Alfred May

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Material Information

Title:
Alfred May
Physical Description:
95 p., 1 leaf of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 14 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Woolmer, Theophilus, 1815-1896 ( Publisher )
Hayman Brothers and Lilly ( Printer )
Publisher:
T. Woolmer
Place of Publication:
London
Manufacturer:
Hayman Brothers and Lilly
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Poverty -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children of alcoholics -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Friendship -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Street life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Ragged schools -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1881
Genre:
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by R.R.
General Note:
Date of publication from inscription.
General Note:
Frontispiece printed in colors.
Funding:
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002236869
notis - ALH7347
oclc - 62120065
System ID:
UF00048483:00001

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ALFRED MAY.











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ALFRED MAY ACCEPTS THE BREAD AND JAM.
page 10.











Alfred May.










BY
R. R.
AUTHOR OF 'A STORY OF THIRTY YEARS,' 'CECIL
MAYNARD'S DREAM,' &O.










LONDON:
T. WOOLMER, 2, CASTLE STREET, CITY ROADS
AND 66, PATERNOSTER BOW, E.C.



































HATMAN BROTHERS AND LILLT,
PRINTERS,
HATTON HOUSE, FARRINGDON ROAD,
LONDON, E.C.













ALFRED MAY.




CHAPTER I.

IT is the afternoon of a glorious autumn
day; a pleasant day to dwellers in
the broad streets and garden-covered
squares of South Kensington; less plea-
sant probably to those inhabiting the
close courts and narrow lanes that lie
within a few hundred yards of those
same breezy squares. In one of the nar-
rowest of the narrow streets a number of
children are gathered, waiting before a
ragged school for the opening of the
doors.
The regular attenders-some thirty or
forty boys and girls of all ages, from the
dirty little toddler who has just learned
to talk to the big, awkward lad of six-






6 ALFRED MAY.

teen-cluster close round the door in
groups, whispering together; while three
or four, who appear to be new comers,
stand shyly apart. One of these latter,
a dark-eyed, pale-faced boy of twelve, is
evidently expecting to be joined by some
friend or companion, for he keeps looking
anxiously up and down the street; and
when at last the schoolroom doors are
thrown open, and the noisy, impatient little
crowd rushes in, he still lingers behind;
afraid, it would seem, to enter alone, and
yet unwilling to go away. Perhaps he is
ashamed of his ragged, worn-out clothes.
He has, by dint of much brushing and
washing, made himself scrupulously clean
and neat; but his skill has not extended
to the repairing of his tattered garments,
and he is conscious of being, in spite of
all his efforts, as forlorn-looking a little
object as can well be seen. It is not,
however, this consciousness only which
makes him shy of entering the school.
Though not one of the regular attenders,
this is not his first visit; he has attended
some four or five times-often enough, in
short, to find out that he is very igno-
rant, and knows less than the youngest






ALFRED MAY. 7

boy in his class. It is not his own fault
that he is so ignorant; his drunken
father has never troubled to send him to
school, and, as his mother is dead, there
has been no one else to look after him.
Alfred does not think of this, he does not
blame either himself or any one else for
his want of knowledge; he only wishes
he knew more, for he cannot help feeling
ashamed and uncomfortable when his
turn to read in class comes, and he can
but spell out with difficulty a few short
words. He is more ashamed of this
ignorance than of his ragged clothes;
but this shame, though it can make
him shy and uncomfortable, cannot keep
him away from a place where he has
heard, and that for the first time, the
grand, glad story of Bethlehem and
Calvary-a story which seems to the
neglected, uncared for child almost too
good to be true, and yet so good that,
come what may, he must know more
about it.
He must know if the great and holy
One of whom it tells, who came to a
world that rebelled against His authority
and rejected His love, came not in anger







8 ALFRED MAY.

to destroy, but in infinite mercy,-if such
a One were, as this story seemed to
declare, living even now, 'the same yes-
terday, to-day, and for ever:' living to
pity and love and bless those He died to
redeem, the men, women, and children
of this sin-stained earth,-living to love
and to save him.
This fact, if it were a fact, must, he
felt vaguely, make life a better and a
brighter thing for him than it had ever
been. And so he came again and again
to hear about it, until he no longer won-
dered or questioned, but received the
fact in all glad and simple faith.
To-day, as he lingers near the school
door, words he has learned there haunt
his memory, bringing with them a new,
strange feeling of peace and rest.
He is still thinking about, wondering
over them, when his thoughts are inter-
rupted by the appearance of the friend
for whom he has been waiting: a re-
spectably dressed lad about a year older
than himself, who, rosy and breathless
with running, inquires eagerly, 'Has
school gone in, Alf ? am I very late ?'
'Not too late to go in, Charlie; they've







ALFRED MAY. 9

only just begun to sing : but I did begin
to think you weren't coming.'
And then the boys go in and take
their places together in class, for there
is not time to-day for their usual talk
before school.
Charlie Astenwell, the new comer, a
fair-haired boy, with laughing blue eyes
and rosy face, is in appearance very
unlike dark-eyed, pale-faced Alfy May.
Spite of the difference in their circum-
stances, for Charlie is much the better
off, the boys are very fast friends, their
friendship dating back only some seven
or eight weeks. And now I must tell you
how that friendship began.
Charlie's teacher had taken for the
lesson one Sunday the words, 'If ye
love Me, keep My commandments.' And
very clearly he had explained to his
class that our Saviour makes obedience
the test of the reality of faith. He told
them that all who believe in Him can do
something to show that they believe,
that they are grateful for all that has
been done for them. Then he went on to
point out some of the ways in which even
the poorest and youngest may do this.






10 ALFRED MAY.

'For one thing,' he said, 'some of
you boys might persuade others who go
to no school to come here, and so
benefit them.' Charlie listening had
said to himself, 'That seems an easy way
of doing good;' and as easy methods
always suited him he made up his mind,
as he expressed it to himself, 'to have
a try at it.' Not to waste time he com-
menced operations that same afternoon,
choosing for the object of his atten-
tions a very ragged and hungry-looking
boy, whose acquaintance might, as he
rightly judged, be made by an appeal to
his feelings in the shape of the offer of a
slice of jam and bread, saved from his
own dinner for the purpose. This appeal
was, as he had expected, promptly re-
sponded to. The hungry lad accepted the
bread and jam, and was then easily per-
suaded, having no other amusement on
hand, to accompany the giver to school.
After that first Sunday he had not much
difficulty in getting him to go again; the
acquaintance soon ripened into friend-
ship, and after'a time he ceased to have
to look the new boy up, for he generally
found him lingering near the school doors







ALFRED MAY. 11

waiting. Although ignorant, Alfred May
was naturally so quick and clever that
Charlie found him a decidedly amus-
ing and satisfactory companion when the
two were running home together, or
waiting before school time for the open-
ing of the doors. To-day there was, as
we have said, no time for talk-just a few
hurried, whispered words, and they were
in their places and must be silent. The
lesson was the parable of the great
supper, and the teacher talked to his
boys of Him 'who made a great feast,
and bade many;' who sent His servants-
ay, and is sending them day by day,
and every day-to bid to that feast the
unrighteous and undeserving, the outcast
and unworthy, to gather these into His
banqueting hall, that there they may find
rest andwelcome, righteousness and peace,
light and home.
He told them that the Lord Christ
is the great Giver of that Gospel feast;
that He has in store for those who
accept His invitation all good and
precious gifts-the bread of life to
satisfy the hunger of the soul, the
washing of regeneration to cleanse it,







12 ALFRED MAY.

the robe of His righteousness to cover
it.
He made them understand that the
invitation to the feast is the offer of sal-
vation through Christ; that God gives to
all who accept the offer every needed
good, all that is necessary to bring us
into, to keep us within, His kingdom of
grace here, all we must have to fit and
prepare us for His kingdom of glory
hereafter.
He tried to describe (so far as words
can describe that which to be truly
known must be experienced) the joy
and peace and rest which God gives
even here to those who seek Him ; show-
ing them that even in this world He is
to His people light in darkness, joy in
sorrow, as 'the shadow of a great rock
in a weary land.'
'What He shall be to them in the other
and better land we dare not,' he said,
' even try to imagine now; but we know
this, He Himself hath said we "shall
awake in His likeness, and be satisfied"
with it. We know "at His right hand
there is fulness of joy and pleasures for
evermore."'







ALFRED MAY. 13

There was at least one eager, in-
terested listener to all this, one who was
learning the grandest of all lessons,
learning to love and to trust in Jesus.












CHAPTER II.

WHEN school was over the two
boys went out together. Charlie,
who had not seen his friend for a whole
week, had much to tell him, and went
ou talking so fast that he never noticed
his unusual silence ; presently, however,
Alfred interrupted the flow of his talk
by breaking in rather abruptly with-
'Charlie, I'm so glad you asked me to
go to the school with you. I came that
first Sunday when you gave me your jam
and bread just because you wanted me
to, and I hadn't nothing else to be after,
and thought it couldn't' be so very bad if
you liked it. So I thought I'd try it for
once. I never guessed though that I
should hear there all the good and won-
derful things I have heard. I never
knew before I went that God cares for
poor people and boys like me. I thought
He might perhaps care for rich and good
people, but that He wouldn't be likely to






ALFRED MAY. 15

trouble about the others. And then I tried
to think I didn't want Him to care; but
I was often lonely and miserable, and
when I saw other lads as had fathers
who was kind to them and didn't drink,
I hated them for being better off. Now
I shan't feel like that any more. I know
God loves and cares for all alike, for He
says that He wants us to be good, and
will make us so if only we're willing.'
So far Charlie had listened to his
friend in silence, too much surprised to
answer. He now recovered from his
astonishment sufficiently to speak, but
only to say-
I knew you'd like school, Alf; they
do tell us nice things, and Mr. Stuart
is just the nicest teacher I ever had.'
The fact was he was puzzled and
did not know what other reply to make.
He ought not to have been puzzled, for
something like this was surely what he
should have hoped for Alfy when he
persuaded him to join the school; but he
had only hoped that there he would learn
something which would, as he vaguely
expressed it to himself, 'do him good.'
And while now he was really pleased to






