A NEW HOME

WE have now to request our readers to follow Dick to a very different
scene to that of Roan’s Court. His parents were glad he had found
such grand friends, and were quite willing to part with him. They
were not improving in their habits, but rather the reverse. Walters
did as Sir John had requested, and bought the boy suitable clothes
and other necessaries for his new position in life. He looked so
different when dressed in a cloth suit, with a white collar and black
necktie, that he could scarcely be recognised for the same boy who
had worn the old garments out of the blue clothes bag. The children
in Roan’s Court gathered round him when he first appeared in his new
attire on the day he was to leave altogether, and stared at their old
playmate with astonishment. A few of the elder ones, amongst whom was
Larkins (who had never got over the hot dinner disappointment),
derided him, called after him “Gentleman Dick,” and other nicknames.
He was not sorry when he was fairly out of hearing, and on his way to
Walters, who had promised to go with him to Grosvenor Square, and say
good-bye there. An omnibus was standing at the door when they
arrived, which was to take the servants to the station. It was being
loaded under the eye of a manservant. When he saw Walters and Dick,
he directed them to go down into the kitchen, where all was bustle
and confusion from the hurry of departure. Amongst the servants going
away was Susan, who had been so terrified lest Dick should prove an
accomplice of burglars. She looked at him with very complacent
feelings now, for Sir John had told the story of the bright farthing,
and explained that he had spoken truth when he said he wanted to give
the gentleman some money and not to beg of him. With his usual kind
thoughtfulness, the baronet had been anxious that the servants should
feel an interest in their young fellow-traveller, who would naturally
be strange and shy amongst them all.

At length all was ready, and Dick was told to take his place in the
omnibus with the others. He was very sorry to say farewell to his
dear old friend, who, in his turn, felt as if his home would be
lonely without the bright, merry face he was so accustomed to see
popping in constantly.

“God bless you, my lad,” he said. “Never forget your prayers.
Remember, those are my parting words to you.”

Then came the rumbling of the omnibus, and the arrival at the
station; and after that the puffing of the steam-engine, and for the
first time Dick saw houses and churches rushing away from them, as it
seemed to him. Soon, great, busy London was left behind, and houses
and churches only came at intervals, but green fields and trees took
their place, and they were in the country, which was far more
beautiful than Dick’s wildest dreams had ever pictured it. He was
quite surprised that all the servants talked away to each other, and
scarcely ever turned their heads to look out of the window. Susan was
the only one who seemed to understand his admiration. She was very
kind, and gave him her place in the corner that he might see better;
and she pointed out things to him, and told him the names of the
places they passed through, for she had been so often backwards and
forwards that the road was quite familiar to her and her
fellow-servants.

Towards evening they arrived at a station, where they stopped. Here
an open carriage was waiting, large enough to hold them all, and the
luggage followed in a cart. Dick had a delightful place on the box
between the driver and the footman, from which he could see the
hedges and trees, etc., to perfection as they drove rapidly past
them. After a drive of about a mile, they came in sight of a large
mansion standing on a rising ground in the midst of beautiful
gardens, which glowed with flowers of every colour. The carriage
stopped at a lodge, and now Dick was told he was to get down, as here
he was to live with the gardener and his wife. A pleasant,
motherly-looking woman appeared at the door, who was addressed as Mrs
Naylor. She gave the servants a kindly greeting, and as the carriage
drove on, took hold of Dick’s hand, and said she was sure he must be
tired and hungry, and had better have some tea directly. She took him
into a nice pleasant kitchen, where a table was spread with a
substantial tea. Her little lads came running in to look at the new
boy, and to do justice to the viands. They were followed by Mr
Naylor, the gardener–a tall, fine-looking man, with a rather grave
face.

He spoke kindly to Dick, and said he had heard all about him from Sir
John, and he hoped he would be a good boy, and then he should be glad
to have him to lodge in his house.

Dick thought he had never been so hungry or tasted such good food.
After tea, Mrs Naylor showed him a room in which he was to sleep. It
was very small, little more than a large closet, but there was in it
everything he could want, and it had a window looking into a garden
full of flowers. He was so thoroughly tired with his journey and with
the day’s excitement, that Mrs Naylor proposed he should go to bed,
and he was thankful to do so. Probably no little boy in England slept
a sounder sleep or had a happier heart than our young hero that
night.

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DICK’S MISTAKE

FROM that day Dick had a friend in old Walters–a very humble one,
but of priceless worth to the neglected child. He encouraged him to
come often to his room to see him, and finding he could not read, he
commenced to try to teach him. He bought a spelling-book, and began
what was in truth a most difficult and arduous task to one of his
age. But Dick was quick, and Walters persevering, and in course of
time the letters were mastered, and then came words of one syllable.
After that progress was rapid. A copy-book next appeared on the
scene, and the constant inky state of Dick’s fingers bore grimy
testimony to the industry of both master and pupil. It was a proud
day for them both when the boy could write his name quite legibly and
neatly in the little Prayer-book which Walters had promised should be
his whenever he could do so.

But it was not only the art of reading and writing that Dick was
acquiring from his newly-found friend. Lessons of far higher value
were being constantly given to him by Walters, whose heart was full
of love for his Saviour, and who longed to bring this little lamb
into His fold, and secure him against all the temptations that, with
such parents and in such a neighbourhood as Roan’s Court, he would be
subjected to as he grew older. Fortunately for Dick, his father’s and
mother’s carelessness about him turned to good account by enabling
him to be a great deal with Walters. On Sundays he went often with
him to church, instead of as formerly playing all day in the court or
back streets with other idle, uncared-for children. This was a real
pleasure to him, for the music possessed as great a fascination for
him as flowers.

For some time things went on thus. Dick was getting older and taller,
and Walters thought it was time for him to have some regular
employment. He was so interested in the lad that he took a walk to
Roan’s Court one day to speak to his parents about him; but it was
unfortunately an evening when they were neither of them quite in a
state to be talked to on the subject. He left them in disgust, and
with feelings of deep pity for their child. He did not know how to
help him, for he lived his own lonely life, knowing scarcely any one;
certainly no one who could be of use to Dick. He consulted his
landlady, but she could give no advice, and only remarked that “boys
were troublesome creatures, and of no use whilst young.” The poor
woman had two of her own, for whom she had difficulty in providing,
so she spoke feelingly. But though Walters was unable to serve the
lad in this respect, he had been unconsciously paving the way for a
bright future for him by teaching him honesty and the fear of God.

One morning as Dick was going down the Strand with another boy, they
stopped to look in at a shop window just as a gentleman drew up his
horse at the door, and looked round for some one to come and hold it
whilst he entered the shop. Dick ran forward and offered himself.
The gentleman gave one look at his pleasant face and put the bridle
into his hand, saying, “There, my lad, hold it firmly; the horse is
quiet enough.”

He was some time in the shop, which was a bookseller’s, and he was
looking over books. Once or twice he came to the door to see that all
was right with his horse, and finding that Dick was holding him
carefully, he gave him a nod and returned into the shop. Dick thought
his face was a very kind one. When he had finished his business and
came out to remount his horse, he put his hand into his pocket and
took out some coppers wrapped in paper, and giving them to Dick,
said–

“There, my lad, take these. I don’t know how many pence you will find
inside the paper, but the more there are the better for you.”

He was just going to ride off, when the shopman came to the door and
asked him some question, to which he replied in a loud voice–

“Let them be sent to No.– Grosvenor Square.”

Dick eagerly opened the paper; there were four pennies inside–and he
stared with amazement, there was also a small, very bright yellow
coin!

He had only once or twice seen a sovereign in his life, and never had
had one in his hand. His companion, a boy named Larkins who lived
near Roan’s Court, uttered an exclamation. “Why, Dick, he’s given you
a bit of yellow money; you lucky fellow!” Dick gave quite a shout of
joy.

