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FREDERICK WARNE I Ce
Vis z ton Fnemg.
MRS. HENRY KEARY,
AUTHOR OF 'SAM ; OR, A GOOD NAME,' 'PHILLIS PHIL,' ETC., ETC.
With Colosrtb. yllratdtiao.
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.,
3EDFORD STREET, STRAND.
I. OLD SANDY 1
II. HARD TO BEAR 11
III. DOWNWARD STEPS 21
IV. GOSSIPS *- 30
V. THE WARNING VOICE 42
VI. 'TIME ENOUGH TO TURN' 48
VII. PLENTY OF THORNS, PLENTY OF BRIARS 61
VIII. STORM ON THE CLIFF 68
IX. THE EMPTY HOME 76
X. IS IT TOO LATE 84
XI. ONE CHANCE MORE 90
XII. SIN AND ITS SHAME 100
XIII. NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND 112
IT was in the month of May. A lovely morning.
Pleasant spring sunshine had come to gladden the
birds and the flowers, and the hearts of all watchers
for summer. The little fishing village of Bascombe
was on the alert, and quite alive with busy prepara-
tions for the coming season; for Bascombe, small as
it was, could boast of a season. In one or two instances
'lodgings' had already disappeared from the win-
"dows. All that was now wanted was fine settled
Weather: without that, summer might come and go,
and leave the poor people no richer than it found
them. In more than one case a bad season meant
2 HAPLESS HARRY.
poverty and pinching want until summer came round
,again. Bascombe village lay for the most part in-
land, a short distance from the brow of the cliffs;
beyond it arose steep sheltering downs. The old
church nestled half-hidden in the midst of a group
of storm-beaten trees, its venerable, but shapeless,
little wooden spire pricking its upward way through
the tangled foliage. There was the village inn and
the village-shop, the latter professing to supply every
want, from mops and lollipops to bacon and packets of
Price's candles. There was no butcher in the place;
a cart with a somewhat scanty supply of joints came
round once or twice a week, according to the demand.
A narrow winding path led down to the shore, and
to the few fishermen's cottages crouching beneath
the beetling rocks.
All his life and he had reached threescore
years and ten-old Michael Sandy had lived, and his
father before him, in the cottage on the beach.
Bascombe would no longer be Bascombe without
him. Old Sandy's tall, lithe figure, with his straw
hat and full suit of purple serge, was sure to be seen
somewhere o' the shore, with limbs more supple and
active than the youngest man in the village; he was
always ready and willing to lend a hand to every-
body. His features, too, were finely cut, and his
blue eyes, blue as the sky above and sea below,
OLD SANDY. 3
sparkled with natural wit and quaint humour, whilst
a happy smile of honest content played about his
lips, lighting up his whole countenance. Like his
name, his hair was sandy and his complexion fair
and bright-bright as if the sun had always shone
on him. There was a native in-born grace and
elegance about the old man which distinguished him
from-all others-a grace and elegance which many
might well envy, and none could hope to acquire.
His cheery voice had a ring in it which sounded
almost like a chime of bells, and made every day
appear like a gala-day. His 'old missus,' as he
liked to call her, was a fitting 'help-meet' for him
-a dapper woman, with busy active-looking arms,
and sleeves turned up to the elbow; a broad-rimmed
round straw hat daintily tilted on one side, short
petticoats, a large white apron tied behind; clean and
neat and precise as any die, with a good-looking
face of her own-handsome it must once have been,
with a spice of sharpness and determination about
the slightly compressed lips, quite in character with
a pair of piercing dark eyes, which glistened and
twinkled beneath the broad brim of her hat as un-
ceasingly as if they were never weary, never closed
~)in sleep. Mrs. Sandy prided herself in being able to
see through most people and everything; to judge
from her eyes, which nothing escaped, Mrs. Sandy's
4 HAPLESS HARRY.
estimate of her own penetration was not far wrong.
Old Mr. Sandy was a kind of privileged person in
Bascombe. Nobody thought of taking amiss what
he said; he could steal a horse when other folks did
not dare to look in at the stable-door. He was a
recognized authority upon all disputed points; in fact,
he and his old missus reigned supreme. The very
smoke, as it curled out of his chimney and found its
way up through the cleft in the rocks and over the
cliffs, or beat down on the shore, had been an ac-
cepted sign for many a year of fair or foul weather.
Never was weather-vane accounted truer than that
blue smoke; no weather-glass more closely and
scrupulously studied or more religiously obeyed and
believed by the fishermen and village folk. Even
visitors learned to consult and rely upon it. Maister
Sandy's smoke's a-beating down,' was a remark which
was usually followed with an ominous shake of the
head, for, sure as fate, if the smoke beat down there
would be 'dirty weather down Channel.'
But this bright May morning the smoke went up
straight as a poplar tree, and the birds flevt high, and
little red pimpernel was open as wide as wide could
be. The shore was quite busy with groups of men,
some smartening up their boats with a brush of fresh
paint here and there, others cleaning them up a bit
or sweeping out the bathing-machines, with the hope
of their soon being wanted. Everybody seemed to
find something to do, and to do it, too, with a good
heart, except one man. He had a pipe in his mouth
and his hands in his pockets. Hapless Harry' he
was called in Bascombe, for he was always on the
grumble: nothing seemed to go well with him; come
sunshine or rain, it was always the same. Perhaps
by-and-by we shall be able to find out what was the
root of it all. There he stood, as we have said, doing
nothing but smoking his pipe and leaning against
some sunny railings. Presently, tired of doing no-
thing, he sauntered towards Sandy's cottage. The
old man was bustling about and fitting the awning
which he usually fixed up close to his house, for the
convenience of visitors when the sun was strong, for
there was but little shade to be had on the shore in
'What d'ye think of the weather, Mr. Sandy ?'
asked Harry, leaning against a post, as if it was too
much trouble to stand without some support.
'That's more easily asked than answered,' was old
Sandy's reply. 'It's a beautiful morning, at all
'Yes, but will it last ?' asked Harry, puffing his
Let's enjoy it as long as it continues; there's no
better plan than that, Harry. When God A'mighty
6 HAPLESS HARRY.
sends us blessed sunshine, 'tisn't for us poor grum-
blers to be clouding it over with our own evil fore-
"Tis all very well for you to talk about enjoying
it, Mr. Sandy; but I don't see how I can be expected
to enjoy anything, with a wife and young family, and
next to nothing coming in.'
'Well, Harry, that sounds difficult, but p'r'aps
you'd find a remedy if you was to look for it.'
'Ah, but, Mr. Sandy, you're a sharp knife.'
'We can't do what isn't possible, Harry, though
one's name is Sandy. I went to work early-it's that
makes ye a sharp knife, as you calls me; but when I
was a young man like you, I had to turn myself
about a good deal, and put myself into many a shape
to fit every kind of box, and pick up a bit and a
crust where I could. 'Tis that rub and go kind of
life that does a man good-'tis bracing to the mind.'
'But I've never got the opportunity. If pigs is
cheap, I haven't got the money to buy 'em with; and
if I've got a few odd shillings, why then pigs are
certain to have raised '
'Tisn't altogether that, Harry; 'tisn't buying a pig
that will alter the case. Make up your mind, as I
did when I married years ago, never to spend a
moment idly nor a penny uselessly. Why ain't you
smartening up your boat and cleaning your bathing-
OLD SANDY. 7
machine like other folks ?-They'll get the start of
you, and no wonder.'
'So they always do,' replied Harry, shifting from
one foot to the other, and looking vacantly into the
empty bowl of his clay pipe. 'So they always do.
My boat is sure to be the last hired, and it's only
when there ain't another machine that they'll look at
'Ah,' replied old Sandy, shaking his head. 'Ah,
Harry, that's pretty true, but whose fault is it ? Folks
can't hire machines when there's nobody handy to
push 'em into the water; and people ain't fond of
venturing out in boats if the man that's got to
manage the craft ain't hisself exactly, but is sort of
'I thought you'd veer round to that point, Mr.
Sandy; but I ain't goin' to give up my pot of beer
for any living man or woman.'
'It isn't a pot of beer that does the harm, but 'tis
them nasty public-houses and dram-shops that are
the ruin of men. For six-and-thirty years I've never
entered one. Not that I'm a teetotaller. I think we
ought to be able to make sobriety a habit without
taking a pledge; but if a man can't be temperate
without binding himself by oath never to touch a
drop, then I say let him go and take the pledge, and
"the sooner the better. 'Tis drink causes hearts to
8 HAPLESS HARRY. .
break, and. kills more than the worst diseases.
People used to tell me I ought to take a drop of
whisky with me when I used to go out fishing
and shooting wild-ducks in cold and rain, and stop
out all night, but I never did. I don't believe I
should have stood all the hardships and privations I
was exposed to half as bravely if I'd indulged in drink.'
You must be made of different stuff from most
folks, Mr. Sandy. As I say, I couldn't do without
my pot of beer. It seems to sort of drown your
It may seem to drown 'em, but where one is
drowned, you take my word for it, if scores of others
don't come cropping up. There's worries every-
where; it's no good to try and drown 'em. All lives
have their dark side; but I believe there's comfort
to be found in most things, and in worries into the
bargain, if we'll only look for it in the right place.'
'You've got such a help in your missus, Mr.
'Well, I can't but say she's been my best help.
We've been married for near fifty years, and I can
give her an excellent character.'
'What's that you're saying about me, Mike?'
interrupted the old woman, coming out of her
cottage-door with a basketful of clothes to be hung
out to dry,
OLD SANDY. 9
'What was I a-saying ? why, that I could give
you an excellent character after fifty years' acquaint-
ance and partnership.'
'That isn't saying much. 'Tis good husbands
makes good wives. How's your Nancy, Harry ?'
'Much as usual, thank ye, Mrs. Sandy, but a bit
on the grumble. I wish sweethearts would grumble,
instead of being all smiles as they be most times; you'd
know then what to expect when you-got married.'
'There now, Harry, I'm pretty sure you've got
nothing to complain of in your Nancy,' put in Mike
'Seemingly, you've got over your day's work nice
and early, Harry,' said Mrs. Sandy, or you'd never
be standing all the day idle, with your hands in your
pockets and that nasty pipe in your mouth. And
you, Mike, you'll never get that awning done afore
it's time to take it down, if you keep on gossiping.
And to think how I hurried and scurried to get it
washed, and dried, and mangled; 'tis us women as
works and slaves--'
'And scolds, you'd better add,' said old Mike,
shrugging his shoulders and laughing.
'I'd scold if I was your wife, Harry, and make ye
work to keep ye out of mischief.'
'Harry and I have been having a bit of talk on
the teetotal question,' said Mike.
1o HAPLESS HARRY.
'Teetotal question, indeed! I've no patience with
a man that can't keep hisself out of the public-
'Now, Sally, we mustn't talk the like of that; we
must have patience if we'd do good. Where should
all of us be if God A'mighty lost patience with us ?'
'Oh, well, yes, to be sure, that's true enough. How
is your child, Harry ?'
'Pretty smartish, only she's always a-fretting and
a-fretting all night and all day. There's no getting
a wink of sleep at night nor a moment's peace by
'Poor little dear You should have brought her
down here. Nice soft air like this, and a little play
on the sands in the sunshine, would have done her a
deal of good.'
'They tell me parties are beginning to come,' said
Harry, trying to turn the conversation away from
'Yes; and we want them. 'Tis a nice little spot
for any one to come to,' added old Mike.
"Tis a terrible dreary place for winter, though,'
interposed Harry,' and a precious long and dreary
one we've had.this year.'
Grandfather grandfather!' screamed a sturdy
little fellow at the very top of his voice, as he ran
labouring through the loose deep sand, without shoes
OLD SANDY. II
and stockings, towards Sandy's cottage. Shoes and
stockings were luxuries the child rarely indulged in,
except on Sundays, as he spent most of his days on
the shore, paddling in and out of the sea, helping his
father, as little Willie termed being at his father's
heels, as he usually was. Grandfather daddy wants
you directly, to push down No. 3 machine; there's
people, lots of 'em, come to bathe, and daddy can't
'tend to 'em all at once.'
'No, we can't do what isn't possible, Willie. Tell
daddy I'm a-comin,' but the folks must have a
little patience and wait a minute. Grandfather feels
young, but he ain't as young as he was, and can't run
hither and thither as he used to. Ah, Harry, if I was
as young and hale as you are, I would not stand all
the day idle, throwing your opportunities to the
wind. Work while 'tis day, Harry; night and old
age will soon creep on, and then-but I must not
stop, or my son will be after me.
