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Tales and Sketches.
JUANA MENDIA-THE CREOLE
GIRL. BY THB REV. F. CROWB. Juana Mendia was a girl of only twelve years of age, but of full stature and womanly development. She was of almost unmixed Indian descent, and her countenance-notwithstanding her dark copper - coloured complexion-was singularly pleasing. Her profuse black curly locks were usually intertressed with bright ribbons, after the manner of her class, whose whole costume is generally becoming and graceful, and in her case appeared to peculiar advantage. There was a wild decision mingled with a cheerful animation in the glance of her eye, which indicated superiority of natural parts, in addition to more than ordinary personal attractions. But Juana had been trained up in ignorance and vice. Her mother and sisters were loose characters. Her stepfather was a drunkard and a murderer; and, even at that early age, report indicated that Juana was soon likely to outstrip them all in wickedness.
One night, after reading to my wife rather longer than ordinary, I had closed the book, and noticed that the hour was unusually late. Our door had long been carefully shut, for we had more than once seen the footprints of the prowling panther and its cubs very near the threshold. Our house, being the last in the colony, was upon the very borders of the clearance. About retiring to rest, we were startled by a loud rapping at the door. It was the well-known voice of the Senor Alcalde, who answered to my enquiry; and the bolts being speedily drawn, he entered, leading in, or almost dragging by her arm, Juana Mendia. They were followed by a crowd of well-known pale and sable faces, all made equally lustrous in the glare of the pitch-pine torchlight. One of the ministros (assistants) of the magistrate held in his arms a heavy log of wood, with a chain and shackle appended, which I recognised as a clog such as I had seen criminals, who were suffered to be at large, dragging at their ankles. The reason of this untimely visit was soon explained. A brawl had taken place, and on account of Juana, knives had been unsheathed, and foul work was likely to result. The Senor Alcalde had interfered, and as the girl was
| under age, in virtue of his official preroga
tive, he felt it his duty to place her deposi. tada (in deposit) with any citizen householder who would be answerable for her good conduct. If no one willing should be found, the other alternative was, that the clog should be chained to her leg, and she employed to sweep the streets—if, indeed, the rugged road between the thatched cot. tages inhabited by the colonists might be dignified by that name. In a short con. ference with my wife, carried on in a language which the bystanders could not understand, I found that she was unwilling to receive her. I briefly urged, that by consenting for the time mischief might be prevented, an opportunity would be afforded for angry passions to subside; and might not the hand of the Lord be in it for the good of this poor young creature ? To this reasoning, which she afterwards recalled, she yielded. Juana, in a paroxysm of violence, and stamping with her foot, exclaimed, “Ponganme la cadena. No me quedo aqui." (Put the chain on me. I will not remain here.) The Alcalde and his attendants, however, withdrew. Her pas. sion was shortly succeeded by tears; and, being somewhat calmed, a mosquito-net was hung up in the hall for her use, and each agitated bosom was soon soothed in sleep.
The following morning, on reflecting, we felt that we had undertaken a delicate charge, and a task of some difficulty, and I sought the Lord's direction in prayer respecting it. By the law of the land we would be entitled to Juana's services without remuneration ; but, as we were in want of a servant, she was kindly and firmly told, that if she would alter her conduct, and cheerfully perform the duties assigned her, she should have full wages; but that the very first return to her former life would be followed by her instant dismissal, let the consequences be what they might.
At the hour when I rang the school bell, her younger brother and sister, together with three or four German, Ladino, and Indian children, came as usual to be taught. At the reading lesson, Juana was called, and stood up with the rest in the little class. She could read fluently, having been taught at home when much younger; but she had
never read in the scriptures before, nor had, tended an adult evening class, to learn to she ever had her lessons explained to her. write, and to read in the bible. Since Juana A New Testament was given to her, and had been with us, Antonio had seldom the same number of verses to be repeated missed his evening lesson. One afternoon by heart on the next day, were required, her mistress directed Juana to proceed into a little reward book being offered to her as the borders of the forest, to gather wild pot to the rest, should she learn more than the herbs. She soon returned in a state of exassigned task. That day Juana performed citement. Antonio had followed, and would her household work so as to please her have detained her, but she had fled from mistress, and a word of advice and en him. Disappointed and enraged, the wicked couragement to continue to do well was youth spread a foul report in the village, becomingly received. For days her steady
which soon reached Juana's ears, and caused industry was sustained and even increased; . | her the most poignant grief. Assured of and though Juana frequently wept over her the young man's guilt, a complaint was imwork, at other times she was cheerful; her mediately laid with the Alcalde, and to avoid New Testament was often open by her side the penalty of his malicious slander. Antoin the kitchen, or when sewing at the feet nio absented himself from his home. Notof her mistress, and her memory being withstanding every effort to soothe her, that good, she could soon repeat several chap night Juana wept herself to sleep, and was ters.
