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"The Lord bless her, sir," was all Big Tom could say, and then he began to watch for his visitor, though it was only a little past ten! She came at one, bright and kind as the day before, with another bunch of flowers, and a nice pudding in her basket, which she gave him for his dinner, and then asked if he would like her to sing. On his saying he would, she began the hymn, "Just as I am," sang it softly and sweetly through to the end, settled his pillows comfortably, promised to come again to-morrow, and then said good-bye. Tom thought the room looked dark when she had gone, and longed for to-morrow, that he might see her again. His wife wondered at his quietness, and thought he was surely going to die; but the nurse told her he was much more likely to live, now that he wasn't fretting his side by getting into a rage!
The morrow came, and with it Mrs. Malcolm and her basket. Many other morrows came, and Mrs. Malcolm came likewise. Very quietly she spoke to Tom, from time to time, of the great love of God in Jesus Christ; and of the power of the Holy Spirit in renewing the souls of poor sinners. Tom listened to this, but he never spoke in reply. At length, one day, when Mrs. Malcolm was by his bedside, she said, "The doctor gives a very good account of you today; he hopes your side will soon be well now, but I want you to be cured altogether, and not your side only."
"But nothing else is the matter," said Big Tom, "only the weakness, and that's leaving me every day."
"Nothing else is the matter with your body," said Mrs. Malcolm, "but your body isn't all of you, is it? You have a soul too, a soul that is not only sick but dead—dead in trespasses and sins*—and I want your soul to be cured as well as your body. Wouldn't it be dreadful to have only half your body alive, and the other half dead? But it is worse, a great deal worse, to have all your body alive and your soul dead. Dead souls cannot go to heaven; so when the living body of a dead soul dies then the dead soul and * Kphesians ii. I.
the dead body go to hell together. But, Tom, the Lord Jesus Christ sends you a message by me to-day: He asks you to look to Him to have all your sins washed away in His precious blood. He wants you to come to Him, that your dead soul may be made alive. He asks you to come; and oh, Tom, he'll be so sorry if you don't."
"I can't see why He should care for me," said Tom, softly; for, though his friend did not know it, he himself had been softened by what she had before so often told him. "I never cared for Him; and I don't see why He should care for me," he repeated, more thoughtfully.
"Don't you?" said Mrs. Malcolm. "Why do you love that little dog ?'' she added, pointing to a miserable-looking animal that lay asleep beside him.
"Not for its beauty, any way," he answered, patting it affectionately. "I suppose I love it because when Smith's house was on fire, and I was lending a hand to help, I heard this poor brute howling with terror, so I jumped in and caught hold of it, and I shall bear the marks of the burn I got as long as I live;" and he pulled up his shirt sleeve, and showed a horrible mark on his arm.
"And you'd have been sorry if after having run such a risk, the dog had jumped back into the flames again, and been burnt to death?"
.' Indeed then I would; why I believe I love it almost like a child."
"Then can't you understand how the Lord Jesus would be sorry if you refuse to be saved? I'll tell you how it is. Long ago, before ever the world was made, the Lord Jesus knew all about you. He knew your name, and where you would live, and how you would grow up. He knew what a sinner you would be; how you would curse, and swear, and drink, and blaspheme; how you would hate Him, and love sin. He knew all that, and a great, great deal more beside, and yet, in spite of all, He loved you. Yes; He loved you —loved you so much that He could not bear you to be lost for ever. So He left the joy and glory of heaven, and came down to this world. He died a cruel death in your place. He bore every bit of the punishment your sins deserved, that you might go free. He offers to save you. He offers to wash away your sins in the precious blood which He shed for you on the cross. He offers to make you holy and happy now, and when you die, to make you holy and happy for ever in heaven. He offers you all this without money and without price, and oh! Tom, He'll be so sorry if you refuse!"
"Well, now," said Big Tom, "that beats everything. I thought He just downright hated everybody for not being good; but that perhaps if they tried hard to please Him, and did their best, why then He might let them escape; but as to His caring whether the like of me was lost or saved, to think He'd be real sorry about it—but you wouldn't deceive me," he added, looking up wistfully at Mrs. Malcolm.
