Making of the Million (I)
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THE GRAPES OF ESHCOL.


THE Rev. Caesar Snape was ashamed of himself.  This was not at all an uncommon state of mind for him to be in, for, as a matter of fact, he was oftener in that condition than any other, especially in a morning.  He was a Wesleyan probationer, and lived alone in Mrs. Pendlebury's small upstairs front room, overlooking the parish church in the High Street, Muggridge.

    He was the junior minister of the circuit, and though he had never heard of Muggridge until the Conference appointed him to it, he had since discovered that it was a very important place indeed; in fact, it would have been impossible for the Stationing Committee to have selected a circuit that would not have assumed this aspect in the Rev. Caesar's eyes the moment he found himself allocated to it.  It was generally regarded as a country circuit, but the new minister had soon discovered that it ought to be reckoned as at least a semi-suburban one, being only eleven miles as the crow flies from the head of the district.

    "Fifty-nine trains pass through Muggridge every day," he used to say impressively to his friends; and he was surprised and a little hurt when somebody suggested that he might as well make it sixty, and some one else asked how many of the trains stopped.

    Ministerially, the Rev. Caesar regarded himself as something of an impostor, whom the Muggridge Wesleyans had not yet found out.  To his amazement they seemed quite resigned to him, and some of them even affected to enjoy his ministry.

    What confiding, even credulous people the Wesleyans were!  Taking everybody to be as high-minded and devoted as themselves, they had always insisted upon regarding him as a godly, self-sacrificing, and able young fellow, and had insisted on his entering the ministry!  Ah, they little knew!  Every Methodist believed that no man was fit for the ministry who wanted to be in it, and he had been literally consumed with ambition for the sacred office.  The "call" only came to those who were in a high state of grace, and he had desired it whilst he was still a hardened sinner.  (A surreptitious smoker of cigarettes and a reader of mild fiction.)

    A true minister was always oppressed with an awful sense of the responsibilities of his office, and would gladly lay it down if he dared, but he was so filled with unholy pride and ambition that he could not think life worth living apart from it.  An essential qualification for the ministerial office was the possession of courage to say everything he felt he ought to say, and he was, and always had been in these respects, a miserable coward.  Somebody would find him out some day, and then what a revelation there would be!

    And now this "Million Scheme" had come and it was just such a big, grand enterprise as his soul delighted in; and he had been to the preliminary District Committee in place of his super, who was ill, and had come back the night before full of enthusiasm, and eager for the next day to arrive, that he might set to work and rouse the sympathies of his people.

    But now it was morning, and in the dim December daylight his dreams of the night before looked Utopian and ridiculous, and he felt a miserable, cowardly feeling rising within him, which tempted him to wish that the great effort had never been heard of.

    The Muggridge circuit was not like any other; his people were very good—wonderful people, in fact, when he came to think of it—but not exactly in that way.  Ah! he understood now why some of his ministerial brethren had looked surprised when he had spoken so enthusiastically of his flock; they knew them better than he did.  Two guineas per member at least!  The thing was preposterous!

    The super was an invalid, and the initiation of this great scheme in the circuit would rest almost entirely with himself.  He could not give much himself, and he had never in his life done any begging of this kind before; the whole thing would be a fiasco, and the Muggridge circuit, his first circuit, would be disgraced in the eyes of the whole Connexion.

    And then he pulled himself up.  Yes, it was just like him!  A minister's work was to make light of difficulties and show his people how they might overcome them, and here was he shrinking like a timid schoolgirl at the very first serious task he had ever been called upon to face.  "Caesar Snape, you're a duffer! a miserable coward, sir!" and he made the little sugar-tongs in the glass basin dance again as he smote the table with his fist.

    "Scoose me, sir, who might you be a-speakin' of?"

    It was Mrs. Pendlebury, tall, gaunt, and worn-looking, with deep lines on her sallow face and her head cocked at an inquisitive and bellicose angle.  She was a class leader and a great person at the mothers' meeting, and took quite a motherly interest in her young men, of whom Snape was the fifth.

    She had come upstairs to clear away the breakfast things and had overheard the minister's last words.  Caesar started when thus addressed, and blushed; he always blushed, as if it were not enough to be a coward without also appearing one.

    "Oh, it's nothing, Mrs. Pendlebury.  I was only talking to myself as usual; I'm all right now."

    The landlady gave her head a dignified toss, and then asked, tartly: "You was a-speakin' of my minister, I believe?"

    "Well, well! it's all right, Mrs. Pendlebury."

    But the landlady stood her ground and raised her head a little.  "I don't allow nobody to say nothin' agin my minister, sir—it's them Hexams, I suppose?"

    "No, no! the Exams were last week; it's nothing, I tell you, I'm all right," and Snape gave a significant glance at the pots on the table as a hint that he wanted them cleared away.  But his visitor was not to be shaken off; she had her duty to perform; the circuit had committed these young men, one after another, to her to take care of, and she was going to fulfil her commission.

    "Then it'ull be that Piggin?"

    "No, no, Mrs. Pendlebury, nothing of the kind; a—a—it's this Million Scheme, if you must know."

    A smile as of conscious victory played for a moment round the deep-lined mouth of the landlady.  "Oh, that!" she exclaimed, taking a step nearer the table.  "Yes, we was a-considerin' of it last night."

    Snape lifted his head with a glance of curiosity and surprise.  "Considering it?  Where?  Who?"

    "Me and my members."

    The minister could have laughed.  The idea!  The members of this class, some thirty or so, were the very poorest in the Muggridge society, and both they and their leader would have to be paid for, if they had any place in the scheme.  He smiled indulgently, leaned back in his chair, and clasping his hands over his knees, asked:  "Well, and how did you get on?"

    "Well, you see, sir"—and, to Snape's dismay, she sank into a seat and prepared herself for the long talk which it was evident she had come to have—"Well, you see, sir, it was a bit awkered at first."

    Snape thought that very likely indeed, but, as there was now no escape from the good woman's eloquence, he tried to interest himself in it, or at least to appear to do so.

    "It was that there roll as bothered us most, sir; they all wanted to be on, an' hev all their relations on as well.  Old Sally Pride hez hed three husbands, and she wanted all them to be on; an' Deb West, her with the red hair and glidey eyes, wants her sweetheart on, an' him a ratcatcher.  An' Letty Blears wants that child of hers on as nobody knows the father of.  Oh, an' there's five members as is gone to heaven, an' two in the 'House,' an' three as is so old they never comes, an' all them as hez bad husbands wants 'em on, an'—an' what shall we do, sir?"

