Susan Warner.

Stephen, M. D. online

. (page 8 of 34)
Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 8 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


said in tones half coaxing and half fretting.

"As soon as we can, Posie," said Stephen; "but
I'm afraid I can't to-morrow."

"Why?"

" I shall not have time."

" I'll ask father if you mayn't."

Posie slipped away, even as she spoke, and went
to attack her father. She begged for a holiday for
Stephen. Mr. Hardenbrook objected, that Stephen
had only just begun to work, and that a holiday
would be premature. Posie pleaded. Mrs. Harden
brook put in her word, in the form of a request
that Mr. Hardenbrook would keep Stephen at work;
it was the best thing for him. But Posie burst
into tears. They were going to the brook to sail
boats, she sobbed, and she wanted to go to-morrow.

" For mercy's sake, Mr. Hardenbrook, don't let
them go to the brook ! Posie will certainly get in
and be drowned. Do keep them away from the
brook. I wish you'd send that boy quite away;



142 STEPHEN, M.D.

there'll be no doing anything with Posie as long
as he's about."

"My dear, the brook is not deep enough to hurt
them, if they got in."

" Hurt their stockings and shoes, I suppose, or at
least Posie's; but you think nothing of that, Mr.
Hardenbrook. If you knew how hard it is to
keep her in order any way ! "

" Pa, Stephen's making me some boats."

" Well, when they are done we will see."

" To-morrow ? "

" It is going to rain to-morrow."

" no, pa ! "

" yes, Posie."

" Then next day ? "

"Yes, for ought I care. Next day is Sunday;
Stephen will have nothing to do. You can go in
the afternoon, I dare say, if you are good, and he
is good."

So Posie ran back to the kitchen ; but the tired
little boy had not waited for her and was already
gone to bed.

The next day it did rain. All day it rained. It
made no difference to Stephen's life, except that he
ran across the court when he had to go. In the
factory things went on as usual. He used the saw
a little more, and waited upon the men as before;
the morning and evening putting in order, though
the floors were as big as ever, was a much lighter
job. Stephen got chances also to work on his
boats. At one of these times he was sitting on



SHEEP AMONG WOLVES. 143

the floor near a bench where one of the apprentice
boys was working; a rather dull-looking fellow;
his name was Wilkins. Stephen was quite lost in
the interest of shaping his bows, when his neigh
bour addressed him, in a rather subdued voice, ask
ing what he was doing. Stephen told him.

" Boats ! " said the other. " Much good you'll
get of 'em, I expect."

" Why not ? " said Stephen.

"If Gordon finds out what you're doin', he'll
send 'era flyin'; you see if he don't."

" Why ? " said Stephen, looking up in disagreeable
surprise. "Mr. Nutts said I might have 'em."

" Didn't say you might go and sail 'em, did he ?
I guess he didn't."

" I didn't ask him."

" Best not."

" Mr. Gordon don't care what I do when I aint
here," said Stephen, cutting away again.

"What time aint you here, -though ?" said Wil-
kins.

Stephen looked up again, and his knife paused.

" Don't you have Saturday afternoon, sometimes?"
he asked at length.

" Aiut no sich a time. Never heerd o' no Satur
day arternoons here ; it's all Monday mornin's, the
hull lot Sunday's the only day that wheel down
yonder aint goin' round ; and all the rest of us is at
the tail o' that wheel, you'll find."

" But Mr. Hardenbrook is good " said Stephen.

" That aint nothin'. You don' know much yet.



144 STEPHEN, M.D.

Mr. Hardenbrook may be as good as pie dessay
he is; somebody else aint."

"Do you do nothing but work?" asked little
Stephen.

" 'Cept Sundays. There aint no gettin' away from
Gordon ; he's as tight as a vice ; and he don't care.
Won't catch him workin' here alone while the rest
o' the folks is gone to play Saturday arternoons."

" When do you play, then ? "

"Don't make no calkilations for play. I sleep
Sundays without I goes fur a spree."

" Sundays ! " said Stephen. The other nodded.