agitated in her slumbers. The next mornSome weeks rolled on, and Juana was ing she awoke with a burning fever, the still assiduous at her task, whether in the second day she was delirious, the third she house or in the little school. When she was a corpse. went daily for water to the purest neigh
A few hours previous to her departure bouring stream, she filled her tinaja (a the delirium left her, and a precious oplarge earthen jar), poised it upon her head,
portunity was afforded for conversation. and came directly home, or if she turned
“Juana,” said I, “you will soon die, are aside, it was to salute her relatives, and
you ready to meet God ?” “I am a very quickly return. The neighbours began to
wicked sinner,” she replied with evident wonder, and spoke to each other on her
emotion. “Do you think God can pardon altered mien and behaviour, and her mother
you ?” “I fear I am too wicked," was her came to thank us, and to express her de
reply. I then spoke of the Saviour, of light and astonishment at the marvellous
whom I had often spoken to her before, improvement which she observed.
and drew from her some expressions of In the class, her attention and replies hope and resignation. She could forgive were no less pleasing to her teacher. She Antonio more easily than she could believe longed, she said, to be one of the lambs her own offences blotted out; but she did borne on the shoulders of the great Shep assent to the declaration of the Saviour's herd into the heavenly fold, and expressed love and substitution for her, and when her her willingness to be led to him. One day shortening breath precluded a reply, a smile that my own bodily sufferings had brought of placid joy played upon her countenance, the subject of death vividly before my mind, and was arrested there by death's cold seal. I made it the theme of the lesson. “Which Her teacher, when he perceived that he of us who are here," enquired I, “is likely could do no more, retired from the side of to be the first victim ?” Juana at once her couch, giving place to her relatives and pointed out her brother, who was a spare some superstitious friends, who muttered and delicate boy. Though impressed with their christian incantations in her closed the idea that it was likely to be myself, I ears, and then removed her stiffened corpse reminded her that her robust health was to be waked with frantic noises and gesno pledge of life, and that it was as likely tures. to be her. The event proved that this On reflecting upon this affecting event, I warning was prophetic.
concluded that Juana had been removed Antonio de la Cruz, a youth of scarce from the evil to come. The change in her nineteen, was the eldest son of a respecta behaviour had been complete. The cause ble Ladino widow. He was employed in of her death proved the susceptibility of the care of cattle, and was already a good her mind to a charge, to which but a little hand at flinging the lazo. Willing to im before she would have been quite callous, prove himself, with a few others, he ato The expressions of her lips, and of her last
| deep melancholy tones of the ringdove's
note, are uninterrupted by the sound of the woodman's axe, or the thunder of the falling tree. But the circumstances of Juana's death are as indestructible as memory, and it is fondly hoped that the last day will reveal that her conversion was as real as the truth of the gospel itself, which, to all appearance, was the instrument employed to produce it.
looks, though feeble in themselves, appeared enough to warrant the conclusion, that Juana Mendia was the first fruits unto God of my feeble labours, on behalf of the natives of Central America. · During that night, the deluded people assembled in a wretched hovel, and consumed a large quantity of native rum. Under its influence they shouted, wept, laughed, and prayed alternately. One of the old women who had been most active in repeating the death charms, now severely burnt her naked feet by leaping upon a pile of blazing fuel, which others were content to leap over, for which purpose it had apparently been kindled on the clay floor of the house: and thus they continued till the dawn of the unconscious morning.
There being no priest at hand, I was requested by the parents of the deceased to officiate at the funeral, and I consented to address them at the grave. With unassuming decorum, a numerous train accompanied the rude coffin into the forest shade. The Campo Santo (holy field), to which the natives were pleased to apply the name usually given to their cemeteries, though it had no claim to the distinction of consecrated ground, had been cleared two years before, when the colony was first formed; but it was now grown over with bushy underwood, and even shaded with young trees, that excluded the sun's rays far above our heads. Here, where the foot of man had but lately trodden--a soil from which the jaguar and couguar were not excluded, a few of England's exiles-convicts of penury and vice-lay mouldering beneath the soil. Here, around the open grave of Juana, the attendants scattered and half-concealed from each other by the teeming vegetation, was I permitted to preach the gospel of the Son of God to a larger Spanish congregation than I had yet addressed; some of whom had never heard the gospel before, and may possibly never hear it again, though they should be spared to old age. Not a stone marks the spot in the now forsaken district where the remains of Juana Mendia were deposited. The cross of wood which her parents erected is decayed ere this.
