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“strange power of speech.” They would sit together sometimes for half a day without saying a word ; and then again there wouid be an oasis of the strangest conversation in the desert of their silencema bad simile, for their silence must have been a thoughtful one te blossom into such speech. But the first words Mattie uttered on this occasion, were of a somewhat mundane character. She heard a footstep pass below. She was too far back in the cell to see who it was, and she did not list her eyes from her work.
“When the cat's away the mice will play," she said.
“Well, wasn't that Mr. Worboise that passed ? Mr. Boxall must be out. But he needn't go there, for Miss Burton's always out this time o' day.”
“ What do you mean, Mattie?" again asked the tailor.
“Well, perhaps you don't understand such things, Mr. Spelt, not being a married man.”
Poor Mr. Spelt had had a wife who had killed herself by drinking all his earnings; but Mattie knew nothing about that. “No more I am. You must explain it to me.” “Well, you see, young people will be young people." “Who told you that ?"
“Old Mrs. Boxall says so. And that's why Mr. Worboise goes to see Miss Burton, I know. I told you so," she added, as she heard his step returning.
But Thomas bore a huge ledger under his arm, for which Mr. Stopper had sent him round to the court. Certainly, however, had Lucy been at home, he would have laid a few minutes more to the account of the errand.
“So, so !” said the tailor. “That's it, is it, Mattie ?" “Yes ; but we don't say anything about such things, you know."
“Oh! of course not,” answered Mr. Spelt; and the conversation cersed.
After a long pause, the child spoke again.
To this question the tailor did not know what to reply, and cherefore, like a wise man, did not make the attempt. He asked her instead, as he had often occasion to do with Mattie, what she meant.
“Don't you know what I mean, mother? Don't you know God's better to us some days than others? Yes; and he's better to some people than he is to others."
"I am sure he's always goed to you and me, Mattie.”
“Because I'm not sure about it. Now to-day it's all very well. But yesterday the sun shone in at the window a whole hour.si
" And I drew down the blind to shut it out," said Mr. Spelt, thoughtfully.
“Well," Mattie went on, without heeding her friend's remark, 6 he could make the sun shine every day, if he liked. I suppose he could,” she added, doubtfully.
I don't think we should like it, if he did," returned Mr. Spelt; “ for the drain down below smells bad in the hot weather.”
“But the rain might come-at night, I mean, not in the daytime mand wash it all out. Mightn't it, mother ?”
“Yes; but the heat makes people ill. And if you had such hot weather as they have in some parts, as I am told, you would be glad enough of a day like this."
“Well, why haven't they a day like this when they want it ?»
“God knows," said Mr. Spelt, whose magazine was nearly exhausted, with the enemy pressing on vigorously.
“Well, that's what I say. God knows, and why doesn't he help it?
And Mr. Spelt surrendered, if silence was surrender. Mattie did not press her advantage, however, and again the besieged plucked up
heart a little. "I fancy, perhaps, Mattie, he leaves something for us to do. You know they cut out the slop-work at the shop, and I can't do much more with that but put the pieces together. But when a repairing job comes in, I can contrive a bit then, and I like that better."
Mr Spelt's meaning was not very clear, either to himself or to Mattie. But it involved the shadow of a great truth-that all the discords we hear in the universe around us, are God's trumpets sounding a reveillée to the sleeping human will, which, once working harmoniously with his, will soon bring all things into a pure and healthy rectitude of operation. Till a man has learned to be happy without the sunshine, and therein becomes capable of enjoying it perfectly, it is well that the shine and the shadow should be mingled, so as God only knows how to mingle them. To effect the blessedness for which God made him, man must become a fellow-worker with God.
After a little while Mattie resumed operations.
“ But you can't say, mother, that God isn't better to some people than to other people. He's surely gooder to you and me than He is to Poppie.”
“Who's Poppie ?" asked Mr Spelt, sending out a flag of negotiation.
Well, there she is--down in the gutter, I suppose, as usual," answered Mattie, without lifting her eyes.
The tailor peeped out of his house-front, and saw a bare-footed child in the court below. What she was like I shall take a better opportunity of informing my reader. For at this moment the
sound of strong nails tapping sharply reached the ear of Mr. Spelt and his friend. The sound came from a window just over the archway, hence at right angles to Mr. Spelt's workshop. It was very dingy with dust and smoke, allowing only the outline of a man's figure to be seen from the court. This much Poppie saw, and taking the tapping to be intended for her, fied from the court on soundless feet. But Mattie rose at once from her corner, and, laying aside cuttings and doll, stuck her needle and thread.carefully in the bosom of her frock, saying,
“That's my father a wanting of me. I wonder what he wants now. I'm sure I don't know how he would get on without me. And that is a comfort. Poor man ! he misses my mother more than I do, I believe. He's always after me. Well, I'll see you again in the afternoon, if I can. And, if not, you may expect me about the same hour to-morrow."
While she thus spoke she was let down from the not very airy height of the workshop on to the firm pavement below, the tailor stretching his arms with her from above, like a bird of prey with a lamb in his talons. The last words she spoke from the ground, her head thrown back between her shoulders that she might look the tailor in the face, who was stooping over her like an angel from a cloud in the family bible.
“Very well, Mattie," returned Mr. Spelt ; "you know your own corner well enough by this time, I should think.”
