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the shop before. And so I called to her, and she came. And I asked her what was the matter."
Well, and I said, ' It's the books that will keep talking :' didn't I ?"
“Yes. And I took you up beside me. But you was very ill after that, and it was long before you came back again after that first time.”
This story had been gone over and over again between the pair ; but every time that Mattie wanted to rehearse the one adventure of her life, she treated it as a memory that had just returned upon her. How much of it was an original impression and how much a re-writing by the tailor upon the blotted tablets of her memory, I cannot tell.
Well, where was I ?” said Mattie, after a pause, laying her hands on her lap and looking up at the tailor with eyes of inquiry.
I'm sure I don't know, Mattie,” answered Mr. Spelt.
I was thinking, you know, that perhaps Poppie has her share of what's going, after all.”
“And don't you think,” suggested her friend, " that perhaps God doesn't want to keep all the good-doing to himself, but leaves room for us to have a share in it? It's very nice work that you're at now-isn't it, Mattie ?”
“Well, it is.”
Because the dolls don't feel a bit better for it, you know.” “And them that'll wear that flannel petticoat will feel better for it, won't they ?”
“That they will, I know.”
“But suppose everybody in the world was as well off as you and me, Mattie-you with your good father, and—”
Well, my father ain't none so good, just. He swears sometimes.”
“He's good to you though, ain't he ?”
“I don't know that either, mother : he spoils me," answered Mattie, who seemed to be in a more than usually contradictory humour this morning.
Supposing, though, that everybody had a father that spoiled them, you wouldn't have any such clothes to make, you know.”
But they wouldn't want them.”
you would be forced to go back to your dolls as have no father or mother, and come across the sea in boxes."
I see, mother. Well, I suppose I must allow that it is good of God to give us a share in making people comfortable. You see he could do it himself, only he likes to give us a share, That's it, ain't it, mother ?”
" I see.
“That's what I mean, Mattie."
“Well, but you'll allow it does seem rather hard that I should have this to do now, and there's Poppie hasn't either the clothes to wear or to make."
“Can't you do something for Poppie, then ?”
Here Mattie laid aside her work, crept on all fours to the door, and peeped over into the passage below.
“Well, Poppie,” she began, in the intellectually condescending tone which most grown people use to children, irritating some of them by it considerably,—“Well, Poppie, and how do you do ?”
Poppie heard the voice and looked all round, but not seeing where it came from, turned and scudded away under the arch. Though Mattie knew Poppie, Poppie did not know Mattie, did not know her voice at least. It was not that Poppie was frightened exactly—she hardly ever was frightened at anything, not even at a policeman, but she was given to scudding ; and when anything happened she did not precisely know what to do with, she scudded ; at least if there was no open drain or damaged hoarding at hand. But she did not run far this time. As soon as she got under the shelter of the arch, she turned behind a sort of buttress that leaned against the bookseller's house, and peeped back towards the court.
At that moment Lucy came out of the house. She came down the passage, and as Mattie was still leaning over the door, or the threshold rather, of the workshop, she saw her, and stopped. Thereupon Poppie came out of her “coign of vantage,” and slowly approached, just like a bird or a tame rabbit-only she was not by any means so tame as the latter. “ Are you getting on with that petticoat, Mattie ?” said Lucy.
Yes, miss, I am. Only not being used to anything but boys' clothes, I am afraid you won't like the tailor's stitch, miss.”
“Never mind that. It will be a curiosity, that's all. But what do you think, Mattie! The kind lady who gives us this work to do for the poor people, has invited all of us to go and spend a day with her.”
Mattie did not answer. Lucy thought she did not care to go. But she was such an oddity that she wanted very much to take her.
“She has such a beautiful garden, Mattie ! And she's so kind." Still Mattie made no reply. Lucy would try again.
“And it's such a beautiful house, too, Mattie! I'm sure you would like to see it. And,” she added, almost reduced to her last resource, “she would give us such a nice dinner, I know !”
This at length burst the silence, but not as Lucy had expected.
“Now that's just what I'm determined I will not stand," said the little maid.
“What do you mean, Mattie ? ” exclaimed Lucy, surprised and bewildered.
“ I'll tell you what I mean, and that soon enough,” said Mattie. “It's all very kind of Mrs. Morgingturn to ask you and me, what are well-to-do people, and in comfortable circumstances, as people say, to go and spend this day or that with her. And do you know, Mr. Spelt”—here Mattie drew herself in and turned her face right round from Lucy to the tailor, for the side of her mouth which she used for speech was the left, and the furthest from Spelt—“it just comes into my head that this kind lady who gives me petticoats to make instead of doll's trousers, is doing the very thing you read about last night out of the New Testament before I went in to bed. It's so nice now there's light enough to read a little before we part for the night !-ain't it, mother?”
“I know, I know," said the tailor in a low voice, not wishing to intrude himself into the conversation.
