He came to his Own.
In certain circles in England, they tell of a certain physician years ago. He came of a very humble family. His father was a gardener on a gentleman's estate. And the father died. And the mother wasn't able to pay her son's schooling. But a storekeeper in the village liked this little bright boy and sent him to school. And he went on through the higher schooling, became a physician, and began his practice in London. He became skilled, and then famous, and then wealthy.

He remembered his dear old mother, of course. He sent her money, and fabrics for dresses, and wrote her. But for a long time, in the busy absorption of his life, he had not been to see her. And the dear old mother in the little cottage in the country lived in the sweet consciousness that her son was a great physician up in the great London. He was her chief topic of conversation. When the neighbours were in she would always talk of her son, her Laddie, she called him.

"He's so good to me, my Laddie is. He sends me money. I put it in the bank. He sends me cloth for dresses; it's quite too good for a plain body like me. And he writes me letters, such good letters, wonderful letters. But he's so busy up there, that he hasn't been to see me for a long time now. You know he's a great doctor now, and he has great skill, and there are so many needing him. And he's no time at all, even for himself, I expect. But" -- she would always finish her talk as they sat over the tea by saying, half to herself, really more to herself than to the little group, with a half-repressed longing sigh, "but, I wish, I just wish I could see my Laddie."

Then some changes took place on the estate. And the cottage where she had lived so long must be given up. And the dear old woman had to make new plans. And she cudgeled her old head, and thought, and at last she said to herself, "I know what I'll do. I'll go-up to London, and I'll live with Laddie. He'll be so glad to have me." And bright-coloured visions flitted through her mind, as she sat over her tea by the open grate. But she wouldn't send him word; no, no, she would surprise him, and add to his pleasure.

And the dear old soul, in her fine simplicity, did not think into what this would mean, nor of the difference that had grown up with the years, in manner of life, between her son and herself. He was a cultured gentleman, with his well-appointed city home, and the circle of friends that had grown up about him. And she was a simple uncultured country woman with a broad provincial twist on her tongue. But she was blissfully unconscious of this. She would go and live with her Laddie. It would be so delightful for them both.

And so she went. It was her first train journey, and quite a time of it she had finding the house. But at last she stands looking up at the house. "Ugh! does my Laddie live here! in this great mansion?" But there was the name on the door-plate. There was no mistaking that. And so she rang the bell. "Is the doctor in?" She could hardly get the word "doctor" out. She had never called him that before, just Laddie. But now she must say it. "Is the doctor in?" And the word almost stuck in her throat as she thought to herself, "This poor man opening the door doesn't know that the 'doctor' really belongs to me."

But in a hard voice the servant said that it was past the hours. She couldn't see the doctor.

"Ah! bat," she said, quite taken by surprise at being held there, "I must see him."

"But, I tell you, it's quite too late to see him to-day."

But she resolutely put her stout country-boot in the crack of the door, and her English jaw set in true English fashion, and she said with that quietness that has the subtle touch of danger in it, "I'll see the doctor."

And the servant looked puzzled and went to report about this strangely insistent woman. And the doctor was annoyed by the interruption in the midst of something that was absorbing him. He said sharply, "It's past the hours; I can see no one."

"I told her so, sir," replied the man deferentially, "but she insists in a strange way, sir."

"What's she like?"

"Oh, just a plain country body, sir."

"Well, show her up."

And I am glad to remember that she had a warm embrace of his strong arms, as he instantly recognized her in the doorway, while the servant stared. Then he said rather nervously as the servant discreetly withdrew, "How did yon happen to come? Why didn't you send word? Has anything happened?" And then as she sat by the fire sipping a cup of tea, she told the story, in her own simple slow way, and ended up with, "And now I'm coming to live with you, Laddie." And the old eyes behind the spectacles beamed, and the dear old wrinkled face glowed.

