About two years ago, a great crowd assembled in one of the largest
churches in London to hear a popular preacher. He had, it was said,
a rare power of touching men’s hearts, and of lifting their thoughts
out of the mire and clay of this working-day world. And often, too,
his wife’s name was coupled with his; for she, by her written words,
was doing angels’ work among the people. Fashionable society knew them
only as preacher and writer; but some of the unfashionable were better
acquainted with them.
In the crowd were two persons who managed to get good seats in the
middle aisle. They were husband and wife; he a brave soldier, she a
beautiful woman. It would not have been easy to have found a couple
better matched, or better satisfied with each other. They exchanged
a quick glance of intelligence when the preacher ascended the pulpit
stairs, and then composed themselves to listen.
They were not disappointed in him. As they listened, they understood
how and why he won such a ready hearing; and when the sermon was over,
Nelly turned to her husband again with the old bright look; and he
answered her with a slight nod of satisfaction. Then, and not till
then, did she perceive a familiar face at the top of the pew.
As Nelly looked once more on Eve, there was revealed to her a strange
glimpse of what might have been if those two had been kept apart, and
she had taken Eve’s place. She saw herself a restless, unsatisfied
wife, always craving for a vague something that was withheld. She saw
Morgan crippled, not helped, by her riches; a good man still, but one
who had, somehow, missed his footing, and failed to climb so high as
had been expected of him. And she comprehended, fully and thankfully,
the great love and pity of that Being who had saved them from their
There was a quiet hand-clasp in the crowded aisle; and then these two
women went their respective ways. And a voice seemed to be ringing in
Nelly’s ears, as she leaned upon her husband’s arm.
“I am thinking,” she said, “of something that was spoken long ago.
It was when I was in great trouble, dear, and felt as if I couldn’t
be comforted. ‘Don’t forget,’ my stepmother said to me, ‘that God
can bless those whom He puts asunder as well as those whom He joins
together.’ And I think I’m realizing the truth of those words to-night.”