Laughter trickled through the air and joined the sound of the river's quiet whispering. Horace added a quiet laugh to the voices of his wife and son. He drank in the sight of her red hair reflecting the light of the sun which mottled the mossy ground around them. Her green eyes were surrounded by faint freckles, and her lips curled pleasingly as she laughed. Horace Jr., a proud four-year-old, sat in her lap and was reaching for the frolicking puppy that had amused them.
Horace looked around. "Where's Carleen?" he asked.
Suddenly a scream cut the peaceful air, accompanied by a splash. Horace leaped to his feet, kicking off his shoes and running toward the river. But it was no longer a river. Suddenly he was on a ship, and the beautiful day was all at once dark and stormy. He saw Carleen, clinging to a piece of wood and struggling in the rough waters.
"Hold on, darling! I'll help you!" He tried to shout to her, but his mouth was dry and frozen. His feet, too, were rooted to the deck. Beside his daughter appeared his wife, clinging to his son's hat.
"Horace Jr.!" she screamed. "Horace Jr.! Where are you?"
As Horace watched in horror, she slipped below the waves. Carleen was still clinging to the wreckage, but her hold was slipping.
"Carleen!" Horace found his voice, and forced his feet to move. He dove in, swimming against the waves that were trying to push him away from his daughter. But no matter how hard he tried, she drifted farther and farther away. He could see her slipping, and even as he cried out "No!" her grip gave and she sank below the waves.
"Horace! Horace! Wake up!"
Horace sat up in bed, drenched with sweat, then fell back against his pillows as he felt the rock of the boat in the calm waters beneath him.
"The same dream, sir?" questioned his servant.
"Yes, Charles. The same one as always."
A knock came at the cabin door, and Charles opened it to admit a nervous sailor.
"Captain said to tell you we're as close as he can guess to the spot."
"Thank you," replied Horace, and the man left.
"Charles, I'll be out on the deck," he continued. As he went, he picked up his journal and quill.
As Horace gazed out over the soft swells of the ocean, his heart was torn anew. In his pain, he cried out to God, "Why?!" The tears he had held in for the last month were loosed, and he poured out his all the anguish and turmoil that had filled him for so long.
Finally he felt a gentle peace come over him, and his spirit was soothed. Sitting down, he opened his journal and began to write.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.