" What's a ' spree ' ? "

" Don't you know ? It's somethin' jolly. Go
'long with me to-morrer, and I'll shew you. Will

you?"

The boy, who had been bending over his work,
looked up now to see how Stephen took this pro
position. Stephen looked at him ; the eyes met.

" But I must go to church Sunday," said the
smaller boy.

" No, you mustn't. Nobody goes. You can't go,
neither; the church is six miles off, down to Deep-
ford."

" Six miles ! " said Stephen. " Isn't there a church
nearer ? "

" No ! or if there is, I never saw the inside of
it. Say ! will you go ? "

" I can't go six miles to church. Does Mr. Har
denbrook go there ? "

"/ don' know, and don't care. Say! do you



SHEEP AMONG WOLVES. 145

hear ? will you go along with me ? We'll have a
jolly time. You're a little shaver, but I like you,
somehow; and I'll be your friend, if you say so."

" I wish you would be my friend."

" Well, you're like to want 'em," said the other.
"You're the littlest feller here, and the littlest allays
gets put upon. You'll be apt to catch it, now and
then; and Gordon hits hard, he does. Well, will
you go ? "

" To-morrow ? Don't you know the command
ment?"

"What commandment? There aint no orders
whatsomever about Sunday. It's only, be sharp here
Monday mornin'. Nobody cares what you do be
tween whiles."

" Yes, but there you're mistaken," said Stephen
quietly.

" Be I ? I'd like you to tell me how. Has Har
denbrook said any thin' ? "

" No."

" What then ? "

"Did you never read in the Bible? "

" Can't read anyhow. Never could. The Bible ?
you mean that's the preacher's book ? "

" It's everybody's book," said Stephen. " I'va
got one."

" What good is it to you ? "

"O a great deal," said Stephen; "'cos it tells me
what's right, you know."

" So you're wiser than other folks ! " said the other
scornfully; "and then you tells them, I s'pose?"



146 STEPHEN, M.D.

" I can tell them, if I know myself," said Stephen
innocently.

" 0' course ! Now you're a goin' to tell me, aint
you ? That's your sort ! I didn't know it."

" What sort ? "

" 0, wise folks. Wiser than nobody else. The
tobaccer they smokes aint for nobody else's pipe."

" Smoke ? I don't smoke," said Stephen.

" don't you, though ! I guess it's because you
can't buy tobaccer, aint it ? "

Stephen was utterly bewildered, but feeling his
companion's tone to be uncomplimentary, he was
silent. Cutting away happily at the bows of his
boat, which it was very difficult to make symmetri
cal, he had half forgotten the conversation ; when
Wilkins broke out again.

" Well, what is it about to-morrer ? "

Stephen staid his hand and looked up. "Sun
day ? " said he.

"Ay, of course it's Sunday; it's the only cursed
day we've got. Be you goin' with me ? "

" Where ? "

" Anywhere I choose ! Somewhere for fun.
Don't you know what fun is ? "

" I can't go Sunday," Stephen said resolutely.

" What's to hinder ? Mother don't like it ? "

The word, not meant so, was strength to Stephen
He answered very quietly, that she did not like it.

" She needn't know."

"She can't know, I s'pose," said Stephen with
grave tenderness, "for she aint here; but I don't



SHEEP AMONG WOLVES. 147

care. I won't do what she didn't like me to do.

And besides, Wilkins, there's the commandment."
"What commandment? Orders, do you mean?"
" Yes. Not Mr. Hardenbrook's. It's God's orders.

I'll read it to you when I get my Bible."

But the boy bestowed such evil words upon the

commandment, the book in which it was written,

and the little boy who professed to obey it, that

Stephen was horrified and frightened, and fled

away.



CHAPTER XIII

SUNDAY.

