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t Umafyv Crust.
Ld Soper and his wife would be glad of a few words with you, sir, if you can spare the time."
Mr. Barret could always spare time to listen to the " few words" of his people, if a long outpour of grievances or wants could be so termed; and the present call upon his patience, as well as time, proved no exception to the general demand.
"Well, my friends; no fresh trouble, I hope?" he said, advancing towards the aged couple, with a hand outstretched to each.
Both Soper and his wife were too eager to explain their errand, so merely stammered out (their words stumbling over one another, like chestnuts emptied from a bag)—
"The Timothy Trust, sir?"
"And what of the Timothy Trust?"
Mr. Barret half smiled; for he thought the aged applicants were tired of the subject, and altogether hopeless of getting into favour with the said Trust.
"What of it, sir! Oh, it's real now; old Giles is dead! been dead a week, and we didn't know it!"
"And you would step into a dead man's shoes?"
"Nay, sir, but that is the way of the world! Where only one can have at a time, the one who's got is always reckoned one too many!"
"And you are willing to become this one too many?" said Mr. Barret, looking at the anxious couple with pitying interest.
But Soper, misunderstanding the drift of this speech, merely replied, with a gloomy shake of his fine old head,
"There's only this here Trust 'twixt us and the work'us; it's been my hope many a long day. And when I heard as how old Giles was really gone—says I to Mary, 'Don't let no grass grow under our feet, but let us hobble up to the dear good master at once.'"
"I don't want any buttering," smiled the minister.
"Tisn't butter, sir, it's true! True as gold as has passed the Mint!" earnestly put in the old wife.
Mr. Barret nodded, as a full stop to compliments, and then proceeded to business, but in a very different form from that which might have been expected by the two eager candidates for assistance from the Timothy Trust.
Having seated the old lady in an arm-chair, and placed another for her husband, Mr. Barret, with an expression of happy importance, sat down in a third, and then drawing a scroll of paper from his desk, he read as follows:
"the Timothy Trust.
"Reverend Sir,—A vacancy having occurred in this Charity, by the death, last week, of Giles Carpenter, I have the honour to inform you that the names of Jacob and Mary Soper stand next in the list. Awaiting further instructions, they being your nominees,—I remain, Reverend Sir,
"Your obedient servant,
"Clerk to the Trustees."
A dead silence ensued, during which Mr. Barret had ample time to read the faces of his aged friends as they paled and flushed, quivered and stared by turns. At last old Jacob broke out:
"I've heard as how the angel of the Lord went down and troubled them Assyrians by night, all in the quiet; and sure enough He must have sent down His angel to settle this here business in the night, whilst we were asleep, knowing naught about what was a-doing for us! Sure now, when the Lord works, hosts of troubles don't stand in His way!"
Here, fairly overcome, Jacob, like his namesake of old, bowed on the top of his staff, and another moment ot serious silence ensued.
"Sir, a bit of a prayer may quiet us down like. I'm all of a tremble," said Mary, almost inaudibly.
"Eh, sir, a word of praise on the back of prayer will be
just the right word now; then p'r'aps you'll tell us all about
it, how you did it all so private and confounding," added
Jacob; and, nothing loth to comply with their request, Mr.
Barret knelt down and poured out a few words of earnest
thanksgiving, which he doubted not mounted to heaven on
the back of prayer, as old Jacob quaintly expressed himself.
"But, my friend," said Mr. Barret, on arising from his knees, "I do not quite like your idea of this pleasant surprise being prepared for you whilst you slept; think again, is there no other time more likely?"
It needed but a glance from eye to eye to show that this question was understood. A bright smile danced in old Jacob's eyes, as turning to his wife he said:
"Didn't I tell you so, now, wife?"
Wife nodded, for if a smile danced in her husband's eyes, tears danced in hers.
"Tell her what?" asked Mr. Barret of Jacob.
"Why, sir, that may be whilst we was praying the Lord was working! So who knows but when Mary and I knelt down together last week, and told Him that this here Timothy's Trust was the only way we saw to keep us out of the house, that He took the hint, and put it into your heart to look into the matter for us? Oh, sir, the Lord do work by human folk, if He don't by angels."
"Ah, I felt the Lord was wide-awake for us! Only yesterday, when we didn't so much as know Giles was ill, much more lying dead, I says to Jacob—Jacob, what did I say? You tell the master, for my throat is uncommon choking to-day," put in the old woman.
"She says to me, 'Jacob, some trust in chariots, and some in Timothy Trusts, but we will remember the name of the Lord f 1 and remembering it just means trusting it . And so, sir, we made up our minds that if we got into Timothy Trust, it should be by trusting in the name of the Lord."
"And you know who the Name of the Lord is?" asked Mr. Barret .
"Blessed be God, we do! We knows, both of us—don't we, Polly ?—that the Lord Jesus Christ is that Name; and we have to trust to it for our soul's salvation as well as for our poor bodies' temporal good."
Mr. Barret could not but regard the aged speaker with affectionate respect, which was heightened by finding the previous excitement visible in both of his parishioners arose not from mistrust, but the very reverse ; they believed in the for-ever providence of God as truly as in His yesterday and to-day providence, which had helped them hitherto. And their simple minds having grasped the idea that the future help was to come through this Timothy's Legacy, they were elated beyond themselves at the possibility of its being so near.
1 Psa. xx. 7. 1 Titus H. II.
"Well, my friends, what are we to do? What is our next step?"
"Sir, we don't wish to be in any unmannerly haste, but it seems to us that there isn't nothing next to do but to take the benefit which the good Lord has brought to our very doors!"
"And we never knew it!" sobbed poor old Mary.
"Ah, my dear friends, isn't that just the way with God's great gift to us ?' The grace of God that bringeth salvation '1 through Christ is near us, so very near that we have only to put out our hands and take it; and yet we do not heed it, though, alas, too many poor sinners know that it is so—but not with that saving knowledge which is as life from the dead to the burdened soul."
"Truly I can say 'Amen' to that, sir! For years I groped in the dark for something or someone that would bring me happiness, when all of a sudden I found that it was close to me in the adorable person of Jesus, but that I needed the Holy Spirit to open my poor blind eyes before I could see Him, and unloose my tongue before I could hail Him as my Lord and Saviour; but when the blessed Spirit lightened up my candle, and made the blind to see, then, ah, then, sir! you can guess the rest—power to cry for pardon seemed to come with the power of sight. And just as 'tis with this here Timothy Trust, I found that it was all done for me, I had only to go in and take. Ah, if poor selftrusting sinners could only see things as the Lord has prepared them for 'em, there would be a sight more happiness!"