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man, as he always had been. He hadn't had any work for a while, though he might have got it if he had tried; and so he must needs go out o' nights again, never thinking about her and the children; and he had got caught, just according to what she had foretold; and served him right too. All this Sarah Adams said bitterly, while her speech was broken by sobs.
"Well, we won't speak about your husband's folly. I am only sorry that it seems a rather bad case, and that he may have a lengthened imprisonment. This being so, it is scarcely the time to reproach him." So my grandfather said.
Mrs. Adams did not want to reproach her husband, she was sure, but yet it was hard to bear. To think how she had worked and slaved all her married life, and all to no purpose. It was only to look round and see the misery she was in to let anybody into the secret. She little thought, when she was married, what it was all coming to. If she had taken good advice, it never would have been; but as she had brewed, so she must bake. She supposed that was it.
My grandfather thought of a Bible text which would have been at least as appropriate to poor Sarah's distressful circumstances as the proverb she had quoted, namely, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." But he remembered his engagement, and he did not speak. Meanwhile the poor woman went on with her sad complaints, which I shall not attempt to set down, and which, indeed, were presently cut short by my grandfather saying—
"It does not need for me to be told, Sarah, that you are unhappy"
"And well I may be, sir," she interposed, hastily. "It is of no use trying any more; I may as well give up at once," she added, passionately.
"You have had a troubled life for some years past," continued my grandfather, "and it is not worth while to go into the reasons why. Let us try to forget your troubles for a minute or two. I have lately read of a curious incident that once happened, and I should like to repeat it."
And without waiting for the poor woman's consent, he went on—
"Some time ago—I cannot tell you how long—a vessel
was sailing on one of the great American lakes, which,
you may have hoard, are, in almost all respects, like seas. Well, a storm arose, and the vessel was wrecked. I believe she sprung a leak and sunk; but happily the sailors had time to let down a boat, and so they escaped drowning. But when morning came (for this happened in the night) they found themselves in bad case, for they were out of sight of land, and did not know which way to steer. They were short of provisions, too, for they had only a bag of biscuits, which one of the men had thrown into the boat. The worst of all was, however, that they had no water.
", They soon began to feel the effects of this want; for as soon an the sun rose and began to scorch them with its heat—what with that and the fatigue of rowing—they became almost maddened with thirst. They were not hungry; and if they had been, their biscuits would probably have lasted them till they could reach land, which might be, as they hoped, in the course of a short time. But how could they do without wafer?
"Their great distress lasted all through that day and through the succeeding night, and into the next day. Thirst is a terrible sensation, Sarah," said my grandfather, appealing to the poor woman.
"Yes, sir," said she, listlessly.
"So these poor sailors felt it to be. Like you, they said among themselves what you said to me five minutes ago, 'It is of no use trying any more; we may as well give up at once.' And so, ceasing rowing, they laid down their oars, and looked gloomily into each other's faces. All their thoughts were upon water—water; drink—drink."
"And why didn't they drink, when there was water all round them?" Mrs. Adams asked, with some little infusion of impatience as well as interest in her tone.
"Did you ever try to drink salt water, Sarah?" my grandfather asked, gravely.
"Oh! salt water! that made the difference."
"It would have made all the difference if it had been salt water," continued my grandfather; "but the truth is, the waters of those lakes, large as they are, are beautifully fresh, as the poor shipwrecked sailors might have remembered, and would have remembered, if they had not been very forgetful. But they had been used to sailing on salt water all their lives, and it did not come into their minds that the lake water was sweet and drinkable, until one of them, almost in despair, dipped his hand into it and put it to his lips. Then there was such a shout of wonder and gladness when each had drank to the full as those sailors had never before uttered. They drank and drank again, and then, taking up their oars, they pulled away with renewed vigour, and in due time reached the land in safety. There, Sarah, that is my story; and now 1 must go," said my grandfather. "You have nothing more to say to me, I suppose," he added.
"No, sir," replied Mrs. Adams, falteringly, "only to thank you again for your kindness"
"Oh, that's nothing. I shall do what I can for your husband, and for you in his absence."
"Thank you, sir," said the poor woman again. And my grandfather put on his hat.
"Sarah," said he, as he reached the door, and turned sharply round upon Mrs. Adams, "do you happen to know any one very much like the sailors I have been speaking of?"
"How, sir?' she asked.
"In having a neglected treasure of abundant supply at hand, while they are almost dying of thirst."
"No, sir," she replied. And my grandfather walked away from the cottage door.
NAT CANTLE, THE ORACLE.
