makin' a grand shine, only 'taint gold-like, but white,
jou know. Oh ! oh ! Dick, it's that that crushes me !
To think how it must be, like a fine glory, up there now,
and we, may-be, never to see it. Never, never, Dick !"
Boatswain's voice had fallen to a whisper, and his blue
eyes shone fiercely, defiantly, down. Dick clung closer
to him, the tears all wet on his cheeks, and trickling
down to his red lips.
" Oh ! don't. Boatswain : you promised we should see
it, some day, the beautiful world."
"Yes," replied Boatswain, with terrible vehemence,
in his usually calm voice. "Yes, we shall see it."
" You have promised ! â you â¢ have promised ! And
when, with God's help, you g^t out of this, you won't
forget me. You w^on't forget poor Dick, who loves you
better than worlds an' worlds put together."
Boatswain half raised himself on one arm, and gazed
earnestly upon the loving, devoted being, beside him,
who had toiled with him, suifered with him ; â who now
hoped with him.
Then Dick heard him say, in a voice scarcely audible
from emotion and passionate tenderness â "Never !"
Boatswain (they called him that in the mines, because
he was so bold and cheery), â Boatswain was a foundling.
He was a hardy plant, which had crept up in the stubble-
field of life ; whose brighter flashes of colour, and gaudy
aspect, concealed a chill and wintry heart within. Only
one drop of kindly dew ever fell into its rude bosom, â
only one gush of April tenderness ever quickened its
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL. 179
pulsations, â and that was the essence of poor little
Shrill, but mellow, was the whistle that roused his
young companions at the commencement of every lamp-
lit day. They blessed its cheerful sound, and obeyed
its summons willingly, though it awakened them to toil
again. They blessed it because its fresh notes aroused
answering chords in their own hearts, not quite withered,
not quite tuneless yet.
And now, as weeks rolled by, that whistle grew bolder,
sterner than ever; the gay blue eyes seemed always
looking afar off, as if they beheld ever in the dim future,
a fixed and revealed purpose. Every night, when all
was hushed, a dauntless whisper echoed from a far corner
of the wall,
" Are you there, Dick ?"
Then, when they were seated under the shining lamps,
Boatswain would say, prophetically : " I'll tell you what,
Dick, it's comin', it is. 'Tain't half so far off, but comes
nearer, â so near, that I can hear foamin' rivers and the
wind a-sweepin' its great wings over the grass. Oh !
how it nods, an' rushes, an' roars ! I've laid twenty
plans, but they all breaks like glass, yet I know it's
comin', I feel it just here."
Boatswain took Dick's hand and laid it on his sturdy
breast, where it remained, fluttering with excitement,
like a small brown bird.
" Boatswain, how grand and brave you are ! Seems
like I couldn't ever climb up such a great way that lies
'tween you and me. But when we're out of this, if harm
ever comes of your daring, it'll be me who'll stand by
180 BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL.
you till the last drop of blood. Then maybe the great
way a-tween us might grow shorter like than 'tis now."
Boatswain made a movement, half-caressing, half-im-
perious, and thought how short the way was between
their two loves, and how the time Dick spoke of would
"Hist!" said Boatswain, impressively, and speaking
very low ; " there'll be searching for us, not many nights
from this. Two miles from this wall there's an old shaft
'that hasn't been worked for years an' years. It's so
long and so narrow that never a bit of light dare come
only to the edge of it. I never saw it, Dick, but I
dreamed of it, and I could find it in the dark, I tell you.
No human foot ever climbed that place â no human crea-
ture dare venture it. But Tve sworn to escape that way ;
I'll dig fast-holds for our feet and hands, my boy. Ha !
they'll never find us again."
Dick trembled, and shrank away instinctively from the
strong arm embracing him.
" Dick !" whispered Boatswain passionately, " I'll dare
it for you I It'll be me that'll help you, or dieV
'Twas the middle of the night, and the late moon shone
iislant around the edges of an old shaft belonging to the
mines. Thick and green lay the long leaves over it,
tangled with a red mass of flowers. Something was at
work below where the moon reached, for faint noises and
low whispers murmured underneath. Two dark, climb-
ing figures made their way slowly but steadily towards
the light above.
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL. 181
**Ho! Dick! Dick!" cried Boatswain, half aloud, in
a voice trembling with terrible emotion, " hurra ! we're
almost there ! Do you see that white shine, glimmerin'
and winkin' at us ? That's our savin' light, I tell you !
It's the blessed moon's light, a-waitin' for us!"
