neared Johann's hut, Gretchen
came to the door, and he greeted her with the words, The Lord be with
you, and bless you for your kindness to the poor man in the time of his
Come in, sir, she said, and see the corpse. Oh, but he's been a
fine-looking man, and he so young too. It was a sight to see his bit
child crying beside him and begging him to say one word to herjust
one word. Then she folded her hands, and looking up said, 'O kind
Jesus, who made Lazarus come to life, make dear fader live again.' Oh,
'twas pitiful to see her! Who think you, sir, was the man she spoke of
called Lazarus? When I asked her she said it was all written in her
little brown book, which she would bring along and read to me some day,
bless the little creature.
The pastor said some words about the story being told by the Lord
Jesus, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. He did not offer her a
Testament, as he knew if the priest heard (as it was likely he would)
of his having been there, he would ask if they had been given a Bible,
and so trouble would follow. But he rejoiced that the little child had
it in her heart to read the words of life to the kind woman, and he
breathed a prayer that her little brown Bible might prove a blessing to
those poor wood-cutters.
Pastor Langen at once recognized the features of the dead man as
those of the stranger whom he had seen with the lovely child in the
little church. He then made arrangements for the funeral the next day,
* * * * *
On the morrow a number of wood-cutters met at the house of Johann
Schmidt to attend the funeral of the stranger gentleman. Wilhelm
Hörstel, and his wife, Hans, and little Frida, were there also. The
child was crying softly, as if she realized that even the corpse of her
father was to be taken from her.
Presently the young pastor entered, and the moment Frida saw him she
started forward, saying in her child language, O sir, I've seen you
before, when fader and I heard you preach some days ago. All this was
said in the pure German language, which the people hardly followed at
all, but which was the same as the pastor himself spoke. He at once
recognized the child, and sought to obtain from her some information
regarding her father. She only said, as she had already done, that he
was going to England to see some friends of her mother's. When
questioned as to their name, she could not tell. All that she knew was
that they were relations of her mother's. Yes, her father loved his
Bible, and had given her such a nice little brown one which had
belonged to her mother.
Could she speak any English, the pastor asked.
Yes, I can, said Frida. Mother taught me a number of words, and I
can say 'Good-morning,' and 'How are you to-day?' Also mother taught me
to say the Lord's Prayer in English. But I do not know much English,
for father and mother always spoke German to each other.
No more could be got from the child then, and the simple service was
gone on with; and when the small procession set off for Dringenstadt,
the kindly men took it by turns to carry the little maiden in their
arms, as the walk through the forest was a long one for a child.
In the churchyard of the quiet little German town they laid the
mortal remains of Friedrich Heinz, to await the resurrection morning.
Tears rose to the eyes of many onlookers as Frida threw herself,
sobbing, on the grave of her father. Wilhelm and Elsie strove in vain
to raise her, but when Pastor Langen drew near and whispered the words,
Look up, Frida; thy father is not here, he is with Jesus, a smile of
joy played on the child's face, and rising she dried her tears, and
putting her hand into that of Elsie she prepared to leave the God's
acre, and the little party set off for their home in the Black Forest.
Darkness had fallen on all around ere they reached the Dorf, and
strange figures that the trees and bushes assumed appeared to the
superstitious mind of Elsie and some of the others as the embodiment of
evil spirits, and they wished themselves safe under the shelter of
their little huts.
That night the little stranger child mingled her tears with her
prayers, and to Elsie's amazement she heard her ask her Father in
heaven to take greater care of her now than ever, because she had no
longer a father on earth to do it. Little did the kneeling child
imagine that that simple prayer was used by the Holy Spirit to touch
the heart of the wood-cutter's wife.
And from the lips of Elsie ere she fell asleep that night arose a
cry to the Father in heaven for help. True, it was but
As an infant crying in the night,
An infant crying for the light,
And with no language but a cry.
But still there was a felt need, and a recognition that there was
One who could meet and satisfy it.
At all events Elsie Hörstel clasped her blind babe to her heart that
night, and fell asleep with a feeling of rest and peace to which she
had long been a stranger.
Ah! God had a purpose for the little child and her brown Bible in
that little hut of which she as yet had no conception. Out of the
mouths of babes and sucklings He still perfects praise.
CHAPTER V. THE WOODMEN'S PET.
Lord, make me like the gentle dew,
That other hearts may prove,
E'en through Thy feeblest messenger,
Thy ministry of love.
Pastor Langen, ere leaving Dringenstadt, visited the hut in the
Black Forest where Frida had found a home.
His congregation, with two or three exceptions, was a poor one, and
his own means were small; yet he had contrived to collect a small sum
for Frida's maintenance, which he had put into the hands of the
Bürgermeister, who undertook to pay the interest of it quarterly to the
Hörstels on behalf of the child. True, the sum was small, but it was
sufficient to be a help; and a kind lady of the congregation, Fräulein
Drechsler, said she would supply her from time to time with dress, and
when she could have her now and then with herself, instruct her in the
Protestant faith and the elements of education. Frida could already
read, and had begun to write, taught by her father. Every effort was
being made to discover if the child had any relations alive. The
Bürgermeister had put advertisements in many papers, German and
English, but as yet no answer had come, and many of the wood-cutters
still held the opinion that the child was the offspring of some
woodland spirit. But in spite of any such belief, Frida had a warm
welcome in every hut in the Dorf, and a kindly word from every man and
woman in it.
The woodland child they called her, and as such cherished and
protected her. Many a bite and sup she got from them. Many a warm
pair of stockings, or a knitted petticoat done by skilful hands, did
the inmates of the Dorf present to her. They did what they could, these
poor people, for the orphan child, just out of the fullness of their
kind hearts, little thinking of the blessing that through her was to
descend on them. The day of Pastor Langen's visit to the hut, some time
after her father's funeral, Frida was playing beside the door, and on
seeing him coming up the path she rose from the spot where she was
sitting and ran eagerly to meet him.
But though unseen by her, he had been standing near for some time
spell-bound by the music which, child though she was, she was bringing
out of her father's violin, in the playing of which she was amusing
From a very early age her father, himself a skilled violinist, had
taught her to handle the bow, and had early discovered the wonderful
talent for music which she possessed.
The day of which we write was the first one since her father's death
that Frida had played on the violin, so neither Wilhelm nor Elsie was
aware that she could do so at all. The pastor was approaching the
cottage when the sound of music reached his ears, and having a good
knowledge of that art himself, he stood still to listen. A few minutes
convinced him that though the playing was that of a child, still the
performer had the true soul of music, and only needed full instruction
to develop into a musician of no ordinary talent. As he drew nearer his
surprise was great to see that the player was none other than the
beautiful child found in the Black Forest. Attracted by the sound of
steps, Frida had turned round, and seeing her friend had, as we have
written, bounded off to meet him. Hearing that Elsie had taken her babe
and gone a message to the Dorf, he seated himself on a knoll with the
child and began to talk to her.
How old are you? he asked her.
Seven years and more, she replied; because I remember my birthday
was only a little while before Mütterchen (I always called her that)
died, and that that day she took the locket she used to wear off her
neck and gave it to me, telling me always to keep it.
And have you that locket still? queried the pastor.
Yes; Elsie has it carefully put away. There is a picture of
Mütterchen on the one side, and of my father on the other.
And did your mother ever speak to you of your relations either in
Germany or England?
Yes, she did sometimes. She spoke of grandmamma in England and
grandpapa also, and she said they lived in a beautiful house; but she
never told me their name, nor where their house was. Father, of course,
knew, for he said he was going to take me there, and he used to speak
of a brother of his whom he said he dearly loved.
But tell me, asked the pastor, where did you live with your
parents in Germany?
Oh, in a number of different places, but never long at the same
place. Father played at concerts just to make money, and we never
remained long anywherewe were always moving about.
And your parents were Protestants?
I don't know what that means, said the child. But they were often
called 'Ketzers' by the people where he lodged. And they would not pray
to the Virgin Mary, as many did, but taught me to pray to God in the
name of Jesus Christ. And Mütterchen gave me a little 'brown Bible' for
my very own, which she said her mother had given to her. Oh, I must
show it to you, sir! and, darting off, the child ran into the house,
returning with the treasured book in her hand. The pastor examined it
and read the inscription written on the fly-leafTo my dear Hilda,
from her loving mother, on her eighteenth birthday. That was all, but
he felt sure from the many underlined passages that the book had been
well studied. He found that Frida could read quite easily, and that she
had been instructed in Scripture truth.
Ere he bade her farewell he asked her to promise him to read often
from her little Bible to Wilhelm, Elsie, and Hans. For who knows,
little Frida, that the Lord may not have chosen you to be a child
missionary to the wood-cutters, and to read to them out of His holy
Frida thought over these words, though she hardly took in their full
meaning; but she loved her Bible, and wished that the people who were
so kind to her loved it also.
On his way home the pastor met Elsie with her babe in her arms, and
told her of his farewell visit to Frida, and of his delight with the
child's musical talent, and advised her to encourage her as much as
possible to play on the violin.
Elsie's face brightened as he spoke, for she and her husband, like
many of the German peasants, dearly loved music.
O sir, she said, have you heard her sing? It is just beautiful
and wonderful to hear her; she beats the very birds themselves.
Thanking her once more for her care of the orphan child, and
commending her to God, the pastor went on his way, musing much on the
future of the gifted child, and wondering what could be done as
regarded her education.
In the meantime Elsie went home, and entrusting her babe to the care
of Frida, who loved the little helpless infant, she made ready for her
husband's return from his work. Hans had gone that day to help his
father in the wood, which he loved much to do, so Elsie and Frida were
Mutter, said the child (for she had adopted Hans's way of
addressing Elsie), the pastor was here to-day, and he played to meoh
so beautifullyon my violin, it reminded me of father, and made me
cry. O Mutter, I wish some one could teach me to play on it as father
did. You see I was just beginning to learn a little how to do it, and I
do love it so; and as she spoke, the child joined her hands together
and looked pleadingly at Elsie.
Ach, poor child, replied Elsie, how canst thou be taught
And that night when Elsie repeated to Wilhelm Frida's desire for
lessons on the violin, the worthy couple grieved that they could do
nothing to gratify her wish.
Day after day and week after week passed, and still no answer came
to any of the advertisements about the child; and save for her own sake
none of the dwellers in the wood wished it otherwise, for the woodland
child, as they called her, had won her way into every heart.
CHAPTER VI. ELSIE AND THE BROWN
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Frida, as time went on, was growing hardy and strong in the bracing
Forest air. Every kindness was lavished on her, and the child-spirit
had asserted itself, and though often tears would fill her eyes as
something or other reminded her vividly of the past, yet her merry
laughter was often heard as she played with Hans in the woods. Yet
through all her glee there was at times a seriousness of mind
remarkable in one so young, also a power of observation as regarded
others not often noticeable in one of her years. She had become warmly
attached to the kind people amongst whom her lot was cast, and
especially so to Elsie. Several times she had observed her looking
anxiously at the babe in her arms, taking her to the light and
endeavouring to attract her attention to the plaything which she held
before her. Then when the babe, now some months old, showed no signs of
observing it, Frida would see a great tear roll down Elsie's cheek, and
once she heard her mutter the words, Blind! my baby's blind! Was it
possible? Frida asked herself; for the child's eyes looked bright, and
she felt sure she knew her, and had often stretched out her little arms
to be taken up by her. No, she repeated again, she cannot be blind!
Poor little Frida knew not that it was her voice that the baby
recognized. Often she had sung her to sleep when Elsie had left her in
her charge. Already father and mother had noted with joy the power that
music had over their blind babe. One day Frida summoned courage to say,
Mutter, dear Mutter, why are you sad when you look at little Anna? I
often notice you cry when you do so.
At that question the full heart of the mother overflowed. O Frida,
little Frida, the babe is blind! She will never see the light of day
nor the face of her father and mother. Wilhelm knows it now: we took
her to Dringenstadt last week, and the doctor examined her eyes and
told us she ist blind geboren [born blind]. O my poor babe, my
Frida slipped her hand into that of the poor mother, and said
gently, O Mutter, Jesus can make the babe to see if we ask Him. He
made so many blind people to see when He was on earth, and He can do so
still. Let me read to you about it in my little brown book; and the
child brought her Bible and read of Jesus healing the two blind men,
and also of the one in John ix. who said, Whereas I was blind, now I
Elsie listened eagerly, and said, And it was Jesus the Virgin's Son
who did that, do you say? Read me more about Him. And the child read
on, how with one touch Jesus opened the eyes of the blind. She read
also how they brought the young children to Jesus, and He took them
into His arms and blessed them, and said to His disciples, Suffer the
little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is
the kingdom of heaven.
Oh, said Elsie, if only that Jesus were here now, I'd walk miles
and miles to take my Anna to Him; but, alas! He is not here now.
Frida was a young child, and hardly knew how to answer the troubled
mother; but her faith was a simple one, so she answered, No, Jesus is
not here now, but He is in heaven, and He answers us when we pray to
Him. Father once read to me the words in Matthew's Gospelsee, here
they are'Ask, and it shall be given you.' Shall we ask Him now? and
kneeling down she prayed in child language, O Lord Jesus, who dost
hear and answer prayer, make little Anna to see as Thou didst the blind
men when Thou wert on earth, and oh, comfort poor Elsie!
As she rose from her knees, Elsie threw her arms round her, saying,
O Frida, I do believe the God my mother believed in hath sent thee
here to be a blessing to us!
Often after that day Frida would read out of her brown Bible to
Elsie about Jesus, His life and His atoning death. And sometimes in the
evening, when Hans would sit cutting out various kinds of toys, for
which he had a great turn, and could easily dispose of them in the
shops at Dringenstadt, she would read to him also; and he loved to hear
the Old Testament stories of Moses and Jacob, Joseph, and Daniel in the
lion's den; also of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, who had once
been a shepherd boy. They were all new to poor Hans, and from them he
learned something of the love God has to His children; but it was ever
of Jesus that Elsie loved to hear, and again and again she got the
child to read to her the words, Come unto me, all ye that labour and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And erelong it was evident,
though she would scarcely have acknowledged it, that she was seeking
not only the rest but the Rest-Giver. And we know that He who
gave the invitation has pledged His word that whosoever cometh to Him
He will in no wise cast out.
All this while Wilhelm seemed to take no notice of the Bible
readings. Once or twice, when he had returned from his work, he had
found Frida reading to his wife and boy, and he had lingered for a
minute or two at the door to catch some of the words; but he made no
remark, and interrupted the reading by asking if supper were ready. But
often later in the evening he would ask the child to bring out her
violin and play to him, or to sing one of his favourite songs, after
which she would sing a hymn of praise; but as yet it was the sweetness
of the singer's voice and not the beauty of the words that he loved to
listen to. But notwithstanding, by the power of the Holy Ghost, the
Bible was doing its workslowly, it may be, but surely; so true is it
that God's word shall not return to Him void.
CHAPTER VII. IN DRINGENSTADT.
Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of love.
Three years had passed. Summer had come round again. Fresh green
leaves quivered on the trees of the Forest, though the pines still wore
their dark clothing. The song of the birds was heard, and the little
brooks murmured along their course with a joyful tinkling sound.
In the Forest it was cool even at noontide, but in Dringenstadt the
heat was oppressive, and in spite of the sun-blinds the glare of light
even indoors was excessive.
In a pleasant room, into which the sun only shone through a thick
canopy of green leaves, sat a lady with an open book in her hand. It
was an English one, and the dictionary by her side showed it was not in
a language she was altogether familiar with. The book evidently
recalled memories of the past. Every now and then she paused in her
reading, and the look which came into her eyes told that her thoughts
had wandered from the present surroundings to other places, and it
might be other days.
Sitting beside her, engaged in doing a sum of arithmetic, was a
beautiful child of some ten years old, neatly though plainly dressed.
The lady's eyes rested on her from time to time, as if something in her
appearance, as well as the book she was reading, recalled other days
Frida, she said, for the child was none other than our little
friend found in the Forest, have you no recollections of ever hearing
your mother speak of the home of her childhood, or of her companions
No, dear Miss Drechsler, I do not remember her ever speaking of any
companions; but she told me about her mother and father, and that they
lived in a beautiful house in England, somewhere in the country; and
whenever she spoke of her mother she used to cry, and then she would
kiss me, and wish she could show me to her, for she knew she would love
me, and I am sure it was to her that my father was taking me when he
died. See, here is my little brown Bible which her mother gave to her
and she gave to me.
Miss Drechsler took the Bible in her hand, and examined the writing,
and noted the name Hilda; but neither of them seemed to recall any
special person to her memory.
Strange, she said to herself; and yet that child's face reminds
me vividly of some one whom I saw when I was in England some years ago,
when living as governess to the Hon. Evelyn Warden, and I always
connect it with some fine music which I heard at that time.
Then changing the subject, she said abruptly, Frida dear, bring
your violin and let me hear how far you are prepared for your master
Miss Drechsler, true to her promise to the German pastor, had kept a
look-out on the child known as the wood-cutters' pet, who lived in
the little hut in the Black Forest. From the time Pastor Langen had
left, she had her often living with herself for days at a time at
Dringenstadt, and was conducting her education; but as she often had to
leave that town for months, Frida still had her home great part of the
year with the Hörstels in the Forest. At the time we write of, Miss
Drechsler had returned to her little German home, and Frida, who was
once more living with her, was getting, at her expense, lessons in
violin-playing. She bid fair to become an expert in the art which she
dearly loved. She was much missed by the kind people in the Forest
amongst whom she had lived so long. Just as, at Miss Drechsler's
request, she had produced her violin and begun to play on it, a servant
opened the door and said that a man from the Forest was desirous of
seeing Fräulein Heinz. The girl at once put down her instrument and ran
to the door, where she found her friend Wilhelm awaiting her.
