Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

he had had the schooling of sin and misery to prepare the soil of his heart before Mr. Fuller's words were sown in it. Even Mr. Simon could have done a little for him in that condition, if he had only been capable of showing him a little pure human sympathy.

His mother gave him another tearful embrace. Thomas's heart was miserable at leaving her thus fearful, almost hopeless about him. How terrible it would be for her in the windy nights, when she could not sleep, to think that if he went to the bottom, it must be to go deeper still ! He searched his mind eagerly for something that might comfort her. It flashed upon him at last.

“Mother dear," he said, “ Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.' I will go to him. I will promise you that, if you like. That is all I can say, and I think that ought to be enough. If he gives me rest, shall I not be safe? . And whoever says that he will not if I go to him ”

“In the appointed way, my dear.”

“ He says nothing more than go to him. I say I will go to him, the only way that a man can, when he is in heaven and I am on the earth. And if Mr. Simon or anybody says that he will not give me rest, he is a liar. If that doesn't satisfy you, mother, I don't believe you have any faith in him yourself.”

With this outburst, Thomas again kissed his mother, and then left the room. Nor did his last words displease her. I do not by any means set him up as a pattern of filial respect even towards his mother; nor can I approve altogether of the form his confession of faith took, for there was in it a mixture of that graceless material-the wrath of man ; but it was good notwithstanding : and such a blunt utterance was far more calculated to carry some hope into his mother's mind than any amount of arguing upon the points of difference between them.

As he reached the landing his sister Amy came rushing up the stair from the dining-room, with her hair in disorder, and a blushing face.

“Why, Tom !” she said, starting back. Tom took her in his arms.

“How handsome you have grown, Tom !” said Amy; and breaking from him ran up to her mother's room.

Passing the dining-room door, Tom Saw Mr. Simon looking into the fire. The fact was he had just made Amy an offer of marriage. Tom let him stand and hurried back on foot to his friend, his heart full, and his thoughts in confusion.

He found him in his study, where he had made a point of staying all day that Tom might find him at any moment when he might want him. He rose eagerly to meet him.

“ • Now see I by thine eyes that this is done,” he said, quoting King Arthur.

They sat down, and Tom told him all. “I wish you had managed a little better with your father,” he said.

“I wish I had, sir. But it is done, and there is no help for it

now.”

“No; I suppose not-at present, at least.”

“As far as Lucy is concerned, it would have made no difference, if you had been in my place I am confident of that."

“I daresay you are right. But you have earned your dinner anyhow; and here comes Mrs. jones to say it is ready. Come along."

Thomas's face fell. “I thought I should have gone to see Lucy now, sir." “I believe she will not be at home.” “ She was always home from Mrs. Morgenstern's before now.”

“ Yes. But she has to work much harder now. You see her grandmother is dependent on her now.”

“And where are they? My father told me himself he had turned them out of the house in Guild Court.”

“Yes. But they are no further off for that: they have lodgings at Mr. Kitely's. I think you had better go and see your friends the sailor and publican after dinner, and by the time you come back, I shall have arranged for your seeing her. You would hardly like to take your chance, and find her with her grandmother and Mattie.

“Who is Mattie? Oh, I know---that dreadful little imp of Kitely's.”

“I daresay she can make herself unpleasant enough,” said Mr. Fuller, laughing ; “but she is a most remarkable and very interesting child. I could hardly have believed in such a child if I had not known her. She was in great danger, I allow, of turning out a little prig, if that word can be used of the feminine gender, but your friend Lucy has saved her from that.”

“God bless her," said Thomas fervently. “She has saved me too, even if she refuses to have anything more to do with me. How shall I tell her everything! Since I have had it over with my father and Stopper, I feel as if I were whitewashed, and to have to tell her what a sepulchre I am is dreadful-and she so white outside and in!”

“ Yes, it's hard to do, my boy, but it must be done "

“I would do it-I would insist upon it, even if she begged me not, Mr. Fuller. If she were to say that she would love me all the same, and I needn't say a word about the past, for it was all over now, I would yet beg her to endure the ugly story for my sake, that I might hear my final absolution from her lips.” “That's right,” said Mr. Fuller. They were now seated at dinner, and nothing more of importance to our history was said until that was over. Then they returned to the study, and, as soon as he had closed the door, Mr. Fuller said,

“But now, Worboise, it is time that I should talk to you a little more about yourself. There is only one that can absolve you in the grand sense of the word. If God himself were to say to you, ‘Let bygones be bygones, nothing more shall be said about them' -if he only said that, it would be a poor thing to meet our human need. But he is infinitely kinder than that. He says, “I, even I am he that taketh away thine iniquities. He alone can make us clean-put our hearts so right that nothing of the kind will happen again-make us simple God-loving, man-loving creatures, as much afraid of harbouring an unjust thought of our neighbour as of stealing that which is his ; as much afraid of pride and self-confidence as of saying with the fool, “There is no God ;' as far from distrusting God for the morrow, as from committing suicide. We cannot serve God and Mammon. Hence the constant struggle and discomfort in the minds of even good men. They would, without knowing what they are doing, combine a little Mammon-worship with the service of the God they love. But that cannot be. The Spirit of God will ever and always be at strife with Mammon, and in proportion as that Spirit is victorious, is peace growing in the man. You must give yourself up to the obedience of his Son entirely and utterly, leaving your salvation to him, troubling yourself nothing about that, but ever seeking to see things as he sees them, and to do things as he would have them done. And for this purpose you must study your New Testament in particular, that you may see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ; that receiving him as your master, your teacher, your Saviour, you may open your heart to the entrance of his Spirit, the mind that was in him, that so he may save you. Every word of his, if you will but try to obey it, you will find precious beyond what words can say. And he has promised without reserve the Holy Spirit of God to them that ask it. The only salvation is in being filled with the Spirit of God, the mind of Christ.”