The reader of the previous chapter has doubtless divined that Nat Cantle's home, however poor, would be both clean and scrupulously neat. And so it was. He and his wife Mary rented a good-sized old-fashioned house in a street which once laid claims to gentility, but for many years had gone out of fashion with the influential of this world. The Cantles reserved the kitchen and two upper rooms for themselves, the rest of the house being sub-let to various other families. The kitchen was the prettiest and brightest room in the house; for though below stairs and in the back, it looked out into a little garden into which Ned Cantle (Nat's son), notwithstanding the soot and smoke from the town chimnej'S, always managed to have something bright growing. He had his holly-bush and chrysanthemums in the autumn and winter, his crocuses and snowdrops in the
spring, and his large-old-fashioned sunflowers and marigolds in the summer, besides numerous little seedlings, which only lasted their appointed time of a few months. But if the outside appeared bright, the inside of Nat Cantie's kitchen was far brighter; for there, in front of the window, working at his bench, sat Nat, with that look of peace upon his face which the world can neither give nor take away; whilst his wife Mary bustled about here and there (for she was of a busy nature) making everything as neat, according to her pet expression, "as a new pin." Several cages of canaries hung about in the sunniest parts of the room; for K ed or Edmond Cantle was a canary fancier, and reared a good many for sale. He was a delicate, sickly young man, who could not bear a sedentary mode of life, and had consequently been obliged to give up working at his father's trade, and maintained himself by carrying milk. Polly, the eldest child, had married years before, and lived in Wales. Nat Cantle had long ago given up shoemaking, but he was pretty well employed by his neighbours with shoe-mending, which was all he felt able to do at his time of life. It was a warm sunny morning in the early part of June when we will next introduce Nat to our readers with another visitor, who has come for a little advice. It is not Mrs. Fry, of the previous chapter, but a young lady whom we shall call Miss Day, a great favourite of Nat's.
"Oh, Mr. Cantle," said Miss Day, "I do feel that I cannot go on with this work; it makes me quite sad. If I could only think that some of my poor friends heeded what I said to them, and cared for my visits apart from the little relief I am able to bestow, I should take heart again."
"Bless you, my dear miss, did our precious Lord get much encouragement when he was here upon earth? Didn't he say, himself, that they sought him because of the loaves and fishes?"
"Oh yes, Nat; but—well, I suppose I am wrong to expect to see fruit."
"Not a bit, miss. You must expect it. They who sow in tears shall reap in joy. Mayhap not in this world shall they see the reaping, but it's sure—certain sure—as sure as I sit here at this bench talking to you in that chair. Why, 'tis God's seed you are sowing; it cannot die any more than my soul or your soul can die. It's the good seed, the word of God, which is life to us all; and by-andby you'll hear of it or see it springing up just where yon didn't think you had cast a grain. Don't you be letting go your hold of the Christian's anchor, Hope. The tighter you grip that, the nearer you'll be to the blessing. 'According to your faith so shall it be unto you;' but there'll be no faith when hope is gone, so don't you be letting go that."
"I will try not to, Mr. Cantle, but to-day I just feel as if I never could go on. Other people seem to do to much, and I seem to do nothing."
"But you do as much as you can, or, at least, you try to, don't you?"
"I do try, Mr. Cantle."
"Well, then, if yon try, that's just the work the Lord has for you to do. Why, if you tell your servant to go and see about such a thing, whatever it might be, and she goes', and she trios with all her heart to do it just as you'd like it to be done, and yet she is not able to do it as she thinks it ought to be done, would you be angry with her?"
"I hope not. I hope I should tell her that I knew she had done her best."
"Of course you would. And do you think, my dear young lady, that our heavenly Father is a harder master than you are an earthly mistress? Doesn't he just look into your heart, and cannot he see that you are trying to do his work, and doesn't he know that's what he has set you to do? Don't you be afraid; you sow his seed, and in the right time he'll give his increase. And won't that be a blessed time, whether here below or in heaven above, for you, when you shall see souls set free and rejoicing through the blood of the Lamb, and shall know that you helped to proclaim the knowledge and merits of that precious blood? My dear miss, to think that you have helped one to Jesus will more than recompense you for all the weariness of the road. 'Your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.' The Bible says so, and it must come to pass."
Miss Day bent her head, and her eyes were full of tears, but they were tears of gratitude. Nat Cantle had once more helped her on. How often he had done so before was only known to God and her own soul. He was indeed as much an oracle to her as to his poorer neighbours, and however depressed she entered that kitchen, she never left it without hope having once more gained the ascendant. Nat Cantle adorned his religion, he set it forth in its natural