The vestiges of a former clearance will soon be undiscernible. Already the ground is trodden by the fierce tapir, and traversed by the large droves of waree. The coarse shrill shriek of the gaudy macaw, or the
THE PRAYERLESS HOME.
BY PROFESSOR ALDEN. “I have a good offer for my farm," said Mr. Earl to his wife," and I think I shall sell it."
“Why do you wish to sell it?” said Mrs. Earl.
“The land is stony and partly worn out. I can go into a new country, where land is cheap and fertile, and realize a much larger return for the same amount of labour."
"If we go into a new country, there will be no schools for our children.”
“Our children are not old enough to go to school; by the time they are old enough, it is most likely schools will be established wherever we may go."
“We may also be deprived of the privi. lege of attending church."
“We can take our Bibles with us, and can read them on the Sabbath, if we should happen to settle at a distance from a place of meeting.”
" It will be far better for us to remain here where we can educate our children, and bring them under the sound of the
" I must do what I think is required by the interests of my family."
“Pray remember that property is not the only thing needed by our children.”
A few days after this conversation, the bargain was concluded, and the farm became the property of Mr. Hale, Mr. Earl was to put him in possession of it early in the spring.
Mr. Earl was descended from one of the early Puritan settlers of Massachusetts. His ancestors, for many generations, had been devout members of the church of Christ. He was the first alien from the commonwealth of Israel. His mother was an amiable, but not a pious woman, and some thought that it was owing to her that
he had not profited by the instructions of evening meal, the blessing of God was not his pious father, and had turned a deaf ear invoked. It was with difficulty that she to the gospel which he had heard from his could eat. When the hour for retiring infancy. He loved the world, and in order came, she was still more unhappy, as the to secure a large portion of its goods, he family separated without prayer. was willing to leave the home of his child Mr. E. soon perceived that his daughter hood, and the graves of his fathers, and to did not feel at home in his house. It made take up his abode on the borders of civili him sad at heart, for he had long looked forzation.
ward to her return, with hope that she His wife was one who preferred Jerusalem would restore, in part at least, the loss he to her chief joy. The old time-worn meet had experienced. He said to her one day, ing-house, with its high square fews, and “ Julia, you do not seem to feel so much at huge sounding-board, was as beautiful to home as I could wish.” her as the most faultless specimen of archi After some hesitation, she replied, “ I do tecture to the connoisseur. She desired not feel safe here." that her children might grow up under the “Do not feel safe!" said he, in astonishinfluence of the truths which were pro ment. claimed in that house. Her chief desire, “I am afraid to live under a roof where with respect to them, was that they might there is no prayer.” become rich in faith, and heirs of the king
The remark went to the father's heart. dom. In the spring, she was constrained
He thought of all the mercies he had reto bid farewell to her native village. After ceived, the protection he had experienced, a wearisome journey, she found herself and
unasked! He continued to think of his family in what was then a wilderness in the
ways till his soul fainted within him. He western part of New York. The gospel
looked at his oldest son, a Sabbath-breaker, was not preached in the vicinity, nor was
and ignorant of God, and could not conceal even the log school-house erected. For a
the truth, (that it was owing to the act of time Mr. E. observed the Sabbath, so far removing him in childhood from the means as resting from labour was concerned. He
of grace, and exposing him to influences even spent some time in reading the Bible,
that in all probability would prove his but he did not pray. In consequence that ruin. blessed book was gradually laid aside.
In a few days he asked Julia to read the The climate, and perhaps the labours Scriptures and pray in the family. It was incident to a life in the wilderness, caused with joy that she heard the request, but Mrs. E. to fall into a decline. When, after with great difficulty that she complied with a lingering illness, she bade her husband it. It was not till she was reminded of the farewell, she charged him to send her chil joy it would give to her mother, could she dren to her native home, that they might be a witness of it, that she consented to there be taught, in the school-house and make the attempt. In a few weeks, on a the church, truths which could make them Sabbath morning, the father himself took wise unto salvation. Mr. Earl complied in the Bible, and having read a portion, part with his wife's request. He sent his kneeled down, and with tears besought daughter Julia, who was now nine years of God to teach stammering lips how to pray. age, and her younger brother. The older Light, peace, and safety, took up their one he detained to assist him in his abode in a dwelling now no longer prayerlabours.
less. It was six years before Julia returned to her father. She had spent that time among the pious friends of her departed mother.