So saying, he drew himself carefully into his shell, for the place was hardly more, except that he could just work without having to get outside of it first. A soft half-sinile glimmered on his face; for although he was so used to Mattie's old-fashioned ways that they scarcely appeared strange to him now, the questions that she raised were food for the little tailor's meditation-all day long, upon occasion. For some tailors are given to thinking, and when they are they have good opportunity of indulging their inclinations. And it is wonderful what a tailor's thinking may come to, especially if he reads his New Testament. Now, strange perhaps to tell, though Mr. Spelt never went to church, he did read his New Testament, And the little tailor was a living soul. He was one of those few who seem to be born with a certain law of order in themselves, a certain tidiness of mind, as it were, which would gladly see all the rooms or regions of thought swept and arranged ; and not only makes them orderly, but prompts them to search after the order of the universe. They would gladly believe in the harmony of things; and although the questions they feel the necessity of answering take the crudest forms and the most limited and individual application, they yet are sure to have something to do with the laws that govern the world. Hence it was that the par. tial misfit of a pair of moleskin or fustian trowsers—for seldom did his originality find nobler material to exercise itself upon--would make
him quite miserable, even though the navvy or dock-labourer might be perfectly satisfied with the result, and ready to pay the money for them willingly. But it was seldom, too, that he had even such a chance of indulging in the creative element of the tailor's calling, though he might have done something of the sort, if he would, in the way of altering. Of that branch of the trade, however, he was shy, knowing that it was most frequently in request with garments unrighteously come by; and Mr. Spelt's thin hands were clean.
He had not sat long after Mattie left him, before she reappeared from under the archway.
“No, no, mother," she said, “ I ain't going to perch this time. But father sends his compliments, and will you come and take a dish of tea with him this afternoon ?"
“ Yes, Mattie ; if you will come and fetch me when the tea's ready."
“Well, you had better not depend on me ; for I shall have a herring to cook, and a muffin to toast, besides the tea to make and set on the hob, and the best china to get out of the black cupboard, and no end oʻthings to see to."
“But you needn't get out the best china for me, you know."
“ Well, I like to do what's proper. And you just keep your eye on St. Jacob's, Mr. Spelt, and at five o'clock, when it has struck two of them, you get down and come in, and you'll find your tea a waiting of you. There !"
With which conclusive form of speech, Mattie turned and walked back through the archway. She never ran, still less skipped as most children do, but held feet and head alike steadily progressive, save for the slightest occasional toss of the latter, which, as well as her mode of speech, revealed the element of conceit which had its whare in the oddity of the little damsel.
MATTIE'S FATHER. WHEN two strokes of the five had sounded in the ears of Mr. Spelt, he laid his work aside, took his tall hat from one of the corners where it hung on a peg, leaped lightly from his perch into the court, shut his half of the door, told the shoemaker below that he was going to Mr. Kitely's to tea, and would be obliged if he would fetch him should any one want him, and went through the archway. There was a door to Mr. Kitely's house under the archway, but the tailor preferred going round the corner to the shop-door in Bagot Street. By this he entered Jacob Kitely's domain, an old book-shop, of which it required some previous knowledge to find the way to the back premises. For the whole cubical space of the shop was divided and subdivided into a labyrinth of book-shelves, those in front filled with decently if not elegantly bound books, and those
behind with a multitude innumerable of books in all conditions of dinginess, mustiness, and general shabbiness. Amongst these Jacob Kitely spent his time patching and mending them, and drawing up catalogues of them. He was not one of those booksellers who are so fond of their books that they cannot bear to part with them, and therefore when they are fortunate enough to lay their hands upon a rare volume, the highest pleasure they know in life, justify themselves in keeping it by laying a manuscript price upon it, and considering it so much actual property. Such men, perhaps, know something about the contents of their wares; but while few surpassed Jacob in a knowledge of the outsides of books, from the proper treatment of covers in the varying stages of dilapidation, and of leaves when water-stained or mildewed or dry-rotted, to the different values of better and best editions, cut and uncut leaves, tall copies, and folios shortened by the plough into doubtful quartos, he never advanced beyond the title-page, except when one edition differed from another, and some examination was necessary to determine to which the copy belonged. And not only did he lay no fancy-prices upon his books, but he was proud of selling them under the market value-which he understood well enough, though he used the knowledge only to regulate his buying. The rate at which he sold was determined entirely by the rate at which he bought. Do not think, my reader, that I have the thinnest ghost of a politicaleconomy-theory under this ; I am simply and only describing character, Hence he sold his books cheaper than any other bookseller in London, contenting himself with a profit proportioned to his expenditure, and taking his pleasure in the rapidity with which the stream of books flowed through his shop. I have known him take threepence off the price he at first affixed to a book, when he found that he had not advertised it, and therefore it had not to bear its share of the expense of the catalogue.
Mr. Spelt made his way through the maze of books into the back shop, no one confronting him, and there found Mr. Kitely busy over his next catalogue, which he was making out in a schoolboy's hand.
“How are you, Spelt?” he said in an alto voice, in which rung a certain healthy vigour, amounting to determination. “Just in time, I believe. My little woman has been busy in the parlour for the last hour, and I can depend upon her to the minute. Step in.”
“ Don't let me interrupt you,” suggested Mr. Spelt, meekly, and reverentially even, for he thought Mr. Kitely must be a very learned man indeed to write so much about books, and had at home a collection of his catalogues complete from the year when he first occupied the nest in the passage. I had forgot to say that Mr. Kitely was Mr. Spelt's landlord, and found him a regular tenant, else he certainly would not have invited him to tea
“Don't let me interrupt you," said Mr. Spelt. * Not at all," returned Mr. Kitely. "I'm very happy to see you,