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A Dark cloud overshadows me,
I hear the angels' voices rise
Weary and faint, I strive and pray
Oh! how I long to see Thy face,
As through the wilderness I tread,
Lord Jesus, through the cloud.
The path grows smooth, the way is clear,
He has dissolved the cloud.
girh ^organ's (Jforase.
Je left Dick Morgan going to bed with this oftrepeated excuse, "I be no scholar." And when he thought of things that he ought to have done, but had not done; when he thought of things he ought to know, but was wholly ignorant of, he made the excuse over and over again to himself, as though the acknowledgment of being no scholar were a remedy for the evil. He fell asleep with the words on his lips; he awoke with them on his heart, a heavy but unrecognised burden. In the morning, whilst his trembling fingers did their best towards dressing himself, he still kept saying the words, as though some one were standing by and demanding an excuse, if not a reason, for his ignorance.
The night, or evening we should call it in sweet summer hours, found Dick again leaning on his living crutch, and making way for the school. This time he took a hindmost seat, behind a pillar, to avoid being seen by the minister. The text chosen this time was: "He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain My words: keep My commandments, and live."1
"All about learning !" thought Dick; "the minister speaks up for his school!"
Again Dick went unobserved to his cottage; no, not unobserved, for the quick eyes of Mr. Grey observed him at once; but, as before, no notice was taken.
To-morrow night, and Dick was again at the school; this time he drew one seat nearer. The text chosen by Mr. Grey on this occasion was: "I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths."2
"About teaching this here time!" whispered Dick to his faithful little "crutch."
She nodded a wise little nod and said, "Can't learn, maister, wi'out teaching: but us don't talk in church, please, sir." Then remembering it was not church, she whispered with a smile, "I forgot; 't'aint church—there we mustn't talk; 'tis school; here t'aint proper like, nor 'spectful to talk."
On Dick's return home, he said to Matty, "Matty, my lass, I should like, if I were a bit younger, to tell over the three texeseys we've heard; they all seems to be out of the same book, and all about school. Can 'e say 'em, my dear?"
Matty thought a minute, and then replied: "Say 'em? 1 Proverbs iv. 4. * Proverbs iv. 11.
Sure and I can. The Bible is most taught and read in our school."
I said Dick was not as unobserved as he thought in going to the night school. Mr. Grey had seen him, and rightly thinking that the old man had altogether mistaken him as to the night school he (Mr. Grey) meant; and also fearing that the effort of going so far in the wintry cold and damp would be too much for his aged friend and parishioner, he determined to go and have what Dick himself called " the matter out with him."
Accordingly, an hour before night school the next day, Mr. Grey was gently rapping with his knuckles at Morgan's door. Matty opened it, and dropping a curtsey, asked him into the parlour kitchen, whilst she ran to the veritable kitchen, where Dick lived in the snug " chimbley corner," crying eagerly, "He's come, maister! He's come!" For to Matty's loyal ideas there was only one she in the world—that was " Mother, dear mother;" and only one he —that was " Minster, good minster." Dick generally liked to ask many questions before admitting any one; but now he seemed as well to understand Matty's announcement as though he had made it himself, and simply replied, as he bustled about in his armchair, to sit " tidy and upright-like'' to greet the guest, "Let 'en come in, Mat; don't say naught to 'en about rubbing his boots clean; he's welcome, mud and all!"
A great thing for Dick to say, for mud and mire, with uncleanliness of any kind, were his natural enemies, "seeing he was brought up to the decoratin' and letterin' trade," he used to add, by way of excusing his tidy ways.
"Good evening, Dick Morgan—no; don't try to rise, my friend, without your crutch and stick—there now, sit down. Well, good evening. I am come on purpose to have a little talk with you before my night school begins. You will have done tea by this time, I know, as you are always punctual and"
"Always riglar and punctool," put in Dick.
"Just so, my friend; and so I knew that I should find you at leisure now."
"Yes; I's giv"d up night-work, or practice at fancy letterin', for ever so long, so I, in general, thinks about this time—as thinking don't want candlelight, special when we's got a blink o' firing."
"May an old friend ask what you were thinking of when your minister came in?"
This pleased old Dick, and, looking up with a smile that he did not often give, but a smile that when given was very pleasant to behold, he said: "I don't know as how I wouldn't all so soon tell my minister my thoughts as my friend, but seeing as how they be one and the same man—I means gentleman—I'll tell 'em out all the readier, and no mistake."
Here Dick hesitated, until Mr. Grey said: "Well, what were you thinking?"
"Why, just what I be thinking of now. It's about that there night school, and the learning."
"Ah, that's the very thing I'm come to have a little conversation about, and-"
"Your reverence won't forget I be no scholard, seeing as how I were borned afore learning came down to poor folks."
"Dick!" said Mr. Grey, earnestly, "that's just it. I want you to be a scholar; and more than that, I want you to begin at once."
"Right, sir; I means to. I've been to the night school three nights running, and 'tis my hope to go reglar; so I think as how I may say I've begun to be a scholard."
"You are mistaking the school I meant you to attend altogether, my friend; don't you remember I told you that it was not the one in Mitre Lane?"
"Sure, I minds now. Where be it then, sir? for if my poor old legs and little crutch can take me there, I'll go; I'm not Dick Morgan if I don't." Here Dick gave a feeble stamp with his foot as a full stop to his speech.
"You don't need feet or crutches to go to this school
"Couldn't no ways afford a 'veyance then; a donkey 'd even be more than I could pay for; if it depends on that, learning's all up for Dick Morgan."
"You do not need a carriage, either; but I will tell you what you do need."
Dick was all attention.
"You need—a—pair—of—wings 1"
Mr. Grey said each word slowly and distinctly.
"A pair o' wings !" exclaimed Dick; "then it's worser up with me than afore. And if I'd got 'em, I ain't a bird to use 'em. Sure, sir, you'm joking on me!—though that ain't your general way; no, that it ain't."
"I never was more serious in my life. You must have wings—wings to your heart—and they will bear you to this night school at once. The wings are called Repentance and Love. They will take you to the Great Teacher; the good kind Master I told you of, to seek admittance to His school."
"Maybe I'd not be let in."
"Not be let in! Listen to the words of the Master Himself: 'Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.'1 Can you doubt His willingness to receive you after so gracious a promise? Besides, you must not forget that it is He who invites you; the ' Come' is His also."
"I mind that were what you talked about that there first night."
Here both minister and parishioner were silent for a moment; then Dick, as though he were still undecided, said, "Still, your reverence, if the Teacher were ever so good, I should feel a bit shy o' the men, lest they should be after wishing o' me gone."
"No; as I said before, they will all be glad to see you. They will invite you, too; their words will be, ' Come thou with us, and we will do thee good.'" 2
"Well then, sir, not to have no more talk about it, will
1 John vi. 37. * Numbers x. 29.