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The Story of an African Farm, vol. 1. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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page: 80

SERVICE NO. I.

THE boy Waldo kissed the pages of his book and looked up. Far over the flat lay the “kopje,” a mere speck; the sheep wandered quietly from bush to bush; the stillness of the early Sunday rested everywhere, and the air was fresh.

He looked down at his book. On its page a black insect crept. He lifted it off with his finger. Then he leaned on his elbow, watching its quivering antennæ and strange movements, smiling.

“Even you,” he whispered, “shall not die. Even you He loves. Even you He will enfold page: 81 in His arms when He takes everything and makes it perfect and happy.”

When the thing had gone he smoothed the leaves of his Bible somewhat caressingly. The leaves of that book had dropped blood for him once; they had taken the brightness out of his childhood; from between them had sprung the visions that had clung about him and made night horrible. Adder-like thoughts had lifted their heads, had shot out forked tongues at him, asking mockingly strange, trivial questions that he could not answer, miserable child:—

Why did the women in Mark see only one angel and the women in Luke two? Could a story be told in opposite ways and both ways be true? Could it? could it? Then again: Is there nothing always right, and nothing always wrong? Could Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite “put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer?” and could the Spirit of the Lord chant pæans over her, loud pæans, high pæans, set in the page: 82 book of the Lord, and no voice cry out it was a mean and dastardly sin to lie, and kill the trusting in their sleep? Could the friend of God marry his own sister, and be beloved, and the man who does it to-day goes to hell, to hell? Was there nothing always right or always wrong?

Those leaves had dropped blood for him once: they had made his heart heavy and cold; they had robbed his childhood of its gladness; now his fingers moved over them caressingly.

“My father God knows, my father knows,” he said; “we cannot understand; He knows.” After a while he whispered—“I heard your voice this morning when my eyes were not yet open, I felt you near me, my Father. Why do you love me so? How is it in the last four months all those old questions have gone from me? I know you are good; I know you love everything; I know it is all right; I feel it. I could not have borne it any more, not any more. I was almost mad. And all the while page: 83 I was so miserable you were looking at me and loving me, and I never knew it. But I know it now. I feel it,” said the boy, and he laughed low; “I feel it!” he laughed.

After a while he began partly to sing, partly to chant the disconnected verses of hymns, those which spoke his gladness, many times over, and loudly and always louder. The sheep with their senseless eyes turned to look at him as he sang.

At last he lapsed into quiet. Then as the boy lay there, staring at bush and sand, he saw a vision.

He had crossed the river of Death, and walked on the other bank in the Lord's land of Beulah. His feet sank into the dark grass, and he walked alone. Then, far over the fields, he saw a figure coming across the dark green grass. At first he thought it must be one of the angels; but as it came nearer he began to feel what it was. And it came closer, closer page: 84 to him, and then the voice said, “Come,” and he knew surely Who it was. He ran to the dear feet and touched them with his hands; yes, he held them fast! He lay down beside them. When he looked up the face was over him, and the glorious eyes were loving him; and they two were there alone together.

He laughed a deep laugh; then started up like one suddenly awakened from sleep.

“Oh, God!” he cried, “I cannot wait; I cannot wait! I want to die; I want to see Him; I want to touch him. Let me die!” He folded his hands, trembling. “How can I wait so long—for long, long years perhaps? I want to die—to see Him. I will die any death. Oh, let me come!”

Weeping he bowed himself, and quivered from head to foot. After a long while he lifted his head.

“Yes; I will wait; I will wait. But not long; do not let it be very long, Jesus. I want you; page: 85 oh, I want you—soon, soon!” He sat still, staring across the plain with his tearful eyes.

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