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" Is yours, grannie,” said Lucy and Thomas, in a breath.
“Only,” added Lucy,"you've spoiled all our bit of fun by being so obstinate, grannie.”
For sole answer the old woman gave a hand to each of them, and led them into the house, up the wide oak staircase, and along the passage into the old room, where a fire was burning cheerfully just as in the old time, and every article of furniture, book-case, piano, settle, and all, stood each in its old place, as if it had never been moved.
Mrs. Boxall sat down in her own chair, “like one that hath been stunned," and for some moments gave no sign of being conscious of what was going on around her. At length a little noise at her ear attracted her attention. She looked round. On the edge of the little table which had always been beside her easy chair, stood Widdles, the long feathers of whose wings looked like arms that he had tucked under his coat-tails, only there was no coat.
“ Poor Widdles !” said the old woman, and burst into tears.
WOUND UP OR RUN DOWN.
THOMAS resumed his place in the office, occupying his old stool, and drawing his old salary, upon which he now supported himself in comfort and decency. He took a simple lodging in the neighbourhood, and went twice a week in the evening to see his mother. In doing so he did not run much risk of meeting his father, whom he neither sought nor avoided, for he was seldom at home before midnight. His mother now lived on these visits and the expecta. tion of them. And she began not only to love her son more and more for himself, but to respect him. Indeed, it was chiefly the respect that increased her love. If he was not converted, there must be something besides conversion that was yet good, if not so good. And she thought she might be excused if she found some pleasure even in that. It might be a weakness-it might be wrong, she thought, seeing that nothing short of absolute conversion was in the smallest degree pleasing in the sight of God; but as he was her own son, perhaps she would be excused, though certainly not justified. As Thomas's perception of truth grew, however, the conversations he had with her insensibly modified her judgment through her feelings, although she never yielded one point of her creed as far as words were concerned.
The chief aid which Thomas had in this spiritual growth, next to an honest endeavour to do the work of the day and nour, and his love to Lucy, was the instruction of Mr. Fuller. Never, when he
could help it, did he fail to be present at daily prayers in St. Amos's church. Nor did he draw upon his office hours for this purpose. The prayers fell in his dinner-hour. Surely no one will judge that a quarter of an bour, though in the iniddle of the day, spent in seeking the presence of that Spirit whereby all actions are fitted to the just measure of their true end, was disproportioned by excess to the time spent in those outward actions of life, the whole true value of which depends upon the degree to which they are performed after the mind of that Spirit. What gave these prayers and exhortations a yet more complete fitness to his needs was their shortness. No mind could be wearied by them. I believe it very often happens that the length of the services, as they are called, is such that they actually disable the worshipper in no small degree from acting so after them as alone can make them of real worth to his being : they are a weakness and not a strength, exhausting the worshipper' in saying "Lord, Lord," instead of sending him forth to do his will. The more he feels, the less fit is he, and the less fitting it is, to prolong the expression of his devotion. I believe this is greatly mistaken in all public services that I know anything about, which involve, in their length, an entire departure from good old custom, not good because old, but so good that it ought to have been older, and needs now to be raised from the dead that it may be custom once more. Thomas did not enjoy his dinner less, and did his work far more thoroughly and happily because of this daily worship and doctrine-a word which, I think, is never used by St. Paul except as meaning instruction in duty, in that which it is right to do and that which it is right not to do, including all mental action as well as all outward behaviour.
It was impossible under the influence of such instruction that Tom should ever forget the friends who had upheld him in the time of his trouble. He often saw Captain Smith, and on one occasion, when he had a fortnight's holiday-the only one before his marriage - he went a voyage to Jersey in his brig, working his passage as before, but with a very different heart inside his blue jacket. The Pottses, too, he called on now and then ; and even the unamiable Jim Salter came round to confess his respect for him, when he found that he never forgot his old mates.
As soon as Thomas resumed his stool in the counting-house, Mr. Wither resigned his, and went abroad.
Mrs. Boxall of course recovered her cheerfulness, but her whole character was more subdued. A certain tenderness towards Lucy appeared, which, notwithstanding all her former kindness, was entirely new. A great part of her time was spent in offices of goodwill towards Widdles. She always kept her behaviour to Mr. Stopper somewhat stately and distant. But he did his best for the business-for it was the best for himself.
My story leaves Mr. Spelt and Mr. Kitely each happy in a
daughter, and Mattie and Poppie growing away at their own history.
One evening, when Tom was seated with his mother, who had again recovered so far as to resume her place on the couch, his father came into the room. Tom rose. His father, without any greeting, said :
Keep a look-out on that Stopper, Tom. Don't let him have too much of his own way.”
“But I have no authority over him, father.”
“Then the sooner you marry and take the business into your own hands the better."
“ I'm going to be married next week.” “That's right. Make Stopper junior partner, and don't give him too large a share. Come to me to draw up the articles for you.”
Thank you, father. I will. I believe Mrs. Boxall does mean to make the business over to me."
“Of course. Good-night," returned Mr. Worboise, and left the room without speaking to his wife.
From that time Tom and his father met much as before their quarrel. Tom returned to the house for the week before his marriage, and his father made him a present of an outfit for the occasion.
“Oh, Tom ! I can hardly believe it,” said Lucy, when they came home from church.
“I don't deserve it," was all Tom's answer in words.
After their wedding-journey they went back to the old house in Guild Court, in which they had had one or two more rooms fitted up. Their grandmother, however, is now urging them to move to some suburb, saying she is quite willing to go with them. “ And I don't believe you will have any objection either-will you, old Widdles ?” she generally adds,
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