QTEPHEN slept a sweet night's sleep at the end
O of his week's work. To-morrow, one blessed
morning in the seven, there would be no great
factory floor to clean out; to-morrow all day no
noise of the mill-wheel, nor sound of sawing, nor
blows of hammer, nor hearing of Mr. Gordon's
voice. I can never tell how peacefully the little
boy slept, nor how happy his waking was, with
the previous sense of quiet and immunity. How
ever, after enjoying it a minute he jumped up
briskly, took his bath, shook his coat and trowsers
as free from dust as he could; and went down.
He had the fire kindled before Jonto made her
appearance. And then he sat by and watched her
operations, with intense satisfaction, while she was
getting breakfast.

" What you gwine to do fur your clo'se ? " said
she meanwhile. "Clar! spects I'll hab to start
off myself and fetch 'em. Don' know what is Mr.
Har'nbrook finking ob. Folks kint live widout
t'ings to put on 'em, not in dis yere country.
(148)



SUNDAY. 149

Have heerd o' oder countries whar dey do; mus
be mighty convenient ! "

"I dare say he'll send for them and my Bible
this week," said Stephen contentedly.

"Don't dar say nuffin," returned Jonto. "Mr.
Har'nbrook, he means all good, but he don't allays
jus' 'member. Hab to see to it myself, I do spects.
What is you gwine to do to-day, hey ? "

" I can't tell, Jonto. I wish I had my Bible.
Jonto, does nobody go to church here ? "

" What makes you ax dat ? "

"Somebody told me the church was six miles
off?"

"Whotelledyoudat?"

" One of the boys."

"What boy was dat?"

" His name is Wilkins."

Jonto grunted. " Wish Mr. Har'nbrook wouldn't
nab none o' dat sort about! but dar! spects I
wants de worl' made over new; and de time aint
: us' come. You shut up you'se ears, honey, and
don't hear what dat kin' o' boy speaks. Dey is cer-
tainly tedious ! "

She went on with her nice cookery meanwhile ; il
was very nice, and deft, and pleasant to see, or Ste
phen thought so. She made coffee in a great tin
coffee pot, which soon distributed an excellent smelJ
through the room ; and she had one little skillet of
eggs and another of potatoes in front of the fire
and presently Stephen was so regaled through the
sense of smell that he could afford to wait patiently



150 STEPHEN, M.D.

for his stomach's satisfaction. However, he had
not to wait long. Jonto dished up her messes and
carried the dishes in for the family meal ; and then
on returning it was found that she had left a little
of everything for Stephen, which she proceeded to
Berve up and set before him. Not for herself like
wise; she preferred to wait; but she chose to give
Stephen his breakfast in this way ; and a very good
breakfast it was.

She had gone in to carry something more to
the parlour, and Stephen was eating his breakfast
alone, when the door was pushed a little way open,
according to Posie's wont, and Posie herself came
in. She was a vision of delight to the little boy,
in her blue stuff dress and white apron. The
apron was very white, and ruffled, and dainty;
it almost covered up the blue frock; and Posie'a
delicate face and neck were gracefully set off by
it. Poor Stephen was as neat as he could make
himself; but to his apprehension there was a wide
distance between his condition and hers, and ha
worshipped her accordingly.

" What have you got for your breakfast ? " wa.
her first unprefaced question.

" I don't know," said Stephen. " This is potato
I don't know what the other is."

" May I have some ? "

And to Stephen's great admiration, scarce wait
ing for his answer, Posie skipped to the cupboard,
helped herself to a fork, and without more ado
applied it to the stores on Stephen's plate, which



SUNDAY. 151

sooth to say were abundant. So Jonto found them
a few minutes later, both eating from the same dish
in great amity.

"Well Posie, aint dat new manners?" she said
surveying them. "Aint I done tote your break
fast in de house, and now you mus' come and eat
anoder pusson's ! "

"There's enough, Jonto. Give me some milk.
What's he got? Coffee! Then I'll have some
coffee ! Give me a cup of coffee too, Jonto."

" Now Miss Posie, you nebber has no coffee ; you
knows dat."

" Stephen has got some."

