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he rejoiced to set them forth-was actually glad to talk about them to anyone who would listen. When he confessed his feeling about congregations, he said that he preferred twelve people to a thousand. This he considered a weakness, however ; except that he could more easily let his heart out to the twelve.
He took for his text the words of our Lord : “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.” He could not see the faces of the strangers, for they sat behind a pillar, and therefore he had no means of discovering that each of them had a heavy. laden heart : Lucy was not alone in trouble, for Syne had been hard upon Mattie that day. He addressed himself especially to the two old women before him, of whose story he knew nothing, though their faces were as well known to him as the pillars of the church. But the basin into which the fountain of his speech flowed was the heart of those girls.
No doubt presented itself as to the truth of what the preacher was saying ; nor could either of them have given a single argument from history or criticism for the reality of the message upon which the preacher founded his exhortation. The truth is not dependent upon proof for its working. Its relation to the human being is essential, is in the nature of things ; so that if it be but received in faith-that is, acted upon-it works its own work, and needs the buttressing of no arguments any more than the true operation of a healing plant is dependent upon a knowledge of Dioscorides. My reader must not, therefore, suppose that I consider doubt an unholy thing; on the contrary, I consider spiritual doubt a far more precious thing than intellectual conviction, for it springs from the awaking of a deeper necessity than any that can be satisfied from the region of logic. But when the truth has begun to work its own influence in any heart, that heart has begun to rise out of the region of doubt.
When they came from the church, Lucy and Mattie walked hand-in-hand after the sisters and brother, and heard them talk. “He's a young one, that !” said the old man.
“ He'll know a little better by the time he's as old as I am.”
“Well, I did think he went a little too far when he said a body might be as happy in the work'us as with thousands of pounds in the Bank of England.”
"I don't know," interposed the other sister. “He said it depended on what you'd got inside you. Now, if you've got a bad temper inside you, all you've got won't make you happy.”
“Thank you, sister. You're very polite, as usual. But, after all, where should we have been but for the trifle we've got in the Bank?"
“You two might ha' been living together like sisters, instead of quarrelling like two cats, if the money had gone as it ought to," said the old man, who considered that the whole property belonged of right to him.
By this time they had reached the end of the lane, and, without a word to each other, they separated.
Syne," said Mattie, significantly. Syne was evidently her evil incarnation. Lucy did not reply, but hastened home with her, anxious to be alone. She did not leave the child, however, before she had put her to bed, and read again the hymn that had taken her fancy before they went out.
I will now show my reader how much of the sermon remained upon Lucy's mind. She sat a few minutes with her grandmother, and then told her that she felt better, but would like to go to bed. So she took her candle and went. As soon as she had closed her door, she knelt down by her bedside, and said something like this -more broken, and with long pauses between-but like this :
“O Jesus Christ, I come. I don't know any other way to come. I speak to thee. Oh, hear me. I am weary and heavy laden. Give me rest. Help me to put on the yoke of thy meekness and thy lowliness of heart, which thou sayest will give rest to our souls. I cannot do it without thy help. Thou couldst do it without help. I cannot. Teach me. Give me thy rest. How am I to begin? How am I to take thy yoke on me? I must be meek. I am very troubled and vexed. Am I angry ? Am I unforgiving ? Poor Thomas ! Lord Jesus, have mercy upon Thomas, He does not know what he is doing. I will be very patient. I will sit with my hands folded, and bear all my sorrow, and not vex grannie with it; and I won't say an angry word to Thomas. But, O Lord, have mercy upon him, and make him meek and lowly of heart. Í have not been sitting at thy feet and learning of thee. Thou canst take all my trouble away by making Thomas good. I ought to have tried hard to keep him in the way his mother taught him, and I have been idle and self-indulgent, and taken up with my music and dresses. I have not looked to my heart to see whether it was meek and lowly like thine. O Lord, thou hast given me everything, and I have not thought about thee. I thank thee that thou hast made me miserable, for now I shall be thy child. Thou canst bring Thomas home again to thee. Thou canst make him meek and lowly of heart, and give rest to his soul. Amen.”
Is it any wonder that she should have risen from her knees comforted ? I think not. She was already-gentle and good she had always been more meek and lowly. She had begun to regard this meekness as the yoke of Jesus, and therefore to will it. Already, in a measure, she was a partaker of his peace.
Worn out by her suffering, and soothed by her prayer, she fell asleep the moment she laid her head upon the pillow. And thus Lucy passed the night.
Tom went home the next night with a raking headache. Gladly would he have gone to Lucy to comfort him, but he was too much ashamed of his behaviour to her the night before, and too uneasy in his conscience. He was, indeed, in an abject condition of body, intellect, and morals. He went at once to his own room and to
fell asleep; woke in the middle of the night miserably gnawed by “Don Worm, the conscience;" tried to pray, and found it did him no good ; turned his thoughts to Lucy, and burst into tears at the recollection of how he had treated her, imagining over and over twenty scenes in which he begged her forgiveness, till he fell asleep at last, dreamed that she turned her back upon him, and refused to hear him, and woke in the morning with the resolution of going to see her that night, and confessing everything.
His father had come home after he went to bed, and it was with great trepidation that he went down to breakfast, almost expecting to find that he knew already of his relation to Lucy. But Richard Boxall was above that kind of thing, and Mr. Worboise was evidently free from any suspicion of the case. He greeted his son kindly, or rather frankly, and seemed to be in good spirits.