    Snape was conscious of a curious struggle within between amusement and outraged seemliness, but presently he said: " Well, there's a very easy way of disposing of all those questions, Mrs. Pendlebury."

    "'Ndeed, sir; what might it be?"

    "Ask them to find the guineas; that will stop them.  The Society will pay for all the bona fide members of your class, but we cannot undertake for all their relations, you know."

    "Well, sir?"

    "Well? that will stop them, won't it?"

    Mrs. Pendlebury rose to her feet and began to heap together the pots on the tray, then drawing herself to her full height, and facing the minister with a severe look, she said: "Mr. Snape, my members is members, an' not bonyfidees; the Society can pay for the bonyfidees, whatever they are, if it likes, but we shall pay for ourselves; we don't honour the Lord with other people's substance in my class, sir."  And whisking the tray and its contents off the table with a resolute and defiant jerk, the irate lady carried them downstairs.

    Left alone, the minister felt more ashamed of himself than ever.  His landlady's brave words had enabled him to measure the depths of his own miserable cowardice.  Any other man would have resigned right away, but he had not even the nerve to do that.  In fact, it was a dismal aggravation of his condition that the more unfit he felt himself to be for his great Calling, the more he clung to it and gloried in it.

    This was by no means the first time that Mrs. Pendlebury's words had stimulated him, but now, smarting under the veiled and, perhaps, unconscious rebuke, he roused himself to his task.  If such poor people as his landlady were bestirring themselves, it was high time that he should do something.  He dressed himself and called upon the super.  From him he went to see the senior society steward, Brother Timms.  Thence he passed on to the house of the circuit steward, and then to the residence of the only great magnate in the circuit, Mr. Burton, of the Grange.  When he had finished his round he had arranged for a preliminary consultative meeting to be held after the service on the following Wednesday evening.

    As he walked home it occurred to him to call upon Piggin, the leader of the opposition in the circuit, and the terror of all ministers and officials.  But he had not been encouraged even by those he had already consulted, and who were supposed to be loyal, and somehow he hadn't the heart to face the redoubtable Piggin just then; and so all the rest of the day he was tormenting himself for giving way to his weakness and allowing himself to be intimidated by such a man.

    After tea he walked out to Swaddleby to preach, and entertained the trees and hedges en route with an astonishingly eloquent deliverance on the Million Scheme.  After service he attempted to interest Farmer Whittle in the subject, but though he stuck valiantly to his text during supper and returned to it again and again in spite of the farmer's tendency to divert the conversation to the price of stock and the many excellencies of a particular breed of pigs, of which he was the sole local patron, he went away feeling that he had failed once more, and was plainly out of his sphere.

    For the next few days the Rev. Caesar was the prey of all kinds of haunting fears.  Nobody but his eccentric landlady seemed to have the least interest in the great scheme.  Timms only laughed at him, and went off into a long string of stories, which the minister had heard again and again, but which were told so vivaciously and with such artistic variations, that he was compelled to admit that he enjoyed them, chestnuts of the most ancient kind though they were.  One or two of the local preachers spoke to him about the effort, but they were for the most part even more impecunious than he was himself, and could give nothing but advice.

    But the minister's most anxious thoughts were expended upon the Burtons.  Mr. Burton was rich, and was expected to become a county magistrate any day now.  Everybody would look to the Grange to start the movement, and unless the people residing in that new and very grand-looking house could be got to take a hearty interest in the matter the thing was hopeless.  And yet what could he do?

    Since his election as chairman of the District Council Mr. Burton had talked of nothing but sewage and settling beds and effluents and precipitates and patent mixers, and Snape felt that if he went there again and did not succeed he would be more depressed than ever.

    And then there was Miss Olive.  She was a Newnham girl, with a broad, masculine forehead, and great, frank, grey eyes that looked you through.  He was afraid of that girl, and was always haunted during his visits to the Grange with the feeling that she was secretly quizzing him and reckoning him up.  She unnerved him when he was preaching, especially when he caught one of those satirical smiles of hers.

    She was a painfully natural young lady of most uncompromising plainness of speech, but so refined and intellectual that if he had not been a minister, and had been anything like her equal, he might have been in danger of falling in love with her.  But on this point he was very decided; he examined himself every day of his life, and always came to the conclusion that it was not to be thought of.  She was a most engaging creature, and her culture gave a piquancy to her that was most fascinating, but whenever he left the Grange after a bright hour in her company he thought of Beauty and the Beast, and asked himself what she would think of him if she ever knew that he was only a factory operative's son.

    He hated pretence and false show, but both she and her father always insisted upon treating him as a cultivated person and a gentleman, and he had never had the courage to disabuse their minds on the subject, which was, of course, another evidence of his cowardice.

    And so the days wore on, and the eventful Wednesday came.  There was a good congregation at the service, and when it was over a goodly number stayed behind to the after meeting.  The superintendent, though still ill, came in with his mouth muffled up, and took the chair.  Most of the important people of the Society were present, and one or two representatives from the country dropped in.  Altogether the prospect looked promising.

    The super explained that the meeting was unofficial, and was called for the purpose of forming some sort of idea as to how much the circuit would contribute to the great fund.  He invited free expression of opinion, and finished with a pathetic little reminder of the obligations they were all under to the church of their choice.  When he sat down there was a long and awkward pause, and the Rev. Caesar, sitting next to his colleague, felt his spirit running rapidly down.

    The super hinted that perhaps Mr. Burton would say a few words, but that great man had a grievance against the fund in the fact that he had been omitted from the District Committee, and therefore he excused himself.

    The minister named Brother Timms rather hesitantly.  The society steward had a reputation for making funny speeches, and certainly maintained it that night; but, after all, he contributed nothing to the subject in hand, and the junior minister had his own regretful and despondent feelings deepened by observing that Miss Olive, sitting near her father, looked scornful and a little impatient and weary.

    Then the circuit steward was called upon, and he ventured, with considerable hesitation, to say that he thought the circuit might manage to raise, say, £200.  The Rev. Caesar gasped; that was only about 10s. per member!  What would the Connexion think of them?

    Again the super appealed to the chairman of the District Council, but he only shook his head, and as Caesar sank back with a heavy sigh in his seat he heard an ominous scraping of the throat and a shuffling of feet, and glancing up, observed the obstreperous Piggin on his feet.  Piggin was short and square, with a frame full of awkward and unexpected angles; he had Dundreary whiskers, a long, sharp nose, and a prominent, aggressive chin.

