In chapter 11 of  Through the Mists, entitled The Home of The Assyrian, Aphraar gives an account of a mother whose three children await her in the spirit world, and who anticipate her awakening after a period of restorative sleep:

“On reaching the second terrace Siamedes stopped, as we neared the entrance to one apartment, in order to explain to me the circumstances of the case. Here was lying a mother, whose awakening was being watched for by three of her children. She was the daughter of an ignorant but extremely orthodox tradesman, who had inherited his religion as a kind of heirloom[1].

She married a man who had been set apart by his family for the pulpit, but he himself was too conscientious to preach what to him was but half the truth, and in spite of the urgent persuasions of both sides, persisted in following his trade as a printer. With the advent[2] of family responsibilities, his newly-born parental feelings still further widened the gulf between himself and orthodoxy[3], and he gave up the last idea of becoming a preacher.

His wife was fearful, but her love was real. Whispers of his state of mind began to be heard in the church, and for the sake of others he was requested to resign. His wife went with him. Then the man’s disappointed parents, seeing their hopes fast drifting into oblivion, laid their heads together to try and restore the wandering sheep; and after much prayer they came to the conclusion that God had ordained a little trial, as a means of securing the backslider’s return. They thereupon visited his employer, and by a few slanderous[4] suggestions secured his dismissal.

Nine months of gradually increasing privation followed, in which the three children were augmented by a fourth, but the righteous parents dare not help them, to resist the chastisements[5] of God by affording any relief. But the wife never allowed the fire of her love to go down; no murmur was ever breathed from her lips; no anxious inquiry if he had succeeded, when his weary footsteps sounded on her ears like music at night, lest her asking should increase his disappointment.

One by one she parted with every little treasure, which from her girlhood she had learned to prize, that she might contrive[6] to find something for those still more precious treasures God had entrusted to her training. Still they withstood the entreaties[7] of the church, for they failed to see that their misfortune was the will of God, and half-suspected it had more to do with the will of a much less generous parent. It was a heavy battle they had to fight for years; at most the husband’s success secured but a bare existence, and the children continued to come until thirteen had called her mother. Bravely she bore her part, putting forth almost superhuman endeavours to make both ends meet. ‘God knew what was best, and in the end all would come right if she did but do her duty.’[8] So it was that the midnight hours saw her mending, patching, darning; morning found her weary, planning, hoping.

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In the lonely hours of the day, when the children were at school and her husband at his work, she was weeping, praying, and longing for the rest which never came. One by one, three graves had been opened before her, and heaven received three darlings, over whom her mother’s heart yearned[9] with an ever strengthening love. Yet for the world she had her smiles, and few people ever dreamed of the struggle with which she had to contend. She was not conscious of how she was over-taxing herself; she only knew how much more was needed, than she had time or strength to accomplish. But rest comes at length. The fierceness of the battle, the ceaseless turmoil, the unending strife, the hope deferred grew too heavy for her shoulders, and while yet comparatively young, she sank beneath the load.

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As he finished his recital, he approached and drew aside the rich hangings which fell across the entrance, and we stood within the apartment where this heroine from life’s battle slept, watched over most lovingly – can I say, patiently – by those three who had a right to call her by that sweetest name a woman knows. The eldest was a youth just short of manhood, the next a girl not much his junior, and the third a lad just entering on his teens. In their robes of almost untinted[10] whiteness, they looked like angels waiting there, not bright and brilliant in their persons, but with a soft and subdued halo[11] breaking from them, enough to show they were no denizens[12] of Earth. Two other friends were there besides, but Siamedes made me to know that these were ministers whom Myhanene had left in attendance, when he received her from the body and brought her there.

The only sounds which broke the silence, were the soft kisses the children pressed upon her lips and cheeks, and forehead, as though they were impatient for that sleep to end, that they might hear her voice again. Ever and anon[13] I saw the flush of excitement rise on each eager face, as she turned or moved upon her couch, and I discerned that I had been brought here to see her wake. Presently she breathed a sigh, stretched, turned, then stretched again. The attendants gently drew the children away; Siamedes left me, and took his place beside the couch. Slowly he waved his hand over the sleeper’s face, which now I could not see, but from the movements of her body, I thought her sleep was nearly, if not quite, at an end.

Another stretch, a quiet moment, then a long-drawn sigh, followed by: “O-h de-ar; why – where am I?”

“Mother!” Cried all the children in chorus, as they bounded forward to embrace her.

But I was outside. That meeting was too sacred for me to stand and gaze upon.

Shortly afterwards, the curtains were again drawn aside, and she was led forth to take her first glimpse of – shall I say, heaven? What else could it have seemed to her? Whatever it had previously been, it was undoubtedly heaven now to the children who clung so closely around her.

How beautiful she looked in her newly-found strength and peace, which clothed her like a robe of sweet repose[14], and the consciousness breaking upon her, that she could never know weariness and weakness again!

[1] Heirloom; has been passed down for generations through family members

[2] Advent; the arrival of something important

[3] Orthodoxy; the traditional beliefs and practices of a religion

[4] Slanderous; a false and malicious statement that damages somebody’s reputation

[5] Chastisements; to punish or scold somebody

[6] Contrive; do something creatively

[7] Entreaties; desperate plea

[8] William Shakespeare (1564–1616) “MacBeth” Act 3, Scene 2. Play thought to be first written somewhere between 1599 and 1606 and published in 1623.

[9] Yearned; long for, feel affection

[10] Untinted; pure, wholesome, innocent

[11] Subdued halo; gentle aura

[12] Denizens; a resident

[13] Ever and anon; now and then

[14] Sweet repose; pleasing tranquillity

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