Let not my parting tears
Grieve you too much, for every drop I shed
Is only filmed with grief, whilst all beside
Comes from the fount of joy.--JACKSON.
IT was at an early Celebration that the Millar party first met Edward Bryant, who came ont of church behind them, and spoke-his voice first recalling to Aline that it was indeed himself, his air was so much altered by a certain refinement of countenance and appearance, though there was nothing clerical about his dress. Mrs. Millar and Mabel, who had seen him at intervals more lately, were not struck, as the alteration had been gradual and insensible; but it was a most hearty and affectionate greeting, and he was delighted to find that Aline was at home.
"Will you come to tea, and bring your mother, and tell us about what you are doing?" said Mrs. Millar. "Then Mabel will be at home."
"At five?" he asked.
 "Oh, yes; we have adopted town habits," said Mrs. Millar, for the old hours at Langbridge had been of the farmer kind. "We shall all like to have a coze over your plans. Tell your mother we shall be glad to see her."
Edward, however, appeared without his mother. "Mr. Cobbold has sent home some fish, and if she goes out, he will be sure to think it neglected," he said, with a smile, as he shook hands with Mrs. Millar. "She said you would be sure to understand."
Nobody was able to be very sorry. They all knew that they should talk much more freely without Mrs. Cobbold, who would be sure to reduce them to discussing the failures of her last "girls," and the extortion of the butcher, and Mr. Cobbold's indignation at the treatment of an old customer.
"So you have seen Archdeacon Goodrich?"
"Yes; he stayed three nights at St. Augustine's, and preached and talked to us. It was a joy to us all."
"Did he know you again?"
"No; I was only thirteen years old when he left the old Grammar School. But I think Mr. [164/165] Fraser had mentioned me, for he asked for me, and spoke very kindly to me. He said he was rejoiced to find that the books he had lent me had borne fruit, and he hoped to see more of me. I don't think I should have known him, he went away quite a young man, and now----"
"Nearly ten years ago," said Aline.
"He has a long beard, and is quite grizzled, and his complexion has a hard weather-stained look; but still, his head is grand, all the more because his temples are bald, but his eyes are--I can't describe the nobleness of his expression."
Mabel clasped her hands, while her mother said:
"Has he not been ill?"
"Yes; and the doctors tell him that it would be absolute suicide to expose himself to another northern winter. He has been at death's door with pneumonia, and is still lame from rheumatism. It is plain that he has suffered terribly."
"Ah, there is a real cost!" said Mabel.
"It was worth the cost," said Edward. "It made our hearts burn within, us when he told us of the Red Indian chief coming and laying his [165/166] rifle and war insignia down before his baptism, and declaring that he renounced feuds and enmity together, and gave himself and his people to Christ his Lord and Master. Ah! and when we heard of the thankfulness of the poor English mother, in the heart of the Hudson's Bay country, who had not seen an English clergyman for twelve years, when he drew up his sleigh at her little fort--he half-frozen himself--and how she rubbed him and restored him, and could hardly speak for tears of welcome and thankfulness. She had taught her children so well, too, and prepared them for baptism. They all knew their Bible, and all that the unbaptized could repeat of their Catechism.
"What was the father?"
"A big rough man who had had hardly any schooling, but believed implicitly in his good little wife, and had let her teach him. They had a quiet Eucharist together, and now they will never be left so long. Archdeacon Goodrich arranged for their being visited every few weeks, and the man was putting up a log hut as the beginning of what will some day be a church."
"And that is the work the great Shepherd is [166/167] doing," said Mabel. "Fetching His sheep and lambs in from every mountain where they have wandered."
"But is not the Archdeacon very sorry not to go back?" asked Aline.
"He said he could break his heart over it, but for knowing that it must be ordained by a Higher Will than his, and being thankful not to be absolutely set aside from work. He is told that there is no reason he should not be effective in a warm or even a temperate climate, if he will take reasonable care of himself. So his mind is turning to North China."
"I thought that Chinese missions had been chiefly carried out by the Church Missionary Society?" said Aline.
"In the South and about Hong Kong, yes. There has. been a great work carried on there by the Bishops of Victoria, who had Hong Kong to work from. The S.P.G. was not able to begin seriously till 1878, but a famine relief fund, and the opening of the ports, has been much in our favor, though we are still called 'foreign devils'; but we have made some way."
"There is a Bishop of North China, I see," said Mabel, "and it includes Pekin."
 "You always were up in Chinese matters," said her sister, "I believe it is your favorite mission."
"The first I began to care about," said Mabel; and there are most interesting books about it. There were those glorious girls, the martyrs of Kucheng."
"Yes, their history always struck me very much," said Mine, "they were so perfectly bright and happy, full of merriment and yet devoted and ready and willing in a moment to die."
"'Girls, girls, we are going together!' as one of the party called out," said Mabel.
"And now their mother has offered her word in the same track," said Aline. "It has been a noble family!"
"What success has there been?" asked Mrs. Millar.
"In Pekin I believe the clergy have had to attend chiefly to the English families settled there," said Edward; "but the country districts have several stations which are centres for native converts. But the bitter enmity of the Empress--a thorough old conservative as to religion and customs--retards matters a good deal, and men [168/169] are very much wanted. Archdeacon Goodrich has been in correspondence with the Bishop, and I think he would like me to go with him."
"You are not fit for a cold climate," said Mrs. Millar.
"So the doctor said; though I am very strong. But it will be better that I should be there to look after the Archdeacon; and it is your favorite mission, Mabel."
