back parlour at your service. I shan't plague you much, only to take a look at my princess now and then."

After another interview or two between Lucy and Mr. Kitely, the matter was arranged, and the bookseller proceeded to get his rooms ready, which involved chiefly a little closer packing, and the getting rid of a good deal of almost unsaleable rubbish, which had accumulated from the purchase of lots.

Meantime another trial was gathering for poor Lucy. Mr. Sargent had met Mr. Wither, and had learned from him all he knew about Thomas. Mr. Wither was certain that everything was broken off between Lucy and him. It was not only known to all at the office that Thomas had disappeared, but it was perfectly known as well that for some time he had been getting into bad ways, and his disappearance was necessarily connected with this fact, though no one but Mr. Stopper knew the precise occasion of his evanishment, and this he was, if possible, more careful than ever to conceal. Not even to the lad's father did he communicate what he knew : he kept this as a power over his new principal. From what he heard, Mr. Sargent resolved to see if he could get anything out of Molken, and called upon him for that purpose. But the German soon convinced him that, although he had been intimate with Thomas, he knew nothing about him now. The last information he could give him was that he had staked and lost his watch and a lady's ring that he wore; that he had gone away and returned with money ; and having gained considerably, had disappeared and never been heard of again. It was easy for Mr. Sargent to persuade himself that a noble-minded creature like Lucy, having come to know the worthlessness of her lover, had dismissed him for ever ; and to believe that she would very soon become indifferent to a person so altogether unworthy of her affection. Probably he was urged yet the more to a fresh essay from the desire of convincing her that his motives in the first place had not been so selfish as accident had made them appear; for that his feelings towards her remained unaltered notwithstanding the change in her prospects He therefore kept up his visits, and paid them even more frequently now that there was no possible excuse on the score of business. For some time, however, so absorbed were Lucy's thoughts that his attentions gave her no uneasiness. She considered the matter so entirely settled, that no suspicion of the revival of any further hope in the mind of Mr. Sargent arose to add a fresh trouble to the distress which she was doing all she could to bear patiently. But one day she was suddenly undeceived. Mrs. Boxall had just left the room.

“Miss Burton," said Mr. Sargent, “ I venture to think circumstances may be sufficiently altered to justify me in once more expressing a hope that I may be permitted to regard a nearer friend. ship as possible between us.”

Lucy started as if she had been hurt. The occurrence was so strange and foreign to all that was in her thoughts, that she had to look all around her, as it were, like a person suddenly awaking in a strange place. Before she could speak her grandmother reentered. Mr. Sargent went away without any conviction that Lucy's behaviour indicated repugnance to his proposal.

Often it happens that things work together without any concerted scheme. Mrs. orgenstern had easily divined Mr. Sargent's feelings, and the very next day began to talk about him to 'Lucy. But she listened without interest, until Mrs. Morgenstern touched a chord which awoke a very painful one. For at last his friend had got rather piqued at Lucy's coldness and indifference.

“I think at least, Lucy, you might show a little kindness to the poor fellow, if only from gratitude. A girl may acknowledge that feeling without compromising herself. There has Mr. Sargent been wearing himself out for you, lying awake at night, and running about all day, without hope of reward, and you are so taken up with your own troubles that you haven't a thought for the man who has done all that lay in human being's power to turn them aside.”

Could Lucy help comparing this conduct with that of Thomas ? And while she compared it, she could as little help the sudden inroad of the suspicion that Thomas had forsaken her that he might keep well with his father-the man who was driving them, as far as lay in his power, into the abyss of poverty-and that this disappearance was the only plan he dared to adopt for freeing himself-for doubtless his cowardice would be at least as great in doing her wrong as it had been in refusing to do her right. And she did feel that there was some justice in ‘Mrs. Morgenstern’s reproach. For if poor Mr. Sargent was really in love with her, she ought to pity him and feel for him some peculiar tenderness, for the very reason that she could not grant him what he desired. Her strength having been much undermined of late, she could not hear Mrs. Morgenstern's reproaches without bursting into tears. And then her friend began to comfort her, but all the time supposing that her troubles were only those connected with her reverse of fortune. As Lucy went home, however, a very different and terrible thought darted into her mind : “What if it was her duty to listen to Mr. Sargent!” There seemed no hope for her any more. Thomas had forsaken her utterly. If she could never be happy, ought she not to be the more anxious to make another happy? Was there any limit to the sacrifice that ought to be made for another--that is of one's self? for, alas ! it would be to sacrifice no one besides. The thought was indeed a terrible one. All the rest of that day her soul was like a drowning creature-now getting one breath of hope, now with all the billows and waves of despair going over it. The evening passed in constant terror lest Mr. Sargent should appear, and a poor paltry


little hope grew as the hands of the clock went round, and every moment rendered it less likely that he would come. At length she might go to bed without annoying her grandmother, who, by various little hints she dropped, gave her clearly to understand that she expected her to make a good match before long, and so relieve her mind about her.

She went to bed, and fell asleep from very weariness of emotion. But presently she started awake again ; and, strange to say, it seemed to be a resolution she had formed in ber sleep that brought her awake. It was that she would go to Mr. Fuller, and consult him on the subject that distressed her. After that she slept till the morning.

She had no lesson to give that day, so as soon as Mr. Fuller's church-bеll began to ring, she put on her bonnet. Her grandmother asked where she was going. She told her she was going to church.

"I don't like this papist way of going to church of a week-dayat least in the middle of the day, when people ought to be at their work.”