Ah, Frida, canst come back with me to the Forest? There is sorrow
there. In one house Johann Schmidt lies nigh to death, caused by an
accident when felling a tree. He suffers much, and Gretchen is in sore
trouble. And the Volkmans have lost their little boy. You remember him,
Frida; he and our Hans used to play together. And our little Anna seems
pining away, and Elsie and all of them are crying out for you to come
back and comfort them with the words of your little book. Johann said
this morning, when his wife proposed sending for the priest, 'No,
Gretchen, no. I want no priest; but oh, I wish little Frida were here
to read to me from her brown book about Jesus Christ our great High
Priest, who takes away our sins, and is always praying for us.'
Oh, I remember, interrupted Frida. I read to him once about Jesus
ever living 'to make intercession for us.' Yes, Wilhelm, I'll come with
you. I know Miss Drechsler will say I should go, for she often tells me
I really belong to the kind people in the Forest. And so saying, she
ran off to tell her story to her friend.
Miss Drechsler at once assented to her return to the Forest to give
what help she could to the people there, adding that she herself would
come up soon to visit them, and bring them any comforts necessary for
them such as could not be easily got by them. Ere they parted she and
Frida knelt together in prayer, and Miss Drechsler asked that God would
use the child as His messenger to the poor, sorrowing, suffering ones
in the Forest; after which she took Frida's Bible and put marks in at
the different passages which she thought would be suitable to the
different cases of the people that Wilhelm had spoken of.
It was late in the afternoon ere Wilhelm and Frida reached the hut
of Johann Schmidt, where he left the child for a while, whilst he went
on to the Volkmans to tell them of Frida's return, and that she hoped
to see them the next day. Gretchen met the girl with a cry of delight.
Ach! there she comes, our own little Fräulein. What a
pleasure it is to see thee again, our woodland pet! And see, here is my
Johann laid up in bed, nearly killed by the falling of a tree.
The sick man raised himself as he heard the child's voice saying as
she entered, in reply to Gretchen's words, Oh, I am sorry, so sorry!
Why did you not tell me sooner? And in another moment she was sitting
beside Johann, speaking kind, comforting words to him. He stroked her
hair fondly, and answered her questions as well as he could; but there
was a far-away look in his eyes as if his thoughts were in some region
distant from the one he was living in now. After a few minutes he asked
Have you the little brown book with you now?
Yes, I have, was the reply. Shall I read to you now, Johann? for
Wilhelm is to come for me soon.
Yes, read, read, he said; for I am weary, so weary.
Frida turned quickly to the eleventh chapter of Matthew, and read
distinctly in the German, which he could understand, and which she
could now speak also, the words, Come unto me, all ye that labour and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
He stopped her there. Read that again, he said. She complied, and
then he turned to her, saying, And Jesus, the Son of God, said that?
Will He give it to me, thinkest thou?
Yes, she said, He will; for He has promised to do it, and He
never breaks His word.
Well, if that be so, kneel down, pretty one, and ask Him to give it
me, for I need it sorely.
Frida knelt, and in a few simple words besought the Saviour to give
His rest and peace to the suffering man.
Thanks, little Frida, he said as she rose. I believe that prayer
will be answered. And shutting his eyes he fell quietly asleep, and
Frida slipped out of the room and joined Wilhelm in the Forest.
Is little Anna so very ill? she queried as they walked.
I fear she is, was the answer the father gave, with tears in his
eyes. The mother thinks so also; though the child, bless her, is so
good and patient we hardly know whether she suffers or not. She just
lies still mostly on her bed now, and sings to herself little bits of
hymns, or speaks about the land far away, which she says you told her
about, and where she says she is going to see Jesus. Then her mother
begins to cry; but she also speaks about that bright land. 'Deed it
puzzles me to know where they have learned so much about it, unless it
be from your little brown book. And the child has often asked where
Frida is. 'I want to hear her sing again,' she says.
O Wilhelm, why did you not come for me when she said that?
Well, you see, I had promised the pastor that I would let you visit
Miss Drechsler as often as possible, and then you were getting on so
nicely with your violin that we felt as if we had no right to call you
back to us. But see, here we are, and there is Hans looking out for
But Hans, instead of rushing to meet them as he usually did, ran
back hastily to his mother, calling out, Here they come, here they
Oh, I am glad! she said.Anna, dear Anna, you will hear Frida's
The mother looked round with a smile, but moved not, for the dying
child lay in her arms. A moment longer, and Frida was beside her, her
arms round the blind child.
Annchen, dear Annchen, speak to me, she entreatedjust one word,
to say you know me. It is Frida come home, and she will not leave you
again, but will tell you stories out of the little brown book.
A look of intelligence crossed the face of the blind child, and she
Dear Frida, tell Annchen 'bout Jesus, and sing.
Frida, choking back her sobs, opened her Bible and read the story
that little Anna loved, of Jesus taking the children in His arms and
blessing them; then sang a hymn of the joys of heaven, where He is seen
face to face, and where there is no more pain, neither sorrow nor
crying, neither is there any more death, and where His redeemed ones
see His face.
The mother, almost blinded with tears, heard her child whisper,
'See His face;' then Annchen will see Him too, won't she, Frida?
Yes, Annchen. There your eyes will be open, and you will be blind
As Frida said these words she heard one deep-drawn breath, one cry,
Fader, Mutter, Jesus! and the little one was gone into that land
where the first face she saw was that of her loving Saviour, whom
having not seen she loved, and the beauties of that land which had
been afar off burst on her eyes, which were no longer blind.
Poor father! poor mother! look up; your child sees now, and will
await your coming to the golden gates.
Heartfelt tears were shed on earth by that death-bed, but there was
a song of great rejoicing in heaven over another ransomed soul entering
heaven, and also over another sinner entering the kingdom of God on
earth, as Wilhelm Hörstel bent his knee by the bed where his dead child
lay, and in broken words asked the Saviour whom that child had gone to
see face to face to receive him as a poor sinner, and make him all he
ought to be. In after-years he would often say that it was the words
little Frida, the woodland child, had read and sung to his blind
darling that led him, as they had already led his wife, to the feet of
CHAPTER VIII. THE VIOLIN-TEACHER AND
There in an arched and lofty room
She stands in fair white dress,
Where grace and colour and sweet sound
Combine and cluster all around,
And rarest taste express.
Three years had passed since all that was mortal of the blind child
was laid to rest in the quiet God's acre near where the body of Frida's
father lay. After the funeral of little Anna, Frida at her own request
returned to the Forest with her friends, anxious to help and comfort
Elsie, who she knew would sorely miss the blind child, who had been
such a comfort and companion to her when both Wilhelm and Hans were
busy at work in the woods; but after remaining with them for a few
months, she again returned for a part of each year to Dringenstadt, and
made rapid progress under Miss Drechsler's tuition with her education,
and especially with her music.
The third summer after little Anna's death, Frida was again spending
some weeks in the Forest. It was early summer when she returned there.
Birds and insects were busy in the Forest, and the wood-cutters were
hard at work loading the carts with the piles of wood which the
large-eyed, strong, patient-looking oxen conveyed to the town. Loud
sounded the crack of the carters' whips as they urged on the slow-paced
oxen. Often in those days Frida, accompanied by Elsie (who had now no
little child to detain her at home), would take Wilhelm's and Hans's
simple dinner with them to carry to them where they worked.
One day Frida left Elsie talking to her husband and boy, and
strolled a little way further into the Forest, gathering the flowers
that grew at the foot of the trees, and admiring the soft, velvety moss
that here and there covered the ground, when suddenly she was startled
by the sounds of footsteps quite near her, and looking hastily round,
saw to her amazement the figure of the young violinist from whom she
had lately taken lessons.
Fräulein Heinz, he said, as he caught sight of the fair young girl
as she stood, flowers in hand, I rejoice to meet you, for I came in
search of you. Pupils of mine in the town of Baden-Baden, many miles
from here, where I often reside, are about to have an amateur concert,
and they have asked me to bring any pupil with me whom I may think
capable of assisting them. They are English milords, and are anxious to
assist local musical talent; and I have thought of you, Fräulein, as a
performer on the violin, and I went to-day to Miss Drechsler to ask her
to give you leave to go.
And what did she say? asked the child eagerly. How could I go so
far away? And she stopped suddenly; but the glance she gave at her
dress told the young violinist the direction of her thoughts.
Ah! he said, Fräulein Drechsler will settle all that. She wishes
you to go, and says she will herself accompany you and also bring you
back to your friends.
Oh! then, said Frida, I would like very much to go; but I must
ask Wilhelm and Elsie if they can spare me. But, Herr Müller, do you
think I can play well enough?
The violinist smiled as he thought how little the girl before him
realized the musical genius which she possessed, and which already,
young as she was, made her a performer of no ordinary skill.
Ah yes, Fräulein, he said, I think you will do. But you know, as
the concert is not for a month yet, you can come to Dringenstadt and
can have a few more lessons ere then.
Come with me, then, and let me introduce you to my friends; and
she led him up to the spot where Wilhelm, Elsie, and Hans stood.
They looked surprised, but when they heard her request they could
not refuse it. To have their little woodland child play at a concert
seemed to them an honour of no small magnitude. Hans in his eagerness
pressed to her side, saying, O Frida, I am so glad, for you do play so
As for that matter, so do you, Hans, she replied, for the boy had
the musical talent so often found even in German peasants, and taught
by Frida could really play with taste on the violin.
O Herr Müller, she said, turning to him, I wish some day you
could hear Hans play; I am sure you would like it. If only he could get
lessons! I know he would excel in it.
Is that so? said the violinist; then we must get that good
Fräulein Drechsler to have him down to Dringenstadt, and I will hear
him play; and then if we find there is real talent, I might recommend
him to the society for helping those who have a turn for music, but are
not able to pay for instruction.
Hans's eyes danced with delight at the idea, but in the meantime he
knew his duty was to help his father as much as he could in his work as
a wood-cutter. But then some day, he thought, who knows but I might
be able to devote my time to music, and so it would all be brought
about through the kindness of little Frida.
Frida was a happy girl when a few days after the violinist's visit
to the Forest she set out for Dringenstadt, to live for a month with
Fräulein Drechsler, and with her go on to Baden-Baden. A few more
lessons were got from Herr Müller, the selection of music she was to
perform gone through again and again, and all was ready to start the
When Frida went to her room that evening, great was her amazement to
see laid out on her bed a prettily-made plain black delaine morning
dress, neatly finished off at neck and wrists with a pure white frill;
and beside it a simple white muslin one for evening wear, with a white
silk sash to match. These Miss Drechsler told her were a present from
herself. Frida's young heart was filled with gratitude to the kind
friend who was so thoughtful of her wants; and she wondered if a day
would ever come when she would be able in any way to repay the
kindnesses of the friends whom God had raised up for her.
In the meantime Herr Müller had told the Stanfords, in whose house
the concert was to be held, about the young girl violinist whose
services he had secured. They were much interested in her, and were
prepared to give a hearty welcome, not to her only, but to her friend
Miss Drechsler, whom they had already met.
Sir Richard Stanford, who was the head of an old family in the south
of England, had with his wife come abroad for the health of their young
and only daughter. Sir Richard and Lady Stanford were Christians, and
interested themselves in the natives of the place where they were
living, and themselves having highly-cultivated musical tastes, they
took pleasure in helping on any of the poorer people there in whom they
recognized the like talent.
Father, said his young daughter Adeline, as she lay one warm day
on a couch under a shady tree in the garden of their lovely villa at
Baden-Baden, suppose we have a concert in our villa some evening; and
let us try and find out some good amateur performers, and also engage
two or three really good professionals to play, so that some of the
poorer players who have not opportunities of hearing them may do so,
and be benefited thereby.
Anxious in any reasonable way to please their daughter, a girl not
much older than Frida, Sir Richard and Lady Stanford agreed to carry
out her suggestion; and calling their friend Herr Müller to their
assistance, the private concert was arranged for, and our friend the
child of the Black Forest invited to play at it.
* * * * *
The day fixed for the concert had come round, and Adeline Stanford,
who was more than usually well, flitted here and there, making
preparations for the evening. The concert-room had been beautifully
decorated, and the supper-table tastefully arranged. Very pretty did
Ada (as she was called) look. Her finely-cut features and graceful
appearance all proclaimed her high birth, and the innate purity and
unselfishness of her spirit were stamped on her face. Adeline Stanford
was a truly Christian girl whose great desire was to make those around
her happy. One thing she had often longed for was to have a companion
of her own age to live with her and be as a sister to her. Her parents
often tried to get such a one, but as yet difficulties had arisen which
prevented their doing so. The very morning of the concert, Ada had
said, O mother, how pleasant it would be, when we are travelling about
and seeing so many beautiful places, to have some young girl with us
who would share our pleasure with us and help to cheer you and father
when I have one of my bad days and am fit for nothing. Then she added
with a smile, Not that I would like it only for your sakes, but for my
own as well. It would be nice to have a sister companion to share my
lessons and duties with me, and bear with my grumbles when I am ill.
Adeline's grumbles were so seldom heard that her parents could not
help smiling at her words, though they acknowledged that her wish was a
natural one; but then, where was the suitable girl to be found?
Ah! here we are at last, said Miss Drechsler, as she and Frida
drove up to the door of the villa where the Stanfords lived. How
lovely it all is! said Frida, who had been in ecstasies ever since she
arrived in Baden.
Everything was so new to hernot since her father's death had she
been in a large town; and her admiration as they drove along the
streets between the rows of beautiful trees was manifested by
exclamations of delight.
Once or twice something in the appearance of the shops struck her as
familiar. Surely, she said, I have seen these before, but where I
cannot tell. Ah! look at that large toy-shop. I know I have been there,
and some one who was with me bought me a cart to play with. I think it
must have been mamma, for I recollect that the purse she had in her
hand was like one that I often got from her to play with. Oh, I am sure
I have lived here before with father and mother!
As they neared the villa, the woodland child became more silent,
and pressed closer to her friend's side.
Ah! here they come, exclaimed Adeline Stanford, as followed by her
father and mother she ran downstairs to welcome the strangers. Miss
Drechsler they had seen before, but the appearance of the girl from the
Black Forest struck them much. They had expected to see a peasant child
(for Herr Müller had told them nothing of her history nor spoken of her
appearance), and when Frida had removed her hat and stood beside them
in the drawing-room, they were astonished to see no country child, but
a singularly beautiful, graceful girl, of refined appearance and
lady-like manners. Her slight shyness soon vanished through Ada's
unaffected pleasant ways, and erelong the two girls were talking to
each other with all the frankness of youth, and long ere the hour for
the concert came they were fast friends.
[Illustration: Come, Frida, she said, let us play the last
passage together. See page 61.]
Ada was herself a good pianist, and could play fairly well on the
violin, and she found that Herr Müller had arranged that she and the
girl from the Forest should perform together.
Come, Frida, she said, let us play the last passage together; we
must be sure we have it perfect.
Oh, how well you play! she said when they had finished. Has Herr
Müller been your only teacher?
Latterly he has, was the answer; but when I was quite little I
was well taught by my father.
Your father! said Adeline; does he play well? He cannot have had
many advantages if he has to work in the woods all day.
Work in the woods! why, he never did that. Then she added, Oh! I
see you think Wilhelm Hörstel is my father; but that is not the case.
My own dear father is dead, and Wilhelm found me left alone in the
Found in the Black Forest alone! said Ada. Here was indeed a
romance to take the fancy of an imaginative, impulsive girl like
Adeline Stanford; and leaving Frida with her story unfinished, she
darted off to her parents to tell them what she had heard. They also
were much interested in her story, for they had been much astonished at
the appearance of the girl from the Forest; and telling Ada that she
had better go back to Frida, they turned to Miss Drechsler and asked
her to tell them all she knew of the child's history.
She did so, mentioning also her brown Bible and the way in which God
was using its words amongst the wood-cutters in the Forest.
* * * * *
The concert was over, but Sir Richard, Lady Stanford, and Miss
Drechsler lingered awhile (after the girls had gone to bed), talking
over the events of the evening.
How beautifully your young friend played! said Lady Stanford; her
musical talent is wonderful, but the girl herself is the greatest
wonder of all. She cannot be the child of common people, she is so like
a lady and so graceful. And, Miss Drechsler, can you tell us how she
comes to be possessed of such a lovely mosaic necklace as she wore
to-night? Perhaps it belongs to yourself, and you have lent it to her
for the occasion.
No, indeed, was the answer; it is not mine. It evidently belonged
to the child's mother, and was on her neck the night she was found in
Then, said Sir Richard, it is just possible it may be the means
of leading to the discovery of the girl's parentage, for the pattern is
an uncommon one. She is a striking-looking child, and it is strange
that her face haunts me with the idea that I have seen it somewhere
before; but that is impossible, as the girl tells me she has never been
in England, and I can never have met her here.
It is curious, said Miss Drechsler; but I also have the feeling
that I have seen some one whom she greatly resembles when I was in
England living in Gloucestershire with the Wardens.
'Tis strange, said Lady Stanford, that you should see a likeness
to some one whom you have seen and yet cannot name, the more so that
the face is not a common one.
She is certainly a remarkable child, continued Miss Drechsler,
and a really good one. She has a great love for her Bible, and I think
tries to live up to its precepts.
That evening Sir Richard and his wife talked together of the
possibility of by-and-by taking Frida into their house as companion to
Ada, specially whilst they were travelling about; and perhaps
afterwards taking her with them to England and continuing her education
there, so that if her relations were not found she might when old
enough obtain a situation as governess, or in some way turn her musical
talents to account.
