A change of weather:
After tea Mrs. Murray said she should go down to see about Mrs. Fayling [coming to work for her in Jane’s absence] and Bruey might come with her if she liked. Bruey felt tired and dull, but it was surely more tired and dull for poor Willie Fosbery in that dismal Gilling’s Yard; she knew her little visits were a great pleasure to him. So she went.
Willie was in his little chair, as usual, outside the door. It was the end house of the yard, so there were no passers-by. There was nothing green in Willie’s yard. Bruey thought of her mother’s pleasant little garden, and the green tree under which she could sit any day. The only green Willie could see was a dusty geranium or two in the dirty windows. Even weeds did not grow in Gilling’s Yard.
“Miss Bruey, I’ve got ninepence-halfpenny on my card, and there’s threepence more promised. There’s summer and autumn and winter to come before the first of March, and I shall get more by then, for they comes and goes–comes and goes.” He meant the population of Gilling’s Yard, where he himself was quite an old inhabitant.
“I think that is a great deal, Willie; you must have asked a great many people to get all that, for I dare say some said ‘No.'”
“Perhaps I shall not see you again for a long time, Willie; I can’t tell, but I may be going away very soon.”
“Going away, Miss Bruey?”
“Don’t look so sorry, Willie. I only wish you could go too. It won’t be for very long, and then I shall see you again.”
But Willie did look sorry. Bruey’s visits had made all the difference to his gloomy little life; and what should he do without her, even for a little while?
“It won’t be for very long?” he repeated.
“No. Besides, I do not know for certain yet, and perhaps I shall see you again before I go, so I shall not say good-bye this evening; only, Willie, in case I should not see you again, I should like to leave you a good-bye text for you to keep in your heart all the while I am away. Shall I?”
Bruey had given Willie a Bible purchased with her own money some time back and he told her he recollected her texts better than any others. “. . .I was thinking that as we have nearly finished Genesis, it would be nice to go on with Exodus–that begins the story of Moses, you know–and then read Numbers, and all the way through we might recollect this text, and keep putting little marks against every verse that shows us how the Lord was wtih Moses, and then we could always remember, ‘So I will be with thee.’ God says, ‘Moses my servant’. He has some great servants and some little servants, and if you and I are his little servants, I think he will be with us just as much as if we were great servants. I know it, because there the words are. . .and besides Willie,” she added softly, “it comes true; I felt sometimes as if he really did help me and is with me.” How wistful Willie’s eyes were!
Mrs. Murray came round and greeted Willie. “Bruey, we must not delay; do you see how suddenly it has clouded over? I think we shall have a tempest before night.”
“Good-bye, Willie,” said Burey. “There is a storm coming, and we must make haste home.” The tall houses of Gilling’s Yard had hidden the rapidly rising clouds; but as Mrs. Murray and Bruey came out into the open street, they saw a heavy thunder-cloud coming up grandly from the east, and a low rumble announced the coming tempest.
Bruey thought how nice and cool it would be for school and church tomorrow if they had a good storm tonight. “Yes, dear; I have one more call to make, but I think I would rather you went home without waiting for me.” Bruey was very tired and she would go on home. They separated and Bruey walked on alone.
Just as Bruey reached the foot of the Westwell Hill, a vivid flash with a crash right overhead made her start and run. She did not mind thunder and lightning when in-doors, but who would care to be out longer than they could help in such a storm as had begun? Certainly no one expected the storm to come so soon. In a few minutes Bruey’s frock was clinging round her like a wet sheet. She was obliged to stop running, for a few rapid steps made her heart begin to beat, and what should she do if violent palpitations came on?
Oh how glad she was to reach No. 8 of Calton Terrace! No one had heard her come in. She threw herself down, all wet as she was, on the dining-room sofa. Anything to quiet the palpitation, which was so distressing. Bruey was beginning to feel the chill and discomfort of her wet clothes as the palpitation went off and the maid helped her up the stairs to get the wet clothing off and get into bed. She then went to get some hot tea for Bruey. Jane brought the tea and told Bruey how much she enjoyed waiting on her all the time she worked there.
Bruey comforted Jane as she was leaving for home on Monday and she herself was not well. Jane cried. A bright thought came to Bruey and she asked Jane to bring her a little text-book from a drawer in a table in the dressing-room. “Take it home with you, Jane, and promise me you will read the text for each day and every day until we see each other again, will you?” The promise was given. Who knows what fruit it bore?
Just then, Mrs. Murray came in. When she heard the whole story, she could not help a troubled feeling about her child. Palpitations again, and a chill; how could she tell whether illness might not follow? She lay awake that night, often placing her ear near to the heart of the dear little sleeper, that she might be sure there was no fluttering.
Sunday morning was chilly and unsettled. The storm had passed. Bruey’s sleep was late and heavy. Mrs. Murray was just about to leave for church when Bruey awoke. She wanted to go to Sunday-school to be there for her little girls.
“Bruey, dear child, hush and listen,” said Mrs. Murray, speaking very quietly. “You are not very well; and if you started off this morning, you might become very ill, and then think how it would trouble me. When God gave you work to do, you were glad to do it, but to-day he tells you to be still and leave your work to others. You are not going to rebel against him, are you Bruey? Don’t you think that He who sent you to those little children is kind enough and able enough to take care of them and have them taught without you?”
