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IN THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE SEA

 

SOME great ships had been sent up towards the North Poleto explore the most distant coastsand to try how far men might penetrate up thereFor more than a year they had already been pushing their way among ice and mistand had endured many hardshipsand now the winter was begunand the sun had disappearedFor many many weeks there would now be a long nightAll around was a single field of icethe ships had been made fast to itand the snow had piled itself up in great massesand out of thesehuts had been built in the form of beehives some of them large as our old grave-moundsothers only containing room enough for two or four menBut it was not darkfor the Northern Lights flamed red and bluelike great continual fireworksand the snow glistenedso that the night here was one longflaming twilight hourWhen the gleam was brightestthe natives came in crowdswonderful to behold in their hairy fur dressesand they rode in sledges formed of blocks of iceand brought with them furs in great bundlesso that the snow houses were furnshed with warm carpetsandin turnthe furs also served for coverlets when the sailors went to bed under their roofs of snowwhile outside it froze in far different fashion than in the hardest winter here with usIn our regions it was still the late autumn-timeand they thought of that up thereand thought of the sunshine at homeand of the yellow and red leaves on the treesThe clock showed that it was eveningand time to go to sleepand in one of the huts two men had already stretched themselves out to restThe younger of these had his bestdearest treasurethat he had brought from home-the Bible which his grandmother had given him on his departureEvery night it lay beneath his headand he knew from his childish years what was written in it Every day he read in the bookand often the holy words came into his mind where it is written,“If I take the wings of the morningand flee into the uttermost parts of the seaeven there The art with meand They right hand shall up-hold me”;andunder the influence of these words of truth and in faithhe closed his eyesand sleep came upon himand dreams-the manifestation of Providence to the spiritThe soul lived and was working while the body was enjoying its resthe felt this lifeand it seemed to him as if dear old well-known melodies were soundingas if the mild breezes of summer playing around himand over his bed he beheld a brightnessas if something were shin-in in through the roof of snowHe lifted up his headand beholdthe bright gleam was neither wall nor roof but came from the mighty pinions of an angelinto whose beaming face he was gazingAs if from the cup of a lily the angel arose from among the leaves of the Bibleand on his stretching out his armthe walls of the snow hut sank down aroundas though they had been a light airy veil of mistthe green meadows and hillocks of homeand its russet woodslay spread around him in the quiet sunshine of a beauteous autumn daythe nest of the stork was emptybut ripe fruit still clung to the wild apple treealthough the leaves had fallenthe red hips gleamedand the magpie whistled in the green cage over the window of the peasant's cottage that was his homethe magpie whistled the tune that had been taught himand the grandmother hung green food around the cageas hethe grandsonhad been accustomed to doand the daughter of the blacksmithvery young and fairstood the well drawing waterand nodded to the grand-dameand the old woman nodded to herand showed her a letter that had come from a long way offThat very morning the letter had arrived from the cold regions of the North-there where the grandson was resting in the hand of GodAnd they smiled and weptand hefar away among the ice and snowunder the pinions of the angelhetoosmiled and wept with them in spiritfor he saw them and heard them

And from the letter they read aloud the words of Holy Writthat in the uttermost parts of the seaHis right hand would be a stay and a safetyAnd the sound of a beauteous hymn welled up all aroundand the angel spread his wings like a veil over the sleeping youthThe vision had fledand it grew dark in the snow hutbut the Bible rested beneath his headand faith and hope dwelt in his soulGod was with himand he carried home about with him in his hearteven in the uttermost parts of the sea

 


 

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