The day after the concert, Frida returned with Miss Drechsler to
Dringenstadt, to remain a few days with her before returning to her
As they were leaving the Stanfords, and Frida had just sprung into
the carriage which was to convey them to the station, a young man who
had been present at the concert, and was a friend of the Stanfords,
came forward and asked leave to shake hands with her, and congratulated
her on her violin-playing. He was a good-looking young man of perhaps
three-and-twenty years, with the easy manners of a well-born gentleman.
After saying farewell, he turned into the house with the Stanfords,
and began to talk about the fair violinist, as he termed her.
Remarkably pretty girl, he said; reminds me strongly of some one I
have seen. Surely she cannot be (as I overheard a young lady say last
night) just a wood-cutter's child.
No, she is not that, replied Sir Richard, and then he told the
young man something of her history, asking him if he had observed the
strange antique necklace which the girl wore.
No, he answered, I did not. Could you describe it to me? As Sir
Richard did so a close observer must have seen a look of pained
surprise cross the young man's face, and he visibly changed colour.
Curious, he said as he rose hastily. It would be interesting to know
how it came into her possession; perhaps it was stolen, who knows? And
so saying, he shook hands and departed.
Reginald Gower was the only child of an old English family of fallen
fortune. Rumour said he was of extravagant habits, but that he expected
some day to inherit a fine property and large fortune from a distant
There were good traits in Reginald's character: he had a kind heart,
and was a most loving son to his widowed mother, who doted on him; but
a love of ease and a selfish regard to his own comfort marred his whole
character, and above all things an increasing disregard of God and the
Holy Scriptures was pervading more and more his whole life.
As he walked away from Sir Richard's house, his thoughts were
occupied with the story he had just heard of the child found in the
Black Forest. He was quite aware of the fact that the girl's face
forcibly reminded him of the picture of a beautiful girl that hung in
the drawing-room of a manor-house near his own home in Gloucestershire.
He knew that the owner of that face had been disinherited (though the
only child of the house) on account of her marriage, which was contrary
to the wishes of her parents, and that now they did not know whether
she were dead or alive; though surely he had lately heard a report
that, after years of bitter indignation at her, they had softened, and
were desirous of finding out where she was, if still alive. And then
what impressed him most was the curious coincidence (he called it) that
round the neck of the girl in the picture was just such another mosaic
necklace as the Stanfords had described the one to be which the young
Was it possible, he asked himself, that she could be the child of
the daughter of the manor of whom his mother had often told him? and if
so, ought he to tell them of his suspicionsthe more so that he had
heard from his mother that the lady of the manor was failing in health,
and longing, as she had long done, to see and forgive her child? If he
were right in his surmises that this woodland girl, as he had heard
her called, was the daughter of the child of the manor, then even if
the mother was dead, the young violinist would be received with open
arms by both the grand-parents, and would (and here arose the
difficulty in the young man's mind) inherit the estates and wealth
which would have devolved on her mother, all of which, but for the
existence of this woodland child, he, Reginald Gower, would have
inherited as heir-at-law.
Well, there is no call on you to say anything about the matter, at
all events at present, whispered the evil spirit in the young man's
heart. You may be mistaken. Why ruin your whole future prospects for a
fancy? Likenesses are so deceptive; and as to the necklace, pooh! that
is nonsensethere are hundreds of mosaic necklaces. Let the matter
alone, and go your way. 'Eat, drink, and be merry.'
All very well; but why just then of all times in the world did the
words of the Bible, taught him long ago by the mother he loved, come so
vividly to his remembranceDo justly, love mercy, and walk humbly
with thy God; and those words, heard more distinctly still, which his
mother had taught him to call the royal law of loveAs ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them?
Good and bad spirits seemed fighting within him for the mastery; but
alas, alas! the selfish spirit so common to humanity won the day, and
Reginald Gower turned from the low, soft voice of the Holy Spirit
pleading within him, and resolutely determined to be silent regarding
his meeting with the child found in the Black Forest, and the strange
circumstance of her likeness to the picture and her possession of the
Once again the god of self, who has so many votaries in this world,
had gained a great triumph, and the prince of this world got a more
sure seat in the heart of the young man. But all unknown to him there
was one climbing for him the silver, shining stair that leads to God's
great treasure-house, and claiming for her fatherless boy the
priceless boon of the new heart.
Was such a prayer ever offered in vain or unanswered by Him who hath
said, If ye ask anything according to my will, I will do it. Ask, and
ye shall receive?
CHAPTER IX. CHRISTMAS IN THE FOREST.
Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good-will,
With holy songs of glory,
Brings holy gladness still.
Summer had long passed, autumn tints had faded, and the fallen
leaves lay thick in the Forest.
For days a strong wind had blown, bending the high trees under its
influence, and here and there rooting up the dark pines and laying them
low. Through the night of which we are going to write, a heavy fall of
snow had covered all around with a thick mantle of pure white. It
weighed down the branches of the trees in the Forest, and rested on the
piles of wood which lay ready cut to be carted off to be sold for fuel
in the neighbouring towns. The roll of wheels, as the heavily-laden
wagons passed, was heard no more. The song of the birds had ceased,
though the print of their claws was to be seen on the snow. All was
quiet. The silence of nature seemed to rest on the hearts of the
dwellers in the Forest. In vain Elsie heaped on the wood; still the
stove gave out little heat. She busied herself in the little room, but
a weight seemed to be on her spirit, and she glanced from time to time
uneasily at Frida, who sat listlessly knitting beside the stove.
Art ill, Frida? she said at last. All this morning hast thou sat
there with that knitting on thy lap, and scarce worked a round at it.
And your violinwhy, Frida, you have not played on it for weeks, and
even Hans notices it; and Wilhelm says to me no longer ago than this
morning, 'Why, wife, what ails our woodland child? The spirit has all
left her, and she looks white and tired-like.'
Frida, thus addressed, rose quickly from her seat, a blush,
perchance of shame, colouring her cheeks.
O Mutter, she said, I know I am lazy; but it is not because I am
ill, only I keep thinking and wondering andThere! I know I'm wrong,
only, Elsie dear, Mutter Elsie, I do want to know if any of my own
people are alive, and where they live. I have felt like this ever since
I was at Baden-Baden; and I have not heard from Adeline Stanford for
such a long time, and I suppose, though she was so kind, she has
forgotten me; and Miss Drechsler has left Dringenstadt for months; and,
O Mutter, forgive me, and believe that I am not ungrateful for all that
you and Wilhelm and the kind people in the Dorf have done for me. Only,
only And the poor girl laid her head on Elsie's shoulder and cried
long and bitterly.
Elsie was much moved, she did so love the bright, fairy-like girl
who had been the means of letting in the light of the gospel to her
Armes Kind (poor child), she said, soothing her as tenderly
as she would have done her own blind Anna, had she been alive and in
trouble, I understand it all, dear. (And her kind woman heart had
taken it all in.) It is just like the little bird taken from its
mother's nest, and put into a strange one, longing to be back amongst
its like again, and content nowhere else. But, Frida, dost thou not
remember that we read in the little brown book that our Lord hath said,
'Lo, I am with you alway'? Isn't that enough for you? No place can be
very desolate, can it, if He be there?
In a moment after Elsie said these words, Frida raised her head and
dried her eyes.
Had she been forgetting, she asked herself, whose young servant she
was? Was it right in a child of God to be discontented with her lot,
and to forget the high privilege that God had given her in allowing her
to read His Word to the poor people in the Forest?
I must throw off this discontented spirit, she said to herself;
and turning to Elsie she told her how sorry she was for the way in
which she had acted, adding, But with God's help I will be better
Frida was no perfect character, and, truth to tell, ever since her
return from Baden-Baden, a sense of the incongruity of her
circumstances had crept upon her. The tasteful surroundings, the
cultured conversation, the musical evenings, the refinement of all
around, had enchanted the young girl, and the humble lot and homely
ways of her Forest friends had on her return to them stood out in
striking contrast. And, alas! for the time being she refused to see in
all these things the guiding hand of God. But after the day we have
written of, things went better. The girl strove to conquer her
discontent, and in God's strength she overcame, and her friends in the
Forest had once more the pleasure of seeing her bright smile and
hearing her sweet voice in song.
Johann Schmidt had fallen asleep in Jesus with the words of Holy
Scripture on his lips, blessing the wood-cutters' pet, as he called
her, for having, through the reading of God's Word, led him to Jesus.
But though sickness had left the Forest, the severe cold and deep snow
were very trying to the health of all the dwellers in it, and the
winter nights were long and dreary.
One day in December, Wilhelm Hörstel had business in Dringenstadt,
and on his return home he gave Frida two letters which he had found
lying at the post-office for her. They proved, to Frida's great
delight, to be from her two friends Miss Drechsler and Adeline
Miss Drechsler's ran thus:
DEAR FRIDA,I have been thinking very specially of you and
your friends in the Forest, now that the cold winter days have
come, and the snow, I doubt not, is lying thick on the trees
ground. Knowing how interested you are, dear, in all your kind
friends there, I have thought how nice it would be for you, if
Elsie and Wilhelm consent, to have a Christmas-tree for a few
of your friends; and in order to carry this out, I enclose a
money order to the amount of £2, and leave it to you and Elsie
to spend it to the best of your power.
I am also going to write to Herr Steiger to send, addressed to
you, ten pounds of tea, which I trust you to give from me to
each of the householdersnine in number, I thinkin the
Dorf, retaining one for your friends the Hörstels. Will you,
dear Frida, be my almoner and do my business for me? I often
think of and pray for you, and I know you do not forget me. I
fear I will not be able to return to Dringenstadt till the
of May, as my sister is still very ill, and I feel I am of use
to her.Your affectionate friend. M. DRECHSLER.
Oh, isn't it good? isn't it charming? said Frida, jumping about
the room in her glee. Mayn't we have the tree, Mutter? And will you
not some day soon come with me to Dringenstadt and choose the things
for it? Oh, I wish Hans were here, that I might tell him all about it!
See, I have not yet opened Adeline's letter; it is so long since I
heard from her. I wonder where they are living now. Oh, the letter is
Then in silence she read on. Elsie, who was watching her, saw that
as she read on her cheeks coloured and her eyes sparkled with some
She rose suddenly, and going up to Elsie she said, O Mutter, was
denken Sie? [what do you think?]. Sir Richard and Lady Stanford
enclose a few lines saying they would like so much that I should, with
your consent, spend some months with them at Cannes in the Riviera, as
a companion to Adeline; and if you and Miss Drechsler agree to the
plan, that I would accompany friends of theirs from Baden-Baden who
propose to go to Cannes about the middle of January. And, Mutter,
continued the girl, they say all my expenses will be paid, and that I
shall have Adeline's masters for music and languages, and be treated as
if I were their daughter.
Elsie looked up with tears in her eyes. Well, Frida dear, she
said, it does seem a good thing for you, and right glad I am about it
for your sake; but, oh, we will miss you sorely. But there! the dear
Lord has told us in the book not to think only of ourselves, and I am
sure that He is directing your way. Of course I'll speak to Wilhelm
about it, for he has so much sense; but I don't believe he'll stand in
Frida, overcome with excitement, and almost bewildered with the
prospect before her, had yet a heart full of sorrow at the thought of
leaving the friends who had helped her in her time of need; and in
broken words she told Elsie so, clinging to her as she spoke.
Matters were soon arranged. Elsie and Wilhelm heartily agreed that
Frida should accept Sir Richard and Lady Stanford's invitation. They
only waited till an answer could be got from Miss Drechsler regarding
the plan. And when that came, full of thankfulness for God's kindness
in thus guiding her path, a letter of acceptance was at once dispatched
to Cannes, and the child of the Forest only remained with her friends
till the new year was a fortnight old.
In the meantime, whilst snow lay thick around, Christmas-eve came
on, and Frida and Elsie were busy preparing the tree. Of the true
Christmas joy many in the Forest knew nothing, but in some hearts a
glimmer at least of its true meaning was dawning, and a few of the
wood-cutters loved to gather together and hear Frida read the story of
the angelic hosts on the plain of Bethlehem singing of peace and
good-will to men, because that night a Babe, who was Christ the Lord,
was born in a manger. How much they understood of the full significance
of the story we know not, but we do know God's word never
returns to Him void.
The tree was ready at last. Elsie, Frida, and Hans had worked busily
at it for days, Miss Drechsler's money had gone a long way, and now
those who had prepared it thought there never had been such a beautiful
tree. True, every child in the Forest had had on former occasions a
tree of their own at Christmas timenone so poor but some small twig
was lit up, though the lights might be few; but this one, ah, that was
a different matterno such tree as this had ever been seen in the
Look, Hans, said Frida; is not that doll like a little queen? And
only see that little wooden cart and horse; won't that delight some of
the children in the Dorf?And, Mutter, we must hang up that warm hood
for Frau Schenk, poor woman; and now here are the warm cuffs for the
men, and a lovely pair for Wilhelm.And, O Hans, we will not tell you
what you are to have; nor you either, Mutter. No, no, you will
never guess. I bought them myself.
And so, amid chattering and laughing, the tree got on and was
finished; and all I am going to say about it is that for long years
afterwards that particular Christmas-tree was remembered and spoken of,
and in far other scenesin crowded drawing-rooms filled with
gaily-dressed children and grown-up peopleFrida's eyes would fill as
she thought of the joy that Christmas-tree had given to the dwellers in
the Forest, both young and old. Ere that memorable night ended, Frida
and Hans, who had prepared a surprise for every one, brought out their
violins, and sang together in German a Christmas carol; and as the
assembled party went quietly home through the snow-carpeted Forest, a
holy influence seemed around them, as if the song of the angels echoed
through the air, Peace on earth, and goodwill to men.
CHAPTER X. HARCOURT MANOR.
Shall not long-suffering in thee be wrought
To mirror back His own?
His gentleness shall mellow every thought
And look and tone.
Three years and a half have passed since the Christmas-eve we have
written of, and the golden light of a summer day was falling on the
earth and touching the flowers in a lovely garden belonging to the old
manor-house of Harcourt, in the county of Gloucester in England.
In the lawn-tennis court, which was near the garden, preparations
were making for a game. Young men in flannels and girls in light
dresses were passing to and fro arranging the racquets and tightening
the nets, some gathering the balls together and trying them ere the
other players should arrive. It was a pleasant scene. Birds twittered
out and in the ivy and rose covered walls of the old English
manor-house, and the blithe laughter of the young people blended with
the melodious singing of the choristers around.
The company was assembling quickly, kind words were passing amongst
friends, when there appeared on the scene an elderly lady of great
elegance and beauty, to whom all turned with respectful greeting, and a
hush came over all.
Not that there was anything stern or severe in the lady's appearance
to cause the hush, for a look of calmness and great sweetness was in
her countenance, but through it there was also an appearance of sadness
that touched every heart, and although it would not silence any true
young joy, had certainly the effect of quieting anything boisterous or
The gentle lady of Harcourt Manor was the name Mrs. Willoughby had
gone by for some years. It was pretty well known that a deep sorrow had
fallen upon her whilst still in the prime of life; and those there were
who said they could recall a time when, instead of that look of calm
peace and chastened sorrow, there were visible on her face only haughty
pride and fiery temper.
It was hard to believe that that had ever been the case; but if so,
it was but one of many instances in which God's declaration proved
true, that though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,
but grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable
fruit of righteousness.
Mr. Willoughby, a man older by some years than his wife, was a man
who had long been more feared than beloved; and the heavy trial, which
had affected him no less than his wife, had apparently hardened instead
of softening his whole nature, though a severe illness had greatly
mitigated, it was thought, some of his sternness.
The party of which we are writing was given in honour of the return
from abroad of the heir of the manor, a distant relation of the
Willoughbys, Mr. Reginald Gower, whom we have written of before. For
five years he had been living abroad, and had returned only a month ago
to the house of his widowed mother, the Hon. Mrs. Gower of Lilyfield, a
small though pretty property adjoining Harcourt Manor.
Just as Mrs. Willoughby entered the grounds, Reginald and his mother
did so also, although by a different way, and a few minutes passed ere
The young man walked eagerly up to the hostess, a smile of real
pleasure lighting up his handsome face at the sight of the lady he
really loved, and who had from his boyish days been a kind friend to
him. But as he greeted her, the look of sadness on her countenance
struck him, and some secret thought sent a pang through him, and for
the moment blanched his cheek. Was it possible, he asked himself, that
he had it in his power, by the utterance of a few words, to dispel that
look of deep sadness from the face of one of the dearest friends, next
to his mother, whom he possessed?
Very glad to see you back again, Reginald, said Mrs. Willoughby.
But surely the southern skies have blanched rather than bronzed your
cheeks. You were not wont to be so pale, Reggie. Ay, there you are more
like your old self (as a flush of colour spread over his face once
more). We hope you have come to stay awhile in your own country, for
your dear mother has been worrying about your long absence.Is it not
so, Laura? she said, addressing herself to Mrs. Gower, who now stood
Yes, indeed, was the reply; I am thankful to have my boy home
again. Lilyfield is a dull place without him.
Yes, said Mrs. Willoughby; it is a dreary home that has no child
in it. And as she spoke she turned her face away, that no one might
see that her eyes were full of tears.
But Reginald had caught sight of them, and turned away suddenly,
saying, Farewell for the present; and raising his cap to the two
ladies, he went off to join the players in the tennis-court, to all
outward appearance one of the brightest and most light-hearted there.
But he played badly that day, and exclamations from his friends were
heard from time to time such as, Why, Reginald, have you forgotten how
to play tennis? Oh, look out, Gower; you are spoiling the game! It
was a shame to miss that ball.
Thus admonished, Reginald drew himself together, collected his
thoughts, concentrated his attention on the game, and played well. But
no sooner was the game over than once again there rose before his eyes
the face and figure of the beautiful foundling of the Black Forest,
with her strange story and her extraordinary likeness not only to the
picture of the young girl in the drawing-room of the manor, but also to
his gentle friend Mrs. Willoughby.
