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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCharley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 9. A Ministering Angel
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Charley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 9. A Ministering Angel Post by :teachmaster Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2228

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Charley Laurel: A Story Of Adventure By Sea And Land - Chapter 9. A Ministering Angel

Chapter Nine. A Ministering Angel

Mr Falconer did not die. Kitty asked him to live for her sake, and I dare say he was glad to do so. Dick and the doctor were out of hearing at the time, so that I don't know whether I ought to repeat it.

She often, as she sat by his side, spoke very seriously to him, and used to read the Bible. One day she asked whether he truly believed it to be God's word, and to contain His commands to man. He said he did with all his heart, and that he had always done so.

"Then," she asked, "how is it that you have not always lived according to its rules?"

"First, because I did not read the book," he answered; "and, secondly, because I liked to follow my own will."

"And preferred darkness to light, because your deeds were evil? That is what the Bible says, Edward, and you believe that it is God's word," said Kitty, in a firm voice. "But can you now truly say, 'I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son?'"

She gazed with her bright blue eyes full upon him as she spoke, so innocent and free from guile.

"Indeed, I truly can," he said.

"Hear these words," she continued, turning rapidly over the leaves of the Bible she held before her. "'God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"

"The faith, the belief, must be living, active, not a dead faith, and then how glorious the assurance, if we remember what everlasting life means--a certainty of eternal happiness, which no man can take away, and which makes the pains, and sufferings, and anxieties of this life as nothing. I always think of those promises, Edward, whenever I am in trouble, and you know I very often am, and I remember that God says, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' That, and that alone, has enabled me to endure the dreadful life I have had to lead on board this ship, until I knew that you loved me. But the being possessed of that knowledge, though it affords me unspeakable happiness, does not, I confess, make me more free from anxiety than I was before. Then I knew that nothing could take away what I possessed, because it was treasured in my own heart; but now I cannot help feeling anxious on your account-- exposed to numberless dangers as you are, and must be, in the horrid work such as I understand this ship is to be engaged in. When that dreadful woman insisted on my accompanying her, I understood that the ship was to make an ordinary voyage, visiting interesting lands, trading with the natives, and catching whales. Had I known the truth I would have resisted her authority, and gone out as a governess or into service as a nursery-maid, or done anything rather than have come on board. But left an orphan and penniless, and under her guardianship, so she asserted, I thought it my duty to obey her. I do not regret it now," she added, quickly; "but I felt that you must have been surprised at finding me dependent on such a person as Mrs Podgers. I have never told you my history--I will do so. When, about ten years ago, my dear mother was dying, just as I was six years old, this woman was her nurse, and pretended to be warmly attached to her. My father, Lieutenant Raglan, having married against the wishes of his family, they, considering that my mother, though highly educated and attractive, was inferior to him in birth and fortune, cast him off, and refused to hold any further communication with him. Just before the time I speak of, he sailed for the East India station, and my dear mother being left at a distance from her own friends, who resided in the West Indies, she had no one of her own station, when her fatal illness attacked her, to whom she could confide me. When, therefore, her nurse promised to watch over me with the tenderest care, and to see that I was educated in a way suitable to my father's position in society, and to restore me to him as soon as he returned, she thankfully left me and all the property she possessed under her charge. Such is what her nurse, now Mrs Podgers, has always asserted. Providentially, my mother had written to a lady, Mrs Henley, at whose school she herself had been educated, saying, that it was her express wish that I should be under her charge until I was sixteen, although I was to spend my holidays with nurse till my father's return. I suspect, that at the last, my poor mother had some doubts about leaving so much in the power of a woman of inferior education; and I remember seeing her write a paper, which she got the respectable old landlord of the house and his son to witness, and it was to be sent, on her death, to my kind friend, Mrs Henley. That paper, or one very like it, I afterwards saw my nurse destroy.

"On my mother's death, I was sent to Mrs Henley, my nurse insisting that I should spend the holidays with her. For the first year or two she was very kind, and I had nothing to complain of; but after she married Captain Podgers, her conduct changed very much, I suspect in consequence of her having taken to drinking. I did not find this out at the time, though I thought her occasionally very odd. She insisted that she was my guardian, and showed me my mother's handwriting to prove her authority; and I felt that it was my duty to obey her, though I lived in hopes that by my father's return I should be freed from her control.

"Year after year passed by. Then came the account of the capture and destruction of his ship and loss of many of her officers, though no information as to his fate could be obtained. All I knew, to my grief, was that he did not return. Still I have a hope amounting almost to confidence that he is alive. The thought that I might possibly meet with him made me less unwilling than I should otherwise have been to obey Mrs Podgers' commands to accompany her on the voyage she was about to make. Her sole motive, I suspect, in wishing me to go, was to save the expense of my continuing at school. Still I wonder sometimes how I could have ventured on board, suspecting, as I had already done, the hypocritical character of the woman who had pretended to be so devoted to my mother and me."

"You have, at all events, proved an inestimable blessing to me," said the young officer. "Even when I first saw you, I could not believe that you were really the daughter of such people as the captain and his wife."

I do not know that I had before thought much about the matter, but when I heard now, for the first time, that Miss Kitty was not related to the captain and his wife, I felt a sort of relief, and could not help exclaiming, "Oh, I am so glad!" She smiled as she looked at me, but she made no reply either to mine or Mr Falconer's remark. She gave us both, I have no doubt, credit for sincerity.

