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woman who never complained of her sufferings, and her face, perhaps in consequence of her never desiring sympathy, was hard and unnaturally still. Nor were her features merely still—they looked immobile, and her constant pain was indicated only by the absence of all curve in her upper lip. When her son entered, a gentle shimmer of love shone out of her eyes of troubled blue, but the words in which she addressed him did not correspond to the shine. She was one of those who think the Deity jealous of the amount of love bestowed upon other human beings, even by their own parents, and therefore struggle to keep down their deepest and holiest emotions, regarding them not merely as weakness but as positive sin, and likely to be most hurtful to the object on which they are permitted to expend themselves.
“Well, Thomas,” said his mother, “ what has kept you so late ?" ::“Oh! I don't know, mother," answered Tom, in whose attempted carelessness there yet appeared a touch of anxiety, which caught her eye. “ You do know, Tom; and I want to know.”
“I waited and walked home with Charles Wither.”
He did not say, “I waited to walk home.”
“How was he so late ? You must have left the office hours ago."
“He had some extra business to finish.”
It was business of his own, not office business; and Tom, finding out that he would be walking home a couple of hours later, had arranged to join him that he might have this account to give of himself.
“ You know I do not like you to be too much with that young man. He is not religious. In fact, I believe him to be quite worldly. Does he ever go to church ?”
“I don't know, mother. He's not a bad sort of fellow.”
“He is a bad sort of fellow, and the less you are with him the better.”
“I can't help being with him in the office, you know, mother.”
“ You need not be with him after office-hours." “Well, no; perhaps not. But it would look strange to avoid him.”
“I thought you had more strength of character, Thomas."
"I–I–I spoke very seriously to him this morning, mother.”
“Ah! That alters the case, if you have courage to speak the truth to him.”
At that moment the door opened, and the curate of St. Solomon's was announced. Mrs. Worboise was always at home to him, and he called frequently, both because she was too great an invalid to go to church, and because they supposed, on the ground of their employing the same religious phrases in their conversation, that they understood each other. He was a gentle, abstracted youth, with a face that looked as if its informing idea had been for a considerable period sat upon by something ungenial. With him the profession had become everything, and humanity never had been anything, if not something bad. He walked through the crowded streets in the neighbourhood with hurried steps and eyes fixed on the ground, his pale face rarely brightening with recognition, for he seldom saw any passing acquaintance. When he did, he greeted him with a voice that seemed to come from far-off shores, but came really from a bloodless, nerveless chest, that had nothing to do with life, save to yield up the ghost in eternal security, and send it safe out of it. He seemed to recognise none of those human relations which make the blood mount to the face at meeting, and give strength to the grasp of the hand. He would not have hurt a fly; he would have died to save a malefactor from the gallows, that he might give him another chance of repentance. But mere human aid he had none to bestow; no warmth, no heartening, no hope.
Mr. Simon bowed solemnly, and shook hands with Mrs. Worboise.
“How are you to-night, Mrs. Worboise ?” he said, glancing round the room, however. For the only sign of humanity about him was a certain weak admiration of Amy Worboise, who, if tried by his own tests, was dreadfully un. worthy even of that. For she was a merry girl, who made great sport of the little churchmouse, as she called him.
Mrs. Worboise did not reply to this question, which she always treated as irrelevant. Mr. Simon then shook hands with Thomas, who looked on him with a respect inherited from his mother.
“Any signs of good in your class, Mr. Thomas ?” he asked.
The question half irritated Tom—why, he could not have explained even to himself. The fact was that he had begun to enter upon another phase of experience since he saw the curate last, and the Sunday School was just a little distasteful to him at the moment.
“No,” he answered, with a certain slightest motion of the head that might have been interpreted either as of weariness or indifference.
The clergyman interpreted it as of the latter, and proceeded to justify his question, addressing his words to the mother. . “Your son thinks me too anxious about the