Oh, if only he had never met the young violinist; if he could blot
out the remembrance of her and be once more the light-hearted man he
had been ere he heard her story from Sir Richard Stanford!
He had been so sure of his sense of honour, his pure morality, his
good principles, his high-toned soul (True, he said to himself, I
never set up to be one of your righteous-overmuch sort of people, nor a
saint like my noble mother and my friend Mrs. Willoughby") that he
staggered as he thought of what he was now by the part he was acting.
Dishonest, cruel, unjusthe, Reginald Gower; was it possible? Ah! his
self-righteousness, his boasted uprightness, had both been put to the
test and found wanting.
Well, Reggie, had you a pleasant time at the manor to-day? said
his mother to him as they sat together at their late dinner.
Oh, it was well enough, was the reply; but it was not spoken in
his usual hearty tone, and his mother observed it, and also the
unsatisfied look which crossed his face, and she wondered what had
A silence succeeded, broken at last by Reginald.
Mother, he said, what is it that has deepened that look of
sadness in Mrs. Willoughby's face since I last saw her? And tell me, is
the story about their daughter being disinherited true? And is it
certain that she is dead, and that no child (for I think it is said she
married) survives her? If that were the case, and the child should turn
up and be received, it would be awkward for me and my prospects,
Reginald, Mrs. Gower replied, for she had heard his words with
astonishment, if I thought that there was the least chance that either
Mrs. Willoughby's daughter or any child of hers were alive, I would
rejoice with all my heart, and do all I could to bring about a
reconciliation, even though it were to leave you, my loved son, a
penniless beggar. And so I am sure would you.
A flush of crimson rose to Reginald's brow at these words. Then his
mother believed him to be all that he had thought himself, and little
suspected what he really was. But then, supposing he divulged his
secret, what about debts which he had contracted, and extravagant
habits which he had formed? No! he would begin and save, retrench his
expenses, and if possible get these debts paid off; and then he might
see his way to speak of the girl in the Black Forest, if she was still
to be found.
So once more Reginald Gower silenced the voice of conscience with,
At a more convenient time, and abruptly changing the subject, began
to speak of his foreign experiences, of the beauty of Italian skies,
art, and scenery; and the conversation about Mrs. Willoughby's daughter
passed from his mother's mind, and she became absorbed in her son's
descriptions of the places he had visited. And as she looked at his
handsome animated face, was it any wonder that with a mother's
partiality she thought how favoured she was in the possession of such a
child? Onlyand here she sighedah, if only she were sure that this
cherished son were a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that
the Word of God, so precious to her own soul, were indeed a light to
his feet and a lamp to his path!
That evening another couple were seated also at their dinner-table,
and a different conversation was being held. The master of Harcourt
Manor sat at the foot of the table, opposite his gentle wife; but a
troubled look was on his face, brought there very much by the thought
that he noticed an extra shade both of weariness and sadness on the
face of his wife. What could he do to dissipate it? he was asking
himself. Anything, except speak the word which he was well aware would
have the desired effect, and, were she still alive, restore to her
mother's arms the child for whom she pined; but not yet was the strong
self-will so broken down that those words could be spoken by him, not
yet had he so felt the need of forgiveness for his own soul that he
could forgive as he hoped to be forgiven.
Did not his duty as a parent, and his duty towards other parents of
his own rank in life, call upon him to make a strong stand, and visit
with his righteous indignation such a sin as that of his only child and
heiress marrying a man, however good, upright, and highly educated he
might be, who yet was beneath her in station (although he denied that
fact), and unable to keep her in the comfort and luxury to which she
had been accustomed?
No, no, noblesse oblige; and rather than forgive such a
sin, he would blight his own life and break the heart of the wife he
adored. Such was the state of mind in which the master of Harcourt
Manor had remained since the sad night when his only child had gone off
to be married at a neighbouring church to the young musician Heinz. But
some months before Reginald Gower's return from abroad, during a severe
illness which had brought him to the borderland, Mr. Willoughby was
aroused to a dawning sense of his own sinfulness and need of pardon,
which had, almost unconsciously to himself, a softening effect on his
His wife was the first to break the silence at the dinner-table.
Has not Reginald Gower grown more manly and older-looking since we saw
him last? she said, addressing her husband.
A shade came over his face as he answered somewhat testily, Oh, I
think he looks well enough! Of course five years must have made him
look older. But Reginald never was the favourite with me that he is
with you, wife; a self-indulgent lad he always seems to me to be.
Well, but surely, husband (once she always called him father, but
that was years ago now), he is a good son, and kind to his mother.
Well, well, I am glad to hear it. But surely we have some more
interesting subject to discuss than Reginald Gower.
Mrs. Willoughby sighed. Well she knew that many a time she had a
conflict in her own heart to think well of the lad who was to succeed
to the beautiful estates that by right belonged to their own child.
Dinner over, she sought the quiet of her own boudoir, a room
specially endeared to her by the many sweet memories of the hours that
she and her loved daughter had spent together there.
The day had been a trying one to Mrs. Willoughby. Not often nowadays
had they parties at Harcourt Manor, and she was tired in mind and body,
and glad to be a few minutes alone with her God. She sat for a few
minutes lost in thought; then rising she opened a drawer, and took from
it the case which contained the miniature of a beautiful girl, on which
she gazed long and lovingly. The likeness was that of the daughter she
had loved so dearly, and of whose very existence she was now in doubt.
Oh to see or hear of her once more! Poor mother, how her heart yearned
for her loved one! Only one could comfort her, and that was the God she
had learned to love. She put down the picture and opened a little brown
book, the very fac-simile of the one which little Frida
possessed, and which God had used and blessed in the Black Forest.
Turning to the Hundred and third Psalm, she read the words, well
underlined, Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth
them that fear him. Then turning to the Gospel of Matthew, she read
Christ's own blessed word of invitation and promise, Come unto me, all
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Ah, how many weary, burdened souls have these words helped since they
were spoken and then under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost written
for the comfort of weary ones in all ages! Ere she closed the book,
Mrs. Willoughby read the fourth verse of the Thirty-seventh Psalm:
Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desire of
thine heart. Then kneeling down she poured out, as she so often did,
the sorrows of her heart to her heavenly Father, and rose quieted in
Ere she put away the little brown book she looked at it
thoughtfully, recalling the day, not long before her daughter had left
her, when they had together bought two Bibles exactly alike as regarded
binding, but the one was in German, the other in English. The German
Bible she had given to her daughter, who presented the English one to
her mother. On the fly-leaf of the one she held in her hand were
written the words, To my much-loved mother, from Hilda. Ah, where was
that daughter now? And if she still possessed the little brown German
Bible, had she learned to love and prize its words as her mother had
done her English Bible? Then carefully locking up her treasured book
and portraits, she went downstairs, to wait in solitary grandeur for
her husband's coming into the drawing-room.
CHAPTER XI. IN THE RIVIERA.
My God, I thank Thee who hast made
The earth so bright,
So full of splendour and of joy,
Beauty, and light;
So many glorious things are here,
Noble and right.
More than four years had elapsed since Frida had left her home in
the Black Forest. April sunshine was lighting up the grey olive woods
and glistening on the dark-green glossy leaves of the orange-trees at
Cannes, and playing on the deep-blue waters of the Mediterranean there.
Some of these beams fell also round the heads of two young girls as
they sat under the shade of a palm tree in a lovely garden there
belonging to the Villa des Rosiers, where they were living. A lovely
scene was before their eyes. In front of them, like gems in the
deep-blue sea, were the isles of St. Marguerite and St. Honorat, and to
the west were the beautiful Estrelle Mountains. Around them bloomed
masses of lovely roses, and the little yellow and white noisettes
climbed up the various tall trees in the garden, and flung their wealth
of flowers in festoons down to the ground.
The two girls gazed in silence for some minutes at the lovely scene.
Then the youngest of the two, a dark-eyed, golden-haired girl, said,
addressing her companion, Is it not lovely, Adeline? The whole of
nature seems to be rejoicing.
Yes, indeed, answered her companion. And I am sure I owe much to
the glorious sunshine, for, by God's blessing, it has been the means of
restoring my health. I am quite well now, and the doctor says I may
safely winter in England next season. Won't it be delightful, Frida, to
be back in dear old England once more?
Ah! you forget, Adeline, that I do not know the land of your birth,
though I quite believe it was my mother's birthplace as well, and
perhaps my own also. I do often long to see it, and fancy if I were
once there I might meet with some of my own people. But then again, how
could I, on a mere chance, make up my mind to leave my kind friends in
the Forest entirely? It is long since I have heard of them. Do you know
that I left my little Bible with them? I had taught Elsie and Hans to
read it, and they promised to go on reading it aloud as I used to do to
the wood-cutters on Sunday evenings. It is wonderful how God's Word has
been blessed to souls in the Forest. And, Adeline, have I told you how
kind your friend Herr Müller has been about Hans? He got him to go
twice a week to Dringenstadt, and has been teaching him to play on the
violin. He says he has real talent, and if only he had the means to
obtain a good musical education, would become a really celebrated
Yes, Frida, replied her friend; I know more about all that than
you do. Herr Müller has been most kind, and taken much trouble with
Hans; but it is my own dear, kind father who pays him for so doing, and
tells no one, for he says we should 'not let our left hand know what
our right hand doeth.'
A silence succeeded, broken only by the noise of the small waves of
the tideless Mediterranean at their feet.
Then Frida spoke, a look of firm resolution on her face. Adeline,
she said, your father and mother are the kindest of people, and God
will reward them. This morning they told me that they mean to leave
this place in a couple of weeks, and return by slow stages to England;
and they asked me to accompany you there, and remain with you as your
friend and companion as long as I liked. Oh, it was a kind offer,
kindly put; but, Adeline, I have refused it.
Refused it, Frida! what do you mean? said her friend, starting up.
You don't mean to say you are not coming home with us! Are you going
back to live with those people in the little hut in the Forest, after
all your education and your love of refined surroundings? Frida, it is
not possible; it would be black ingratitude!
O Adeline, hush! do not pain me by such words. Listen to me, dear,
for one moment, and do not make it more difficult for me to do the
right thing. Your parents have given their consent to my plan, and even
said they think it is the right plan for me.
Well, let me hear, said Adeline, in a displeased tone, what it is
you propose to do. Is it your intention really to go back to the Forest
and live there?
Not exactly that, Adeline. I have thought it all over some time
ago, and only waited till your parents spoke to me of going to England
to tell them what I thought was my duty to do. And this is what has
been settled. If you still wish it, as your parents do, I shall remain
here till you leave, and accompany you back to Baden-Baden, where your
parents tell me they intend going for a week or so. From there I
propose returning to my friends in the Forest, not to live there any
more, but for a few days' visit to see them who are so dear to me.
After that I shall live with Miss Drechsler. Her sister is dead, and
has left her a good deal of money, and she is now going to settle in
Dringenstadt, and have a paid companion to reside with her. And,
Adeline, that situation she has offered to me.
Well, Frida, interrupted her friend, did not I wish you to be my
companion? and would not my parents have given you any sum you
O Adeline dear, hush, I pray of you, and let me finish my story.
You know that it is not a question of money; but you are so
well, dear, that you do not really need me. You have your
parents and friends. Miss Drechsler is alone, and I can never forget
all she has done for me. Then I am young, and cannot consent to remain
in dependence even on such dear friends as you are. I intend giving
lessons in violin-playing at Dringenstadt and its neighbourhood. Miss
Drechsler writes she can secure me two or three pupils at once, and she
is sure I will soon get more, as the new villas near Dringenstadt are
now finished, and have been taken by families. And then, Adeline,
living there I shall be near enough to the Forest to carry on the work
which I believe God has called me to, in reading to these poor people
the words of life. And at Miss Drechsler's I mean to live, as long as
she requires me, unless I am claimed by any of my own relations,
which, as you know, is a most unlikely event. I believe I am right in
the decision I have come to. So once again I pray of you, dear Adeline,
not to dissuade me from my purpose. You know how much I love you all,
and how grateful I am to you. Only think how ignorant I would have been
had not your dear parents taken me and got me educated, as if I had
been their own child. Oh, I can never, never forget all that you have
done for me!
Adeline's warm heart was touched, and her good sense convinced her,
in spite of her dislike to the plan, that her friend was right. Well,
Frida, she said, after a minute or two's silence, if you feel it
really to be your duty, I can say no more. Only you must promise me
that you will come sometimes, say in the summer time, and visit us.
Frida smiled. That would be charming, Adeline; but we will not
speak of that at present. Only say you really think I am right in the
matter. I have not forgotten to ask God's guidance, and you know it is
written in the Word of God which we both love so well, 'In all thy ways
acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.' But come; we must go
now and get ready, for we are to go to-day to the Cap d'Antibes.
And in the delights of that lovely drive, and in strolling amongst
the rocks honeycombed till they look almost like lacework, the two
friends forgot the evils of the impending separation.
In the meantime Frida was warmly remembered by her friends in the
Forest, and their joy when they heard that she was once more coming to
live near them was unbounded.
Ah, said Elsie, as she bent her head over a sweet little year-old
girl whom she held on her lap, now I shall be able to show her my
little Gretchen, and she will, I know, sing to her some of the sweet
hymns she used to sing to my little Annchen, and she will read to us
again, Wilhelm, out of the little brown book which I have taken great
care of for her.
Ay, put in Hans, and Mütterchen, she will bring her violin, and
she and I will play together some of the music you and father love; and
she will, I know, be glad to hear that through Sir Richard Stanford and
Herr Müller I am to become a pupil in the Conservatorium of Leipsic. I
can hardly believe it is true.
Ay, my son, thou art a lucky one, and ye owe it all to Frida
herself. Was it not she who told Sir Richard about your love of music,
and got Herr Müller to promise to hear you play? Ah! under the good God
we owe much to the 'woodland child.'
And so it fell out that after a few more happy weeks spent at Cannes
and Grasse, Frida found herself once more an inmate of Miss Drechsler's
pretty little house at Dringenstadt, and able every now and then to
visit and help her friends in the Forest.
Ah, Mütterchen, she said as she threw herself into Elsie's arms,
here I am again your foundling child, come to live near you, and so
glad to see you all once more.And Hans, why, Hans, you look a man
now; and oh, I am so pleased you are to go to Leipsic! You must bring
down your violin now and then to Miss Drechsler's, and let us play
together. I am sure you will be a great musician some day, Hans.
The young man (for such he now was) looked much gratified at his
friend's hopeful words, and said, If I do turn that, I shall owe it
all to you, Frida.
But the girl interrupted his speech by saying, Now, Mutter, let me
see little Gretchen; and next minute she was stooping over the bed
where lay the sleeping childthe very bed whence the spirit of the
blind child whom she had loved so dearly had taken its flight to the
What a darling she looks, Elsie! Oh, I am glad God has sent you
this little treasure! She will cheer you when Hans has gone away and
her father is all day in the Forest.
Yes, said Elsie, she is indeed a gift from God; and you, Frida,
must teach her, as you taught her parents and Anna, the 'way of life.'
And O Frida, thou must go down to the Dorf, for all the people there
are so eager to see thee once more. And now that thou hast grown a
young lady, they all wonder if thou still beest like the woodland
child, and wilt care about the like of them, or if perchance thou hast
Forgotten them! O Elsie, how could they think so? Could I ever
forget how they and you gave of their little pittance to maintain the
child found in the Black Forest, and how you all lavished kindness on
her who had neither father nor mother to care for her? I must go at
once and ask them what I have done that they should have thought so
badly of me even for a minute. Don't you know, Mutter, that I have
given up the going to England to live with Miss Drechsler at
Dringenstadt, in order that I may often see my dear friends in the
Forest; and that shall be my life-work, unlessand here the girl
looked sadany of my own friends find me out and claim me.
Hast had any clue to them, Frida? asked Elsie.
Alas, no! said the girl, none whatever; and yet I have seen a
great number of people during these few years. And I have always worn
my necklace, which, being such a peculiar one, might have attracted
attention and led to the discovery of my parentage; but except one
Englishman, whom I met at the Stanfords', who said I reminded him of
some one whom he had seen, there has been nothing to lead me to suppose
that any one thought of me except as a friend of the Stanfords. But,
Elsie, though I am not discontented, still at times there is the old
yearning for my own people. But God knows best, and I am not going to
waste my life in useless longings. I have got five pupils in
Dringenstadt already, and several more applications, and next week I
begin my life-work as a teacher of the violin.Don't you envy me,
That is what I do, Fräulein Frida, said Hans. Somehow as he looked
at the fair young lady the old familiar name of Frida seemed too
familiar to use. Frida turned quickly round on him as he uttered the
Why, Hansfor I will not call thee Herrto whom did you speak?
There is no Fräulein herejust your old sister playmate Frida; never
let me hear you address me again by such a title. Art thou not my
brother Hans, the son of my dear friends Elsie and Wilhelm? and a
merry laugh scattered Hans's new-born shyness.
And to the end of their lives Frida and Hans remained as brother and
sister, each rejoicing in the success of the other in life; and in
after years they had many a laugh over the day that Hans began to think
that he must call his sister friend, the companion of his childhood,
his instructor in much that was good, by the stiff title of Fräulein
Ere Frida left the hut that day, they all knelt together and thanked
God for past mercies, and it was Elsie's voice that in faltering
accents prayed that Frida might still be used in the Forest to lead
many to the knowledge of Christ Jesus through the reading of the Word
CHAPTER XII. IN THE GREAT
There are lonely hearts to cherish
While the days are going by,
There are weary souls who perish
While the days are going by.
If a smile we can renew,
As our journey we pursue,
Oh, the good we all may do
While the days are passing by!