    "Mr. Chairman," he began, drawing a long sniff and turning the whites of his eyes towards the ceiling, "some folks seem to think that this circuit is rich.  I suppose if that's so, that longstanding Quarter board deficit has gone.  I'm glad to hear it, sir.  An' I always understood az we were only waitin' for the Swaddleby new chapel because we couldn't raise the money.  That must be wrong, too.  And we don't need money, it appears, for the Pemberton Mission or the Long Lane Sunday School.  I'm delighted, Mr. Super.  It appears that we have money to spend on building cedar houses in London.  Very good, sir, but I claim to know something about Muggridge Methodism, and it appears to me, sir, that charity begins at home."

    During this weak but biting speech the junior minister had been going hot and cold and cold and hot again.  He felt, for the moment at any rate, that he hated Piggin, and would like to tell him so, but just when that worthy finished, a sudden fit of his old cowardice came upon him, and he sighed heavily.  But another voice broke on his ears, and a familiar one, too.  Mrs. Pendlebury had risen to her feet, and was standing with her eyes closed as if in class.

    "'Scoose me, Mister Super, might a widder woman arsk a question?"

    "Certainly, Mrs. Pendlebury, go on."

    "I should like to arsk where our Calebs and Joshuas are to-night," and as Caesar looked up in perplexity he caught sight of his landlady opening her eyes half-way to look at him.

    The super looked puzzled, and turned inquiringly to his colleague.  Caesar shook his head to express his inability to interpret, and then glanced furtively towards the Grange people, both of whom looked bored.

    "I'm afraid I don't quite understand you, Mrs. Pendlebury," said the super, looking hard at the woman, who was white with excitement.

    She paused a moment, long enough, in fact, to attract every eye in the place to her, and then she went on, speaking slowly through white lips: "We've heard about the sons of Anak and the walled cities, will somebody tell us about the grapes of Eshcol?"

    Caesar, being more accustomed than the rest to Mrs. Pendlebury's curious methods of argument, was the first to catch the point of this rather obscure reference, and a great flush of emotion passed over him.  The meeting and the great people from the Grange vanished out of sight, he saw nothing but his landlady's pale face, and behind her the whole stretch of his own short but happy and highly favoured life.  In a moment he was on his feet.

    Miss Olive opened her eyes with quickened interest, Mr. Burton brushed back the scanty locks of hair he had been so restlessly rubbing, and leaned forward to listen, and a flush of triumph passed over Mrs. Pendlebury's face.

    "Friends," cried Caesar.  "I'll tell you of the grapes of Eshcol.  I was born in a cottage and worked in a mill, but Methodism has made me a minister of the glorious gospel.  I owe my godly mother to Methodism: the conversion of my father after twenty years of wifely prayers to Methodism: my education, my knowledge of God, and my conversion, to Methodism: my call to preach, and my training at dear old Didsbury, to Methodism.  All I have that is worth anything I owe to Methodism, and to-day as she rises before the world to do this great deed I want to be with her, and to be worthy of her, and, God helping me, I will!"

    For several minutes more he spoke, rapidly, almost incoherently, with moist eyes and quivering lips, and when at last he dropped back into his seat the super had hid his face in his handkerchief, and Mrs. Pendlebury was rocking herself and gazing up at the ceiling with shining, tearful eyes.

    There was an awkward silence, and then some whispering; and presently Mr. Burton rose and, in very low tones, suggested that the meeting should be adjourned for a few days.  When the super had pronounced the benediction he turned to his still excited colleague and gripped him with a grip that was an embrace in intensity, and then dragged him off home with him to supper.

    Caesar spent the next day a prey to his old torments, and even Mrs. Pendlebury, who was radiantly sure now that Muggridge would do its duty, could not comfort him.  He had made an exhibition of himself; Miss Olive knew now that he was lowly born, and he pictured to himself again and again her quiet, cold contempt for a man who had so little fineness of feeling as to make a show of his emotions in public.

    In the afternoon, to his terror, he received an invitation to high tea at the Grange, and would have given anything to have a decent excuse for declining.  He had cried like a baby, he told himself, and had not even the consolation of having accomplished anything.  The Burtons were unusually kind to him that night, but he was sure they were graver and more reserved than common, and Mr. Burton did not even mention the previous night's meeting.

    "And so you are an ex-factory operative, and your mother was a weaver?" said Miss Olive, as she helped him on with his overcoat in the lobby as he was leaving.

    And, with a desperate effort, Caesar answered: "Yes, Miss Burton, and I am not ashamed of it."

    The lady stood on the doormat, evidently reflecting, and then she lifted her clear eyes to his and asked:

    "And why did you not tell us all this before?"

    "Because I'm a coward, Miss Burton; a mean, unworthy coward."

    She looked long and steadily into his face as he spoke, and then, as he put out his hand to say good-night, she took it absently, and answered, in soft, low tones: "I wish there were many more such cowards in the world, Mr. Snape."

    Next day it was known in Muggridge that the Burtons were giving £500 to the Million Scheme, and a week later the Rev. Caesar was received at the Grange in another and closer capacity than that of minister.


――――♦――――
 
THE COMMITTEE MAN.


THE last building you pass as you go out of the top end of Great Barkin is Jonathan Tradger's workshop.  It occupies, in fact, the extreme point of the diamond-shaped island formed by two great roads that run through the town and unite at the end of it.  The shop is therefore triangular in shape, having a long side upon each of the roads and a blunt point at the fork.

    The outside walls are farmed by two rival firms of billstickers from the county town, and there is a great door facing the Penkerton Road that is never opened nowadays, and another great door opening on the High Street, that is never shut, at least in the daytime.

    The first glance through the open door suggests a carpenter's shop, for the floor is strewn with shavings and there is a joiner's bench against the opposite wall; but a second look shows that the shavings are old and dirty, and that the bench is littered with paint cans and rolls of wall paper, whilst between the bench and the wall are stuck a gig umbrella and two ordinary ones, half hiding a plumber's soldering iron and a pair of tinker's shears which hang in a rough rack against the wall itself.

    If you put your head inside you also observe, deep in the shop, a blacksmith's bellows, two or three disabled perambulators, an old-fashioned ordinary bicycle and three or four safeties.

    The fact is, Jonathan, the proprietor of this shop, is the village Jack-of-all-trades; for Barkin, now a decayed village, was once a market town, and as its tradesmen were driven out of it one by one by lack of business, the remaining inhabitants fell back upon Tradger, who, as he was too disreputable and intemperate to care much, gradually slipped into the way of doing any sort of odd job that might be brought him.

