he time, my brothers Hosea and
Ephraim were respectively nine and seven, while little Ruth could scarce
have been more than four. It chanced that a few days before a wandering
preacher of the Independents had put up at our house, and his religious
ministrations had left my father moody and excitable. One night I had
gone to bed as usual, and was sound asleep with my two brothers beside
me, when we were roused and ordered to come downstairs. Huddling on our
clothes we followed him into the kitchen, where my mother was sitting
pale and scared with Ruth upon her knee.
'Gather round me, my children,' he said, in a deep reverent voice, 'that
we may all appear before the throne together. The kingdom of the Lord
is at hand-oh, be ye ready to receive Him! This very night, my loved
ones, ye shall see Him in His splendour, with the angels and the
archangels in their might and their glory. At the third hour shall He
come-that very third hour which is now drawing upon us.'
'Dear Joe,' said my mother, in soot