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of his former home, and to that which he had expected to find. It was the same place, doubtless, but with a difference. There was little furniture—he knew every bit of it; but over the whole was cast an air of comfort which was very new to him. The floor was cleanly swept, and the walls were newly whitewashed; the children, too, though poorly enough clothed, were not in rags and dirt. But the greatest change of all was in his wife. John Adams could not make it out. He could only sit and wonder, as she moved to and fro. It was not till he had eaten and was refreshed, and the children were put to bed, that he found time to talk much, and then he scarcely knew what to say.
"You are glad to see me home again, Sarah, I think. You seem so."
"Glad! I should think so, John," said Sarah, smiling through her tears. "Why, what can you be thinking of to ask me such a thing?"
"Well, I don't know, Sarah: being come back like a bad penny—a disgraced man like—I thought, perhaps— leastwise, I have been thinking, but not since I came in— that you mightn't be over and above pleased."
"I don't say so now, Sarah, for I see you are glad—more glad, may be, than I deserve you should be; for it isn't much that I have ever done to make you care so very much what became of me," the poor husband went on, in tones almost of despondency.
"John, don't talk eo—please don't!" said the wife, earnestly; "don't say a word about anything of the sort. Or if the words must be spoken, let us both make up our minds to be more to one another than we ever have been. That will be the best way for us both, won't it, dear John?"
John did not know but what it would; but he must needs say something more.
"You seem more comfortable like—you and the young ones too—than I expected to find you, Sarah."
"Do we, John?"
"Yes. You don't know how it has troubled me all day, as I was coming along, in thinking that you must all have been half-starved by this time."
"We don't look like it, then, dear John," rejoined Sarah, with a bright look of pleasure.
"No, yon don't look like it, any of you, and that's the truth. And, bless you, Sarah, you seem now more like what you were when I first knew you, a dozen years ago, than ever I remember."
Sarah Adams brightened up still more, though tears began to moisten her eyes.
"Didn't I write to you, John, again and again, that I was doing as well as could be expected ?—that I had got needlework to do, which helped out the parish allowance, and that you wasn't to be troubled about our getting along till you came home?"
"Yes; but I didn't know but what you wrote it and said it to keep up my spirits. And may be now, Sarah, you don't like to tell me the worst. I reckon there will be a few debts for me to rub off, if I can," he added, rather uneasily.
"No, John; we don't owe anything."
"Not for rent, Sarah?"
"Not for rent till Saturday night, and then one week will be due; but the money is all ready."
"You used to run up a score at the baker's sometimes, Sarah. It was my fault, I know; for if I didn't earn money, and bring it home, you could not spend it. But are you sure there isn't a score standing at the baker's now?"
"Quite sure, John; nor yet at the shop, nor anywhere else," said the wife.
"And you all look so clean and comfortable, and nice and hearty," said wondering John Adams.
"1 am glad you think so, dear John. And now let us talk about something else, shall we? You have had a terrible punishment, John; and I can't bear to think of your having been shut up in jail two whole years."
"It was all my luck, Sarah," the husband replied, gloomily. "I always have the worst of it, somehow. If the gamekeeper did get hurt, it wasn't I that hurt him; but I was caught, and so it all fell to my share."
"Then if I were in your place, dear John," said the wife, persuasively, "I wouldn't get in the way of gamekeepers again. You never got any good by poaching—did you, now?"
"Yes, it is all very well for anybody to say, 'Do this, John,' and ' Don't do that, John;' but it isn't quite so easy to do or not do," rejoined the husband, still more gloomily than before. "Look here, Sarah; here I am come home, like a bad penny, as I-said; and something I must do; and who is going to employ a fellow just out of jail ?—at this time of year, too, when work is scarce enough for everybody."
"Don't meet troubles half way, John—please don't," returned Sarah. "I haven't much doubt but work will be got. I have had half a promise from Mr. Wilson that he will employ you."
"What, Wilson of the Grange?"
"Yes, John; and he is a good man, you know; and if he says a thing he means it. But if you should have to wait a little while for work, we shall be able to manage somehow. See what I have got here, John."