16 ALFRED IMAY.

find he had heard something which had
had that effect, and seemed as well to
have made him so much happier, he was
half inclined to fear there must be some-
thing wrong about it, that Alfy was
making some mistake and deceiving
himself.
This hope, belief, knowledge-he
scarcely knew what to call it-this some-
thing his friend had got was, he felt, a
brighter, better possession than anything
he had dreamed of for him, or, indeed,
for that matter, for himself. He was half
disposed to envy him his new-found joy.
He all his life long had known the
Gospel story, the grand, sweet story of
'Jesus and His love;' but it had never
been to him what he felt it was to this
ignorant, untaught child who had but
just heard it.
He had heard again and again that
salvation is a free gift offered by Him
who bade men come to Him for life;
a gift to be earnestly, confidently sought,
gratefully, joyfully claimed and accepted,
but never to be purchased, never to be
merited .or won by efforts, good deeds, or
deservings of our own. He had sup-







ALFRED MAY. 17

posed he believed this, but somehow he
had never really done so. Carefully
brought up by his Christian mother,
taught to be honest and straightforward
and truthful, he had been shielded from
the many evil influences to which most
of the children he lived among and saw
daily were exposed, and he had come to
feel himself much better than they; a
very good sort of boy indeed, when com-
pared with ragged little urchins who
said bad words, and told stories, and
deceived. He forgot that many of these
children had parents who, not only taught
them nothing good, but also encouraged
them in everything bad; he only remem-
bered to tell himself that he could never
do the things they thought nothing of,
thence to conclude that he must be very
superior to them.
He tried too to do what he believed to
be right, and though he was quite con-
scious that he often failed utterly and
completely to be what he knew he ought
to be, he consoled himself by thinking
if he only went on trying he must in
the end succeed.
Pride prevented him seeing that he
B







18 ALFRED MAY.

needed not to be improved but to be
saved; that he needed not strength only
but life, and was utterly helpless to do
anything towards saving himself. He
had never realized this, and so he had
never sought earnestly and humbly the
offered gift; never prayed for it as the
dying pray for life, and the hungering
cry for bread.'
'All things are possible to him that
believeth;' but often, so often, pride and
self-righteousness hinder belief : they had
done so in his case.
Well for Charlie now if, through
failure and humiliation, he was learning
the lesson the great Teacher would teach
us all, that without Him we can do
nothing.' Was the ragged, ignorant boy
whom he had pitied and befriended to
be God's messenger to teach him the
other half of that same glorious lesson:
'With Him, and through Him, we can
do all things?'
That truth was beginning to dawn
upon him, but he had not as yet fully
grasped it. When he spoke again he
did so slowly and hesitatingly, feeling that
he was not saying the right thing, and







ALFRED MAY. 19

yet not able to think of anything
better.
'I'm very glad, Alfy,' he said,' 'you
like the school, but I fear you'll find it-a
harder matter to be good than you think
for. We boys, you see; have such lots of
things to make us bad, and you've nobody
to help you. I'm glad you're going to
try, but it isn't easy to be good.'
It was now Alfred's turn to be aston-
ished. He had opened his eyes very wide
during this speech, and fixed them won-
deringly on his companion's face. Coming
at last to the conclusion that Charlie
must have misunderstood him he said-
'I never fancied I could make myself
good. Of course, I know that I couldn't
do that if I tried ever so: but then I
haven't got it to do; God will make me
what He wants me to be. I've only got
to be willing and to ask Him.'
To this Charlie made no answer, and
for a few moments the two walked on
in silence, each occupied with his own
thoughts. Both had plenty to think
about; to the elder boy his friend's way
of becoming a Christian, this giving
oneself gladly and gratefully to Christ,
B2







20 ALFRED MAY.

trusting Him to keep from evil the souls
committed to His keeping, was a way he,
with his strivings to improve himself, his
efforts to make himself better, knew
little or nothing of. But now, as he
thought about it, he began to perceive
that it might perhaps be the way taught
by Him whose lament over the people
of old Jerusalem was, Ye will not come
unto Me, that ye might have life.' And
then words he had often heard and
repeated, thinking little of their meaning,
seemed to ring in his ears, like the sweet,
stirring music of some triumphant march.
'I know whom I have believed: He
is able to keep that which I have com-
mitted to Him against that day;' and
something of the glory of their meaning
flashed upon him. Yes; that way of
simply trusting seemed to have been the
way taken by the Apostle Paul, that
veteran warrior, who at the end of life's
long struggle could calmly say, I have
fought a good fight; I have finished my
course; I have kept the faith.'
Having arrived at this point Charlie
broke the silence by turning to his com-
panion and saying, 'Look here, Alfy,





ALFRED MAY. 21

don't think any more of what I said just
now: it was all wrong, and I've been all
wrong, and you were right.'
Then seeing that Alfy looked utterly
puzzled and mystified, he added quickly:
'I can't explain how just now. I
scarcely see it myself yet. The only
thing I'm sure about is that you've
taught me what I'll try not to forget,
And oh, Alf, I am so glad I know it !'
Still looking puzzled Alfy said-
'You know so much more than me.
I don't see how I can teach you anything
more.'
Well,' was the reply, 'if you haven't
taught me anything new, you've made
me see what I ought to have seen long
ago. I'll tell you all about it some time.
And now let's run on. Mother said I
might ask you to come home and have
tea with us. I told her your father was
always out on Sunday afternoon and
evening till late, so you could come and
stay a bit.'
At first the boy, though pleased to be
asked, hesitated to accept the invitation;
but the treat was too great a one easily
to be given up; so, in spite of his shy-






22 ALFRED MAY.

ness and hesitation, Charlie managed
successfully to dispose of his objections
and get his own way, and they both
turned in the direction of Charlie's home.
They were running on, laughing and
talking, when, turning a corner, they
came suddenly face to face with James
or (as he was generally called) Jim May,
Alfred's father. On seeing them he
greeted his son with a torrent of angry
abuse, the reason of which was not at
first clear.
For some unexplained reason, the man
had chosen to come home that particular
afternoon instead of as usual remaining
out in the streets or elsewhere until late
at night, and going into his room had
found it empty. Inquiring where Alfred
was, a woman, one of the neighbours,
whose own boy went to the school,
hazarded the conjecture that Alfy had
done the same.
Now when Mrs. Smith innocently
volunteered this piece of information,
she never dreamed of the trouble she
was getting the boy into, or she would
certainly have kept it to herself; for even
the rough and ignorant people in the






ALFRED MAY. 23

court pitied the neglected, ill-used child,
and interfered as much as they dared
to shield him from his father's cruelty.
But Mrs. Smith never for one moment
supposed that a father who troubled
himself so little about the feeding and
clothing of his child could possibly care
whether he went to school, or played in
the streets, or what he did, so he kept
out of his way and did not bother him.
In this supposition, however, Mrs. Smith
was greatly mistaken. Mr. May did not
concern himself much about feeding or
clothing the boy, but he did care that he
should not go to school. He did not show
any desire to educate him himself, but
then he was determined no one else
should do it. Added to a general objec-
tion to everything in the shape of religion,
as something calculated to interfere with
his particular pleasures, something which
if encouraged might spoil his enjoyment
of the public-house, he conceived that
he had a reason for specially hating all
the canting, methodistical folk, as he
called them, who had to do with the
school.
The cause of offence had been that the






24 ALFRED MAY.

superintendent had called upon him to
invite his attendance at some mission
services. This interest in his welfare,
this desire to save one who was destroy-
ing himself, soul and body, had been
regarded by him as a tyrannical inter-
ference with personal liberty, and, as
such, fiercely resented. Supported and
encouraged in this view by his companions
in the public-house, he had declared often
with many oaths that neither he nor his
should ever go near the humbugging
place. And now, to hear that his own
son was there-perhaps, too, for these
very friends of his to hear it-was more
than he could bear with patience : hence
the terrible passion into which he had
worked himself.
In his unreasoning rage, he did not stop
to remember he had never forbidden
Alfred to go to the school, or indeed said
anything at all to him about it. He went
on storming and threatening till he was
tired, and then, as the boy only looked
frightened and said nothing, it occurred
to him that perhaps his informant had
been mistaken, perhaps the boy had not
been to the school-even if he had he was






ALFRED MAY. 25

sure to deny it now, and would not dare
to go again; it would be best to let him
deny the charge before this friend of his,
and so end the matter. Acting upon this
idea, he suddenly changed his manner,
and speaking quite mildly said-
'May be, lad, Sarah Smith warn't saying
true, she do tell lies; may be ye hanna
been nigh the place, and it were all a tale
of her'n; you wouldn't never be such a
mean-spirited chap as to go among a lot
of snivelling sneaks as has insulted yer
own father, I canna believe it on ye.
Just speak up, lad, and say as you weren't
there, and there's an end on't.'
Just speak up and tell a lie. Ah that
would be an easy way out of the difficulty,
and six weeks ago he would have taken
it, and boldly protested he had never been
near the place. Such a way of shielding
himself was not possible now. For one
terrible moment he was silent, but 'no
thought of denying that he had been at
the school caused the hesitation. He could
not tell a lie, even though his father
should kill him; a contingency that
appeared to the shrinking, terrified child
not at all improbable. Quickly the red





26 ALFRED MAY.

flush went and came upon the thin face,
nervously his hands were clenched, but
he spoke clearly and distinctly-
"l'm sorry, father, I've vexed you; I
didn't know I wasn't to go to the school.
I have been there; Mrs. Smith didn't tell
a story.'
'I took him. If he ought not to have
gone it is my fault, not his,' Charles
exclaimed, stepping before his friend,
and looking up pleadingly into the man's
angry face.
His interference availed nothing.
Pushing him roughly aside, the man
raised his arm and struck his son a blow
on the head. With a cry of pain and fear,
the boy fell to the pavement and lay there
still, white, and motionless, with closed
eyes and colourless lips, the picture of
death. For a moment Charlie thought
he was dead. For a moment it did seem
as though the glad life of faith just begun
were destined to be lived in that land
where faith is sight.
In an agony of grief Charlie, stooping
over him, attempted to raise him up, im-
ploring him wildly all the time to open
his eyes, while his father, sobered by the






ALFRED MAY. 27

terrible fear that he had killed him, stood
by stupid and helpless.
For fully two minutes, minutes that to
them both seemed more like hours, the
boy remained insensible; then, with a
slight, scarcely perceptible shiver, he
opened his eyes and gazed round in a
confused, wondering fashion. Slowly,
very slowly, and at first mistily, remem-
brance of where he was and all that had
happened seemed to dawn upon him, and
he moved and made an unsuccessful effort
to rise, falling back again white and
faint.
By this time a little crowd had
gathered, and, as no one had been by
when the affair commenced, all were
wanting to know what had caused the
faint.
Charlie, for his part, was quite willing
and ready to furnish the desired informa-
tion. He was indignant when he thought
of the man's cruel and cowardly conduct,
and had no wish to shield him from the
consequences.
He was beginning to tell the whole
story when Alfred's hand was laid on his
arm preventing him.






