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own discomfort, not giving his real judgment, and I
might be censuring him too hardly.

" What will be the result, do you suppose 1 " I asked.

" I can't tell. Sooner or later she will have to give in
to her mother. Everybody does. She might as well
yield with a good grace."

" She must do what she thinks right," I said. " And
you, Mr Stoddart, ought to help her to do what is right
You surely would not urge her to marry a man she did
not love."

" Well, no ; not exactly urge her. And yet society does
not object to it. It is an acknowledged arrangement,
common enough."

" Society is scarcely an interpreter of the divine will
Society will honour vile things enough, so long as the



4-74 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

doer has money sufficient to clothe them in a grace not
their own. There is a God's-way of doing everything in
the world, up to marrying, or down to paying a bill."

" Yes, yes. I know what you would say ; and I sup-
pose you are right. I will not urge any opinion of mine.
Besides, we shall have a little respite soon, for he must
join his regiment in a day or two."

It was some relief to hear this. But I could not with
equanimity prosecute a conversation having Miss Old-
castle for the subject of it, and presently took my leave.

As I walked through one of the long passages, but
dimly lighted, leading from Mr Stoddart's apartment to
the great staircase, I started at a light touch on my arm.
It was from Judy's hand.

" Dear Mr Walton " she said, and stopped.

For at the same moment appeared at the farther end
of the passage towards which I had been advancing, a
figure of which little more than a white face was visible ;
and the voice of Sarah, through whose softness always
ran a harsh thread that made it unmistakable, said,

" Miss Judy, your grandmamma wants you."

Judy took her hand from my arm, and with an almost
martial stride the little creature walked up to the speaker,
and stood before her defiantly. I could see them quite
well in the fuller light at the end of the passage, where
there stood a lamp. I followed slowly that I might not
interrupt the child's behaviour, which moved me strangely
in contrast with the pusillanimity I had so lately wit-
nessed in Mr Stoddart.

*' Sarah," she said, "you know you are telling a lie.



THE MAN AND THE CHILD. 475



Grannie does not want me. You have not been in the
dining-room since I left it one moment ago. Do you
think, you bad woman, /am going to be afraid of you?
I know you better than you think. Go away directly,
or I will make you."

She stamped her little foot, and the "white wolf"
turned and walked away without a word.

If the mothers among my readers are shocked at the
want of decorum in my friend Judy, I would just say,
that valuable as propriety of demeanour is, truth of con-
duct is infinitely more precious. Glad should I be to
think that the even tenor of my children's good manners
could never be interrupted, except by such righteous
indignation as carried Judy beyond the strict bounds of
good breeding. Nor could I find it in my heart to
rebuke her wherein she had been wrong. In the face of
her courage and uprightness, the fault was so insignifi-
cant that it would have been giving it an altogether un-
due importance to allude to it at all, and might weaken
her confidence in my sympathy with her rectitude. When.
I joined her she put her hand in mine, and so walked
with me down the stair and out at the front door.

" You will take cold, Judy, going out like that," I
said.

" I am in too great a passion to take cold," she an-
swered. " But I have no time to talk about that creep-
ing creature. Auntie doestft like Captain Kvcrard ; and
grannie keeps insisting on it that she shall have him
whether she likes him or not Now do tell me what
you think." H



476 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

u I do not quite understand you, my child."

" I know auntie would like to know what you think.
But I know she will never ask you herself. So / am
asking you whether a lady ought to marry a gentleman
she does not like, to please her mother."

" Certainly not, Judy. It is often wicked, and at best
a mistake."

" Thank you, Mr Walton. I will tell her. She will
be glad to hear that you say so, I know."

" Mind you tell her you asked me, Judy. I should
not like her to think I had been interfering, you know."

" Yes, yes ; I know quite well. I will take care.
Thank you. He's going to-morrow. Good night."

She bounded into the house again, and I walked away
down the avenue. I saw and felt the stars now, for hope
had come again in my heart, and I thanked the God of
hope. " Our minds are small because they are faithless,"
I said to myself. " If we had faith in God, as our Lord
tells us, our hearts would share in His greatness and
peace. For we should not then be shut up in ourselves,
but would walk abroad in Him.'' And with a light step
and a light heart I went home.