" Stephen is hard to work, dese yer days. He's
doin' a man's work, he is; he's boun' to hab coffee
fur Sunday mornin'. You aint doin' nuffin, you
pickaninny,' cept gittin' in de way. You sa'll hab
a glass o' milk; but I wonder what Miss' Har'n
brook '11 say to us."

About which Posie troubled herself not at all.
The two children made a delightful meal, Jonto
supplementing the materials, to make sure that
Stephen got enough. At last the milk had dis
appeared from the tumbler, and the sweet cup of
coffee had been sipped to the end. The plates
were empty.

"Now Stephen," said Posie, while Jonto waa
gone into the house, "you've got nothing to do
to-day, have you ? "

" Not in the factory."

" Then shall we go and sail boats ? "



152 STEPHEN, M.D.

" but it's Sunday."

"Yes, I know, and you've got nothing to do.
Father said we might go as soon as the dew was
off. Is the dew off now ? "

" I guess not."

"When will it be off?"

" I don't know. I'll tell you, Posie ; if I had my
Bible we might go somewhere and sit down and
read."

"Where?"

"I don't know; some nice place, where we could
be by ourselves."

"And then sail boats, when the dew is off?"

" We'll sail boats the first minute we can," said
Stephen evasively.

" What do you want a Bible for ? Is the Bible
nice ? "

" yes ! don't you know that ? It is full of
things beautiful things. I'll read them to you."

"Will any Bible do?"

" yes, but I haven't got any other. I haven't
got that, either. I left it with my clothes."

Posie ran away. After a little interval she came
back, dragging after her on the floor a bundle done
up in newspaper, which was not too large a bun
dle for even her little hands to transport so. She
dragged it in triumphantly.

" Here it is, Stephen ! " she cried. " Here are all
your things. Haven't you got any more ? These
aint much. Father went and got 'em for you
yesterday. Now see what's in it."



SUNDAY. 153

Which Stephen was not slow to do. A few
pieces of underwear; a suit of much worn every
day garments; an old pair of shoes; two or three
pairs of socks; and a little worn Bible. Stephen
pounced upon this last with a cry of joy, and
opened it, turning the leaves in various places.

" Is that all you've got ? " Posie inquired dis
paragingly.

"Here is ray Bible!" was Stephen's answer.
" I'm so glad ! "

" But I say, Stephen ! is that all your things ? "

" I haven't got any more," he confessed.

"Why don't you have some more? these are
old."

"Yes, I know it Now Posie, we'll go some
where. Where shall we go ? "

" Let's go see. We can't go to the meadow till
the dew is oflf. Come ! "

She took his hand and led him out of the house,
into the courtyard; and shewed him the various
outhouses; stables, granary, poultry-house and barn.
The barn was partly filled with hay, and Ste
phen proposed climbing up on the mows. There
Posie had never been, and the adventure was de
lightful. With some little difficulty they climbed
up, Stephen helping the little girl; and found
themselves at the top in a fragrant and luxurious
region of softness and solitude. It met Posie's un
qualified approval.

" This is nice ! " she said, smoothing out her
dress, and settling herself to her mind. " I never



154 STEPHEN, M.D.

was up here before. There'll nobody find us here
Aint it nice ? "

Stephen assented, rolling over in the hay for
very delight. Posie wanted to do the same, but
was afraid for her apron. So she called Stephen
to order.

" Come ! " said she. " Now what are we going
to do?"

" Bead," said Stephen. " And we can talk."

"What about? I don't know anything to talk
about. I want to go and sail boats."

"But we can't to-day."

"Yes we can. Father said we could."

"But you see, Posie, it is Sunday," said Stephen,
feeling himself in a difficult position. " It is the
Lord's day."

"No, 'taint," returned Posie. "It's your day.
Pa said it was."

" He meant, I could do what I liked ; there was
no work in the factory."

"And I say! I want to sail boats; as soon as
the grass is dry. I guess it's dry now."

" It won't be dry in ever so long. And I want
to tell you, Posie. You don't understand. What's
the reason there's no work in the factory ? "

"'Cause pa lets 'em off."

"Why does he let 'em off on Sunday?"