28 ALFRED MAY.

Never mind how it happened, Char;
it doesn't matter to them. I can walk
now; let us go.'
So he had to leave the story untold
and the culprit unpointed out, much to
the astonished relief of that individual,
who, after gazing stupidly round for a
few minutes, went away.
The crowd, coming for want of better
information to the conclusion that the
boys had been fighting, gradually dis-
persed, leaving them alone. Then Charlie
said-
'You must come home with me now,
Alfy, and stop all night; mother will let
you stay, I know, when I tell her all.
You can have part of my bed, there's lots
of room; and if your father thinks you've
run away for good it will serve him right
for hitting you. I wish you could stay
with us always and never go back to him
any more.'
SThe boy was excited and spoke ve-
hemently, but Alfred answered quietly-
Not to-night. I must not come now,
though I'd like to; I must go home and
see if father's there, and get his tea for
him; if he's in, he'll be wanting it.'







ALFRED MAY. 29

'Let him get it himself then or go
without; why should you trouble about
him after the way he has treated you ?
You don't want him to be at you again
about the school-perhaps hit you again !
No; let him be, and come home with me.'
So Charlie begged and pleaded, grow-
ing quite eloquent as he thought of his
friend's wrongs; but Alfred was not to be
persuaded.
'I can't tell you,' he said, 'how much
I should like to go home with you, but
it wouldn't be right to father; he won't
touch me to-night, he wouldn't have done
as he did only he wasn't sober. 0
Charlie, what a good thing it would be
if he would give up drinking and get to
be a good man !'
This possibility appeared to Charlie
so exceedingly impossible, he could only
stare at his companion and remain silent;
and seeing there was no chance of Alfred
changing his mind about accompanying
him he bade him good-night, and left
him.
Half an hour later- the same evening
James May, seated smoking in his room,
was (as he himself would have expressed






80 ALFRED .MAY.

it) 'took right aback' to see his son come
in and quietly proceed to get ready the
tea. When it was made he drank it in
sulky silence, feeling a little ashamed of
his late violence, and more than a little
astonished at and puzzled by his boy's
behaviour. To Alfred this silence was a
relief, as he had quite expected to be
again reproached about going to the
school. When, however, nothing was
said, he began to think his father had got
over his temper; and, coming to that con-
clusion, judged it a favourable moment
to speak of a plan he had had in his head
some time.
'Father,' he said, 'I've been thinking
I could get some work to do; and if I only
got low wages at first it would be a help
to you, and be better than doing nothing;
there's lots of things I could do if I tried;
Don't you think I might as well look out
for something?'
James May put down his cup and
gazed at his son in open-mouthed aston-
ishment. 'What next!'he wondered, for it
would seem surprises were to be the order
of the day. He had not known what
to make of it when Alfred, whom he






ALFRED MAY. 31

knew to be naturally timid, had declined
to shield himself by telling a lie. He had
still less understood the matter when,
instead of taking his revenge, by allow-
ing Charlie to tell the whole story to the
crowd, he had interfered to prevent him.
He had certainly not expected the boy to
come quietly home and make the tea as
though nothing had happened. But now
when, of his own accord, without being
urged or driven to it, he quietly proposed
to get some work to do, James May re-
ceived the crowning shock of surprise.
He felt that a change had come over the
boy. The cause of the change he did
not trouble himself to inquire into. But
it did just occur to him that if it were
owing to anything he had learned at the
school it could not, after all, be such a bad
sort of a place.
'You see, father,'Alfred went on calmly,
pursuing the subject, quite unaware of
the surprise he was causing, 'if I could
only earn two or three shillings a week
it would be a help to you; I think I could
get that. Tom Barker, who is only a
year older than me, has two shillings for
being errand boy.'







32 ALFRED MAY.

This speech sounded such a sensible
one that the listener was more convinced
than ever that the change he wondered
at, by whatever cause produced, was a
good one; so, speaking less roughly than
was his wont, he said-
'Well, lad, you are right; it is about
time as you were doing something to help
earn yer own living; and if, as you says,
you starts wi' low wages, a little is better
nor nothing. I hain't no time to find
yer a place though, so you'd best look out
for summat yourself; and, mind, when you
get work you must stick to it; I won't
ha'e no idling, no shirking.'
'Oh, I shouldn't want to be idle,' Alfred
said; 'I'll ask Tom about it to-morrow
then.' And so the matter was settled.
James May sat smoking a time, and
then, muttering something about being
back soon, got up and went out.
Alfred knew that he would not reap-
pear for several hours, so, after watching
him sorrowfully down the narrow court
till he turned the corner and was lost to
view, he settled himself to think over all
that had happened, all he had heard at
the school. How glad he was now to






ALFRED MAY. 33

remember he had heard so much. Then
he pondered drearily over the fact that
he would not be able to go any more; his
father had said he should never enter
the doors again, and, cruel and unjust as
this command was, he knew he would
have to abide by it until the man should
see things differently and change his
mind.
Would this ever be? He hoped so.
Already he had begun to dream of better
days, when, as he had said to Charlie,
his father should give up drinking and be
quite different. When that time should
come he would go to school regularly, as
Charlie did, and perhaps succeed in per-
suading his father to go with him to the
services at the Mission Hall. Meantime
he must make the best of things, and
make the home as comfortable as he
could.
By the time he had arrived at this
determination he had become, spite of
the unpromising aspect of affairs, quite
hopeful and cheerful; and as the evening
sunlight, streaming in through the little
window, reminded him it was bright and
pleasant outside, he decided that as -he
c






34 ALFRED MAY.

could not go to school, the street would be
the next best place, much better than the
dull, close, little room. Going out of the
narrow court and through two narrow
streets he emerged into one of the broad
thoroughfares, and, seating himself on a
convenient doorstep, watched the passers
by. It was a favourite occupation of his,
and, as he gazed curiously and speculated
upon the owners of the different faces, he
wondered why many of the well-dressed,
and, as he concluded, rich people who
passed did not look happier and more
contented. Some of those faces were
gloomy and morose, while others wore a
restless, dissatisfied look, as though seek-
ing something and finding it-not. Perhaps
this struck him more forcibly than it had
ever done before, because now he himself
*as happy ; yes, spite of his troubles (and
poverty and loneliness, and ill-treatment
are very real ones), he was content, with
a bright, cheerful contentment that he
had until to-night known nothing of.
He remembered how often in the past he
had watched the passers by and envied
the well-dressed children who sometimes
stared at him so curiously, as talking and






ALFRED MAY. 35

laughing they went on their way. He had
often thought then that it must be very
nice to be well-dressed and have plenty
to eat. He would have liked not to be
ragged or hungry; more than all, and
above all, would he have liked to have
some one to love and care for him, as they
so evidently had. To-night, however,
all seemed changed; he knew there was
One who loved him more tenderly and
truly than any earthly parent could, and
believing in a heavenly Father, clinging
to a divine love, he was satisfied and
at rest.
It was pleasant to sit there in the sun-
light thinking happy thoughts, going over
again and again all he had heard at the
school. It was not however a pleasure
destined to last long. There was at that
very moment a little ragged boy roaming
about in search of him. Robbie Moss
(or to introduce him by the name fami-
liarly known to the large circle of his
acquaintances, comprising almost all the
ragged boys of the neighbourhood, 'Little
Bobs') considered himself a very parti-
cular friend of Alfred, and, as it had
just occurred to him that he had not of
c2






86 ALFRED MAY.

late enjoyed the society of that friend, he
immediately determined to look him up.
In pursuance of this sociable intention he
was now coming down the street whis-
tling a lively air, with the double purpose
.of relieving his own exuberant spirits
and attracting the attention of his friend.
Upon catching sight of the object of his
search, he interrupted this musical effort
to indulge in a wild halloo of triumph
and various forcible, if somewhat inco-
herent, expressions of delight. Remem-
bering, however, in the middle of these
rejoicings that he had a grievance, he
stopped to inquire indignantly, 'where
Alfred had been a-hiding of hisself all
day, that nobody couldn't find him.'
'Polly Carr said as you'd gone to the
school in Earl's Place,' he went on; 'but
in course I didn't believe that, and I tell'd
her not to tell no lies, that I knew you
too well to take that in.'
'Look here, Bobs,' Alfred began; but,
unheeding the interruption, Robbie pro-
ceeded to hold forth upon the impossi-
bility of Polly cramming him, who had
such an intimate acquaintance with his
friend's habits and opinions. And, as he







ALFRED MAY. 37

emphasised these remarks by a series of
gymnastic feats of a rather extraordinary
character, there was nothing for it but to
wait till the performance should be con-
cluded. When this happened, Alfred
said-
'Come and sit here on the step, Bobs,
and I'll tell you all about it. Polly didn't
tell a story. I was at the school this after-
noon, and I've been ever so many times,
but now father says I'm not to go again.
0 Bobs, I wish you would begin and
go; nobody would hinder you, and you'd
hear all sorts of good things; you can't
think what a nice place it is, and what
nice things one hears.'-
This last appeal was altogether too
much for Robbie. It convinced him his
companion was really in earnest and
meant what he said; his dancing, bright
eyes opened very wide in his astonish-
ment, and he burst out impatiently-
'You don't mean, Alf, to say in real
earnest as that school is jolly, and as you
likes it; what does they give you? '
'Nothing, Bob; but listen a bit, I'll
tell you all about it and why I want you
to go.'






