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Yet now that he saw him-a prey to the vile demon that ever stirred up his avarice, till the disease, which was as the rust spoken of by the prophet St. James, was eating his flesh as it were firehis tyrannical disposition, maddened by Thomas's resistance, and the consequent frustration of his money-making plans, broke out against him in this fierce, cold, blasting wrath.
“ I come here,” said Thomas--and he said it merely to discharge himself of a duty, for he had not the thinnest shadow of a hope that it would be of service—“I come here to protest against the extreme to which you are driving your legal rights—which I have only just learned-against Mrs. Boxall.”
“And her daughter. But I am not aware that I am driving my rights, as you emphasize the word,” said Mr. Worboise, relapsing into his former manner, so cold that it stung ; " for I believe I have driven them already almost as far as my knowledge of affairs allows me to consider prudent. I have turned those people out of the house."
“You have !” cried Thomas, starting to his feet. 66 Father ! father ! you are worse than even I thought you. It is cruel. It is wicked."
“Don't discompose yourself about it. It is all your own fault, my son.
I am no son of yours. From this moment I renounce you, and call you father no more,” cried Thomas, in mingled wrath and horror and consternation at the atrocity of his father's conduct.
By what name, then, will you be pleased to be known in future, that I may say when I hear it that you are none of mine?”
Oh, the devil !” burst out Tom, beside himself with his father's behaviour and treatment.
“Very well. Then I beg again to inform you, Mr. Devil, that it is your own fault. Give up that girl, and I will provide for the lovely syren and her harridan of a grandam for life; and take you home to wealth and a career which you shall choose for yourself.”
“ No, father. I will not.”
“ Then take yourself off, and be—" It is needless to print the close of the sentence.
Thomas rose and left the room. As he went down the stairs, his father shouted after him, in a tone of fury,
“You're not to go near your mother, mind.”
“ I'm going straight to her,” answered Tom, as quietly as he could.
“ If you do, I'll murder her.”
Tom came up the stair again to the door next his father's, where the clerks sat. He opened this, and said aloud,
“Gentlemen, you hear what my father has just said. There may be occasion to refer to it again." Then returning to his father's door, he said in a low tone which only he could hear, “ My mother
may die any moment, as you very well know, sir. It may be awk. ward after what has just passed.”
Having said this, he left his father a little abashed. As his wrath ebbed, he began to admire his son's presence of mind, and even to take some credit for it: “A chip of the old block !” he muttered to himself. “Who would have thought there was so much in the rascal ? Sea-faring must agree with the young beggar !"
Thomas hailed the first hansom, jumped in, and drove straight to Highbury. Was it strange that notwithstanding the dreadful interview he had just had-notwithstanding, too, that he feared he had not behaved properly to his father, for his conscience had already begun to speak about comparatively little things, having been at last hearkened to in regard to great things--that notwithstanding this, he should feel such a gladness in his being as he had never known before? The second and more awful load of duty was now lifted from his mind. True, if he had loved his father much, as it was simply impossible that he should, that load would have been replaced by another-misery about his father's wretched condition and the loss of his love. But although something of this would come later, the thought of it did not intrude now to destroy any of the enjoyment of the glad reaction from months-he would have said years—yea, a whole past life of misery- for the whole of his past life had been such a poor thing, that it seemed now as if the misery of the last few months had been only the misery of all his life coming to a head. And this indeed was truer than his judgment would yet have allowed : it was absolute fact, although he attributed it to an overwrought fancy.
THOMAS AND HIS MOTHER.
When the maid opened the door to him she stared like an idiot ; yet she was in truth a woman of sense ; for before Thomas had reached the foot of the stairs she ran after him, saying,
“Mr Thomas ! Mr. Thomas ! you mustn't go up to mis'ess all of a sudden. You'll kill her if you do."
Thomas paused at once.
She sped up the stairs. Thomas followed, and remained out. side his mother's door. He had to wait a little while, for the maid was imparting the news with circumspection. He heard the low tone of his mother's voice, but could not hear what she said. At last came a little cry, and then he could hear a sob. A minute or two more passed, which seemed endless to Thomas, and then the maid came to the door, and asked him to go in. He obeyer.
His mother lay in bed, propped up as she used to be on the sofa. She looked much worse than before. She stretched out her arms to him, kissed him, and held his head to her bosom. lie had never before had such an embrace from her.
“ My boy! my boy!” she cried, weeping. “Thank God, I have you again. You'll tell me all about it, won't you ?”
She went on weeping and murmuring words of endearment and gratitude for some time. Then she released him, holding one of his hands only.
“There's a chair there. Sit down and tell me about it. I am afraid your poor father has been hard upon you."
"We won't talk about my father," said Thomas. “I have faults enough of my own to confess, mother. But I won't tell you all about them now. I have been very wicked-gambling and worse; but I will never do so any more. I am astiamed and sorry; and I think God will forgive me. Will you forgive me, mother?”
“ With all my heart, my boy. And you know that God forgives every one that believes in Jesus. I hope you have given your heart to him, at last. Then I shall die happy."
“I don't know, mother, whether I have or not, but I want to do what's right.”