The London season was at its height, but though the pure sunshine
was glistening on mountain-top and green meadow, and beginning to tinge
the corn-fields with a golden tint in country places, where peace and
quietness seemed to reign, and leafy greenery called on every one who
loved nature to come and enjoy it in its summer flush of beauty, yet
the great city was still filled not only by those who could not leave
its crowded streets, but by hundreds who lingered there in the mere
pursuit of pleasure, for whom the beauties of nature had no charm.
On one peculiarly fine day a group of people were gathered together
in the drawing-room of a splendid mansion in one of the West End
There was evidently going to be a riding party, for horses held by
grooms stood at the door, and two at least of the ladies in the
drawing-room wore riding habits.
In conversation with one of thesea pretty fair-haired girl of some
twenty yearsstood Reginald Gower. Will your sister ride to-day, do
you know? he was asking, in somewhat anxious tones.
Gertie? No, I think not; she has a particular engagement this
morning. I don't exactly know what it is, but she will not be one of
the party. So, Mr. Gower, you and Arthur Barton will have to put up
with only the company of myself and Cousin Mary.
Ere the young man could reply, the door opened, and a girl dressed
in a dark summer serge and light straw hat entered. She carried a small
leather bag in her hand, and was greeted with exclamations of dismay
from more than one of the party.
Are you going slumming to-day, Gertie? What a shame! And the sun so
bright, and yet a cool airjust the most delightful sort of day for a
ride; and we are going to call on your favourite aunt Mary.
Give her my love then, replied Gertie, and tell her I hope to
ride over one of those days and see her. No, I cannot possibly go with
you to-day, as I have an engagement elsewhere.
An engagement in the slums! Who ever heard of such a thing? said
her sister and cousin together.
I am sorry to disappoint you, Lily dear, and my cousin also; but I
had promised two or three poor people to see them to-day before I knew
anything of this riding party, and I am sure I am right not to
disappoint them.And, Mr. Gower, I know your mother at least would not
think I was wrong.
That is true, Miss Warden. My mother thinks far more about giving
pleasure to the poor than she does about the wishes of the rich. But
could you not defer this slumming business till to-morrow, and give us
the pleasure of your company to-day?
But she shook her head, and assuring them they would get on very
well without her, she turned to leave the room, saying as she did so,
O Lily, do find out if it is true that Aunt Mary's old governess, Miss
Drechsler, of whom we have all heard so much, is coming to visit her
soon, and is bringing with her the young violinist who lives with her,
and who people say was a child found in the Black Forest. I do so want
to know all about her. We must try and get her to come here some
evening, and ask Dr. Heinz, who plays so well upon the violin, to meet
her; and you also, Mr. Gower, for I know you dearly love music.
Had Lily not turned quickly away just then, she would have noticed
the uneasy, startled look which crossed Reginald Gower's face at her
words. Was this woodland child, he asked himself, to be always crossing
He had hoped he had heard the last of her long ago, and some years
had elapsed since he had seen her. The circumstance of the likeness to
the picture in Harcourt Manor, and the coincidence of the necklace, had
almost (but as he had not yet quite killed his conscience), not
altogether, escaped his memory; and still, as at times he marked
the increasing sadness on Mrs. Willoughby's countenance, he felt a
sharp pang of remorse; and since he had known and begun to care for
Gertie Warden, her devoted Christian life and clear, truthful spirit
were making him more conscious than ever of his own selfishness and
True, he had no reason to suppose that she cared for him in any way
except as the son of his mother, whom she dearly loved, but his vanity
whispered that perhaps in time she might do so; and if that came to
pass, and he found that his love was returned, then he would
tell her all, and consult with her as to what course he should follow.
Lately, however, he had become uneasy at the many references which
Lily Warden made to a Dr. Heinz, who seemed to be often about the
house, and of whom both sisters spoke in high terms as a Christian man
and pleasant friend. What if he should gain the affection of Gertie?
Heinz! something in the name haunted him. Surely he had heard it
before, and in connection with the young violinist. And now was it
possible that that beautiful girl was really coming amongst them, and
that his own mother might meet her any day? for she was often at the
house, not only of the Wardens, but also of their aunt Mary, with whom
the girl was coming to stay.
No wonder that during the ride Lily Warden thought Mr. Gower
strangely preoccupied and silent. She attributed it all to his
disappointment at her sister's absence, and felt vexed that such should
be the case, as well she knew that in the way he wished Gertie would
never think of Reginald Gower; but she felt sorry for him, and tried to
cheer him up.
Through that long ride, with summer sunshine and summer beauties
around him, Reginald saw only one face, and it was not that of Gertie
Warden, but that of the young girl whom he had heard play on the violin
at the house of the Stanfords at Baden-Baden.
Oh, if he had only had courage then to write home and tell all that
he had heard about her! And in vivid colours there rose before his mind
all the disgrace that would attach to him when it became known that he
knew of the girl's existence and kept silence. The reason of his so
doing would be evident to many. And what, oh, what, he was asking
himself, would his loved, high-souled mother think of her son? Surely
the words of the Bible he heeded so little were true, The way of
transgressors is hard, and his sin was finding him out.
As soon as the first greetings were over, and the party were seated
at the lunch-table in Miss Warden's pretty cottage situated on the
banks of the Thames, Lily said, O Aunt Mary, is it true what Gertie
has heardthat Miss Drechsler and a beautiful young violinist with a
romantic story are coming to visit you? Gertie is so anxious to know
all about her, for neither she nor any of us can believe that she can
excel Dr. Heinz in violin-playing; and, indeed, you know how
beautifully Gertie herself plays, and she often does so now with Dr.
Yes, Lily dear, I am glad to say it is all true. I expect both Miss
Drechsler and her young protégé next week to visit me for a
short time, after which they propose to go to the Stanfords at Stanford
Hall, who take a great interest in the young violinistin fact, I
believe she lived for three or four years with them, and was educated
along with their own daughter.By the way, Mr. Gower, you must tell
your mother that her old friend Miss Drechsler is coming to me, and I
hope she will spend a day with me when she is here.
I am sure she will be delighted to do so, Miss Warden, replied the
young man; but even as he spoke his cheek blanched as he thought of all
that might come of his mother meeting the young violinist.
Reginald rode back with his friends to their house, but could not be
induced to enter again, not even to hear how Gertie had got on with her
slumming. Not to-day, he said; I find I must go home. I don't doubt
your sister has been well employedmore usefully than we mere
pleasure-seekers have been, he added, in such a grave tone that Lily
turned her head to look at him, as she stood on the door-steps, and
inquire if he were quite well. Quite so, thanks, he replied, in his
usual gay tone; only sometimes one does think there is a resemblance
between the lives the butterflies live and ours. Confess it now, he
said laughingly; but Lily was in no thoughtful mood just then, so her
only reply was,
Speak for yourself, Mr. Gower. I have plenty of useful things to
do, just as much so as making a guy of myself and going a-slumming,
only I am often too lazy to do them, and with a friendly nod she
followed her cousin into the house.
Reginald rode slowly homeward, and, contrary to his usual custom,
went to his own room to try to collect his thoughts and make out in
what form he would deliver Miss Warden's message to his mother. It was
very evident to him that the meshes into which his own sins had brought
him were tightening around him. Turn which way he liked, there was no
escape. At least only one that he could see, and that was, that if the
secret came out, and the young violinist of the Black Forest were
proved to be the grandchild of the Willoughbys, he should keep silence
as to his ever having known anything of the matter.
The more he thought of it, the more that seemed his wisest course;
and even if it should come out that he had heard her play, that would
tell nothing. Yet his conscience was ill at ease. Suppose he did so,
what of his own self-respect? Could he ever regain it? Fortune would be
lost, and all ease of mind gone for ever. Then again, if he told his
story now, it would only be because he knew that in any case it would
be disclosed, and shame would await him.
How could he ever bear the reproaches of his kind friends the
Willoughbys, and more than all, the deep grief such a disclosure would
cause to his loved mother? In that hour Reginald Gower went through a
conflict of mind which left a mark on his character for life. But,
alas! once more evil won the day, and he resolved that not yet
would he tell all he knew; but some day soon he might. But once
again, as he rose to go downstairs, Bible words came into his mind:
To-day, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts.
O happy mother, to have so carefully stored the young heart with the
precious words of God! Long they may be as the seed under ground,
apparently forgotten and useless, yet surely one day they will spring
up and bear fruit. True even in this application are the words of the
The vase in which roses have once been distilled
You may break, you may shiver the vase if you will,
But the scent of the roses will cling to it still.
Well may we thank God for all mothers who carefully teach the words
of Holy Scripture to their children.
That day Reginald delivered Miss Warden's message to his mother, but
did not mention the young girl who was to accompany her.
Oh, I will be delighted to see Miss Drechsler again, said his
mother. I liked her so much when she was governess at the Wardens'. We
all did; indeed, she was more companion than governess, and indeed was
younger than I was, and just about Mary Warden's own age. I remember
well going one day with Mrs. Willoughby's daughter, Hilda, to a musical
party at the Wardens', and how charmed Miss Drechsler was at the way
Hilda played the violin, which was not such a common thing then as it
The violin? queried Reginald. Did Miss Willoughby play on the
Oh yes! she was very musical, and that was one of the great
attractions to her in the man she married. He, too, was a wonderful
violinistHerr Heinz they called him. He was, I believe, a
much-respected man and of good family connections, but poor, and even
taught music to gain a livelihood.
Heinz! Reginald was repeating to himself. Then he had heard that
name before first in connection with the child of the Black Forest; but
he only said, It is curious that I have lately heard that name from
the young Wardens, who speak a great deal of a Dr. Heinz. He also is a
good violinist. Can he be any relation, do you think, of the one you
Possibly he may; but the name is not at all an uncommon German one.
By the way, I heard a report (probably a false one) that Gertie Warden
is engaged to be married to a Dr. Heinza very good man, they say.
Have you heard anything of it?
I never heard she was engaged, nor do I think it is likely; but I
have heard both her and her sister speak of this Dr. Heinz, and I know
it is only a Christian man that Gertie would marry.
Having said so much, he quickly changed the subject and talked of
something else. The mother's eye, however, was quick to notice the
shade on his brow as he spoke, and she was confirmed in the opinion she
had formed for some time that the very idea of Gertie Warden's
engagement was a pain to him. As he rose to go out he turned to say,
Remember, mother, that I have given you Miss Warden's message.
CHAPTER XIII. IN THE SLUMS.
In dens of guilt the baby played,
Where sin and sin alone was made
The law which all around obeyed.
The summer sunshine, of which we have written as glistening among
the leafy tide of greenery, and on the ripening corn-fields and
gaily-painted flowers in the country, was penetrating also the close
streets of one of the poorest parts of London, cheering some of the
hearts of the weary toiling ones there, into whose lives little
sunshine ever fell, and for a while, it may be, helping them to forget
the misery of their lot, or to some recalling happier days when they
dwelt not in a narrow, crowded street, but in a country village home,
amidst grassy meadows and leafy trees, feeling, as they thought of
these things, though they could not have put the feeling into words,
what a poet gone to his rest says so beautifully,
That sorrow's crown of sorrow
Is remembering happier things.
But the very light that cheered revealed more clearly the misery,
dirt, and poverty around.
In one such street, where little pale-faced children, without the
merriment and laughter of childhood, played in a languid, unchildlike
way, sickness prevailed; for fever had broken out, and indoors
suffering ones tossed on beds, if they could be so called, of sickness.
At the door of a small room in one of the houses stood a girl of
some ten or eleven years old, looking out anxiously as if in
expectation of some one, turning every now and then to address a word
to her mother, who lay in the small room on a bed in the corner.
He baint a-comin' yet, she said, 'cos I knows his step; but he'll
be 'long soonye see if he don't! I knows as how he will, 'cos he's
that kind; so don't ye fret, motherthe doctor 'ill be here in no
time. There now! Susan Keats giv' me some tea for ye, and I'll get the
water from her and bring you some prime and 'otye see if I don't! So
saying, the child ran off and went into a room next door, and entering
begged for some 'ot water. Ye see, she said, addressing a woman
poorly clad like herself, she be a-frettin', mother is, for the
doctor, for she's badly, is mother, to-day, and she thinks mayhap he'll
do her good.
When the child returned to her mother's room, she found Dr. Heinz
(for it was he) sitting by her mother's side and speaking kindly to
her. He turned round as the child entered. Come along, Gussie, he
said; that's rightbeen getting mother some tea. You'll need to tend
her well, for she's very poorly to-day.
Ay, ay, muttered the woman, that's true, that's true. Be kind to
Gussie, poor Gussie, when I am gone, doctor. The young ladyMiss
Warden be her nameshe said she'd look after her, she did.
The doctor bent over the dying woman and said some comforting words,
at which the woman's face brightened. God bless ye, she said, for
promising that. Oh, but life's been weary, weary sin' I came
'erework, work, and that not always to be 'ad. But it's true, sir,
what ye told me. He says even to the like o' me, 'Come unto me, and I
will give you rest;' and He's done it, I think. Ye'll come again, sir,
After a few moments of prayer with the poor woman, and giving her
some medicine to allay her restlessness, Dr. Heinz left the room. From
house to house in the fever-stricken street he went, ministering alike
to body and soul, often feeling cast down and discouraged, overwhelmed
at times by the vice and poverty of all around. The gospel had never
reached these poor neglected ones. The very need of a Saviour was by
the great majority of them unfelt. Love many of them had never
experienced. The evil of sin they did not comprehend. Brought up from
babyhood in the midst of iniquity, they were strangers to the very
meaning of righteousness and virtue. No wonder that the heart of the
doctor was oppressed as he went out and in amongst them. Yet he felt
assured that by love they could be won to the God of love, and that
only the simple gospel of Jesus Christ dying in their room and stead,
told in the power of the Holy Ghost, could enlighten their dark souls
and prove the true lever to raise them from their sin and misery. And
so, whilst alleviating pain, he tried when possible to say a word from
the bookGod's revealed will, which alone maketh wise unto
salvation. More than once on the day we write of, as he went from
house to house, the vision of a young girl whom he had often met going
about doing good flitted before his eyes.
Gertie Warden and Dr. Heinz had first met in one of those abodes of
wretchedness, where she stood by a bed of sickness trying to comfort
and help a dying woman.
Only two years before that and Gertie was just ready to throw
herself into the vortex of the gay society in which the other members
of her family mingled; but ere she did so the voice of the Holy Ghost
spake to her as to so many others, and showed her how true life was
only to be found in Christ and lived in Him. Henceforth she lived no
longer a life of mere worldliness, but a life spent in the service of
Him who had loved her and given Himself for her; and then her greatest
joy was found in visiting the poor, the afflicted, the trieday, and
often the oppressed ones of earth.
In her own family she found great opposition to her new mode of
life; but the Lord raised up a kind helpful friend to her in the person
of the gentle, sorely-tried Mrs. Willoughby of Harcourt Manor. To her
Gertie confided all her difficulties as regarded her district visiting
(or, as her sister called it, her slumming), and many a word of
sympathy and wise counsel she got from her friend.
One day she spoke of Dr. Heinz.
You cannot think how much the people love him, she said, and
trust him. 'Ah!' I heard a poor woman say the other day, 'if only all
were like him, it's a better world it would be than it's now.' And do
you know, she went on, he is actually interesting my father and Aunt
Mary in some of his poor patients. And he likes to come to our house
sometimes in the evenings and play on the violin along with us; and he
does play beautifully. I wish you knew him, dear Mrs. Willoughby, for I
know you would like him. But, dear friend, are you not well?
For at the name of Heinz a deadly faintness had overcome Mrs.
Willoughby. Was not that the name of her daughter's husband? and if he
should prove to be in any way related to him, might he not be able to
give some information regarding her loved one? But she composed
herself, and in answer to Gertie's question she replied,
It is nothing, dear, only a passing weakness. I am all right now.
Tell me something more of this Dr. Heinz and the Christian work he is
engaged in. He must be a German, I fancy, from his name.
Yes, he is, replied Gertie; he was speaking to me lately about
his relations. He was born in Germany, and lived there till he was a
boy of seven years old. Then his parents died, and he came to this
country with an older brother who was a wonderful violinist, and he
taught him to play; but many years ago this brother married and
returned to Germany, leaving him here in the charge of some kind
friends; and though at first he heard from him from time to time, he
has ceased to write to him for some years, and he fears he is dead. He
knows he had a child, for his last letter mentioned her, but he knows
Again that terrible pallor overcame Mrs. Willoughby, but this time
she rose and said in an excited tone,
I must see this Dr. Heinz. Could you bring him to see me, Gertie,
and soon? Say to him that I think, although I am not sure, that I knew
a relation of his some years ago.
Oh yes, Mrs. Willoughby; I will gladly ask him to come and see you.
Indeed, I was just going to ask if you would allow him to call Here
the girl hesitated a moment, then said, You see, it was only last
night, but I am engaged to be married to Dr. Heinz, and do wish you to
know and love him for my sake.
Love one of the name of Heinz! Could she do so, the gentle lady was
asking herself. What if he should prove to be the brother of the man
who had caused her such bitter sorrow? But at that moment there rose to
her remembrance the words of Scripture, said by Him who suffered from
the hand of man as never man suffered, Forgive, as ye would be
forgiven, and who illustrated that forgiveness on the cross when He
prayed for His deadly enemies, Father, forgive them; for they know not
what they do. The momentary struggle was over. Mrs. Willoughby raised
her head, and said in a calm, quiet tone,
God bless you, Gertie; and may your union be a very happy one. I
should like to see Dr. Heinz.
And so it came to pass that ere many days had elapsed, Dr. Heinz was
ushered into Mrs. Willoughby's drawing-room in the London house which
they had taken for the season. He was hardly seated before she said,
Yes, oh yesthere can be no mistakeyou certainly are the brother
of the man who married my daughter. Tell me, oh tell me, she added,
what you know of her and of him!
