Poppie saw, and taking the tapping to be intended for her, fled 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

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-smile 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 indi. vidual application, they yet are sure to have something to do with the laws that govern the world. Hence it was that the partial misfit of a pair of moleskin or fustian trousers—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 o' things 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 share in the oddity of the little damsel.

« ForrigeFortsett »