Bruey was lying quiet and contented. She asked for Percy to come up. She had a request for him. “Will you grant it to me?” She wanted him to teach her little girls for her. This was rather too much for Percy’s good nature. He teach small girls? Not he! He would rather go collecting all down High street first. Besides, what would he teach them?
“Percy, dear, if I told you exactly what I was going to teach them, I am sure you would not mind just doing that. I will ask God to help you and to make you like doing it, and to make you very glad that you went.” “Something” about his little cousin tamed him. He had seen this “something” before, but it was harder to resist her when she was so poorly and gentle.
As he walked [to the Sunday-school] he looked to see what text Bruey had chosen. “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Never in his life had Percy felt so strongly that sense of ignorance which leads to blessed knowing, that sense of being very far off which leads to coming near. Very humbly, he sat in Bruey’s place; and if his teaching that morning was not very brilliant, his learning was perhaps deeper than it had ever been.
Bruey was not well the next few days. She had a good cry and lessons were not attempted. She looked at pictures a little and read a little, but felt most inclined to lie on the sofa and do nothing. More crying.
Bruey had arranged for Willie to have a ride on a borrowed perambulator to visit her mamma’s garden for a whole day. It was as good as a trip to the seashore! He sat under the green trees the whole long day before returning home the same way he had come.
Percy was nearing his fourteenth birthday and Bruey was only twelve years old. She wanted him to ‘see the King in his beauty’. There was an exchange between them about it, but Bruey prevailed with that “something” that was always with her. Percy came nearer. She made a strong appeal to him to “lay aside every weight. . .and come to obey Jesus.”
Next morning, Miss Bruey was very ill. The doctor had been called from Rilverton. He was afraid rheumatic fever was beginning again and with that poor little heart of hers–well, no one wanted to say more. Rheumatic fever is very long and trying, and it was not the first time.
Bruey’s work for the next few weeks was very long and trying. It consisted of trying to lie still when she felt strangely restless, or trying to move a very little bit without making the pain much worse, and trying to keep from fretting when she felt very low. It was very hard work indeed, as she was suffering more pain as the heart grew worse and the limbs were aching. His promise “My grace is sufficient for thee,” was not only for great servants of Christ, like Paul, but for all his servants, even if they were just twelve years old. His promises and sweet verses came into her mind all the long nights of suffering to gladden it.
Willie made another trip on the perambulator to Bruey’s mamma’s garden but did not realise how ill Bruey was. She had sent him a kind message. Bruey felt much pleasure knowing Willie had spent another day under green trees again.
Alice Fayling had been Bruey’s schoolmate before; now she attended Bruey in her own home as she worked for Mrs. Murray in Jane’s absence. She had learned to pin a flower on her hat and knew much of Bruey’s teaching of the Bible stories and texts. She came out of Bruey’s room night after night, when the last of her little services had been rendered, inclined to kneel very quietly down by her bedside and prayed for Bruey. So Bruey was doing work for Jesus witihout knowing it as she lay through that long July, never once leaving her room.
One evening she asked her mamma to move her a little more to the other side of the bed. “Now, mamma, please set the dressing-room door wide open. I can see my own corner now, mamma.” Bruey had a happy smile.
Recollections of twilight hours in that corner rose up, very sweetly and always twining round the words, “There will I meet with thee.” “There!” Yes, he had kept the promise. The old box and the little table and the window-sill all witnessed it. “There!” And they faded out of sight somehow, for the eyes closed, and the heart flew up on that word “There” to a land very far off and yet very near, and she seemed to be straining through a haze of golden glory and a maze of enfolding music to see one Face and to hear one Voice. And then a bright cloud overshadowed her, but she was not afraid, and the music almost melted away into a soft chiming of bells like St. Mary’s, only sweeter, and they said, “Thine eyes shall see the King! Thine eyes shall see the King!” and up far away, but very clear, “In his beauty! In his beauty!” And the chime below and the peal above blended and mingled in peace and love. Surely that room was a holy place.
Mrs. Murray thought she was asleep.
Percy had returned as soon as he could from his summer vacation at home and climbed the stairs anxiously to enter the room. Bruey opened her eyes and smiled as he came to her. She had just enough strength to have her Bible laid carefully into her little hand and she whispered “Percy’s!” He knelt and laid his hand over hers and bowed his head over it. He looked up one last time to see the sweet eyes open once more–never so bright as when they looked up with a wonderful smile of glad surprise and welcome, and the words passed the parted lips, “His beauty!” Then they closed again; there was no struggle, only one long sigh, and dear little Bruey was now at rest beholding “the King is His beauty,” her short work on earth all ended, and the joy of the Lord entered.
Dear little Bruey! We thought she would grow up to be such a useful “worker for Christ,” but her work was begun and ended in less than one year. Yet not “ended,” for “his servants shall serve him” not only here, where we can do so little for the Lord Jesus, though we would like to do so much; when we are “with him” for ever, I think he will give us something to do for him. Who knows what holy and beautiful work dear little Bruey is doing for him now?
Frances Ridley Havergal from BRUEY: A LITTLE WORKER FOR CHRIST