38 ALFRED MAY.

With a comically resigned expression
on his face, as though prepared to hear
anything, however astounding, without
emotion of any sort, the ragged little
urchin seated himself on a corner of the
step, with his back against the wall, and
prepared to listen, curiosity overcoming
for the moment his restless propensities
and keeping him still.
After telling how he was at first per-
suaded to go with Charlie to the school,
Alfred went on to try and tell his com-
panion what he had heard there, endea-
vouring to repeat, as nearly as he could
remember them, the words of the message
that had been to him such 'good news,'
the words that to him were as a message
of love and joy from the unseen land. He
found his task a more difficult one than
he had imagined it would be. The boy
asked a hundred questions he could not
answer, to say nothing of breaking in
continually to dispute or ridicule what-
ever he was not able to understand; per-
haps in this following the example of
some who should be, but are not, wiser
than he. Before however Alfred finished
he was listening with real interest, and






ALFRED MAY. 39

was anxious to hear more. His young
teacher could only say-
'I've told you a little, Bobs, but there
is a great deal more to know; you will
hear it all for yourself if you will only go
to the school.'
This Robbie very emphatically declined
to do. I should just think so,' he said;
Sand have a lot of the young uns a-laugh-
ing at and a-mocking of me, 'cause I goes
to Sunday-school Catch me at it! No;
I'll tell you what I'll do, though: you get
that boy Charlie to tell you all as he hears
every Sunday, and I'll come here, same
as I've done to-night, and you can tell
me; and don't you say nothing to nobody
about it.'
With this arrangement Alfred, as he
could make no better, had to be contented;
and so it came about that he who knew
so little himself became teacher to one
who knew less, and in his turn took
lessons from Charlie, who, urged on now
by two of the strongest motives, his own
deepening interest in the subject and a
wish to help his friend, managed to re-
member and repeat with tolerable correct-
ness the greater part of what he heard.






40 ALFRED MAY.

These lessons had been going on now
about three months, during which time
Alfred had been at work. His new em-
ployment, that of chopping wood, by
which he earned four shillings a week,
was hard, rough work, but he was too
glad to be helping his father, and bring-
ing about, as he believed, a better state
of things, to mind that. His efforts to
make his father comfortable at home, so
that he should not be tempted to spend
all his spare time at the public-house,
seemed to be succeeding, for James May
went there seldomer. Altogether, affairs
generally were improving. He grew
hopeful, and began to think that the
fairer day of which he had dreamed was
about to dawn.













CHAPTER III.

IT is Saturday evening, and Alfred, who
has just come in from his work, is
getting the tea ready, when there is a
knock at the door, and Mrs. Smith, one
of the neighbours, presents herself. Look-
ing about her nervously, as though she
did not quite like her errand, she said-
May be you have seen your father,
and he has told you hisself as he was
going away. I said to him as he'd better
see you.
Going away! where, Mrs. Smith ?'
the boy asked, gazing in surprise at his
informant. 'No; I've not seen him since
morning. I was waiting for him to come
in to tea.'
'Ah, well! he ought to have told you
hisself,' Mrs. Smith repeated. He come
to my house this morning, and said as he
and his master had had a few words and
had parted; and I was to tell you as he'd






42 ALFRED MAY.

made up his mind to go and be a sailor
again, and you wasn't to expect him back
till you see'd him, as he would most like
be away a year or more. You'd do as
well without him as with him, he said,
now you could get your own living.'
As the woman went on talking, Alfred
stared in blank astonishment, half inclined
to disbelieve his ears. She, relieved to
find that he did not, as she had feared,
make a fuss, proceeded to administer a
rough sort of consolation.
Sure,' she remarked, 'you'll get on
well enough wi'out him. 'Twere little
good as he were to you. May be he'll have
good luck as a sailor, and bring home a
lot of money. You come into my room
now, and have a bit of summat to eat.'
This invitation Alfred declined, how-
ever, and, seeing he wanted to be left
to himself, she went away.
For full five minutes the boy remained
where she had left him immovable, try-
ing to think it over; then, as the meaning
of her words became clear to him, and
he realized fully the position, he sat down
by the table, and, leaning his head on his
hands, wept bitter tears of disappoint-






ALFRED MAY. 43

ment over what seemed to him then the
grave of his hopes.
There was nothing selfish in his grief,
no feeling of anger at bei4g cruelly
deserted. So far as he himself was con-
cerned, his father's going away was no
misfortune. James May had never cared
for his son; he had always neglected,
often ill-treated him, and twelve months
before, had Alfred then been able to keep
himself, he would have rejoiced at his
departure; but he felt no gladness now.
Somehow, he himself scarcely knew why,
but since he had known and realized
something of God's great love, and what
that Love had done and suffered for him,
his feelings towards his father had gra-
dually undergone a great change. He had
learned, even when suffering from his
cruelty and selfishness, to think of him
pityingly rather than with anger. He
had come to look forward hopefully to his
becoming a better man; he had longed
with a passionate longing, had worked
and prayed and hoped for this, and now
it seemed as though his hopes were never
to be realized, as though his efforts had
all been in vain. Like one stunned, he







44 ALFRED MAY.

could do nothing but go over again and
again the words he had just heard-words
that seemed the death-knell of his fondest
hopes. His father was gone away, to
return, if ever he did return, worse than
ever.
In that hour of darkness and discour-
agement Satan, who ever chooses such
times to tempt to rebellion and unbelief,
whispered to him that he had deceived
himself in ever fancying his prayers
would be answered; that he could not
even know they had been heard; that
there was not any One in the fair, far away
heaven who cared whether His creatures
prayed or no.
Pobr Alfred He had been getting on
so well of late, fighting his small fight
in the great battle against evil so success-
fully. He had begun to be proud of his
success, and to depend upon his own
strength; and now, when this great trial
came, he found that strength fail him
utterly.
Like the disciple of old, who, walking
upon the storm-tossed waves, looked away
from the Saviour and began to sink, he,
walking the troubled sea of life, looked






ALFRED MAY. 45

jnly at its billows, and all but sank in
the fathomless depths of unbelief. He
began next to wonder-for unbelief ever
questions and murmurs-why, if God
were merciful, this great sorrow was
allowed to befall him. To the question
there came no answer then. Long years
after when, looking back on his life, he
read the answer to it, and to many an-
other which had at the time seemed as
unanswerable, he remembered with shud-
dering dread that night of blackest dark-
ness when for a little moment he lost
faith in God, and listened to the voice
that whispers,-' The Creator does not
care for the souls He hath created; by
Him their joys and sorrows are disre-
garded; the prayers of earth reach not
the Majesty of heaven.' It was with an
inexpressibly desolate feeling-the feel-
ing of being all alone in a darkened and
darkening world, deserted by God and
man-that at last, worn out and weary,
he fell asleep. The light was streaming
brightly into the room next morning
when Alfred opened his eyes and gazed
around with a dreary consciousness that
something terrible had happened; then






46 ALFRED MAY.

waking right up he remembered all about
his trouble. For a time he closed his
eyes again, too miserable to care to get
up; but he could not sleep, and, tiring at
last of doing nothing, he rose and dressed
and went out. He sauntered slowly on,
not thinking or caring where he went.
The bell was ringing for morning school,
but though now there was nothing to
prevent him going there, he turned in an
opposite direction. In his then despair-
ing, faithless mood 4he had no wish to
meet Charlie or any one he knew; he only
wanted to be alone with his sorrow. He
was therefore little pleased when a gen-
tleman passing him stopped, looked at
him doubtfully for a moment, and said-
'If I'm not greatly mistaken, my boy,
you and I ought to know each other.
Were you not once in my class at Earl-
street School?'
'I was there once for a bit,' Alfred
said, recognizing in the speaker Mr.
Stuart, Charlie's teacher; and then, some-
what sullenly, he added, 'I don't go now;'
and would have passed on, but his new
friend prevented this. Noting the half-
sulky, half-sorrowful tone, the pale, down-






ALFRED MAY. 47

cast face, he guessed there was some-
thing wrong with his old scholar, and
determined, if possible, to set it right.
Gerald Stuart was one of those who
believe, with a certain modern philo-
sopher, that the able man is born to set
things right, that into whatsoever insanest
element you cast him he is there to
make it a little less insane, a little more
human again.' Only for 'the able man,'
he would have said 'the Christian,' and
would have addeA to make it more
human again, 'yes, by aspiring after the
divine.'
Very soon the boy found himself lis-
tening with an interest that astonished
himself to his companion's kindly, cheer-
ful talk, and as he listened his sullen,
angry mood softened and changed, and
he began to tell to a sympathising hearer
the whole sad, little story of his sorrows
and his sin. As he told it, keeping no-
thing back, he began to see what he had
not seen before, that he had sinned as well
as suffered; that his angry, rebellious
feelings, his unbelieving, presumptuous
questioning had all been sin. When he
had told all and looked up shyly into






48 ALFRED MAY.

Mr. Stuart's face, he saw there only pity
and love, and heard a voice full of com-
passion say-
'My poor child I'm very, very sorry
for you.' Of all troubles the heaviest
is unbelief. We can bear anything when
we hold fast to our trust in God; when
we remember that, come darkness or
light, sorrow or joy, God is still loving
us, guiding, directing, and caring for us.
Now you forgot that; you began to
question it; and to Vhe heavy weight of
sorrow you added the intolerable and
crushing weight of unbelief. In the
hour of greatest need you cast away the
only thing that could help you-faith in
God. But, Alfred, He who at the first
gave that gift can restore it; and I speak
to you now in His name, and give you His
own message when I say, He waits
to be gracious; He waits to forgive your
unbelief, to give to you again, if you ask
it through Christ, the precious gift of
faith.'
As he spoke they arrived at the school,
and Mr. Stuart stopped to say before
entering,-
'You must not think, dear boy, that