[Illustration: “THERE, MY LAD, HOLD IT FIRMLY; THE HORSE IS QUIET
ENOUGH.”]

He felt almost giddy, and as if a large fortune had fallen into his
hands.

“I tell you what, Dick,” said Larkins, who secretly hoped he might
come in for a share of the money, “don’t you be looking at it like
that here in the street, or people will think you’ve no business with
it. Yellow money doesn’t often come to the like of us; and, I say,
don’t you go telling your father or mother of your luck, or they’ll
take it from you and go and spend it in drink.”

Dick did not reply; he was wrapping up the coppers and the yellow bit
as carefully in the paper as when they were given him, and he put the
little parcel in his jacket pocket.

“I say, Dick,” continued Larkins, “what are you going to do with it?
How shall you spend it? Won’t you go and have a good feed at the
cook-shop to begin with?”

Dick heard, and a savoury thought about hot meat and potatoes crossed
his mind; but he put it away again, for more important ideas were
floating there. His countenance was grave and thoughtful. “I don’t
think,” said he, “that the gentleman _meant_ to give me yellow money.
He said there were pence inside the paper. I’m quite sure he did not
know there was any gold there.”

“Why, then, all the better for you that he made a mistake,” said
Larkins. “What a lucky thing that he did not look to see what there
was inside the paper before he gave it you!”

Time was, before he knew old Walters, that Dick would have thought so
too, but now he could not feel any pleasure in taking possession of
what it was not intended he should have.

“I should like to give it back to the gentleman,” he said. “It would
be like stealing, I think, if I kept it.”

“Well, you _would_ be a silly chap to do that,” exclaimed
Larkins–“but one good thing is, you can’t give it back; you don’t
know where he lives.”

“Yes, I think I do,” said Dick. “He said that something was to be
sent to No.– Grosvenor Square; so he lives there, I daresay, and I
can find him, perhaps.”

Larkins’ indignation was very great at his stupid folly, as he called
it. His visions of being treated to a hot dinner at the cook-shop
were melting away. Then he tried ridicule: called him “A young
saint,” “Pious Dick,” “Parson Dick,” “Preaching Dick,” but all to no
purpose. At length Dick escaped from his teasing by taking the
turning which led to Walters’ lodging, whose advice he wished to ask.

He was out. Then he went and looked for him in the market, but he was
not to be found.

“I know he would tell me I ought to try and find the gentleman,” he
said to himself, “so I’ll go at once.”

He knew his way about London pretty well, though it was not often he
had been to the West End, and he had to ask his road once or twice
before he could find Grosvenor Square. When he got there it was some
time before he could discover the number he wanted, and when he did
at last pause before No.–, he felt quite frightened at seeing what a
grand house it was. The doors looked so tall, and the knockers so
high up, it was impossible to reach them. Then he remembered it would
not be right for a poor boy to go to the front door, so he turned and
went to the area gate and looked down the flight of steps that led to
the kitchen. It took a great deal of courage to descend them and
knock at the door below–more than he could all at once summon to his
aid–and he stood irresolute, with the handle of the gate in his
hand.

He went down at length and knocked timidly at the kitchen door. No
one came, so after some time he knocked again and louder. It was
opened by a girl, who asked him what he wanted.

“Please, I want to see the gentleman who said he lived here,” said
Dick.

The girl stared, and made him repeat his words. This time he spoke
rather plainer, and said he wanted to see a gentleman who had given
him some money an hour or two ago, in the Strand, for holding his
horse.

A servant in livery crossed the passage at this moment, and heard
what he said. He came to the door and exclaimed harshly–

“And so, because he gave you some money, you have come here hoping to
get more, you young vagabond. That’s always the way with you
beggars.”

“I’m not come to beg,” replied Dick, indignantly. “I’m come to give
the gentleman money, not to ask him for it.”

“Did the gentleman bid you come?” asked the man.

“No,” said Dick.

“Did any one send you?”

“No,” was again the reply.

“And yet you say you’ve come to give the gentleman money, and not to
beg,” said the servant. “Now, youngster, take my advice–get off
from here as fast as you can go, for it strikes me you are lurking
about for no good. There’s a bobby not far off who will come if I
call him.”

He shut the door in Dick’s face, and the servant girl went back into
the kitchen, and amused her companions by telling them that a boy had
just come under the pretence of wanting to give some money to the
master.

“That’s just what those young rascals do,” remarked the cook. “They
are taught by the thieves who employ them to go to gentlemen’s houses
with some pretence that shall get them admitted inside–and then,
whilst waiting, they take notice of doors and windows and bolts and
keys, and go and tell their masters, who know how to set to work at
night with their instruments when they come to break in. I daresay
that that boy has been taking stock of the lower part of the house,
for now I think of it, I saw a boy some time ago standing on the top
of the area steps and looking down at the door and windows. This lad
is the same, no doubt. He’ll be as likely as not to come to-night
with a practised house-breaker or two and try to get in.”

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Susan, the before-named girl, who slept in a
room on the area floor with another kitchen domestic. “Dear me, cook!
do you really think so? I’m sure I shan’t dare to go to bed
to-night.”

“Take the poker to bed with you, and never fear,” said the cook. “I
should take a real pleasure in bringing it down on the back of a man
if he had got in. I wish I’d the chance.”

“Then do please, cook, change rooms with me to-night,” exclaimed poor
Susan, who was pale with fright, and too inexperienced in the study
of human character to know that bragging was not courage. “I’m sure I
should only scream if they came. I’m not brave like you.”

But cook shirked exchanging rooms, saying the reason was that she
could not sleep comfortably in any bed but her own, or else she’d do
it with the greatest of pleasure.

While this conversation was going on in the kitchen, the innocent
subject of it had ascended the steps, and was walking away from the
house, when he heard the clatter of horse’s hoofs behind him, and,
looking round, he saw the very gentleman he was in search of coming
through the square at a rapid pace. Dick recognised him in a moment,
and was rejoiced to see him stop in front of No.–.

He jumped off his horse, and, as he was about to enter the house, he
caught sight of Dick, who was bowing and trying to attract his
attention.

“Ah, my little man,” he said; “why, are not you the same small chap
that held my horse in the Strand this morning?”

“Yes, sir; and, please, I have come to tell you that you gave me
yellow money by mistake amongst the pence–a whole sovereign! So I
have brought it for you.” And he took the little packet out of his
pocket and held it to him.

“What do you mean, my boy?” said Sir John Tralaway, for such was the
name of the gentleman. “There surely was no gold amongst the coppers
I gave you?” and he undid the paper.

A smile passed over his lips as he examined the contents. Then he
looked attentively at Dick. “And so,” said he, “you have brought the
money back to me because you thought I had given you more than I
intended. How did you find out where I lived?”

“I heard you tell the shopman to send some things to No.– Grosvenor
Square,” said Dick, “and so I thought I had better come here.”

“You are an honest, good boy,” said Sir John; “and though you have
made a mistake, and taken a bright new farthing fresh from the Mint
for a sovereign, yet it is all the same thing in the sight of God,
and in my eyes too, as if it had been indeed a piece of gold. Did you
ever see a sovereign?” he asked.

“Never but once or twice,” replied Dick, “and they looked exactly
like that;” and he pointed to the bright yellow farthing in Sir
John’s fingers.

“Your mistake is a very natural one, my boy. Eyes more accustomed
than yours to look at gold might easily have been deceived. Now come
in with me and tell me all about yourself, and where you learned to
be so honest.”

Sir John took him into a little room by the side of the hall door,
and asked him many questions. He was a man of well-known benevolence,
who was ever doing some deed of public or private charity. The
circumstance of Dick bringing him what he supposed to be a sovereign
given by mistake touched him greatly. He listened with interest to
what he told him about Walters, who was evidently a character rarely
to be met with in his class of life, and told Dick to ask him to call
and see him the next day at a given hour.

