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more airy. I do most potently believe that Widdles was, not only in the similarity, but in the infinitesimality (I am sorry to have to coin a word) of his influence, homeopathically operative in working a degree of cure in the troubled nature of the old woman.
“Ah, Widdles, Widdles !” she would say, as she rubbed the unavailing Balm of Columbia on his blue back, “ you and I know what trouble is ! Don't we, old bird ?”
She began to havea respect for her own misfortunes, which indicated that they had begun to recede a little from the point of her vision. To have had misfortunes is the only distinction some can claim. How much that can distinguish one man from another, judge, O Humanity. But the heart that knows its own bitterness too often forgets that there is more bitterness in the world than that.
Widdles would cock his magnificent head and whiskers on one side, and wink with one eye, as much as to say, “I believe you, old girl.” Then he would turn his denuded, featherless back upon her, as much as to add with more solemnity : “ Contemplate my condition, madam. Behold me. Imagine what I once was, that you may understand the spite of fortune which has reduced me to my present bareness. Am I not a spectacle to men and angels? And am I not therefore distinguished above my fellows ?” Perhaps, however, I am all wrong in giving this interpretation to the actions of the bird. Perhaps the influence that flowed from him into the heart of Mrs. Boxall was really such as, put in words, would amount to this : “Here I am without a feather to hide my somewhat skinny proportions ; but what the worse am I? Who cares? So long as you don't, I don't. Let's turn about once more. My dancing days are over ; but life is life, even without feathers."
If Mrs. Boxall had had her way with Widdles, he would have turned out a resplendent bird in spite of fate. But if you had told her not to be distressed at his nakedness, for God cared for Widdles, not as much, but as well as for her, she would have judged you guilty of something like blasphemy. Was it because the bird was comical, as even she admitted, that you must not speak of God's care in relation to him ? Certainly, however, he sowed not, neither did he reap; and as for a barn to store his winter-grain in-poor Widdles! Yet, was he forgotten? Mrs. Boxall was the last person who could say so, with her sugar, her nuts, her unguents of price-though the latter, clearly a striving against Providence, were not of so much account in the eyes of the bird. I dare say he found them soothing, though.
However all these things may have been, one thing is certain, that Mrs. Boxall began to recover her equanimity, and at length even her benevolence towards men in general—with one class exception, that of lawyers, and two individual exceptions, those of old Wórboise and young Worboise. I believe she had a vague
conviction that it was one of the malignant class above mentioned that had plucked Widdles. “Ah, my poor Widdles ! Them lawyers !” she would say. “You would have been a very different person, indeed, Widdles, if it hadn't been for them. But it'll be all the same in a hundred years, Widdles. Keep up heart, old bird. It'll all be over soon. If you die before me, I'll put you on a winding-sheet that'll be a deal more comfortable than dead feathers, and I'll bury you with my own hands. But what'll you do for me, if I die first, you little scarecrow? You'll look about for me, won't you? That's about all you can do. And you'll miss the bits of sugar.-Mattie, my dear, mind that Widdles has his sugar, and everything regular after I'm dead and gone."
She began to take to Mattie again, and even to make her read to her of a Sunday. But this, as of old, gave rise to much difference of opinion between them, which, however, resulted in the old woman's learning something from the child, if not in the immediate case, yet in the next similar case. For it often happens that a man who has opposed another's opinion bitterly in regard to the individual case that occasioned the difference, will act entirely according to that other's judgment in the next precisely similar case that occurs ; although if you were to return to the former, he would take up his former position with an access of obstinacy in the reaction from having yielded to argument. Something like this took place between Grannie and Mattie. It was amusing to hear how the former would attribute all the oddities of the latter to the fact that she belonged to the rising generation, never seeming to suspect that Mattie was an exception to children in general, as peculiar as Widdles in relation to birds.
GRANNIE APPEALS TO WIDDLES.
ONE sultry evening in summer, Lucy was seated at her piano,
I sit apart
By the hearth
Of my keart
In the dark.