Dr. Heinz was strongly moved as he looked on the face of the
Alas! he said, I grieve to say I can tell you nothing. I have not
heard for several years from my brother, and at times I fear he must be
dead. My poor brother, how I loved him! for, Mrs. Willoughby, a gentler
or more kind-hearted man never lived. You may be sure, however much
your daughter was to blame in marrying any one against her parents'
wishes, she found in my brother a truly loving, kind husband.
Thank God for that! she replied. But now tell me, was there a
child? Gertie spoke as if you knew there was one.
Certainly there was. In the last letter I had from my brother, he
spoke of the great comfort their little girl (who was the image of her
mother) was to themhis little Frida he called her, and at that time
she was three or four years old. Oh yes, there was a child. Would that
I could give you more particulars! but I cannot; only I must mention
that he said, 'I am far from strong, and my beloved wife is very
Ah, said the mother, she was never robust; and who knows what a
life of hardship she may have had to live! O Hilda, Hilda! Dr. Heinz,
is there no means by which we may find out their whereabouts? I have
lately had some advertisements put into various papers, praying them to
let us know where they are; but no answer has come, and now I am losing
Would that I could comfort you! he said; but I also fear much
that we have lost the clue to their whereabouts. I will not cease to do
all I can to trace them; but, dear Mrs. Willoughby, we believe that
there is One who knows all, whose eyes are everywhere, and we can trust
them to Him. If I should in any way hear of our friends, you may be
sure I shall not be long of communicating with you. In the meantime it
has been a great pleasure to me to have made the acquaintance of one
whom my dear Gertrude has often spoken to me of as her kindest of
Then Dr. Heinz told of the work in which he was engaged amongst the
poor, sorrowful, and also too often sinful ones, in the East End of
Before Dr. Heinz left, Mrs. Willoughby showed him the little brown
English Bible which her daughter had given to her not long before her
marriage, and told him about the German one, which looked exactly the
same outwardly, which she had given to her daughter.
Strange, said Dr. Heinz, as he held the little brown book in his
hand, that in the last letter I ever received from my brother, he told
me of the blessing which he had got through reading God's Word in a
brown Bible belonging to his wife, adding that she also had obtained
blessing through reading it.
Praise God! said Mrs. Willoughby; then my prayers have been
answered, that Hilda, like her mother, might be brought to the
knowledge of God. Now I know that if we meet no more on earth we shall
meet one day in heaven.I thank Thee, O my God!
It was with a heart full of emotion that Dr. Heinz found himself
leaving Mrs. Willoughby's house. Oh, how he longed that he could hear
tidings of his brother and his wife, and so be able to convey comfort
to the heart of the sorrowful lady he had just left!
As he was walking along, lost in thought, he came suddenly face to
face with Reginald Gower, whom he had lately met several times at the
Wardens', and to whom he suspected the news of his engagement to
Gertrude Warden would bring no pleasure; but from the greeting which
Reginald gave him he could not tell whether or not he knew of the
He accosted him with the words: What are you doing, doctor, in this
part of the town? I thought it was only in the narrow, dirty slums, and
not in the fashionable part of the west of London, that you were to be
found; and that it was only the sick and sorrowful, not the gay, merry
inhabitants of Belgravia that you visited.
Do you think then, replied Dr. Heinz, that the sick, sad, and
sorrowful are only to be found in the narrow, dark streets of London?
What if I were to tell you that although there is not poverty, there
are sorrowful, sad, unsatisfied hearts to be found in as great numbers
in these fashionable squares and terraces as in the places you speak
of; and that the votaries of fashion, whom you style gay and merry, are
too often the most wretched of mankind, and that beneath the robes of
silk and satin of fashionable life there beats many a breaking heart?
You see that splendid square I have just left. Well, in one of the
handsomest houses there dwells one of the sweetest Christian ladies I
have ever met. She has everything that wealth and the love of friends
can give her, yet I believe she is slowly dying of a broken heart,
longing to know if a dearly-loved daughter, who made a marriage which
her parents did not approve of, years ago, is still alive; and no one
can tell her whether she or any child of hers still survives. I know
all the circumstances, and would give a great deal to be able to help
her. He would be a man to be envied who could go to that sweet mother,
Mrs. Willoughby, and say, I can tell you all about your daughter, or,
if she is not alive, of her child. O Reginald Gower, never say that
there are not sad hearts in the west part of London, though you may see
only the smiling face and dry eyes. You remember the words of the
'Go weep with those who weep, you say,
Ye fools! I bid you pass them by,
Go, weep with those whose hearts have bled
What time their eyes were dry.'
But I must go. Have you not a word of congratulation for me,
Why? was the amazed reply; and for what?
Oh, said Dr. Heinz, somewhat taken aback, do you not know that I
am engaged to be married to Gertrude Warden?
You are? was the reply, with a look of amazement that Dr. Heinz
could not fail to notice; well, I rather think you are a lucky fellow.
Butand a look of deep sorrow crossed his face as he spokeI do
believe you are worthy of her. Tell her I said so. And would you mind
saying good-bye to her and her sister from me, as I may not be able to
see them before starting for America, which I shall probably do in a
week; and should you again see the Mrs. Willoughby you have been
speaking of, and whom I know well, please tell her I could not get to
say farewell to her, as my going off is a sudden idea. Good-bye, Dr.
Heinz. May you and Miss Gertrude Warden be as happy as you both deserve
to be; and without another word he turned away.
Dr. Heinz looked after him for a moment, then shook his head
somewhat sadly, saying to himself, There goes a fine fellow, if only
he had learned of Him 'who pleased not himself.' Reginald is a spoiled
character, by reason of self-pleasing. I must ask Gertrude how he comes
to know Mrs. Willoughby, and why he is going off so suddenly to
America, although I may have my suspicions as to the reason for his so
CHAPTER XIV. THE OLD NURSE.
It chanced, eternal God, that chance did guide.
How are you getting on with your packing, Frida? said Miss
Drechsler, as the girl, wearing a loose morning-dress, looked into the
room where her friend was sitting.
Oh, very well, was the answer; I have nearly finished. When did
you say the man would come for the trunks?
I expect him in about an hour. But see, here comes the post; look
if there is one for me from Miss Warden. I thought I would get one to
tell me if any of her friends would meet us at Dover.
Frida ran off to meet the postman at the door, and returned in
triumph, bearing two letters in her hand.
One for you, auntie (she always now addressed Miss Drechsler by
that name), and one for myself. Mine is from Ada Stanford, and yours,
I am sure, is the one you are expecting.
A few minutes of silence was broken by Frida exclaiming,
O auntie, Ada has been very ill again, and is still very weak, and
she asks, as a great favour, that I would come to visit them before
going to the Wardens; and adds, 'If Miss Drechsler would accompany you,
we would be so delighted; but in any case,' she writes to me, 'you
would not lose your London visit, as my doctor wishes me to see a
London physician as soon as I can be moved, specially as to settling
whether or not I should go abroad again next winter. So in perhaps
another month we may go to London, and then you can either remain with
us or join your friend at Miss Warden's.'
What do you think about it, auntie? Of course it is a great
disappointment to me not to go with you; but do I not owe it to the
Stanfords to go to them when I may be of use during Ada's
Miss Drechsler looked, as she felt, disappointed, she had
anticipated so much pleasure in having Frida with her in London; but
after a few minutes' thought she said, You are right, Frida: you must,
I fear, go first to the Stanfords. We cannot forget all that they have
done for you, and as they seem to be so anxious for you to go there, I
think you must yield to their wishes; but I must go at once to Miss
Warden, who is expecting me. You had better write at once and tell them
we hope to be at Dover in four days. They live, as you know, not so far
from there. I think that the train will take you to the station, not
above a couple of miles from Stanford Hall, where I doubt not they will
meet you; but I must write at once and let Miss Warden know that you
cannot accompany me, and the reason why, though I hope that erelong, if
convenient to her, you may join me there. Ah, Frida! 'man's heart
deviseth his way: but God directeth his steps.'
And so it came to pass that Miss Drechsler arrived alone at Miss
Warden's, whilst Frida went to Stanford Hall.
When it became known in the Forest that the woodland child, as they
still called her, was again about to leave them for some undefined
time, there was great lamentation.
How then are we to get on without you? they said. Ach!
shall we have to do without the reading of the book again? True, Hans
Hörstel reads it well enough; but what of that? He too has left us.
Ach! it is plain no one cares for the poor wood-cutters and
charcoal-burners who live in the Forest, and some grand English
gentleman will be getting our woodland child for a wife, and she will
return to us no more.
But Frida only laughed at these lamentations. Why, what nonsense
you speak! she said. It is only for a little while that I am going
away. I hope to come back in about three months. And many of you can
now read the Bible for yourselves. And as to the grand gentleman, that
is all fancy; I want no grand gentleman for a husband. The only thing
that would detain me in England would be if any of my relations were to
find me out and claim me; but if that were to be the case, I am sure
none of my friends in the Forest would grudge their child to her own
people, and they may be assured she would never forget them, and would
not be long in revisiting them.
Ach! if the child were to find her own friends, her father
or her mother's people, that would be altogether a different matter,
they said simultaneously. We would then say, 'Stay, woodland child,
and be happy with those who have a right to you; but oh, remember the
poor wood-cutters and workers in the Forest, who will weary for a sight
of the face of the fair girl found by one of them in the Black
Very hearty was the welcome which awaited Frida at Stanford Hall.
Ada received her with open arms.
Ah, Frida, how glad I am to see you once again; and how good of you
to give up the pleasure of a month in London to come to see and comfort
us!You will see how quickly I will get well now, mother.And
erelong, Frida, we shall take you to London ourselves, and father will
show you all the wonders there.
Frida answered merrily, but she felt much shocked to see how
delicate-looking Ada had become.
The girls had much to tell each other of all that had happened since
last they met; and when dinner was over, and Frida went to see Ada as
she lay on her couch in her prettily-fitted-up boudoir, Ada roused
herself to have, as she said, a right down delightful chat.
See, Frida, here is a charming easy-chair for you; please bring it
quite close to my couch, and now tell me all about your Forest friends.
How are Elsie and Wilhelm, and their little Gretchen and Hans? But,
indeed, I believe I know more about them than you do; for only two days
ago my father received a letter from Hans's music-teacher in Leipsic,
giving him unqualified praise, and predicting a successful musical
career for him.
Oh, I am glad! said Frida. How pleased his parents will be, and
how grateful to Sir Richard Stanford for all he has done for him!
And so in pleasant talk the evening of the first day of Frida's
visit to Stanford Hall drew to a close. As time passed on, Ada's health
rapidly improved, and together the girls went about the beautiful
grounds belonging to the HallAda at first drawn in an invalid chair,
and Frida walking by her side. But by-and-by Ada was able to walk, and
together the girls visited in some of the cottages near the HallFrida
finding out that Ada in her English home was conveying comfort and
blessing to many weary souls by reading to them from her English Bible
the words of life, even as she had done from her German one in the huts
of the wood-cutters, carters, and charcoal-burners in the Black Forest.
Have you heard, Ada, said Lady Stanford one morning at breakfast,
that the old woman who has lately come to the pretty picturesque
cottage at the Glen is very ill? I wish you and Frida would go and see
her, and take her some beef-tea and jelly which the housekeeper will
give you. I understand she requires nourishing food; and try and
discover if there is anything else she requires.
Certainly, mother, answered Ada; we will go at once and see what
can be done for her.That Glen is a lovely spot, Frida, and you have
never been there. What say youshall we set off at once? The poor
woman is very old, and her memory is a good deal affected.
I shall be pleased to go, Ada; but I have a letter from Miss
Drechsler, received this morning, which I must answer by the first
post. She tells me that her friend Miss Warden is in great distress
about the illness of a friend of hers. She wishes to know how soon I
can join her in London; and now that you are so well, Ada, I really
think I ought to go.
Ah, well, said Ada with a laugh, time enough to think of that,
Frida. We are not prepared to part with you yet; but seriously, mother
talks of carrying us all off to London by another fortnight, and that
must suffice you. But after you have written your letter we will set
off to the Glen.
It was a lovely walk that the girls took that summer day through
green lanes and flowery meadows, till they came to a beautiful glen
overshadowed with trees in their fresh summer foliage of greenery,
through which the sunbeams found their way and touched with golden
light the green velvety moss and pretty little woodland flowers which
so richly carpeted the ground.
How beautiful it is here! said Frida, and yet how unlike the
sombre appearance of the trees in the dear Black Forest!
Ah, said Ada, that Forest, where I do believe your heart still
is, Frida, always seemed to me to be so gloomy and dark, so unlike our
lovely English woods with their 'leafy tide of greenery.'
As they spoke they neared the cottage where dwelt the old woman they
were going to see. It was thatch-covered and low, but up the walls grew
roses and ivy, which gave it a bower-like appearance.
She is a strange old woman, said Ada, who has only lately come
here, and no one seems to know much about her. A grandchild of fourteen
or fifteen years old lives with and takes care of her. Her memory is
much impaired, but she often talks as if she had friends who if they
knew where she lived and how ill-off she was would help her; but when
questioned as to their name, she shakes her head and says she can't
remember it, but if she could only see the young lady she would know
her. They fancy the friends she speaks of must have been the family
with whom she lived as nurse, for her grandchild says she used often to
speak of having had the charge of a little girl to whom she was
evidently much attached. But here we are, Frida, and yonder is little
Maggie standing at the door.
When they entered the room, Frida was amazed to see how small it was
and how dark; for the ivy, which from the outside looked so
picturesque, darkened the room considerably. Ada, who had seen the old
woman before, went forward to the bed where she lay and spoke some kind
words to her. The old woman seemed as if she hardly understood, and
gave no answer.
Ah, madam, said the grandchild, she knows nothing to-day, and
when she speaks it is only nonsense.
Frida now came forward and laid her hand kindly on the poor woman,
addressing a few words of sympathy to her. The invalid raised her eyes
and looked around her, giving first of all a look of recognition to
Ada, and holding out her thin hand to her, but her eyes sought
evidently to distinguish the face of the stranger who had last spoken.
She knows, explained Maggie, yours is a strange voice, and wishes to
see you, which she can't do, miss, for you are standing so much in the
Frida moved so that the glimmer of light which entered the little
room fell on her face. As she did so, and the old woman caught a
glimpse of her, a look of joy lit up the faded face, and she said in a
distinct voice: 'Bless the Lord, O my soul;' my dear has come to see
me. Oh, but I am glad! It's a long time since I saw you, Miss Hildaa
long, long time. I thought you were dead, or you would never have
forgotten your old nurse you loved so dearly; but now you've come, my
lamb, and old nurse can die in peace. And seizing Frida's hand, the
old woman lay back as if at rest, and said no more.
Frida was startled, and turning to her friend, said, O Ada, whom
does she take me for? Can it be that she knew my mother, whose name was
Hilda, and that she takes me for her? Miss Drechsler says I am
strikingly like the picture I have of her. Perhaps she can tell me
where my mother lived, and if any of her relations are still alive;
and bending over the bed, she said in a low tone, Who was Hilda, and
where did she live? Perhaps she was my mother, but she is dead.
The old woman muttered to herself, but looked up no more, Dead,
dead; yes, every one I loved is dead. But not Miss Hilda; you are she,
and you have come to see your old nurse. But listen, Miss Hilda: there
is the master calling on us to go in, and you know we must not keep the
master waiting for even a minute; and then the old woman spoke only of
things and people of whom no one in the room knew anything. But through
all Frida distinctly heard the words, Oh, if only you had never played
on that instrument, then he would never have come to the house. O Miss
Hilda, why did you go away and break the heart of your mother, and old
nurse's also? Oh, woe's the day! oh, woe's the day!
Was his name Heinz? asked Frida in a trembling voice.
Oh yes, Heinz, Heinz. O Miss Hilda, Miss Hilda, why did you do it?
and then the old woman burst out crying bitterly.
O miss, can you sing? said Maggie, coming forward; for nothing
quiets grandmother like singing.
Yes, I can, replied Frida.And you, I am sure, Ada, will help
me. I know now the woman, whoever she is, knows all about my mother.
Together the two young girls sang the hymn, Jesus, Lover of my
As they sang the dying woman became quieter, her muttering ceased,
and presently she fell into a quiet sleep; the last words she uttered
before doing so were, Jesus, Lover of my soul. Much moved in spirit,
Frida quitted the house; she felt as if now she stood on the verge of
discovering the name and relations of her mother. She and Ada hastened
their return home to confide to Lady Stanford all that had passed. She
was much interested, and, as Sir Richard entered the room just then,
she repeated the story to him. He listened eagerly, and said he would
at once find out all he could about the woman and her friends; and so
saying he left the house.
He returned home cast down and discouraged. The woman had become
quite delirious, and the names of Hilda and Heinz were often on her
lips, but he could, of course, get nothing out of her. The grandchild
could tell nothing of her former life; she never remembered hearing
where she had been nurse, but her father, who was now in Canada, might
know. Sir Richard could write and ask him. She had his address, and
sometimes got letters from him. The doctor said he did not think that
grandmother would live over the night. The only thing that had quieted
her was the singing of the young lady whom she had called Miss Hilda,
and who had come to the cottage that day with Miss Stanford. Maybe if
she could come again and sing grandmother would be quieter.
On hearing this Frida rose, and said if Lady Stanford would allow
her, she would go and remain all night with the old woman, who she felt
sure must have been her mother's nurse. She often, she said, watched a
night by dying beds in the Black Forest, and had comforted some on
their death-beds by reading to them portions of God's Word.
The Stanfords could not refuse her request; and when Lady Stanford
had herself filled a basket with provisions for Frida herself and
little Maggie, the girl set off, accompanied by Sir Richard, who went
with her to the door of the cottage.