ALFRED MAY. 49

because I say much about your sin, I
have forgotten or do not feel for your
sorrows. I can see that it is a very real
one, that your disappointment must be in-
deed hard to bear. We have not time to
talk more now, but if you will come home
with me after school we'll talk things
over, and I think I shall succeed in
showing you that you have no occasion
to despair. To-morrow I'll call upon
you, and we must consider what it will
be best for you to do till your father
returns home.'
'Thank you, sir,' Alfred said; he
could not trust himself to say more. He
saw now that he had been wrong, but
pride was struggling with his better feel-
ings; he hesitated before he could make
up his mind to follow his friend, and take
his place in class.
When he did so he was relieved to see
that Charlie was absent. He did not
care just then to have to answer his
inevitable questioning. The subject of
the lesson that morning was St. Peter's
denial of his Lord, and Mr. Stuart
showed his boys that unbelief was the
cause of that denial, as of all sins. 'The
D






50 ALFRED MAY.

Jewish fisherman,' he said, 'blinded by
ambition and national prejudice, seeing
dazzling visions, dreaming bright dreams
of his people's coming glory, his Master's
triumph, had convinced himself that
God's purposes could only be accom-
plished by Christ becoming an earthly
king. He had looked and longed and
"waited for that; and when, accomplishing
in His own infinitely wise way His grand
work, the holy One passed along the
path of humiliation to the cross of
shame, the disciple, who had expected
something so different, shrank back
puzzled and doubting and perplexed, to
deny and forsake.'
Bringing the lesson to a close, Mr.
Stuart said,-
'Now, boys, I want you to remember
that all the followers of Christ must meet
and do battle with the same kind of
temptation as that which came to St.
Peter, the temptation of unbelief. Trials
will befall us, and we shall seek in vain
to know why they are sent, what good
end they can serve. We shall long for
and ask to have, for ourselves and others,
many things that seem good and neces-






ALFRED MAY. 51

scary, and they will often not be given; or,
if given, not when and how we would have
them. It will seem to us sometimes that
our prayers are unheard and unanswered.
At such times the devil will whisper to
us that this world must assuredly be
governed by a blind chance, that it can-
not be that the Most High ruleth in
the kingdoms of men. Then let us
remember God would have His children
trust Him in the dark. He has never
promised that they shall understand all
his dealings with them. The Lord did not
explain to Peter why He, "The good
Shepherd," should have to lay down "His
life for the sheep." He simply told him
it should be so, "that He must suffer
many things, and be rejected of men, and
scourged, and crucified." And if you and
I are His disciples, He will often say by
His dealings to us just what He said to
St. Peter, What I do thou knowest not
now, but thou shalt know hereafter." Our
part is to see to it that we, by His grace,
do faithfully the work given us to do,
bearing bravely and patiently the burden
given us to bear.'
Alfred, listening to these words, felt as
D2






52 ALFRED MAY.

if they were spoken only to him, and
learned something of the lesson the
teacher intended to teach.
When school was over Mr. Stuart took
Alfred with him to church, then home to
his house.
I'm all alone to- day,' he said; 'so you
and I will have dinner quietly by our-
selves, and then this afternoon you can, if
you like, come with me to the school
again.'
Alfred did not need much pressing to
accept this invitation. He was beginning
to feel quite at home with his new friend,
and in no hurry to return to his dreary
little room; so it ended in his staying till
evening, and then running home after a
quiet but happy day, with a lighter heart
and a brighter face than he had had for
some time.

It is Monday evening, the day after
the events recorded in our last chap-
ter, and Alfred had just finished tea on
returning from his work when a knock
at the door reminded him of his friend's
promise to call to see him, and Mr. Stuart
entered. He was a very cheerful visitor,







ALFRED MAY. 53

coming into the dreary, little room like a
flood of moral sunshine; and Alfred, who
had been feeling rather gloomy, soon
found himself beginning to be hopeful
again, and talked away easily and freely
to his companion, in a fashion he would
not yesterday have believed possible.
It was a new and a very pleasant
experience to have any one interesting
himself in his affairs as Mr. Stuart did.
Taking for granted that soon or late his
father would certainly return he said-
Now, the first thing we have to think
of, the first question is, How are you
going to live ? what are you going to do
with yourself till that time? You are
thirteen, you say; well, you must have
some schooling. Charlie Astenwell taught
you to read, did he ? That's first rate: but
we won't stop there; we must manage for
you to be at school some part of the day,
or in the evening perhaps. And now, to
talk about the work, as you will have to
get your own living; we must think about
that.'
'I have work to do,' Alfred said, look-
ing up brightly, with proud, frank pleasure
upon his face. 'I've just come from my






54 ALFRED MAY.

day's work now. I get six shillings a
week. I'd like to go to night-school if
I knew of one. I don't think I could
earn enough to live if I only worked half
the day, and it is dull here of an even-
ing: it would be a deal better to be at
school.'
As the boy talked on, explaining all
about his work, how and why he came to
look for it, Mr. Stuart listened quietly,
surprised, but making no remark. When
the story was ended he simply said-
'So you looked out for work because
you thought it was not right to be idle,
and you wanted to earn something and
help your father. You hoped if you
could do that, and make him more com-
fortable at home, he would go less to the
public-house, in the long run cease per-
haps to go there at all. You acted rightly
and bravely, my boy, and if so far your
hopes have been disappointed, don't
despair. If you and I, as servants and
followers of the Lord, trusting Him
fully, depending upon Him in all we
attempt, try always to do what we believe
He would have us do, we may confidently
and hopefully leave the result to Him,






ALFRED MAY. 55

Only never forget, dear Alf, without Him
we can do nothing.'
I'll try not, sir,' the boy said in a low
voice, thinking how so lately he had for-
gotten, had trusted in his own strength,
to find it in the time of trial perfect
weakness.
Then for a few moments they sat silent,
each occupied with his own thoughts.
The boy's story, commonplace as it
seemed to him, was to -the listener very
suggestive. As he listened he said to
himself: 'Yes, it is always so; faith and
work, separated sometimes in theory,
ever in practice go hand in hand. True
faith, the faith that justifies, the faith
that gives peace with God, gives also the
wish and the power to serve and obey
God. The grace that "bringeth salva-
tion" teaches us that, denying ungodliness,
" we should live soberly, righteously, and
godly in this present world." The ground
which receives the good seed shall, though
it grow but slowly, bear one day golden
sheaves; for to those'who come to Him
the Master hath said, "Herein is My
Father glorified, that ye bear much
fruit." Of necessity it must be so, for as






56 ALFRED MAY.

soon as we begin to realise something of
God's great love to us, we begin more
truly to love one another. Whenwebelieve
that the Lord Jesus bore upon Calvary's
cross the heavy burden of our sin, we
learn to be willing to help to bear, if we
may, something of our neighbour's sor-
rows. We begin, in short, to follow,
weakly and haltingly at first it may be-
at an infinite distance it must always be
-in the path the Master trod.'
When Mr. Stuart spoke again he said-
'I will arrange for you, Alfred, to attend
the school in Sloane Street every after-
noon; it is a good school, and you will
get on there. So you will have to tell
your master that you can only work for
him half the day-till one o'clock, say.
Of course you'll only get the half day's
wages, but you needn't trouble about
that. Mr. Brend, at the school, will have
my orders to hand you six shillings every
Saturday for the next six months to
come. By the end of that time you may
be able to do with the night school only,
and work full time again, or perhaps your
father will have returned. Anyhow for
the present, with the six shillings and






ALFRED MAY. 57

what you manage to earn, you will be
able to get along.'
'You don't mean, sir,' Alfred ex-
claimed in astonishment, 'that I shall
have nothing to pay for schooling, and
that you are going to give me the six
shillings a week?'
'That is exactly what I do mean,' Mr.
Stuart answered, smiling a little at the
boy's amazed face.
'Oh indeed, sir I've no right to take
it,' Alfred said.
But his friend quickly observed-
'You have a perfect right to take the
help God has enabled me to offer you.
The silver and the gold are all His-take
this as His gift. Some day perhaps you in
your turn may be able to do for some boy
who needs it what has been done for you,
and you can do it then, not as a duty
only, but also as a thank-offering. I
shall come sometimes to see how you are
getting on with your lessons, and after a
time we shall perhaps find some work
that will suit you better than what you
are doing now.'
Mr. Stuart kept his promise. That visit
was the first of many he paid in the






58 ALFRED MAY.

little court, and Alfred no longer felt
lonely and friendless. God had given
him a friend, and such a friend I One
who, as he thought sometimes with glad
astonishment, seemed able to explain and
make easy everything puzzling or diffi-
cult; one who could teach him so much
he longed and needed to know; and
better than all that even-who could
advise him so wisely and help him so
effectually in living that new life of faith
and obedience he was striving after.
Every Sunday now, morning and after-
noon, found the boy in his place in class,
listening with ever-increasing interest to
the lesson; for, besides wishing to know
for himself more and more of the grand
Gospel message, he was learning in these
days for others as well. He wanted to
be able to give to them the invitation he
had received and so joyfully accepted.
Little Bobs continued to come each
Sunday evening for his lesson, and now,
when the evening was wet, Alfred could
have him in his own little room. One
night he appeared accompanied by four
other boys, even more ragged than him-
self, and briefly introduced them with






ALFRED MAY. 59

the remark 'that they was partic']ar
friends of his, as wanted to hear all about
what Alfred had telled him.' They had
evidently come simply out of curiosity,
and because Robbie had persuaded them;
and as they only listened when inclined,
which was not often, and seemed disposed
to regard the affair as a good lark, their
young teacher had a by no means easy
or pleasant task. Bobs' efforts to make
them, as he expressed it, behave their-
selves' only made matters worse, for
these efforts usually took the form of
blows or pinches, and were of course
duly returned and revenged. In spite,
however, of these discouragements, Alfred,
who was thoroughly in earnest, perse-
vered, and after a time matters improved,
and Bobs' coercive measures were no
longer needed.
Alfred had plenty to do now, and was
glad of it; he had no wish to be idle, but
remembered the time when he had spent
his days wandering about the streets
doing nothing, only to feel very glad they
were over, and to recognize, with bright
content, that he belonged to a 'Master
who gives to all His servants some talent