Dick drew in his breath, and felt as if he should swoon
away, before he could make another hold in the shaft's
side. Then he felt Boatswain's strong hand supporting
him, and lifting him higher, where he could see the white
shine plainer above him.
But suddenly the great bell of the mines thundered
below them, the clang of iron bars and the muffled tramp
of a hundred feet came upon their listening ears.
"Three more! only three more!" almost shrieked
Boatswain, " oh, Heaven ! only three more, and we are
free /or ever I"
Nearer and nearer came that heavy tramp, and the
" Help ! help ! Boatswain, dear Boatswain, oh, help !
You promised never to leave me â never to forget me.
Oh, I am going! Save me! You promised â you
prom â "
Yes, he had promised ; but wasn't the moon hanging
out of the sky letting its glory flood over his face â and
the red flowers helping those green fingers of leaves to
beckon him on ? Wasn't the beautiful, new world spread
out before him ; its wide arms even now embracing him ?
Still the wild clinging arms hung about his feet with
despairing energy ; still they retarded him from the glory
above, for the coming evil below.
182 BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL.
" Eoatswain ! dear Boatswain !"
" Dick," answered a hoarse voice, deep with rage and
terror, " let go, I tell you ! It's too late now ; I couldn't
save you no how. Let go 1"
With one vigorous movement, he shook off those wild
arms ; with one leap, and the help of his strong arms, he
reached the top.
He was no longer a slave, but free as air ; free for ever.
Down, down, fell that slight childish form, in a whirl-
wind of torn red flowers. Down, with a broken heart,
and a trust as rudely shattered.
All mangled, and covered with blood, his limbs quiver-
ing in agony, lay poor little Dick at the bottom of the
old shaft. The white shine was no longer visible to his
sight, but he could distinguish, far above him, a faint
hurrah ! that told him Boatswain was no longer a slave.
It told him, with its jocund voice, that faith, and truth,
and love, were all merry, merry mockeries.
The heavy tread of feet drew around him, and a group
of haggard, hard faces crowded over him, with curious,
cruel eyes. They raised him in their arms rudely, with
jeers and fierce shouts of triumph. They put the peni-
tential irons on his slender limbs, wounded and bleeding
as they were.
But he bore it all patiently, only turning away his
head, and murmuring, with ashen lips,
" 'Pears like I'd clomb so high up, by this time, 'twan't
such a long way a-tween us, after all. But, oh ! it is so
lonesome like, up here. I'll never forgive him. I swore
it by that grand white shine, I did."
BLESSED ARE THE. MERCIFUL. 183
Months passed away, and still on his miserable pallet,
under the gleaming lights, lay poor, helpless Dick. It
seemed to him as though a hard, bitter spot kept deep-
ening and widening in his heart. The serene eyes began
to wear a severe, dusky look; the pleasant, trusting
smile had all faded out of the once red lips, leaving a
grieved, old expression there. He never spoke to those
around him, only whispering to himself, as he watched
the swinging light,
"Yes, I'm comin', I am, one of these days, white
shine. Tell him â it's a hard word when I says it of
him â that I can't forgive, never. Tell him how the red
flowers sickened me, a-lyin' down there, all bloody, and
how I takes 'em up and presses 'em on this hard spot,
just here, and promises never to forgive."
" Poor child ! Poor little fellow ! What are you
The pleasant, sunshiny voice caused Dick to turn, sud-
denly, in its direction.
" Only talkin' to the white shine, sir," he replied, his
eyes fixed upon the strange figure bending beside him.
It seemed, to him, to wear a scarlet cloak which flung
out a glow over the low pallet. But it was only the
genial beaming of a benevolent face gazing down on him.
" Better pray, child. They tell me you have rebelled,
and caused, deservedly, this misery."
"Oh!" groaned little Dick, with his hands pressed
over the bitter spot, " oh, Boatswain, Boatswain !"
The glow of the scarlet cloak fell closer round him ;
he felt himself raised, tenderly, and lying in its folds.
184 BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL.
Dick never could tell afterward how it happened that,
all at once, the hard, bitter spot melted quite away ; how
the old trust came rushing into its place, like the river
Boatswain talked of ; and how he^told, with lips grown
red from the glow of the scarlet cloak, his sad, sad story.
" Dick," murmured the pleasant voice, made rich and
soft by tenderness, " I am alone in the wide world, as
you are, my poor boy. But there's wide room in my
heart for you to lie within it. Will you go w^ith me ?"