When he dismissed him, he gave him half-a-crown, and said he should
not lose sight of him. Dick did not quite understand what he meant by
that, but was sure it was something kind, and he ran off, one of the
happiest little boys in all London.

He had so much to tell Walters, he scarcely knew where to begin. The
old man was indeed pleased to hear that Dick’s principles had stood
fire under a strong temptation, and he hoped he might find a friend
in Sir John at the very time he most needed one.

The next morning, Walters gave an extra brushing to his coat, an
extra polish to his boots, and an extra smoothing to his Sunday hat
before setting forth to Grosvenor Square. He seldom now went near the
mansions of the rich, though in former days his duties had lain
amongst them almost entirely.

Sir John received him with great kindness, nay, even with respect,
for what Dick had said had filled him with admiration for him.
Walters told him about Dick’s miserable home, and of the sad example
set him by his parents and the other inmates of Roan’s Court. He
mentioned his is love for flowers, which had first made him hover so
constantly about Covent Garden Market, and so had brought him under
his notice.

“Then it is to you,” said Sir John, “that this little fellow is
indebted for the high principle which brought him here yesterday with
the supposed sovereign?”

“It’s little I have been able to do for him,” replied the old man,
“but God has blessed that little, and He has given the child a
tender, teachable mind, and a grateful, loving heart. But I wish he
could be taken out of that wicked Roan’s Court, where they are a
drunken, dishonest lot, and his parents are as good as no parents to
him.”

“He _shall_ be taken away, my good man,” replied Sir John. “I will
think the matter over, and see you again. I suppose his parents will
not object to any plan for the boy’s good?”

“Not they, Sir John. They never look after him; they leave him to
play about and shift for himself. I believe they would be glad enough
to have him taken off their hands.”

“Do you think he would like to be brought up as a gardener?” asked
Sir John. “As he is so fond of flowers, I should think his tastes
would lie that way.”

“It would be just what would suit him,” said Walters. “The lad is
wild after flowers. The first thing he did yesterday after you gave
him half a-crown, was to go and spend a shilling of it in buying a
rose-tree in a pot for my window. The little chap wanted to give me
something, so he bought what he cared most about himself.”

“Well, Walters, you have been a true friend to this boy, and God will
bless you for it; he shall be my care now, and I will try and follow
up the good work you have begun. I have a plan in my head which, if
it can be carried out, will, I think, be all you could wish for your
little friend. Will you come here again next Monday and bring Dick
with you? and by that time I hope I shall have arranged matters.”

Sir John was as good as his word. When Walters and Dick went to
Grosvenor Square at the time appointed, he asked the boy whether he
would like to live in the country, and learn gardening and the
management of flowers. Dick’s face was worth looking at, so full was
it of intense happiness at the idea. There was no occasion for him to
express his assent in words.

“I have a very clever head gardener at my country house,” said Sir
John; “and I have written to him about you. I shall board you in his
house; and if you continue to be a good boy, and try to please him by
your attention and industry, I am sure you will be very happy with
him and his wife; and in the gardens you will find yourself in the
midst of abundance of your friends the flowers.” Sir John then gave
Walters money with which to buy Dick two suits of clothes and such
other things as he would require, and asked him to settle the matter
with his parents.

The London season being nearly over, the family were going out of
town in a fortnight, and Dick was to go down to Denham Court, Sir
John’s country place, with some of the servants, a short time before
the rest of the party.

It was not in Dick’s power to say much by way of thanks; his heart
was too full. But Walters, who was scarcely less pleased, spoke for
him. When they had left the house and were walking down the Square,
Walters said–

“Dick, you are proving the truth of those words in your copy-book
which you wrote yesterday, that ‘Honesty is the best policy.'”

Continue Reading

DICK AND THE APPLES

FEW children, if any, who read this tale will probably be able to
form any idea of such a wretched home as that in which lived little
Dick Nason, the ragman’s son. There are houses and rooms in some of
the back streets in London where men, women, and children herd almost
like wild beasts–haunts of iniquity and misery, and where the name
of God is never heard except in the utterance of terrible oaths or
execrations. Such was Roan’s Court, a place which gave the police
continual trouble, and many a hard blow in the execution of their
duty. The houses were let out in rooms, of which the upper ones were
the most healthy, as possessing a little more light and air than the
others; but the cellar floors were almost destitute of both these
common luxuries of life, being sunk considerably below the level of
the court, and the windows, consisting of four small panes of glass,
begrimed with dirt, or if broken, as was generally the case, stuffed
up with dirty rags or paper.

It was in one of these cellar rooms that Dick Nason had been born,
and in which he lived till he was twelve years old. _How_ he had
lived, _how_ he had been fed, and _how_ clothed, it would be
difficult to imagine. His mother had been a tidy sort of woman in her
younger days, gaining her living as a servant in the family of a
small tradesman. But she married a man who was not of sober habits,
and who in consequence lost all steady employment, and sank lower and
lower till he was reduced to the position of a ragman, going about to
collect clothes, bones, rabbit-skins, and such odds and ends as he
could scrape together from the servants. The trade was not an
unlucrative one on the whole, but Nason spent so much in drink, and
his wife having fallen into the same bad habit, kept so little of
what she could contrive to get from her husband for household
purposes, that they seldom sat down to a regular meal, but scrambled
on in a wretched way, becoming every year more degraded and more
confirmed in their habits of intemperance.

Such was the home in which little Dick was reared. Fortunately he was
the only child. His father took little notice of him. His mother was
not without affection for him, but it was constantly deadened by the
almost stupefied state in which she lived. The child seldom knew real
hunger, for there was generally something to be found in the
three-cornered cupboard to which he had free access, nor did he often
get the hard words and blows that are so apt to fall to the lot of
the unfortunate children of drinking parents. Neither Nason nor his
wife were ranked amongst the more brawling and disorderly inhabitants
of Roan’s Court; though drink stupefied and rendered them helpless
and good-for-nothing often for days together, especially after Nason
had had a good haul into his big clothes-bag, and had turned its
contents into money. But as for the dirt, untidiness, and general
discomfort of their abode, they might have won the prize in this
respect had one been offered for the most wretched room.

Dick was a queer little figure to look at, though he had the
brightest face possible. He used to be clothed entirely out of his
father’s rag-bag. Nason had three of these bags, which hung up on
three nails in their cellar room. One was blue, made of strong
material, for the reception of old garments; the second, of stout
canvas, was for rabbit-skins; and the third for bones. Out of the
blue bag used to come forth jackets, which were by no means worn out,
as well as jackets well patched and darned. The latter always fell to
Dick’s share, as the better ones were more valuable to turn into
cash. As to the fit, that was considered to be utterly unimportant.
If only they were large enough for Dick to squeeze into them, or
small enough for him to be able to walk about in them, that was
deemed sufficient; so the little fellow would at one time be seen to
be almost bursting through his things from their tightness, and at
another he looked like a walking clothes-peg with his garments
hanging loosely upon him. But it was all the same to Dick, whether
they were tight or loose, and his bright eyes and curly head were
what people looked at most after all. Dick’s life for the first few
years was a very free and easy one. He made dirt pies beautifully as
soon as he was able to walk, being instructed in that art by some
children a little older than himself who lived next door. Then came
the ball-playing age–for even the poorest youngsters contrive to get
balls somehow or other–and Dick had his to roll about long before he
knew how to play with it. A little later on his amusement was to
stroll about the streets, peep in at the shop windows, look longingly
at the tempting piles of oranges and lollipops on the stalls at the
corner of the street, and occasionally, but very rarely, produce a
halfpenny from his pocket with which to purchase a scrap of the said
lollipops, or one of the smallest and most sour of the oranges.