    Some sixteen months ago, however, Jonathan was converted, as the result of the visit of a Joyful News Mission car to the village, and since then he has been a consistent though demonstrative and unmanageably unconventional member of the Wesleyan Church.

    The Methodists of Barkin are staid and highly decorous, and some of Jonathan's ways shocked and alarmed them; but he was so humble, so grateful to them for their kindly recognition of him, so eager in his desire to comprehend all the peculiarities of Methodist doctrine and procedure, and so devoted to the welfare of the Church of his choice, that nobody had the heart to check him, and Mrs. Wilkins, the supernumerary's widow, who was the ultimate authority on all matters of Church etiquette, was not without fear that the good folk would spoil him.

    Jonathan was a sandy man, approaching sixty, a little below the medium height, with fairly regular features disfigured somewhat by a knobby red nose, due partly to pugilistic encounters and partly to the influence of drink.

    "Wot's this?" he growled, in a voice that was now always husky, as he entered the shop one morning just before Christmas.  As he spoke he pointed with the only whole finger he possessed on his right hand to a circular lying on the box of a sewing machine which he had been repairing the day before.

    "It's a circular.  You're a committee man now," replied Walter John, his only son and assistant, who, in virtue of a brilliant victory obtained over the crafty machinations of a Government inspector in the matter of a sixth standard examination, was regarded by his parents as a perfect marvel of learning, and had consequently the right of opening and answering his father's correspondence.

    "Read it," jerked out Jonathan shortly; and, turning to look through the open door, as he generally did when he wanted to think, he leaned heavily on one leg in a listening attitude.

    Walter John left the dog-kennel he was painting and, putting down his brush, picked up the missive and read in a brisk business style of which he was very proud:


"DEAR BRO.―I have pleasure in informing you that at the Quarterly Meeting held yesterday you were appointed a member of 'The Twentieth Century Fund' committee for this circuit.—Yours sincerely, GEO. WILDE, Secretary."


    Jonathan drew himself up; a look of grave importance came upon his face, a soft gratified light beamed from his eyes, whilst he pursed out his lips and screwed his mouth about, to conceal a tell-tale smile.  Then he turned and had another long stare out of the door, and presently, giving his mouth a sort of covering wipe with the back of his hand, he picked up the circular which his son had laid down and examined it, back and front, over and over again.  In a wavering, meditative manner he scrutinised the document, and then, as if fearing to be caught in the act, he abruptly dropped it and resumed his staring through the door.

    Walter John was perfectly aware that his father wanted to ask a question, but as it was always part of his policy to maintain his intellectual reputation by affecting a lofty indifference, he commenced to hiss a tune through his teeth, and became deeply absorbed in the painting of the kennel.  Jonathan watched the operation out of the corner of his eye for a time, and then turning to the machine, he resumed his work of the night before, asking as he picked up his tools: "Wot's committys for?"

    And Walter John stood back and examined the kennel critically as he answered: "For talkin'."

    Jonathan looked enquiringly at his son for a moment, and then bending over his work he applied an oilcan to the machine and gave the treadle an experimental touch with his foot as he asked: "But wot do they do?"

    And the youthful but unconsciously cynical libeller of these great modern institutions answered with a slight accent of contempt: "Oh, nothing, only talk."

    Jonathan heaved a perplexed and protesting sigh, and was just about to address a remonstrance to his son, when a shadow fell across the sewing machine, and a deep voice behind him cried: "Mornin', boy, mornin'."

    The new-comer was a tall, thin man, with broad, angular shoulders drawn up into his almost invisible neck, for the morning was cold and nipping.  His hands were thrust deep into his pockets, and his thin snipe nose and red eyes were moist with tears of cold.  He was Jonathan's class leader and chief mentor, and his name was Solomon Jurby.

    Saluting Jonathan and his son as he passed them, Solomon strode to the far end of the shop, where there was a small stove and a disabled wooden cradle which, turned on its side, served as a seat.  Squatting down upon this, he took the lid off the stove and began to stir the fire, grumbling the while at the weather.  But Jonathan had something much more important than mere meteorological discussion on his mind, and so without further hesitation he commenced: "Sol, wot's this Cen-cen-tenary Fund?'

    Solomon looked blank for a moment.  "W-o-t?  Oh, t' Centennery Fund thou means."

    "Tchat!" interrupted Walter John, with superior impatience.  "He means that there Twentieth Century Fun'."

    "O-h, that!  Ah! that's somethin', that is!  I know'd we should hev somethin' wonderful when that Hughes was President."

    Jonathan felt himself growing bigger, but curbing his rising elation he asked: "Well, wot is it?"

    "Wot is it? it's a reg'ler flabbergaster, that's wot it is!  Huz Methodists is goin' to subscribe one million guineas."

    Jonathan's face expanded into a broad gratified grin, and he looked at his mentor with wondering delight.  In a moment he ventured: "How much is a milliond, Solomon?"

    "A million! a million's t-e-n h-u-n-d-r-e-d t-h-o-u-s-a-n-d," and Solomon sounded like a man who was struggling with the miserable inadequacy of human language to express the vastness of his ideas.

    Jonathan's face was a picture, and, as wonder is one of the strongest stimulants to eloquence, Solomon plunged off into a detailed description of the great scheme, adding in his excitement details which were, to say the least, apocryphal.  So stimulating, in fact, did he find Jonathan's wonderment that, having exhausted his own resources on the question, he sent Walter John to his house for the last issue of the Recorder, and when he returned Jonathan left his work and joined Solomon at the stove, listening with ejaculations of astonishment and delight as his learnèd son reeled off at express rate a long account of the great meeting at Leeds.

    As the reading proceeded, he punctuated it with energetic nods; then he smote his hands together in keenest relish, and when at last with a rhetorical flourish the self-satisfied reader finished the President's speech, Jonathan leaned forward, and smiting Solomon heavily on the back, he cried with emphatic conviction:

    "Sol, t' Bank of Englan's nowt to huz Methodisses."

    Solomon smiled indulgently upon what he regarded as the pardonable extravagance of his friend, and was just about to make a reply when Walter John, now warm to his work, plunged off into a long account of the historic roll, and from that to a list of circuit subscriptions, in which, as Jonathan remarked, thousands seemed "as common as coppers."

    When at last the great reader finished, out of breath and a little hoarse, his father was in the seventh heaven of delight and pride.  As Solomon rose to go, however, Jonathan had a sudden recollection, and checking his friend as he strolled towards the door, he asked abruptly: "Wot's committy men got to do?"

