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“ What is it that is dreadful? I don't understand you, Mattie.”
“To fly up into that awful place up there. Shall we have to do that when we die ?"
“ It is not an awful place, dear. God is there, you know.”
“ But I am frightened. And if God is up there, I shall be frightened at him too. It is so dreadful! I used to think God could see me when I was in London. But how he is to see me in this great place, with so many things about, cocks, and larks and all, I can't think. I'm so little ! I'm hardly worth taking care of."
“ But you remember, Mattie, what Somebody says—that God takes care of every sparrow."
“Yes, but that's the sparrows, and they're in the town, you know," said Mattie, with an access of her old fantastic perversity, Aying for succour, as it always does, to false logic.
Lucy saw that it was time to stop. The child's fear was gone for the present, or she could not have talked such nonsense. It was just as good, however, as the logic of most of those who worship the letter and call it the word.
“Why don't you speak, Miss Burton ?” asked Mattie at length, no doubt conscience-stricken by her silence.
“ Because you are talking nonsense now, Mattie.”
“I thought that was it. But why should that make you not speak ? for I need the more to hear sense.”
“ No, Mattie. Mr. Fuller says that when people begin to talk falsely, it is better to be quite silent, and let them say what they please, till the sound of their own nonsense makes them ashamed.”
“ As it did me, Miss Burton, as soon as you wouldn't speak any more.”
“He says it does no good to contradict them then, for they are not only unworthy to hear the truth-that's not it—if they would hear it-but they are not fit to hear it. They are not in a mood to get any good from it ; for they are holding the door open for the devil to come in, and truth can't get in at the same door with the devil."
“Oh, how dreadful! To think of me talking like Syne !” said Mattie. “I won't do it again, Miss Burton. Do tell me what Somebody said about God and the sparrows. Didn't he say something about counting their feathers? I think I remember Mr. Spelt reading that to me one night.”
“He said something about counting your hairs, Mattie.” " Mine ?"
“ Well, he said it to all the people that would listen to him. I daresay there were some that could not believe it, because they did not care to be told it.”
“ That’s me, Miss Burton. But I won't do it again. “Well ?What more?”
“Only this, Mattie ; that if God knows how many hairs you have got on your head—”
“My big head—” interrupted Mattie. “ Well ?"
“Yes, on your big head-if God knows that, you can't think you're too small for him to look after you."
“I will try not to be frightened at the big sky any more, dear Miss Burton; I will try.”
In a few minutes she was fast asleep again.
Lucy's heart was none the less trustful that she had tried to increase Mattie's faith. He who cared for the sparrows would surely hear her cry for Thomas, nay, would surely look after Thomas himself. The father did not forget the prodigal son all the time that he was away ; did not think of him only when he came back again, worn and sorrowful. In teaching Mattie she had taught herself. She had been awake long before her, turning over and over her troubled thoughts till they were all in a ravelled sleave of care. Now she too fell fast asleep in her hope, and when she awoke, her thoughts were all knit up again in an even resolve to go on and do her duty, casting her care upon Him that cared for her.
And now Mattie's childhood commenced. She had had none as yet. Her disputatiousness began to vanish. She could not indulge it in the presence of the great sky, which grew upon her till she felt, as many children and some conscience-stricken men have felt—that it was the great eye of God looking at her; and although this feeling was chiefly associated with awe at first, she soon began to love the sky, and to be sorry and oppressed upon cloudy days when she could no longer look up into it.
The next day they went down to the beach, in a quiet place, amongst great stones, under the east cliff. Lucy sat down on one of them, and began to read a book Mr. Fuller had lent her. Miriam was at a little distance, picking up shells, and Mattie on another stone nearer the sea. The tide was rising. Suddenly Mattie came scrambling in great haste over all that lay between her and Lucy. Her face was pale, scared, and eager.
“I'm so frightened again!” she said ; " and I can't help it. The sea! What does it mean?”
“What do you mean, Mattie ?” returned Lucy, smiling.
“ Well, it's roaring at me, and coming nearer and nearer, as if it wanted to swallow me up. I don't like it."
6. You must not be afraid of it. God made it, you know." “Why does he let it roar at me, then ?”. “I don't know. Perhaps to teach you not to be afraid.” Mattie said no more, stood a little while by Lucy, and then scrambled back to her former place.
The next day, they managed with some difficulty to get up on the East Hill : Mattie was very easily worn out, especially with
climbing. She gazed at the sea below her, the sky over her head, the smooth grass under her feet, and gave one of her great sighs. Then she looked troubled. ?." I feel as if I hadn't any clothes on,” she said.
“How is that, Mattie ?"
“Well, I don't know. I feel as if I couldn't stand steady-as if I hadn't anything to keep me up. In London, you know, the houses were always beside to hold a body up, and keep them steady. But here, if it weren't for Somebody, I should be so frightened for falling down, I don't know where !”
Lucy smiled. She did not see then how exactly the child symbolized those who think they have faith in God, and yet when one of the swaddling bands of system or dogma to which they have been accustomed is removed, or even only slackened, immediately feel as if there were no God, as if the earth under their feet were a cloud, and the sky over them a colour, and nothing to trust in anywhere. They rest in their swaddling bands, not in God. The loosening of these is God's gift to them that they may grow. But at first they are much afraid.
