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The man glanced at him. then jumped down.
"Well, my friend?"
"You 're a clergyman?"
"So was I once. If you had known, just now, that I was a felon two days ago released from the penitentiary, what would you have said to me? . Guilty, when I went in, remember. A thief."
The man was silent, looking jn Yarrow's face. Then he put his hand on his arm.
"Shall I tell you?"
"I would have said, that, if ever you preach God's truth again, you will have learned a deeper lesson than L"
If he meant to startle the man's soul into life, be had done it. He a teacher, who hardly knew if that good God lived!
"Let me go," he cried, breaking loose from the other's hand.
"No. I can help you. For God's Bake tell me who you are."
But Yarrow left him, and went down the road, hiding, when he tried to pur8oe him, — sitting close behind a pile of lumber. He was there when found: so tired that the last hour and the last years began to seem like dreams. Something cold roused him, nozzling at his throat. An old yellow dog, its eyes burning.
"Why, Ready," he said, faintly, "have you come?"
"Come home," said the dog's eyes, speaking out what the whole day had tried to say: "they 're waiting for you; they 've been waiting always; home 's there, and love 's there, and the good God 's there, and it 's Christmas day. Come home!"
Yarrow struggled up, and put his arms about the dog's neck: kissed him with all the hunger for love smothered in these many years.
"He don't know I 'm a thief," he thought.
Ready bit angrily at coat and trousers.
"Be a man, and come home."
Yarrow understood. He caught his
breath, as he went along, holding by the fence now and then.
"It's the chance I" he said. "And Martha! It 'a Martha and the little chaps!"
But he was not sure. He was yet so near to the place where it would have been forever too late. If Ready saw that with his wary eye, turned now and then, as he trotted before,—if he had any terror in his dumb soul, (or whatever you choose to call it,) or any mad joy, or desire to go clean daft with rollicking in the snow at what he had done, he put it off to another season, and kept a stern face on his captive. But Yarrow watched it; it wa» the first home-face of them all.
"Be a man," it said. "Let the thief go. Home 'a before you, and love, and years of hard work for the God you did not know."
So they went on together. They came at last to the house, — home. He grew blind then, and stopped at the gate; but the dog went slower, and waited for him to follow, pushed the door open softly, and, when he went in, laid down in his old place, and put his paws over his face.
When Martha Yarrow heard the step at last, she got up. But seeing how it was with him, she only put her arms quietly about his neck, and said,—
"I 've waited so long, my husband!"
That was all.
He lay in his old bed that evening; he made her open the door, feeling strong enough to look at them now, Jem and Tom and Catty, in the warm, well-lighted room, with all its little Christmas gayeties. They had known many happy holidays, but none like this: coming in on tiptoe to look at the white, sad face on the pillow, and to say, under their breath, "It's father." They had waited so long for him. When he heard them, the closed eyes always opened anxiously, and looked at them: kind eyes, full of a more tender, wishful love than even mother's. They came in only now and then, but Martha he would not let .go from him, held her hand all day. Ready had made his way up on the bed and lay over his feet.
"That 's right, old Truepenny!" he said.
They laughed at that: he had not forgotten the old name. When Martha looked at the old yellow dog, she felt her eyes fill with tears.
"God did not want a messenger," she thought: as if He ever did!
That evening, while he lay with her head on his breast, as she sat by the bed, he watched the boys a long time.
"Martha," he said, at last, "you said that they should never know. Did you keep your word?"
"I kept it, Stephen."
He was quiet a long while after that, and then he said, —
"Some day 1 will tell them. It's all clearer to me now. If ever I find the good God, I 'Il teach Him to my boys out
of my own life. They '11 not love mo less."
He did not talk much that day; even to her he could not say that which was in his heart; but it seemed to him there was One who heard and understood,— looking out, after all was quiet that night, into the far depth of the silent sky, and going over his whole wretched life down to that bitterest word of all, at if he had found a hearer more patient, more tender than either wife or child.
"Is there any use to try?" he cried. "I was a thief."
Then, in the silence, came to him the memory of the old question, —
"Hath no man condemned thee?"
He put his hands over his face : —
"No man, Lord I"
And the answer came for all time: —
"Neither do I coudemn thee. Go, and sin no more."