    "Do?  Oh, lead off t' subscriptions an' collect.  Wot for?"

    Jonathan pointed to the circular still lying on the sewing machine, and Solomon took it up, gave a little nod of surprise, and then assuming a very knowing look, as if to convey the impression that he had fully expected some such thing, he lounged to the door.  He had reached the open air and was standing gazing down the road when Jonathan followed him, and drawing him by the button-hole still farther away, in order to be out of earshot of Walter John, he said: "Fancy, Sol! drunken Johnty's name among all them million Methodys!"

    All that morning as Jonathan went about his various occupations, his mind dwelt delightedly on the wonderful scheme in which so lowly a man as he was to have his part; as he meditated, the dark shadows of difficulties cast themselves every now and again across the brightness of his visions, but he put them away, as had been his habit far too much through all his life, and resolutely kept before himself the great glory that was coming to the Church to which he owed so much.

    But when he had sent Walter John out with the now restored sewing machine, he stole to the seat which Solomon had so recently occupied in order to face fairly the hindrances which he could no longer hide from himself.  To begin with, his wife was not a member, and had always had decided leanings towards the Church of England.

    Moreover, to the great comfort of the family, she had always been the purse-bearer of the household, and they were very poor, having scarcely got out of the financial difficulties into which his intemperate habits had plunged them.  He felt certain that Rebecca would not see the wisdom or even the possibility of giving away money, whole guineas at a time, and would be able to tell him of any number of claims upon their slender resources which, in her judgment, were both more pressing and more equitable than what he desired.

    He fancied he could hear her repeating again one of her favourite proverbs, "Just before generous, Jonathan," and the very most that he could expect her to do was to offer to give a guinea for himself.  But a committee man whose family even were not included in the contributions would be an everlasting disgrace to the great movement.

    And then there was that roll-signing.  He had almost forgotten how to write, and his wife, even if she consented to subscribe, could not use a pen any better than he could himself, and their clumsy caligraphy would be a sad disfigurement to the great record.  For somehow Jonathan had got it fixed in his mind that all who went upon the roll would have to sign their own names.

    And then there was Martha Jane, who was in service some thirty miles away; she was almost as decided in her preference for the Church as her mother, and would not be able to come so far to sign, even if they were able to raise the money.

    Once more, there was Walter John to be considered; he was a Wesleyan certainly, for he blew the little chapel organ and attended the Sunday school.

    Altogether, as Jonathan looked at the difficulties fairly and squarely, they appeared blacker and blacker, and when he was called to dinner, he left the shop in a very perplexed and anxious frame of mind.  It occurred to him as he walked to the house to broach the question to his wife, as he generally had to do in his troubles, but the domestic weather seemed so threatening when he got indoors that he judged it better to defer the matter until a more propitious moment.

    It came that very night, and Jonathan, finding his wife in a cheerful mood for her, told his tale; skipping characteristically the monetary difficulty and presenting to his wife's superior inventiveness the problem of the roll-signing.  Rebecca heard him through, and ignoring altogether the writing question, she gently, but with remorseless logic, made it clear to him that the thing was entirely beyond them.  Her catalogue of pressing needs and approaching payments made his heart sink, and he found himself, to his alarm, getting angry.

    "But, woman!" he cried, when she had finished, "we're on the committee!"  But Rebecca only shook her head, and as Jonathan was naturally passionate, and since his conversion had been haunted more with the fear of losing his temper than even slipping back into intemperance, he made a strong effort, choked back his resentment, and with a sigh of reluctant resignation went off to bed.

    When he had gone, Rebecca, who had feared an outburst from her husband, and had watched with growing gratitude his successful effort in self-control, sat glowering moodily into the fire.  Once or twice she sighed and her lips moved as if in prayer, and presently she got up and took a small rosewood box from the mantelpiece.  Opening this, she picked out a Joyful News pledge card and a Methodist class ticket, upon the former of which was scrawled in rude, uneven characters her husband's name.  With pensive, musing face she turned them over, and then looking at them earnestly through moistening eyes, she murmured: "It mus' be done!—someway!  Them two papers is worth a million, aye, a million apiece to me;" and putting them slowly and carefully back in the box, she made her way upstairs.

    During the next few days Jonathan was greatly exercised in his mind as to how he should raise the money for his subscription, for though on the night of his conversation with his wife he had almost given up the idea, the new day brought new hope; but as nobody had told him that the money could be paid in small instalments, he was at his wits' end to solve the problem.

    He overhauled the miscellaneous articles which had accumulated in his workshop in the hope of finding something saleable, but as he had often done this before to raise money for drink, there was nothing left that would give him any help.

    Then he debated with himself the possibility of selling the Christmas pig, or rather its carcass, for the animal had already been slaughtered; but as his wife generally managed that business herself, he soon abandoned hope in that direction.

    Then it occurred to him to try to borrow something from his absent daughter; but, again, the remembrance of like transactions in his unregenerate days restrained him.

    Finally, in his increasing perplexities, he fell back upon his old friend Solomon, and as they sat together one dinner hour over the little stove, he unbosomed himself.  Solomon was very mysterious and taciturn for a while, but seeing his pupil's anxiety and knowing something of the official secrets of the Barking Wesleyans, he at last took his pipe out of his mouth and said: "Johnty boy, be content, whoever is left off that paper thy name will be there," and then he lapsed again into the most discouraging silence.

    "But wot about the family?" asked Jonathan anxiously, and Solomon shook his head as if to say that they were in a very different category.  And of course this conversation did not comfort Jonathan as much as it was intended to do, for he somehow felt that the thing would lose much of its interest to him if his beloved ones did not take part in it.

    One day in Christmas week, however, Jonathan received a surprise that almost reconciled him to being left out of the great achievement.  As he was dressing to go to class and was struggling before the little glass trying to arrange his frayed necktie so that the place where the lining showed would be concealed, his wife came downstairs dressed to go out.

    Jonathan looked at her in astonishment, for she seldom went out at night.  "I'm thinkin' of goin' with thee to-night, Johnny," she said softly, as she looked hard at the floor.  And Jonathan eyed her over from head to foot as he asked:

    "To class?"

    "To class."

    And then it flashed into his mind that his wife was going to class to console him for his disappointment about the great fund, and he turned hastily away and tried to swallow something.  Well! it was a grand idea after all!  She had chosen that one thing which she knew would be sweetest of all to him.  Oh, what a wife she was! and for the next few minutes as they walked down the High Street towards the chapel he silently thanked God that they had ever heard of this glorious fund.