“That won't save you, my poor child. You'll have a talk with Mr. Simon about it, won't you? I'm not able to argue anything now."
It would have been easiest for Thomas to say nothing, and leave his mother to hope, at least ; but he had begun to be honest, therefore he would not deceive her. But in his new anxiety to be honest, he was in great danger of speaking roughly, if not rudely. Those who find it difficult to oppose are in more danger than others of falling into that error when they make opposition a point of conscience. The unpleasantness of the duty irritates them.
“Mother, I will listen to anything you choose to say ; but I won't see that,” fool he was going to add, but he avoided the epithet“I won't talk about such things to a man for whom I have no respect.”
Mrs. Worboise gave a sigh ; but, perhaps partly because her own respect for Mr. Simon had been a little shaken of late, she said nothing. Thomas resumed.
“If I hadn't been taken by the hand by a very different man from him, mother, I shouldn't have been here to-day. Thank God! Mr. Fuller is something like a clergyman!”
“Who is he, Thomas ? I think I have heard the name.” “He is the clergyman of St. Amos's in the City."
" Ah ! I thought so. A ritualist, I'm afraid, Thomas. They lay their snares for young people.”
“ Nonsense, mother !” said Thomas, irreverently. "I don't know what you mean. Mr. Fuller, I think, would not feel flattered to be told that he belonged to any party whatever but that of Jesus Christ himself. But I should say, if he belonged to any, it would be the Broad Church.”
“I don't know which is worst. The one believes all the lying idolatry of the Papists; the other believes nothing at all. I'm sadly afraid, Thomas, you've been reading Bishop Colenso."
Mrs. Worboise believed, of course, in no distinctions but those she saw; and if she had heard the best men of the Broad Church party repudiate Bishop Colenso, she would only have set it down to Jesuitism.
“A sailor hasn't much time for reading, mother.”
“A sailor, Thomas ! What do you mean?. Where have you been all this time?” she asked, examining his appearance anxiously.
“At sea, mother." “My boy! my boy! that is a godless calling. How ever—?” Thomas interrupted her.
“ They that go down to the sea in ships were supposed once to see the wonders of the Lord, mother."
“ Yes. But when will you be reasonable? That was in David's time.”
“ The sea is much the same, and man's heart is much the same. Anyhow, I'm a sailor, and a sailor I must be. I have nothing else to do."
“Mr. Boxall's business is all your father's now, I hear, though I am sure I cannot understand it. Whatever you've done, you can go back to the counting-house, you know."
“I can't, mother. My father and I have parted for ever.”
“Oh, Tom, Tom ! Why do you set yourself against your father?”
“Well, mother, I don't want to be impertinent ; but it seems to me it's no more than you have been doing all your life.”
“For conscience-sake, Tom. But in matters indifferent we ought to yield, you know."
** Is it an indifferent matter to keep one's engagements, mother? To be true to one's word ? "
“But you had no right to make them."
“ They are made, anyhow, and I must bear the consequences of keeping them.”
Mrs. Worboise was nearly worn out. Tom saw it, and rose to “ Am I never to see you again, Tom?” she asked, despairingly.
Every time I come to London-so long as my father doesn't make you shut the door against me, mother.”
“That shall never be, my boy. And you really are going on that sea again ?"
“ Yes, mother. It's an honest calling. And believe me, mother, it's often easier to pray to God on shipboard than it is sitting at a desk.”
“Well, well, my boy!” said his mother, with a great sigh of weariness. “If Iónly knew that you were possessed of saving faith, I could bear even to hear that you had been drowned. It may happen any day, you know, Thomas."
" Not till God pleases. Í shan't be drowned before that.”
“God has given no pledge to protect any but those that put faith in the merits of his Son."
Mother, mother, I can't tell a bit what you mean.” "The way of salvation is so plain that he that runneth may read."
So you say, mother ; but I don't see it so. Now I'll tell you what : I want to be good.”
“My dear boy!”
“And I pray, and will pray to God to teach me whatever he wants me to learn. So if your way is the right one, God will teach me that. Will that satisfy you, mother ?
“My dear, it is of no use mincing matters. God has told us plainly in his holy word that he that puts his trust in the merits of Christ shall be saved ; and he that does not shall be sent to the place of misery for ever and ever.”
The good woman believed that she was giving a true representation of the words of Scripture when she said so, and they were an end of all controversy.
“ But, mother, what if a man can't believe ?"
“Then he must take the consequences. There's no provision made for that in the word.”
“But if he wants to believe, mother?" said Tom, in a small agony at his mother's hardness.
"" There's no man that can't believe, if he's only willing. I used to think otherwise. But Mr. Simon thinks so, and he has brought me to see that he is right.”
“Well, mother, I'm glad Mr. Simon is not at the head of the universe, for then it would be a paltry affair. But it ill becomes me to make remarks upon anybody. Mr. Simon hasn't disgraced himself like me, after all, though I'm pretty sure if I had had such teaching as Mr. Fuller's instead of his, I should never have fallen as I have done."
Thomas said this with some bitterness as he rose to take his leave. He had no right to say so. Men as good as he, with teaching as good as Mr. Fuller's, have yet fallen. He forgot that