K. G. S.
Beneath the trees,
I hear the autumnal breeze
Hear, restless as the seas,
Time's grim feet rustling through the withered grace
Why make we moan
Oar lives wore but for this immortal gain
As thrills of long-hushed tone
Of noble natures gone. •
'T were indiscreet
Yet, Verse, with noiseless feet,
These obsequies 't is meet
Brave, good, and true,
Where victory's signal flew,
I could divine he knew
That death within the sulphurous hostile lines,
Happy their end
Who vanish down life's evening stream
Round the next river-bend I
And yet, like him, to spend All at a gush, keeping our first faith sure From mid-life's doubt and eld's contentment poor, — What more could Fortune send?
Right in the van,
On the red rampart's slippery swell,
Foeward, as fits a man:
His life her crescent's span
His life's expense
While we, who make pretence
Our fickle permanence
We bide our chance,
He leads for aye the advance,
Our wall of circumstance
I write of one,
While with dim eyes I think of three:
Ah, when the fight is won,
Dear Land, whom trillera now make bold to scorn,
How nobler shall the sun
The trouble about biographies is that is dead, and it is too late forevermore,
by the time they are written the person Then with vague restlessness you visit
is dead. You have heard of him remote- the brook in which his trout-line drooped
ly. You know that he sang a world's you pluck a leaf from the elm that shaded
songs, founded great empires, won bril- his regal head, you walk in the grave
liant victories, did heroes' work; but you yard that holds in its bosom his silent
do not know the little tender touches of dust, only to feel with unavailing regret
his life, the things that bring him into that no sunshine of his presence can
near kinship with humanity, and set him gleam upon you. The life that stirred
by the household hearth without unclasp- in his voice, shone in his eye, and for
ing the diadem from his brow, until ho tressed itself in his unconscious bearing,
can make to you no revelation. It is departed, none knows whither. He is as much a part of the past as if he had tended flocks for Abraham on the plains of Mamre.
This, when biographies are at their best. Generally, they are at their worst. Generally, they don't know the things you wish to learn, and when they do, they don't tell them. They give you statisties, facts, reflections, eulogies, dissertations; but what you hunger and thirst after is the man's inner lite. Of what use is it to know what a man does, unless you know what made him do it? This you can seldom learn from memoirs. Look at the numerous brood that followed in the wake, of Shelley's fame. Every one gives you, not Shelley, but himself, served np in Shelley sauce. Think of your own experience: do you not know that the vital facts of your life arc hermetically scaled? Do you not know that you are a world within a world, whose history and geography may be summed up in that phrase which used to make the interior of Africa the most delightful spot in the whole atlas,—" Unexplored Region "? One person may have started an expedition here, and another there. Here one may have struck a river-course, and there one may have looked down into a valley-depth, and all may have brought away their golden grain; but the one has not followed the river to its source, nor the other wandered bewilderingly through the valley-lands, and none have traversed the Field of the Cloth of Gold. So the geographies are all alike: boundaries, capital, chief towns, rivers, mountains, and lakes. And what is true of you is doubtless true of all. Faith is not to be put in biographies. They can tell what your name is, and what was your grandfather's coat of arms, when you were born, where you lived, and how you died,—though, if they are no more accurate after you are dead than they are before, their statements will hardly come under the head of " reliable intelligence." But ever, if they are accurate, what then? Suppose you
were born in Pikesville: a thousand people drew their first breath there, and not one of them was like you in character or fate. You were born in some year of our Lord. Thousands upon thousands date from the same year, and each went his own way, — "One to long darkness and the frozen tide,
One to tin-, peaceful sea!" All this is nothing and accounts for nothing, yet this is all. Whether you were susceptible of calmness or deeply turbulent, — whether you were amiable, or only amiably disposed,—whether you were inwardly blest and only superficially unrestful, safely moored even while tossing on an unquiet sea, — what you thought, what you hoped, how you felt, yes, and how you lived and loved and hated, they do not know and cannot tell. A biographer may be ever so conscientious, but he stands on the outside of the circle of his subject, and his view will lack symmetry. There is but one who, from his position in the centre, is competent to give a fair and full picture, and that is your own self. A few may possess imagination, and so partially atone for the disadvantages of position; but, ten hundred thousand to one, they will not have a chance at your life. You must die knowing that you are at the mercy of whoever can hold a pen.
Unless you take time by the forelock and write your biography yourself! Then you will be sure to do no harm, inasmuch as no one is obliged to read your narrative; and you may do much good, because, if any one does read it and become interested in you, he will have the pleasant consciousness of living in the same world with you. When he drives through your street, he can put his head out of the carriage-window and stand a chance of seeing you just coming in at the front gate. Also, if you write your biography yourself, you can have your choice as to what shall go in and what shall stay out. You can make a discreet selection of your letters, giving the go-by to that especial one in which you rather — is there such a word as