"You may be sure I would not," she replied. "We read in the Bible of His crying over people who refused to be saved,* and His heart is as tender and as loving now; but, Tom, you won't let Him be sorry about you?"
"I couldn't stand it, ma'am; I can't make it out at all why He ever loved me, and died to save me j I can't understand it a bit; but seeing that He did do it, why sure I can only ask Him to make me fit for heaven. Perhaps when I get there He'll teach me how to thank Him—I haven't no words to do it now."
"He will teach you," said Mrs. Malcolm, "and the thanks He likes best now is love—loving Him and trying to please Him. When tempted to do or to say what is wrong, remember how sorry the Lord Jesus would be, and ask Him to fill your heart with His love, that you may hate the very thought of sin. But remember too that just as He is sorry when a sinner is lost, so He rejoices when a sinner is saved, 'There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.'')- I believe there is joy there now about you!"
"It's all the Lord's doing, ma'am," said Big Tom, with
* See Luke xvii. 41—44. t L»ke xv. 7.
a choking voice, "I couldn't let Him be sorry after all He did for me, I had no choice but to come to Him—and I do."
Weeks passed away, and Big Tom was at his work again. He was Big Tom still, but in everything else he was changed, for the words that had first touched his heart by the Holy Spirit, by that same Holy Spirit never lost their power. Again and again, as he felt the rising passion, or the curse was on his lips, or he was tempted to join his old companions, or to neglect God's house, the thought that the Lord Jesus would be sorry^^the Lord that loved him and died for him—would make him stop short. And if ever he forgot, and fell, he had no rest till he came to Him to be washed again in the precious blood that cleanseth from all sin,* and then, as he used to say, he hadn't only peace but joy, for wasn't it all as bright as sunshine between the Lord and him.
Jiother, you'll let me go?" The speaker was a girl about fourteen, tall and fair, and rather pretty.
"I don't know, Annie; I must speak to your father first, for I am not sure that he would like you to live at Squire Wood's."
"But, mother, if I must go to service, I may as well go there as anywhere else," said Annie, with something of a pout.
"I don't know, my daughter; it is not every family that is so gay as the squire's," said Mrs. Green, resting her hands in her lap for a moment, and looking out of the little casement window near which she was sitting.
Annie took off her bonnet and came to the window too, to look for her father coming home from work. "I do hope
* i John i. 7.
he will not be late to-night," she said, after a minute or two, "for Sarah West wants a place, I know, and she will very likely hear that they want a kitchen-maid at the squire's, and then I shall have no chance of getting it, because she is a year older than I am. Don't you think father would be very glad to hear I had got a place?" she added.
"I'm sure he would, Annie; for as you know, work is slack, and everything so dear that it is quite necessary you should go out now; but whether he would like you to go to Squire Wood's, I cannot tell."
Annie fidgetted about for another ten minutes, and then went to the gate to look up the road. She could see nothing of her father, however, and came back looking quite cross. "Oh, mother, do let me go and see the housekeeper," she said; "I'm afraid if I don't go this evening, Sarah West will get the place, and I know I shan't like any other so well as I should being there."
"Annie, it is of no use talking; I cannot let you go until your father comes home," interrupted Mrs. Green.
"Then I shall lose the place, I know;" and Annie fairly burst into tears as she spoke.
But crying did not bring her father home. He was nearly two hours beyond his usual time before he returned, and it was then too late to think of going to Squire Wood's.
"What is the matter?" asked Mrs. Green, as her husband came in.
He did not answer for a minute or two, but sat down and leaned his head on his arms. "The work is stopped," he said at last; "they paid us to-night, but there'll be no more."
"Never mind, father; I've heard of a place, if you'll only let me go," interrupted Annie.
"You must go, my girl, for I don't know what is to become of us now there's no work to be had."
"It's at Squire Wood's, father," said Annie. "I heard today that they wanted a kitchenmaid, but mother would not let me go until you came home."