CHAPTER XXVIL

OLD MRS TOM KINS.

|ERY severe weather came, and much sickness
followed, chiefly amongst the poorer people,
who can so ill keep out the cold. Yet some
of my well-to-do parishioners were laid up
likewise amongst others Mr Boulderstone, who had an
attack of pleurisy. I had grown quite attached to Mr
Boulderstone by this time, not because he was what is
called interesting, for he was not ; not because he was
clever, for he was not; not because he was well-read, for
he was not ; not because he was possessed of influence
in the parish, though he had that influence ; but simply
because he was true ; he was what he appeared, felt
what he professed, did what he said ; appearing kind,
and feeling and acting kindly. Such a man is rare and
precious, were he as stupid as the Welsh giant in " Jack
the Gianl-Killer." I could never see Mr Boulderstone
a mile off, but my heart felt the warmer for the sight.



478 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

Even in his great pain he seemed to forget himself as he
received me, and to gain comfort from my mere presence.
I could not help regarding him as a child of heaven, to
be treated with the more reverence that he had the less
aid to his goodness from his slow understanding. It
seemed to me that the angels might gather with rever-
ence around such a man, to watch the gradual and tardy
awakening of the intellect in one in whom the heart and
the conscience had been awake from the first. The
latter safe, they at least would see well that there was
no fear for the former. Intelligence is a consequence of
love ; nor is there any true intelligence without it.

But I could not help feeling keenly the contrast when
I went from his warm, comfortable, well-defended cham-
ber, in which every appliance that could alleviate suffer-
ing or aid recovery was at hand, like a castle well
appointed with arms and engines against the inroads of
winter and his yet colder ally Death, when, I say, I
went from his chamber to the cottage of the Tomkinses,
and found it, as it were, lying open and bare to the
enemy. What holes and cracks there were about the
door, through which the fierce wind rushed at once into
the room to attack the aged feet and hands and throats !
There were no defences of threefold draperies, and no
soft carpet on the brick floor, only a small rug which
my sister had carried them laid down before a weak-
eyed little fire, that seemed to despair of making any-
thing of it against the huge cold that beleaguered and
invaded the place. True, we had had the little cottage
patched up. The two Thomas Weirs had been at work.



OLD MRS TONKINS. 479

upon it for a whole day and a half in the first of the cold
weather this winter ; but it was like putting the new cloth
on the old garment, for fresh places had broken out,
and although Mrs Tomkins had fought the cold well
with what rags she could spare, and an old knife, yet
such razor-edged winds are hard to keep out, and here
she was now, lying in bed, and breathing hard, like the
sore-pressed garrison which had retreated to its last de-
fence, the keep of the castle. Poor old Tomkins sat
shivering over the little fire.

" Come, come, Tomkins ! this won't do," I said, as I
caught up a broken shovel that would have let a lump
as big as one's fist through a hole in the middle of it.
" Why don't you burn your coals in weather like this ]
Where do you keep them 1 "

It made my heart ache to see the little heap in a box
hardly bigger than the chest of tea my sister brought
from London with her. I threw half of it on the fire at
once.

" Deary me, Mr Walton ! you are wasteful, sir. The
Lord never sent His good coals to be used that way."

" He did though, Tomkins," I answered. "And He'll
send you a little more this evening, after I get home.
Keep yourself warm, man. This world's cold in winter,
you know."

" Indeed, sir, I know that. And I'm like to know it
worse afore long. She 's going," he said, pointing over
his shoulder with his thumb towards the bed where his
wife lay.

I went to her. I had seen her several times within



480 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

the last few weeks, but had observed nothing to make
me consider her seriously ill I now saw at a glance
that Tomkins was right. She had not long to live.

" I am sorry to see you suffering so much, Mrs Tom-
kins," I said.

" I don't suffer so wery much, sir; though to be sure
it be hard to get the breath into my body, sir. And I
do feel cold-like, sir."

" I 'm going home directly, and I '11 send you down
another blanket It's much colder to-day than it was
yesterday."

" It 's not weather-cold, sir, wi me. It 's grave-cold,
sir. Blankets won't do me no good, sir. I can't get it
out of my head how perishing cold I shall be when I 'm
under the mould, sir; though I oughtn't to mind it when
it's the will o' God. It's only till the resurrection, sir."

