The mother's voice was low and tender, and solemn.
On two sweet voices the tones were borne upward.
It was the innocence of reverent children that gave them utterance.
"Who art in heaven."
"Who art in heaven," repeated the children, one with her eyes bent meekly down, and the other looking upward, as if she would penetrate the heavens into which her heart was aspiring.
"Hallowed be thy name."
Lower fell the voice of the little ones. In a gentle murmur they said,—
"Hallowed be thy name."
"Thy kingdom come."
And the burden of the prayer was still taken by the children—
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," filled the chamber.
And the mother continued—
"Give us this day our daily bread."
"Our daily bread," lingered a moment on the air, as the mother's voice was hushed into silence.
"And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors."
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever."
All these holy words were said piously and fervently by the little ones, as they knelt with clasped hands beside their mother. Then as their thoughts, uplifted on the wings of prayer to their heavenly Father, came back again and rested on their earthly parents, a warmer love came gushing from their hearts.
Pure kisses—tender kisses—the fond "good-night." What a sweet agitation pervaded all their feelings. Then two dear heads were placed side by side on the snowy pillows, the mother's last good-night kiss given, and the shadowy curtains drawn.
What a pulseless stillness reigns without the chamber. Inwardly, the parents' ears are bent. They have given those innocent ones into the keeping of God's angels, and they can almost hear the rustle of their garments as they gather around their sleeping babes. A sigh, deep and tremulous, breaks on the air. Quickly the mother turns to the father of her children, with a look of earnest inquiry upon her countenance. And he answers thus her silent questions:—
"Far back through many years have my thoughts been wandering. At my mother's knee thus said I nightly my childhood's evening prayer. It was that best and holiest of all prayers, 'Our Father,' that she taught me. Childhood and my mother passed away. I went forth as a man into the world, strong, confident, and self-seeking. Once I came into great temptation. Had I fallen in that temptation, I should have fallen never to rise again. I was about yielding. All the barriers I could oppose to it in the in-rushing flood, seemed just ready to give way, when, as I sat in my room one evening, there came from an adjoining chamber, now first occupied for many weeks, the murmur of low voices. I listened. At first no articulate sound was heard, and yet something in the tones stirred my heart with new and strong emotions. At length there came to my ears, in the earnest, loving voice of a woman, the words,—
"'Deliver us from evil.'
"For an instant, it seemed to me as if that voice were that of my mother....