Harry made no reply. He watched old Sandy
across the shore until he reached the bathing-machine,
and then he turned away and walked slowly up the
winding path which led to the village. Harry could
not resist the temptation of stepping into the Magpie
and Stump, the small roadside inn, to read the
news 'over a pot of beer.
HARD TO BEAR.
THE same gladsome May sun shone into Harry's
cottage, and upon the flowers blossoming in the
window, and upon Nancy, his bonnie young wife, as
she stood busily ironing his well-starched Sunday
shirt. There was sunshine on her face, but the sun-
shine which was wont to be in it was gone, aiid a
cloud rested on her brow-the brow that once was
so open and free from care-tracks, and clear and
bright as summer's sky. Ah, people wondered, and
perhaps not unreasonably, how the pretty Nancy,
with her handsome dark laughter-lighted eyes, her
nut-brown hair, fresh-coloured cheeks and natty
slim figure, could ever have thrown herself away on
that ne'er-do-well fellow, Hapless Harry. But
Nancy thought differently. She loved him, and he
loved her, and what will not love venture for love ?
Harry, too, was a good-looking fellow, with plenty of
HARD TO BEAR. 13
ability, only he lacked the will to do and dare; he
had no firmness of purpose. However, Nancy had
full faith in the power of her own influence, and
in the power and attraction of a happy home to
make a man wiser and to keep him at home, and
to loosen the ensnaring fetters of a public-house.
That frequenting of the beershop was the objection
to Harry which was in everybody's mouth and on
every lip. 'If he'd keep away from such-like places
he'd do well enough, and not make such a bad hus-
band; but if he didn't, why then drink would spoil
his temper and make him a poor man and ruin them
both, and then who would care to tread in Nancy's
However, Harry was full of fair promises, and
Nancy full of hope, so one summer's day, not so very
long ago, they were married, and Nancy defied the
world all over to find a happier, prouder bride
than she was. Their pretty thatched cottage was a
model. Its clean boards, that you might eat off, as
the saying goes; the shining tins, bright as silver,
and brass candlesticks on the mantel-shelf glittering
like gold; the little well-scrubbed dresser, holding the
small stock of crockery, a pretty tea-set, and jugs and
mugs rich in colour hanging tastily on hooks all
along; the well-starched curtains-Nancy could not
resist the temptation of indulging in the vanity of a
14 HAPLESS HARRY.
pair of muslin curtains for the front-kitchen, which
was quite good enough to be called a parlour any
day-and the pretty sweet-smelling musk plants and
balsams, and many another gay flower, ranged in
clean pots on the window-sill; and the garden out-
side, so neatly kept and well stocked with vegetables,
and borders full of blossoming flowers, all a-nodding
and dancing in the summer breeze-oh! that gar-
den, according to Harry's hopeful promises and pro-
phesying, was to be a mine of wealth to them!
plenty for themselves and some to spare for sale, and
enough to keep a pig into the bargain !-everything
looked so well-to-do that even the gossips ceased to
wag their busy tongues, and half-believed that Harry
and Nancy would afford them nothing to talk about,
nothing to sneer at. Perhaps these tattlers were
disappointed at the prospect, for there are misfor-
tunes, sad though it be to think so, that are not quite
unsatisfactory to our neighbours. To Nancy's mind
the sun seemed to shine on everything, indoors and
out. Since then her heart has learnt to ache. She
did not know when she married what that dull,
sinkinig pain, heart-ache, meant. She does now.
That May morning, long and patiently Nancy
watched and waited for her husband's return; but
baby woke up, and dinner-time came and passed
away, and the sunshine was all gone out of the little
HARD TO BEAR. 15
window before he put in an appearance. ]y-and-
by there was a click of the latch, and the wicket-
gate. swung open, and Harry walked leisurely up the
narrow shingle path. He hung his head, looking
ashamed of himself. Harry's conscience often pricked
and accused him. Some wives would have met him
with a scowl and a shower of invectives-no doubt
he deserved both; but, instead of doing so, Nancy
called up a cheerful smile to greet him, and baby
crowed its noisiest welcome. It had very much the
effect of heaping coals of fire on an enemy's head;
it was returning good for eviL That smile and those
baby-crowings made Harry feel how unjust and
unkind, how false those complaints were which he
made to old Sandy about his wife's grumbles and
baby's fretfulness. He gave baby a kiss, by way of
a make-up, and patted his wife on the shoulder, and
tried to talk cheerily, but in this he failed. He knew
he had to confess the truth to her; that instead of
having earned any money, he had spent the little he
took out in his pocket at the Magpie and Stump in
SHave ye met with a job, Harry ?' Nancy asked,
as she took the saucepan off the fire; the bit of
dinner was almost boiled to rags, it had been kept
waiting so long.
'No,' was Harry's only reply.
16 HAPLESS HARRY.
'Dearie me, Harry, I did hope this beautiful
fine morning you'd have had some luck.'
Harry said nothing. He kicked aside a small
wooden stool crossly, as if it had been the obstacle
in the way of his luck.
'And you've been so long a-comin', too. What
have ye been doin', Harry ?'
Poor Nancy her voice shook, and her large eyes
had such an anxious stare.
'What have I been a-doin' ? Why, talking to old
Sandy.' Harry would not tell a lie about it.
'But not all the time, Harry ?'
Well, I was a-comin' home all right, when I fell in
with Dick Travers, and he asked me to go along with
him into the Magpie and Stump, just to have a look
at the news." There's a talk of wonderful improve-
ments in the place: the squire is going to mark out
some land on building leases, and there's to be villas,
and a reading-room, and a pier, and nobody knows
what besides. Nancy, 'twill be the making of us.'
'No, Harry; not if- '
'Not if what, Nancy ?'
Why, not if Dick Travers is always tempting you
into the Magpie and Stump, to spend your earnings
'There's many a worse man than Dick Travers,
HARD TO BEAR. 17
'May be there is, Harry, but there's many a better.
Look at Steve Morgan. I wish you'd take up with
him; he's a good straight-goin' man.'
'I don't suppose Steve would take up with me.
He's such a steady file.'
He would, Harry, if you'd give up going to the
Magpie and Stump; but he isn't the one to spend
his money foolishly.'
'Oh, Steve's a teetotaller, or total abstainer, or
summat, ain't he ?'
'He hasn't taken any vows, Harry, because he
says he thinks a man ought to be able to keep sober
without doing that.'
'Well, I don't pretend to be better than my neigh-
bours, nor stick myself up for a pattern for folks to
'Steve doesn't do that, Harry. But just think of
"the good his sober habits do himself and his little
family; look at his pig and his garden. Steve says
he buys his pig and pays his rent with the money
most men spend at a public. You never hear of
Steve's being behind-hand.'
'You're always throwing Steve's grand doings in
my teeth, Nancy, and I don't see any use in it.'
'There mayn't be much use in it, Harry, but
Saturday come round so quick. It's Wednesday
already, and there's the two last weeks' rent owing
18 HAPLESS HARRY
for, and baby wants a pair of shoes terribly. I can't
bear to see the poor little thing with scarce a shoe to
its feet.' Nancy did not say hAw shabby her own
Sunday dress looked. Harry had himself noticed it
a few weeks before, and had promised her a new one,
for he liked to see his wife make a nice appearance
amongst his neighbours, and so did poor Nancy her-
self; but lately she had had hard work to keep her
Sunday gown respectable.
'Never you mind, Nancy. Don't you go troubling
your little head about rent, nor nothing of that sort;
there's three days yet before rent-day comes round
again. I'll go out shrimping and fishing-folks are
coming in fast, they'll be wanting fish and shrimps;
and to-morrow morning I'll clean out the machines,
and do up my boat, and---'
'Why not this afternoon, Harry? You'll lose
another day by putting it off; and there's the garden
wants looking to.'
'Let's have dinner, Nancy, and leave me to take
care of my own concerns.'
Poor Nancy sat down with a sad heart, and a face
out of which all the smiles had died away.
There was no work to be got out of Harry that
day. After dinner he lighted his pipe and sauntered
out into the garden; weeds were growing apace, he
only looked at them, he did not touch one; every-
HARD TO BEAR. 19
thing was parched and dry, the earth stony and the
borders nothing but lumpy clods, instead of being
nicely raked; the few vegetables were poor, because
they were uncared for. Harry stared vacantly at it
all, but only kicked a stone aside here or an old cab-
bage-stump there. The pigsty, which he had put
together with so much pride and hope, and with
many promises, was empty and falling to pieces; he
had no money to buy a pig now. Tired of wander-
ing about doing nothing, and half stupefied with the
heady beer he had drank at the Magpie and Stump,
he went to the wicket-gate to lounge and gossip with
any passer-by-the very picture of an idler.
Poor Nancy saw it all She was watching him
through the lattice-window; baby 'was crawling
along the floor: it would have been doing something
-something better than nothing-if Harry had
taken it out for a little fresh air, or even stayed
indoors to look after it, and left Nancy free to do her
work; but no, he never gave it a thought, and Nancy
felt it worse than useless to say another word to him,
so she worked and worried and wept, as if her whole
being was running away in tears. What a mysterious
thing it is that the happiness, the light of one person's
life should be so often in the gift of another's will!
Which of us is there that does not by our lives or by
our words influence the happiness or misery of those
SO HAPLESS HARRY.
around us ? 'The body is not one member, but
many; if one member suffer, all the members suffer
Old Sandy remarked to his wife that evening, that
he had seen nothing of Harry since the morning.
'I suppose he's been up to his old tricks again;
he hasn't been near the machines. Ah, I'm afraid
that poor lass of his will have but a sorry time of
'It's her own fault if she do. If she had listened
to what folks was only too ready to tell her, she
would never have gone and married him,' said Mrs.
'True, Sally, true; but now she is his wife I can't
help pitying her, poor thing; she's got such a pretty
heart-touching face of her own. None of us is perfect,
and there's no denying marriage is most times a
lottery, something like trusting one's self to unpathed
waters and unknown shores. Ah! life's full of short-
comings, Sally; the only way is to be patient with
them, and look at home, before we're too hard upon
SUNDAY came. Arrears of rent were still owing.
There were no new shoes for baby; not that this
mattered much, for Harry was not inclined to go to
church-he did not care to meet his landlord's re-
proachful eyes, which always seemed to tell him he
was behind-hand with his rent, at least so thought
Harry; but it was a poor excuse. At all events he did
not mean to go to church that morning, so he could
stay at home and look after the child, and boil the
potatoes for dinner-there was little else to cook; so
Nancy started off by herself. It was a lovely morn-
ing-sunshine breaking through the trembling leaves
and dancing merrily on the church path; white
fleecy clouds, all guiltless of rain, hung in the dark
blue sky, shedding purple shadows on the soft grey
downs. The bells rang cheerily out of the old
belfry-tower-the seventh day's call to God's house
22 HAPLESS HARRY.
of prayer. The rooks cawed noisily, as they hovered
over the tall elms, before taking flight to the downs;
the sheep-bell with its sweet, silvery tones came
wandering down on the quiet breeze. Groups of
villagers lingered in the peaceful churchyard, breath-
ing sighs and sad regrets over the loved and lost-
lost, but not for ever, only till the sheaves are all
gathered and the garner full. Some, who had no
especial interest in the grassy mounds, no treasure in
Paradise as yet, were spelling over and over again, as
they had done for many a time, the familiar names,
the well-known texts and quaint epitaphs. Just one
or two here and there were replenishing the tiny
vases or little homely cups nestling among the tall
blades of grass with fresh flowers gathered from their
own gardens-sweet pledges of undying love and un-
forgotten memories. Who would grudge the smitten
heart this simple consolation, if it helps to soothe it ?
Why should a churchyard-God's own acre-be the
only barren, blossomless spot ?-a few bright flowers
laid on the grave speak of hope for a bright future.
It was early when Nancy reached the church. She
took her usual place in the old worm-eaten pew of
dark oak, far back against the wall in the aisle
stretching across the building from north to south.
There was no sound to break the solemn silence of
"the old church-the first bell had ceased-no sound
DOWNWARD STEPS. 23
save the twitter of birds and the drony buzz of one
solitary bluebottle-fly, that had strayed inside and
lost its way amidst the dark corners of the chancel.