Finding the poor woman still delirious, Frida took off her cloak and
bonnet and prepared to spend the night with her, and sitting down
beside the bed she once more began to sing some sweet gospel hymns. In
low and gentle tones she sang of Jesus and His love, and again the
sufferer's restlessness and moaning ceased, and she seemed soothed.
Hours passed, and the early summer morn began to dawn, and still the
old woman lived on. Every now and then she muttered the name of Miss
Hilda, and once she seemed to be imploring her not to vex her mother;
and more than once she said the name of Heinz, and whenever she did so
she became more excited, and moaned out the words, Woe's me! woe's
me! Frida watched anxiously every word, in the hope that she might
hear the name of Hilda's mother or the place where they lived; but she
watched in vain. It was evident that though there was a look of
returning consciousness, life was fast ebbing. A glance upward seemed
to indicate that the dying woman's thoughts had turned heavenward.
Frida opened her Bible and read aloud the words of the shepherd
psalm, so precious to many a dying soul, Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art
To her amazement the sick woman repeated the words, thou art
with me; and as she finished the last word the soul fled, and Frida
and Maggie were alone with the dead. The story of Frida's birth was
still undisclosed, but God's word, as recorded in Holy Scripture, had
again brought peace to a dying soul. Neighbours came in, and Frida
turned away from the death-bed with a heart full of gratitude to the
Lord that she had been allowed with His own words to soothe and comfort
the old nurse, who she felt sure had tended and loved her own mother.
When she returned to the Hall, the Stanfords were truly grieved to
hear that the old woman was dead, and that there had been no further
revelation regarding Frida's relations. Lady Stanford and Ada had just
persuaded Frida to go to bed and rest awhile after her night of
watching, when the door opened, and the butler came in bearing a
telegram to Miss Heinz. Frida opened it with trembling hands, saw it
was from Miss Drechsler, and read the words, Come at once; you are
What could it mean? Was Miss Drechsler ill? It looked like it, for
who else would require her in London? Fatigue was forgotten; she could
rest, she said, in the train; she must go at once. In a couple of hours
she could start. Ada was disconsolate. Nevertheless, feeling the
urgency of the case, she assisted her friend to pack her boxes; and
erelong Frida was off, all unaware of what might be awaiting her in the
great city. But ere we can tell that, we must turn for a while to other
scenes, and write of others closely linked, although unknown to
herself, with the life and future of the child found in the Black
CHAPTER XV. THE POWER OF CONSCIENCE.
Being convicted by their own conscience.
The day on which Reginald Gower met Dr. Heinz on the street, and
sent through him a farewell message to Gertrude Warden, found him a
couple of hours afterwards seated in his mother's boudoir,
communicating to her his suddenly-formed plan of starting in a few days
It was no easy thing to do. The bond between mother and son was a
very strong one, and her pleasure in having had him with her for some
little time had been great. Her look of pleasure when he entered the
room made it more difficult for him to break the news to her.
Earlier back to-day than usual, Reggie, she said, but never too
early for your old mother. But is anything amiss? she said in a voice
of alarm, as she noticed the grave look on his face. Have you heard
any bad news, or are you ill?
No, mother, it is neither of these thingsthere is nothing the
matter; only I fear, mother dear, that what I am going to say will vex
you, but you must not let it do so. I am not worth all the affection
you lavish on me. Mother, I have made up my mind to go to America, and
to remain there for some time. I cannot stop here any longer. I am
tirednot of my dear mother, he said, as he stooped over her and
kissed her fondly, but of the idle life I lead here; and so I mean to
go and try and get work there, perhaps buy land if I can afford it, and
see if I can make anything of my life as a farmer. Nay, mother, do not
look so sad, he pleaded; you do not know how hard it is for me to
come to this resolution, but I must go. I cannot continue to live on
future prospects of wealth that maynay, perhaps ought never to be
mine, but must act the mantry and earn my own living.
Your own living, Reginald! interposed his mother; surely you have
enough of your own to live comfortably on even as a married man, and
your prospects of succeeding to Harcourt Manor are, I grieve to say for
one reason, almost certain. O Reginald, don't go and leave me so soon
But the young man, usually so easily led, fatally so indeed, stood
firm now, and only answered, Mother, it must be, and if you knew all
you would be the first to advise me to go. Mother, you will soon hear
that Gertie Warden is engaged to be married to a man worthy of hera
noble Christian doctor of the name of Heinz; but don't think that that
circumstance is the reason of my leaving home. Fool though I have been
and still am, I was never fool enough to think I was worthy of gaining
the love of a high-principled girl like Gertie Warden. But, mother,
your unselfish, God-fearing life, and that of Gertie and Dr. Heinz,
have led me to see my own character as I never saw it before, and to
wish to put right what has been so long wrong, and which it seems to me
I can do best if I were away from home. Ask me no more, mother dear;
some day I will tell you all, but not now. Only, mother, I must tell
you that the words of the Bible which you love so well and have so
early taught to me have not been without their effect, at least in
keeping my conscience awake. And, mother, don't cease to pray for me
that I may be helped to do the right. Oh, do not, do not, he
entreated, as his mother began to urge him to remain, say that,
mother; say rather, 'God bless you,' and let me go. Believe me, it is
best for me to do so.
At these words Mrs. Gower ceased speaking. If, indeed, her loved son
was striving to do the right thing, would she be the one to hold him
back? Ah no! she would surrender her will and trust him in the hands of
her faithful God. So with one glance upward for help and strength, she
laid her hand on his head and said, Go then, my son, in peace; and may
God direct your way and help you to do the right thing, and may He
watch between us when we are separate the one from the other.
Just as Reginald was leaving the room Miss Drechsler entered. She
greeted Mrs. Gower cordially, remembering her in old times; and she
recognized Reginald as the young man who had spoken to Frida the day
after the concert, though then she had not heard his name.
As Reginald was saying good-bye, he heard his mother ask Miss
Drechsler where her friend the young violinist was. I thought you
would have brought her to see me, she added. Her answer struck
Reginald with dismay.
Oh! she did not accompany me to London after all. A great friend of
hers was ill, and she had to go to her instead. It was a great
disappointment to me.
Reginald went to his room feeling as if in a dream. Then it might
never come to pass, after all, that Frida's parentage would be found
out; and Satan suggested the thought that therefore he need not
disclose all he knew, but let things go on as they were.
He hugged the idea, for not yet had he got the victory over evil; at
all events he thought he would still wait a bit, but he would certainly
carry out his intention of leaving the country for a while at least;
and two days after the time we write of, his mother sat in her own room
with a full heart after having parted from her only son. Well for her
that she knew the way to the mercy-seat, and could pour out her sorrow
at the feet of One who has said, Call upon me in the day of trouble,
and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
CHAPTER XVI. THE STORM.
More things are wrought by prayer
Than the world dreams of.
After Mrs. Willoughby's interview with Dr. Heinz of which we have
written, her thoughts turned more than ever to the daughter she loved
It seemed certain from what Dr. Heinz had said that there had been a
child; and if so, even although, as she feared, her loved daughter were
dead, the child might still be alive, and probably the father also. The
difficulty now was to obtain the knowledge of their place of residence.
Mrs. Willoughby quite believed that if any news could be obtained of
either mother or child, Mr. Willoughby's heart was so much softened
that he would forgive and receive them thankfully. Once more
advertisements were inserted in various papers, and letters written to
friends abroad, imploring them to make every inquiry in their power.
More than once Dr. Heinz called to see his new-made friend; but as
Mr. Willoughby had returned to Harcourt Manor, whither his wife was
soon to follow him, he never met him; and as Dr. Heinz was leaving town
to take a much-needed holiday in the west Highlands of Scotland,
nothing more could be done for the present to obtain information
regarding the lost ones. It thus happened that although Dr. Heinz was a
frequent visitor at Miss Warden's, he never met Miss Drechsler; but he
heard from Gertie that she had not been able to bring the young girl
violinist with her.
It was to Mrs. Willoughby that Mrs. Gower went for sympathy and
consolation at the time of her son's departure. Mrs. Willoughby heard
of his sudden departure with surprise and deep sorrow for her friend's
Reginald gone off again so soon! she said. Oh, I am sorry for
you, dear friend! And does he speak of remaining long away? Making his
own living, you say? Has he not enough to live comfortably on in the
meantime? And then, you know, and her eyes filled with tears as she
spoke, his future prospects are very good, unless
But here Mrs. Gower interrupted her. Dear friend, from my heart I
can say, if only dear Hilda or any child of hers could be restored to
you, there is no one would more truly rejoice than I would; and I
believe Reginald would do so also. But even as she said these words a
pang of fear crossed her mind as to Reginald's feeling on the subject;
but the mother's belief in her child refused to see any evil in him,
and she added, I am sure he would. But in any case the day of his
succession as heir-at-law to Harcourt Manor is, we trust, far off, and
so perhaps it is best for him that he should make his way in life for
himself. I have been able now to trust him in God's hands, who doeth
all things well.
From that visit Mrs. Gower returned to her home comforted and
strengthened. Alone she might be, yet, like her Saviour, not alone,
for the Father was with her. And ere many days had elapsed she was
able to busy herself in making preparations for her return to her
pleasant country home, which she had only left at Reginald's special
request that for once they might spend the season together in London.
One thing only she regrettedthat she would be for some weeks
separated from her friend Mrs. Willoughby, who was not to return to
Harcourt Manor for some weeks.
Ah! truly has it been said, Man proposes, but God disposes. The
very day that Mrs. Gower started for her home, Mrs. Willoughby received
a telegram telling her that Mr. Willoughby was very ill at the Manor,
and that the doctor begged she would come at once; and so it turned out
that, unknown to each other, the friends were again near neighbours,
and Mrs. Willoughby in her turn was to receive help and comfort from
her friend Mrs. Gower.
Long hours of suspense and anxiety followed the gentle lady's
arrival at her country home. It soon became evident that Mr.
Willoughby's hours were numbered, but his intellect remained clear. His
eyes often rested with great sadness on his wife, and as he thought of
leaving her alone and desolate, his prayer was that he might hear
something definite regarding the child ere he died. Could he but have
obtained that boon, he would have felt that that knowledge had been
granted to him as a pledge of God's forgiveness.
Not always does our all-wise God grant us signs even as an answer to
our prayers. Still, He is a God who not only forgives as a king,
royally, but also blesses us richly and fully to show the greatness of
His forgiving power. And such a God He was to prove Himself in the case
of Mr. Willoughby.
* * * * *
Whilst he lay on that bed of death, watched over and tended by
loving friends, Reginald Gower was tossing on a stormy sea, a fair
emblem of the conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, that was
still raging within his breast. But that night, when the waves of the
Atlantic were wellnigh overwhelming the vessel in which he sailed, when
fear dwelt in every heart, when the captain trod the deck with an
anxious gravity on his face, light broke on Reginald's heart. So his
mother's prayers were answered at last. The Holy Spirit worked on his
heart, and showed him as it were in a moment of time his selfishness
and his sin; and from the lips of the self-indulgent young man arose
the cry never uttered in vain, God be merciful to me a sinner. And
when the morning light dawned, and it was seen they were nearing in
safety the harbour whither they were bound, Reginald Gower looked out
on the sea, which was fast quieting down, and gave thanks that the
conflict in his soul was ended, and that clear above the noise of the
waters he heard the voice of Him who, while He tarried here below, had
said, Peace, be still, to the raging billows, say these same words to
Safe in port, rang out the captain's voice; and Safe in port,
through the merits of my Saviour, echoed through the soul of the young
Now, he said to himself, let house, lands, and fortune go. I will
do the just, right thing, which long ago I should have donewrite to
Mrs. Willoughby, and tell all I know about the child found in the Black
At that resolution methinks a song of rejoicing was heard in heaven,
sung by angel voices as they proclaimed the glad news that once more
good had overcome evilthat the power of Christ had again conquered
the power of darknessthat in another heart the Saviour of the world
had seen of the travail of His soul and was satisfied.
* * * * *
In the meantime, the events we have written of were transpiring in
Harcourt Manor. Mr. Willoughby still lay on a bed of sickness, from
which the doctor said he would never rise, although a slight rally made
it possible that life might yet be spared for a few days or even weeks.
He was wonderfully patient, grieving only for the sorrow experienced
by his wife, and the sad thought that his own unforgiving spirit was in
great part the reason why now she would be left desolate without a
child to comfort her.
Daily Mrs. Gower visited her friend, and often watched with her by
the bed of death.
Dr. Heinz, at Mrs. Willoughby's request, came to see Mr. Willoughby,
and obtained from his lips a message of full forgiveness if either his
daughter, her husband, or any child should be found after his death;
and together they prayed that if it were God's will something might be
heard of the lost ones ere Mr. Willoughby entered into rest.
'Nevertheless,' added the dying man, 'not my will but thine be
CHAPTER XVII. THE DISCOVERY.
All was ended nowthe hope, and the fear, and the sorrow.
One day shortly after Dr. Heinz's visit, Mrs. Gower came to Harcourt
Manor accompanied by Miss Drechsler, who had arrived from London the
night before to remain with her for a couple of days.
You will not likely see Mrs. Willoughby, she said as they neared
the manor-house, as she seldom leaves her husband's room; but if you
do not object to waiting a few minutes in the drawing-room whilst I go
to see her, I would be so much obliged to you, as I am desirous of
knowing how Mr. Willoughby is to-day. He seemed so low when I last saw
Oh, certainly, answered Miss Drechsler. Don't trouble about me; I
can easily wait. And don't hurry, please; I am sure to get some book to
while away the time.
They parted in the hall, Mrs. Gower turning off to the sick-room,
while Miss Drechsler was ushered by the butler into the drawing-room.
The room was a very fine one, large and lofty. It had been little used
for some weeks, and the venetian blinds were down, obscuring the light
and shutting out the summer sunshine.
At first Miss Drechsler could hardly distinguish anything in the
room, coming into it as she did from a blaze of light; but as her eyes
became accustomed to the gloom, she made out first one object and then
another clearly, and rising from the place where she had been seated,
she began to look around her, turning to the pictures, which she had
heard were considered very fine. She looked attentively at some of
them. Then her eyes rested on a full-sized portrait of a beautiful
girl, and with a start of astonishment Miss Drechsler uttered the word,
Frida! and with her curious necklace on, too. What does it mean? she
In a moment the whole truth flashed on her mind. That, she felt
sure, must be a picture of Frida's mother, and she must have been the
missing child of Harcourt Manor.
She sat down a moment, feeling almost stunned by the discovery she
had made. What a secret she had to disclose! Oh, if Mrs. Gower would
only come back quickly, that she might share it with her! Oh, if Frida
had only been with her, and she could have presented her to her
grandparents as the child of their lost daughter!
At last the door opened, and her friend appeared, but much agitated.
Excuse me, dear Miss Drechsler, for having kept you so long waiting;
but I found Mr. Willoughby much worse, and I must ask you kindly to
allow me to remain here for a short time longer. Perhaps you would like
to take a stroll about the beautiful grounds, and
But Miss Drechsler could no longer keep silence. O dear friend, do
not distress yourself about me! Listen to me for a moment. I have made
such a discovery. I know all about Mrs. Willoughby's daughter; but,
alas, she is dead! She died some years ago; but her only child, the
very image of that picture on the wall yonder, is living, and is now
residing within a few hours of London. She is my protégé, my
dearly-loved young violinist, Frida Heinz, the child I have told you of
found in the Black Forest!
Is it possible? replied Mrs. Gower. What a discovery you have
made! thank God for it. Can she be got at once, I wonder, ere the
spirit of her grandfather passes away? Oh, this is indeed an answer to
prayer! The cry of the poor man's heart for days has been, 'Oh, if God
has indeed forgiven me, as I fully believe He has, I pray He may allow
me to know ere I go hence if my child, or any child of hers, is alive
to come and comfort my dear wife in the sorrow that is awaiting her!'
A telegram must be sent at once to Stanford Hall, where she is now
living, said Miss Drechsler; and another to Miss Warden, asking her
to send off Frida, after she arrives at her house, at once to Harcourt
And without loss of time the telegram was dispatched which summoned
Frida to London, and from thence to the manor-house.
The first sense of surprise having passed, Mrs. Gower's thoughts
involuntarily turned to Reginald. How would he like this discovery? But
again the mother's partiality, which already had too often blinded her
to his faults, suggested the impossibility that he would receive the
news with aught but pleasure, though there might be a momentary feeling
of disappointment as regarded his future prospects. But now she must
return to the sick-room, and try to see her friend for a minute or two
alone, and tell her the glad tidings; also, if possible, let her hear
the particulars of the story from the lips of Miss Drechsler herself.
It was no easy matter now, under any pretence, to get Mrs.
Willoughby to leave her husband's side even for a moment. The doctors
had just told her that at most her husband had not more than two days
to live, perhaps not so long, and every moment was precious; but Mrs.
Grower's words, spoken with calm deliberation, Dear friend, you must
see me in another room for a few minutes about a matter of vital
importance, had their effect. And she rose, and after leaving a few
orders with the nurse, and telling her husband she would return
immediately, she quietly followed Mrs. Gower into another room.
She listened as if in a dream to the story which Miss Drechsler
told. Incident after incident proved that the child found in the Forest
was indeed her grand-daughter; and as she heard that her own child, her
loved Hilda, was indeed dead, the mother's tears fell fast.
The necklace which Frida still possessed, the same as that worn by
the girl in the picture, the small portrait which had been found in her
bag the night that Wilhelm Hörstel had discovered her in the Black
Forest, all confirmed the idea that she was indeed the grandchild of
the Manor; but it was not until Mrs. Willoughby heard the story of the
brown German Bible that she sobbed out the words, Oh, thank God,
thank God, she is the child of my darling Hilda. Now, dear friend, this
discovery must be communicated by me to my husband, and he will know
that his last prayer for me has been granted.