Still Mattie looked contemptuously on the flowers. Wandering along the cliff, they came to a patch that was full of daisies. Miriam's familiarity with the gorgeous productions of greenhouse and hothouse had not injured her capacity for enjoying these peasants of flowers. She rushed among them with a cry of pleasure, and began gathering them eagerly. Mattie stood by with a look of condescending contempt upon her pale face.
“Wouldn't you like to gather some daisies too, Mattie?” sug. gested Lucy.
“Where's the use ? " said Mattie. “The poor things 'ill be withered in no time. It's almost a shame to gather them, I do think.”
“ Well, you needn't gather them if you don't want to have them,” returned Lucy. “But I wonder you don't like them, they are so pretty.".
“ But they don't last. I don't like things that die. I had a little talk with Mr. Fuller about that."
Now Mr. Fuller had told Lucy what the child had said, and this had resulted in a good deal of talk. Mr. Fuller was a great lover of Wordsworth, and the book Lucy was now reading, the one he had lent her, was Wordsworth's Poems. She had not found what she now answered, either in Wordsworth's poems or in Mr. Fuller's conversation, but it came from them both, mingling with her love to God, and her knowledge of the Saviour's words, with the question of the child to set her mind working with them all at once. She thought for a moment, and then said :
“ Listen, Mattie. You don't dislike to hear me talk, do you ?”. “No, indeed,” answered Mattie.
“ You like the words I say to you, then ?” “ Yes, indeed," said Mattie, wondering what would come next. “ But my words die as soon as they are out of my mouth."
Mattie began to see a glimmering of something coming, and held her peace and listened. Lucy went on.
“Well, the flowers are some of God's words, and they last longer than mine."
“ But I understand your words. I know what you want to say to me. And I don't know the meaning of them."
“ That's because you haven't looked at them long enough. You must suppose them words in God's book, and try to read them and understand them.” “ I will try,” said Mattie, and walked soberly towards Miriam.
But she did not begin to gather the daisies as Miriam was doing. She lay down in the grass, just as Chaucer tells us he used to do in the mornings of May for the same purpose-to look at the daisy“leaning on my elbow and my side ;" and thus she continued for some time. Then she rose, and came slowly back to Lucy.
“I can't tell what they mean," she said. “I have been trying very hard too."
"I don't know whether I understand them or not, myself. But I fancy we get some good from what God shows us even when we don't understand it much.”
“They are such little things !” said Mattie. “I can hardly fancy them worth making."
“God thinks them worth making though, or he would not make them. He wouldn't do anything that he did not care about doing. There's the lark again. Listen to him, how glad he is. He is so happy that he can't bear it without singing If he couldn't sing it would break his heart, I fancy. Do you think God would have made his heart so glad if he did not care for his gladness, or given him such a song to sing—for he must have made the song and taught it to the lark- the song is just the lark's heart coming out in sounds-would he have made all the lark if he did not care for it? And he would not have made the daisies so pretty if their prettiness was not worth something in his eyes. And if God cares for them, surely it is worth our while to care for them too."
Mattie listened very earnestly, went back to the daisies, and lay down again beside a group of them. Miriam kept running about from one spot to another, gathering them. What Mattie said, or what Miriam replied, I do not know, but in a little while Mattie came to Lucy with a red face-a rare show in her.
“I don't like Miss Miriam," she said. “She's not nice at all.”
“Why, what's the matter ?” asked Lucy, in some surprise, for the children had got on very well together as yet. What has she been doing?”
“She doesn't care a bit for Somebody. I don't like her.”
“ But Somebody likes her.”
To this Mattie returned no answer, but stood thoughtful. The blood withdrew from her face to its fountain, and she went back to the daisies once more.
The following day she began to gather flowers as other children do, even to search for them as for hidden treasures. And if she did not learn their meaning with her understanding, she must have learned it with her heart, for she would gaze at some of them in a way that showed plainly enough that she felt their beauty; and in the beauty, the individual loveliness of such things, lies the dim lesson with which they faintly tincture our being. No man can be quite the same he was after having loved a new flower.
Thus, by degrees, Mattie's thought and feeling were drawn outwards. Her health improved. Body and mind reacted on each other. She grew younger and humbler. Every day her eyes were opened to some fresh beauty on the earth, some new shadowing of the sea, some passing loveliness in the heavens. She had hitherto refused the world as a thing she had not proved; now she began to feel herself at home in it, that is, to find that it was not a strange world to which she had come, but a home ; not, indeed, the innermost, sacredest room of the house where the Father sat, but still a home, full of his presence, his thoughts, his designs. Is it any wonder that a child should prosper better in such a world than in a catacomb filled with the coffined remains of thinking men ?-I mean her father's bookshop. Here, God was ever before her in the living forms of his thought, a power and a blessing. Every wind that blew was his breath, and the type of his inner breathing upon the human soul. Every morning was filled with his light, and the type of the growing of that light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And there are no natural types that do not dimly work their own spiritual reality upon the open heart of the human being.
Before she left Hastings, Mattie was almost a child.
POPPIE IN TOWN.
BETWEEN Mr. Spelt's roost and the house called No. 1 of Guild Court, there stood a narrow house, as tall as the rest, which showed, by the several bell-pulls ranged along the side of the door, that it was occupied by different households. Mr. Spelt had for some time had his eye upon it, in the hope of a vacancy occurring in its top chambers, occupying which he would be nearer his work, and have a more convenient home in case he should some day succeed in taming and capturing Poppie. Things had been going well in