60 ALFRED MAY.

to use, some work to do for Him.' He
had no difficulty in finding plenty of use-
ful work to do among his neighbours.
Rough boys, who would not have let any
one else speak to them of a Saviour's
love, listened to him, because he was a
boy like themselves, and because, as they
put it,'he was a good-natured little chap,
who would always help a fellow when he
could.'
When he had attended the school for
"about six months, he found he could get
on fast enough with his lessons with the
help of the night-school only; so, with
his friend's permission, returned to his
Full day's work at the yard, and earned,
to his great delight, enough money to
live without any assistance. But Mr.
Stuart still continued to visit him and
to help him in many ways, providing
him with all the books he needed, and
explaining the difficulties he met with in
his lessons.
It was when paying one of these visits
one bright, warm July night that Mr.
Stuart said-
'I'm going away to-morrow into the
country, so you won't see me again for






ALFRED MAY. 61

some five or six weeks; but be sure I
shall come and see you when I return.
You must stick to your books, for I shall
expect to find when we meet again that
you have got on fast with your lessons.'
Then after a few grave, kindly words
of encouragement and farewell he said
good-night and went away, Alfred stand-
ing at the door in the waning light to
watch him until he turned the corner and
was out of sight.
The next day he started on the journey
he had told the boy he was about to take.
Ay; and on another journey of which
he had not spoken, even that, taking
which we cross the line dividing the seen
from the unseen, time from eternity,
this world from that we speak of as the
world to come. In the evening papers
there was a column headed, 'Terrible
Railway Accident,' and in the list of those
killed stood the name R. Clyve Stuart.
A terribly sudden thing,' said some
who read that list; and very sad that the
name of one so gifted, so sure to have
done great things in the world, should
be there.'
Not so; not terrible to Clyve Stuart;






62 ALFRED MAY.

for above the crash of the collision he
heard the music of the angels' song and
the sweeter music of a voice he had long
waited to hear that bade him enter into
the joy of his Lord; the voice that said,
'Father, I will that those whom Thou
hast given Me may be with Me where I
am.' Not sad, for if great talents conse-
crated to God's service can accomplish
much 'here,' we are sure that in some
way or fashion that we now know nothing
about they shall accomplish more there'
in the land where mistakes and failures
have no place.
Of the accident, of his friend's gain
and his own great loss Alfred at the
time knew nothing. When six weeks
had passed he began to wait and look for
him; but the six weeks grew into two
months, the two into three, and still he
did not come. Then anxiety overcame
his shyness, and Alfred determined to
call at the house and inquire after him.
Surely, he thought, he must be ill. So
as he returned from his work one evening
he went round by his old teacher's house.
On asking, 'Is Mr. Stuart in? can I see
him ?' the man stared at him in a speech-






ALFREDMAY. 63

less astonishment that was, to say the
least of it, confusing. He was just about
to repeat his question when, recovering
himself a little, the servant said-
'You don't mean to tell me as you
never heard of the accident!' And then
seeing in his listener's pale, frightened
face that he had not, went on to tell the
story of it and of his master's death.
After the first great shock of surprise
and sorrow, the boy listened as in a dream,
not hearing the details of the story, know-
ing only, caring only to know, that his
one friend, the only earthly friend he had
ever had, was taken away. And now he
realized how much he had come to cling
to and depend upon that friend. Before
him there seemed to lie a long and weary
journey to be travelled alone. Trials and
difficulties to be met, and no one near to
help or advise him. In his sorrow he was
selfish, and forgot to be glad that his old
teacher had finished life's journey and
gone home to rest.
Managing somehow (he could never
afterwards remember how) to bid the
servant good-night, he went down the
long stone steps and turned homewards.







64 ALFRED MAY

The light was fading as he retraced his
steps, and, as he went on his way through
the darkening streets, he felt as though
shadows deeper and blacker than those
of the darkest night were gathering over
his life's pathway to overshadow it, even
to the end.
This second great trouble was a greater
one than his father's desertion of him
had been; but he found it far less hard
to bear, for now he did not murmur or
ask to know why the burden was laid
upon him. He did what was far better,
the only right, or indeed, wise thing he
could do: he asked for strength to bear
cheerfully and patiently, for grace to
fight as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,
though the battle should be a sore one,
the night of conflict long and dark.
To that prayer, as to every true prayer,
an answer came. And so it came to be
that even on that first night of his sorrow
Alfred was able to think calmly, almost
cheerfully, of the work to be done ere he
should see again the friend now at rest.
Next day he went to his work as usual,
and, except that he looked pale and ill,
and was unusually quiet, no one could






ALFRED MAY. 65

have guessed that there was anything
Wrong with him, or that a great sorrow
had befallen him. For a long time, when
he had first worked in the yard, he had
suffered a good deal of persecution from
his companions: a set of rough men and
lads who, because he was always clean
and tidily dressed, and would not use the
sort of language in which they indulged,
took into their heads that he was setting
himself up above them, and banded to-
gether to put him down. When, however,
they found that, spite of this, he went
quietly on his way, and did not, when
opportunity offered, revenge himself, but
was always ready to do any of them a
good turn, they grew tired of tormenting
him, and came to the conclusion that he
was after all 'not half a bad sort.'
Acting upon this conclusion, they con-
tented themselves with ridiculing what
they called his methodistical notions, but
this half good-naturedly, and no longer
avoided or made an outsider of him, but
were willing to be friendly. For several
reasons Alfred welcomed gladly this
change in their behaviour. He had felt
keenly their avoidance of him, and had
E






66 ALFRED MAY.

longed in his loneliness for companion-
ship; he had hoped, too, that they would
get to like him, thinking that then he
would be able to persuade some of them
to go to the school to hear the story
which to him had been such 'good news.'
He felt he could not keep the message to
himself.
Reader, if you and I can, we may well
doubt whether we have ever received it,
whether we know anything at all of the
meaning of it.
Alfred now found, as he had hoped he
should, that he could persuade some of
the younger boys who were friendly with
him to attend the school; and after a time
he even succeeded in getting them to go
with him to the Band of Hope meetings
and sign the pledge. Altogether he felt
he was getting on, and, spite of his great
loss, his life was not without a good deal
of quiet happiness. In the best sense of
the word he was prospering and doing
well.
Things were in this position when one
Friday afternoon, about five o'clock, Mr. c
Sherborn, the owner of the yard, unex-
pectedly walked in, and, after talking for






ALFRED MAY. 67

a few minutes to his manager, called the
men and boys together and said-
'Lads, I have received unexpectedly a
large order for work to be delivered by
noon on Monday; as to-day is Friday, the
time given for executing the order is
short. But as it would be a great loss to
me to have to refuse it, I'm going to ask
you all to make a push and work a little
overtime. If you will stay an hour later
to-night, and come an hour earlier to-
morrow morning, we shall, J hope, get
done by to-morrow night. Can I depend
upon you to make this exertion and get
the work done ?'
Mr. Sherborn paused and waited for
an answer, but no one spoke; all had
listened in blank, discontented silence:
the hours were already quite long enough,
and the thought of getting up an hour
earlier than usual was not a pleasant one.
Alfred was the first to break the silence.
He had waited, hoping some of the others
would speak; but as they held back, he
said-
'I think you may depend upon us, sir,
to do our best to get the work done.'
After this, following his example, most
S2






68 ALFRED MAY.

of the others promisedtoo, though in many
cases the promise was given reluctantly
and sullenly. Not choosing, however,
to see this, Mr. Sherborn smiled and
said-
'I know I can depend upon you to do
your best to oblige me. Now, I think
we shall finish by Saturday night; if we
don't we must for once work an hour or
so on Sunday morning, as it is necessary
to get done. You won't object to that ?'
'No, sir; we'll come; we will get done
somehow.'
The answer this time was given more
cheerfully, and now Alfred was the only
one who remained silent, and had any
one looked at him they would have seen
the usually bright, sunny face clouded
with a grave, troubled expression.
For a moment he so continued, but,
seeing that Mr. Sherborn was leaving the
yard, followed him quickly and said-
'Just a moment, sir: may I and any
who wish it come here to-morrow at
five instead of six o'clock and stop an
hour later to-night, so as to be sure and
get done before Sunday? '
This proposal was greeted by a general







ALFRED MAY. 69

murmur of dissent and angry exclama-
tions of surprise.
Mr. Sherborn waited till the tumult
a little subsided, then smiling, not a
pleasant smile, spoke-
'It doesn't matter to me when and how
the work is done, so it gets done in time.
You are at liberty to make your own
arrangements about hours. What say
you then to this new plan ?'
'We can't come to work so early, sir,'
was the answer given by many voices.
SWe will do as you say and finish on Sun-
day if we don't get done before.'
Turning to Alfred again, Mr. Sherborn
said-
You hear, May, your plan is not ap-
proved of; so you must make up your
mind to follow mine. Now, good-night;'
and before any more could be said he
was gone.
Seeing that the only way now was to
appeal to his companions and get them
to change their minds, knowing that he
had a good deal of influence with some
among them, Alfred turned to one of the
older lads, a friend of his, and said-
'Look here, Fern, it would do none of







70 ALFRED MAY.

us any harm to start work an hour earlier
than usual to-morrow, and, if we don't,
we shan't get done before Sunday.'
Most like not,' was the careless an-
swer. 'Well, then, there won'tbe, as I can
see, no sin in doing an hour's work then;
and if sin there be, that's old Sherborn's
look-out; we has just got to obey orders
and ask no questions. If we don't we'll
may be be told to go about our business;
and for one, that wouldn't suit me. So,
May, don't you go bothering or troubling
about it.'
This convenient statement of the case
was received with general satisfaction
and applause, but Alfred was not blinded
by it. After trying by every means in
his power to get them to reconsider their
determination, and finding they remained
obstinate, he said, speaking sadly, but
with quiet determination-
'I should be very sorry to lose my place,
but I cannot disobey God's command by
working on Sunday; no orders of any
one's can set aside His orders or make
right what He has forbidden. I wish to
do my share of the work, so I shall re-
main to-night until the yard closes and