Even the sunbeams danced slowly and reverently on
the bright green foliage, which almost trespassed on
the holy precincts of the sanctuary, so closely did the
boughs grow over the windows; no one seemed to,
dare to lay hands on the time-honoured trees to
lop or prune them. The deep and, to Nancy, the
almost awful silence was at last broken by the
entrance, now and then, of an old man, and the ring
of his hob-nailed boots as he walked along the bare
stone aisles, and the creaking of the rusty hinges
as the pew-door swung back into its-place; and then
the second bell struck out, the old bell-ringer stand-
ing in the centre of the church, tugging at the old
rope which came down from the open belfry, tugging
as he had done Sunday after Sunday, for years and
years, ever since he was young and wore a flower in his
button-hole. Now he stuck in a piece of southern-
wood-' boy's-love,' as country-folks callit-the smell
helped to remind him of the days of his youth;
there was not much else left that would do that.
The last pull at the rope was always the strongest,
and the last sound of the bell the loudest, as if it
said emphatically, 'I'll give ye one more chance, one
more call.' Then the old man shuffled away to the
24 HAPPLESS HARRY.
bench in the porch to. rest a bit> or wait for any
chance, straggling stranger that might be coming,
and want to be shown with due form into one of the
many empty pews-for he was sexton, and bell-
ringer, and clerk all in one; or it mightbe he sat in
the porch to breathe the sweet, balmy air, and listen
to the merry birds chanting their morning hymn of
Soon the first note of the organ sounded from its low
dark loft, the old man keeping time and beating the
tune with his fingers on his knees, whilst his lips were
ready and waiting to sing those long familiar words;
'Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run.'
Harry's place by Nancy's side was vacant. Poor
thing, she sighed as she thought of it; for, with all
his faults, Harry had been pretty regular at church.
It seemed to her-and so it was-like another step
downwards; one other consequence of those constant
visits to the Magpie and Stump. It was too
terrible to think of, her husband being afraid to face
a fellow-man If he could not do that, how would
he be able to stand before his God, Who is of purer
eyes than to behold iniquity ? And who could say
whether Harry's life would be long or short ? There
are every day perils for those that are at sea, and:
DOWNWARD STEPS. 35
more especially for fishermen, in their small cranky
How full of happy memories was that old church
to Nancy! She had sat in the same spot allher life;_
not a very long one, to be sure, but ever since she was
a wee child, and was lifted on to the seat by her
mother. Often and often had she fixed her large,
wondering eyes on the coloured glass window just
opposite, and watched with still deeper wonder the
melting colours dancing so fast along the wall, that
the quaint forms altered every moment, as the sun
drew farther and farther round. How puzzled she
was, in her childish ignorance, to guess what made
them pass away so fast and change so rapidly; but
most of all it puzzled her to think where they went
to when the colours faded off the monumental
cherub's smiling marble face and disappeared alto-
gether What a wonder-maker that painted window
had been to Nancy all her childhood! The same
window was still there, still shedding its coloured
lights and figures on the damp mouldy wall. Nancy
saw them that very morning, and how vividly, with
what sharpness they brought back to her mind those
happy days, none can tell but those who, like
Nancy, have a present weight of trouble pressing
down the heart, like the dark cloud overhead, that
makes the distant far-off sunshine look so doubly
26 HAPLESS HARRY.
gorgeous! She tried not to think-what was the
use of coming to church at all, if she only turned a
deaf ear to the services ? She tried very hard not to
think, but the responses seemed to hang on her open
lips, and the tremulous trill of her voice told of a
heart full of pain. She could not forget, she must
remember her trials; but she learned that day, on
her poor tired knees, the blessed, secret-' only to
remember her trials in prayer.'
Never before had she realized, never felt, the ful-
ness of those prayers; the very deepest sorrows and
longings of her heart seemed- put into words for her.
Hitherto she had said those words as one who had
neither stake nor interest in the matter, so dull and
cold was her heart. Now she prayed them-that is,
she cried with her whole heart, and she felt' it is
good for me to be here.' It was good for her to be
there, but not for long. She must go home and be
up and doing, and work and wear herself out in the
daily drudgery of that state of life in which it had
pleased God to place her. Nancy returned a happier
woman, and more able to meet the little worries and
vexations which awaited her at home. Baby was
fretful, and Harry cross and dissatisfied with himself
and with his unshaven face and untidy week-day
clothes. The best chicken, the hen that laid most
eggs, had broken its leg somehow, and had to be
tOWNWARD STEPfS. 27
killed. Harry did not tell Nancy that, in a fit of ill
temper-drink was fast doing its work in souring his
temper-he did not tell her that, in a fit of ill.
temper, he had kicked the poor bird and done the
mischief. And then the glass of his watch was
broken; he gave the watch to the child to play with,
to keep her quiet, and she had let it fall and the glass
was smashed to atoms. Harry did not tell Nancy
that he had left little Trotty to amuse herself with
the watch whilst he went out to the gate to have a
talk with Dick Travers. Poor Nancy! and yet she
had prayed to God to make Harry good!' She had
still to learn that we have to watch and wait as well
as pray. Watching seems to imply waiting. The
answer to our prayers will surely come; but we may
have to watch and wait for it.
Nancy's sad downcast eyes and shabby Sunday-
gown did not escape the keen-eyed village gossips,
who were peeping out between the flower-pots in
their windows at the folks coming home from church,
and making their comments upon their general
appearance. Being Whitsuntide, their curiosity was
sharpened, for most people in Bascombe had come
out in something fresh and new: white bonnet-
ribbons and smart gown-pieces; perhaps this was why
Nancy's grey alpaca dress looked a shade more faded
and dowdy, and her bonnet a thought too wintry.
28 HAPLESS HARRY.
Be this as it may, Mrs. Sparkes, one of the keenest
gossips and busiest amongst the busybodies, seeing
her come up the road, just ran out of her cottage, as
if by accident of course, to look up some good-for-
nothing young truant of a child, a strayed fowl, or a
poor dear little helpless kitten that had lost itself
among the nasty gooseberry bushes, and had to be
searched for, but in reality to find out what was the
matter with Nancy; that there was something wrong
Mrs. Sparkes was fully persuaded. Nothing could
shake that fixed idea. She ran out to the gate, and
was just in time to catch Nancy as she was passing
by. It would be unneighbourly not to say anything,
so she made a remark upon the fineness of the
weather, a very convenient topic to open a conversa-
tion. Then screwing her lips tightly together, whilst
she nursed her elbow, Mrs. Sparkes, with a significant
sigh, hoped 'the little one wasn't ailing, nor nothing
else amiss to keep Harry at home.' She ran her
eyes up and down Nancy's dress at the same time, to
show her she noticed it. No; baby was very well.'
Nancy did not exactly know what else to say. She
stammered and stuttered and looked away down the
road, the worst thing she could have done; it con-
firmed Mrs. Sparkes's suspicions, and she made up her
mind then and there that the very next 'mangling-
day,' when she took her things to be mangled by
DOWNWARD STEPS. 29
Mrs. Minns, she'd just drop a hint or so as to her own
impression, and fly a kite, there couldn't be any
harm in that, to find out if anybody else had noticed
or suspected that all wasn't quite as it should be at
SOMEHOW or other everybody seemed to drop into
Mrs. Minns's cottage at the same time on mangling-
days, with their clothes to be mangled. This being
the case, it was not unlikely that a regular stream of
gossip should flow from such gatherings.
Mrs. Sparkes had earned quite a name for being
so obliging as not to be in any particular hurry to
have her few poor bits of things done; there was no
tearing haste for her to be off home. She had no
lodgers, nor nobody waiting for her, so she generally
stayed until the last, and picked up all the crumbs
of news and gossip going. No doubt, before she
gave them out again she had vastly enlarged and
improved upon all she had gathered.
Mrs. Sparkes was early at Mrs. Minns's house the
next mangling-day; not too early, that would have
defeated her purpose; the mangle might be disena
gaged, her things done out of hand, and she left with-
out any excuse for remaining behind. As it was,
Mrs. Minns was busily turning the unwieldy handle,
and the lumbering old thing heaving and groaning
backwards and forwards on the rollers.
'Let me take a bit of a turn, Mrs. Minns,' said
Mrs. Sparkes. She was in a particularly obliging
humour that morning. 'By the looks of it you've
got plenty to do to-day-there's a good many of us
here.' Mrs. Sparkes drew in her lips and looked
round inquisitively, to see if Nancy was there, before
she added, 'I don't see nothing, though, of Harry's
'No,' said Mrs. Minns, 'she haven't been for some
weeks. I think she manages to do without the
mangle, and does her own ironing somehow.'
'And a pretty sort of a somehow it must be, I
should say, Mrs. Minns, if she's the ironer, brought.
up so fine as she was. I'm sure I blesses my mother
every-day I lives for having taught me the use of
my hands. Nowadays girls is afraid of soiling the
tips of their fingers, and must needs be 'prenticed to
milliners and dressmakers, or else stick up for ladies'-
maids; not but what I've known ladies'-maids, sensible
ones of course, as wouldn't so much as look over their
shoulders at Nancy, first-rate at ironing and getting
up their ladies' fine things. P'r'aps 'tisn't for me to
32 H HAPLESS HARRY.
say it, but I used to get a deal of praise for clear-
starching. How ever she'll get up those muslin
curtains of hers, and they hangs as limp as a herring
now, I can't say. The idea of her having muslin
" They're very cheap,' put in Widow Morgan.
'Oh yes, they're cheap enough for them as have
got the money to throw away upon such rubbish and
flimsy finery; for my part, I shouldn't call muslin
curtains a very good investment for any one's savings
-not that I expect Harry troubles his head much
about saving and putting by.' Mrs. Sparkes paused,
tightened her lips to a button, and looked round to
see if anybody was inclined to pick up the thread she
had dropped; but it was evident no one was. She
thought Widow Morgan seemed rather hurt about the
allusion to the muslin curtains, as she had a pair
hanging up in her best parlour. So Mrs. Sparkes
'Of course, Mrs. Morgan, it's different with you.
If you lets lodgings, and gets, let's say, a pound a'
week for your apartments,'-this was one of Mrs.
Sparkes's broad guesses, one of her kites she was so fond
of flying; she wanted to find out what Widow Morgan
really did get for her rooms. Of course, if you gets
your pound a week, the quality expects to see muslin
curtains and antimacassars, and-then your son, Mrs.
Morgan, ain't such a one as Harry-there, as I say, you
may well be proud of Steve, so steady, so spiritule-
minded- Probably Mrs. Sparkes would have gone
through the whole of Steve's virtues had -not Mrs.
Morgan interrupted her.
As to being proud of him, I didn't ought to be
tlat; pride comes before a fall most times, and I'm
sure we've all need to take heed lest we fall, and es-
pecially when we think we are standing the uprightest.
No, I shouldn't like it said I am proud of Steve, but
I do hope I'm thankful for him.'
Tis few mothers that can boast of such a son,
that's all I know,' said Mrs. Sparkes, glancing in the
direction of Mrs. Travers, the mother of Dick Travers,
who was always tempting Harry to have a drop at the
Magpie and Stump. Poor woman, she did not observe
the glance, but she drew a deep sigh, for she was well
aware her son was nothing to be proud of.
'Ah! 'tis them nasty publics does all the mischief,'
observed Mrs. Minns, resting a while from her mang-
ling labours. 'Tis thanks to them nasty publics that
our sons and husbands spends all their earnings, and
have never got a penny in their pockets. It's enough
to make your heart ache to see the numbers that go
into that bar at the Magpie and Stump.'
'They must be making a pretty penny by it,' re-
marked Mrs. Sparkes, 'not that I, for one, envys them
34 HAPLESS HARRY.
their ill-gotten gains, for ill-gotten they shall be when
'tis by robbing the poor wives and children of their
very bread that they fills their coffers,'
Very true, very true, Mrs. Sparkes; that's what I
say, but my son Steve, he's a scholar, you know, and
knows a great deal more about it than I do, he says
it's all very well to find fault with public-houses and
them that keeps them, but that you must go a step
beyond; you must look higher up the scale. 'Tis
those big gentlemen-brewers that's the most to blame.
See how they rolls in their riches, and in their fine
carriages! Why, they put their own servants into
the houses, and pay them so much per cent. on the
quantity of beer sold. Where would these fine gen-
tlemen be if the licensed houses were less, and folks
took to temperance ? Steve says 'tis no good to
license beershops one day, and take the chair at a
temperance meeting the next. Do away with the one,
and there wouldn't be no need of the other-no need
of taking the pledge.'
'You won't take it amiss, Mrs. Morgan,' inter-
rupted Mrs. Sparkes, but I ain't one for knocking
down the quality. Where should we poor people be
without the gentry ?'
