God's Good Man (Chapter 6, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 6

"And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always!"

So prayed John Walden, truly and tenderly, stretching out his hands in benediction over the bent heads of his little congregation, which responded with a fervent 'Amen.'

Service was over, and the good folks of St. Rest wended their gradual way out of church to the full sweet sound of an organ voluntary, played by Miss Janet Eden, who, as all the village said of her, 'was a rare 'and at doin' the music proper.' Each man and woman wore their Sunday best,--each girl had some extra bit of finery on, and each lad sported either a smart necktie or wore a flower in his buttonhole, as a testimony to the general festal feeling inspired by a day when ordinary work is set aside for the mingled pleasures of prayer, meditation and promiscuous love-making. The iconoclasts who would do away with the appointed seventh day of respite from the hard labours of every-day life, deserve hanging without the mercy of trial. A due observance of Sunday, and especially the English country observance of Sunday, is one of the saving graces of our national constitution. In the large towns, a growing laxity concerning the 'keeping of the seventh day holy,' is plainly noticeable, the pernicious example of London 'smart' society doing much to lessen the old feeling of respect for the day and its sacredness; but in small greenwood places, where it is still judged decent and obedient to the laws of God, to attend Divine worship at least once a day,--when rough manual toil is set aside, and the weary and soiled labourer takes a pleasure in being clean, orderly and cheerfully respectful to his superiors, Sunday is a blessing and an educational force that can hardly be over-estimated.

In such a peaceful corner as St. Rest it was a very day of days. Tourists seldom disturbed its tranquillity, the 'Mother Huff' public-house affording but sorry entertainment to such parties; the motor-bicycle, with its detestable noise, insufferable odour and dirty, oil-stained rider in goggled spectacles, was scarcely ever seen,--and motor-cars always turned another way on leaving the county town of Riversford, in order to avoid the sharp ascent from the town, as well as the still sharper and highly dangerous descent into the valley again, where the little mediaeval village lay nestled. Thus it was enabled to gather to itself a strangely beautiful halcyon calm on the Lord's Day,--and in fair Spring weather like the present, dozed complacently under the quiet smile of serene blue skies, soothed to sleep by the rippling flow of its ribbon-like river, and receiving from hour to hour a fluttering halo of doves' wings, as these traditional messengers of peace flew over the quaint old houses, or rested on the gabled roofs, spreading out their snowy tails like fans to the warmth of the sun. The churchyard was the recognised meeting-place for all the gossips of the village after the sermon was over and the blessing pronounced,--and the brighter and warmer the weather, the longer and more desultory the conversation.

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