ALFRED MAY. 71

be here when the gates open in the morn-
ing. If Mr. Sherborn is not satisfied with
that and sends me away, I cannot help
it; but I don't think he will.'
'You think wrong then,' exclaimed
several voices; 'he would send away the
best hands he had if they crossed him and
wouldn't do his way; and if he sends you
off, you won't easy get another situation.'
Alfred knew well enough that this was
true, so he was silent; but when the other
boys went away from the yard that even-
ing, they left him at work; he had got
permission from the gatekeeper, who
lived on the place, to stay until dusk.
In the morning again when they re-as-
sembled, they found him already at work.
Most of them considered his persistency a
good joke and ridiculed him unmercifully,
but Will Fern and one or two of the older
lads who were friendly with him looked
vexed; they had hoped he would have
reconsidered the matter and made him-
self safe by doing what Mr, Sherborn
had arranged.
The work went on as usual all day, but
when at six o'clock the bell rang, there
was still a good deal undone. One by







72 ALFRED MAY.

one the boys went into the manager's
office to receive their wages. Feeling
rather nervous, Alfred May waited for
his turn to come. As Will Fern passed
him he stopped and said-
SLook here, Alf, you've done your share
and more than your share of the work,
so if you don't intend to come to-morrow
it is all right, only don't tell Mr. Sher-
born so. You have no need to say any-
thing about it, so keep your mouth shut,
old fellow; we can't have you sent away.'
SThanks, Will; I don't see that Ineed
say anything at all,' Alfred answered
gratefully. 'Mr. Sherborn is not likely
to ask me any questions.'
He was touched by and surprised at
the rough lad's affection for him, and
felt that it would be doubly hard to
have to lose his situation, should it come
to that, and go away among strangers
now that he had so many friends in
the yard. At last after, as it seemed
to his impatience, an immense time, his
turn came; he walked quickly into the
office, took his money and, muttering a
hasty, 'Thank you, sir,' was passing out
when Mr. Sherborn called him back.







ALFRED MAY. 73

'By the way, May,' he said, 'you are
the lad, aren't you, who objected to work on
Sunday ? You have changed your mind,
I hope, and intend to come to-morrow,
for I, on my part, object to keep any one
here who doesn't obey my orders.'
'I have done my share of the work, sir,'
Alfred said; 'I stayed last night and came
here early this morning on purpose to get
it done, for I cannot work on Sunday.
I'll come again as early as you wish on
Monday.'
'You'll come, it seems to me,' was the
angry reply, any time but when I tell
you. Now listen here, that won't do; if
you don't come to-morrow you may just
stay away altogether, and I'll get some
one who knows how to obey orders.'
'I wish to obey you, sir,' Alfred said,
'but I must do right.'
He spoke in a low, troubled voice,
and Mr. Sherborn, noting the effort with
which he had spoken, the nervous trem-
bling of the tightly clasped hands and
the pale, downcast face, judged his threat
of dismissal had had its effect and that
he had gained his point. Speaking less
harshly, he said-







74 ALFRED MAY.

'That will do now, May; come to-
morrow like a sensible lad; I don't wish
to have to send you off.'
Then seeing the boy was about to say
something, he added-
'I won't take your answer now; you
will see when you have time to consider
that you would be making a mistake to
lose your situation. Now go and send
Miles.'
So Alfred bade Mr. Sherborn good-
night;' and went slowly out, saying to
himself as he left the yard,' I have worked
there for the last time,' and began to
wonder what he should do if .he could not
get another situation. He had a long
walk to his lodgings, and all the way as
he went he was haunted by this new
trouble, and something seemed to whisper
to him that there could be no great harm
in extricating himself from his difficulty
by doing just for once what he was asked,
and working for one short hour only next
day, doing such a little, very little evil
that so much good might come. The
temptation to make for himself this way
out of his difficulty was very great, and
at one time he had almost yielded to it,







ALFRED MAY. 75

saying to himself, I will do it just this
once, and never again.' But conscience
whispered, 'Nothing can excuse you in
disobeying one of God's direct com-
mands.'
At last, after spending a miserable
evening of doubt and uncertainty, the
right prevailed, and determining that
whatever might be the consequence he
would not go near the yard on the morrow
he went to bed and fell asleep.













CHAPTER IV.

T HAT night, some three or four hours
later, when lights were all out and
over the noisy streets and courts there
had fallen the stillness of midnight, a
broken-down, feeble man crept with weak
and faltering steps back to the home he
had left more than three years before.
Alfred, hearing the handle of his room
turned-for he was lying awake-jumped
up quickly, wondering, Could morning
have already come ?'
On opening the door he was quickly un-
deceived. A brilliant moon was shining,
and by its light he recognized in the
miserable, degraded figure before him
the father who had so cruelly deserted
him, to go, as he had said, 'to try his
luck as a sailor.' Strange luck, to judge
from his appearance, would it seem to
have been.
The boy gazed at him a moment, too






ALFRED MAY. 77

much surprised and disappointed to
speak, then tried to stammer out some
word of welcome, but it sounded in his
ears like a mockery and died away on his
lips; all he could manage to say was-
'Father, is it you ? '
'Who else should it be I'd like to
know,' was the defiant, sullen answer.
'Who has a better right to come here
nor your own father ?' And, as if to assert
that right, the man tumbled into the room
and threw himself down on the bed.
Alfred tried to say, 'I'm glad you have
come back, father,' but he felt he was not
glad, could not be glad, for such a return.
So he set to work to make a fire, saying
as he did so-
I'll make some tea, father; you must
want something. I wish I had a bit of
meat, but I didn't get any yesterday.'
The man gave him no answer. When
the tea was ready he sat up, drank it
greedily, but in sulky silence, and lay
down again, falling presently into a
troubled, uneasy slumber.
Alfred very quietly dressed himself
and sat down by the fire, for sleep now
was out of the question; this new turn






78 ALFRED MAY.

in his affairs had given him too much to
think about for that. He had prayed that
his father might return, but as a better
man; he- had returned, but not better.
Nay, as it seemed to him much worse,
and he could not feel thankful that the
half of his prayer only had been answered.
For the last three years his life, though
one of hard work, and darkened lately by
the loss of his friend, had been a com-
paratively peaceful and happy life; he
had felt that he was getting on, and being
of some use in the world; and, as his
circumstances improved and his skies
brightened, he had grown very hopeful
about his father's return. Now looking
sorrowfully at the figure on the bed, he
told himself the old, dreary time of de-
graded wretchedness, of weary strivings
just to live and keep his poor, drunken
father out of harm's way must' begin
again, to end he knew not when or
how.
That night of watching and waking
seemed to him as though it would never
end; but at last the morning came. James
May woke up as his son was making the
breakfast, and, sitting up, made an attempt






ALFRED MAY. 79

to rise. It was, however, a vain attempt,
and he fell back again groaning and curs-
ing his weakness.
'I'm afraid, father, you are feeling very
bad,' Alfred said gently; have this tea,
and if you aren't better soon I'll get a
doctor to come and see you.'
'Don't bother; I don't want no tea,'
was the answer; and again groaning the
man turned from him.
It was plain, even to Alfred's inex-
perienced eyes, that his father was very
ill. He was at his wits' end, but one thing
was clear to him-he must get some one to
see the sick man and tell him what to
do. Slipping out and closing the room
door gently after him, he started on his
errand.
He had three pounds which he had
managed to save. Would a doctor want
much of that? he wondered; and, if he did,
how should he manage to live and keep
his father during his illness ? for that he
was going to have an illness he felt sure.
He must, he decided, get the doctor to
wait for his money; and having come to
this determination he quickened his pace.
He was now in the wider streets. He






80 ALFRED MAY.

remembered to have passed often on his
way to his work a large house with a
brass plate on the door, on which was
engraved the name Dr. Hugh Ellis.' He
would do, he thought; he must be clever
or he would not be so rich and live in that
large house.
The famous London physician, who had
declined on account of his large practice
and advancing age to take any new
patients, would have been probably a
little amused, had he known that a poor
lad, with just three pounds in his pos-
session, was debating with himself the
question whether he (the doctor) was
clever enough to attend his pauper father:
but to Alfred May there was nothing
amusing in the matter; to him it was
all pure tragedy. Perhaps all comedies
are tragedies to some one. Let us be
careful when we laugh.
Dr. Ellis would not have laughed had
he known the story. He was breakfast-
ing when his servant announced to him
that a boy wanted to see him.
'Where is he from ? Has he brought
no message ? he asked.
'He isn't a servant, sir,' the man an-






ALFRED MAY. 81

swered; only a poor lad; he said he
wanted to see you himself.'
For a moment the doctor looked an-
noyed, then said-
'I will see him; let him come in here.'
Alfred felt a little nervous when carry-
ing out these orders. The servant showed
him into the breakfast-room, and gently
closing the door left him alone with the
doctor; that gentleman's kindly face
however reassured him, and in answer to
a cheerful, Well, my boy, what have you
got to say to me ?' he began, and in few
words told his story.
Father had been away and come back
very ill and he (Alfred) did not know
what to do for him; would Dr. Ellis come
and see him ? That was all; he said as
little as possible about his father having
been away, and the doctor never guessed
at the truth that James May had left
his son alone for more than three years.
He listened attentively to all Alfred said,
and then, telling him to wait a few mo-
ments, left the room.
In about ten minutes he returned with
his coat on.
'I'11 see your father,' he observed; 'and
F






82 ALFRED MAY.

if he is as ill as you seem to think him
we must get him into the hospital. Now
come and take me to him.'
Gladly Alfred obeyed, and very soon
Dr. Ellis was in Tower Court, and had
taken a seat beside his new patient.
He was a little surprised to see that the
room,though small and scantily furnished,
was scrupulously clean, and though the
day was a close, hot one a small window
left a little open at the top admitted a
current of fresh air. He saw, too, that
Alfred was tidily dressed, and wondered
how such a dirty, degraded looking man
as the one before him came to have a son
so different from himself as was the almost
gentlemanly lad beside him.
James May lay tossing wearily from
side to side, hearing evidently and heed-
ing not when Alfred said-
Father, are you feeling no better?
Here's Dr. Ellis has come to see you.'
'He is too ill to know what you say;
the best thing for him will be to go to the
hospital. I will arrange for him to be
taken there as soon as possible,' the doctor
said. Why, boy, what are you looking
so blank about? He will be better off







ALFRED MAY. 83

there than here, and you can go and see
him sometimes.'
'You are sure he will get better, sir ? '
Alfred asked anxiously, trying to speak
calmly, but not succeeding too well. 'You
will save him ?'
For a moment the old doctor did not
reply. He looked surprised and regarded
with a quick look of inquiry the troubled,
downcast face before him; that examina-
tion evidently satisfied him, for when he
spoke again, it was to say compas-
sionately-
'Your father is very ill, but he will
probably recover. All that can be done
for him willbe done now; but neither I nor
any other man can save him, only One can
do that. Do you know who that One is ?'
'Yes, sir; the Lord Jesus,' Alfred
replied, speaking very reverently the
sacred name.
'Then ask Him; and, my boy, let this
trouble teach you, if you have not already
learned it, that in all real troubles He,
and He alone, can help us. If we know
Him as our Friend and Guide the worst
troubles can be borne. Will you try to
think of this ?'
F2







84 ALFRED MAY.

In a low voice Alfred said, 'I will, sir;'
and Dr. Ellis, promising, I will manage
to see your father at the hospital and let
you know how he goes on,' went away.
He never supposed that the few words
to which the boy had scarcely seemed
to listen had been to him as the sweet
language of home heard in a strange
land.