But the greatest delight of Dick’s life was to go to Covent Garden
Market to look at the flowers, his love for which seemed born with
him in a remarkable degree. He was in a perfect ecstasy of delight
the first time he went there in company with some other children, who
like himself had nothing to do but to stroll about the streets. What
they looked at with indifference, Dick gazed upon with rapture, and
from that day he constantly found his way to the same spot, which was
at no great distance from Roan’s Court. He was there so often that
his appearance became familiar to the stall-holders, and they
sometimes employed him in running errands or doing little jobs for
them, rewarding him with an apple or orange, or, if it were towards
the evening, perhaps a bunch of flowers that had begun to fade.
Nothing ever pleased him so much as to have them to take home; and
then he tenderly put them in a cracked mug on the window seat, where
he could see them as soon as he awoke in the morning. In after years
he used to say that his first idea of God was taken from those
flowers; that their beauty carried off his mind in wonder as to the
greatness of the Power that made them. The strange contrast between
them in all their loveliness and the dingy dirty room he lived in,
had doubtless much to do with the effect they produced on his mind.

Dick knew little about religion. Once or twice he had peeped into a
church when service was going on, but had not cared to stay long; not
at all understanding what he heard, and feeling rather alarmed at the
man in the black gown whom he saw sitting near the door to keep
order.

But though Dick was a stranger to both church and Sunday-school, an
instructor was raised up for him in a quarter no one would have
expected. Not far from Covent Garden, in a single room, lived an old
man named John Walters, who had a small pension from a gentleman
whose servant he had once been, and who increased his means by doing
a variety of jobs about the market, where he was quite an
institution. This old man loved his God and loved his Bible. He lived
quite alone. His wife had been dead some years, and the only child he
ever had, a boy, died of measles when he was about twelve years of
age.

Perhaps it was the remembrance of this boy made him notice little
Dick as he lingered day after day about the market; but he might
never have spoken to him had it not been for an incident which we
will relate.

One day as a woman from the country was beginning to put up her fruit
and vegetables, she tripped and upset her basket of apples, which
rolled away in every direction. Dick was standing near and helped to
pick them up. The woman was anxious to collect them all, for they
were a valuable sort of apple which sold for a good price for
dessert, and every one was precious. Several rolled away to a
distance and lodged under a heap of empty hampers. Dick ran amongst
the hampers and picked them up; as he did so he slipped three of them
into the capacious pockets of the very loose clothes he had on, which
had lately been produced from the blue bag and would have fitted a
boy nearly twice his size. There was an Eye above that saw him commit
this theft, that Almighty Eye which never sleeps; but there was also
a human one upon the little boy at the moment, and it was that of old
John Walters. He was standing very near, but was concealed by some
tall shrubs. He saw Dick turn round to look if any one could see him
before he put the apples in his pocket, and this made him watch what
he was about; and he also saw him go up to the woman with several
apples in his hands, which he gave her. She warmly thanked him, and
returned him one as a present for the trouble he had taken. It was
getting late in the afternoon, and Walters was soon going home. He
felt unhappy about Dick, who reminded him of his own boy. He thought
he looked like a neglected lad who had no one to teach him how wrong
it is to steal. He did not like to bring him into disgrace and
trouble in the market by accusing him of taking the apples, neither
did he feel it would be right in him to see a child steal and take no
notice. “For,” thought he, “if he goes on from one thing to another
he may come to be a housebreaker in course of time; but if stopped
now, a boy with such a face as that may become an honest, good man.”
Then after a few minutes’ thought he said to himself, “‘Tis one of
Christ’s little ones, and so for the Master’s sake I’ll have a try at
him.” Meanwhile Dick was devouring the apple the woman had given him,
with the not unpleasant recollection that the pleasure to his palate
would be repeated three times over, since he had three more in his
pocket. I am afraid the said pleasure was in no way diminished by the
consciousness that they were stolen. I do not mean to say that he was
a thief habitually, for he was not. Some boys make thieving a trade
and exult in it. Dick had sometimes purloined what was not his own,
in the same manner that he had done the apples. He did not look out
for opportunities, but if one such as this came in his way he did not
try to resist the temptation.

He was rather startled when he felt some one lay a hand firmly on his
shoulder. It was the hand of John Walters, who said to him–

“I want to speak a word to you, my man. Come home with me and I’ll
give you a cup of tea. I’m going to have mine directly.” Dick looked
up into his face. It was a very kindly one, though rough and furrowed
with years; He did not feel afraid of it; so he went off with
Walters, for the cup of tea sounded tempting. It was not often such a
chance fell in his way. He walked by the old man’s side and answered
all his questions as to his name, and where he lived, and what his
father did, etc., and by the time Walters knew all about him, they
had arrived at the room which he rented in a small back street of
some people who kept a little shop.

It was but a humble abode, but it seemed a palace to Dick compared
with his own. In the first place, it was quite clean, for the woman
of whom Walters rented it was careful to keep it well swept, and he
himself did all the tidying and dusting part. Then the furniture was
better than what Dick was accustomed to see in any of the rooms in
Roan’s Court. There was a little round table in the middle of the
room, and another at the side with two or three large books on it.

[Illustration: “I WANT TO SPEAK A WORD TO YOU, MY MAN.”]

And there was a cupboard in one corner and a narrow bedstead in
another, and over the bedstead was laid a large tiger-skin which
Walters’ master had given him many years before, and which served as
an ornament by day and a warm covering for cold nights. Also there
was a shelf over the side table with a few books on it. Walters was a
good scholar, and had always been fond of reading, but of late years
he had cared for few books except his Bible and Prayer-book, which
gave evidence of being often used.

Walters told Dick to sit down, and he gave him a book with some
pictures of animals in it to look at whilst he made tea; but the boy
could not help watching Walters and his doings, which had greater
attractions than his book, on the whole. First he put a match to the
fire, which was laid ready for lighting. Then he went out with his
kettle and fetched some water. Next he unlocked the cupboard, and
brought out a tea-pot and two blue and white cups and saucers, and a
half-loaf of bread and some butter. He set them on the table very
tidily, and then going out again, he went into the little shop on the
other side of the passage and bought two or three slices of bacon of
his landlady, who sold provisions. These he fried in a little pan
that was hung up by the fireside, and when the water was poured into
the tea-pot, and the frizzling, delicious-smelling bacon was lifted
off the fire and put on a dish on the table, Dick’s mouth watered so
that he could scarcely wait to be told to begin and eat. “Now then,
Dick, come along,” said Walters, and Dick needed no second bidding.
He pulled his chair in an instant close to the table, and taking his
seat, looked ready for action. But old Walters had something else to
do before he would begin. He told Dick he was going to say grace, and
bade him stand, which he did, and looked rather wonderingly at the
old man as he took his little black cap off his head, and raising his
hands, asked God to bless the food His goodness had given them. The
boy had never seen this done before, and it puzzled him; but the next
moment he forgot all about it in the pleasure of satisfying his
hunger with the bacon and bread, of which Walters cut him a large
slice. His kind-hearted host ate very little himself; but he enjoyed
watching Dick’s satisfaction, and perhaps wished he had not to do so
disagreeable a thing as to tell his young guest that he had seen him
stealing.

When tea was over, the methodical old gentleman washed up the cups
and saucers and plates, and put everything away in the cupboard. Then
he said–

“Now, Dick, I have something to say to you–something you won’t like
half as much as eating the bacon. You have some apples in your
pockets, which you stole from the woman when she dropped them and
they rolled under the hamper. Dick, it is a very shocking thing to be
a thief, and yet you _are_ one!”

Poor Dick’s blue eyes grew enormous, and his cheeks became scarlet.
He knew too well that when thieves were detected their fate was to be
carried off to prison. He began to suspect he had been entrapped, and
that Walters was a policeman in disguise; yet it seemed strange if he
were going to be punished that he should begin by giving him such a
good tea. He had no time to collect his ideas, for Walters was
waiting for him to speak; he could only fly to the resource of trying
to help himself by telling a falsehood, so he said that the woman had
given them to him.

