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“ They raked up
The man bade them put down their supper, a small lot of potatoes which lay near, saying, that he supposed “ the gentleman had no objection to eat a little, any more than themselves."
Mr. Johnson made as cheerful a reply as he could, under the circumstances, and after making an unnecessary apology, was preparing to draw off his wet boots, when a faint moan from an inside room struck on his ear.
“ Is it anything that you'd want, Mary, darling ?” said the man, pausing, and holding in his hand the boot which he was about to place in a corner near the fire.
“ Nothing, only the rushlight, Ned, until I'll hear little Milly her lesson.”
The man asked Mr. Johnson's pardon for leaving him in the dark, saying that his wife was lying sick in the room. When he entered, the
nobleman overheard, with some misgiving, a half-whispered and broken conversation, in the course of which, the sick woman, he perceived, was endeavouring to prevail on her husband to grant her some request which he was unwilling to concede.
“ But listen, here, Ned - can't you, now? what good is it for you can't you be said by
“ Ah ! hold your tongue, woman, you'll drive me
“ But I see by you, now, that you are harbouring something bad in your mind against him ; Ned, don't add to my sickness don't bring down more sorrow on my
head.” Mr. Johnson felt very uneasy.
“ You poor foolish woman,” the man replied ; “ Į don't know what to say to you. The world wouldn't make you murmur.
What chance have we at all of anything but starvation now, and you don't look as if you thought it.”
“ I don't think it, I tell you—and if I did, what good would it do us to have such thoughts? You say yourself, that the rich people have a great deal to answer for, that feast and drink all their days, and fly the face of all suffering ; but what would be said of us when the Almighty sends the means of salvation to our hands, if we refuse to use them? We can't help being poor; if we were to harbour all the revenge, and spite, and envy in the world—if we were to murmur and be sick of discontent, it would not make us one penny richer ;-it might be a hard thing, and sore against nature, to tie ourselves to sorrow, but when we are bound to it by the Almighty's will, surely it is easy to be contented with
what he ordains. The rich man has a better excuse for not inflicting self-denial, than we have for not enduring it ;-I declare there's nothing so surprising in the world, as that poor people should murmur at all, when it is so easy for them to earn a great reward just by being silent. Now, if you ever loved me, Edward, show that you loved me with a right heart and intention, by bearing every thing to-morrow with patience."
“ Listen to me, what I tell you, Mary ; I'll do what I can, and what can I do more, if I was the Pope itself
Ah! you poor saint, it isn't there you ought to be lying this night. I wish, Mary, I left you wbere I found you first, in your father's house, and never asked you to suffer such misery as this.”
“ That's the unkindest word you ever said to me yet,” said the woman ; “ I never repented it yet, and why should you ! I had rather be sorrowful and patient with you, than gay and thoughtless with another. Do this for me, and I am satisfied.”
The husband re-entered the outer apartment, and took his seat with a pleased though troubled aspect, by the now blazing fire. He seemed totally forgetful of the stranger's presence, and continued to turn the roots in the simmering water, while his thoughts were evidently bent on another subject. The sick woman, in the meantime, instructed the
child in her lesson, which consisted of that beautiful and consoling passage from the Sermon on the Mount, which is distinguished by the name of the Eight Beatitudes.
The lesson was so appropriate in this scene of tears and affliction, that a deep sympathy of mingled hope and pain fell upon the heart of the young Lord, while he glanced from face to face of the silent group, and heard the lips of the innocent child echo the cheering promise, that “they who mourn are blessed, for they shall be comforted !”
66 The Lord relieve you, poor woman,” the husband said, at intervals, as he listened," and direct them that brought you to that pass, and teach them better. The Lord forgive young Lord Ulla, this day! Five pounds couldn't be so much to him that he'd turn a poor famishing family out on the road in weather like this on account of it. Come, Mary, child, lay the table, and throw out the potatoes before the gentleman,"
Mr. Johnson endeavoured, but in vain, to prevail on them to sit down with him, but the peasant was resolute in keeping what he thought his distance. In the course of the entertainment, he made his guest acquainted with the story of their distresses, which threw a considerable share of blame upon the shoulders of the young nobleman's agent, the little holding being situate on his estate. The grievances and oppressions detailed, though common even to staleness, were new and shocking to the ear of the sensitive and not ungenerous voluptuary.
“ Indeed he has laid a hard and heavy hand on our house,” the man added in conclusion“ but, as the woman within says, there's no knowing what compulsion might be on him to do as he is doing, and we have no right to judge."
The delicate Mr. Johnson was astonished to find that he, whom the refinements of a scientific repast frequently failed in tempting to a cheerful meal, was able without an effort to dine heartily on a plate of plain potatoes, sweetened with a grain of salt. They tasted more sweetly, he thought, than any delicacy he had ever before partaken of. To his great surprise, moreover, he found an armful of dry straw, placed at some little distance from the fire, a more luxurious resting-place than all the upholsterers in the empire could have afforded him.
He was awakened, late on the following morning, by the sound of loud and angry voices in the house. On looking out from behind the projecting partition that separated him from the fire-place, he perceived that the work of spoilation had already commenced. The scene which met his eye was touching in the extreme. Near the door stood a fat red-faced man, with a shot-belt round his shoulder and a note-book in his hand, in which he was making some memoranda.
“ Come, come, bundle away, Hanrahan, as quick