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as she would like. Accustomed, however, only to work in cloth, and upon male subjects, the result was, to say the least of it, remarkable—altogether admirable in Poppie's eyes, though somewhat strange in those of others. She appeared one day in a scarlet jacket of fine cloth, trimmed with black, which fitted her like her skin, and, to complete the dress, in a black skirt, likewise of cloth, which, however picturesque and accordant with the style of Poppie's odd beauty, was at least somewhat peculiar and undesirable in a city like London, which persecutes men's tastes, if it leaves their convictions free.
This dress Mr. Spelt had got ready in view of a contemplated walk with Poppie. He was going to take her to Highgate on a Sunday morning, with his Bible in his pocket. I have already said that he was an apparent anomaly, this Mr. Spelt, loving his New Testament, and having no fancy for going to church. How this should have come about, I hardly understand. Not that I do not know several instances of it in most excellent men, but not in his stratum. Yet what was his stratum ? The Spirit of God teaches men in a thousand ways, and Mr. Spelt knew some of the highest truths better than nine out of ten clergymen, I venture to say. Yet Mr. Spelt was inwardly reproached that he did not go to church, and made the attempt several times, with the resuit that he doubted the truth of the whole thing for half the week after. Some church. going reader must not condemn him at least for preferring Highgate to the churchyard-gate.
It was a bright frosty morning, full of life and spirit, when the father and daughter—for thus we accept the wilful conviction of the tailor, and say no more about it-set out for Highgate. Poppie was full of spirits, too full for her father's comfort, for, every time she drew her hand from his, and danced away sideways or in front, he feared lest he had seen the last of her, and she would never more return to lay her hand in his. On one of these occasions, it was to dart a hundred yards in advance upon another little girl, who was listlessly standing at a crossing, take the broom from her hand, and begin to sweep vigorously. Nor did she cease sweeping till she had made the crossing clean, by which time her father had come up. She held out her hand to him, received in it a ready penny, and tossed it to the girl. Then she put her hand in his again, and trotted along with him, excited and sedate both at once.
“Would you like to sweep a crossing, Poppie ?” asked he. “Wouldn't I just, daddie? I should get no end o' ha'pence." “What would you do with them when you got them ?” “ Give them to poor girls. I don't want them, you see, now I'm a lady."
“What makes a lady of you, then ?”
“I've got a father of my own, all to myself—that makes a lady of me, I suppose. Anyhow I know I'm a lady now. Look at my jacket.” I do not know that Mr. Spelt thought that her contempt of money, or rather want of faith in it, went a good way to make her a very peculiar lady indeed ; but he did think that he would buy her a brooni the first day he saw the attraction of the streets grow too strong for Guild Court.
This day, things did not go quite to the tailor's mind. He took Poppie to a litile public-house which he had known for many years, for it was kept by a cousin of his own. There he ordered his half-pint of beer, carried it with him to a little arbour in the garden, now getting very bare of its sheltering leaves, sat down with Poppie, pulled out his Bible, and began to read to her. But he could not get her to mind him. Every other moment she was up and out of the arbour, now after one thing, now after another ; now it was a spider busily rolling up a fly in his gluey weft ; now it was a chicken escaped from the hen-house, and scratching about as if it preferred finding its own living even in an irregular fashion ; and now a bird of the air that sowed not nor reaped,
and yet was taken care of.
“Come along, Poppie,” said her father ; “I want you to listen.”
“Yes, daddie,” Poppie would answer, returning instantly ; but in a moment, ere a sentence was finished, she would be half across the garden. He gave it up in despair.
“Why ain't you reading, daddie ?” she said, after one of these excursions.
Because you won't listen to a word of it, Poppie.” | “Oh! yes; here I am,” she said.
Come, then; I will teach you to read.” “Yes," said Poppie, and was off after another sparrow. “Do you know that God sees you, Poppie ?” asked Mr. Spelt. “I don't mind," answered Poppie. He sighed and closed his book, drank the last of his half-pint of beer, and rose to go. Poppie seemed to feel that she had displeased him, for she followed without a word. They went across the fields to Hampstead, and then across more fields to the Finchley road. In passing the old church, the deep notes of the organ reached their ears.
There,” said Poppie ; “I suppose that's God making his thunder. 'Ain't it, daddie ?"
“No. It's not that,” answered Spelt.
“ It's there he keeps it, anyhow," said Poppie. “I've heard it coming out many a time.”
“Was you never in one o' them churches ?” asked her father. "No," answered Poppie.
“Would you like to go?” he asked again, with the hope that something might take hold of her.
“ If you went with me.” she said.
Now Mr. Spelt had heard of Mr. Fuller from Mr. Kitely, and had been once to hear him preach. He resolved to take Poppie to his church that evening.
My reader will see that the child had already made some progress. She talked at least. How this began I cannot explain. No fresh sign of thought or of conscience in a child comes into my notice but I feel it like a miracle-a something that cannot be accounted for save in attributing it to a great Thought that can account for it.
They got upon an omnibus, to Poppie's great delight, and rode back into the city. After they had had some tea they went to the evening service, where they saw Lucy, and Mattie with her father. Mattie was very devout, and listened even when she could not understand ; Poppie only stared, and showed by her restlessness that she wanted to be out again. When they were again in the street she asked just one question : “Why did Jesus Christ put on that ugly black thing ?”
“That wasn't Jesus Christ,” said Mattie, with a little pharisaical horror.
“Oh! wasn't it?” said Poppie, in a tone of disappointment. “I thought it was.”
Oh, Poppie, Poppie !” said poor Mr. Spelt ; “ haven't I told you twenty times that Jesus Christ was the Son of God ?"