Lucy made no reply; for, without being one of those half of whose religion consists in abusing the papists, Mrs. Boxall was one of those who would turn from any good thing of which she heard first as done by those whose opinions differed from her own. Nor would it have mitigated her dislike to know that Lucy was going for the purpose of asking advice from Mr. Fuller. She would have denounced that as confession, and asked whether it was not more becoming in a young girl to consult her grandmother than go to a priest. Therefore, I say, Lucy kept her own counsel.

There were twenty or thirty people present when she entered St. Amos's : a grand assembly, if we consider how time and place were haunted-swarming with the dirty little demons of moneymaking and all its attendant beggarly cares and chicaneries-one o'clock in the city of London! It was a curious psalm they were singing, so quaint and old-fashioned, and so altogether unlike London and the nineteenth century !--the last in the common version of Tate and Brady. They were beginning the fifth verse when she entered :

" Let them who joyful hymns compose

To cymbals set their songs of praise ;
Cymbals of common use, and those

That loudly sound on solemn days." Lucy did not feel at all in sympathy with cymbals. But she knew that Mr. Fuller did, else he could not have chosen that song to sing. And an unconscious operation of divine logic took place in her heart, with a result such as might be represented in the

to me.

following process : “Mr. Fuller is glad in God-not because he thinks himself a favourite with God, but because God is what he is, a faithful God. He is not one thing to Mr. Fuller and another

He is the same, though I am sorrowful. I will praise him too. He will help me to be and to do right, and that can never be anything unworthy of me.” So, with a trembling voice, Lucy joined in the end of the song of praise. And when Mr. Fuller's voice arose in the prayer"O God, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive, receive our humble petitions ; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us : for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen”-she joined in it with all her heart, both for herself and Thomas. Then, without the formality of a text, Mr. Fuller addressed his little congregation something as follows :

“ My friends, is it not strange that with all the old churchyards lying about in London, unbusiness-like spots in the midst of shops and warehouses, and all the numberless goings on of life,' we should yet feel so constantly as if the business of the City were an end in itself? How seldom we see that it is only a means to an end! I will tell you in a few words one cause of this feeling as if it were an end; and then to what end it really is a means. With all the reminders of death that we have about us, not one of us feels as if he were going to die. We think of other people-even those much younger than ourselves-dying, and it always seems as if we were going to be alive when they die : and why? Just because we are not going to die. This thinking part in us feels no symptom of ceasing to be. We think on and on, and death seems far from us, for it belongs only to our bodies—not to us. So the soul forgets it. It is no part of religion to think about death. It is the part of religion, when the fact and thought of death come in, to remind us that we live for ever, and that God, who sent his Son to die, will help us safe through that somewhat fearful strait that lies before us, and which often grows so terrible to those who fix their gaze upon it that they see nothing beyond it, and talk with poor Byron of the day of death as 'the first dark day of nothingness. But this fact that we do not die, that only our bodies die, adds immeasurably to the folly of making what is commonly called the business of life an end instead of a means. It is not the business of life. The business of life is that which has to do with the life--with the living us, not with the dying part of us. How can the business of life have to do with the part that is always dying ? Yet, certainly, as you will say, it must be done-only, mark this, not as an end, but as a means. As an end it has to do only with the perishing body : as a means it has infinite relations with the never ceasing life. Then comes the question, To what end is it a means ? It is a means, a great, I mignt say the great, means to the end for which God sends us in

dividually into a world of sin ; for that he does so, whatever the perplexities the admission may involve, who can deny, without denying that God makes us? If we were sent without any sinful tendencies into a sinless world, we should be good, I daresay ; but with a very poor kind of goodness, knowing nothing of evil, consequently never choosing good, but being good in a stupid way because we could not help it. But how is it with us? We live in a world of constant strife-a strife, as the old writers call it, following St. Paul, between the flesh and the spirit ; the things belonging to the outer lise, the life of the senses, the things which our Saviour sums up in the words, 'what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed,' forcing themselves constantly on our attention, and crowding away the thought and the care that belong to the real life-the life that consists in purity of heart, in love, in goodness of all kinds—that embraces all life, using our own life orly as the stand-point from which to stretch out arms of em. bracing towards God and towards all men. For the feeding and growth of this life, London City affords endless opportunity. Business is too often regarded as the hindrance to the spiritual life. I regard it as amongst the finest means the world affords for strengthening and causing to grow this inner real life. For every deed may be done according to the fashion of the outward perishing life, as an end; or it may be done after the fashion of the inward endless life-done righteously, done nobly, done, upon occasion, magnificently-ever regarded as a something to be put under the fect of the spiritual man to lift him to the height of his high calling. If we would make business a means to such an end, let us remember that this world and the fashion of it passeth away, but that every deed done as Jesus would have done it if he had been born to begin his life as a merchant instead of a carpenter, lifts the man who so does it up towards the bosom of Him who created business and all its complications, as well as our brains and hands that have to deal with them. If you were to come and ask me, ‘How shall I do in this or that particular case ?' very possibly I might be unable to answer you. Very often no man can decide but the man himself. And it is part of every man's training that he should thus decide. Even if he should go wrong, by going wrong he may be taught the higher principle that would have kept him right, and which he has not yet learned. One thing is certain, that the man who wants to go right will be guided right; that not only in regard to the mission of the Saviour, but in regard to everything, he that is willing to do the will of the Father shall know of the doctrine.- Now to God the Father,&c.

The worship over, and the congregation having retired, Lucy bent her trembling steps towards the vestry, and there being none of those generally repellent ministers, pew.openers, about, she knocked at the door.- By the way, I wish clergymen were more acquainted

« ForrigeFortsett »