Saying this, Sarah Adams emptied a little bag upon the table. Its contents were a few Scripture tickets, and two or three cards with parts of hymns on them; for it was Sarah's old Sunday-school ticket bag. But, besides these, there was a heap of shillings and sixpences, which, by means of very close work with her needle, and a great deal of economy, she had managed to save during her husband's imprisonment. To tell the truth, it was with some degree of trepidation that Sarah exhibited her hoard, for she had her doubts and fears lest the sight of such wealth (for it was wealth to her) might not tempt poor John to idleness and dissipation. But she felt that it was right, for more reasons than one, that her husband should know all she had done while he was away; and she had hoped and prayed that he might thereby be encouraged to exercise greater perseverance than formerly.
"It is all yours, John, whatever there is," she said.
"No, no," he replied, huskily; "I won't touch it, Sarah. I have got two or three shillings too, and that may as well go with it, and you can keep it. There it is." And John Adams laid what he had got on the table. "'Tis jail money, though," he added, "and may be you won't like it to be mixed with yours."
It was mixed up together, however, and then there was a short interval of silence, while John sat looking at the fire and thinking. At last he spoke again—
"Sarah," said he, half laughing, but puzzled too, "you seem to have got on a deal better without mo than with me."
"Oh, John, dear John, don't say that—please don't," she answered, imploringly. "For if you really say so, and mean it, I shall be tempted to go and throw the money away, where nobody will ever find it."
"Ah, well, it isn't worth while to do that, my dear: but I can't make it out. Here you are so nice and trim, and the youngsters too; and the home—something like a home; and you, with money in store, and not owing a farthing? Why, my girl, you must have found a treasure somewhere!"
"So I have, John," exclaimed Sarah, eagerly and earnestly; "it is the very word, dear John; and here is the very thing itself—the blessed treasure," she added, as she reached her Bible from a shelf and laid it before her husband. "See, John; we have had this treasure by us ever since we were married, and all the while we were in such trouble so often, and we never once thought of going to it."
Adams looked more puzzled than before. ""What has this to do with your having that money in your bag, Sarah?" he asked.
Sarah turned the leaves of the New Testament, and soon found what she looked for. "Eead that, John," she said, and pointed to the passage. And he read—
"Therefore take no thought, saying, "What shall we eat? what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek;) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."*
"There, John! And it is all true; it is really." And poor Sarah, who could bear no more without showing emotion, burst into tears. "It is all true, John. I found this treasure after you were gone, and was so miserable that I did not know what to do with myself; and—and—God has been very good to me. And oh, John! if you would only try how good God can be to all who trust in him!"
I shall not write any more of the conversation that passed between the reunited man and wife. And I need not carry out their after history in full. All I have to say is that John Adams, humbled by the ordeal through which he had passed, sought employment the next day and found it; that he worked steadily on, and made the discovery of * Matt. vi. 31—33.
his home being so comfortable, that he was not tempted to go to the Eed Lion to spend his earnings; that Sarah went on in her self-denying and industrious course, and thus helped to maintain her family; that, eventually, the secret prayers and consistent conduct of the wife, led the husband to seek the same blessings she enjoyed; and that, although not exempt from trials and sorrows, John Adams and his wife, in succeeding years, found by experience how true the promise is, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
MAKING THE BEST OP IT.
Things went on much as usual for about a twelvemonth, when one morning, on going to work, the men were startled by being told that the master had died suddenly. He had left no will, and his property had to be divided amongst some relatives who were not on very good terms with one another. All, therefore, that could be done for the present was to finish what work was in hand, and to close the shop. The men, therefore, were thrown out of employment. It was most likely, however, that the business would be disposed of, and then there was every reason to believe that they would resume their work.
Kendall was depressed and fretful. He lounged about the house, doing nothing; and now and then he strolled out, but he returned from his strolls in no more cheerful temper. He had been a fool, he said, to go back to Bolton. But, somehow, things were always going wrong with them.
His wife pointed out, very sensibly, that they could not have foreseeen what had happened; that such an event might have occurred to any master; and that they were neither on the parish nor running into debt. It was not very pleasant to encroach on their savings; but they had no alternative, and they might be thankful they had them to fly to.
All this was undeniable: still Kendall's discontent remained.
"Just walk down to Spoor's," said Mrs. Kendall, "and see if he has heard anything."