'Where, indeed echoed Mrs. Minns, who had one
regular day's caring at the Manor House, and another
at the Parsonage,
'I'm sure, Mrs. Sparkes, I hope I and my Steve ain't
none of that sort. Steve ain't no leveller; I always
brought him up to make his reverence to the quality,
and he've kept to it ever since. He is one as follows
the Lord, and renders to Caesar the things that be
Caesar's; but facts is facts, and Steve says facts is
stubborn things. Facts is facts-if all the millions of
money spent on beer don't go into them gentlemen-
brewers' pockets, where do it go 7'
'It isn't only beer, 'tis spirits as well,' chimed in
'That's true, Mrs. Travers,' replied Mrs. Morgan.
'My Steve, when he was up in London, went down
into the wine and spirit vaults in the Docks. He says
'tis a good deal like going down into a mine; it's pitch
dark, and you've got to carry a lamp at the end of a
stick, and ydu go through long dismal passages that
run under the streets just as if there was no ending
to them. Steve says he never saw anything uglier
nor dismaller; the walls was covered with a nasty
thing they call fungus; and the pipes and butts of
wine and casks of spirits were packed so close, he
could scarce squeeze his way past them; and Steve
says he heard say these vaults occupied as much as
eleven to sixteen acres !'
'Dear, dear! Whoever would guess there was
such places ?' said Mrs. Minusn
36 HAPLESS HARRY.
Bat I don't see that's any excuse for your drunk-
ards,' put in Mrs. Sparkes; 'because there's heaps of
water in the sea, I don't needs go and drown my-
Mrs. Sparkes thought her remark very much to the
point-perhaps it was.
It mightn't be no excuse,' replied Mrs. Travers,
'but all the beer and all them spirits have got to be
sold somehow; that's how it is beer and spirit-shops
crop up at every corner, and tempts the poor foolish
lads in. 'Tis putting the temptation in their way
that I complains of. Why, if a man gets safe past
one beershop, he's sure to knock up against another
at the next corner. Poor things, 'tis a sore tempta-
tion for them; the warm, lighted room and "the
news." My Dick says, Mother, I only goes to read
the paper." Perhaps he goes in with that intention;
but I don't deny, and I can't hide it, that he don't
come out without he has had his pot of beer; as I
says to him, Dick, wouldd be cheaper to take in a
paper all to yourself, like the gentlefolks do." '
I expect 'tis the Magpie and Stump that's
swallowing up all Harry's earnings,' remarked Mrs.
Sparkes, bringing the conversation round to him and
Nancy. 'Nancy don't look nothing as smart as she
used to, and the garden's a bed of weeds, and the
pig-sty's empty. I don't know if any of you noticed
her coming home from church Sunday, looking so
shabby and sad; it quite made my heart ache again,
it did. I don't know if anything's going wrong with
He's too much with my Dick,' said Mrs. Travers,
'and Dick's too much with him; they'll do each other
no good, that's what I say, but Dick won't listen
P'r'aps not, Mrs. Travers,' replied Mrs. Sparkes.
'Sons won't often listen to mothers when they're
grow'd up, but I should have thought Harry wouldn't
have liked to vex Nancy, nor see her go so shabby;
but there, perhaps now he's married "his love is but
"a cold coal to blow upon," or, as I often say, there's
nothing like drink for driving love out of the window
and making a home wretched.'
'That's true,' sighed poor Mrs. Travers.
'But what seems the cruellest of all,' said Mrs.
Morgan, 'is the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sun-
day. My Steve says it ought to be stopped, and he
hopes the Lords and the Commons will do it. Why,
as Steve says, we should be taken up by the police if
we sold a few apples on the Sabbath, or say a loaf of
bread, and yet them publicans are allowed to sell
beer and spirits. I say 'tis a shame, and so do
'.But your Steve, Mrs. Morgan, never enters a
38 HAPLESS HARRY.
public-house, Sundays nor work-a-days,' said Mrs.
'I'm thankful to say he don't, and he's all the
happier for it. He takes his quiet pint of beer at
his dinner with a good conscience, but never more.
He says he thinks temperance in beer is the thing;
but, of course, if a man can't keep himself temperate
he'd best be a teetotaler-that don't need many words
to prove. Steve told me the other day that he heard
a gentleman say, at some meeting, that every pot of
beer would buy so much' land, and Steve says it's as
true as gospel.'
'And not content with getting the poor lads into
their clutches,' put in Mrs. Travers, bitterly, the
scoundrel publicans give them, instead of good whole-
some beer, made of malt and hops, nothing but salt
and poisonous grains of paradise, which just makes
the poor fools thirstier than ever, and turns them
into drunken sots.'
To hide her tears the poor woman caught up her
basket of clothes and went out of the cottage. This
seemed the signal for the other women to go also.
Very soon after Mrs. Minns fastened back the handle
of her mangle, and settled herself down to her mid-
day meal, a plate of greens and a dish of scraps
she had brought home from the Manor House; a few
pickings,' as she termed them, which no doubt would
have been thrown to the over-fed dog, if she had
not just hinted to the cook that it seemed a pity to
cast away Christians' food for the good of dumb
THE WARNING VOICE.
ON her way home Mrs. Morgan fell in with her son
Been to the mangle, mother?' he said, as he
joined her. 'You're late home, ain't ye?'
I suppose it is getting on, Steve. There was a
good many of us to-day, and a smart bit of mangling
to be got through, and- '
'And a smart lot of gossip into the bargain, I
guess,' added Steve, interrupting his mother and
finishing her sentence after his own fashion.'
'You may be sure, Steve, there's always a deal too
much of that sort of thing wherever Mrs. Sparkes is.'
'Take my word for it, mother, as long as the
world lasts there will always be a Mrs. Sparkes
cropping up. Do away with Mrs. Sparkes, and some
other gossiping busybody will soon be found filling
her vacant place.'
THE WARNING VOICE. 41
'That's pretty true, I expect, Steve. I only wish
I could get my few bits of things mangled without
going to Mrs. Minns. She's a decent sort of body
herself; 'tis those as comes who do the mischief.'
Tis always the same everywhere, mother. When
a lot of women get gathered together they'll gossip
on till midnight, and when there's nothing going to
talk about they'll soon make up some tale out of
their own heads.'
'Law, Steve, you are hard upon us poor creatures,
and widows, too, for the most part, and your own
poor dear mother one of them.'
'Well, mother, I beg your pardon; nevertheless,
tis pretty true in the main. All I can say is,
Mrs. Sparkes had better look at home and keep at
home. As the old saying is, if folks would sweep
before their own doors the world would get on a deal
better than it does now.'
'That's true, Steve. Mrs. Sparkes was full of poor
Nancy and her Harry. No doubt Harry is wasting
his time and his substance at the Magpie and
Stump, but 'tisn't for such as we to go strawing the
matter all about the place, only making things worse
than they were before: by the looks of it they're bad
enough already. Mrs. Travers says her son Dick and
Harry are always together.'
"" Tell me with whom thou goest, and I'll tell thee
42 i APLfSS HARPRf
what thou doest," is a pretty true saying, mother. ti
Harry chooses Dick Travers for his companion, mark
my word if any good comes of it. With a young
child, and a bonnie lass for a wife, Harry ought not
to sit down and dream his life away. Life's a hard
battle for everybody to fight, and a poor man's battle
is most times the hardest of any. Harry forgets that.
Honest poverty is no disgrace-'tis a triumph and a
glory when 'tis fought with a good heart-
The honest man, though e'er so poor,
Is king o' men, for a' that."'
Tis that horrid drink, Steve. If Harry would
only keep clear of the Magpie and Stump he
would be a happy and prosperous man, I do believe.'
'Ah, yes, mother. Most times all the miseries of
a man's life are beaten out on his own anvil, and, if I
ain't very much mistaken, the beershop, in ninety-
nine cases out of a hundred, is that anvil. If Harry
would give up the Magpie and Stump. There's the
rub. Let a man once put his foot inside a public-
house, the difficulty is to break off the habit of going
there. 'Tis the old story over again, the "only a
drop becomes many drops, and the man is doomed.'
'Couldn't you put in a word or so, when you meet
him, Steve ? perhaps he'd listen to you.'
'I don't expect he would. Men are terribly
THE WARNING VOICE. 43
touchy when they know they ain't doing exactly as
they ought. I guess Harry knows as well as I can
tell him, he's on the wrong tack. 'Tisn't often I fall
in with him now. He's never down on the beach
looking after his machines and his boat, or if he is, he
is most times with a pack of idlers smoking or loung-
I Steve and his mother parted when they reached
her cottage. Steve to go home to his wife and
children. Mrs. Morgan to go indoors to look after
the lodgers' dinner. Steve was a steady, sober man,
religious and prosperous. His outward conduct
always matched with his religious profession-his
practice squared with his belief. The season turned
out to be a really good one for Bascombe. The quiet
shore was dotted over with visitors; some boating, or
paddling their own canoes, whilst others sat on the
sands amusing themselves in various ways, enjoying
the soft sea breezes and the freedom of a holiday
away from home, and its everyday cares. Children
were making sand-pies and castles in the sunshine,
as busily and earnestly as if they were working for
their very bread; whilst others, little idlers and
lovers of ease, were wading through the sea-chasing
the sun-made diamonds that sparkled on the dancing
ripples, dipping their tiny fingers into the water to
gather handfuls of them, wondering whither they
44 HAPLESS HARRY.
had fled when they unclasped their hands, and
found nothing left but clear water drip, drip,
dripping down again to the golden sand. True
image of ourselves wading life's stream, apparently
so bright and glistering with treasures and plea-
sures. We covet and desire them; we spend and
are spent in the hot pursuit of them; we grasp
eagerly at them, and find out that they are,
alas! unreal and have vanished, leaving our busy
fingers and aching hearts empty and void, like those
of the children who sought to gather the fleeting
sunbeams on a passing ripple.
Bascombe was quite full; not a lodging un-
occupied, not a room that could be spared and
utilised unlet. The bathing-machines were in con-
tinual demand. Everybody seemed to be seized
with the desire to live the life of the hippopotamus,
and spend their days in the water. The fishermen
found plenty of employment, and a ready sale for
their nice fresh fish-no sooner caught and landed
than sold. What more relishing than the purple
mackerel, radiant with its tinted skin, just drawn
from the sea ? Quite a little, anxious crowd gathered
round the baskets, filled to the brim, to get the first
and best pick. Even Harry, in spite of himself, had
enough to do. I say in spite of himself, for it often
happened that when folks wanted his boat or his
THE WARNING VOICE. 45
bathing-machine, that he was nowhere handy.
"People naturally grew tired of waiting until he
turned up; at last he got a bad name among the
visitors. No wonder then that people only hired him
if nobody else was disengaged; no wonder his boat
was the last to go out. Parties very soon discovered
his lazy, loitering ways and his indolent nature.
Other men could row double the distance in an hour
that Harry could, or rather did. The slow, lazy sound
of his oars, as he drew them dronishly out of the
water, almost sent one off to sleep; and as to his
bathing-machine, it was ten to one, if you did
venture into it, that either the door would not open
or shut, that the steps hung all on one side, because
the hook which fastened them to the machine was
lost or broken; the piece of carpet had not been
dried, or some other small disaster; in fact, Harry
and his machine were sure to come to grief in some
shape; every one of which might have been pre-
vented or cured by a little pains and forethought.
Then again, if Harry went out fishing, just because
he was late in starting, the porpoises were certain to
get ahead of him, and scare away the shoals of fish
into deep water. He was always behindhand with
everything, always lagging in the rear; and yet, in
spite of himself and his haplessness, Harry managed
to pick up a nice little sum of money-enough, had
46 HAPLESS HARRY.
he been thrifty, to help him on through the dreary
winter months. How came it to pass, then, that
arrears of rent were still owing? that Nancy's old
grey alpaca dress did duty all through the summer for
Sunday and afternoons as well ? that the pigsty
was still without a pig, the garden full of weeds and
uncultured, and baby's new shoes-the old ones
would hold together no longer-were paid for out
of Nancy's chance earnings? Ask old Sandy; he
would tell you, with a lengthened and significant
shake of the head, that the Magpie and Stump had
pocketed all Harry's earnings. Poor Nancy! these
things were for endurance, not for tears-tears enough
she had already shed, till her heart felt dry. Each
tear seemed to have cut its furrow and left its line
upon that young face. The pretty face was fast
fading, the loving voice alone remained the same;
sometimes its echo, still ringing in Harry's ear like
the warning voice of conscience, would almost
enable him to overcome temptation, and bid him do
his duty to her, to their little one, to himself-to
love the better rather than choose the worse. Well
would it have been for him, for them, if he had listened
to that voice before it was too late! And have not
many others been arrested in a downward course,
been awakened to a sense of sin, by a voice, perhaps
merely the memory of a voice? What was it made
THE WARNING VOICE. 47
that cold, stolid heart beat with warm emotions;
what flushed that worn-out, pallid cheek with con-
scious shame; what brought tears to those open,
staring eyes; what sound was it a poor, erring
daughter heard, or fancied she heard, in the solemn
silence of the night ?-what but a mother's loving
voice? What pierced that prodigal son's dull ear,
deaf to everything else ?-what but a father's voice?
