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telling me, that he had had a long talk with some of his brother clergymen, and had given his word that the services were positively to be discontinued after that night; he also told me he had taken my place by the coach, and that I was to start for Exeter the next morning, on my way home. Then he went on to say that he found it would be dangerous to keep me any longer, for he should have the whole neighbourhood up about it. In his timidity, he would rather let the work stop, than be embroiled with the neighbourhood!
The evening service was crowded, and the people were very disappointed that I was not allowed to remain. However, I told them it could not be, and that I must go— so took leave of them.
The next morning we rose early, and breakfasted at six o'clock, then drove out to the turnpike road, to meet the coach at an appointed corner, at seven. It arrived in due time, piled up high into the air with passengers and luggage; but having an inside place secured for me, we were not dismayed at the outside appearance. The coachman got off the box, and, instead of opening the coach door as we expected, put some money into my hand, and, with a grinning countenance, said, "There's your money, sir. Sorry to say can't take you to-day; hain't got a crevice of room anywhere. Good morning, sir." In a moment more he was up on his box, with reins in hand. "Take you tomorrow, sir, same time. Good morning." And off he went! Imagine our surprise at being left on the roadside in this unceremonious way. My good little vicar was most indignant at being thus treated. “I'll make him pay for that," he said. "I'll punish him—it's against the law." And then, as if a new thought had suddenly come to him, he said, "Ah, I know what we will do! Jump into the carriage again"; and putting my luggage in, he got up, and
drove me to the next town. He said, "We will take a post-chaise, and make the coach people pay for it; that's it —that's what we will do."
I suggested that I did not think we could do that, having received the money back.
'Ah, that's nothing," he said; "that's nothing. We will take a post-chaise."
This scheme was prevented; for on arriving at the hotel, there was not a carriage of any kind to be had. "Are you sure of that?" said the vicar (as if all the world was in league with the coach proprietor). "Are you quite sure?"
"You had better come and see for yourself," said the ostler, in a surly tone.
We went into the yard, and found the coach-houses quite empty.
"That's very remarkable," said the vicar; "but these people are connected with that coach—it changes horses here. We will go to the next inn."
There they did not let out carriages at all!
"Well now," said the vicar, "this is very remarkable," and was silent.
"Perhaps the Lord does not mean me to go to-day," I said meekly.
"It seems so, certainly. I must say it is very remarkable."
I suggested that I would stay at the inn till the next morning, as there was no means of getting on. "Shall I do so?"
"Oh, no; certainly not-certainly not," said the kind man. "Not at all-not at all. We will go back again." "But," I said, "what will they think when they see
Poor dear man, like many others he was dreadfully
frightened at the thought of "what will 'they' think?" As if "they" did not go on thinking whether one gives them occasion or not.
In due course, we arrived again in sight of the vicarage gate, and there we saw the vicar's wife, with her hands up in astonishment. She exclaimed, "What! are you
"Yes, we are indeed!" said the vicar, and he was going to tell her how it was, but she was too impatient to listen, having, as she thought, something more important to communicate. She said, After you went away this morning, the weather being so fine, I thought that I would go into the village, and see some of the people who were at church last evening. In passing by widow S.'s cottage, on my way to another, I saw her door and window open, and heard her praying very earnestly, 'Lord, bring him back!— bring him back!' I thought she was praying about her husband, who had recently died; and that I would go in and try to comfort her. So I knelt down by her side, and repeated the words, 'I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me,' when she turned round and said, 'Oh, I don't mean that!' and then, as if she grudged every breath which was spent in other words, she went on repeating, Lord, bring him back! Lord, bring him back!'
"Who do you mean?' I said, 'what can you mean?' "She went on, 'O Lord, I saw him go away. I saw them take him away. Lord, bring him back!-bring him back!'
"I again said, 'Who do you mean?'
"She took no heed, but went on, 'O Lord, when I opened the window I saw him coming out of the vicarage gate. Lord, bring him back!—do bring him back!'
"At last I understood that she was praying for you to be brought back. Then I said to her, 'Dear woman, do get
"BRING HIM BACK!”
up from your knees, and let me talk to you.' No, she would not get up.
"No, I can't get up. Lord, bring him back! bring
"It cannot be,' I said; he is on the coach by this time—a long way off.' The woman became frantic at the thought. 'Oh, what shall I do? what shall I do? Lord, bring him back!'
"Seeing that I could do nothing in the matter, I went to call on some other people, and coming back found the widow still on her knees, urging the same petition without stopping."
"Well, that is remarkable," interposed the vicar.
Without a moment's pause, I set off to show myself to the widow.
"Now, there you are," she said; "the Lord has sent you back. I lay awake best part of the night, thinking of some questions I wished to ask you; and when I saw you go away like that, so early in the morning, it gave me quite a turn. I thought I should be lost for ever!"
Her questions concerned her soul's condition. On my putting Christ and His salvation before her for her acceptance, she found peace; and afterwards became a good helper in the parish. There were some other anxious ones she urged me to visit, which I did. On referring to my letters, written at the time, I find a record of five persons who professed to find peace that morning.
In the evening, we had a kind of service in the schoolroom, with as many as we could get together, and spent a very happy time in prayer and praise.
The next morning I started for home, which I reached late on Saturday night, or rather early on Sunday morning, and appeared quite unexpectedly among my people
again. I gave them an account of the state of things in the "shires." This, my first experience of "foreign missions," was not encouraging.
Ever since my conversion, I had been over head and ears in conversion work, and, as a loyal young convert, thought at that time there was nothing else in the world to live, or to work for! How surprised I was when I found that this was not by any means the first thing in the minds of my Evangelical brethren; and more so still when I saw that even preaching for the salvation of souls was put aside altogether, if it did not fit in with the stated service-day of the week, or public opinion. If people came to church, or better still, to the communion table, they were considered quite satisfactory enough, even though they were dead in trespasses and sins. I did not, of course, expect anything from my own neighbours, for I knew them of old; but from accredited" standard bearers," I did expect something and got nothing.
While I was still feeling sore and disappointed, intending not to go out on such errands any more, I found myself promised to another mission in a most unexpected manner; but this did not happen to be out of Cornwall, and therefore prospered better, as we shall see.