“Our friends are well down the channel by this time, with such a fair wind," he said. “ Boxall's a lucky man to be able to get away
from business like that. I wish you had taken a fancy to Mary, Tom. She's sure to get engaged before she comes back. Shipboard's a great place for getting engaged. Some hungry fellow, with a red coat and an empty breeches-pocket, is sure to pick her up. You might have had her if you had liked. However, you may do as well yet ; and you needn't be in a hurry now. It's not enough that there's as good fish in the sea : they must come to your net, you know.”
Tom laughed it off, went to his office, worked the weary day through, and ran round to Guild Court the moment he left business.
Lucy had waked in the night as well as Tom; but she had waked to the hope that there was a power somewhere-a power working good, and upholding them that love it ; to the hope that a thought lived all through the dark, and would one day make the darkness light about her ; to the hope that a heart of love and help was at the heart of things, and would show itself for her need. When, therefore, Tom knocked-timidly almost-at the door, and opened it inquiringly, she met him with a strange light in her pale face, and a smile flickering about a lip that trembled in sympathy with the rain-clouded eyes. She held out her hand to him cordially, but - neither offered to embrace-Thomas from shame, and Lucy from a
feeling of something between that had to be removed before things could be as they were-or rather before their outward behaviour to each other could be the same, for things could not to all eternity be the same again : they must be infinitely better and more beautiful, or cease altogether.
Thomas gave a look for one moment full in Lucy's eyes, and then dropped his own, holding her still by the consenting hand.
“Will you forgive me, Lucy ?” he said, in a voice partly choked by feeling, and partly by the presence of Mrs. Boxall, who, however, could not hear what passed between them, for she sat knitting at the other end of the large room.
Oh, Tom !” answered Lucy, with a gentle pressure of his hand.
Now, as all that Tom wanted was to be reinstated in her favour, he took the words as the seal of the desired reconciliation, and went no further with any confession. The words, however, meaning simply that she loved him and wanted to love him, ought to have made Tom the more anxious to confess all-not merely the rudeness of which he had been guilty and which had driven her from the room, but the wrong he had done her in spending the evening in such company; for surely it was a grievous wrong to a pure girl like Lucy to spend the space between the last and the next pres. sure of her hand in an atmosphere of vice. But the cloud cleared from his brow, and, with a sudden reaction of spirits, he began to be merry.
To this change, however, Lucy did not respond. The cloud seemed rather to fall more heavily over her counte
She turned from him, and went to a chair opposite her grandmother. Tom followed, and sat down beside her. He was sympathetic enough to see that things were not right between them after all. But he referred it entirely to her uneasiness at his parents' ignorance of their engagement.
Some of my readers may think that Lucy too was to blame for want of decision; that she ought to have refused to see Thomas even once again, till he had made his parents aware of their relation to each other. But knowing how little sympathy and help he had from those parents, she felt that to be severe upon him thus would be like turning him out into a snowstorm to find his way home across a desolate moor ; and her success by persuasion would be a better thing for Thomas than her success by compulsion. No doubt, if her rights alone had to be considered, and not the necessities of Thomas's moral nature, the plan she did not adopt would have been the best. But no one liveth to himself-not even a woman whose dignity is in danger-and Lucy did not think of herself alone. Yet, for the sake of both, she remained perfectly firm in her purpose that Thomas should do something
“ Your uncle has said nothing about that unfortunate ren
contre, Lucy," said Tom, hoping that what had relieved him would relieve her. “My father came home last night, and the paternal brow is all serene."
“Then I suppose you said something about it, Tom ?” said Lucy, with a faint hope dawning in her heart.
“ Oh! there's time enough for that. I've been thinking about it, you see, and I'll soon convince you,” he added, hurriedly, seeing the cloud grow deeper on Lucy's face. “I must tell you something which I would rather not have mentioned.”
“Don't tell me, if you ought not to tell me, Tom," said Lucy, whose conscience had grown more delicate than ever, both from the turning of her own face towards the light, and from the growing feeling that Tom was not to be trusted as a guide.
“There's no reason why I shouldn't,” returned Tom. “It's only this-that my father is vexed with me because I wouldn't make love to your cousin Mary, and that I have let her slip out of my reach now; for, as he says, somebody will be sure to snap her up before she comes back. So it's just the worst time possible to tell him anything unpleasant, you know. I really had far better wait till the poor girl is well out to sea, and off my father's mind; for I assure you, Lucy, it will be no joke when he does know. He's not in any mood for the news just now, I can tell you. And then my mother's away, too, and there's nobody to stand between me and him.”
Lucy made no reply to this speech, uttered in the eagerness with which a man, seeking to defend a bad position, sends one weak word after another, as if the accumulation of poor arguments would make up for the lack of a good one. She sat for a long minute looking down on a spot in the carpet—the sight of which ever after was the signal for a pain-throb ; then, in a hopeless tone, said, with a great sigh,
“ I've done all I can."
The indefiniteness of the words frightened Thomas, and he began again to make his position good.
“ I tell you what, Lucy,” he said ; "I give you my promise, that before another month is over—that is to give my father time to get over his vexation—I will tell him all about it, and take the consequences.”
Lucy sighed once more, and looked dissatisfied. But again it passed through her mind that if she were to insist farther and refuse to see Thomas until he had complied with her just desire, she would, if not break, most likely so far weaken the bond between them, as to take from him the only influence that night yet work on him for good, and expose him entirely to such influences as she most feared. Therefore she said no more. But she could not throw the weight off her, or behave to Thomas as she had behaved hitherto. They sat silent for some time-Thomas troubled before