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Mr. Simon's Attempt.
HE next day the sun shone brilliantly
upon the snow as Thomas walked to the counting-house. He was full of pleasant thoughts crossed and shadowed by a few of a different kind. He was not naturally deceitful, and the sense of having a secret which must get him into trouble if it were discovered, and discovered it must be some day, could not fail to give him uneasiness notwithstanding the satisfaction which the romance of the secrecy of a loveaffair afforded him. Nothing, however, as it seemed to him, could be done, for he was never ready to do anything to which he was neither led nor driven. He could not generate action, or rather, he had never yet begun to generate action.
As soon as he reached Bagot Street, he tapped
at the glass door, and was admitted to Mr. Boxall's room. He found him with a look of anxiety upon a face not used to express that emotion.
“I hope Miss Mary,” Thomas began, with a little hesitation.
“She's very ill," said her father; “very ill indeed. It was enough to be the death of her. Excessively imprudent.”
Now Mary was as much to blame, if there was any blame at all, for the condition in which she now was, as Thomas ; but he had still generosity enough left not to say so to her father. He was only selfish, not mean.
“I am very sorry," he said. “We were caught in the snow, and lost our way.”
“ Yes, yes, I know. I oughtn't to be too hard upon young people," returned Mr. Boxall, remembering perhaps that he had his share of the blame in leaving them so much to themselves. “I only hope she may get through it. But she's in a bad way. She was quite delirious last night."
Thomas was really concerned for a moment, and looked so. Mr. Boxall saw it, and spoke more kindly,
"I trust, however, that there is not any immediate danger. It's no use you coming to see her. She can't see anybody but the doctor.”
This was a relief to Thomas. But it was rather alarming to find that Mr. Boxall clearly expected him to want to go to see her.” : “I am very sorry," he said again; and that was all he could find to say.
“Well, well,” returned his master, accepting the words as if they had been an apology. “We must do our work, anyhow. Business is the first thing, you know.”
Thomas took this as a dismissal, and retired to the outer office, in a mood considerably different from that which Mr. Boxall attributed to him.
A clerk's duty is a hard one, and this ought to be acknowledged. Neither has he any personal interest in the result of the special labour to which he is for the time devoted, nor can this labour have much interest of its own beyond what comes of getting things square, and the
sense of satisfaction that springs from activity and the success of completion. And it is not often that a young man is fortunate enough to have a master who will not only appreciate his endeavours, but will let him know that he does appreciate them. There are reasons for the latter fact beyond disposition and temperament. The genial employer has so often found that a strange process comes into operation in young and old, which turns the honey of praise into the poison of self-conceit, rendering those to whom it is given disagreeable, and ere long insufferable, that he learns to be very chary in the administration of the said honey, lest subordinates think themselves indispensable, and even neglect the very virtues which earned them the praise. A man must do his duty, if he would be a free man, whether he likes it or not, and whether it is appreciated or not. But if he can regard it as the will of God, the work not fallen upon him by chance, but given him to do, understanding that everything well done belongs to His kingdom, and everything ill done to the kingdom of darkness, surely even the irksomeness of his work will be no longer insuperable. But Thomas had never been taught this. He did not know that his day's work had anything to do with the saving of his soul. Poor Mr. Simon gave him of what he had, like his namesake at the gate of the temple, but all he had served only to make a man creep, it could not make him stand up and walk. “A servant with this clause,"—that is the clause, “ for thy sake," — wrote George Herbert :
“A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Makes that and the action fine." But Mr. Simon could not understand the half of this, and nothing at all of the essential sacredness of the work which God would not give a man to do if it were not sacred. Hence Thomas regarded his work only as drudgery; considered it beneath him ; judged himself fitter for the army, and had hankerings after gold lace. He dabbled with the fancy that there was a mistake somewhere in the arrangement of mundane