" I believe you, sir, though I cannot quite see into all you say. All I can say is, that I want to be good henceforth. Pray for me, sir, if you think there is any good in one man's praying for another.”

"I do, indeed - just in proportion to the love that is in it. I cannot exactly tell how this should be ; but if we believe that the figure St. Paul uses about our all being members of one body has any true, deep meaning in it, we shall have just a glimmering of how it can be so. Come, then, we will kneel together, and I will pray with you.”

Thomas felt more solemn by far than he had ever felt in his life when he rose from that prayer.

“Now," said Mr. Fuller, “ go and see your friends. When you

think of it, my boy,” he added, after a pause, during which he held Thomas's hand in a warm grasp. “ you will see how God has been looking after you, giving you friend after friend of such diffe. rent sorts to make up for the want of a father, and so driving you home at last, home to himself. He had to drive you ; but he will lead you now.--You will be home by half-past six or seven ?”

Thomas assented. He could not speak. He could only return the grasp of Mr. Fuller's hand. Then he took his cap and went.

It is needless to give any detailed account of Thomas's meeting with the Pottses. He did not see the captain, who had gone down to his brig. Mrs. Potts (and Bessie too, after a fashion) welcomed him heartily ; but Mr. Potts was a little aggrieved that he would drink nothing but a glass of bitter ale. He had the watch safe, and brought it out gladly when Thomas produced his cheque.

Jim Salter dropped in at the last moment. He had heard the night before that Thomas was restored to society, and was expected to call at “ The Mermaid ” some time that day. So he had been in or looking in a dozen times since the morning. When he saw Tom, who was just taking his leave, he came up to him, holding out his hand, but speaking as with a sense of wrong.

“ How de do, gov'nor? Who'd ha' thought to see you here! 'Aint you got ne'er another sixpence to put a name upon it? You're fond o' sixpences, you are, gov'nor.”

“What do you mean, Jim?" asked Thomas in much bewilderment.

“ To think o'treatin' a man and a brother as you've treated me, after I'd been and dewoted my life, least ways a good part of it, to save you from the pellice! Four and sixpence!”

Still bewildered, Thomas appealed to Mr. Potts, whose face looked as like a caricature of the moon as ever, although he had just worked out a very neat little pioblem in diplomacy.

“It's my fault, Mr. Worboise," he responded in his usual voice, which seemed to come from a throat lined with the insides of dates. “I forgot to tell you, sir, that, that- Don't you see, Jim, you fool ? " he said, changing the object of his address abruptiy6 You wouldn't have liked to rob a gentleman like that by takin' of half a suvering for loafin' about for a day with him when he was hard up. But as he's come by his own again, why there's no use in keep. ing it from you any longer. So there's your five and sixpence. But it's a devil of a shame. Go out of my house.”

“Whew !” whistled Jim Salter. “Two words to that, gov'nor o' the Marmaid. You've been and kep’ me all this many a day out of my inheritance, as they say at the Britanuary. What do you say to that, sir ? What do you think of yerself, sir? I wait a reply, as the butcher said to the pig.”

While he spoke, Jim pocketed the money. Receiving no reply except a sniff of Mr. Potts's red nose, he broke out again more briefly,

“I tell 'e what, gov'nor of the Marmaid, I don't go out o' your house till I've put a name upon it.”

Quite defeated and rather dejected, Mr. Potts took down his best brandy, and poured out a bumper.

Jim tossed it off, and set down the glass. Then, and not till then, he turned to Thomas, who had been looking on, half vexed with Mr. Potts, and half amused with Jim.

“Well, I am glad, Mr. Wurbus, as you've turned out a honest man arter all. I assure you, sir, at one time, and that not much farther off than that 'ere glass o' rum ”

“ Brandy, you loafing rascal ! the more's the pity,” said Mr. Potts.

" Than that 'ere glass o' rum," repeated Jim,--“I had my doubts. I wasn't so sure of it, as the fox was o' the goose, when he had his neck atwixt his teeth.”

So saying, and without another word, Jim Salter turned and left the Mermaid. Jim was one of those who seem to have an especial organ for the sense of wrong, from which organ no amount or kind of explanation can ever remove an impression. They prefer to cherish it. Their very acknowledgments of error are uttered in a tone that proves they consider the necessity of making them only in the light of accumulated injury.

CHAPTER LIII.

THOMAS AND LUCY.

WHEN Lucy came home the night before, she found her grandmother sitting by the fire, gazing reproachfully at the coals. The poor woman had not yet reconciled herself to her altered position. Widdles was in vain attempting to attract her attention ; but, not being gifted with speech like his grey brother in the cage next to his-whose morals, by the way, were considerably reformed, thanks to his master's judicious treatment of him-he had but few modes of bringing his wishes to bear at a distance. He could only rattle his beak on the bars of his cage, and give a rending shriek.

The immediate occasion of her present mood was Thomas's note, which was over her head on the mantelpiece. Notes had occasionally passed between him and Lucy, and she knew the handwriting. She regarded him with the same feelings with which she regarded his father, but she knew that Lucy did not share in these feelings. And forgetting that she was now under Lucy's protection, she was actually vowing with herself at the moment Lucy entered that if she had one word of other than repudiation to say to Thomas, she would turn her out of the house. She was not going

« ForrigeFortsett »