Three days after that, five hundred pounds were laid
in the hard palm of the master miner. Three days, and
Dick, holding fast the hand of his deliverer, under shadow
of the scarlet cloak, walked out into the world of blessed
" Didn't I tell you I was a-comin', white shine, some
o' these days?" he murmured, looking into the great blue
sky above him ; " oh, Boatswain, it appears like I could
most forgive you now, if 'twan't for the smell of the red
flowers, an' the promise I made down there."
Bright and beautiful looked the spring-time sunlight
into Burleigh Hall. Mr. Richard Summerset watched
it, falling aslant into the bosom of a red plant, as he sat
in his pleasant library. He was a fine, handsome man,
about three-and-thirty, with serene brown eyes, and mel-
low-tinged cheeks. And as he sat thus, intent upon his
business papers, his curved lips compressed with habitual
determination, his muscular form expressive of firm will
in the right, and severe power in the wrong of life, you
could scarce recognise trusting, dependent Dick of olden
jÂ»LESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL. 185
He had lately returned from a long tour across the
Beas ; returned to find his benefactor gone to his home
beyond the skies, and himself heir of Burleigh. The
scarlet cloak had fallen upon his shoulders now, to be
borne through life as a sacred trust. Its still folds cov-
ered him closely, save that one place in his heart where
the hard, bitter spot had lain of yore. There its gleam-
ing fell away, faintly.
Years had passed, and still the revengeful feelings held
pre-eminent sway ; still Boatswain's whereabouts was an
unsolved mystery. Yet Mr. Richard Summerset never
despaired, for he had sworn a solemn vow, and that vow
he should fulfil.
The door of the pleasant library opened, and a mau
entered, bearing a letter in his hand.
"Aha! John, what's this?" and Mr. Richard turned
over the red seal, which bore the strange device of a half-
" From the gentleman of the Shires, sir ; his gardener
brought it over last night."
Mr. Richard tore open the letter, and read this brief
sketch, written in a bold, round hand :
" To the blaster of Burleigh :
I have read, in this morning's columns, your advertise-
ment concerning a certain man, or lad, who escaped,
years ago, from the Brighampton mines. I knoiu this
man, and can deliver him into your custody, or that of
the parties concerned. With your permission, I will
ride to Burleigh on the 20th.
Shaftesbury of the Shires."
18G BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL.
^'"VVhozs this gentleman of the Shires?" demanded
Mr. Richard, suddenly, looking up, with a hot flush on
" A fine, honourable sort of man, sir. He used to be
a great favourite with old Master Geoffry, in days past,
who helped him along, in his usual way, bless him ! But
times change, and he's grown unfortunate, they say, poor
man ! Perhaps you might better him, Mr. Richard, sir,"
said John, with a little sprinkle of feeling in his voice;
" seeing how he was a favourite of the old master. You
won't forget that, Mr. Richard?"
" No, I shall not forget it," replied Mr. Richard, briefly.
'^ You may go now, John. A fine, honourable man !" he
muttered, between his closed teeth ; " and this is honour !"
The gentleman of the Shires was ushered to the thresh-
old of a wide, sunny apartment in Burleigh Hall. As
he stood there, he could take in, at a glance, its quaint
dimensions, a handsome, benign face opposite him, and
particularly a strange red plant flourishing in a high
Mr. Richard Summerset arose from his chair with a
sudden movement ; he received his guest with a low
bow â so profound as to cause a painful flush to come
athwart cheeks, and lips, and brow.
The man before him was of stalwart frame, and a little
past the meridian of manhood. There was something
haughty, yet noble, in the bold, restless glance of his
eyes. Yet the wrinkles around lips and brow told how
he had battled with the world â perhaps vainly.
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL. 187
"I am Indebted to my advertisement for this visit,"
said Mr. Richard, in a strange, husky voice ; ^' are you
prepared to assert, verbally, what you have here writ-
He referred to the red-sealed letter lying beside him.
" I am," was the distinct and firm reply.
Mr. Richard shuddered slightly, but continued â
" You know this man ; you are willing to deprive him
of what seems to me dearer than life itself, his liberty f
The gentleman of the Shires remained proudly silent,
yet his face blanched.
" You are aware, too, that you will receive a reward for
This time his guest nodded imperatively, and a light
sprang into his cold blue eyes.
" Ha !" cried Mr. Richard Summerset bitterly, reach-
ing out for a handful of red leaves, which he crushed in
his fingers. "And for a few pieces of glittering gold â
for a paltry sum of this red metal, you will barter a life-
time ! A living, breathing human being like yourself; a
8oul^ which, however base, has God's own seal upon it !