    It happened to be fellowship meeting that night at the class, and so Jonathan missed the luxury of hearing his wife's first "experience."  But when the meeting was over and the leader was marking the names, he said: "Glad to see Sister Tradger to-night; we won't press you to have your name down now; perhaps you would like to try some other class first."

    "But I want it down."

    "To-night?"

    "To-night!"

    Jonathan could have hugged his wife then and there, and as he went home he told himself that he should always love the Million Fund, and if ever he had the chance of giving to his beloved Church

    But next morning it took all his new joy to sustain him, for the post brought him a summons to the committee meeting, and with no chance of being able to contribute he felt that he could not go, and his absence might be taken for indifference; and he owed so much to Methodism that he could not bear the thought of that.

    In the afternoon Solomon called at the shop, and was so full of the approaching meeting that the carpenter had not the heart to tell him that he did not intend to attend; and when he went away Jonathan was more miserable than ever.  As night came on he grew very restless and dejected; once he told himself to have faith in God and go to the committee: but that effort was too great to be sustained, and as the time drew near he seated himself moodily by the fire at home in fidgety distress lest Solomon should call for him, as he sometimes did.

    Just then there was a sharp knock at the door, and he felt a chill creep over him as he heard a man's voice.  But it was not Solomon, it was the circuit minister.

    "Come, Brother Tradger, aren't you coming to the meeting?"

    Jonathan groaned and answered sadly: "I can't, sir; I've nothing to give."

    Jonathan heard a stifled sob behind him, which he knew came from his wife; but the minister was speaking again.

    "Never mind, come along!  We must have you on the roll whoever is omitted."

    "But that would be four guineas, an' we haven't one."

    "Four fiddlesticks!  Nothing of the kind; this isn't a tax, my friend, it's a free-will offering, and those who have will give for those who haven't."

    "But I'm on the committee, sir."

    "Of course you are; I proposed you myself; only some can give, but we must all share in the joy of it, you know.  You must just give what you are able without injury to yourselves, and that you can do by instalments."

    "By what, sir?" (This from Mrs. Tradger.)

    "By instalments—so much a week or month, you know."

    Rebecca turned her back to the minister and marched hurriedly upstairs.

    In a moment she came down with a strange glow upon her faded face.

    "Can them go on the roll az is only just joined, sir?"

    "Yes, of course!  But you can't afford, Mrs. Tradger, you can't really."

    "An' can children az isn't members be on sir?"

    "Yes, if they are the children of our people certainly."

    And then Rebecca, whom Jonathan was watching intently, put out her thin worn arm and laid a guinea on the table.  "That's for the Church az turned a bad husban' into a good 'un, an' that," putting a crown piece near the guinea, "is a thankful offering from the poor wife az got that new husban'," and then, fumbling in her pocket, she brought out a shilling, and placing it near the other money, she went on, "an' that's sixpence a week for Walter John an' for the dear lass as sent her father's guinea."

    The minister was overcome and tried to expostulate, but Mrs. Trader insisted on having her way; the instalment plan settled everything, she said.

    And so Jonathan went to the committee.


――――♦――――
 
A MANCHESTER MAN.


YES, he was incomprehensible; the dearest, the best of fellows, the most generous and indulgent of husbands, and as true a man as ever stepped, but peculiar, self-contradictory, and perplexing, and pretty Mrs. Harwood, with a pucker on her white brow and an absorbed, far-away look in her eyes, gave a soft protesting sigh and sank still farther back into the easy chair which already almost buried her.  She was thinking, of course, of her husband, to whom she had been married now about four years.

    She was a Wesleyan minister's daughter, and had been brought up in the bookish, unworldly atmosphere of the manse, where she had been her father's companion and favourite.  Consequently her tastes were distinctly literary, and she was better up at any rate in the lighter literature of the day than most ladies of her age and rank.

    Everybody said she was a remarkable judge of human nature, and all her friends complimented her on her gift of reading character.  She believed them, of course, in a becoming way, but lo! the very first man she had ever become intimately acquainted with, and the man of all others she most wanted to read nonplussed her altogether, and after four years of careful study of him she had to confess that he was an enigma.

    Her father had travelled mostly in country circuits where the good folk take life easily, and she had grown up to dislike and fear the commercial spirit, and after all she had married that embodiment of intensest commercialism, a Manchester man.  He was a prompt, cool, and smart business man, with a reputation of being the keenest buyer on the market; but before she had time to settle upon this as the keystone of his character, she found that at home he was easy-going, jovial, and almost carelessly extravagant in matters of household expenditure.

    One thing had become clear to her in the course of this interesting study, namely, that her husband had a most intolerant hatred of everything that savoured of pretence, and of this she was proud; only he carried it to such strange and uncomfortable lengths, and was very fond of a curious sort of self-depreciation, and liked to speak of everything that belonged to himself in disparaging and apologetic terms—a peculiarity which she had also noticed was common to Lancashire men.

    In the company of ministers and officials he assumed the manner of an ignorant and indifferent onlooker, and then amongst unimportant people he would talk like a Methodist puritan.  He seemed, in fact, to think that it was his duty to deceive his fellow-men as much as possible about all his most important feelings and interests.

    He wasn't a wholesale draper, he was in the "rag" trade.  His large warehouses he always spoke of as "th' shop," and if ever they went into particular company where she was anxious that he should appear a gentleman, he was sure to drop into the dialect—a thing he never did, or scarcely ever, at home.

    All their business friends regarded him as one of the safest men financially of their set, but he delighted, in all sorts of company, in telling romancing stories which seemed to indicate that he was in a state of chronic financial tightness, whilst he pretended to be very anxious to keep friendly with the chapel steward, because he was the bank-manager, and might be awkward about the overdraft.

    He affected to know and care nothing about the "Connexion," and yet he took in all the Conference publications, and went to sleep over them every Sunday afternoon, and he had a little joke about not being able to get off unless he had the current number.

    Altogether he was a contradiction and an enigma, and it was very humiliating to her pride and her reputation for character-reading, to be obliged to confess to herself that she was very little nearer understanding the man she loved than she was on the day she married him.

    And just now there was special reason that she should know how to deal with him; for this great "Million Scheme" had been announced, and it was just the thing to appeal to her imaginative temperament, and it had done.  She was a Methodist of the Methodists, and as a child of the manse felt great pride in the Church of her fathers.