And he poked the fire, and tried to think You know, our English friends depend almost wholly on the open grate fire, as we do so largely in the South. And it's a great thing, is the open grate fire. It's a fire. It warms your body, at least in front in extreme weather. But it's more than a fire. It's a stimulus to thought. It refreshes your spirit, and rests your tired nerves, and it is a wonderful thing to help you unravel knotty problems. So he poked the fire and thought, while she, quite unconscious of his embarrassment, went on sipping her tea and talking.

It would never do to have her come there, he thought. And his thoughts went to the circle of friends at the dinner table in the evening, and to the critical city servants that ran his bachelor establishment. And just then his ear caught anew the broad provincial twist on her tongue. He had never noticed it so broad, so decided, before. And she was talking the small countryside talk, chickens and an epidemic among them. And that grated strangely. It certainly wouldn't do to have her come there.

Then the tide began to rise gently on the beach of his heart. He thought, "She's my mother. And if mother wants to come here, here she comes." And he straightened up in his chair, as he gave a gentler touch to a blazing lump of coal. Then the tide ebbed. It began running out again. "No, it would hardly do." And he poked and thought. Finally he broke into her run of talk.

"Mother, you know it is not very healthful here. We have bad fogs in London. And you're used to the wholesome country air. It wouldn't agree with you here, I'm afraid. I'll get a little cottage on the edge of town, and I'll come and see you very often."

And the dear old woman sensed at once just what he was thinking. She was not stupid, if she was just a plain homely body. He got his brains from his simple country mother, as many a man of note has done. But she spoke not of what she felt. She simply said, with that quietness which grows out of strong self-control:

"It's a bit late the night, Laddie, I'm thinking, to be talking about new plans."

And he said softly, "Forgive me, mother: it is late, I forgot." And he showed her to her sleeping apartment.

"And where do you sleep, Laddie?"

"Right here, mother, this first door on the left. Be sure to call me if you need anything."

And he bade her a tender "good-night," and went back to his study to do some more thinking and planning. And very late he came up to his sleeping-chamber. And he was just cuddling his head into the soft pillow for the night, when the door opened, so softly, and in there came a little body in simple white night garb, with a quaint old-fashioned nightcap on, candle in hand. She came in very softly. And he started up.

"Mother, are you ill? What's the matter?"

And she came over very quietly, and put down the candle on the table before she answered. And then softly:

"No, no, Laddie, I'm not ill. I just came to tuck you in for the night as I used to do at home. ... Lie still, my Laddie."

And she tucked the clothes about his neck, and smoothed his hair, and patted his cheek, and kissed his face. And she crooned over him as mother with little child. The years were quite forgot. She had her little son again. And she talked mother's love-talk to a child. "Good-night, Laddie ... good-night ... good-night ... mother's own boy." And a little more tucking and smoothing and patting and kissing, and then she turned so quietly, picked up the candle, and went out, closing the door so softly, her great strength revealed in her gentleness.

And he was just on the point of starting up and saying, "Mother, you must stay with me, right here" -- no, the morning will do, he thought. But when the morning came she wasn't down for breakfast. And when he went to her room she wasn't there. It turned out afterwards that she had said to herself, "It doesn't suit my Laddie's plans to have me here. I don't understand why. It isn't his fault at all. It just doesn't suit. And I'll never be a trouble to my Laddie."

And so with that rare characteristic English trait of independence, she had quietly gone off early that morning before the house was astir. And he broken-hearted -- I'm always glad to remember that -- he searched through the wilderness of London for more than a year, searched diligently, but could find no trace of her. And then he was graciously permitted to minister to her last hours in a hospital where a street accident had sent her unconscious, and where he was chief of the medical staff.

She came to her own and her own received her not. He loved her, but it didn't suit his plans. He, Jesus, came to His own, and His own received Him not; it didn't suit their plans. Ah! listen yet further: He comes to His own, you and me, and His own -- you finish it. Have we some plans, too, set plans, that we don't propose to change, even for -- (softly) even for Him? Each of us is finishing that sentence, not in words so much if at all, in the words of our action. And the crowd reads our translation.

a heart-breaking verse
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