CHAPTER V.

W E will pass now over some six
weeks spent by James May in
the hospital to which Dr. Ellis had
sent him-a time to the sick man of
terrible suffering of body and still
more terrible agony of mind. He be-
lieved himself dying, and before him
lay a future black with a horror of great
darkness unlighted by one ray of hope.
Once, he had told himself, he did not
believe in all the cant and nonsense
talked about heaven and hell and judg-
ment, but that if perchance there should
be anything in it there was time enough
before him, that one day he would
repent and believe and be forgiven. Now
he knew he did believe in that he
had called cant and nonsense, in the
existence and reality of another and
endless life of joy or sorrow, in a judg-
ment seat before which all must stand;






86 ALFRED MAY.

but he knew also that he did not believe
in his capacity, his power to repent and
believe at will. He was terrified now
and wretched, but he knew that that
terror and remorse was not repentance.
Above every voice that spoke of hope
and pardon he seemed to hear one that
cried, 'Because I have called, and ye
refused, I also will laugh at your
calamity, and mock when your fear
cometh.' To all his son's pleadings his
only answer, when he answered at all,
was, 'It is no use, Alfred; I'm too bad
ever to be any better I've had many
chances, and now it is too late I can't
think I can't repent let me be let
me alone!'
Terrible to Alfred was this time of his
father's illness, and as day after day
he returned home from that scene of
hopeless despair all his wishes and long-
ings were merged into one earnest, pas-
sionate pleading for his father's life; one
prayer that he might be raised up from
his sick-bed to see and believe that the
Love which saved him from death was
willing also and able to save him from
sin.







ALFRED MAY. 87

Going one day to the hospital the
attendant told him his father was asleep;
so he seated himself quietly by the bed
and waited until he should awake. As
he sat there gazing at the wan, haggard
face and motionless figure, it struck him
that this sleep, so deep and calm and
almost deathlike in its stillness, was un-
like the restless, troubled slumber he
had during his illness been in the habit
of falling into. It was so like what he
imagined death must be, he grew ner-
vous, and was wishing he might disturb
the sleeper when the man's eyes opened,
and he gazed in a bewildered way around
him; then seeing the boy, there came
into his eyes a glad light of remembrance
and recognition, and speaking in a low,
weak voice he said-
'I've been wanting to see you, Alf.
I'm glad you have come. I've some-
thing to tell you.'
'Father, I do think you seem better;
You'll get well now,' Alfred was begin-
ning, when the sick man interrupted him.
'Yes, I am better. The doctor says he
thinks I shall get on now; and I've
something to tell you. You don't know







88 ALFRED MAY.

what a bad man I have been; but you do
know as I have behaved real bad to you.
When I come back, and you was, as I
thought, not over well pleased to see me,
I knew it was only what I had a right to
expect. Hadn't I said to myself, again
and again, "The lad must hate me; he's
not like to do anything else after the way
I've treated him."'
'Indeed, father, I didn't!' Alfred was
commencing, when the speaker con-
tinued-
'No, I know different now; but let me
tell you the rest. As you know, when I
came here I was real ill, and I thought
nothing else but that I were dying. Well,
the chaplain talked to me, but I didn't
listen. I thought it were too late and no
use, and I kept on a-saying to myself,
"He means right, but he don't know what
sort of a fellow he's a-talking to; there's
no hope for me." I'd settled in my own
mind to try and not think no more about
it, when who should come to see me but
Robert Moss, looking so well dressed
and respectable that he had to tell me
his name before I could recognize him.
You know what a ragged little chap he







ALFRED MAY. 89

used to be. I asked him what made
him come to see me, and he says, Why,
for one reason, 'cause I heard as you
were ill, and for another, 'cause you are
Alfy's father, and he thinks a deal of
you, and has been a good friend to me."
"You are a little out there," I says;
"who told you as he thinks a deal of
me ? He was glad enough, I warrant, to
see the last of me when I went away.
Mind, I don't blame him; he were better
off without me than with me, and it is
only natural as he should hate me."
"Why, whatever are you talking about?"
Robert said, looking very much aston-
ished. "It is you as are out now, I
think." And he began and told how you
were real sorry when I left you, because
you had been hoping and believing as I
would get to be a better man; and then
he went on to say how you had never
ceased to look and long for my return,
and had always spoke of me gently and
hopefully. I listened to all he had to
say, and when he was gone I lay and
thought over it, and remembered what a
deal of trouble you had took always that
time before I went away to make me







90 ALFRED MAY.

comfortable at home so as I shouldn't
go so often to the public-house; how you
had put up with hard words and ill-
treatment when I weren't sober, and never
seemed to think of it afterwards. As I
remembered that and a deal more I said
to myself : Rob is right. But how is it
Alfred don't hate me ?" As I puzzled,
like a flash of light the answer to the
question came, and I says to myself,
" He don't hate me because the Saviour
he loves teaches him to pity and care for
others, and even for such a wretch as
me." When next the chaplain came to
see me I told him about it; and he says,
" You are right, May, in believing that it
is God who has taught your boy to love
and care for you, though you have never
cared for him; but, that being so, do you
think you are also right in saying, as you
have done more than once, that the God
who has put that love to you into your
child's heart has Himself cast you off?
Do you think that you are right in
believing that the followers of the Mer-
ciful One are more pitiful and loving than
He from whom they have learned to show
mercy ? "No," I says; "I don't think






ALFRED MAY. 91

that--that can't be." "Well then," he
answers, "your belief that you have
sinned too long and too deeply to be for-
given is an unwarranted and unwarrant-
able one, and He who taught the boy to
pray for your salvation is willing to save
you." Alfred, I've thought a deal about
what he said, and I know now he is
right; with God's help I'll have a try
to be a better man.'
Alfred had listened in silence to his
father's story, too much interested to
interrupt, and now he was feeling too
deeply to say much, but he managed to
get out-
0 father I can't tell you how glad
I am; I've always hoped and prayed for
this, and now my prayer is answered.'
He was not sorry when a few minutes
later the nurse warned him he must
be going. He wanted to be alone,
to think over and thank God for this
great joy; to resolve ever in the future
to trust and hope more steadfastly than
he had done in the past. To practise
more earnestly that charity that suffereth
long and hopeth all things and never
faileth.














CHAPTER VI.

IT is the evening of a glorious autumn
day, just such a day as that upon
which twenty years ago we first made
the acquaintance of Alfred May. Let
us renew that acquaintance. Where the
old ragged-school then was stands now
a comfortable, well ventilated building
used as a schoolroom and mission hall.
This evening service has been held there,
or, as the people of the neighbourhood
express it, there has been a preaching.
The preacher to-night, who is also the
owner of the building, is Alfred May.
In earnest, loving fashion, as his manner
is, he has told to his hearers the same old
story he himself heard here for the first
time so many years ago. He has spoken
of 'One who made a great feast, and
bade many;' of One 'who came to seek
and to save that which was lost.'







ALFRED MAY. 93

The people are leaving now, and an
old, rather infirm-looking man with
white hair, who stands near the door, is
speaking to and shaking hands with
one or another of the little crowd as
they pass him going out.
To a pale, anxious-looking woman, who
is telling her piteous story-which, alas !
is too common-in a low, troubled voice,
he answers pityingly-
'I am very sorry for you, Mrs. Moore;
I will call and see your husband, and,
perhaps, you and I between us will get
him to sign the pledge. Do not despair
or grow weary. I speak that I know
when I say to you the worst can be won
back to a better life by the mighty
power of love. The patient, self-denying,
long-suffering love, that founded upon
faith in God, hopes much for man.'
When the last straggler is gone, James
May-for it is he-takes his son's arm,
and together they pass out into the clear
twilight of the autumn night. As they
walk on they speak of many things: of
the service just over; of the success of
the classes and meetings for men super-
intended by Alfred on week-day evenings







94 ALFRED MAY.

after business hours; and of Robert Moss,
who once worked with them, but is now
far away, labouring as a missionary in
India. And James May says-
'I should like to see him once more,
but I can wait; we shall meet in heaven.'
So talking they arrive at their home,
a pleasant house, overlooking a wide,
garden-covered square.
There, reader, we will leave them, and
finding our way to a grave in Brompton
Cemetery remember another of our old
friends. On the small, white stone mark-
ing that last resting-place is inscribed
the name 'Charles Astenwell, aged 28.'
That, with the date of his death, is all there
is about the sleeper. But below there is
a verse; that verse a little ragged boy
first taught Charlie to understand and
love.
'All things are possible to him that believeth.'
Standing beside that grave we mourn
not the premature death, we lament not
that ere yet it was noonday the sun
went down; but thinking of him, and of
his teacher and friend Gerald Stuart, we
say, 'They have done the work appointed






ALFRED MAY. 95

them: it is well with them;' and in the
words of the poet we would add-
And, doubtless, unto each is given
A life that bears immortal fruit
In such great offices as suit
The full-grown energies of heaven.'
-Tennyson.






















HATMAN BROTHERS AND LILLY, HATTON HOUSE, E.C.





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