    But she knew something of the Manchester men by this time, and felt certain that to their cool, level-headed commercial minds the enterprise would look fantastic and quixotic. What a pity and a shame it would be, if sordid love of money and lack of imagination should spoil so grand a thing.

    By this time she knew without the least vanity that she was an important person in the circuit, and had more influence than the wives of most of the officials; and if only her husband would support her, she felt that she could make this rich suburban circuit of theirs do its duty.  But there was the difficulty; her husband never seemed to take her seriously, and though he never crossed her in any of her little projects, and seemed, indeed, anxious in a lazy sort of way that she should have her desire, she felt certain that his view would be the one prevalent amongst men of his class, and that he would simply give a respectable little sum to please her, and in her name, and that would be all.

    And then there was one other thing that troubled her; an episode had taken place recently which had greatly humbled her, and provided a reason why she felt she could not greatly urge her husband on this particular question.  Soon after their marriage her father, now a supernumerary, had visited them, and had one day confided to her husband certain difficulties he had with the little investments he had made to provide for the evening of life.  And her husband told her when the old man had gone to bed, that parsons should never have anything to do with money, and had then offered to undertake to re-arrange her father's affairs, and make such changes as would secure a better return upon the investments.  She had eagerly agreed, and the thing had been done, and everything had been handed over to George, who had managed somehow to increase the permanent return.

    This was now three years ago, but recently she had been to London to a British Women's Convention or something of the sort, and had stayed with her brother.  He had never been a favourite of hers, but one night he greatly angered her by insinuating that her husband making a good thing out of the "Pater's" shares.

    She was too indignant to say much in reply, but she went home next day, and somehow the nasty innuendo had stuck to her, and so after fighting with it and worrying for some time, she got a friend to find out what the shares were making.  A day or two after he wrote to her to say that she must be mistaken in the name of the company she had referred to, for that concern had gone down over two years ago, and anybody holding the scrip must know that it was worthless paper.

    And then it had all come to her; her husband had known what was coming, and had made the proposal upon which they had acted for the purpose of keeping trouble from her and her parent, and had paid the dividend for two years at least, although he had not received a penny.

    This revelation made her ill for a day or two, and aroused all kinds of awkward curiosity on her husband's part; she felt so humbled about the matter that her manner was unconsciously changed, and her husband grew very suspicious indeed.  She could never tell him, but the thought that he was doing this secretly for love of her, closed her lips effectually on the question of the great Million Scheme.

    Still it would be an everlasting shame if the rich suburban circuit to which they belonged did not do its duty; she was just old enough to remember the Thanksgiving Fund, and the pride she had taken in giving the first half-guinea she ever had of her own to this fund, and she gathered from his letters that her father was quite as enthusiastic about this effort as he had been in the other.

    She knew how he would be planning and scheming, and even perhaps selling his precious books that he might do his duty, and she, his daughter, married to a comparatively rich man and living in ease and luxury, would only give a little more than he did.  The thought was unbearable.  Oh! if only she knew just how to move this stolid hus――

    But just then a long pair of arms were thrown around her, and she was lifted up like a baby, whilst a strong, keen face was put down to hers and a loud, but cheery voice exclaimed, "Hello! Doxey-didlums!  Which of those precious mothers has pawned her petticoat now?"

    "Oh! George, how you did startle me!  I didn't hear the tram stop.  No! it isn't the mothers, it's nothing," and she kissed the brown moustache that was put down to her face, and slipped out of his grasp and upstairs to touch up her ruffled hair and assume as bright a look as she could.

    As she served the tea she talked about the super's nerves, and then about little Freddy, snug in his bed upstairs, and told in her vivacious way all the young scamp's day's doings, until George forgot his temporary suspicions, and presently turned away from the table and drew up to the fire, with his favourite briar in his mouth and a comfortable contented look on his face.

    "George, what do you really think about this Million Scheme?" and she leaned back in the rocking chair, and tried to appear unconcerned.

    "Pah!  High falutin'!  Cock-and-bull idea!" and George put his slippered feet on the brass rail of the fender, thrust his little finger into the bowl of his pipe, and appeared to be half asleep.

    "George! how can you!  I think it's noble, it's grand; I'm proud of the Church that could conceive such a scheme, whether it comes to anything or not," and in her excitement she rose to her feet and stood leaning her bare, white arm upon the mantelpiece, whilst she looked earnestly down upon her amused and indolent husband.

    Now nothing pleased George better than to get his wife "on her high horse," as he called it, and so he sat looking at her with twinkling eyes and most obvious admiration, and presently he said, "My stars, Kitty! but you would have made a grand parson; I'll have you nominated for a School-board candidate, blow me if I don't."

    "George, don't talk slang and nonsense!  I think the scheme is a glorious one."

    He made no reply for a while, and evidently thought none necessary, but Kitty was impatient and anxious, and at last she said: "Do talk sensibly, there's a dear; what does Oxley say about it?"

    Oxley was the circuit steward, and of course his opinion was important.

    "Never heard him mention it," was the depressing answer.

    "And what does Redfern think?" (Redfern was the ex-steward, and a rich bachelor.)

    "Oh, he's sure to go in for it; he's as bad as you."

    "Did he say how much the circuit ought to give?"

    "Oh, five hundred pounds."

    "Five hundred pounds! the miserable old sinner: why, he ought to give that himself."

    Kitty was never so interesting in her husband's eyes as when she was excited, and now he was delighted to see her pretty indignation, and so to prolong the entertainment, he asked: "What do you think the circuit ought to give?"

    "Give! well, the super thinks we ought to raise two thousand pounds, and that is the very least."

    And George, with a burst of protesting, amazed laughter, leaned back in his chair, and cried: "Hay, what a world this would be, if it were ruled by women and parsons—what would you give, Kitty, if you had it?"

    "Give?" and Kitty slid absently down upon the hassock before the fire, and began staring into the embers to assist her imagination.  "Give?  I'd give five hundred pounds, that's what I would give, and not a penny less."

    "Five hundred fiddlesticks!  Why, Kitty wench, you'd break a bank!"

    It was a sure sign that George was more interested than he seemed when he dropped into dialect, and so his wife glanced sharply at him, and was just going to pin him with a very straight question, when he said: "What should you give five hundred pounds for?"

    "What for?  Oh, for a hundred reasons."

    "Well, what, for instance?"

    Kitty settled herself down upon the hassock, and after a moment's meditation she began: "Well, I've the noblest old father in the world, and at this very minute he's cudgelling his worn old brains to find out what he shall give and where he shall get it—I'd give a hundred pounds for him."

