A Messenger From The Skies
From: Doctor Jones' Picnic
Mrs. Jones and Mattie had found Jennie to be a lovely, intelligent, and
more than ordinarily educated girl. While unused to society, yet there
was an honest straightforwardness about her that was very charming. The
two ladies became easily intimately acquainted with her. Her whole soul
was devoted to her mother, and the hope that Dr. Jones had inspired
shone from her eyes. She became quite cheerful and merry. And the effect
upon the poor invalid was not less visible. She insisted upon sitting in
her easy chair by the fireplace, and joined in the conversation.
Sing, meantime, had installed himself as the presiding genius of the
kitchen, and he and the half-breed Indian girl were getting along
"How long have you lived in this place, Mrs. Barton?" asked Mrs. Jones.
"Twenty-three years," replied she.
"Well, have you not found it a very monotonous existence?"
"I did at first; but as my children were born, my mind and heart were so
taken up by them that time did not hang heavily upon our hands. I really
believe that we are much happier than the majority of people in the
towns and cities."
"O, if mother can but get well, it seems to me that I shall never be
discontented again in Constance House!" exclaimed Jennie, her eyes
filling with tears.
"My poor girl does long sometimes to see the great world," said Mrs.
Barton, stroking the head of Jennie, who was sitting upon a stool at her
feet. "Well, my dear girl, I believe that God, in his infinite mercy,
has sent us help directly from the skies; for I must say that last
night, as I lay the first time for many weary months free from pain and
awful burning and restlessness, that I thanked God as I had never done
before; and my faith went out to Him so that I felt a great peace settle
upon me. He has blessed the means being used. I shall recover, my
Jennie, in a paroxysm of joy, threw herself at her mother's feet, and
buried her face in her lap, weeping as she had never done in her life.
At this juncture the Doctor, Professor Gray, and Mr. Barton entered the
"Tut, tut," said the Doctor, seeing the tears streaming down the faces
of the four women, "what sort of business is this? You ought to all be
laughing instead of crying. There is nothing to cry about, I assure
"Doctor," said Mrs. Barton, extending her hand to him, "you do not
understand. We are rejoicing, and this is just our poor woman's way of
"I see, I see," said the jovial Doctor. "Well, now wipe away your tears,
and give God all glory. He has sent me, a poor weak mortal, simply as a
messenger to administer that which will save you from a loathsome
disease and death. All glory be unto Him."
He then began singing softly and reverently, the others joining:
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform,
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs.
And works his sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head."
"And now, Mrs. Barton, you must come out and see the chariot in which
the Lord sent us," cried Dr. Jones gayly.
The poor invalid stood in the door and looked up at the great globe that
shimmered and glistened like burnished silver in the rays of the
setting sun. How proudly and serenely it rode above their heads as if
conscious of its own unparalleled beauty, and its blessed mission in
this present instance. She gazed upon it a few moments in speechless
rapture, her poor emaciated hands clasped upon her breast.
"This is too marvelous for me," she cried. "What am I that God should
send deliverance to me in so glorious and majestic a ship of the skies!
I am lost in wonder and praise. Glory be to His holy name forever and
"Amen!" responded the listeners fervently.
The canoe party returned at four o'clock, P.M. All were tired and ready
to sit about the generous fire; for evening was at hand, and the air was
already sharp and frosty.
"And how did it happen, Mr. Barton, that you came to settle away up in
this barren wilderness?" asked Professor Gray.
"I do not know that I know myself," returned Mr. Barton. "I was taken
sick at a boarding-house in Montreal, and was sent to a hospital. I was
at that time master of the bark Twilight, a Liverpool craft. Mrs. Barton
was then a beautiful girl--don't blush so, Mrs. Barton. Jennie there is
a perfect reproduction of you as I first saw you, and I should not be
ashamed of our Jennie anywhere on earth. Well, as I was saying, Mrs.
Barton, named at that time Miss Constance Schmidt, the daughter of a
Moravian missionary, visited the hospital frequently as an angel of
mercy. So far as I was concerned it was a case of love at first sight.
She nursed me back to health; and, with the usual ingratitude of man, I
married her for her pains. I then gave up the sea after a trip or two,
and settled in Montreal. But I could not get used to, nor like the
conventionalities of city life. So I made a trip into these wilds. I saw
an opportunity to do a good business in furs; and so, with wife's
consent, we settled on this spot. I built this house, which I named in
honor of my wife--Constance. I have done fairly well financially, and I
am sure that we have been quite happy and contented. Until Mrs. Barton's
illness, I was without a care or worry in the world."
"But don't you find the winters very long and terribly cold?" asked
"On the contrary, we enjoy our winters very much. To be sure, the
thermometer runs from thirty to fifty degrees below zero; but if the
wind does not blow, we suffer very little from it."
"What do you do to pass the time?" asked Will.
"The boys, when the weather is favorable, trap and hunt. I am getting a
little too old and heavy for much of that; so I attend to the chores
about the place, trade goods for furs to the hunters and Esquimaux. Our
evenings are passed in reading, one often reading aloud to the rest of
us. And we have a great deal of music. Joe plays the violin, Sam the
flute, and Jennie the guitar or dulcimer."
"By the way," cried Fred, "Let's have a musical soiree to-night. What do
you all say?"
This proposition was enthusiastically received.
"Come, Will, let's run up and get the organ. Will you go up?" addressing
Joe and Sam.
"Go up, my sons, and see this Alladin's palace," said Mr. Barton. "You
will never see its like again."
In half an hour they returned. The young Bartons were wildly
enthusiastic in their praises of the globe.
"Jennie, you must not fail to see the wonderful air-ship," cried Joe.
Mattie, Jennie, Will and Fred visited the globe, returning just in time
for a splendid supper prepared by the skillful Celestial, Sing. All that
the larders of both Constance House and the globe afforded had been
drawn upon, and it is doubtful if in all inhospitable Labrador a more
elaborate and bountiful table was ever spread.
The Doctor, at Mr. Barton's request, asked the Divine blessing, and all
fell to and ate with an appetite that is known only to those of clear
consciences and sound digestive organs. Having done justice to the
really splendid meal, they repaired to the sitting room. The beautiful
aluminum organ graced the center of the apartment, and the musicians
gathered about it. Fred was surprised and delighted to find that the
young Bartons were all really accomplished musicians, and their
instruments blended in sweetest harmony. So they played a number of
orchestral pieces that were received with great applause by the
audience. Then solos, duets, trios, quartettes, choruses, etc., were
sung, and it is not probable that the Barton family ever spent so
delightful an evening in their lives. And let us just contemplate the
scene for a moment. How happy, joyous, and innocent they were, just as
God intended his children to be. Two days before, this lovely family had
been in the depths of despair, day by day watching a beloved wife and
mother dying by inches of a painful, lingering, loathsome disease. Not a
sound of music had been heard in the house for many days. The violin,
guitar, and dulcimer had lain utterly neglected and unstrung. Now a
change has occurred that must have delighted the angels of God. Through
the unselfishness, skill, and noble-heartedness of one man, has come so
unexpectedly, as if dropped from the very skies, in the heart of one of
the most inhospitable portions of the earth, sweet hope and deliverance.
What wonder that their hearts are light and merry? One thought only mars
their pleasure: to-morrow morning the Children of the Skies will sail
away in their glorious sky-ship, probably never to return.
At ten o'clock the company broke up, the ship company ascending, as
before to their staterooms. Barton would not hear to anything else than
that they should descend in the morning for the last time. How sad these
earthly partings are. It will not be so in that better land.
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