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of his position made him conscious of vulnerability, and he wished to be friendly on all sides, with a vague general feeling of strengthening his outworks.
Mr. Wither never opened his mouth to Thomas upon any occasion or necessity, and from several symptoms it appeared that his grief, or rather perhaps the antidotes to it, were dragging him down hill.
Amy Worboise was not at home. The mother had seen symptoms; and much as she valued Mr. Simon's ghostly ministrations, the old Adam in her rebelled too strongly against having a curate for her son-in-law. So Amy disappeared for a season, upon a convenient invitation. But if she had been at home, she could have influenced events in nothing, for, as often happens in families, there was no real communication between brother and sister.
MATTIE IN THE COUNTRY,
I NOW return to resume the regular thread of my story.
I do not know if my reader is half as much interested in Mattie as I am. I doubt it very much. He will, most probably, like Poppie better. But big-headed, strange, and conceited as Mattie was, she was altogether a higher being than Poppie. She thought; Poppie only received impressions. If she had more serious faults than Poppie, they were faults that belonged to a more advanced stage of growth: diseased, my reader may say, but diseased with a disease that fell in with, almost belonged to, the untimely development. All Poppie's thoughts, to speak roughly, came from without; all Mattie's from within. To complete Mattie, she had to go back a little, and learn to receive impressions; to complete Poppie, she had to work upon the inipressions she received, and, so to speak, generate thoughts of her own. Mattie led the life of a human being; Poppie of a human animal. Mattie lived ; Poppie was there. Poppie was the type of most people; Mattie of the elect.
Lucy did not intend, in the sad circumstances in which she now was, to say a word to her grandmother about Mrs. Morgenstern's proposal. But it was brought about very naturally. As she entered the court, she met Mattie. The child had been once more to visit Mr. Spelt, but had found the little nest so oppressive that she had begged to be put down again, that she might go to her own
Mr. Spelt was leaning over his door and his crossed legs, for he could not stand up, looking anxiously after her; and the child's face was so pale and sad, and she held her little hand so pitifully to her big head, that Lucy could not help feeling that the first necessity amongst her duties was to get Mattie away.
After the first burst of her grandmother's grief at sight of her was over, after Mr. Stopper had gone back to the counting-house, and she had fallen into a silent rocking to and fro, Lucy ventured to speak.
"They're gone home, dear grannie,” she said. “And I shan't stay long behind them, my dear," grannie moaned.
“That's some comfort, isn't it, grannie?" said Lucy, for her own heart was heavy, not for the dead, but for the living ; heavy for her own troubles, heavy for Thomas, about whom she felt very despon. dent, almost despairing.
“Ah! you young people would be glad enough to have the old ones out of the way,” returned Mrs. Boxall, in the petulance of grief. “Have patience, Lucy; have patience, child ; it won't be long, and then you can do as you like."
Oh, grannie, grannie!" cried Lucy, bursting into tears. “I do everything I like now. I only wanted to comfort you," she sobbed. “I thought you would like to go too. I wish I was dead."
You, child !” exclaimed Mrs. Boxall: “why should you wish you was dead? You don't know enough of life to wish for death." Then, as Lucy went on sobbing, her tone changed-for she began to be concerned at her distress. “ What is the matter with my darling?" she said. “Are you ill, Lucy?”
Then Lucy went to her and kissed her, and knelt down, and laid her head in the old woman's lap. And her grannie stroked her hair, and spoke to her as if she had been one of her own babies, and, in seeking to comfort her, forgot her own troubles for the moment.
“You've been doing too much for other people, Lucy," she said. “We must think of you now. You must go to the sea-side for a while. You shan't go about giving lessons any more, my lamb. There is no need for that any more, for they say all the money will be ours now."
And the old woman wept again at the thought of the source of their coming prosperity.
“ I should like to go to the country very much, if you would go too, grannie.”
“No, no, child, I don't want to go. I don't want any doing “ But I don't like to leave you, grannie," objected Lucy.
“Never mind me, my dear. I shall be better alone for a while. And I daresay there will be some business to attend to."
And so they went on talking, till Lucy told her all about Mrs. Morgenstern's plan, and how ill poor Mattie looked, and that she would be glad to go away for a little while herself. Mrs. Boxall would not consent to go, but she even urged Lucy to accept the proposed arrangement, and proceeded at once to inquire into her wardrobe, and talk about mourning.
Two days after, Lucy and Mattie met Mrs. Morgenstern and
Miriam at the London Bridge railway station. Mattie looked quite dazed, almost stupid, with the noise and bustle ; but when they were once in motion, she heaved a deep sigh, and looked comforted. She said nothing, however, for some time, and her counte. nance revealed no surprise. Whatever was out of the usual way always oppressed Mattie-not excited her; and, therefore, the more surprising anything was, the less did it occasion any outward shape of surprise. But as they flashed—if I may use such an Erinism-as they flashed into the first tunnel, Lucy saw her start and shudder ere they vanished from each other in the darkness. She put out her hand and took hold of the child's. It was cold and trembling ; but as she held it gently and warmly in her own, it grew quite still
. By the time the light began to grow again, her face was peaceful, and when they emerged in the cutting beyond she was calm enough to speak the thought that had come to her in the dark. With another sigh
“I knew the country wasn't nice," she said. “But you don't know what the country is yet," answered Lucy,
“I know quite enough of it," returned Mattie. “I like London best. I wish I could see some shops.”
