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“No, mother; don't say a word. I wont hear a word of that kind. I'm a good deal wiser already than I used to be. If I get better, I shall live for you and papa.” .
A dreadful fit of coughing interrupted her.
“Don't fancy I'm going to die for love," she said, with a faint attempt at a smile. “I'm not one of that sort. If I die, it'll be of a good honest cough, that's all. Dear mother, it's nothing, I declare.”
Thomas never more crossed that threshold. And ever after Mr. Boxall spoke to him as a paid clerk, and nothing more. So he had to carry a certain humiliation about with him. Mr. Stopper either knew something of the matter, or followed the tone of his principal. Even Charles Wither was short with him after a while. I suppose Jane told him that he had behaved very badly to Mary. So Tom had no friend left but Lucy, and was driven nearer to Mr. Molken. He still contrived to keep his visits at Guild Court, except those to Mr. Molken, a secret at home. But I think Mr. Stopper had begun to suspect, if not to find him out.
I have not done with the Boxalls yet, though there is henceforth an impassable gulf between Tom and them.
As the spring drew on, Mary grew a little better. With the first roses Uncle John Boxall came home from the Chinese Sea, and took up his residence for six weeks or so with his brother. Mary was fond of Uncle John, and his appearance at this time was very opportune. A more rapid improvement was visible within a few days of his arrival. He gave himself up almost to the invalid ; and as she was already getting over her fancy for Tom, her love for her uncle came in to aid her recovery.
“It's the smell of the salt-water,” said he, when they remarked how much good he had done her; "and more of it would do her more good
They thought it better not to tell him anything about Tom. But one day after dinner, in
a gush of old feelings, brought on by a succession of reminiscences of their childhood, Richard told John all about it, which was not much. John swore, and kept pondering the matter CHAPTER XIV.
Mattie for Poppie.
PONE bright morning, when the flags in the 12 passage were hot to her feet, and the shoes she had lost in the snowstorm had not the smallest chance of recurring to the memory of Poppie, in this life at least, Mattie was seated with Mr. Spelt in his workshop, which seemed to the passer-by to be supported, like the roof of a chapter-house, upon the single pillar of Mr. Dolman, with his head for a capital—which did not, however, branch out in a great many directions. She was not dressing a doll now, for Lucy had set her to work upon some garments for the poor, Lucy's relation with whom I will explain by and by
“I've been thinking, mother,” she said—to Mr. Spelt, of course—" that I wonder how ever God made me. Did he cut me out of something else, and join me up, do you think? If he did, where did he get the stuff? And if he didn't, how did he do it?"
“Well, my dear, it would puzzle a wiser head than mine to answer that question,” said Mr. Spelt, who plainly judged ignorance a safer refuge from Mattie than any knowledge he possessed upon the subject. Her question, however, occasioned the return, somehow or other, of an old suspicion which he had not by any means cherished, but which would force itself upon him now and then, that the splendid woman, Mrs. Spelt, “had once ought” to have had a baby, and, somehow, he never knew what had come of it. She got all right again, and the baby was nowhere.
“I wish I had thought to watch while God was making of me, and then I should have remembered how he did it,” Mattie resumed. “Ah! but I couldn't,” she added, checking herself, “ for I wasn't made till I was finished, and so I couldn't remember.”