“No, Dick, that is untrue; she gave you one only, which you ate.”

More and more alarmed at finding how thoroughly acquainted Walters
was with the late transaction, Dick began to cry and begged him to
let him off. The kind-hearted old man drew the boy to his side, and
told him he was not going to punish him or tell anybody about his
theft; and when his tears were completely dried, he said–

“But there is One who does know it, my boy, and who will one day
punish you for stealing and telling stories if you go on thus, and if
you do not feel sorry for this and other naughty deeds you have
done.”

And then he talked of things very new to little Dick. He spoke of sin
and of hell, and of Jesus Christ, and of repentance and heaven, in
such simple words as came naturally to the old man, who was simple as
a child himself, and yet was wiser and more learned in these precious
truths than many a great scholar. He talked till the blue eyes
brimmed over with tears again, but this time not with terror lest he
was going to be sent to prison, but with sorrow for having done so
wrongly. For Dick had a very tender heart, and one that was quite
ready to receive all that was said to him. He brought the three
apples out of his pockets and asked Walters to take them away from
him.

“But they are not mine; I can’t take them,” he said.

“Then I will throw them away,” said Dick.

“That will not be right,” said Walters, “for they are not yours to
throw away; they are the woman’s.”

Dick looked bewildered; he did not know what to do with them.

“I think you ought to give them back to their owner,” said Walters.
“I know her, and she is very kind and will forgive you directly, I am
sure. If you are really sorry, you will be glad to take them back to
her. Suppose you leave them here till to-morrow, and then come, and I
will go with you to her stall.” Dick promised, and then old Walters
kneeled down with the little boy by his side, and he prayed–

“O dear Lord, forgive this young child for what he has done wrong,
and help him not to steal and tell stories any more, for Thy dear Son
Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”

Then Dick ran home, thinking all the way of what Walters had been
talking about.

The next morning when he woke he saw his little mug of flowers
standing on the window-sill, and the old thought came into his mind
about God making such beautiful things, and he felt very sorry that
he had offended God the day before, and ventured to say a little
prayer to Him himself, the very first that had passed his lips–

“O God, who made the flowers, please make me a good boy. I don’t mean
to steal apples any more, or tell stories.”

A little later on, Dick learnt to ask for God’s _help_ to keep him
from stealing and lying and doing wrong things.

And old Walters had his prayer that morning about Dick–

“O God, I am old and not able to do much for Thee, but help me to
teach the little boy Thy ways. Amen.”

He was very glad when Dick came running in, for he was half afraid he
might shirk the business of taking the apples back to the woman. It
showed that he was really sorry, and willing to punish himself by
doing a disagreeable thing; for it was of course very disagreeable to
go and own that he had stolen the apples. Let all children who read
this little tale remember, that when we do any wrong thing, it is
right that we should suffer for it. It is not enough merely to tell
God we are sorry and to ask His forgiveness; we must prove to God and
to ourselves that we really _are_ grieved for our sin by humbling
ourselves to ask pardon of those to whom we have done wrong, and by
trying to repair the wrong. If we shrink from this when it is in our
power to do it, we may be pretty sure that our penitence is not of
the kind to lead us to hope that our fault will be forgiven by God;
and if He does not forgive our fault, then it will rise up before us
in that day when all, both small and great, must appear before the
judgment-seat of God.

The woman, Mrs. Needham by name, was greatly surprised when Walters
came to her stall as she was laying it out, and told her that Dick
wished to return her three apples he had been tempted to put into his
pockets the day before. Poor Dick scarcely said a word himself, he
felt so frightened lest Mrs. Needham should be very angry; but she
only spoke kindly to him, and said she hoped he would never do such a
thing again. Indeed, she was just going to give him back one of the
apples; but Walters was wiser, and shook his head at her and led Dick
away. He knew it would be bad for the boy to be rewarded for taking
back the stolen fruit. That afternoon when Mrs. Needham and Walters
happened to be together for a few minutes, she talked to him about
Dick, and he told her how he had tried to show the boy the sin of
stealing.

“After all, though,” said the soft-hearted woman, who was more kind
than wise, “it was no such great thing he did. An apple or two he
just slipped into his pocket when he had the chance, that was all.”

But Walters turned to her, and laying his hand on her arm, said
almost solemnly–

“And what turned Adam and Eve out of Paradise and brought sin upon
millions and millions of us, Mrs. Needham? Why, the taking of an
apple, and ‘_that was all!_'”

“Well, Walters, you’ve your own way of talking about these things,
and you understand them better than I do, because you’re so
Bible-read.”

Mrs. Needham was prevented saying more, because a customer just then
came up to purchase some of the very apples in question.

Continue Reading

For there came a day

Within six months all these changes had actually taken place,
occasioning a greater amount of gossip and animadversion in the county
than any other modern event has been known to do. Even that adventure of
young Keppel’s of Ridley, when he ran away with the heiress, was nothing
to it. Running away with heiresses, if you only can manage it, is a
natural enough proceeding. But when a family melts somehow out of the
position it has held for many years, and I glides uncomplainingly into a
different one, and gives no distinct explanation, the neighborhood has
naturally reason to feel aggrieved. There was nothing sudden or painful
about the change. For half a year or so they all continued very quietly
at Brownlows, seeing few people by reason of Pamela’s mourning, yet not
rejecting the civilities of their friends; and then Pamela and Jack were
married. Nobody knew very distinctly who she was. It was a pretty name,
people said, and not a common name–not like the name of a girl he had
picked up in the village, as some others suggested; and if that had been
the case, was it natural that his father and sister should have taken up
his bride so warmly, and received her into their house? Yet why should
they have received her into their house? Surely she must have some
friends. When the astounding events which followed became known, the
county held its breath, and not without reason. As soon as the stir of
the wedding was over, and the young people departed, it became known
suddenly one morning that Mr. Brownlow and his daughter had driven down
quietly in the carriage with the greys for the last time, and had
settled themselves–heaven knew why!–in the house at Masterton for
good. Brownlows was not to be sold: it was to be Jack’s habitation when
he came home, or in the mean time, while he was away, it might be let if
a satisfactory tenant should turn up. There was no house in the county
more luxuriously fitted up or more comfortable; and many people invented
friends who were in want of a house simply in order to have an excuse
for going over it, and investigating all its details, unsubdued by the
presence of any of the owners. And Sara Brownlow had gone to
Masterton!–she, the young princess, for whom nothing was too good–who
had taken all the dignities of her position as mistress of her father’s
house so naturally–and who was as little like a Masterton girl, shut up
in an old-fashioned town house, as can be conceived. How was she to bear
it? Why should Jack have a residence which was so manifestly beyond his
means and beyond his wants? Why should Mr. Brownlow deprive himself, at
his age–a man still in the vigor and strength of life–of the handsome
house and style of living he had been used to? It was a subject very
mysterious to the neighborhood. For a long time no little assemblage of
people could get together anywhere near without a discussion of these
circumstances; and yet there was no fuss made about the change, and none
of the parties concerned had a word of complaint or lamentation to say.

But when the two, who thus exiled themselves out of their paradise, were
in the carriage together driving away after all the excitements of the
period–after having seen Jack and his bride go forth into the world
from their doors only two days before–Mr. Brownlow’s heart suddenly
misgave him. They were rolling out of the familiar gates at the moment,
leaving old Betty dropping her courtesy at the roadside. It was
difficult to keep from an involuntary glance across the road to Mrs.
Swayne’s cottage. Was it possible to believe that all this was over
forever, and a new world begun? He looked at Sara in all her spring
bravery–as bright, as fearless, as full of sweet presumption and
confidence as ever–nestled into the corner of the carriage, which
seemed her natural position, and casting glances of involuntary
supervision and patronage around her, as became the queen of the place.
He looked at her, and thought of the house in the High Street, and his
heart misgave him. How could she bear it? Had she not miscalculated her
strength?

