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form of her darling in the guise of the prodigal, his handsome face worn with hunger and wretchedness, or, still worse, with dissipation and disease ; and she began to accuse herself bitterly for having alienated his affections from herself by too assiduously forcing upon his attention that which was distasteful to him. She said to herself that it was easy for an old woman like her, who had been disappointed in everything, and whose life and health were a wreck, to turn from the vanities of the world, but how could her young Thúmas, in the glory of youth, be expected to see things as she saw them? How could he fee from the wrath to come when he had as yet felt no breath of that wrath on his cheek? She ought to have loved him, and borne with him, and smiled upon him, and never let him fancy that his presence was a pain to her because he could not take her ways for his. Add to this certain suspicions that arose in her mind from what she considered unfriendly neglect on the part of the chief man of their chosen brotherhood, and from the fact that her daughter Amy had already wrought a questionable change on Mr. Simon, having persuaded him to accompany hernot to the theatre at all-only to the Gallery of Illustration, and it will be seen that everything tended to turn the waters of her heart back into the old channel with the flow of a spring-tide towards
She wept and prayed—better tears and better prayers, because her love was stronger. She humbled her heart, proud of its acceptance with God, before a higher idea of that God. She began to doubt whether she was more acceptable in his sight than other people. There must be some who were, but she could not be one of them. Instead of striving after assurance, as they called it, she began to shrink from every feeling that lessened her humility; for she found that when she was most humble, then she could best pray for her son. Not that had her assurance rested in the love of God it would ever have quenched her prayer ; but her assurance had been taught to rest upon her consciousness of faith, which, unrealized, tended to madness-realized, to spiritual pride. She lay thus praying for him, and dreaming about him, and hoping that he would return before she died, when she would receive him as son had never before been welcomed to his mother's bosom.
But Mr. Worboise's dry sand-locked bay was open to the irruption of no such waters from the great deep of the eternal love. Narrow and poor as it was, Mrs. Worboise's religion had yet been as a little wedge to keep her door open to better things, when they should arrive and claim an entrance, as they had now done. But her husband's heart was full of money, and the love of it. How to get money, how not to spend it, how to make it grow—these were the chief cares that filled his heart. His was not the natural anxiety the objects of which, though not the anxiety, were justified by the Lord when he said, “ Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” It was not what he needed that filled his mind with care, but what he did not need, and never would need ; nay, what other people needed, and what was not his to take-not his in God's sight, whatever the law might say. And to God's decision everything must come at last, for that is the only human verdict of things—the only verdict which at last will satisfy the whole jury of humanity. But I am wrong : this was not all that filled his heart. One demon generally opens the door to another—they are not jealous of exclusive possession of the human thrall. The heart occupied by the love of money will be only too ready to fall a prey to other evils; for selfishness soon branches out in hatred and injustice. The continued absence of his son, which he attributed still to the Boxalls, irritated more than alarmed him ; but if sometimes a natural feeling of dismay broke in upon him, it only roused yet more the worst feelings of his heart against Lucy and her grandmother. Every day to which Thomas's absence extended itself, his indignation sank deeper rather than rose higher. Every day he vowed that, if favoured by fortune, he would make them feel in bitterness how deeply they had injured him. To the same account he entered all the annoyance given him by the well-meaning Mr. Sargent, who had only as yet succeeded in irritating him without gaining the least advantage over him. His every effort in resistance of probate failed. The decision of the court was that Mr. Boxall, a strong, healthy, well-seasoned middle-aged man, was far more likely to have outlived all his daughters, than any one of them to have outlived him ; therefore Mr. Worboise obtained probate and entered into possession.
Although Mr. Sargent could not but have at least more than doubted the result, he felt greatly discomfited at it. He went straight to Mr. Morgenstern's office to communicate his failure and the foiling of the liberality which had made the attempt possible. Mr. Morgenstern oniy smiled and wrote him a cheque for the costs. Of course, being a Jew, he did not enjoy parting with his money for nothing—no Christian would have minded it in the least. Seriously, Mr. Morgenstern did throw half his cigar into the fire from annoyance. But his first words were,
“What is to be done for those good people, then, Sargent?”
“We must wait till we see. I think I told you that the old lady has a claim upon the estate, which, most unfortunately, she cannot establish. Now, however, that this cormorant has had his own way, he will perhaps be inclined to be generous; for justice must be allowed in this case to put on the garb of generosity, else she will not appear in public, I can tell you. I mean to make this one attempt more. I confess to considerable misgiving, however. To morrow, before his satisfaction has evaporated, I will make it, and let you know the result.”
By this time Mr. Morgenstern had lighted another cigar.
LUCY'S NEW TROUBLE.
MR. SARGENT'S next application to Mr. Worboise, made on the morning after the decision of the court in his favour, shared the fate of all his preceding attempts. Mr. Worboise smiled it off. There was more inexorableness expressed in his smile than in another's sullen imprecation. The very next morning Mrs. Boxall was served with notice to quit at the approaching quarter day; for she had no agreement, and paid no rent, consequently she was tenant only on sufferance. And now Mr. Stopper's behaviour towards them underwent a considerable change; not that he was in the smallest degree rude to them; but, of course, there was now no room for that assumption of the confidential by which he had sought to establish the most friendly relations between himself and the probable proprietors of the business in which he hoped to secure his position, not merely as head clerk, but as partner. The door between the house and the office was once more carefully locked, and the key put in his drawer, and having found how hostile his new master was to the inhabitants of the house, he took care to avoid every suspicion of intimacy with them.
Mrs. Boxall's paroxysm of indignant rage when she received the notice to quit was of course as impotent as the bursting of a shell in a mountain of mud. From the first, however, her anger had had this effect, that everybody in the court, down to lowly and lonely Mr. Dolman, the cobbler, knew all the phases of her oppression and injury. Lucy never said a word about it, save to Mr. and Mrs. Morgenstern, whose offer of shelter for herself and her grandmother till they could see what was to be done, she gratefully declined, knowing that her grandmother would rather die than accept such a position.