"Yes; I am very glad you are going."
"Mabel would like to bespeak a little Chinese baby girl, if you dig her up alive," said Aline, laughing.
With which Mabel, responding merrily, went off to see that the muffins were being toasted and buttered. It was a very pleasant afternoon, all the party were in such full sympathy with one another; and it was with a sigh that Edward rose to return in time for Mr. Cobbold's late dinner.
On the whole Mr. Cobbold was very civil to him, always in public, where he seemed to like to show him as a very creditable connection, though without entirely giving up sneers at home upon the poverty of a clergyman in comparison with a [169/170] rising merchant. The clergy of the town noticed the St. Augustine's student, and asked him to spend evenings with them, and, once, when an intended lecturer failed, he was asked to expound a missionary magic lantern to a school. The subject happened to be North America, a part of the world of which he had heard a good deal. Aline and Mabel helped him to arrange the slides before-hand, and, though he felt very shy, they had a good deal of merriment over the feathered Indians, the great snow-shoes, the fur-clad squaws, and the chrysalis-papooses, also the teams of dogs with curling tails, and the flying sleighs.
Bishop Whipple's reminiscences were a fund of anecdotes, not S.P.G. indeed, but most interesting; and the three admired the nobleness and laughed over the quaint adventures as they had in old times laughed over Mabel and her "natives."
"Ah, if all the audience were like you!" sighed Edward. "But think of the ages of them, and the sleepy faces, or the tittering if I hesitate or make a slip. Then I shall get worse and break down."
 "No such thing," said Aline; "it will just give you confidence."
"I wish it was you who had to do it," he finished, with a gesture of hiding his face.
But the lecture proved a great success. There was no lack of fluency, nor of good sense and depth, and, what was perhaps equally needful, of humor, and the applause was great. Edward said that he had been speaking to the eyes of Aline and Mabel all the time, though they knew most of it before; but the expression on those appreciative faces was, as he said, everything to him, and gave him power to go on. So he told Aline as he was walking home with her the next day, while Mabel was gone to her pupil, and Aline answered, as she had often done before, with: "Nonsense! how can you be so silly?"
"As if you did not know what you have always been to me:"
"Come, Edward, this is of no use. It would only hinder you from better things."
"You know how it helps to lift me to the better things."
"Don't! The only good thing for you, pledged [171/172] as you are, is to put me out of your head entirely."
"Could I? Or, if I could, would it not be a miserable isolation, cutting me off from all the home feeling and sympathy that I need to strengthen and help me?"
"There is mother," faltered Aline.
"Yes, through you, and carried along with you, Aline. I do not ask you for more now, I could not."
"No. I know that you were warned that this was the worst thing one of you students could do."
"To get engaged to some inferior person who would drag him down? Yes, I know; but you can't call yourself an inferior person. You always were above me, and you have been educated, and are going on you know it, and can't deny it in the way to lift me up."
Aline had tried, on the back of a sob, to interpose at the "above me" and the "educated"; and at the "lift me up" she murmured: "Oh, no--not worthy--dragging down"; but it was incoherent. And Edward went on, "I am not daring to ask for an engagement. Everything is [172/173] undecided. I may be an utter failure; I may be led away by the temptations they say there are sure to be; but all I do long for is that you will let me look to you as my home guiding-star, with the light of sympathy, yes, more, the light caught from Heaven. And then, some day, perhaps, when my work is fixed, and all grown possible, that you might come and share it, and forward it as noble women have done."
Aline's eyes were full of tears, and she did not utter her answer. Indeed, they were on the doorstep of her own house, and they went in together, and could not help going straight to Mrs. Millar and confessing, in broken words, half asking her pardon and consent for what they had done. She had seen what was inevitable, and had made up her mind to it, though she said she could not consent to their calling it a regular engagement. Neither of them must be bound. Either might see reason to break it off, without feeling it treacherous to do so; but "You will let us hear of you constantly, Edward," she said, and she did not specify to whom the letters were to be written, nor contradict him when he turned to Aline and entreated her to give him full [173/174] tidings from home, letting him know all she was doing, and keeping his heart up, as he said.
The young and happy, yes, and those who have made such a beginning themselves, can well understand all that the two said to one another. There are sisters, too, who may know the exceeding joy of Mabel when she was allowed to understand, she who had been too innocent to put any construction on Edward's attentions to the family, nay, who had resented any possibility of earthly love, as spoiling the exalted character of a missionary.
If it had been for anybody but Aline she should have thought so, she declared; but, for Aline to have the chance of the honor of the work, oh! it was too much joy.
Assuredly that joyfulness was shown in all her doings. She was the sunshine of her mother's house, as well as of her invalid pupil's room, and kept the girl interested and occupied by everything around, instead of listlessly pining for variety and ranging from novel to novel. Mabel had managed to infuse a soul into everything she did, whether for home or abroad, her own improvement or amusement. All was for something or [174/175] somebody, and that was the charm. So, too, it was with the Sunday-school class. There was no teacher that they loved like Miss Mab. It was joy to be promoted to her class, and the children waited at the end of her street to escort her to school and hold her hand. Their missionary boxes would all have gone for the North China Mission if she would have taken the whole. And when, once, Edward contrived to send home a box of Chinese trifles to be divided between her pupils and Aline's, how great was the ecstasy over the queer boxes, baskets, toys and dolls!
Aline was not quite so merry; but always cheerful, and, happily patient, endeavoring in all ways to prepare herself--soul, mind, and body--for the great duties to which she had thus been called.