    "Humph!"

    "And I was educated by Methodism, and in all our circuits we received from the dear good people kindness upon kindness, that makes me cry when I think of it—I'd give a hundred pounds for that."

    "Bosh!"

    "And there's a curly-headed little rascal upstairs, who came as a Christmas box two years ago—I'd give a hundred, yes, many a hundred for him."

    George burst into an ironical laugh, but even Kitty could see that it was only to conceal some very different emotion.  "Fire away, Kitty; you're doing grandly."

    But Kitty couldn't go on just then; she looked very earnestly into the fire, and then fell slowly forward and dropped her fair face against her husband's knee, but she never spoke, and George was not sure that she could just then.  "Go on, madcap; don't half do it now you've started."

    If her husband could have seen her face he would have hesitated to press her, but he could not; so presently, after another prompting from him, she moved a little, and then, beginning to speak very fast, she stammered: "I'd give all the rest and—and a thousand times more for the best and most—most tormenting husband that ever was."

    And George got hurriedly up and left the room.

    Now, there was a sort of Freemasonry amongst the officials of the circuit, and they generally arrived at agreements as to what they should do or give on occasions like the present, either in one of their smoke-rooms or in the train as they went to town in the morning.  Two or three of them came in that same night and stayed later than usual, and from what Kitty could gather from her reticent husband, the figure for the circuit seemed likely to be fixed at £1,500.

    Next night at the committee meeting that sum, to the distress of the super, was agreed upon, and when he called upon his infallible comforter, Mrs. Harwood, he had a doleful tale to tell, and was altogether out of heart about the matter.

    And Kitty, though she felt somehow more hopeful after her talk with her husband, could not say anything to relieve his mind, and so when he had gone and her heart was pitying him and thinking of her father's troubles of a similar kind in days gone by, a little idea struck her, and on the Sunday evening she asked two or three of her husband's closest friends in to supper, and as soon as she had set them going at the table she opened out upon them, and her husband listened with his mischievous eyes dancing with enjoyment as she tried to make them feel ashamed of themselves.  But next day George told her that the men had greatly enjoyed her preaching and his cigars, and were prepared to come as often as she liked to invite them.  Oh, the hardness of these Manchester men!

    Her last hope was in the great meeting; if only she could get them there, and her husband too, in the enthusiasm of that grand gathering surely they would be moved to do something worthy of them.  But George, when she suggested that of course he was going, pooh-poohed the idea; though, as he generally did this and went after all, she still hoped against hope.  The worst of her, George said, was that she generally "went the whole hog" with a thing when she once got started, and let things get on her crazy little brain; but when he was going out in the morning of the day of the meeting he half promised to meet her at the door of the Central Hall.

    All the forenoon she was out visiting her lady friends, and trying to get them to feel as she did and influence their husbands.  And then as soon as lunch was over, as luck would have it, one of her intolerable but imperious headaches came on and in a few minutes she realised but too surely that there would be no meeting for her that night.

    This, of course, made her worse, and as she lay on her couch half-dead with paralysing pain, she sent her servant to the telephone to tell George and urge him to go to the meeting.  This brought him home earlier than usual, and he seemed quite angry with her for putting herself out, and declared in quite a snappy way that the "confounded Million Scheme was not worth it."  By this, of course, she saw how little he really cared for the thing, and she was so prostrate that she could not even bear the effort of trying to persuade him to go to the meeting.

    It was a long, dreary evening, in spite of the fact that this matter-of-fact and worldly husband of hers proved a delightful nurse, and though later on the pain abated somewhat, she felt so languid and disappointed that she was beginning to think of going to rest, when the door-bell rang, and in came the super from the great gathering.

    "Well, how have you got on?" she cried eagerly, lifting her head from her cushion, still covered though it was with whisky cloths.

    "Oh, splendidly! magnificently!  I shall not sleep to-night; but you are ill, Mrs. Harwood."

    Kitty waved her hand impatiently to check his sympathies, and cried: "Tell us all about it."

    Nothing loth, the minister launched forth into an animated description of the meeting, and finished by quoting the sums promised by the various circuits.

    "And we promised £1,500," said Kitty, with a mournful, half-contemptuous sigh.

    "And that's more than we shall ever raise," began George, but the super interrupted.

    "No!  No!  We!  We came out grandly: but I forgot, you don't know, do you?  The oddest thing;" and he began to fumble in his pockets and brought out a bit of paper.

    "What? what was it?" and Kitty half rose from her couch in her eagerness.

    "Well! the funniest thing!  I feel rather shaky about it, but I was excited and promised."

    "Go on!  Do go on!"

    "Just as I was going into the hall a fellow, a clerk or something, stopped me and asked my name.  When I told him he gave me this note, and when I got upon the platform I opened it, and what do you think was in it?"

    "Don't know.  Oh, do go on!"

    "The note is there; it is on plain paper and type-written, so that nobody can guess who sent it, and it just says:


    "'Please increase the amount promised by your circuit by £1,000.  You will receive a cheque for the amount in a few days.—Yours sincerely,

"'A MEMBER.'"


    Kitty snatched the note hastily from the super's hand, and read and re-read it, but there was nothing more to be learnt.  "Whoever can it be?" she gasped.

    "I haven't the least idea," said the super.  "I was dazed, and am yet, about it, for that matter; but I promised, whatever the result may be.  Ah, whom do you think it will be, Mr. Harwood?"

    George was sitting looking meditatively into the fire.  "Some old washerwoman or other, with more brass than brains."

    But somehow his manner was not quite as natural as he wished it to be, for his wife lifted her head and looked sharply at him across the room, and as he turned his eyes away she jumped up and rushed at him.  "George," she cried, pushing him back, so that she could see his eyes, "look at me."

    "Bless me, the woman's dotty!" cried George; but though he lifted his head, his eyes sought the ornaments on the mantelpiece.

    "Now then!  Look at me!  Let me see your eyes," cried Kitty, and as at last he turned them to her, she said triumphantly: "It is! it is! Mr Frost, it is George!  Oh, you dear, kind naughty, teasing man, it's you, and it is like you!  I'd love you more than ever—if I could," and she kissed him again and again.

    An hour later, as the super left, George saw him to the door, and in his gruffest manner insisted that the thing should never be known.

    Next morning the contractor occupants of the 8.41 first smoking to town decided that the super had lost his head at the meeting on the previous night, and would find himself "in a hole" before long, and George quite agreed with them.



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