But he might have told her a thousand times. Poppie could not recall what she had no apprehension of when she heard it. What was Mr. Spelt to do? He had tried and tried, but he had got no idea into her yet. But Poppie had no objection either to religion in general, or to any dogma whatever in particular. It was simply that she stood in no relation of consciousness towards it, or any part or phase of it. Even Mattie's attempts resulted in the most grotesque conceptions and fancies. But that she was willing to be taught, an instance which soon followed will show.
Her restlessness increasing, and her father dreading lest she should be carried away by some sudden impulse of lawlessness, he bought her a broom one day-the best he could find, of course, and told her she might, if she pleased, go and sweep a crossing. Poppie caught at the broom, and vanished without a word. Not till she was gone beyond recall did her father bethink himself that the style of her dress was scarcely accordant with the profession she was about to assume. She was more like a child belonging to a travelling theatre than any other. He remembered, too, that crossing-sweepers are exceedingly tenacious of their rights, and she might get into trouble. He could not keep quiet ; his work made no progress; and at last he yielded to his anxiety, and went out to look for her. But he wandered about without success, lost half his day, and returned disconsolate.
At the dinner hour Poppie came home ; but, alas! with her brilliant jacket nearly as dirty as her broom, the appearance of which certainly indicated work. Spelt stooped as usual, but hesitited to lift her to his nest.
“Oh, Poppie !” he expostulated, “what a mess you've made of yourself!
“ 'Tain't me, daddy,” she answered ; “it's them nasty boyswould throw dirt at me. 'Twasn't their crossing I took; they hadn't no call to chivy me. But I gave it them !”
“What did you do, Poppie ?" asked her father, a little anxiously.
“I looks up at St. Paul's, and I says, “ Please, Jesus Christ, help me to give it 'em.' And then I flys at 'em with my broom, and I knocks one o' them down, and a cart went over his leg, and he's took to the ’ospittle. I b’lieve his leg's broke."
“Oh, Poppie! And didn't they say anything to you? I wonder they didn't take you up.”
“ They couldn't find me. I thought Jesus Christ would help me. He did."
What was Mr. Spelt to say? He did not know ; and therefore, unlike some, who would teach others even when they have nothing to impart, he held his peace. But he took good care not to let her go out in that dress any more.
“Didn't you get any ha'pence?” he asked.
“ Yes. I gave 'em all to the boy. I wouldn't if the cart hadn't gone over him, though. Catch me !"
“Why did you give them to him?"
Mr. Spelt resolved at last to consult Mr. Fuller about the child. He went to see him, and told him all he knew concerning her. To his surprise, however, wh he came to her onset with the broom, Mr. Fuller burst into a fit of the heartiest laughter. Spelt stood with his mouth open, staring at the sacred man. Mr. Fuller saw his amazement.
“ You don't think it was very wicked of your poor child to pray to God and shoulder her broom, do you ?” he said, still laughing.
“We're told to forgive our enemies, sir. And Poppie prayed against hers.”
“Yes, yes. You and I have heard that, and, I hope, learned it. But Poppie, if she has heard it, certainly does not understand it yet. Do you ever read the Psalms ?»
“ Yes, sometimes. Some of them pretty often, sir." “ You will remember, then, how David prays against his enemies."
Yes, sir. It's rather awful sometimes.” “What do you make of it? Was it wicked in David to do so ?”
I daren't say that, sir.” “ Then why should you think it was in Poppie?”
“ I think perhaps David didn't know better.” And
you think Poppie ought to know better than David ?" Why, you see, sir, if I'm right, as I fancy, David lived before our Saviour came into the world to teach us better."
“ And so you think Poppie more responsible than a man like David, who loved God as not one Christian in a million, notwithstanding that the Saviour has come, has learned to love him yet ? A man may love God, and pray against his enemies. Mind you, I'm not sure that David hated them. I know he did not love them, but I am not sure that he hated them. And I'm sure Poppie did not hate hers, for she gave the little rascal her coppers, you know.”
“ Thank you, sir,” said Spelt, grateful to the heart's core that Mr. Fuller stood up for Poppie.
“Do you think God heard David's prayers against his enemies ? " resumed Mr. Fuller.
“He gave him victory over them, anyhow.” “ And God gave Poppie the victory, too. I think God heard I'oppie's prayer. And Poppie will be the better for it. She'll pray for a different sort of thing before she has done praying. It is a good thing to pray to God for anything. It is a grand thing to begin to pray.”
“I wish you would try and teach her something, sir. I've tried and tried, and I don't know what to do more. I don't seem to get anything into her."
“You're quite wrong, Mr. Spelt. You have taught her. She prayed to God before she fell upon her enemies with her broom.”
“But I do want her to believe. I confess to you, sir, I've never been much of a church-goer, but I do believe in Christ.”
“ It doesn't much matter whether you go to church or not if you believe in him. Tell me how you came to hear or know about him without going to church.”
“My wife was a splendid woman, sir-Poppie's mother, butyou see, sir-she wasn't-she didn't she was a bit of a disappointment to me."
“ Yes. And what then?”
“I don't know, sir. But somehow, bein' unhappy, and knowin' no way out of it, I took to the Bible, sir. I don't know why or wherefore, but that's the fact. And when I began to read, I began to think about it. And from then I began to think about everything that came in my way–a tryin' to get things all square in my own head, you know, sir."
Mr. Fuller was delighted with the man, and having promised to think what he could do for Poppie, they parted. And here I may mention that Spelt rarely missed a Sunday morning at Mr. Fuller's church after this. For he had found a fellow-man who could teach