" But it 's not the will of God, Mrs Tomkins."

" Ain't it, sir? Sure I thought it was."

" You believe in Jesus Christ, don't you, Mrs Tom-
kins?"

" That I do, sir, with all my heart and soul."

" Well, He says that whosoever liveth and believeth
in Him shall never die."

" But, you know, sir, everybody dies. I must die,
and be laid in the churchyard, sir. And that's what I
don't like."

" But I say that is all a mistake. You won't die.
Your body will die, and be laid away out of sight; but
you will be awake, alive, more alive than you are now, a
great deal,"



OLD MRS TOMKINS. 481



And here let me interrupt the conversation to remark
upon the great mistake of teaching children that they
have souls. The consequence is, that they think of their
souls as of something which is not themselves. For
what a man has cannot be himself. Hence, when they
are told that their souls go to heaven, they think of their
selves as lying in the grave. They ought to be taught
that they have bodies ; and that their bodies die ; v.hile
they themselves live on. Then they will not think, as
old Mrs Tomkins did, that they will be laid in the grave.
It is making altogether too much of the body, and is
indicative of an evil tendency to materialism, that we
talk as if we possessed souls, instead of being souls. We
should teach our children to think no more of their
bodies when dead than they do of their hair when it is
cut oft", or of their old clothes when they have done with
them.

" Do you really think so, sir?"

' Indeed I do. I don't know anything about where
you will be. But you will be with God in your Father's
house, you know. And that is enough, is it not 1 "

"Yes, surely, sir. 15ut I wish you was to be there by
the bedside of me when I was a-dyin'. I can't help
bein' summat skeered at it. It don't come nat'ral to me,
like. I ha' got used to this old bed here, cold as it h;is
been many 's the night \vi' my good man there by the
side of me."

" Send for me, Mrs Tomkins, any moment, day or
night, and I '11 be with you directly."

" 1 think, sir, if I had a hold ov you i' the one hand,



4$2 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

and my man there, the Lord bless him, i' the other, I
could go comfortable."

" I '11 come the minute you send for me just to keep
you in mind that a better friend than I am is holding
you all the time, though you mayn't feel His hands. If
it is some comfort to have hold of a human friend, think
that a friend who is more than man, a divine friend, has
a hold of you, who knows all your fears and pains, and
sees how natural they are, and can just with a word, or
a touch, or a look into your soul, keep them from going
one hair's-breadth too far. He loves us up to all our
need, just because we need it, and He is all love to give."

" But I can't help thinking, sir, that I wouldn't be
troublesome. He has such a deal to look after ! And
I don't see how He can think of everybody, at every
minute, like. I don't mean that He will let anything go
wrong. But He might forget an old body like me for a
minute, like."

" You would need to be as wise as He is before you
could see how He does it. But you must believe more
than you can understand. It is only common sense to
do so. Think how nonsensical it would be to suppose
that one who could make everything, and keep the whole
going as He does, shouldn't be able to help forgetting.
It would be unreasonable to think that He must forget
because you couldn't understand how He could remem-
ber. I think it is as hard for Him to forget anything as it
is for us to remember everything ; for forgetting comes
of weakness, and from our not being finished yet, and
He i.s all strength and all perfection."



OLD MRS TOMKINS. 483

" Then you think, sir, He never forgets anything 1 "

I knew by the trouble that gathered on the old
woman's brow what kind of thought was passing through
her mind. But I let her go on, thinking so to help her
the better. She paused for one moment only, and then
resumed much interrupted by the shortness of her
breathing.

" When I was brought to bed first," she said, " it was
o' twins, sir. And oh ! sir, it was very hard. As I said
to my man after I got my head up a bit, ' Tomkins,' says
I, ' you don't know what it is to have ht>o on 'em cryin'
and cryin', and you next to nothin' to give 'em ; till
their cryin' sticks to your brain, and ye hear 'em when
tiiey 're fast asleep, one on each side o' you. 1 Well, sir,
I 'm ashamed to confess it even to you ; and what the
Lord can think of me, I don't know."

" I would rather confess to Him than to the best
friend I ever had," I said ; " I am so sure that He will
make every excuse for me that ought to be made. And
a friend can't always do that He can't know all about
it. And you can't tell him all, because you don't know
all yourself. He does."