" I don' know."

" That's the reason. Because it's the Lord's day,
and he says people mustn't work."

"Why not?"



SUNDAY. 155

" 'Cause it's his day. He says it is his day."

"What for?"

"So they may have time to rSad the Bible, I
guess."

" I don't want to read the Bible. Pa and ma
don't read it."

" But then," said Stephen, " how will you know
how to please God?"

He had rolled himself over on the hay, so that
he lay on his breast before Posie looking up at her.
They were both growing earnest.

"Why must I please him?" said Posie.

"0 Posie! Because he is good, and he loves us;
and Jesus died to save us; don't you know?"

"Who's he?" said Posie. "And what did he
die for?"

"To save us," Stephen repeated; "or else we
could never go to heaven."

"Where's heaven?"

"0 that's where God is; and it is such a beauti
ful place ! and the angels are there, who always do
just whatever God tells them; and all the good
.people will be there, who have loved Jesus and
obeyed him; and there is no trouble, and no
dying, and no crying, and nothing worries any
body any more ; but they all love each other ; and
they wear white robes and crowns on their heads."

"How do you know?"

"The Bible tells about it."

"How do you know it aint a story?"

"'Cause Jesus said so; and he wouldn't have the



156 STEPHEN, M.D.

least little bit of story-telling ; not the least little
bit! He is the Truth."

Posie looked at Stephen, considering.

"Was that why you wouldn't tell a story the
other day ? "

"When?"

" When I took you in to see pa and ma, and ma
asked how you got your feet wet ? "

"Yes."

" Ma didn't like you after that."

" I am sorry," said Stephen.

" She thought you had got me into mischief"

Stephen was chivalrously silent.

"/ told a story that time," Posie went on.

" Yes, I know. I was very sorry."

" Why were you sorry ? "

" 'Cause it aint right, Posie ; and God don't love
the people that do so."

" Don't he love me ? "

" He can't, if you tell stories."

"I do sometimes. Just to save worry, you
know," said Posie with an inexpressible shrug of
her shoulders.

" Don't do it any more ! " said Stephen very ear
nestly.

"Why not?"

"'Cause God's children don't tell stories. Not
ever. Not if they were to be burned in the fire;
they wouldn't tell a story to save themselves."

"I would. I'd tell three."

"Then you couldn't be one of His children."



SUNDAY. 157

" What then ? Wouldn't you love me ? "

"I?" said Stephen. "0 yes! I will love you
dearly always."

" Then I don't care ! "

"But you must care. and you would care,
Posie, if you saw the others going into the beauti
ful city, and you couldn't go too. You would care
then."

" You would take me in along with you," said
Posie confidently.

" But I couldn't. See, here is a list of the peo
ple that cannot go in, and the last of the list is,
' whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.' They can
not go in; the King will not let them."

" Who is the King ? "

" Jesus."

" You said he was dead."

" Yes, but he lived again. He rose up, and went
back to heaven, and there he is now; and he knows
when anybody tells a lie, or breaks the Sabbath."

Again Posie demanded explanation, and Stephen
gave it; ending by reading to her the ten com
mandments, and the story of the time and the man
ner of their being given. Posie's eyes grew wide
with interest and sober with awe. The two children
quite forgot how time passed. It was after a long
course of eager reading and listening and com
menting and discursive reasoning, that Posie, feel
ing tired, drew herself up and asked,

" Stephen, don't you think the dew is dried up by
now?"



158 STEPHEN, M.D.

" I guess it is, Posie."

"Then let us go down to the meadow!" said the
little girl with an accent of relief.

" But I can't sail boats, Posie ! "

" But I want you to, Stephen '. "

"Some other time I will."

" But I want to sail 'em now 1 " Posie was almost
crying. "I think you're very stupid, Stephen."

"But it's the Lord's day, Posie," the little boy
eaid gently.

"Itaint!"

" yes, it is. Don't you remember ? ' the sev
enth is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God ; in it thou
shalt not do any manner of work ' "

"Sailing boats aint work; it's play!" remon
strated Posie.