You will dare to do this ?"
The man rose from his seat, crossing over calmly to
where the master of Burleigh sat in his severe anger.
He stood before him with a proud majesty.
" Mr. Richard Summerset," said he, in a voice firm,
but threaded with little quivering lines of emotion â " I
will^ I do dare it ! I have a young wife, whose life is
of my life, whose springtime has scarce blossomed into
maturity. Would you have me blight its fragrance or
\ts beauty ? I have a child, and shall I, with a coward
188 BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL.
heart, press upon its faint existence the seal of Poverty ?
Never ! That paltry sum, that glittering metal, shall
be their saving providence. I bless it ! I bless yoUy
that you can give it them !"
"And yourself?" murmured Mr. Richard, breath-
lessly; his whole face melting in a gush of awe â of
"Jam that man ! and have I not the right to barter
my own existence ; my own living, breathing body?"
His head dropped ; he buried his face in his hands.
Ay ! toss away those red flowers, Mr. Richard Sum-
merset ; crush out the hard, bitter spot from your heart
for ever ; and wipe away those big drops coming thick
and fast into your eyes ! Have you ever â with your
wide benevolence, your benign justice â say, have you
ever dreamed of nobility like this ?
The master of Burleigh rose out of his chair with
faint steps, and the meekness of a little child. He laid
his hand tenderly, oh ! so tenderly, upon the man's
" Great Heaven ! little Dick !'*
" Be quiet. Boatswain ; don't struggle, don't look at
me so with your wild blue eyes. Listen to me. For
twenty years I have sought for you â for twenty years I
have vowed to be revenged. I shall never break that
"Never!" repeated Boatswain, with his proud, firm
voice. "No, never!"
" You shall suffer, I tell you. Your wife and child
RUB OR RUST. 189
shall feed of my bounty â my gold shall dower them.
And you, Boatswain
The wretched man groaned aloud in bitter agony.
" Oh ! you â shall come into these arms a free man !
Your proud head must bow â to rest upon my bosom.
Stand up, Boatswain ! â be a man ! and, if you can find
room in your noble heart for such as I â forgive me :"
Mr. Richard Summerset's voice grew thick with sobs,
and the words could scarce find utterance.
'' Bless you ! bless you ! my noble Dick ! my brave,
brave Dick ! Bless you !"
And they were locked in each other's arms.
Oh ! blessed are the merciful ; for they shall obtain
EUB OR RUST.
Idler, why lie down to die,
Better rub than rust.
Hark ! the lark sings in the sky â
" Die when die thou must !
Day is waking, leaves are shaking,
Better rub than rust."
In the grave there's sleep enoughâ
" Better rub than rust.
Death, perhaps, is hunger-proof,
Die when die thou must ;
Men are mowing, breezes blowing,
Better rub than rust."
He who will not work, shall want ;
Nought for nought is just â
Won't do, must do, when he canH;
" Better rub than rust.
Bees are flying, sloth is dying,
Better rub than rust."
" What is the matter with you to-night, Anna ? Who's
been laying a straw in your path ?"
^' I wish it was only a straw," answered Mrs. ^Maxwell,
taking up her husband's half-playful remark. But it's
worse than that â a foreboding."
" Surely, Anna, you would not dwell on a silly fancy
as long as you have been musing over that one fashion
plate â though ladies generally are supposed to find food
for thought in those enchanted pages. But, I happen
to know that you have your cloak and bonnet, and all
that sort of thing."
" Well, if you must have it â the truth is this. One
of these faces has a strong resemblance to Susie Lane,
and that recalled to me her visit this afternoon ; and,
unfortunately, Mrs. Arnot came in."
" How unfortunately ?"
" Why she's been wishing to make her acquaintance
ever since we have been so intimate."
" So much the better, I should think."
''Bear Harry" â Mrs. Maxwell always emphasized the
adjective when she wished to be particularly understood
â " you don't seem to see that I did not wish them to
"I hope you are not selfish, Anna," said Mr. Max-
well, gi-avely. " I thought you were anxious Mrs. Arnot
should go into society now that she has laid aside her
mourning. I think it would be best for her myself."