And was it not a voice-the voice of the Lord God,
heard in the cool of the day as they walked in the
garden of Eden, which brought conviction of sin
home to the hearts of the first sinners-our first
'TIME ENOUGH TO TURN.
STEVE had not forgotten his mother's hint to try and
say a few words to Harry about the way he was going
on. It had not weighed lightly on either his heart or
mind. He had never lost an opportunity-the lack
of opportunity, not the lack of will, had hitherto
kept him silent, and those warning words unspoken.
He had never since then met Harry face to face. It
may be that Harry did not care to have any talk with
him, and therefore purposely avoided Steve. Some-
how or other Steve was a kind of living reproach to
Harry. The sound of his busy, active footstep, the
sight of his well-to-do pig, his tidy cottage and gar-
den, his neatly dressed wife and children-one and
all seemed to say to Harry, Why is everything just
the opposite with you ? His own conscience was
ready to whisper the true reason in reply, but Harry
would not listen to it, or else he turned aside into the
TIME ENOUGH TO TURN.' 49
Magpie and. Stump, to drown unpleasant thoughts
in a glass of beer, amidst more welcome and congenial
companionship. Steve had little hope, as we have
said, that anything he could say would have the
slightest effect with Harry; still, who could tell what
a kind word, a few unexpected words of kindness,
or even a friendly shake of the hand, might do?
Kindness has melted more hearts, made more people
ashamed of themselves and convinced them of sin,
than all the hard and surly words that were ever
uttered. Steve was not the one to despise a man
because he had fallen below the level of his own
standard. Harry was miserable enough already, there
could be no doubt of that, without his trampling him
under foot, or turning his back upon him. It was
certain Harry was not what he ought to be, not what
he might be: but the seed of a new and better life.
was not dead within him; he might rise and fight a
good fight, and conquer yet, and be the man he ought
to be once more. God's grace is never beyond our
reach-Christ never crushes out the smoking flax,
never breaks the bruised reed; the one may once
more be kindled into a living flame, the other lift up
its bowed head again. It is the boundless, patient,
enduring love of God revealed in Christ Jesus as the
friend of sinners which produces the broken and con-
trite heart, which is in the sight of God of great price.
50 HAPLESS HARRY.
Every soul is precious in God's eyes. There is not a
little ragged child, or an erring man or woman, what-
ever be their state and condition in this world, for
whom Christ did not give up His life and die on the
By-and-by'autumn came on, the busy season at
Bascombe lulled, and business became less pressing.
One after the other the lodging-houses lost their visi-
tors, and the people began to -reckon up the gains of
the past summer, and prepare for the coming winter.
Old Sandy's cottage-door was mostly shut now; the
tabby cat slept undisturbed on the sunny window-
sill-if there was a gleam of sun anywhere it was
sure to find its way into old Sandy's cottage window;
the pet tortoise, half asleep already, was thinking, in its
waking moments-if tortoises do think, of burrowing
for the winter. Old Sandy smoked his pipe in the arm-
chair, and rested-not that the old man was idle. As he
said, there was always work to be done, and plenty of it;
and as folks were fond of observing, there was not any-
thing going on that old Sandy had not a hand in, not
much that he did not notice, not a ship in the offing
that he had not looked at through his telescope. You
might catch a weasel asleep, but Old Sandy never.
His wife had put on her broad-rimmed glasses, and
was busy with her needle; there was plenty of
mending and darning to last her well through the
TIME ENOUGH TO TURN.' S
winter till summer came again. The days were short;
by the time she had got the dinner and tidied up a bit
it was almost blind man's holiday, and her eyes were
not good for much by candle-light. The men drew
up their bathing-machines under the cliffs for shelter.
The sailors stowed away their light summer craft,
and began alreadyto think and talk of storms and rough
winds, and dreary cold nights at sea in their fishing
boats. Men must work, come storm or calm-women
must weep for stranded boats and home-gathered lives
of husbands, and fathers, and sons! And now the
last stranger, like the last lingering swallow, has
turned his back on Bascombe and gone away, leaving
the quiet little place to its own resources-and to the
wild birds. Oh, those wild birds! They seemed part
of old Sandy's very existence. How often had he
watched a skein of wild-fowl whirl and scream high
overhead, filling the silent air with the hoarse rattling
sound of their wings, or listened to the clear whistle
of the curlew, and the wild swan's trumpet-note It
was a sign of a hard and bitter winter when the wild
swan was about. And oftener still had he watched the
puff of smoke rising far off on the bosom of the sea
from the unseen punt, and heard the distant boom of
the great gun-again and then again-and the scream
ofthe scared and wounded birds! Many atimehe had gone
out in a punt himself, but those days were over now.
52 HAPLESS HARRY.
All hope of brighter days had died out of
Nancy's heart. If they could not pull through the
week without running into debt in the summer when
everything was brisk, and Harry flush with work, how
were they to manage when winter came, with poverty
always near at hand to stare you in the face, and want's
clutching fingers ready to pinch you ? Nancy could
not tell; Harry did not know. The flowers still looked
fresh and green in their cottage window. Nancy loved
those few flowers. They, at all events, still seemed to
smile at her. There was something so cheerful in
them as they stood basking in the short-lived winter
sunshine, catching and making the most of every gleam.
The white muslin curtains, Nancy's pride, were gone.
She had taken them down to wash them-she had
not the heart to put them up again. Mrs. Sparkes's
sharp eyes had spied out this. She very rarely allowed
anything to escape her notice-so there they lay,
neatly folded and covered over up stairs, ready for
brighter days, if they should ever dawn !
It happened one day in the beginning of winter,
as Steve was going up the zigzag path leading to the
village from the shore on his way home, that he over-
took Harry just as he reached the top of the cliff
where two paths met: one led direct to the village,
the other to the few straggling cottages, of which
Harry's was one. Harry was hesitating' in his own
'TIME ENOUGH TO TURN.' 53
mind which road to follow-Steve guessed as much.
Harry was the picture of a don't-care-do-nothing
idler-his hands in his pockets, his smoked-out clay
pipe in his mouth, slouching along, kicking aside the
stones in the path as if he had nothing better to do,
nothing else to think of. The clock in the belfry
tower had just struck twelve. Harry knew very well
Nancy was at home waiting dinner for him-still he
hesitated. It was dull work going home with empty
pockets. What was the use of it ? He wasn't hungry
-at least, he had no appetite for their usual scanty
meal. He had not earned one, that was the truth, by
honest, wholesome work, and the sweat of his face.
He did not fancy meeting Nancy's kindly welcoming
eyes-they cut him to the heart worse than any uttered
reproach. He wanted to speak to Dick Travers about
something; he had not met him on the beach as he
thought he might. Dick would be sure to be at the
Magpie and Stump. Where would be the harm of
his just stepping down there before he went home ?
One glass of beer would give him an appetite. Only
one glass-perhaps he should not take even that.
He wanted Dick to pay him the few shillings he lent
him one day to pay for arrears of P.'s and Q.'s (pints
and quarts) at the Magpie and Stump. Nancy was
vexed at his having so foolishly lent the money. She
wouldn't mind being kept waiting a bit if only he
54 HAPLESS HARRY.
brought it back, he felt sure of that; it wasn't his fault
if Dick was only to be found at a public-house. Harry
was still hesitating when he heard a footstep close
behind him. Helooked round; it might beDickTravers
himself. Not so, it was Steve, a very different person.
There was no escape this time. Steve joined him.
'Going home, Harry, I suppose. It's just gone
twelve. We may as well walk together, for I expect
we're both going the same way.'
Harry stammered a good deal, and said something
about having to go into the village.
'An ill-convenient time, Harry, for doing errands.
Why, it must be just dinner-time. I don't think we
men have any business to keep our wives waiting
about for meals, when we can help it. I don't know
how your Nancy would take it. My Lizzie would
give me a sound rating if I made a practice of being
home late; of course, if there's anything particular to
hinder one, or if it's only now and then, why that's a
different thing. Lizzie says what's good for the
gander is good for the goose; if keeping regular hours
for meals is good for the gentry, it's good for we.'
'Oh! I don't know nothing about that sort of
thing. Nancy and I don't set ourselves up for being
fine, stuck-up folks. Nancy knows wouldn'tt do for
her to begin rating me, so she don't try it on. When
I took her for better and for worse, wasn'tt I that
promised to obey her.'
'TIME ENOUGH TO TURN.' 55
You promised to love and cherish her, though;
and to cherish seems to me to mean fostering and
comforting-just as I have seen the birds fostering
their young ones, and supporting the hen-bird.'
'Ah, well, Nancy hasn't any cause to complain of
me, and I don't see why anybody else should. As I
say, we ain't stuck up folks; I snatches my meals as
the fancy takes me. Have ye seen anything of Dick
'No, Harry, I haven't. I should say, though, that
you'll be most likely to find him at the Magpie and
Stump. Ah, mark my word-not that I'm a prophet,
there's no need of that-but mark my word, Harry, if
he ain't ruining himself and others besides, down at
that place. It's no good beating about the bush;
it's best to go straight at the point at once. Harry,
if you don't take very good care, Dick will be your
Who made you my master, Steve ?'
'Nobody, Harry. I ain't neither your master nor
your schoolmaster-I ain't going at ye schoolmaster
fashion either. You and I are like brothers, Harry.
We're both on the same tack, both--'
'I'm such an unlucky chap,' interrupted Harry.
'No, no, Harry. You ain't unlucky, don't believe
it. You'd give a turn to your luck fast enough, if
you'd give up going to the public-house. Every-
56 HAPLESS HARRY.
thing would come easier then. You would find your-
self a happier man, your work lighter, your prospects
better, your everyday life smoother, your character
higher and more respected in the eyes of all.'
'Oh, well; that's all very grand, I haven't a
doubt. But there will be time enough for me to
turn such a steady chap when I am older.'
'Time enough ? Wait till you're old, Harry? It
will be harder work then than it is now. Ask all
the old men up at the workhouse what brought 'em
there. See if, nine cases out of ten,'twasn't drink-
waiting till they were old before they left the habit
off. Ask them if they found it easier to turn back
when they were old.'
'Where's the use of struggling, Steve, when a
fellow's unlucky ? Haven't you been hundreds of
times over them very stakes that stove immy boat
the other night, and yet you've never got any
'Ah, Harry, wasn't it your own fault ?' asked
Steve, mournfully shaking his head. It wasn't
because your luck was bad.'
'I suppose you mean to say Dick Travers and I had
had a drop too much ? I should like to know how
we poor fishermen are to stand being out wet, cold
nights, unless they can have a drink of whisky ?'
'I-never take a drop of spirits along with me,
STIIME ENOUGH TO TURN.' 57
Harry. I don't believe I should be able to stand the
cold and wet half as well if I did. You may sneer if
you like, but it's true as gospel-the words ain't
mine, but our doctor's ; I suppose you'll believe him-
that in nine quarts of spirits--that's a pretty good
quantity, ain't it ?-that in nine quarts of spirits
there's less food than can be spread on the end of
a table-knife !'
'Well, I never said drink was food, Steve, did I ?
It's the warmth and comfort of it I was speaking of
when 'tis wet and cold.'
'Warmth and comfort, Harry! Spirits will never
give either the one or the other. That's just what
our doctor was talking to me about, the other day.
Says he, "P'r'aps, Steve Morgan, you won't believe it,
because you mayn't have tried it, but spirits, instead
of giving warmth to the body, only makes it all the
colder afterwards. You give a man spirits, it will
raise the heat of the body for the moment; but you
put a thermometer to his side, and you will find the
glow very soon goes off, and leaves him colder than
he was before." He says the experiment has been
tried by great labour-employers with navvies in gangs,
and soldiers on the march, and it's proved that those
can work best who have not been weakened by the
reaction of stimulants. When they were altering the
broad gauge down on the Great Western Railway-I
58 HAPLESS HARRY.
believe 'twas there-and the men had to work extra
hours to get the job done quickly out of hand, there
"wasn't a drop of stimulants allowed; they had good
food, and for drink oatmeal and water.'