“Sara,” he said, taking her hand in his, as he sat by her side, “this
will be a hard trial for you–you don’t know how hard it will be.”

Sara looked round at him, having been busy with very different thoughts.
“What will be a hard trial?” she said. “Leaving Brownlows? oh, yes!
especially if it is let; but that can only be temporary, you know, papa.
Jack and Pamela don’t mean to stay away forever.”

“But your reign is over forever, my poor child,” said Mr. Brownlow; and
he clasped her hand between his, and patted and caressed it. “When
Pamela comes back it will be a very different matter. You are saying
farewell, my darling, to all your past life.”

When he said this, Sara stood up in the carriage suddenly, and looked
back at Brownlows, and across the field to where the spire of Dewsbury
church rose up among the scanty foliage of the trees. She waved her hand
to them with a pretty gesture of leave-taking. “Then farewell to all my
past life!” said Sara, gayly. She had a tear in her eye, but that she
managed to hide. “I like the present best of all. Papa, you must be
satisfied that I am most happy with you.”

With him! was that indeed the explanation of all? Mr. Brownlow looked at
her anxiously, but he could not penetrate into the mysteries that lay
under Sara’s smile. If she thought of some one else besides her father,
his thoughts too were traveling in the same direction. Thus they took
possession of the house in the High Street. Whether Sara suffered from
the change nobody could tell. She was full of delight in the novelty and
all the quaint half-remembered details of the old family house. She was
never done making discoveries–old portraits, antique bits of
furniture–things that had been considered old-fashioned lumber, but
which, under her touch, became gracious heir-looms and relics of the
past. Old Lady Motherwell, having recovered her temper, took the lead in
visiting the fallen princess. The old lady felt that a sign of her
approval was due to the girl who had been so considerate and
Christian-minded as to refuse Sir Charles when she lost her fortune. She
went full of condolences, and found to her consternation nothing but
gayety. Sara was so full of the excellence and beauty of her new
surroundings that she was incapable of any other thought. Even Lady
Motherwell allowed that her satisfaction was either real or so very
cleverly feigned as to be as good as real; and the county finally grew
bewildered, and asked itself whether the removal was really a downfall
at all, or simply a new caprice on the part of a capricious girl, whose
indulgent father could never say her nay?

All the time Powys kept steadily at work. Six months had passed, and he
had seen her only in the company of others. They had never met alone
since that moment in the dining-room at Brownlows, when Sara’s fortitude
had given way, and he had comforted her. In the mean time his position
too had changed. Old Lady Powys, who once had lived near Masterton, had
put the whole matter into Mr. Brownlow’s hands. She had written volumes
of letters to him, and required from him not only investigation into the
circumstances, but full details, moral and physical, about her son’s
family–their looks, their manners, their character, every thing about
them. It is too late to introduce Lady Powys here; perhaps an occasion
may arise for presenting her ladyship to the notice of persons
interested in her grandson’s fortunes. She was as much a miser as was
consistent with the character and habits of a great lady; if, indeed,
she was not, as she asserted herself to be, a poor woman. But anyhow she
was prepared to do her duty toward her grandchildren. She had little to
leave them, she declared. All the family possessions were in the hands
of Sir Alberic Powys, her other grandson, who was like his mother’s
family, and no favorite with the old lady; but her poor Charley’s son
should have something if she had any interest left; and as for the girls
and their mother, she had a cottage vacant in her own immediate
neighborhood, where they could live and be educated. Mr. Brownlow, for
the moment, kept the greater part of this information to himself. He
said nothing about it to his daughter. He did not even profess to notice
the wistful looks which Sara, sometimes in spite of herself, cast at the
office. He never invited Powys, though he was so near at hand; and the
young man himself, still more tantalized and doubtful than Sara, did not
yet venture to storm the castle in which his princess was confined. She
saw him from her window sometimes, and knew what the look meant which he
directed wistfully at the house, scanning it all over, as if every red
brick in its wall, and every shining twinkling pane, had become precious
to him. Perhaps such a moment of suspense has a certain secret sweetness
in it, if not to the man involved, at least to the woman, who is in no
doubt about the devotion she inspires, and knows that she can reward it
when she so pleases. Perhaps Sara had come to be tacitly aware that no
opposition was to be expected from her father. Perhaps it was a sudden
impulse of mingled compassion and impatience which moved her at last.

For there came a day on which the two met face to face, without the
presence of witnesses. Sara was coming in from a walk. She was arrayed
in bright muslin, clouds of white, with tinges of rosy color, and the
sunshine outside caught the ripple of gold in her hair under her hat,
just as it had done the day Powys saw her first and followed her up the
great staircase at Brownlows to see the Claude. She had time to see him
approaching, and to make up her mind what she should do; and found an
excuse for lingering ten minutes at least on the broad step at the front
door, talking with some passer-by. And old Willis, who had more to do in
the High Street than he had at Brownlows, had grown tired of waiting,
and had left the door open behind her–

Sara was standing all alone on the threshold when Powys came up. His
heart too was beating loud. The sun was in the west, and she was
standing in the full blaze of the light, with one hand on the open door.
Powys was too much excited to think of the fine images that might have
been appropriate to the occasion. He stopped short when he came to the
steps which alone parted her from him. He had his hat off, and his face
was flushed and anxious. There was a moment’s pause–a pause during
which the world and their hearts stood still, and the very breath failed
upon their lips. And even then she did nothing that she might not have
done to a common acquaintance, as people say. She made a step back into
the house, and then she held out her hand to him. “It is so long since I
have seen you–come in!” said Sara. And Powys made but one stride, and
was within beside her. He closed the door, thrusting it to with his
disengaged arm; and I suppose it was time.

When Sara stood in the sunshine, blinded with the light, blushing like a
rose, and said “Come in!” to her lover, she knew very well, of course,
that she had decided her fate. The picture was so pretty that it was
disconcerting to have it shut out all at once by the impetuous young
fellow who went in like a bomb, blazing and ardent, and thrust to the
door upon that act of taking possession. The sunshine went in with them
in a momentary flood. The clouds and the storms and the difficulties
were over. I think that here the historian’s office ends:— there is no
more to say.