Mrs. Maxwell was quiet for a moment, and then said,
" I'm not a bit jealous, Harry ; you know it's not at all
my nature â and I really can't say why it is, but I dread
something unpleasant. Perhaps I am vexed a little at
the eagerness with which she offered to improve the
opportunity. Susie, I mean. Almost before Angela
was seated, she said, ' I am so happy to meet you at
last, Mrs. Arnot. I have heard so much of you from
Mrs. Maxwell.' And, then, the moment it could de-
cently be said â she begged, on the strength of her
intimacy with me, that Mrs. Arnot would consider her
" Well, isn't that the way you ladies proceed ?"
" Why, as Mrs. Arnot was comparatively a stranger
in the city, it was right enough for Susie to make the
first advances. Angela had nothing left but to ask her
to call, or I but to ofi'er to go with her some day. You
need not shake your head, Harry. I am not coveting
to keep Mrs. Arnot all to myself."
The truth was, though Mrs. Maxwell did not for a
moment imagine she was trying to deceive her husband,
she did not like to confess to him, that she considered
Miss Susie Lane an unsafe acquaintance to introduce.
Mr. Maxwell had not liked their own intimacy at first, and
she was afraid of reviving old prejudices, whicli she had
striven so zealously to conquer. She was fascinated by
Miss Lane's good-natured, sprightly conversation. She
had then but few intimate acquaintances in the city, and
enjoyed the chatty, lively visits Miss Lane was lavish
of. She felt quite lost if a week passed without one of
them. Susie was so amusing. Told a story capitally,
always knew who was engaged, and who expected to be.
What was worn at the last wedding, and how it happened
that the Lawrences and Hathaways did not speak. A
list of bridal presents at any reception she attended
might be relied on as accurate enough for publication,
and if an engagement was broken off, the next time you
saw Miss Lane, you had the reasons in full. Yet there
was nothing vulgar, or impertinent in it all, apparently.
Nothing but a good-natured wish to make her conversa-
tion and society agreeable. "Besides, it was only natural
Susie should know everything that was going on," Mrs.
Maxwell once had urged with her husband. " She had
such a large circle of acquaintances, was sought by every
one, and with her time and income at her own disposal."
No one would dream of calling Miss Lane an '^ old maid,"
but certainly she was au j^assSe, with very small hands
and feet, good teeth, bright eyes, and an ever ready
smile, to keep her account in the social current.
No one ever heard her say an absolutely ill-natured
thing ; if she mimicked an unfortunate peculiarity, she
was sure to excuse the very defect a moment after, in
the blandest possible manner ; and if, after she had
gone, you felt uncomfortable, and some sensitive point
burnod and smarted, jou could not trace back the sting,
or the precise moment it was received.
Nothing more was said by Mr. Maxwell about his
wife's pre-occupation, but he noticed that when he
arrano^ed the chess-board a few moments afterwards,
her opening moves lacked a purpose, and as the game
proceeded, she grew positively careless. So he very
quietly set away the stand, and offered to read aloud
the latest number of the Caxtons, thoughtful husband
that he was ; in a little time her eyes lighted with inte-
rest at its clever witticisms, and the cloud passed away.
A close acquaintance of more than a year had deep-
ened the friendship between Mrs. Maxwell and Mrs.
Arnot, so romantically conceived, and sadly brought
^bout. They had many tastes and pursuits in common,
could see much of each other from the neighbourhood
jf their dwellings, and almost came to supply the place
of sisters to each other. In the notes which often bore
messages between them, they did not write " darling
Angela," or, "my sweetest Anna," nor did they kiss
at the street corners through veils, or, indeed, any time
they met and parted, as many ladies make a point of
doing with common acquaintances ; a practice, by the
way, so universal, that it has lost all significance; so
much so, that for ourselves, we prize a cordial grasp of
the hand, and a smile, far more than "lip service"
shared in common with the merest acquaintance.
Our friends had often spoken of this, and the conver-
sation was renewed one morning which they were pass-
ing together, each employed with the needle, in Mrs.
Arnot' s pretty dressing-room. It was just the time and
place for a confidential chat. " One of Mrs. Maxwell's
days," Mrs. Arnot always said, for with her country
habit of exposure Mrs. Maxwell did not mind a little
rain, and liked to pass the morning in Pine Street best,
where they were thus secured from all intruders. The
storm had increased since her arrival, so that the thick
mist had become a heavy shower, that pattered against
the window near which their sewing-chairs were drawn,
serving to make the cheerful fire in the grate all the
brighter by contrast. One loves to draw close to the
grate on such a day, if solitary, and, buried in a loung-
ing-chair, muse at the fantastic shapes of the glaring
coals, or the brightness of the flickering flame, while a
book lies half closed over the hand, and seems at once
as a suggestion and excuse for the revery. Or better