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Royal Sympathy

( Originally Published 1902 )

A POOR man named Rattray and his wife lived in a cottage at Cairn-nu-Craig, Scotland, not far from Balmoral Castle. The wife's mother was dying, a little distance away, and the daughter went to her bedside. She kept her oldest boy, Jamie, home from school to watch his little brother while the mother was away. The oldest was eleven years of age, the youngest was three. Fishing was good at the bridge over the Monaltrie Burn near where it empties into the Dee, and the boys took their lines for a day's sport. The little fellow fell in, and his brother, with the heroism worthy of a king, jumped in after him, but, locked in each other's arms, they were swept out into the Dee, swollen with late rains, and were drowned. The sad news reached the castle at four o'clock in the afternoon. Before five, Queen Victoria was in her carriage hastening to the scene of the accident. She was trembling with excitement and sorrow. She drove along the river's edge, taking the deepest interest in the search for the bodies; then she left her carriage and walked up and down the banks of the stream, showing in her face and conduct the deepest personal anguish. The drowning was on Tuesday. The baby brother was found first. On Thursday the Queen rode over to the afflicted cottage, and thus writes of her visit :

" We went in, and on a table in the kitchen, covered with a sheet which they lifted up, lay the poor, sweet, innocent ` bairnie,' a fine, plump child, with his little hands joined—a most touching sight. Then the poor mother came in, calm and quiet, though she cried a little at first when I took her hand and said how much I felt for her and how dreadful it was. She checked herself and said, with that resignation and trust which is so edifying to witness and which you see so constantly in these Highlands, ` We must try to bear it; we must trust to the Almighty.' As we were leaving I gave her something, and she was quite overcome and blessed me for it."

The Queen left this house of sorrow and joined in the search for the body of the older brother, and continued it till one o'clock in the afternoon, when she returned to the palace. Word came to her that night that the body had been found. On Saturday, the day of the funeral, she drove her carriage to a convenient place in the road, stopped the horses, and affectionately reviewed the funeral pro-cession as it passed, with the two little white coffins, to the burying ground.

The sorrow of this womanly woman over the death of these poor little boys was the expression of that real royalty of soul before which England and the civilized world bowed. The King of kings has a heart full of sympathy for the sorrowing children of men, for the lowliest of earth. The comfort the Queen gave to the poor family by the tenderness of her spirit is a type of the infinite consolation the Holy Spirit brings to broken human hearts.

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