'That's all very true, Steve, I haven't a doubt; but
let 'em feel the sort of hang-dog misery that comes
over a feller sometimes when there's no luck about
the house-let 'em have their boat stove in-let 'em
be behindhand wi' their rent-let 'em have a wife and
a little un to feed, and next to nothing to do it all with,
-belike they'd take a drop to cheer up their spirits,
and drown the nasty thoughts and cares that seem
dragging ye down till ye've lost spirit for work, and
lost the mind for it too. Wouldn't you take a drop
yourself, Steve, if you'd got those feelings ?'
'No, Harry; I don't believe I should. I never
enter a public-house nor a dramshop. You may
think drink will drown trouble, but* it don't; it's
only adding blackness to darkness. Because you don't
see the rock beneath the smiling sea, 'tis there all the
same. Drink as you will, you'll only wake up out of
it to find your trouble still there. Tis drink, Harry,
gives ye that hang-dog feeling of misery, but it will
never take it away. Ask the thousands that have
sold their souls and bodies for drink, and are going
down fast in mid-life to a drunkard's grave-ask them
what drink has done for them? They'll tell you that
TIME ENOUrGH TO TURN. 59
it has only wasted their substance, and made their
lives miserable. Mark my word, Harry, drink is the
obstacle in your way; leave off drinking and going
to the Magpie and Stump, and see if you ain't better
off, and a more prosperous and well-to-do man. Ah!
'tis drink and them nasty public-houses that are ruin-
ing the happiness of families, and undermining, as
you may say, the very ground you're standing on !'
'You haven't taken the pledge, Steve ?'
'I know I haven't, but I never touch a drop of
spirits, or any intoxicating liquor. 'Tis voluntary
abstinence with me. As I say, "Custom is second
nature." Once get into the habit of taking nothing,
and you don't want the pledge to keep ye sober;
once get into the habit of drinking, and it's ten to one
if any pledge will bind you. Folks say to me, "Steve
Morgan,why don't you take the pledge, as an example
to other people ?" Myreplyis, "I don't believe it would
do a morsel of good. Men would naturally say, It's
very easy for a person to take the pledge if he was
never a drunkard; for him, drink is no temptation, the
public-house has no fascination. I hold, and always
shall, that a man*ho is temperate and keeps sober from
principle, and by the force of his own free will, is a
brighter example than the pledge-taker. It seems to
me if a man hasn't courage to withstand an extra pot
of beer, he'd never be able to keep the pledge. It's
60 HAPLESS HARRY.
the mind and the will to keep sober that's wanted.
I ain't one of those that say you're committing a sin if
you do not take to total abstinence. Be ye temperate
in all things," is ,my rule; but if you can't keep tem-
perate without being bound by a pledge, then I say
"with all my heart take the pledge, and the sooner the
better, and throw off the demon of intemperance
before it's too late.'
P'r'aps it's too late now, Steve-it's so difficult to
turn back. The bull is brought to the stake, and he
must bide the baiting."'
'It's never too late, Harry.'
By this time Harry and Steve Morgan had nearly
reached Harry's cottage. For this once he had resisted
the temptation of going to the Magpie and Stump.
He felt half inclined to turn on his heel and go back,
just to show Steve he was not going to be 'school-
mastered' by him; but Nancy was standing at the
garden-gate with a smile on her face, and little crow-
ing Trotty ready to spring out of her mother's arms
into her father's. He would have been ashamed for
Steve to see him turn his back on such a loving pair;
so, taking little Trotty from Nancy, he walked into
the cottage without saying anything. Steve wished
Nancy good-day, just remarking, as he left, 'It's my
fault this time if Harry is late, and if he has kept the
pot boiling too long.'
PLENTY OF THORNS, PLENTY OF BRIAES.
IT has been said, and very truly said, that however
bad a man was himself, he did, in his better moments,
admire what was right and good in others. So it was
with Harry. Bad as he knew he was, and utterly
wrong, he could not help admiring what was right
and good in Steve, and wishing, in his better
moments, that he could act as he was acting and live
as he was living. Harry's conscience began'to prick
him; his conscience made him uneasy, almost sorry
for the past, and he said in his heart, I wish I could
give up my bad habits;' but what is in our hearts
counts for nothing unless we do what is right.
SOnly feeling sorry when we have done wrong, is
not repentance. The dark, uneasy feeling which crept
through Harry's heart after Steve left him was not
repentance; it was remorse, that miserable feeling
which, coming over a man, makes him hate himself
62 HAPLESS HARRY.
-makes him feel at war with himself, with every-
body else. Remorse kills both body and soul, but
of true repentance it is written, 'When the wicked
man turneth away from his wickedness which he
hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and
right, he shall save his soul alive.' Harry might feel
sorry, but he had not really changed his mind, which,
in Bible words, is to repent; for had he changed his
mind he would have changed his conduct. As we
hall see, Harry did not do this. He said not a word
to Nancy about his conversation with Steve Morgan
on his way home that morning, but, from his moodi-
ness and manner, she pretty correctly guessed, the
subject. Dinner passed off almost in silence, and
baby, with her little noisy chirping babble, had it all
her own way. As soon as the meal was finished,
Harry took up his cap and went out, without telling
Nancy where he was going. She had it on her lips
to ask him, but she did not; perhaps she was afraid
of stirring up strife by any words of hers; perhaps
she thought a sad silence would touch his heart
more deeply, more surely. Silence can preach as
eloquently as words sometimes. The wise man hag
said, 'To everything there is a season, and a time to
every purpose under heaven; a time to keep silence,
and a time to speak.' Nancy said nothing, and
Harry went on his way; he bent his steps towards
PLENTY OF THORNS. 63
the shore. All feeling of shame had not yet died out
of his heart; he felt he should be ashamed for Steve
Morgan to see him going towards the Magpie and
Stump, should he chance to meet him. Harry forgot
that 'the ways of man are before the eyes of the
Lord, and that He pondereth all his goings.' He did
not remember that 'the eyes of the Lord are in every
place,' or he would have felt less afraid of man, and
more ashamed that the Holy One should see him
turning aside into the wrong road. It is 'by the
fear of the Lord men depart from evil.' The fear of
man bringeth a snare.' So it was with Harry. He
hesitated before he took the path leading down to
the shore. Why should he be afraid of Steve Mor-
gan or anybody else ? He wanted to see Dick
Travers; Dick owed him money; money he wanted,
money he must have, to help pay arrears of rent.
What would be the use of going down on the beach ?
it was not at all likely he should earn anything that
afternoon. Why shouldn't he go and get the money
from Dick ? it would be all the same as earning it.'
There is an old proverb which says,' The devil is old,
and therefore he knows many things.' He knows
full well how to ply the foolish-body with plausible
excuses and false pretexts for doing wrong; he
always seizes on the right moment to whisper into
the ear,' Thou shalt not surely die.'
64 HAPLESS HARRY.
There was the owing money to be recovered, un-
happiness to be forgotten, stinging remorse to be
driven out of his heart, his miserable and trouble-
some thoughts to be drowned: surely, argued Harry
with himself, surely these are strong reasons, good
excuses, why I should not go down to the beach;
why I.should turn aside and go to the Magpie and
Stump. What means could so thoroughly and en-
tirely effect all this as a drop of drink? Harry's
excusing conscience whispered 'Nothing;' and he
turned on his heel and went straight on to the
Magpie and Stump. From bad to worse is but an
easy step-Harry found it so. After that day he
felt less sorrow and less shame. Again and again he
went there; the habit, the sin, had become easier
and easier. Each time his conscience grew duller
and harder, until, at last, the feeling that he was
doing wrong died altogether within his heart. Harry
knew he was in the wrong path, and yet he would
persevere in it: not that the road was pleasant; he
found plenty of thorns, plenty of briars. The road
which leads to destruction is broad, but it soon gets
dark and rough, and uglier and more wretched, the
longer you walk in it. It is only the gate which is
easy and comfortable. Harry found that out when
it was too late.
'One can't be angry with Harry,' observed old
PLENTY OF THORNS. 65
Sandy, when he heard how Harry was going on;
' one can only pity him.'
I don't expect you can,' interposed his wife;
'nothing ever could rile you, not even them por-
poises, when they used to come scaring away shoal
after shoal of mackerel; but, for my part, I call
Harry a regular aggravation and as for pitying him,
I say let's keep our pity for them as needs it. There's
that poor Nancy; just you consider what trouble and
vexation he is bringing upon her poor soul.'
I know all that, missus, but I can't be angry with
him; I can only pity him, and pity him all the more
because he won't listen to good advice-because he's
destroying himself with his eyes open.'
That's you all over, Sandy. Pity him, indeed!
I say he richly deserves anything that may befall
him. Harry never would listen to anybody, let
'Stop, missus, stop. You're hitting the wrong nail
on the head. Where would any of us be if we had all
we richly deserve ? We shouldn't be following our
Lord's example if we were to let our anger get the
better of our pity. But we must do more than pity
poor Harry; pity won't save him: we must pray for
him, that God may give him grace to forsake his evil
habits and learn to do better. That the Almighty
would deliver him out of the hands of cunning and
66 HAPLESS HARRY.
deceitful men, who are making a market out of him,
and taking advantage of his weak mind. Ah, all
those publicans care for is to make the poor fools
slaves to drink, just to fill their own tills! Folks
ought to cry shame on them, and shame, too, on
those rich men that keep the public-houses going.
They love to hide the truth from their poor victims,
lest the truth should set them free, and they should
lose their gains !'
'Ah, there!' said Mrs. Sandy, taking off her broad-
rimmed glasses, and crossing her hands on her lap
as solemnly and devoutly as if she were in church.
' There I always say, and I'll say it to my dying day,
that I will, I'd rather be born as I am, and earn my
bread with the honest sweat of my face, than be ever.
so fine a lady and a grand brewer's wife dressed up
in finery bought with the price of men's souls and
bodies. All their guineas are nothing but.drops of.
life-blood crushed out of the very hearts of men and
A, you ain't far wrong there, missus; you ain't
far wrong there. The jawbone of an ass slayed thou-
sands far back in the days we read of in the Bible,
but Sabbath-breaking and drinking has slain their
tens of thousands. I've told Harry scores of times
he'd never prosper if he worked Sundays, and let
folks have his machine. There ain't no command.
PLENTY OF THORNS. 67
ment clearer nor plainer than the fourth-" Thou
shalt keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days shalt thou
labour, and do all that thou hast to do. That it may
be well with thee." Harry can't say things have been
well with him. Let him keep clear of the beershop,
and give his heart to the Lord and serve Him, and
he'd be no longer "Hapless Harry;" he'd soon become
"Happy Harry" instead. Harry's just the man who
ought to take the pledge; it would be the saving of
him. If he could only break the neck of the habit,
he'd have a chance of keeping sober. The great thing
is to be able to do without drink, to forget the taste
'Ah, but who'd be able to persuade him to take
the pledge, Sandy ?'
'Who, indeed, missus ? Didn't I say we can do
more than pity him ? We must prca for him.'
STORM ON THE CLIFF.
WINTER hurried on, and with it poor Nancy's troubles
deepened. No one knew anything of her sorrow, she
bore it all herself. She would rather bear anything,
any weight of grief, than hear people gossiping about
Harry's faults, and blaming him for her pale cheeks
and sunken eyes. She had yielded up her heart to
him, and she was ready, if needs be, to sacrifice
herself for him. Love is not worthy to be called love
unless it can dare and suffer for the thing it loves.
People guessed she was unhappy because she was
rarely seen outside her cottage-door. They wondered
what she did with herself-wondered still more at
the change that had come over the once bright and
happy Nancy. Sunday she crept to church late, and
sat half hidden in the old pew under the gallery.
Harry was never in his seat now. The cottage-door
was always closed. Few cared to knock and ask how
STORM ON THE CLIFF. 69
they did, for Nancy never invited them to come in
and sit down. At last people grew tired of going at
all, and stayed away altogether. Poor Nancy was glad
enough it should be so; she did not want her neigh-
bours to come spying about her cottage. Mrs. Sparkes
would have been the first to look around with busy,
curious eye and pursed-up lips, and remark how, week
after week, one thing and then another had been put
away,' till very little was left besides chairs and a
table. Things were going on as bad as bad could be
with Harry. He was moping and helpless-he had
lost spirit for work,-lost the mind for work. If
the worst will come, it must come,' he said to himself.