Continue Reading

PAMELA’S MIND

The Brownlow family scarcely met again until after Mrs. Preston’s
funeral. Sara did not even attempt to leave her forlorn charge, or to
bring her away from Mrs. Swayne’s on the funeral day. On the first
dreary night after all was over the two girls sat alone in the darkened
rooms, and clung to each other. Poor little Pamela had no more tears to
shed. She looked like the shadow of herself, a white transparent
creature, fragile as a vision. She had no questions to ask, no curiosity
about any thing. She was willing that Sara should arrange and decide,
and take every thing upon herself. She did not care to know, or even
seem to remember, the mysteries her mother had talked of on her
death-bed. When Sara began to explain to her, Pamela had stopped the
explanation. She had grown pale and faint, and begged that she might
hear no more. “I don’t want to know,” she cried hoarsely, with a kind of
sick horror; “if you knew how it changed her, Sara. Oh, if you knew what
she used to be!” And then she would burst into fits of sobbing, which
shook her delicate frame. It had changed her tender mother into a
frantic woman. It had clouded and obscured her at the end, and made her
outset on that last lonely journey such a one as Pamela could not dwell
upon. And there was nobody but Pamela who would ever know how different
she had once been–how different all her life had been to these few days
or weeks. Accordingly the poor child allowed herself to be guided as
Sara pleased, and obeyed her, to spare herself an explanation. She went
into the carriage next morning without a word, and was driven up the
avenue to the great house which she had once entered as an humble
visitor, and from which she had been so long absent. Now she entered it
in very different guise, no longer stealing up the stairs to Sara’s
room, to wait for her young patroness there. It was she now who was
every body’s chief object. Mr. Brownlow himself came to meet her, and
lifted her out of the carriage, and kissed her on the forehead like a
father. He said, “My poor child!” as he looked at her white little face.
And Jack stood behind watching. She saw him and every thing round her as
in a dream. She did not seem to herself to have any power of independent
speech or movement. When she tried to make a step forward, she staggered
and trembled. And then all at once for one moment every thing grew clear
to Pamela, and her heart once more began to beat. As she made that
faltering uncertain step forward, and swayed as if she would have
fallen, Jack rushed to her side. He did not say a word, poor fellow; he
too had lost his voice–but he drew her arm through his and pressed it
trembling to his side, and led her into the place that was to be her
home. It was all clear for a moment, and then it was all dark, and
Pamela knew no more about it until she woke up sometime later and found
herself lying on a sofa in a large, lofty, quiet room. She woke up to
remember her troubles anew, and to feel all afresh as at the first
moment, but yet her life was changed. Her heart was wounded and bleeding
with more than mere natural grief–she was alone in the world. Yet there
was a certain sweetness–a balm in the air–a soothing she knew not what
or how. He had carried her there and laid her down out of his arms, and
kissed her in her swoon, with an outburst of love and despair. It seemed
to him as if he ought to leave her and go away and be seen no more–but
yet he was not going to leave her. His principles and his pride gave way
in one instant before her wan little face. How could any man with a
heart in his breast desert such a tender fragile creature in the moment
of her necessity? Jack went out and wandered about the woods after that,
and spoke to nobody. He began to see, after all, that a man can not
arbitrarily decide on his own conduct; that, in fact, a hundred little
softenings or hardenings–a multitude of unforeseen circumstances are
always coming in. And he ventured to make no new resolutions; only time
could decide what he was to do.

When Pamela had rested for a few days, and regained her self-command,
and become capable of looking at the people who surrounded her, Mr.
Brownlow, who considered an explanation necessary, called together a
solemn meeting of every body concerned. It was Sara’s desire too, for
Sara felt the responsibilities of her guardianship great, and was rather
pleased that they should be recognized. They met round the fire in the
drawing-room, as Pamela was not able yet to go down stairs. Mr.
Brownlow’s dispatch-box in which he had kept his papers lately was
brought up and put on the table; and Jack was there, not sitting with
the rest, but straying about the other end of the room in an agitated
way, looking at the pictures, which he knew by heart. He had scarcely
exchanged a word with Pamela since she came to Brownlows. They had never
seen each other alone. It was what he had himself thought proper and
necessary under the circumstances, but still it chafed him
notwithstanding. Pamela sat by the fire in her deep mourning, looking a
little more like herself. Her chair was close to the bright fire, and
she held out her hands to it with a nervous shiver. Sara too was in a
black dress, and stood on the other side, looking down with a certain
affectionate importance upon her ward. She was very sorry for Pamela,
and deeply aware of the change which had taken place in the
circumstances of all the party. But Sara was Sara still. She was very
tender, but she was important. She felt the dignity of her position; and
she did not mean that any one should forget how dignified and
authoritative that position was.

“Papa, I have brought Pamela as you told me,” said Sara; “but there must
not be too much said to her. She is not strong enough yet. Only what is
indispensable must be said.”

“I will try not to weary her,” said Mr. Brownlow, and then he went to
Pamela’s side in his fatherly way, and took one of her chilly little
hands. “My dear,” he said, “I have some things to speak of that must be
explained to you. You must know clearly why you have been brought here,
and what are your prospects, and the connection between us. You have
been very brave, and have trusted us, and I thank you; but you must hear
how it is. Tell me if I tire you; for I have a great deal to say.”

“Indeed I am quite content, quite content!” cried Pamela; “why should
you take all this trouble? You brought me here because you are very
kind. It is I who have to thank you.”

“That is what she wants to think,” said Sara. “I told her we were not
kind, but she will not believe me. She prefers her own way.”

“Oh, please!” said poor little Pamela; “it is not for my own way. If you
liked me, that would be the best. Yes, that was what I wanted to
think–”

She broke off faltering, and Jack, who had been at the other end of the
room, and whom her faint little voice could not have reached, found
himself, he did not know how, at the back of her chair. But he did not
speak–he could not speak, his lips were sealed.

“You must not be foolish, Pamela,” said her guardian, solemnly; “of
course we love you, but that has nothing to do with it. Listen to papa,
and he will tell you every thing. Only let me know when you are tired.”

Then Mr. Brownlow tried again. “You are quite right,” he said, soothing
the trembling girl; “in every case this house would have been your
proper shelter. Do you know you are Sara’s cousin, one of her relations?
Perhaps that will be a comfort to you. Long ago, before you were born,
your grandmother, whom you never saw, made a will, and left her money to
me in trust for your mother. My poor child! She is not able to be spoken
to yet.”

“Oh, no, I am not able, I will never be able,” cried Pamela, before any
one else could interfere. “I don’t want ever to hear of it. Oh, Mr.
Brownlow, if I am Sara’s cousin, let me stay with her, and never mind
any more. I don’t want any more.”

“But there must be more, my dear child,” said Mr. Brownlow, again taking
her cold little hand into his. “I will wait, if you prefer it, till you
are stronger. But we must go through this explanation, Pamela, for every
body’s sake. Would you rather it should be on another day?”

She paused before she answered, and Sara, who was watching her, saw,
without quite understanding, a pathetic appealing glance which Pamela
cast behind her. Jack would have understood, but he did not see. And
though he was still near her, he was not, as he had been for a moment,
at the back of her chair. Pamela paused as if she were waiting for help.
“If there was any one you could say it to for me–” she said,
hesitating; and then the sudden tears came dropping over her white
cheeks. “I forgot I was alone and had nobody,” she continued in a voice
which wrung her lover’s heart. “I will try to listen now.”

Then Mr. Brownlow resumed. He told her the story of the money truly
enough, and with hearty belief in his story, yet setting every thing, as
was natural, in its best light. He was not excusing himself, but he was
unconsciously using all his power to show how naturally every thing had
happened, how impossible it was that he could have foreseen, and how
anxious he had always been for news of the heir. It was skillfully told,
and yet Mr. Brownlow did not mean it to be skillful. Now that it was all
over, he had forgotten many things that told against himself, and his
narrative was not for Pamela only, but for his own children. His
children listened with so great an interest, that they did not for the
moment observe Pamela. She sat with her hands clasped on her knees,
bending forward toward the fire. She gave no sign of interest, but
listened passively without a change on her face. She was going through
an inevitable and necessary trial. That was all. Her thoughts strayed
away from it. They strayed back into the beaten paths of grief; they
strayed into wistful wonderings why Jack did not answer her; why he did
not assume his proper place, and act for her as he ought to do. Could he
have changed? Pamela felt faint and sick as that thought mingled with
all the rest. But still she could bear it, whatever might be required of
her. It was simply a matter of time. She would listen, but she had never
promised to understand. Mr. Brownlow’s voice went on like the sound of
an instrument in her ears. He was speaking of things she knew nothing
about, cared nothing about. Jack would have understood, but Jack had not
undertaken this duty for her. Even Sara, no doubt, would understand. And
Pamela sat quiet, and looked as if she were listening. That was all that
could be expected of her. At last there came certain words that roused
her attention in spite of herself.

“My poor child, I don’t want to vex you,” Mr. Brownlow said; “if your
mother had lived we should probably have gone to law, for she would have
accepted no compromise, and I should have been obliged to defend myself.
You inherit all her rights, but not her prejudices, Pamela. You must
try to understand what I am saying. You must believe that I mean you
well, that I will deal honorably with you. If she had done so, she might
have been–”

Pamela started up to her feet, taking them all utterly by surprise. “I
don’t want to know any thing about it,” she cried. “Oh, you don’t know,
you don’t know! It changed her so. She was never like that before. She
was as kind, and as tender, and as soft! There never was any one like
her. You don’t know what she was! It changed her. Oh, Jack,” cried the
poor girl, turning round to him and holding out her hands in appeal,
“you can tell! She never was like that before. You know she never was
like that before!”

