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The Hope Of The Fallen
by [?]

CHAPTER I.

IT was at the close of a beautiful autumnal day that Edward Dayton was to leave the place of his nativity. For many years he had looked forward, in joyous anticipation, to the time when he should repair to the city, and enter upon the business of life. And now that that long looked-for and wished-for day had arrived, when he was to bid an adieu to the companions of his youth, and to all the scenes of his childhood, it was well for him to cast a retrospective glance; and so he did.

Not far distant, rearing its clear white steeple far above the trees, stood the village church, up the broad, uncarpeted aisle of which he had scores of times passed; and, as the thought that he might never again enter those sacred walls came to his mind, a tear glistened in his eye that he could not rudely wipe away.

Next was the cot of the pastor. He had grown old in the service of his Master, and the frosts of nearly three-score winters rested their glory upon his head. All loved and respected him, for with them he had wept, and with them he had rejoiced. Many had fallen around him; withered age and blooming youth he had followed to the grave; yet he stood forth yet, and, with clear and musical voice, preached the truths of God.

An old gray building, upon whose walls the idler’s knife had carved many a rude inscription, was the village school. There, amid those carvings, were seen the rough-hewn initials of many a man now “well-to-do in the world.” Some, high above the rest, seemed as captains, and almost over-shadowed the diminutive ones of the little school-boy, placed scarce thirty inches from the ground.

Edward was a pet among the villagers. He had taken the lead in all the frolickings, and many a bright-eyed lass would miss his presence, and loud, clear laugh, at the coming “huskings.”

Young and old reluctantly bade him “good-by,” and, as the stage wound its circuitous way from the village, from many a heart ascended a prayer that He who ruleth over all would prosper and protect him.

“Good luck to him, God bless him!” said dame Brandon, as she entered the house. “He was always a kind, well-meant lad,” she continued, “and dame Brandon knows no evil can befall him; and Emily, my dear, you must keep your eye on some of the best fruit of the orchard, for he will be delighted with it, and much the more so if he knows your bright eyes watched its growth and your hands gathered it.”

These words were addressed to a girl of seventeen, who stood at an open window, in quite a pensive mood. She seemed not to hear the remark, but gazed in the direction the stage had passed.

The parents of Edward had died when he was quite young, and he, their only child, had been left to the care and protection of dame Brandon; and well had she cared for him, and been as a mother to the motherless.

“Now, Emi’, don’t fret! Edward won’t forget you. I’ve known him long; he has got a heart as true as steel.”

‘T was not this that made her sad. She had no fears that he would forget his Emi’, but another thought pressed heavily on her mind, and she said,

“But, aunty, city life is one of danger. Temptations are there we little think of, and stronger hearts than Edward’s have quailed beneath their power.”

“Well done!” quoth Mrs. B., looking over her glasses; “a sermon, indeed, quite good for little you. But girls are timid creatures; they start and are frightened at the least unusual sound.” She assumed a more serious manner, and, raising her finger, pointing upwards, said, “But know you not there is a Power greater than that of which you speak?”