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tight grasp on her arm, Poppie was walked away in a manner un. comfortable at least to one who was accustomed to trot along at her own sweet will,—and a sweet will it was, that for happiness was content to follow and keep within sight of some one that drew her, wi' hout longing for even a word of grace-to what she had learned to call the jug, namely, the police.prison. But my reader must not spend too much of his stock of sympathy upon Poppie ; for she did not mind it much. To be sure in such weather the jug was very cold, but she had the memories of the past to comfort her, the near past, spent in the society of the dead Duke, warm and consoling. When she fell asleep on the hard floor of the lock-up, she dreamed that she was dead and buried, and trying to be warm and comfortable as she ought to be in her grave, only somehow-or-another she could not get things to come right : the wind would blow through the chinks of her pauper's coffin ; and she wished she had been a duke or a great person generally to be so grandly buried as they were in the cemetery in Baker Street. But Poppie was far less to be pitied for the time, cold as she was, than Mary Boxall, lying half asleep and half awake and all dreaming in that comfortable room, with a blazing fire, and her own mother sitting beside it. True, likewise, Poppie heard a good many bad words and horrid speeches in the jug, but she did not heed them much. Indeed, they did not even distress her, she was so used to them ; nor, upon occasion, was her own language the very pink of propriety. How could it be? The vocabulary in use in the houses she knew had ten vulgar words in it to one that Mattie for instance would hear. But whether Poppie, when speaking the worst language that ever crossed her lips, was lower, morally and spiritually considered, than the young lord in the nursery, who, speaking with articulation clear-cut as his features, and in language every word of which is to be found in Johnson, refuses his brother a share of his tart and gobbles it up himself, there is to me, knowing that if Poppie could swear she could share, no question whatever. God looks after His children in the cellars as well as in the nurseries of London.
Of course she was liberated in the morning, for the police magistrates of London are not so cruel as some of those country clergymen who, not content with preaching about the justice of God from the pulpit, must seat themselves on the magistrate's bench to dispense the injustice of men. If she had been brought before some of them for sleeping under a haystack, and having no money in her pocket, as if the night sky besides being a cold tester to lie under were something wicked as well, she would have been sent to prison ; for instead of believing in the blessedness of the poor, they are of Miss Kilmansegg's opinion, “that people with nought are naughty.” The poor little thing was only reprimanded for being where she had no business to be, and sent away. But it was no wonder if after this adventure she should know Thomas again when
she saw him ; nay, that she should sometimes trot after him for the length of a street or so. But he never noticed her.
MR, SIMON'S ATTEMPT.
The next day the sun shone brilliantly upon the snow as Thomas walked to the counting-house. He was full of pleasant thoughts crossed and shadowed by a few of a different kind. He was not naturally deceitful, and the sense of having a secret which must get him into trouble if it were discovered, and discovered it must be some day, could not fail to give him uneasiness notwithstanding the satisfaction which the romance of the secrecy of a love-affair afforded him. Nothing, however, as it seemed to him, could be done, for he was never ready to do anything to which he was neither led nor driven. He could not generate action, or rather, he had never yet begun to generate action.
As soon as he reached Bagot Street, he tapped at the glass door and was admitted to Mr. Boxall's room. He found him with a look of anxiety upon a face not used to express that emotion.
“I hope Miss Mary," Thomas began, with a little hesitation.
“She's very ill," said her father; “very ill indeed. It was enough to be the death of her. Excessively iniprudent."
Now Mary was as much to blame, if there was any blame at all, for the condition in which she now was, as Thomas; but he had still generosity enough left not to say so to her father. He was only selfish, not mean.
“I am very sorry,” he said. “We were caught in the snow, and lost our way."
“ Yes, yes, I know. I oughtn't to be too hard upon young people," returned Mr. Boxall, remembering perhaps that he had his share of the blame in leaving them so much to themselves. “I only hope she may get through it. But she's in a bad way. She was quite delirious last night."
Thomas was really concerned for a moment, and looked so. Mr. Boxall saw it, and spoke more kindly.
“ I trust, however, that there is not any immediate danger. It's no use you coming to see her. She can't see anybody but the doctor."
This was a relief to Thomas. But it was rather alarming to find that Mr. Boxall clearly expected him to want to go to see her.
“I am very sorry," he said again ; and that was all he could find to say.
“Well, well," returned his master, accepting the words as if they had been an apology. “We must do our work, anyhow. Business is the first thing, you know.”
Thomas took this as a dismissal, and retired to the outer office, in a mood considerably different from that which Mr. Boxall attributed to him.