THE PREACHING OF THE She found the home of her childhood
GRAVE. greatly changed. A neat village surround Our earth is full of silent preachers. ed the tasteful dwelling now occupied by The brook, with its ever-moving waters, her father. The spire of the village church speaks of change; of the lights and sharose aloft, and the school-house was not far dows of individual existence. The river distant. She rejoiced to return to her tells the same great lesson as applied to nome, though she was to meet its chief states and nations. The ocean, now sleepcharm no more. A check was soon given ing in its waveless repose, now rolling to her joy. When she sat down to the | madly beneath the winds of heaven, typi
fies, in its peacefulness, in its anger, our ever-changing world.
Thus, the falling leaf speaks silently, but impressively, of death; the flowers around us open their fair petals with mute teachings of our heavenly Father's goodness; the lofty mountains breathe forth sublime lessons of His power; and not a drop of water sparkles in a bucket, but it silently proclaims His wisdom. Thus with every thing -- surely not less with the grave! The grave! What preacher more solemn in its teachings? What instructor more truthful in its lessons? It needs no outward tinselry to enforce its preaching; the humble resting-place of the poor speaks as solemnly and impressively as the costly mausoleum of the honoured or the rich. | It ever appears before us in its own simple solemnity-the powerful preacher of death and eternity.
Yet its teachings are not always the same; in the graves of the past, the present, and the future, we hear far different voices, each speaking forth its separate lesson.
The graves of the past ! Who can number them? They dot every valley, and lie scattered on every hill-side - they speak forth in every clime, in all tongues, to all nations, the self-same words, “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."
Yet, mingled with this one grand thought, they individually preach to us other and not less important sermons.
Let us hearken to the past's great grave, its universal sepulchre, as it preaches to us in the awfully sublime picture of a deluged world. Gaze in imagination upon that scene ! look calmly upon the wide-rolling, all-embracing waters! hear their solemn tones! look beneath their dark waves! listen to the winds, as sweeping over the vast expanse, they sigh over a buried world! Behold this monument of man's depravity and God's judgment, and tell me if there is no preaching here?
Are they frightful, terrible words, which swell forth from this vast grave? Behold that Ark of Gopher-wood, freighted with all of earth's living wealth ! watch it ride safely over the troubled waters! see it float peacefully through every danger—the storm harms it not; the winds molest it not; the grave below is no grave for this; for God's mercy is there.
Hearest thou now sweeter words? These are the two voices from the past's great grave ? the past's grave of the world!
But the past has another tomb, whose preaching shall be heard through all time the lingering sounds of whose words shall reach even into eternity, Beneath the sky of Judea lies this sepulchre. Cities are buried there. How impressively do those sluggish waters preach to us! What solemn lessons do they silently tell, as they roll their bitter waves over the buried monuments of man's wickedness and folly! What an everlasting memorial of the depravity of the human heart !
But the past has other graves great graves ! where scores of hearts are sleeping, the victims of ambition of despotism,- of war, and they preach to us! From their cold darkness many a sermon comes of the ills which sin has brought upon our race. They tell us of the misery which tyrants cause. Sad evidences are they of the power of the monster-war.
And yet there are other graves, individual graves, which perhaps speak to us no less solemnly than those we have mentioned. There are humble graves, whose preaching, soft and Jow, comes to but a few listening ears: there are heroes' graves, which send forth their teachings to all of earth's strug: gling millions : there are christians' graves, where the good love to linger, and hearken to the angel whisperings which speak sweetly there,
Thus the graves of the past preach to us. From each vast sepulchre,-from each proud mausoleum, from each undecorated burialplace,-each humble narrow house,-swell forth the teachings which, if practically heeded, would fill our hearts with wisdom, and gild our days with happiness. “But the present has its graves, new-made graves, Where the tears of the afflicted still moisten the sod, And the sighs of bereaved ones are ascending to God."
To-day's sun will set on thousands of these new-made graves. What preaching is here? Yet how little do we heed the grave's silent words? Do you ever visit the grave-yard, reader ?
The graves of the present preach, perhaps, more impressively than the graves of the past ; but how solemn should be the warning when the graves of the future appear before us. There, reader, is your grave! Do not turn from it, do not neglect it, there it lies-your own grave! It preaches to you. Heed its words, and when you come to it, you will find it a pleasant, welcome grave, where you may peacefully