Although our visits to the wounded mate occupied a good deal of our time--I say our visits, for I always accompanied Miss Kitty--we did not neglect the other wounded men.

We went, indeed, to see poor Jonas Webb several times a day. Sorely wounded as he was, he yet could listen to what Miss Kitty said to him, though he was too weak and suffering to utter more than a few words in reply. She one day, finding him worse, asked him solemnly if he was prepared to meet his God.

"What! do you think I am dying, young lady?" he groaned out, in a trembling voice.

"The doctor says that he has never known any one wounded as badly as you are to recover," she said, in a gentle, but firm voice.

"Oh, but I cannot die!" he murmured. "I have made well-nigh five hundred pounds, and expected to double it in this cruise, and I cannot leave all that wealth. I want to go home, to live at my ease and enjoy it."

"You cannot take your wealth with you," she answered.

Without saving more, she read from the Bible the account of the rich man and Lazarus. She then went on to the visit of the wealthy young lawyer to Jesus, and paused at the reply of the Lord; she repeated the words, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

"Now," she continued, "you have been trusting in the wealth which, with so much toil and danger, you have been collecting, to enjoy a life of ease and comfort on shore. Suppose God said to you, 'Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee!' as He does to many; can you face Him?"

"But I don't see that I have been a bad man. I have always borne a good character, and, except when the blood was up, and I have been fighting with the enemy, or when I have been on shore, may be for a spree, I have never done anything for which God could be angry with me."

"God looks upon everything that we do, unless in accordance with His will, to be sinful. He does not allow of small sins any more than great sins; they are hateful in His sight; and He shows us that we are by nature sinful and deserving of punishment, and that, as we owe Him everything, if we were to spend all our lives in doing only good, we should be but performing our duty, and still we should have no right in ourselves to claim admittance into the pure, and glorious, and happy heaven He has prepared for those alone who love Him. He has so constituted our souls that they must live for ever, and must either be with Him in the place of happiness, or be cast into that of punishment. But, my friend, Jesus loves you and all sinners, and though God is so just that He cannot let sin go unpunished, yet Jesus undertook to be punished instead of you, and He died on the cross and shed His blood that you might go free of punishment. If you will but trust in Him, and believe that He was so punished, and that, consequently, God no longer considers you worthy of punishment, but giving you, as it were, the holiness and righteousness which belong to Christ, will receive you into that holy heaven where none but the righteous can enter."

The wounded man groaned and answered slowly, "I am afraid that I am a sinner, though I have been trying to make out that I am not one. But I really have had a very hard life of it, and no good example set me, and shipmates around me cursing and swearing, and doing all that is bad; and so I hope if I do die, as you say I shall, that God won't keep me out of heaven."

"Jesus Christ says, 'There is only one way by which we can enter; there is but one door.' 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.' 'He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only-begotten Son of God.' Jesus also says, 'He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life;' and again, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' Jesus came not to call the righteous, or those who fancy themselves good enough to go to heaven, as you have been doing, but sinners, to repentance--those who know themselves to be sinners. Think how pure and holy God is, and how different you are to Him, and yet you must be that holy as He is holy to enter heaven. Christ, as I have told you, gives you His holiness if you trust to Him; and God says, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool;' and, 'As far as the east is from the west, so far will I put your sins from me.' Believe what God says; that is the first thing you have to do. Suppose Jesus was to come to you now, and, desperately wounded as you are, tell you to get up and walk; would you believe Him, or say that you could not? He said that to many when He was on earth, and they took Him at His word, and found that He had healed them. There was, among others, a man with a withered hand. When He said, 'Stretch forth thine hand,' the man did not say, 'I cannot,' but stretched it forth immediately. Just in the same way, when God says, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,' do believe on Him, and trust to Him to fulfil His promise. God never deceives any one; all His words are fulfilled."

Day by day the young girl spoke to the dying seaman, and, though witnessing scenes abhorrent to her feelings, influenced by God's grace, she overcame her repugnance, and faithfully continued to attend him. She had the satisfaction of hearing him cry, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!" and confess that he had a full hope of forgiveness, through the merits of Jesus alone.

Two of the other men, though apparently not so severely injured as Webb, owing to the ignorance of the surgeon, sank from their wounds. They died as they had lived, hardening their hearts against the Saviour's love.

Had Miss Kitty not been very firm, Mrs Podgers would have prevented her from attending the mate or the other wounded men.

Mr Falconer, though for some time confined to his cabin, was at length able to get on deck.

"Glad to see you about again," said the captain, as he appeared, in his usual gruff but not unkind tone. "When I brought the ladies aboard, I didn't think that they'd prove so useful in looking after the sick; though I doubt if she," and he pointed with his thumb over his shoulder at his wife, "has troubled you much with her attentions."

Before the mate could speak, Mrs Podgers waddled up to him. "Well, Mr Falconer, you've found your way out of your cabin at last," she said, in her nasty wheezy tone. "I should have thought that when an officer was only slightly hurt, as you were, he might have managed to return to his duty before this."

The mate said nothing, but the remark made Miss Kitty very angry. I should have said, that as Mrs Podgers would not allow me on the quarterdeck, the appearance of the bows in her bonnet above the companion-hatch was the signal for me to escape among my friends forward; and that it was from Dick, who was at the helm, I afterwards heard of the unpleasant remarks made by that most unattractive of females.

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