“There's nothing left for me in my old age but the workhouse,” said Mrs. Boxall, exhausted by one of her outbursts of fierce vindictive passion against the author of her misfortunes, which, as usual, ended in the few bitter tears that are left to the aged to shed.
“Grannie, grannie,” said Lucy,“ don't talk like that. You have been a mother to me. See if I cannot be a daughter to you. I am quite able to keep you and myself too as comfortable as ever. See if I can't.”
“Nonsense, child. It will be all that you can do to keep yourself; and I'm not a-going to sit on the neck of a young thing like you, just like a nightmare, and have you wishing me gone from morning to night.”
“I don't deserve that you should say that of me, grannie. But I'm sure you don't think as you say. And as to being able, with
Mrs. Morgenstern's recommendation I can get as much teaching as I can undertake. I am pretty sure of that ; and you know it will only be paying you back a very little of your own, grannie.”
Before Mrs. Boxall could reply, for she felt reproached for having spoken so to her granddaughter, there was a tap at the door, and Mr. Kitely entered.
“ Begging your pardon, ladies, and taking the liberty of a neighbour, I made bold not to trouble you by ringing the bell. I've got something to speak about in the way of business.”
So saying, the worthy bookseller, who had no way of doing anything but going at it like a bull, drew a chair near the fire.
“ With your leave, ma'am, it's as easy to speak sitting as standing. So, if you don't object, I'll sit down."
“Do sit down, Mr. Kitely,” said Lucy. “We're glad to see you —though you know we're in a little trouble just at present."
“I know all about that ; and I don't believe there's a creature in the court, down to Mrs. Cook's cat, that isn't ready to fly at that devil's limb of a lawyer. But you see, ma'am, if we was to murder him it wouldn't be no better for you. And what I come to say to you is this: I've got a deal more room on my premises than I want, and it would be a wonderful accommodation to me, not to speak of the honour of it, if you would take charge of my little woman for me. I can't interfere with her, you know, so as to say that she's not to take care of me, you know, for that would go nigh to break her little heart; but if you would come and live there as long as convenient to you, you could get things for yourselves all the same as you does here, only you wouldn't have nothing to be out of pocket for houseroom, you know. It would be the making of my poor motherless Mattie.”
“Oh! we're not going to be so very poor as grannie thinks, Mr. Kitely," said Lucy, trying to laugh, while the old lady sat rocking herself to and fro and wiping her eyes. “But I should like to move into your house, for there's nowhere I should be so much at home.”
“ Lucy !” said her grandmother warningly.
“ Stop a bit, grannie. Mr. Kitely's a real friend in need ; and if I had not such a regard for him as I have, I would take it as it's meant. I'll tell you what, Mr. Kitely; it only comes to this, that I have got to work a little harder, and not lead such an idle life with my grannie here."
“You idle, miss!” interrupted the bookseller. "I never see any one more like the busy bee than yourself, only that you was always a-wastin' of your honey on other people ; and that they say ain't the way of the bees.”
“But you won't hear me out, Mr. Kitely. It would be a shame of me to go and live in anybody's house for nothing, seeing I am quite able to pay for it. Now, if you have room in your house”
“ Miles of it, cried the bookseller.
“I don't know where it can be, then ; for it's as full of books from the ground to the garret as-as-as my darling old grannie here is of independence.”
“Don't you purtend to know more about my house, miss, than I do myself. Just you say the word, and before quarter day you'll find two rooms fit for your use, and at your service.
What I owe to you, miss, in regard to my little one, nothing I can do can ever repay. They're a bad lot, them Worboises-son and father ! and that I saw-leastways in the young one."
This went with a sting to poor Lucy's heart. She kept hoping and hoping, and praying to God; but her little patch of blue sky was so easily overclouded! But she kept to the matter before her.
“Very well, Mr. Kitely; you ought to know best. Now for my side of the bargain. I told you already I would rather be in your house than anywhere else, if I must leave this dear old place. And if you will let me pay a reasonable sum, as lodgings go in this court, we'll regard the matter as settled. And then I can teach Mattie a little, you know.”
Mrs. Boxall did not put in a word. The poor old lady was at length beginning to weary of everything, and for the first time in her life began to allow her affairs to be meddled with—as she would no doubt even now consider it. And the sound of paying was very satisfactory. I suspect part of Lucy's desire to move no further than the entrance of the court, came from the hope that Thomas would some day or other turn up in that neighbourhood, and perhaps this emboldened her to make the experiment of taking the matter so much into her own hands. Mr. Kitely scratched his head, and looked a little annoyed.
“Well, miss,” he said, pausing between every few words, a most unusual thing with him, “that's not a bit of what I meant when I came up the court here. But that's better than nothing—for Mattie and me, I mean. So if you'll be reasonable about the rent, we'll easily manage all the rest. Mind you, miss, it'll be all clear profit to me."
“It'll cost you a good deal to get the rooms put in order as you say, you know, Mr. Kitely.”
Not much, miss. I know how to set about things better than most people. Bless you, I can buy wall-papers for half what you'd pay for them now. I know the trade. I've been aʼmost everything in my day. Why, miss, I lived at one time such a close shave with dying of hunger, that after I was married, I used to make pictureframes, and then pawn my tools to get glass to put into them, and then carry them about to sell, and
when I had sold 'em I bought more gold beading and redeemed my tools, and did it all over again. Bless you! I know what it is to be hard up, if anybody ever did. I once walked from Bristol to Newcastle upon fourpence. It won't cost me much to make them rooms decent. And then there's the