How could it be otherwise ? Wasting all his scanty
earnings and his substance on drink, where was he
to find money for anything else? All chance of
turning a penny by fishing was at an end, for his boat
was stove in, and he had no money to pay for repair-
ing it. How was he to get money enough to earn his
rent ? At first the landlord did not press him, Nancy's
pity-asking eyes forbad it; but at last he grew
tired of Harry's oft-repeated, and as often unfulfilled,
promises of amendment. He became impatient of never
receiving a penny, and threatened to turn them out,
and seize their furniture to meet the long arrears of
rent. Harry laughed and treated it as an empty
threat, and promised Nancy he would get money
70 HAPLESS HARRY.
'somehow' to satisfy the landlord for the present; and
then spring would come round again, and with it
prosperous days. Nancy only shook her head. It
would be heart-aching work for her to be turned out
of the little home which she had dreamed of as a
Paradise, but she saw no escape; the evil day she
was sure would come sooner or later; she was drifting
to her doom! Oh! why will men drink ? Why will
they sell their own happiness and the happiness of
their wives and children for the sake of a pot of beer,
a glass of spirits ? One day Harry came home later
than usual. Nancy was in tears; the notice had been
served, an execution was to be put in the house if
the rent was not paid within a certain time. It was
too late that day for anything to be done, but there
was the next day.
'Nancy, suppose you go and see the landlord; per-
haps he wouldn't refuse to wait if you were to ask
him. Only it's so terrible cold, and such a long walk
over the cliffs, and the wind to-day is sharp enough
to cut a snipe in half- '
'I don't mind the cold, Harry. I wouldn't mind
the walk-you'd go with me. I shouldn't care what
I did if I could save you, Harry-save our home; if
Nancy could say no more, she burst into a flood of
tears. She meant to have said she would sacrifice
STORM ON THE CLIFF. 71
herself-everything-if he would only promise to
take the pledge. Harry guessed what she was going
to say, but he made no promise. He was ready and
willing to accept his wife's sacrifice, but he was too
selfish to give up the least thing himself. It is sel-
fishness which spoils all God gives us. If you wish
to be a maker of misery to yourself and others, be
It was arranged that early the next morning
Harry and Nancy should walk over the cliff, and call
on their landlord. Harry was strong in the belief that
Nancy's promises and tears would prevail, for she was
always as good as her word, and had never disap-
pointed any one. Nancy was not so sanguine, but it
was their last and only chance; come what would, she
must go. The day dawned cold and miserable, a
thorough January morning; a damp rising fog hung
about the headlands. Nancy was up early that she
and baby might be ready by the time Harry returned
from a job of work he had on hand. She prayed for
help-prayed that she and her child might be spared
the sorrow of being turned out of their home. Baby
was to go, for they had no one to leave her with; be-
sides-who could say ?-perhaps her pretty, rosy
cheeks and laughing, joyous eyes might be special
pleaders with the landlord, and Harry had promised to
carry her all the way. Nancy snatched a hasty meal of
72 HAPLESS HARRY.
bread and cheese, and cut some in readiness for Harry.
Time was getting on; he could eat it going along.
Nancy wondered he did not come, he had-promised
so faithfully not to keep her waiting. She looked up
and down, but she saw no sign of him. She kept her
eyes on the little clock on the mantelshelf. How
quickly the minute-hand seemed to move Harry was
full an hour behind the time; if she waited much longer
it would be dark before they could be back, and the
walk over the cliffs would become dangerous. Nancy
snatched up Harry's lunch, put it in a basket, and
with baby in her arms, hurried out of the cottage,
locking the door behind her, expecting at every step
to meet Harry. Why had she not started before ? it
would have saved time. Nancy walked on and on,
looking this way and that for Harry, but she could
not see him. By-and-by she came within sight of the
Magpie and Stump. Surely Harry could not have
gone there ? As she paused for a moment at the door
to consider whether she should go in and inquire,
Harry came out; he had seen her coming. Poor
Nancy's heart was beating fast. Some wives would
have gone at him with poker and tongs; Nancy only
looked at him and said she had been waiting a long
time for him.
'All right, Nancy. You go on and I'll catch you
up in a minute or two. I've just a word or so to say
STORM ON THE CLIFF. 73
to Dick Travers; there's no meeting a fellow when
he owes ye money.
With a sad heart and half-benumbed aching limbs,
Nancy went on her way, clasping her shivering child
closer to her breast. On she went, out of the village,
up a narrow little lane on to the cliffs. Every
moment she expected to hear Harry hastening after
her. Surely he would not play her false. Whoever
else he deceived, he would and must be true to her.
But she could see nothing of him-nothing of any-
body; she seemed to have the world all to herself-
to be alone in the world. Nancy never felt half so
desolate, half so crushed before; still she went on
and on. Harry could easily overtake her; he walked
so much faster than she could with baby in her arms.
Presently she reached one of the highest headlands;
once more she stopped to look round. She could see
far and near, but there was no sign of Harry coming
-no sign of any moving tling, save the grazing
cattle spotting the downs and distant fields here and
there. She listened-she heard nothing but their
distant lowing, the bleating of flocks, and the far-off
tinkling sheep-bell, or the sad, murmuring moan of
the waves as they broke solemnly on the shore below
her feet. Nancy fancied it sounded like the tremulous
tolling of a deep-toned bell. She must not wait any
longer; she dare not loiter, she had a long way still
74 HAPLESS HARRY.
to walk. The sky looked threatening, the wind was
freshening-every moment the cold grew more biting
and intense; the sea-birds were flocking homewards,
and hovering round their nests in the rocks as if they
expected a storm, their wild notes echoing through
the still air. Nancy hurried on, wrapping her shawl
tightly round herself and her baby; all would be
well if she could only get into shelter before the
storm came on. By-and-by one large flake of snow
fell, and then another, and another; baby laughed
and crowed as she watched the pretty white feathery
things dance and quiver about her face, and put out
her tiny hand to catch them as they flitted by.
Soon the snow fell faster and thicker, until at last,
driven in blinding eddies by the wind, it made poor
Nancy almost giddy. One after the other the head-
lands vanished from her sight, and were lost in the
driving storm. She could scarcely see a yard before
her eyes; the very edge of the cliffs was hidden, and
even the narrow path she was treading. To go on,
were it possible for her to struggle with the force of
the wind, would be simply madness; all she dared to
do was to stand still, like a poor, terror-stricken,
frightened animal, with her back to the storm. In
vain she looked around for shelter; she could see
nothing but a tangle of scraggy, wind-torn gorse and
bramble-bushes, that would be better than nothing.
STORM ON THE CLIFF. 75
She crept towards them, and, throwing herself on the
ground, she crouched beneath this mocking shelter,
shielding her baby with her own body-baby, at
least, should have the little warmth she could give
her. The ruthless blast swept by, with all its fury,
over the lonesome cliff. The snow-wreaths rose
higher and the smothering drift grew fiercer, yet still
poor Nancy, in defiance of the warring elements,
continued to guard her treasure, and if possible save
at least the life of her child. Harry must come soon.
Harry, her own Harry, would never leave her and
baby to die of cold and perish in the snow!
$ $ *
THE EMPTY HOME.
THE snow was falling fast by the time Harry was
ready to follow Nancy. The rising clouds and
gathering of the wind before the storm had been all
unnoticed by him. He was too much taken up with
Dick Travers-too much stupefied by the heady beer
he had drunk and the fumes of tobacco, to think of
anything going on outside. He had even almost
altogether forgotten about poor Nancy and her baby
toiling and toiling over the lonely cliffs-almost for-
gotten his promise to catch her up directly.'
'Pretty blustering, Harry, ain't it V said Dick
Travers, as the two stood together at the door of the
Magpie and Stump, watching the driving snow.
Harry's only reply was, 'Humph.'
Where be going Harry ?'
Harry was turning up the collar of his coat, as if
in preparation for starting.
'Where be goin', Harry ?' repeated Dick. You'd
THE EMPTY HOME. 77
best wait a bit till the storm's abated, and go in for
another pint or so. It can't last long like this; the
sharper the storm, the sooner over.'
'I'm going over the cliffs,' said Harry, giving little
heed to what Dick Travers was saying.
'Going over the cliffs, Harry? You're never such
a fool as that! Why, there's no seeing an inch
before your nose, the snow's that blinding; and, if
you could, the wind's strong enough to blow ye off
your legs clean over the edge.'
I must go. I've business over t'other side of 'em.'
Harry was ashamed to tell Dick about Nancy having
gone there alone.
'I should like to know the business that would
tempt a fellow to risk his life by going over the
headlands such weather as this. What would your
missus say, Harry, if she knew you were bent on
such a fool's errand ?'
'Nancy with the little one walked over this after-
Snoon, and I promised to go and meet her,' stammered
'Oh! she's safe somewhere, see if she isn't. Any-
body must have seen the storm coming. Take my
word for it, she saw it, and, like a wise woman,
turned back, and is most likely at home looking out
for you. What's the use of staying freezing out here
in the cold ? Come along in, Harry. I'll stand treat
78 HAPLESS HARRY.
this time, by way of a make-up for not paying ye as
Over-persuaded, and not unwillingly, Harry fol-
lowed Dick back into the tap-room. By the time he
had smoked another pipe and finished his pot of beer
the storm would most probably be over. So, with
his pipe in his mouth, Harry sat down, crossed his
legs, and, thrusting his hands into his pockets, tried
.hard to convince himself that after all, under the
circumstances, he was doing the wisest thing, in fact
the only thing, to be done. Dick Travers was quite.
right; it would hold up before long, and then he
could go home and have his tea. It would be easy
to make his landlord believe if it had not been for the
snow-storm they would have called on him, and
arranged about the arrears of rent.
After a time the heavy clouds passed over and the
snow ceased. The ground was thickly covered, and
the drifts in some places deep. Angry with himself
and everybody else, Harry went home. Of course,
as Dick had said, he should find Nancy there, safe
enough. When Harry reached the little wicket-gate
the snow lay all undisturbed on the narrow path;
no feet but his own had worn a track.
'It's all right, and just as I supposed,' thought
Harry. 'Nancy must have got back before the storm
was heaviest.' But the door was locked! How was
THE EMPTY HOME. 79
that ? Nancy was not in the habit of fastening the
door. Harry kicked it and shook the latch once or
twice pretty sharply, but there was no answer.
Perhaps Nancy was upstairs putting the baby to bed.
Irritated and angry at being kept outside in the cold,
Harry looked in at the window. No cheerful fire
blazed on the hearth, no boiling kettle rested on the
hob, no Nancy was there with welcoming smiles-
nothing but emptiness, loneliness, and dreary dark-
ness met his eye. Once again Harry rattled the
latch, long and loudly, and listened for Nancy's ap-
proaching footsteps, this time with an anxious beat-
ing of the heart. Only an ominous silence followed.
A sharp, pricking pang shot through his conscience,
and told him something had gone wrong with poor
Nancy! Where was she? Like most cowards, and
a good many other people, too, who know they have
done wrong, but will not own it, Harry tried hard to
shuffle unpleasant thoughts out of his mind; tried
hard to persuade himself that all must be well, that
it was no use to fidget and fret, for probably, at that
very moment, Nancy was sitting by a comfortable
fire somewhere, enjoying a nice hot cup of tea. Who-
ever else was to be blamed, the blame was not to be
placed at his door. He was the ill-treated party, the
one to be pitied, not Nancy; he had the most reason
to complain; she had carried off the key of the
So HAPLESS HARRY.
cottage in her pocket, and left him to do the best he
could. It would not be his fault; not even Nancy
herself could say it was, if he went back and spent
the rest of the evening at the Magpie and Stump.
A fellow could not stay out ,in the cold to please
anybody, not even a wife; it was not reasonable to
expect him to do that. Arguing thus with himself
-when we argue with ourselves we always get the
best of the argument-with the remembrance of the
'snug, warm tap-room strong in his mind, Harry
turned his back on his empty home- and bent his
steps in the direction of the Magpie and Stump. He
had not gone far before he fell in with old Sandy.
'A nasty biting cold evening, ain't it ?' said Harry.
'Well, yes, there's no denying it blows pretty
sharp, Harry; but we'd best be content with the
weather, which ever quarter the wind's in. Con-
tentment is great gain. Ah, if folks would only
believe it, there's never much to grumble about in
the weather. God A'mighty knows a deal better
than we do what's really wanted. Come rain or
come shine, there's mercy written on the clouds as
well as across the blue sky; we may be sure of that.'
So there may be, Mr. Sandy; but, at all events, I
didn't want this here snow to-night,' grumbled Harry.
'Why, what's the particular harm it's doing you,
THE EMPTY HOME. 81
'Well, I wanted to have gone over the cliffs to see
'The morning part was fine enough, Harry. You
should have took time by the forelock. I always
find, if I've got to do anything in particular, 'tis best
to set about it early.