“What did Mr. Spelt read to you, Mattie?” asked Lucy. “ He read about somebody—"
It was very remarkable how Mattie would use the name of God, never certainly with irreverence, but with a freedom that seemed to indicate that to her he was chiefly if not solely an object of metaphysical speculation or, possibly, of investigation ; while she hardly ever uttered the nanie of the Saviour, but spoke of him as Somebody. And I find that I must yet further interrupt the child herself to tell an anecdote about her which will perhaps help my reader to account for the fact I am about to finish telling. She was not three years old when she asked her mother, a sweet, thoughtful woman, in many ways superior to her husband, though not intellectually his equal, who made the tree in Wood Street ? Her mother answered of course, “God made it, my pet ;" for, by instinct, she never spoke of her God without using some term of endearment to her child. Mattie answered : “I would like it better if a man made it”—a cry after the humanity of God-a longing in the heart of the three years' child for the Messiah of God. Her mother did not know well enough to tell her that a man, yes, the man did make them—“for by Him all things were made;" — but Mattie may have had some undefined glimmering of the fact, for, as I have said, she always substituted Somebody for any name of the Lord. I cannot help wishing that certain religious people of my acquaintance would, I do not say follow queer little Mattie's example, but take a lesson from queer little Mattie. He read about somebody saying you shouldn't ask your
friends and neighbours who could do the same for you again, but you should ask them that couldn't, because they hadn't a house to ask you to, like Poppie there."
Lucy looked round and saw the most tattered little scarecrowuseless even as such in the streets of London, where there are only dusty little sparrows and an occasional raven-staring atI cannot call it a group-well, it was a group vertically, if not laterally—and not knowing or caring what to make of it, only to look at Lucy, and satisfy her undefined and undefinable love by the beholding of its object. She loved what was lovely without in the least knowing that it was lovely, or what lovely meant. And while Lucy gazed at Poppie, with a vague impression that she had seen the child before, she could not help thinking of the contrast between the magnificent abode of the Morgensterns—for magnifi. cent it was even in London-and the lip of the nest from which the strange child preached down into the world the words " friends and neighbours."
But she could say nothing more to Mattie till she had told, word for word, the whole story to Mrs. Morgenstern, who, she knew, would heartily enjoy the humour of it. Nor was Lucy, who loved her Lord very truly, even more than she knew, though she was no theologian like Thomas, in the least deterred from speaking of Somebody, by the fact that Mrs Morgenstern did not receive him as the Messiah of her nation. If he did not hesitate to show himself where he knew he would not be accepted, why should she hesitate to speak his name? And why should his name not be mentioned to those who, although they had often been persecuted in his name by those who did not understand his mind, might well be proud that the man who was conquering the world by his strong beautiful will, was a Jew ?
But from the rather severe indisposition of her grandmother, she was unable to tell the story to Mrs. Morgenstern till the very morning of the gathering
CAN I hope to move my readers to any pitiful sympathy with Mrs. Worboise, the whole fabric of whose desires was thus gliding into an abyss ? That she is not an interesting woman, I admit ; but at the same time, I venture to express a doubt whether our use of the word uninteresting really expresses anything more than our own ignorance. If we could look into the movements of any heart, I doubt very much whether that heart would be any longer uninteresting to us. Come with me, reader, while I endeavour, with some misgiving, I confess, to open a peep into the heart of this mother, which I have tried hard, though with scarcely satisfactory success, to understand.
Her chief faculty lay in negations. Her whole life was a kind of negation-a negation of warmth, a negation of impulse, a negation of beauty, a negation of health. When Thomas was a child, her chief communication with him was in negatives. “You must not; you are not; do not;" and so on. Her theory of the world was humanity deprived of God. Because of something awful in the past, something awful lay in the future. To escape from the consequences of a condition which you could not help, you must believe certain things after a certain fashion, hold, in fact, certain theories with regard to the most difficult questions, on which too you were incapable of thinking correctly. Him who held these theories you must regard as a fellow-favourite of heaven ; who held them not you would do well to regard as a publican and a sinner, even if he should be the husband of your bosom. All the present had value only in reference to the future. All your strife must be to become something you are not at all now, to feel what you do not feel, to judge against your nature, to regard everything in you as opposed to your salvation, and God who is far away from you, and whose ear is not always ready to hear, as your only deliverer from the consequences he has decreed, and this in virtue of no immediate relation to you, but from regard to another whose innocent suffering is to your guilt the only counterpoise weighty enough to satisfy his justice. All her anxiety for her son turned upon his final escape from punishment. She did not torment her soul, her nights were not sleepless with the fear that her boy should be unlike Christ, that he might do that which was mean, selfish, dishonest, cowardly, vile, but with the fear that he was or might be doomed to an eternal suffering.
Now, in so far as this idea had laid hold of the boy, it had aroused the instinct of self-preservation, mingled with a repellent feeling in regard to God. All that was poor and common and selfish in him was stirred up on the side of religion ; all that was noble (and of that there was far more than my reader will yet fancy) was stirred up against it. The latter, however, was put down by degrees, leaving the whole region, when the far outlook of selfishness should be dimmed by the near urgings of inpulse, open to the inroads of the enemy, enfeebled and ungarrisoned. Ah! if she could have told the boy, every time his soul was lifted up within him by anything beautiful, or great, or true, " That, my boy, is God-God telling you that you must be beautiful, and great, and true, else you cannot be his child !" If every time he uttered his delight in flower or bird, she had, instead of speaking of sin and shortcoming, spoken of love and aspiration towards the Father of Light, the God of Beauty! If she had been able to show him that what he admired in Byron's heroes, even, was the truth, courage, and honesty, hideously mingled, as it might be, with cruelty and conceit, and lies! But almost everything except the Epistles seemed to her of the devil and not of God. She was even jealous of the Gospel of God,