After Many Days: Chapter 5: Blanche Pascilin

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THE entrance of thy words giveth light." (Psa. 119:130130The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. (Psalm 119:130).) So wrote David, the shepherd king of Israel, many years ago, and it seemed as if the long-hidden Bible, which had once belonged to Peter Hollman, had been a lamp from which light had shone into many hearts, and brought blessing into many homes.
Threats and promises had alike failed to induce Adolf Pascilin and his wife to give up the treasure they had found. They not only read and loved the word of God for themselves, but told their friends and neighbors of the joy and peace they had found by accepting as a free gift the salvation of God.
And though in the days of which I am writing Bibles were neither cheap, plentiful, nor easy to get, Adolf succeeded in obtaining five copies, which he gave as his most precious legacy to his children and grandchildren; and, before his death, which did not take place till he had reached a ripe old age, he could rejoice over many in his own loved valley who were his sons and daughters in the faith.
We must pass over nearly a hundred years, and take up our story again in the year 1832. The old cottage having fallen into decay had been pulled down, but a larger one had been built on the same site. The old hearthstone was, however, still carefully preserved, a few words carved upon it telling how for thirty years Peter Hollman's Bible had been concealed beneath it, and by whom found and read.
The blessing of the Lord had rested upon the family of the Pascilins. They had prospered in this world's goods, but the sunshine of prosperity had not spoiled Frederick Pascilin, who was a grandson, or great-grandson of Adolf. He with his wife Blanche and their only child Henry lived in the new cottage. The husband and wife were alike Bible-reading and Bible-loving Christians, their great desire being to sow the good seed in the heart of their little son, in the hope that he might early know and love the Savior.
Ernest Balduff, the father of Blanche Pascilin, was a man of violent temper, and of stern and unyielding character. There could hardly have been a greater contrast than existed between him and his gentle and timid wife Louise.
The first great sorrow that Blanche, who was an only child, had known was the death of her mother, which took place when she was about fourteen years of age. Her death-bed had been a sad and sorrowful one, for though the Roman Catholic priest had visited her several times, and had assured her that the Latin prayers he had offered, and the oil and ashes with which he had sprinkled her, were enough to secure her eternal happiness, and it would be only for a very short time that her soul would have to endure the fires of purgatory, there was no loving voice to tell her of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“How can I know? How can I be quite sure that I shall ever reach heaven at all?" she would ask in a voice so full of sadness that Blanche, who loved her mother dearly, would burst into tears and hurry from the room lest the sight of her grief should add to the distress of her mother.
In vain her husband assured her that he would pay for as many masses (prayers for the dead) as the priest wished to be said or sung for the repose of her soul. Still no gleam of light, no word of comfort brought peace to her soul.
The death of her mother was a shock from which Blanche did not seem able to recover. Day by day she grew paler and thinner, and at last was so really ill that her father became alarmed, and after making some objections, yielded to the pleadings of Paul, an old and faithful servant who had been for many years in the family, to allow his young mistress, under his care, to join a party of their neighbors who were going to visit their friends who were tending their flocks upon the mountains, where he hoped the pure, fresh air would do much to restore her health and spirits.
The upward path, though pleasant, was too fatiguing for Blanche, and after about an hour's walking she became too tired to go any further, and as they were near the hut of a shepherd, it was arranged that Blanche should rest and remain for the night, and, still attended by Paul, continue her journey on the following day.
When they were alone, Paul begged his dear young lady to tell him the cause of her sadness. After a few moments she replied, "I am not really ill, though I know that by all my friends I am thought to be in a deep decline. I am very unhappy. I cannot forget the death-bed of my dear mother. The visits of the priest gave her no comfort. I, too, must die, and the fear of that dreadful hour seems always before my mind. I cannot eat or sleep for thinking of it. I pray to the Virgin Mary and to all the saints, but they either will not or cannot help me.”
After a pause she continued: "Do you not remember my father's old shepherd Walter and his daughter Sophia? She was a good and gentle girl, and my mother loved her much. I could not understand why my father was angry with them. When Sophia was very ill, only the day before she died, I was told that she had asked for me; and not knowing that it was against the wishes of my father I went to see her. I do not think that she was afraid to die for she looked so happy. I feel sure she wished to tell me something, but at that moment my father entered the cottage. He seemed much displeased at finding me there, and bade me go home at once. Then I heard that Walter was dismissed from our service. I have not seen him since that day, but I of ten wish that I could ask him what made his daughter so happy.”
“Walter was dismissed by my master on the day of your visit. We are not far from him now, for somewhere on these hills he keeps the flocks of his present master, Gaspard Pascilin, who is one of his own people. They are called heretics because they have left the church of Rome; but I have known several whose lives were happy and deaths peaceful though no priest attended them.”
“Do take me to see Walter," pleaded Blanche; "if any one can give me comfort or help, I believe he can.”
“The mountain path is steep, and you will, I fear, find it trying," replied Paul, "but we are not more than two miles from the cottage of Gaspard Pascilin. There you could see and converse with Walter, and I am not afraid to say you would be welcomed by Gaspard and his wife, who knew and loved your mother, my dear mistress, before her marriage.”
“Will you really take me there, Paul? I long to see our good Walter, and to know from him why Sophia was not afraid to die.”
Early the next morning they reached the home of the Pascilins. They received her most kindly, and pressed her to remain for the night, as Walter, who was keeping sheep on the mountains, would not return till sunset, But before the evening shadows fell Blanche had heard the wondrous story of the love of God in the gift of His Son.
Very simply and gladly she received the truth as it is in Jesus; fear and gloom gave place to joy and peace in believing. Walter, whose affection for her was hardly less than that of Paul, was delighted at the meeting, and gave her his daughter's well-worn Bible.
When after a fortnight she returned to her father's house, her health and spirits had greatly improved. Her father, still stern and bitter, found her one day reading her loved Bible; he took it from her and ordered her to leave the house and never to return to it unless she was prepared to give up what he called her heresies. She obeyed in tears and trembling. Paul, who for some time had been convinced of the errors of Rome, was again her guide to the home of Gaspard Pascilin, whose service he entered. A few years later Blanche became the loved and loving wife of his only son Frederick, so proving the truth of that word, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." (Psa. 27:1010When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. (Psalm 27:10))