Dost thou mark
How I sit
In the dark,
With my grief,
Summer Wind, Nature's laughter ! Of sweet smiling Waker, wafter Care beguiling, Toying, wiling, Never glance Throw behind. In the dance Still advance, To the past Deaf and blinda Follow after, Fleet and fast, Newer gladness, Careless wind! See the sadness Of my mind. Over river, Hill and hollow, Resting never, Thou dost follow Other graces, Lovelier places, Newer flowers, Leafier bowers : I still sit Nursing it, My old sorrow Night and morrow. All my mind Looks behind, And I fret. Look, I set A wide door Thce before, And my casement open lay: Come, and blow my caras
4. And I whisper To the wind, Evenik; lisper In the curl of the girl, Who, all kind, Waits her love Waft and hover,
I will set
I sit looking backward still.
Lucy, I say, had finished this song, and was sitting silent before the instrument, with her hands laid on the keys, which had just ceased the long-drawn sound, and again sunk into stillness. Two arms came round her from behind. She did not start. She was taken by but not with surprise. She was always with him in mood, if not in thought, and his bodily presence therefore overcame her only as a summer cloud. She leaned back into his embrace, and burst into tears. Then she would rise to look at him, and he let her go. She saw him rather ragged, rather dirty, quite of a doubtful exterior to the eye of the man who lives to be respectable, but her eye saw deeper. She looked into his face-the window of his being, and was satisfied. Truth shone there from the true light and fire within. He did not fall at her feet as once before. The redeeined soul stood and looked her in the face. He put out his arms once more, and she did not draw back. She knew that he was a man, that he was true, and she was his. And he knew, in the testimony thus given him, that the last low-brooding rims of the cloud of his shame had vanished from his heaven, and that a man may have sinned and yet be glad. He could give God thanks for the shame, whose oppression had led him to understand and hate the sin. For sin gives birth to shame, and in this child-bear.
ing is cleansed. Verily there is One, I repeat, who bringeth light out of darkness, good out of evil. It comes not of the evil, but out of the evil, because He is stronger than the evil ; and He, not evil, is at the heart of the universe. Often and often yet in the course of his life, would Thomas have to be humbled, and disappointed. But not the less true was the glow of strength that now pervaded his consciousness. It was that this strength, along with a thousand other virtues, might be perfected, that the further trials were to come. It was true, so true that it was worth making fact.
But my young reader, who delights in the emotion rather than in the being of love, will grumble at these meditations, and say, “Why don't you go on? why don't you tell us something more of their meeting ?” I answer,
“ Because I don't choose to tell you There are many things, human things too, so sacred that they are better left alone. If you cannot imagine them, you don't deserve to have them described.” We want a little more reticence as well as a great deal more openness in the world--the pulpit included. But “ against stupidity the gods themselves are power. less." -Ah no! that is a heathen utterance. Let the stupid rage, and when they imagine, let it be vain things. The stupid, too, have a God that will slay their stupidity by the sword of his light. The time will come when even they will repent, not of their stupidity, for that they could not help, but of the arrogance of fancied knowledge that increased instead of diminishing it, and made them a thorn in the flesh of them that saw and would have opened their eyes. No doubt many of them that suppose they see, fancy it only in virtue of this same stupidity; but the end will solve all. Meantime the tares and the wheat must grow together, and there are plenty of intellectual tares that spring from the root of the moral tares, and will be separated with them.
After a while, when their feelings were a little composed, Thomas began to tell Lucy all his adventures. In the middle, however, Mrs. Boxall returned. She had most opportunely been calling on a neighbour, and if Thomas had not learned this from Mr. Kitely, he would have sent for Lucy instead of going in as he did. They heard her voice in the shop.
“Don't tell grannie anything about it yet,” said Lucy. “She's much quieter in her mind now, and if we were to set her off again it would only do her harm. Anything certain she has a right to know, but I don't think she has a right to know all that you are trying to do for her. That is your business. But you mustn't mind how she behaves to you, Tom dear. She thinks you and your father all one in the affair.”
When the old lady entered she saw at a glance how things were going ; but she merely gave a very marked sniff, and retreated to her chair by the window. She first seated herself, and then pro