A clerk's duty is a hard one, and this ought to be acknowledged. Neither has he any personal interest in the result of the special labour to which he is for the time devoted, nor can this labour have much interest of its own beyond what comes of getting things square, and the sense of satisfaction that springs from activity and the success of completion. And it is not often that a young man is fortunate enough to have a master who will not only appreciate his endeavours, but will let him know that he does appreciate them. There are reasons for the latter fact beyond disposition and temperament. The genial employer has so often found that a strange process comes into operation in young and old, which turns the honey of praise into the poison of self-conceit, rendering those to whom it is given disagreeable, and ere long insufferable, that he learns to be very chary in the administration of the said honey, lest subordinates think themselves indispensable, and even neglect the very virtues which earned them the praise. A man must do his duty, if he would be a free man, whether he likes it or not, and whether it is appreciated or not. But if he, can regard it as the will of God, the work not fallen upon him by chance, but given him to do, understanding that everything well done belongs to His kingdom, and everything ill done to the kingdom of darkness, surely even the irksomeness of his work will be no longer insuperable. But Thomas had never been taught this. He did not know that his day's work had anything to do with the saving of his soul. Poor Mr. Simon gave him of what he had, like his namesake at the gate of the temple, but all he had served only to makea man creep, it could not make him stand up and walk. “ A servant with this clause,”—that is the clause, “for thy sake,"-wrote George Herbert :
“A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Makes that and the action fine.” But Mr. Simon could not understand the half of this, and nothing at all of the essential sacredness of the work which God would not give a man to do if it were not sacred. Hence Thomas regarded his work only as drudgery ; considered it beneath him ; judged himself fitter for the army, and had hankerings after gold lace. He dabbled with the fancy that there was a mistake somewhere in the arrangement of mundane affairs, a serious one-for was he not fitted by nature to move in some showy orbit, instead of being doomed to rise in Highbury, shine in Bagot Street, and set yet again in Highbury? And so, although he did not absolutely neglect his work, for he hated to be found fault with, he just did it, not entering into it with any spirit ; and as he was clever enough, things went on with tolerable smoothness.
That same evening when he went home from his German lesson of a quarter-of-an-hour, and his interview with Lucy of an hour and a quarter, he found Mr. Simon with his mother. Thomas would have left the room ; for his conscience now made him wish to avoid Mr. Simon, who had pressed him so hard with the stamp of religion that the place was painful, although the impression was fast disappearing.
“Thomas," said his mother, with even more than her usual solemnity, “ Thomas, come here. We want to have some conversation with you."
“ I have not had my tea yet, mother."
“ You can have your tea afterwards. I wish you to come here now."
Thomas obeyed, and threw himself, with some attempt at nonchalance into a chair.
“ Thomas, my friend,” began Mr. Simon, with a tone-how ain I to describe it? I could easily, if I chose to use a contemptuous word, but I do not wish to intrude on the region of the comic satirist, and must therefore use a periphrase—with the tone which corresponds to the long face some religious people assume the moment the conversation turns towards sacred things, and in which a certain element of the ludicrous because affected goes far to destroy the solemnity, “I am uneasy about you. Do not think me interfering, for I watch for your soul as one that must give an account. I have to give an account of you, for at one time you were the most promising seal of my ministry. But your zeal has grown cold ; you are unfaithful to your first love ; and when the Lord cometh as a thief in the night, you will be to Him as one of the lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, my poor friend. He will spue you out of His mouth. And I may be to blame for this, though at present I know not how. Ah, Thomas ! Thomas ! Do not let me have shame of you at His appearing. The years are fleeting fast, and although He delay His coming, yet He will come ; and He will slay His enemies with the two-edged sword that proceedeth out of His mouth.”
Foolish as Mr. Simon was, he was better than Mr. Potter, if Mr. Kitely's account of him was correct ; for he was in earnest, and acted upon his belief. But he knew nothing of human nature, and as Thomas grew older, days, even hours, had widened the gulf between them, till his poor feeble influences could no longer reach across it, save as unpleasant reminders of something that had been. Happy is the youth of whom a sensible good clergyman has a firm hold-a firm human hold, I mean-not a priestly one such as Mr. Simon's. But if the clergyman be feeble and foolish, the worst of it is, that the youth will transfer his growing contempt for the clergyman to the religion of which he is such a poor representative, I know another clergyman-perhaps my readers may know him too —who instead of lecturing Thomas through the medium of a long string of Scripture phrases, which he would have had far too much reverence to use after such a fashion, would have taken him by the shoulder, and said, “ Tom, my boy, you've got something on your mind. I hope it's nothing wrong. But whatever it is, mind you come to me if I can be of any use to you."
To such a man there would have been a chance of Tom's making a clean breast of it-not yet, though not before he got into deep water. But Mr. Simon had not the shadow of a chance of making him confess. How could Thomas tell such a man that he was in love with one beautiful girl, and had foolishly got himself into a scrape with another ?
By this direct attack upon him in the presence of his mother, the nan lost the very last remnant of his influence over him, and, in fact, made him feel as if he should like to punch his head, if it were not that he could not bear to hurt the meek little sheep. He did not know that Mr. Simon had been rather a bruiser at collegesmall and meek as he was-only that was before his conversion. If he had cared to defend himself from such an attack, which I am certain he would not have doubled fist to do, Thomas could not have stood one minute before him.
“Why do you not speak, Thomas ?" said his mother, gently.
“What do you want me to say, mother ?” asked Thomas in return, with 'rising anger. He never could resist except his temper came to his aid.
“Say what you ought to say," returned Mrs. Worboise, more severely.
“What ought I to say, Mr. Simon ? " said Thomas, with a tone of mock submission, not so marked, however, that Mr. Simon, who was not sensitive, detected it.
“Say, my young friend, that you will carry the matter to the throne of grace, and ask the aid"
But I would rather not record sacred words which, whatever they might mean in Mr. Simon's use of them, mean so little in relation to my story.
Thomas, however, was not yet so much of a hypocrite as his training had hitherto tended to make him, and again he sat silent for a few moments, during which his mother and her friend sat silent likewise, giving him time for reflection. Then he spoke anxious to get rid of the whole unpleasant affair.
“ I will promise to think of what you have said, Mr. Simon."
“Yes, Thomas, but how will you think of it?” said his mother.
Mr. Simon, however, glad to have gained so much of a con. cession, spoke more genially. He would not drive the matter further at present.