Mr. Willoughby was quite conscious, and evidently understood the
fact that at last a child of his daughter's had been found. As regarded
the death of the mother, he merely whispered the words, I shall see
her soon; then said, I thank thee, O my Father, that Thou hast
answered prayer, and that now my sweet wife will not be left
alone.Give my fond love to the girl, wife, for I feel my eyes shall
not see her. That is my punishment for so long cherishing an
And if God could act as a man, such might have been the case; but
our God is fully and for ever a promise-keeping God, and He has
declared, If any man confess his sins, He is faithful and just to
forgive him, and to cleanse him from all iniquity. And so it came to
pass that ere the spirit of Mr. Willoughby passed away, he had pressed
more than one kiss on the lips of his grandchild, and whispered the
words, Full forgiveness through Christwhat a God we have! Comfort
your grandmother, my child, and keep near to Jesus in your life. God
bless the kind friends who have protected and loved you when you were
homeless.And now, Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace.Farewell,
loved and faithful wife, who, by the reading to me God's word of life,
hast led my soul to Christ. One deep-drawn breath, and his spirit
fled, and his wife and grandchild were left alone to comfort each
* * * * *
And now, Frida, my loved child, come and tell me all about those
friends who were so kind to you in the Forest, said Mrs. Willoughby
some days after Mr. Willoughby's funeral. Ah, how little we thought
that we had a grandchild living there, and that our darling Hilda was
dead! When I look upon you, Frida, it almost seems as if all these long
years of suffering had been a dream, and my daughter were again seated
beside me, work in hand, as we so often sat in the years that have
gone. You are wonderfully like her, and I believe that during the last
four hours of his life, when his mind was a little clouded, my dear
husband thought that Hilda really sat beside him, and that it was to
her he said the words, 'I fully forgive, as I hope to be forgiven.' But
comfort yourself, Frida; at the very last he knew all distinctly, and
told us to console each other.But now tell me what I asked you to do,
and also if you ever met any one who recognized you as your mother's
Not exactly, replied Frida. Still, one or two people were struck
with my likeness to some one whom they had seen, but whose name they
could not recall. Miss Drechsler was one of those, and now she says she
wonders she did not remember that it was Miss Willoughby, although she
had only seen her twice at the Wardens', and then amongst a number of
people. And then a young man, a Mr. Gower (the same name as your
friend), who had heard me play on the violin at the Stanfords' concert,
told them that he was much struck with my resemblance to a picture he
had seen. I wonder if he could be any relation to your Mrs. Gower?
Was his name Reginald? Mrs. Willoughby asked hurriedly.
Yes. Sir Richard Stanford used to call him Reginald Gower; but I
seldom saw him. But, grandmother, is there anything the matter? for as
Frida spoke, Mrs. Willoughby's face had blanched. Was it possible, she
asked herself, that Reginald Gower had known, or at least suspected,
the existence of this child, and for very evident reasons concealed it
from his friends? A terrible fear that it was so overcame her; for she
liked the lad, and tenderly loved his mother. She felt she must betray
herself, and so answered Frida's question by saying,
Oh, it is nothing, dear, only a passing faintness; but I shall lie
on the sofa, and you shall finish your talk. Now tell me about the
And Frida, well pleased to speak of the friends she loved so well,
told of her childhood's life in the Forest, and the kindness shown to
her by Elsie and Wilhelm, not forgetting to speak of Hans and the
little blind Anna so early called to glory. And, O grandmother, all
the wood-cutters and charcoal-burners were so kind to me, and many
amongst them learned to love the words of this little book; and as she
spoke she took from her pocket the little brown German Bible, her
mother's parting legacy to her child. It was no words of mine that
opened their eyes (I was too young to have said them); but I could read
the Word of God to them, and they did the deed.
Mrs. Willoughby took the little book in her hands and pressed it to
her lips. It was often in the hands of my darling Hilda, you say? and
those words in a foreign language became as precious to her as did the
English ones to her mother in the little Bible she gave her ere they
parted? Blessed book, God's own inspired revelation of Himself, which
alone can make us 'wise unto salvation.'
Mrs. Willoughby listened with great pleasure to Frida's tale,
glancing every now and again at the fair girl face, which was lit up as
with sunshine as she spoke of her happy days and dear friends in the
I must write to a friend in Dringenstadt, she said, to go to the
Forest and tell them all the good news,of how good God has been to me
in restoring me to my mother's friends, and in letting me know that a
brother of my father's was alive. But see, here comes the postman. I
must run and get the letters.
In a minute she re-entered bearing a number of letters in her hand.
Ah! here are quite a budget, she said. See, grandmother, there is
one for you bearing the New York mark, and another for myself from
Frankfort. Ah! that must be from the uncle you spoke of, Dr. Heinz. You
said he had gone there, did you not?
Whilst Frida was talking thus, her grandmother had opened her
American letter, and saw that it was from Reginald Gower. He has
heard, of course, of my dear husband's death, and writes to sympathize
with me. But no; he could hardly have heard of that event, nor of the
discovery of our grandchild, and replied to it. He must be writing
about some other subject.
She then read as if in a dream the following words:
DEAR FRIENDif indeed I may still dare to address you thusI
write to ask forgiveness for a sore wrong which I have done to
you and Mr. Willoughby. I confess with deep shame that for some
years I have had a suspicion, nay, almost a certainty, that a
child of your daughter was alive. Miss Drechsler, now living
with Miss Warden, can tell you all. I met the girl, who plays
charmingly on the violin, at a concert in the house of Sir
Richard Stanford. Her face reminded me of a picture I had seen
somewhere, but at first I could not recall where, until the
fact, told me by the Stanfords, of a peculiar necklace which
girl possessed, and which they described to me, brought to my
remembrance the picture of your daughter at Harcourt Manor with
a fac-simile of the necklace on. Added to this, I had
that the girl had been found by a wood-cutter in the Black
Forest, and that of her birth and parentage nothing was known.
It is now with deep repentance that I confess to having
concealed these facts (though I had no doubt as to whose child
she was), because I knew that by disclosing the secret my right
to succeed to the property of Harcourt Manor would be done away
with. I felt even then the shame and disgrace of so doing, and
knew also the trouble and grief I was causing to you, whom
(although you may find it difficult to believe) I really loved,
and who had ever been such a kind friend to me. I now see that
it was a love of self-indulgence which led me to commit so foul
a sin. Conscience remonstrated, and the words of the Bible, so
early instilled into my mind by my mother, constantly
me; but I turned from and stifled the voice of conscience, and
deliberately chose the evil way. All these years I have
experienced at times fits of the deepest remorse, but
selfishness prevailed; and when I heard that Frida Heinz was
coming to England, and that probably ere-long all might be
disclosed, I resolved to leave my native land and begin a
life here. Ere I left I had reason to believe that she was
unable to come to England, so even now I may be the first to
reveal the secret of her existence. I do not know if even yet I
would have gained strength to do this or not, had not God in
great mercy opened my eyes, during a fearful storm at sea, when
it seemed as if any moment might be my last, to see what a
sinner I was in His sight, and led me to seek forgiveness
through the merits of Christ for all my past sins. That
believe I have obtained, and now I crave a like forgiveness
you whom I have so cruelly wronged. Should you withhold it, I
dare not complain; but I have hopes that you, who are a
of our Lord Jesus Christ, will not do so. One more request, and
I have done. Comfort, I beg of you, my mother when she has to
bear the bitter sorrow of knowing how shamefully the son she
loves so dearly has acted. By this post I write also to her. I
trust to prove to both of you by my future life that my
repentance is sincere. REGINALD GOWER.
Mrs. Willoughby's grief on reading this letter was profound. To
think that the lad whom she had loved, and whom in many ways she had
befriended, had acted such a base, selfish part, overwhelmed her; and
the thought that if he had communicated even his suspicions to her so
long ago the child would have been found, and probably have gladdened
her grandfather's life and heart for several years ere he was taken
hence, was bitter indeed. But not long could any unforgiving feeling
linger in her heart, and ere many hours were over she was able fully to
Of Mrs. Gower's feelings we can hardly write. The shame and grief
she experienced on reading the letter, which she received from her son
by the same post as that by which Mrs. Willoughby received hers, cannot
be expressed; but through it all there rang a joyful song, This my son
was dead, and is alive again. The prayersbelieving prayersof long
years were answered, and the bond between mother and son was a doubly
precious one, united as they now were in Christ. It was for her friend
she felt so keenly, and to know how she had suffered at the hand of
Reginald was a deep grief to her. Could she, she queried, as she set
out letter in hand to Harcourt Manorcould she ever forgive him? That
question was soon answered when she entered the room and met her
friend. Ere then Mrs. Willoughby had been alone with her God in prayer,
and had sought and obtained strength from her heart to say, O Lord, as
Thou hast blotted out my transgressions as a thick cloud, and as a
cloud my sins, so help me to blot out from my remembrance the sorrow
which Reginald has caused to me, and entirely to forgive him. After
two hours spent together the two friends separated, being more closely
bound together than ever before; Mrs. Willoughby saying she would write
to Reginald that very night, and let him know that he had her
forgiveness, and that without his intervention God had restored her
grandchild to her arms.
In the meantime letters had reached Dr. Heinz telling that the
search for the missing ones was at an end. His short holiday was
drawing to a close, and erelong Frida was embraced by the brother of
the father she had loved so much and mourned so deeply.
And ere another summer had gone she was present at her uncle's
marriage with Gertie Warden, and was one of the bridesmaids. And a few
days after that event it was agreed, with her grandmother's full
consentnay, at her special requestthat she should accompany them on
their marriage jaunt, and that that should include a visit to Miss
Drechsler and a sight of her friends in the Black Forest.
Many were the presents sent by Mrs. Willoughby to Elsie, Wilhelm,
and others who had been kind to her grandchild in the Forest.
O grandmother, said Frida, as she was busy packing up the things,
do you know that I have just heard that my kind friend the German
pastor has returned to Dringenstadt and settled there. He was so very
kind to me when I was a little child, I should like to take him some
small special remembrancea handsome writing-case, or something of
Certainly, Frida, was the answer. You shall choose anything you
think suitable. I am glad you will have an opportunity of thanking him
in person for all his kindness to you, and, above all, for introducing
you to Miss Drechsler. And look here, Frida. As you say that Wilhelm
and Elsie can read, I have got two beautifully-printed German Bibles,
one for each of them, as a remembrance from Frida's grandmother, who,
through the reading of those precious words, has got blessing to her
own soul. See, I have written on the first page the words, 'Search the
scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are
they which testify of me.'
It was settled that during Frida's absence Mrs. Gower should live at
Harcourt Manor, and together Mrs. Willoughby and she bid adieu to Frida
as she set off three days after the marriage to meet her uncle and his
bride at Dover, from whence they were to start for the Continent. Tears
were in Frida's eyestears of gratitudeas she thought of the
goodness of God in restoring her, a lonely orphan, to the care of kind
relations since she had crossed the Channel rather more than a year
Frida endeared herself much to her uncle and his wife, and after a
trip with them for some weeks, they left her with regret at Miss
Drechsler's, promising to return soon and take her home with them after
she had seen her friends in the Forest.
Ah, Frida, said Miss Drechsler, when they were seated in the
evening in the pretty little drawing-room, does it not seem like olden
days? Do you not remember the first time when Pastor Langen brought you
here a shy, trembling little child, and asked me to see you from time
Ere Frida could reply, the door opened, and Pastor Langen entered,
and Miss Drechsler introduced him to his protégé.
Frida Heinz! Is it possible? I must indeed be getting ein Alter
if this be the little girl who was found in the Black Forest.
He listened with interest whilst Miss Drechsler told him the history
of her past years, much of which was new to him, although he had heard
of Frida's gift as a violinist; but when she told of the wonderful way
in which her relations had been discovered, he could refrain himself no
longer, but exclaimed,
Lobe Herrn, He is good, very good, and answers prayer.
And ere they parted the three knelt at the throne of grace and gave
thanks to God.
On the next day it was settled that Frida should go to the Forest
and see her old friends, taking her grandmother's present with her.
CHAPTER XVIII. OLD SCENES.
God's world is steeped in beauty,
God's world is bathed in light.
It was in the leafy month of June that Frida found herself once more
treading the Forest paths. The smaller trees were clothed in their
bright, fresh, green lining
Greenness shining, not a colour,
But a tender, living light;
and to them the dark, gloomy pines acted as a noble background, and
once again the song of birds was heard, and the gentle tinkle, tinkle
of the forest streams.
Memory was very busy at work as the girlnay, woman nowtrod those
familiar scenes. Yonder was the very tree under which Wilhelm found
her, a lonely little one, waiting in vain for the father she would see
no more on earth.
There in the distance were the lonely huts of the wood-cutters who
had so lovingly cared for the orphan child. And as she drew nearer the
hut of the Hörstels, she recognized many a spot where she and Hans had
played together as happy children, to whom the sighing of the wind amid
the tall pines had seemed the most beautiful music in the world.
As she recalled all these things, her heart filled with love to God,
who had cared for and protected her when her earthly friends had cast
her off. The language of her heart might have been expressed in the
words of the hymn so often sung in Scottish churches:
When all Thy mercies, O my God!
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I'm lost
In wonder, love, and praise.
Words cannot depict the joy of Elsie and Wilhelm at the sight of
their dear woodland child. They had already heard of her having found
her English relations, and heartily they rejoiced at the good news,
although well they knew that they would seldom see the child they loved
Many were the questions asked on both sides. Frida, on her part, had
to describe Harcourt Manor and her gentle grandmother and her father's
brother, Dr. Heinz, and his beautiful bride. She told also of the
full-sized picture (which hung on the walls of Harcourt Manor) of her
mother, which had been the means of the discovery of her birth, from
her extraordinary likeness to it.
When the many useful presents sent by Mrs. Willoughby were
displayed, the gratitude of those poor people knew no bounds, and even
the little girl looked delighted at the bright-coloured, warm frocks
and cloaks for winter wear which had been sent for her. Hans was by no
means forgotten: some useful books fell to his share when he returned
home in a few weeks from Leipsic for a short holiday.
It was with difficulty that Frida tore herself away from those kind
friends, and went to the Dorf to see her friends there, and take them
the gifts she had brought for them also. It was late ere she reached
Dringenstadt, and there, seated by Miss Drechsler, related to her the
doings of the day.
To Pastor Langen was entrusted a sum of money to be given to the
Hörstels, and also so much to be spent every Christmas amongst the
wood-cutters and charcoal-burners in the Dorf. The two Bibles Frida had
herself given to the Hörstels, who had been delighted with them.
When, soon after that day, Dr. Heinz and his bride, accompanied by
Frida, visited the Forest, they received a hearty welcome. Many of the
wood-cutters recognized the resemblance Dr. Heinz bore to his brother
who had died in the cottage in the Forest.
Many a story did Dr. Heinz hear of the woodland child and her brown
The marriage trip over, the Heinzes, accompanied by Frida, returned
to their homesthey to carry on their work of love in the dark places
of the great metropolis, taking with them not only comforts for the
body, but conveying to them the great and only treasures of the human
mind, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And to many and many a
sin-sick, weary soul the words of Holy Scripture spoken by the lips of
those two faithful ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ brought peace
and rest and comfort. And Frida, on her part, found plenty of work to
do for the Master in the cottages near Harcourt Manor, in which her
grandmother helped her largely.
Three years had passed since Frida had become an inmate of her
grandmother's home, and they had gone for the winter to London in order
to be near Frida's relations the Heinzes, and at Frida's request Ada
Stanford, who was now much stronger, had come to pay her a visit. Many
a talk the two friends had about the past, recalling with pleasure the
places they had visited together and the people they had seen. The
beauties of Baden-Baden and the sunny Riviera were often dwelt on, and
together they loved to review God's wonderful love as regarded them
both. They spoke also of their visit to the dying woman in the Glen,
whom Frida had long before found out to have been a faithful nurse to
her mother, and for whose little grand-daughter Mrs. Willoughby had
provided since hearing from Frida of the old woman's death.
Then one day the girls spoke of a musical party which was to take
place in Mrs. Willoughby's house that day, and in the arranging for
which Ada and Frida had busied themselves even as they had done years
before in Baden-Baden for the party at which Frida had played on the
violin. A large party assembled that night, and Dr. Heinz and Frida
played together; but the great musician of the night was a young German
violinist who had begun to attract general attention in the London
musical world. He was no other than Hans Hörstel, the playmate of
Very cordial was the meeting between those two who had last seen
each other in such different circumstances.
And Sir Richard Stanford, who was also present, felt he was well
repaid for what he had spent on young Hörstel's education by the result
of it, and by the high moral character which the young man bore.
It was a happy night. Frida rejoiced in the musical success of the
companion of her early years, and together they spoke of the days of
the past, and of his parents, who had been as father and mother to her.
Long after the rest of the company had gone, Hans, by Mrs.
Willoughby's invitation, remained on; and ere they parted they together
gave thanks for all God's kindness towards them.
All hearts were full of gratitude, for Mrs. Gower was there
rejoicing in the news she had that day received from Reginald, that he
was about to be married to a niece of Sir Richard Stanford's, whom he
had met whilst visiting friends in New York; and she was one who would
help in the work for Christ which he carried on in the neighbourhood of
his farm. He was prospering as regarded worldly matters, and he hoped
soon to take a run home and introduce his bride to his loved mother and
his kind friend Mrs. Willoughby. He added, I need hardly say that ere
I asked Edith to marry me I told her the whole story of my sin in
concealing what I knew of the birth of Frida Heinz; but she said, what
God had evidently forgiven, it became none to refuse to do so
So after prayer was ended, it was from their hearts that all joined
in singing the doxology,
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!
And with this scene we end the story of the child found in the Black
Forest, and the way in which her brown German Bible was used there for
the glory of God.