"' The morn, the only time to work,
If folks are healthy and would thrive."'
'Nancy did go before dinner. She took the baby
along with her.'
'They wasn't out in the storm, Harry ? You don't
mean that '
'I can't say. How am I to know where she was ?
She isn't come back yet. I made sure to find her at
home. I should have thought she would have seen
the storm rising and have turned back. Women
folks are never weather-wise.'
'Which way did she go, Harry ? over the cliffs '
Then I must have seen her walking over Dunness
Head. I caught sight of a solitary figure struggling
with the wind and the storm, but before I could get
my glass to see who it was, the figure was hidden by
the thick driving snow.'
'That must have been Nancy,' replied Harry, cast.
ing his eyes down to the ground. He was too much
ashamed of himself to look old Sandy in the face.
82 HAPLESS HARRY,
'If you are so weather-wise as you would make out
you are, Harry, why did you let her go ?'
'I didn't see the storm.'
'Why didn't ye go with your wife, Harry ? 'Tis
a long pull over the cliffs for a woman with a child in
her arms. I don't expect you was too busy, was ye ?'
'I did mean to follow her, and I thought I should
catch her up easy, but- '
'Ah, Harry, them buts are most times only flimsy
excuses; aye, and often a curse to us. I expect your
"but" is the old story over again.'
'I don't know what you mean by the "old story,"
Mr. Sandy. I was at the Magpie and Stump, having
a pot of beer before I went over the cliff, if that's
what you're flinging at.'
'This isn't the time for flinging at ye, as you call
it, Harry, when, for aught you know, your wife and
child may be perishing with cold, for no human
being, let alone a poor weakly woman like Nancy
and a little tender baby, could scarce stand up against
such a storm as we've had on that headland. The
very wild birds flew to the holes in the rock. May
the Lord have mercy on poor Nancy! I ain't so
young as I was, Harry, but, thank God I've got
some strength left, and some pluck, too: if you're
willing, I'll go with ye myself, and look after Nancy
and the child.'
THE EMPTY HOME. 83
Before Harry could reply, Sandy's son and Steve
came in sight.
Here's my son and Steve,' exclaimed the old man.
'The very men we want. I'll answer for them that
they'll go with ye, Harry.'
Old Sandy was quite right; neither Steve nor his
son, when they heard about Nancy, required to be
asked to go. They both volunteered their services
to accompany Harry in his search after his wife and
the baby; indeed, there was not a man in Bascbmbe
that would not have risked his own life to save them
Old Sandy consented to remain behind, now that two
stouter abler men were going with Harry, and under-
took to tell their wives where they were gone, and
the nature of the expedition.
IS IT TOO LATE?
THE wind moaned mournfully among the bare
branches of the tall trees, as Steve Morgan and his
two companions walked through the village. Growl,'
young Sandy's faithful shaggy old hound, followed
close at his master's heels. The day was drawing fast
to its close; an odd white light fell on all around, re-
flected from the fallen snow. Snow was everywhere:
the ground looked flat with snow; snow-drifts half
blocked up the lattice windows, and snow-fringe hung
from every thatched roof. The high downs, thickly
coated with snow, stood out sharply, and contrasted
strangely with the dark sky, and the deep grey sea, with
its foam-crested waves, not far off-the downs solemn
in their stillness, the sea terrible in its restless toss-
ings. The men said but little to each other. Harry
was in no humour for talk. Steve Morgan and young
Sandy only exchanged ominous shakes of the head, as
IS IT TOO LATE? 8$
they looked around on the storm-beaten scene and
listened to the moaning wind. Even Growl crept
closer and closer to his master's side, as they dragged
their weary way higher and higher, along the trackless
snow, over the cliffs. Every now and then the old
dog looked up anxiously into young Sandy's face,
with an intelligent inquiring gaze, as if he were
trying to read his master's thoughts, or question the
propriety of going on. They seemed to have the
world to themselves; there was nothing moving save
the little loosened snow-wreaths, snatched up by the
wind and whirled round and round until they fell in
dancing eddies over the edge of the monster head-
land. Truly it was a dreary night for a dreary
errand. At last themoon burst forth upon the whitened
world, but it brought neither cheer nor hope-nothing
but a blast of clearer bitter cold from the riven clouds.
Onwards they went, pursuing apparently a fruitless
search; yet neither Steve nor young Sandy would give
it up, and Harry, stupefied with drink, cared only to
go whither the others led him. No sound broke the
silence, not even their own snow-muffled footsteps,
when suddenly Growl became strangely uneasy, and
then, with head erect and his tail full cock, he sprang
from Sandy's side and made for what, to all appear-
ance, was nothing but a tangle of snow-covered
scraggy furze bushes, or a deep snow-drift; and yet
86 HAPLESS HARRY.
it must be something more-Growl has set up a
piteous howl, and now he wags his tail, and looks
steadily at his master, as if to entreat him to come
before it is too late. For a moment the men stood
hardly daring to breathe. Every fibre in their bodies
thrilled at the sound of a faint cry piercing the
drifted snow. Can it be that Nancy and her baby
lie buried there ? Steve gently touched the crouch-
ing figure with his hand; it did not move. She lay
motionless, a little on one side, sheltering her child.
She remembered to keep her baby warm, as a mother-
sheep sets her body between the lamb and the
driving storm. Have they come too late, and has
Nancy passed away to the rest she longed for?
Growl does not believe this; with faithful loving
instinct he scratches aside the snow, and then licks
her face and hands to bring back their warmth.
Nancy's eyes are still closed, but her lips move,
and she mutters faintly:
'Harry-Harry! he will-he must come soon.
Am I dreaming ? Is this rest ?'
Poor Nancy's mind was wandering. Weak and
faint, and deadened with cold and fear, she had never
moved from the spot where she had crept under the
few sheltering furze bushes when the storm first burst
over her head. And now she was too much ex-
hausted, too far gone, to know and realize that Harry
IS IT TOO LATE ? 87
and help had come at last! With a desperate loving
struggle to save her child from the wind, as it swept
with all its fury over the lonesome unsheltered cliff,
in defiance of its ruthless power, she had continued
to protect it until she could do so no longer, and she
sank unconscious on the ground.
I 'Thank God she is alive, and the child too !' ex-
claimed Steve and young Sandy, as they gently raised
her from the cold ground and wrapped her in their
coats, warm with the heat fresh borrowed from their
own bodies; then, lifting her up in their arms, they
bore her gently to her home. Harry carried little
Trottie, snugly nestled beneath his thick jacket.
What would he have [given at that moment if he
could himself have been a little child again: if he
could once more have been an innocent child at his
mother's knee ?
Week after week passed, and poor Nancy was still
laid on her sick-bed. For several days she remained
perfectly unconscious, hanging between life and
death. Little Trottie was nearly all right the next
day. She had received no harm from exposure to
that cruel storm. Her young baby-life, unlike poor
Nancy's shattered frame, had no half-broken heart to
contend with-it was a hard matter to fight against
a sorrow-stricken mind and a sick body at the same
88 HAPLESS HARRY.
time. What weary long night-watches, what terrible
days of suspense those were! Trottie was the only
one who dared to smile; her baby voice the only
cheerful thing in the cottage. The neighbours all
vied with each other in their acts of kindness. 'No
paid nurse should sit up or wait on Nancy; it would
be hard if they couldn't do that between them.'
Even Mrs. Sparkes's gossiping tongue was awed
into silence. The corner of her apron, called upon
time after time to wipe her eyes, at all events was
a semblance of sorrow. She only, between whiles,
indulged in a few pointedlypersonal remarks; such as,
'She did hope wouldd humble Harry; trials were good
for such as he, if he'd only take 'em to heart, and see
that he had kindled the coals his self, with his own
hands, and was walking in the light of his own fire,
and enjoying the sparks that he had earned and
richly deserved;' finishing up with the hope that the
warning wouldn't be throwed away upon others,
meaning Dick Travers. Mrs. Sparkes considered it
her duty to improve the occasion. Perhaps, in the
secret recesses of her heart, there lurked a feeling
akin to disappointment that Nancy was still alive
when they found her; be this as it may, she never
lost an opportunity of impressing on Harry that
'His Nancy might have been brought home a corpse.'
It was her way of striking the iron whilst it was hot.
IS IT TOO LATE ? 89
'Eeproaches won't do Harry any good,' was old
Sandy's comment on Mrs. Sparkes's cutting remarks;
'reproaches won't make a man any better, they won't
bow his head with sorrow for his sin; they're more
likely to stiffen his neck and harden his heart. No-
" Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more,"
was our Lord's language to the sinner, and we can't
do better than follow that pattern. Don't let's be in
too great a hurry to take up stones to cast at our
neighbours. We'd best look at home first, and make
quite sure before we takes our aim that we're without
sin ourselves. Ah, there ain't many among us as are
in that condition. Then let's look again at our
Pattern. He was without sin, and yet He didn't
throw a stone at the poor sinner; no, not He. 'Tis
mercy Jesus likes best to handle. God is Love:
folks will put in God is Justice, too-so He is; but
his justice is loving, and His love just. "Go, and
sin no more," is what I'd say to Harry. Ah, we
shouldn't some of us do amiss if we were to recollect
what the old tombstone says outside our church-it's
a sort of a sermon, and right good doctrine too:
When this you see, pray judge not me,
For sin enough I own-
Judge yourselves; mend your lives;
Leave other folks alone."'
ONE CHANCE MORE.
HARRY could scarcely be persuaded to go out of
doors; he was miserable, and he scarcely knew
why. Nancy was going on well, and the landlord,
touched by the piteous tale of her sufferings, had
consented to wait for his rent; but miserable, Harry
was. And hour after hour he sat in want and shame,
with a sad heart and a guilty conscience, doing
nothing. Even the Magpie and Stump, with its
idle, gossiping company, had lost its charm. Drinking
and smoking no longer afforded him either pleasure
or relief; they could, no more "drown his miserable
-thoughts. He was sick and tired of listening to
Dick Travers's stale jokes and older stories; he had
had enough and too much of it all, and he longed
and craved for something better, or at all events for
something different. Then words out of the Bible,
learned long ago at the Sunday-school, would start
ONE CHANCE MORE. 91
up strangelyin his mind; good old words, idly said
at the time, and soon forgotten-perhaps laughed at
-would come back, and, like echoes, he wondered
where they came from. Like reproofs, they made
him tremble, those old warning lessons, and yet they
seemed pleasant to him-far more soothing and com-
forting than all the empty cheer-ups of his boon
companions. It was not long before old Sandy
guessed that something of the sort was going on in
Harry's mind; he was the first to suspect the state
of his feelings.
'There's a something at work in Harry's heart,' he
said to his wife one day; 'there's summat a-working.
'Tis a good sign-dead consciences and cold hearts lies
still enough; 'tis a good omen. I ain't the one to
push forward, nor the man to throw pearls before
swine; but when I sees any one sort of hungering
and thirsting, even for husks, why, then, I think I
ought to step in and see if there ain't nothing I can
say or do.'
'Well, you've got a good excuse for going. 'Tis
close upon ten days since we heard anything of
Nancy,' said the old woman.
'I don't want no excuse, missus; it's best not to
put off such things: whilst folks are looking about for
excuses they let slip many an opportunity for saying
a word in season. No; I shall go this very evening.
92 HAPLESS HARRY.
Old Sandy found Harry sitting alone in his cottage;
still moping and miserable, bent forward and leaning
on his folded arms, with an empty pipe in his mouth
for company's sake. An expression of stolid apathy,
very like despair, clouded his brow. Nancy and the
child were gone to bed; Nancy was still too weak
to sit up all the day through. Sandy was not sorry
to find Harry by himself, it would be easier to talk
to him without Nancy by his side-easier perhaps
for Harry to listen.
'Well, Harry, how be ye to-day said Sandy,
as he stepped into the cottage. The old man sat
down on the first vacant chair and placed his broad-
brimmed straiv hat on the table. 'How be ye ?
pretty smartish, eh ?'
'Can't say nothing about being smartish, Mr.
Sandy. I'm an unlucky dog-the unluckiest living.
I never had a bit of luck in all my life.'
Come, come, Harry, don't say that; besides what's
called luck's a poor thing to rely on. Luck's nothing.
No young man ever got on by luck. Unless a man
exerts himself, he'll never get on in the world.'
'I'm most tired of it all, Mr. Sandy-tired of wait-
ing for something to turn up.'
'I dare say you are, and so no doubt was the man
who waited for all the water to run past before he'd
cross the stream. We mustn't be "hangers-on" upon