" Tisn't play for Sunday, Posie. "

" Pa does what he likes on Sunday."

"Yes, but I love Jesus," said the little boy; giv
ing therewith an unanswerable argument, which
Posie could not well get round.

" Then you don't love me ! " she said pouting.

"Yes, I do. I love you better than anything
else in the whole world.

" Do you ? " said Posie wonderingly.

" Yes indeed. I love you with all my heart. I
will always love you dearly."

"Then why won't you do what I want to do?"

" Because I can't, Posie. I can't. I mustn't do
what God tells me not to do; and you mustn't
either."



SUNDAY. 159

"Why mustn't I?"

" Because, if you do, Jesus will not love you ; and
when he comes he will say you do not belong to him."

" Will he say you belong to him ? "

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because I do belong to him," said Stephen
simply.

" When is he coming ? "

"I do not know; but he said he would come;
some time when people are not expecting him."

" What is he coming for ? "

" to make everything good and beautiful, and
everybody happy."

" I don't believe he can make everybody good,"
said Posie. " There's our Tim "

"The people that won't let him make them good,
he will send away, out of his kingdom. He will not
have them with him."

"Will he?"

" He said so."

" Where will they go ? "

" They will go to be with the devil."

"Is that what pa means when he says, 'devil
take you ! ' ? "

" don't ! " said Stephen. " It is dreadful to say
that"

"Why?"

" Why because. Just think, Posie ; it means to
have Jesus send them away; and then they cat:
never, never come back to him."



160 STEPHEN, M.D.

Stephen looked so eager and so awed that Posie
was greatly impressed. She was silent for a small
moment, and heaved a long breath of doubt and
excitement before she spoke again.

" Is that why you won't sail boats to-day, Ste
phen ? You are afraid you will make God angry ? "

" I know he is angry with the people who disobey
him ; but that isn't the reason, Posie. I don't want
to do it, because I love him."

" How can you love him ? " said Posie. "I don't
love him."

"0 that's because you don't know. Let's read
some more."

" But I don't want to stay here any longer. I'm
tired. I want to play."

"Then suppose we go somewhere and play
church."

"What's that?"

" Why we will play church. I will read, and you
will sing we will both sing hymns; and I will
pray, and then I will preach."

" I should like that. Where shall we go ? "

" Some nice place where nobody will hear us.
Let us go and look. We might go down in the
meadow quite away. I've got a Bible; can you
get a hymn-book ? "

Posie clapped her hands. In all haste the two
slipped down from the hay mow and went off to
execute their purposes.



CHAPTER XIV.

SERVICE.

F^AGERLY and hastily the children made their
-L/ preparations. It cost Posie some trouble to
find a hymn-book; however she found one at last.
Stephen was waiting for her, and they set out. It
was now ten o'clock; high morning; the sun was
bright and warm, and on the road people were
driving, all going one way, in all sorts of vehicles.
Posie explained that they were going to church.
Stephen asked where, and was told that a mile and
a half away there was a village called Cowslip,
which was big enough to have a church. Stephen
remarked, he wished they were going too.

"Well we are, aint we?" said Posie. "Our
church will be just as good as their church ; won't
it ? Better. I don't like to go to church at Cowslip,
and ma don't either. It gives her a headache, she
says. Look at that boy, Stephen"

Stephen had not noticed until now a boy who
seemed to be going their way, and who seemed be
sides to be more intent upon them and their motions
than there was any occasion for. Looking at him

now attentively, Stephen thought he had seen him
(161)



162 STEPHEN, M.D.

before. He looked away, and then looked at him
again.

"All right," said the boy. "How d' ye do?
Here I am, you see, 'cordin' to agreement. Where
oe you streakin' fu r ? "

" it's Wilkins," said Stephen, not delighted.

" Who should it be. I should think it was !
Aint you Stephen? and don't you remember our
agreement ? "

"I made no agreement with you."

" yes, you did. Maybe you've forgotten. When



Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 8 of 34)