Sara had rushed to Pamela’s aid before Jack. She supported her in her
arms, and did all she could to soothe her. “We know that,” she said,
with the ready unquestioning partisanship of a woman. “_I_ can tell. I
have seen her. Dear Pamela, don’t tremble so. We were all fond of her;
sit down and listen to papa.”

Then poor Pamela sat down again to undergo the rest of her trial. She
dried her eyes and grew dull and stupid in her mind, and felt the words
flowing on without any meaning in them. She could bear it. They could
not insist upon her understanding what they meant. When Mr. Brownlow
came to an end there followed a long pause. They expected she would say
something, but she had nothing to say; her head was dizzy with the sound
that had been in her ears so long. She sat in the midst of them, all
waiting and looking at her, and was silent. Then Mr. Brownlow touched
her arm softly, and bent over her with a look of alarm in his eyes.

“Pamela,” he said, “you have heard all? You know what I mean? My dear,
have you nothing to say?”

Pamela sat upright and looked round the room, and shook off his hand
from her arm. “I have nothing to say,” she cried, with a petulant
outburst of grief and wretchedness, “if _he_ has nothing. He was to have
done every thing for me. He has said so hundreds and hundreds of times.
But now–And how can I understand? Why does not he speak and say he has
given me up, if he has given me up? And what does it all matter to me?
Let me go away.”

“_I_ give you up!” cried Jack. He made but one step to her from the
other end of the room, and caught her as she turned blindly to the door.
It was with a flush of passion and confusion that he spoke, “_I_ give
you up? Not for my life.”

“Then why don’t you speak for me, and tell them?” cried Pamela, with the
heat of momentary desperation. Then she sank back upon his supporting
arm. She had no need now to pretend to listen any longer. She closed her
eyes when they laid her on the sofa, and laid down her head with a
certain pleasant helplessness. “Jack knows,” she said softly. It was to
herself rather than to others she spoke. But the words touched them all
in the strangest way. As for Jack, he stood and looked at her with an
indescribable face. Man as he was, he could have wept. The petulance,
the little outburst of anger, the blind trust and helplessness broke up
all the restraints in which he had bound himself. In a moment he had
forgotten all his confused reasonings. Natural right was stronger than
any thing conventional. Of course it was he who ought to speak for
her–ought to act for her. Sara’s guardianship, somewhat to Sara’s
surprise, came to an instant and summary end.

Mr. Brownlow was as much relieved as Pamela, and as glad as she was when
the conference thus came to an end. He would have done his duty to her
now in any circumstances, however difficult it might have been, but
Jack’s agency of course made every thing easier. They talked it all over
afterward apart, without the confusing presence of the two girls; and
Jack had his own opinions, his own ideas on that subject as on most
others. It was all settled about the fifty thousand pounds, and the
changed life that would be possible to the heiress and her husband.
Jack’s idea was, that he would take his little bride abroad, and show
her every thing, and accustom her to her altered existence, which was by
no means a novel thought. And on his return he would be free to enter
upon public life, or any thing else he pleased. But he was generous in
his prosperity. His sister had been preferred to him all his life–was
she to be sacrificed to him now? He interfered, with that natural sense
of knowing best, which comes so easily to a young man, and especially to
one who has just had a great and unlooked-for success in the world–on
Sara’s behalf.

“I don’t like to think of Sara being the sufferer,” he said. “I feel as
if Pamela was exacting every thing, or I at least on her behalf. It
would not be pleasant either for her or me to feel so. I don’t think we
are considering Sara as much as we ought.”

Mr. Brownlow smiled. He might have been offended had he not been amused.
That any one should think of defending his darling from his
thoughtlessness! “Sara is going with me,” he said.

“But she can not carry on the business,” insisted Jack. “Pamela’s claims
are mine now. I am not going to stand by and see Sara suffer.”

“She shall not suffer,” said Mr. Brownlow, with impatience; and he rose
and ended the consultation. By degrees a new and yet an old device had
stolen into his mind. He had repulsed and shut it out, but it had come
back like a pertinacious fairy shedding a curious light over his path.
He could not have told whether he most liked or disliked this old-new
thought. But he cherished it secretly, and never permitted himself to
breathe a word about it to any one. And under its influence it began to
seem possible to him that all might be for the best, as people say–that
Brownlows might melt away like a vision and yet nobody suffer. Sara was
going to Masterton with her father to the old house in which she was
born. She had refused Sir Charles and his title, and all the honors and
delights he could have given her. Perhaps another kind of reward which
she could prize more might be awaiting her. Perhaps, indeed–it was just
possible–she might like better to be happy and make every body happy
round her, than to have a fine house and a pair of greys. Mr. Brownlow
felt that such an idea was almost wicked on his part, but yet it would
come, thrilling him with anticipations which were brighter than any
visions he had ventured to entertain for many a long year. “Sara is
going with me,” he said to every body who spoke to him on the subject.
And grew a little irritated when he perceived the blank looks with which
every body received the information. He forgot that he had thought it
the most dreadful downfall that could overwhelm him once. That was not
his opinion now.

Brownlows lost its agitated aspect from the moment when Mr. Brownlow and
Jack came out of the library, having finished their consultation. Jack
went off, whistling softly, taking three steps at a time, to the
drawing-room, where Pamela still lay on the sofa under Sara’s care. Mr.
Brownlow remained down stairs, but when he rung for lights the first
glance at him satisfied Willis that all was right. Nothing was said, but
every body knew that the crisis was over; and in a moment every thing
fell, as if by magic, into its usual current. Willis went down to his
cellar very quietly and brought the plate out of it, feeling a little
ashamed of himself. And though the guests were dismissed, the house
regained its composure, its comfort, and almost its gayety. The only
thing was that the family had lost a relation, whose daughter had come
to live at Brownlows–and were in mourning accordingly–a fact which
prevented parties, or any special merry-making, when Christmas came.

Though indeed before Christmas came the little invalid of the party–she
whom they all petted, and took care of–began to come out from behind
the clouds with the natural elasticity of her youth. Pamela would shut
herself up for a whole day now and then, full of remorse and
compunction, thinking she had not enough wept. But she was only
eighteen–her health was coming back to her–she was surrounded by love
and tenderness, and saw before her, daily growing brighter and brighter,
all the promises and hopes of a new life. It was not in nature that
sorrow should overcome all these sweet influences. She brightened like a
star over which the clouds come and go, and at every break shone
sweeter, and got back the roses to her cheeks, and the light to her
eyes. It was a pretty sight to watch her coming out of the shadows, and
so Jack thought, who was waiting for her and counting the weeks. When
the ice was bearing on Dewsbury Mere–which was rather late that year,
for it was in the early spring that the frosts were hardest–he took her
by the crisp frozen paths across the park to see the skaters. The world
was all white, and Pamela stood in her mourning, distinct against the
snow, leaning on Jack’s arm. As they stood and looked on, the carrier’s
cart came lumbering along toward the Mere. Hobson walked before cracking
his whip, with his red comforter, which was very effective in the frosty
landscape; and the breath of the horses rose like steam into the chill
air. Pamela and Jack looked at each other. They said both together, “You
remember?” Little more than a year before they had looked at each other
there for the first time. The carrier’s cart had been coming and going
daily, and was no wonder to behold; and Hobson could not have been more
surprised had the coin spun down upon his head out of the open sky, than
he was when Jack tossed a sovereign at him as he passed. “For bringing
me my little wife,” he said; but this was not in Hobson’s, but in
Pamela’s ear.

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