Lucy did not proceed to argue the matter with her. She did not tell her how unfair she was to judge the country by what lay between her and it. As well might she have argued with Thomas that the bitterness of the repentance from which he shrank was not the religion to which she wanted to lead him ; that religion itself was to him inconceivable, and could but be known when he was in it. She had tried this plan with him in their last interview before she left. She had herself, under the earnest teaching of Mr. Fuller, and in the illumination of that Spirit for which she prayed, learned many a spiritual lesson, had sought eagerly, and therefore gained rapidly. For hers was one of the good soils, well prepared beforehand for the seed of the redeeming truth of God's love, and the sonship of Christ, and his present power in the human soul. And she had tried, I say, to make Thomas believe in the blessedness of the man whose iniquities are pardoned, whose sins are covered, to whom the Lord imputeth not his transgressions; but Thomas had replied only with some of the stock phrases of assent. A nature such as his could not think of law and obedience save as a restraint. While he would be glad enough to have the weight of conscious wrongdoing lifted off hirn, he could not see that in yielding his own way and taking God's, lay the only freedom of which the human being, made in the image of God, is capable.
Presently Mattie found another argument upon her side, that is, the town-side of the question. She had been sitting for half an hour watching the breath of the snorting engine, as it rushed out for a stormy right over the meek fields, faltered, lingered, faded, melted, was gone.
“ I told you so," said Mattie : “nothing lasts in the country."
“What are you looking at now ?” asked Lucy, bending forward to see.
“ Those white clouds," answered Mattie. “ I've been expecting them to do something for ever so long. And they never do anything, though they begin in such a hurry. The green gets the better of them somehow. They melt away into it, and are all gone."
But they do the grass some good, I daresay," returned Lucy“in hot weather like this especially.”
“Well, that's not what they set out for, anyhow," said Mattie. “They look always as if they were just going to take grand shapes, and make themselves up into an army, and go out and conquer the world."
“And then," suggested Lucy, yielding to the fancy of the child, " they think better of it, and give themselves up, and die into the world to do it good, instead of trampling it under their feet and hurting it."
“ But how do they come to change their minds so soon ?" asked Mattie, beginning to smile ; for this was the sort of intellectual duel in which her little soul delighted.
“Oh, I don't think they do change their minds. I don't think they ever meant to trample down the world. That was your notion, you know, Mattie.”
“Well, what do you think they set out for? Why do they rush out so fiercely all at once ?"
“ I will tell you what I think,” answered Lucy, without perceiving more than the faintest glimmering of the human reality of what she said. “I think they rush out of the hot place in which they are got ready to do the fields good, in so much pain, that they toss themselves about in strange ways, and people think they are fierce and angry when they are only suffering-shot out into the air from a boiling kettle, you know, Mattie."
“Ah ! yes ; I see," answered Mattie. “ That's it, is it? Yes, I daresay. Out of a kettle ?"
Miriam had drawn near, and was listening, but she could make little of all this, for her hour was not yet come to ask, or to understand such questions.
“ Yes, that great round thing in front of us, is just a great kettle,” said Lucy.
“Well, I will look at it when we get out. I thought there wasn't much in the country. I suppose we shall get out again though. This isn't all the country, is it?"
Before they reached Hastings, Mattie was fast asleep. It was the evening. She scarcely woke when they stopped for the last time. Lucy carried her from the carriage to a cab, and when they arrived at the lodgings where they were expected, made all haste to get her to bed and asleep.
But she woke the earlier in the morning, and the first thing she was aware of was the crowing of a very clear-throated cock, such a cock as Henry Vaughan must have listened to in the morning of the day when he wrote:
“ Father of lights ! what sunnie seed,
What glance of day hast thou confined
This busie Ray thou hast assign’d;
And dreams of Paradise and light.” She could not collect her thoughts for some time. She was aware that a change had taken place, but what was it ? Was she some. body else? What did they use to call her ? Then she remembered Mr. Spelt's shop, and knew that she was Mattie Kitely. What then had happened to her ? Something certainly had happened, else how could the cock crow like that? She was now aware that her eyes were open, but she did not know that Lucy was in another bed in the same room watching her—whence afterwards, when she put Mattie's words and actions together, she was able to give this interpretation of her thoughts. The room was so different from anything she had been used to, that she could not understand it. She crept out of bed and went to the window. There was no blind to it, only curtains drawn close in front.
Now my reader must remember that when Mattie went to the window of her own room at home she saw into Guild Court. The house in which they now were was half-way up one of the hills on the sides of which great part of Hastings is built. The sun was not shining upon the window at this hour of the morning, and therefore did not obstruct the view. Hence when Mattie went between the curtains she saw nothing but that loveliest of English seas—the Hastings sea-lying away out into the sky, or rather, as it appeared to her unaccustomed gaze, piled up like a hill against the sky, which domed it over, vast and blue, and triumphant in sunlight -just a few white sails below, and a few white clouds above, to show how blue the sea and the sky were in this glory of an autumn morning. She saw nothing of the earth on which she was upheld ; only the sea and the sky. She started back with a feeling that she could never describe; there was terror, and loneliness, and helplessness in it. She turned and flew to her bed, but instead of getting into it, fell down on her knees by the side of it, clutched the bedclothes, and sobbed and wept aloud. Lucy was by her side in a moment, took her in her arms, carried her into her own bed, and comforted her in her bosom.
Mattie had been all her life sitting in the camera obscura of her own microcosm, watching the shadows that went and came, and