" But I would like to tell }\>u, sir. Would you believe
it, sir, I wished 'em dead? Just to get the wailin of
them out o' my head, I wished 'em dead. In the court-
yard o' the squire's house, where my Tomkins worked
on the home-farm, there was an old draw-well. It wasn't
used, and there was a lid to it, with a hole in it, through
which you could put a good big stone. And Tomkins
once took me to it, and, without tellin' me what it was,



484 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

he put a stone in, and told me to hearken. And I
hearkened, but I heard nothing, as I told him so. ' But,'
says he, ' hearken, lass.' And in a little while there
come a blast o' noise like from somewheres. 'What's
that, Tomkins 1 ' I said. ' That 's the ston',' says he, ' a
strikin' on the water down that there well.' And I
turned sick at the thought of it. And it 's down there
that I wished the darlin's that God had sent me ; for
there they 'd be quiet."

" Mothers are often a little out of their minds at such
times, Mrs Tomkins. And so were you."

" I don't know, sir. But I must tell you another
thing. The Sunday afore that, the parson had been
preachin' about ' Suffer little children,' you know, sir,
' to come unto me.' I suppose that was what put it in
my head ; but I fell asleep wi' nothin' else in my head
but the cries o' the infants and the sound o' the ston' in
the draw-well. And I dreamed that I had one o' them
under each arm, cryin' dreadful, and was walkin' across
the court the way to the draw-well ; when all at once a
man come up to me and held out his two hands, and
said, ' Gie me my childer.' And I was in a terrible fear.
And I gave him first one and then the t'other, and he
took them, and one laid its head on one shoulder of him,
and t'other upon t'other, and they stopped their cryin',
and fell fast asleep ; and away he walked wi' them into
the dark, and I saw him no more. And then I awoke
cryin', I didn't know why. And I took my twins to me,
and my breasts was full, if ye '11 excuse me, sir. And
my heart was as full o' love to them. And they hardly



OLD MRS TOMKINS. 48$



cried worth mentionin' again. But afore they was two
year old, they both died o' the brown chytis, sir. And
I think that He took them."

" He did take them, Mrs Tomkins ; and you '11 see
them again soon."

" But, if He never forgets anything "

" I didn't say that. I think He can do what He
pleases. And if He pleases to forget anything, then He
can forget it. And I think that is what He does with
our sins that is, after He has got them away from us,
once we are clean from them altogether. It would be a
dreadful thing if He forgot them before that, and left
them sticking fast to us and defiling us. How then
should we ever be made clean 1 What else does the
prophet Isaiah mean when he says, ' Thou hast cast my
sins behind Thy back?' Is not that where He does not
choose to see them any more ? They are not pleasant to
Him to think of any more than to us. It is as if He said
' I will not think of that any more, for my sister will
never do it again,' and so He throws it behind His back."

" They are good words, sir. I could not bear Him to
think of me and my sins both at once."

I could not help thinking of the words of Macbeth,
" To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself."

The old woman lay quiet after this, relieved in mind,
though not in body, by the communication she had
made with so much difficulty, and I hastened home to
send some coals and other things, and then call upon
Dr Duncan, lest he should not know that his patient
war so much worse as I had found her.



486 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

From Dr Duncan's I went to see old Samuel Weir,
who likewise was ailing. The bitter weather was telling
chiefly upon the aged. I found him in bed, under the
old embroidery. No one was in the room with him.
He greeted me with a withered smile, sweet and true,
although no flash of white teeth broke forth to light up
the welcome of the aged head.

" Are you not lonely, Mr Weir ? "

" No, sir. I don't know as ever I was less lonely.
I Ve got my stick, you see, sir," he said, pointing to a
thorn stick which lay beside him.

" I do not quite understand you," I returned, knowing
that the old man's gently humorous sayings always meant
something.

" You see, sir, when I want anything, I Ve only got
to knock on the floor, and up comes my son out of the
shop. And then again, when I knock at the door of
the house up there, my Father opens it and looks out
So I have both my son on earth and my Father in
heaven, and what can an old man want more ]"

" What, indeed, could any one want more 1 "

" It 's very strange," the old man resumed after a
pause, " but as 1 lie here, after I 've had my tea, and it
is almost dark, I begin to feel as if I was a child again.
They say old age is a second childhood; but before I
grew so old, I used to think that meant only that a man
was helpless and silly again, as he used to be when he
was a child : I never thought it meant that a man felt
like a child again, as light-hearted and untroubled as I
do now."



OLD MRS TOMKINS. 487

" Well, I suspect that is not what people do mean when
they say so. But I am very glad you don't know how
pleased it makes me to hear that you feel so. I will
hope to fare in the same way when my time comes."

"Indeed, I hope you will, sir; for I am main and
happy. Just before you came in now, I had really for-
gotten that I was a toothless old man, and thought I
was lying here waiting for my mother to come in and say
good-night to me before I went to sleep. Wasn't that
curious, when I never saw my mother, as I told you
before, sir?''

" It was very curious."

" But I have no end of fancies. Only when I begin
to think about it, I can always tell when they are fancies,
and they never put me out There 's one I see often
a man down on his knees at that cupboard nigh the
floor there, searching and searching for somewhat And
I wish he would just turn round his face once for a
moment that I might see him. I have a notion always
it 's my own father."

" How do you account for that fancy, now, Mr Weir?"

" I 've often thought about it, sir, but I never could
account for it I 'm none willing to think it 's a ghost ;
for what 's the good of it 1 I 've turned out that cup-
board over and over, and there's nothing there I don't
know."

" You 're not afraid of it, are you ? "

" No, sir. Why should I be ? I never did it no harm.
And God can surely take care of me from all sorts."

My readers must not think anything is going to come



4d ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

out of this strange illusion of the old man's brain. I
questioned him a little more about it, and came simply
to the conclusion, that when he was a child he had
found the door open and had wandered into the house,
at the time uninhabited, had peeped in at the door of
the same room where he now lay, and had actually seen
a man in the position he described, half in the cupboard,
searching for something. His mind had kept the im-
pression after the conscious memory had lost its hold of
the circumstance, and now revived it under certain phy-
sical conditions. It was a glimpse out of one of the
many stories which haunted the old mansion. But there
he lay like a child, as he said, fearless even of such
usurpations upon his senses.

I think instances of quiet unj^conscious faith are
more common than is generally supposed. Few have
along with it the genial communicative impulse of old
Samuel Weir, which gives the opportunity of seeing into
their hidden world. He seemed to have been, and to
have remained, a child, in the best sense of the word.
He had never had much trouble with himself, for he was
of a kindly, gentle, trusting nature ; and his will had
never been called upon to exercise any strong effort to
enable him to walk in the straight path. Nor had his
intellect, on the other hand, while capable enough, ever
been so active as to suggest difficulties to his faith, leav-
ing him, even theoretically, far nearer the truth than
those who start objections for their own sakes, liking to
feel themselves in a position of supposed antagonism to
the generally acknowledged sources of illumination. For



OLD MRS TOMKIHS. 489



faith is in itself a light that lightens even the intellect ;
and hence the shield of the complete soldier of God, the
shield of faith, is represented by Spenser as " framed all
of diamond, perfect, pure, and clean," (the power of the
diamond to absorb and again radiate light being no
poetic fiction, but a well-known scientific fact,) whose
light falling upon any enchantment or false appearance,
destroys it utterly : for

" all that was not such as seemed in sight.
Before that shield did fade, and suddaine fall."

Old Rogers had passed through a very much larger
experience. Many more difficulties had come to him,
and he had met them in his own fashion and overcome
them. For while there is such a thing as truth, the
mind that can honestly beget a difficulty must at the
same time be capable of receiving that light of the truth
which annihilates the difficulty, or at least of receiving
enough to enable it to foresee vaguely some solution,
for a full perception of which the intellect may not be as
yet competent. By every such victory Old Rogers hc.-.l
enlarged his being, ever becoming more childlike ami
faithful ; so that, while the childlikeness of Weir was the
childlikeness of a child, that of Old Rogers was the child-
likeness of a man, in which submission to God is not
only a gladness, but a conscious will and choice. Hut
as the safety of neither depended on his own feelings,
but on the love of God who was working in him, we may
well leave all such differences of nature and education
to the care of Him who first made the men different,
and then brought different conditions out of them. The



490 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.

one thing is, whether we are letting God have His own



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