The Baldwin Library
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"0, Ann! what are you doing? Don't you know that it's wicked to
buy upon Sunday ?"-Page 57.
OrAIN AND HOSS.
A. L. O. E.
GALL & INGLIS.
BERNARD TERRACE. 25 PATERNOSTER SQUARE
I. THE LODGERS IN THE LANE, 5
II. THE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL, 17
III. PAST DAYS, 28
IV. TEMPTATION, 48
V. A RETURN, .59
VI. REPENTANCE TESTED,. 68
VII. THE DANGEROUS HOUSE, 74
VIII. THE END, 84
GAIN AND LOSS.
CH PTER I.
THE LODGERS IN THE LANE.
" AND tell him, Ben," said Mr. Page, leaning his
knuckles on the counter, and bending over it to
give more force to his words, tell him if he
don't pay up the four weeks' rent by Monday,
I'll turn him out of doors."
"All right," answered the person addressed,
who was the assistant in Page's shop. Ben was
"a man of middle age and middle height, with
"a jolly twinkle in his little grey eyes, and
rather too red a tinge on the tip of his nose;
a good humoured looking fellow, however,
6 GAIN AND LOSS.
who seemed to have been ill chosen for the
hard office which his master was imposing
And hark'ee, Ben," continued Page, drop-
ping his voice, I want you to keep a sharp eye
in your head. Look about you in the little
room, and see if what he says about poverty
and all that be true. There's many a jolly
beggar as makes up by hot suppers at night
for rags and crutches during the day !"
Ben nodded his head knowingly.
"And look well at the man himself, d'ye
hear ? If he's likely to get about soon, and earn
his bread again, why, I've no wish to push the
matter. He paid regular enough while he had
the cash; and I don't want to lose him as a
lodger. But if heis quite laid on his back,
very ill, and not likely to recover---"
What then?" asked Ben, as his master
THE LODGERS IN THE LANE. 7
"Why, then, of course, I must turn him
out. I can't afford to lodge beggars at my
own expense. The fellow must go to the
"Now," said Ben, settling his hat more
firmly on his head, "you've told me everything
but your lodger's name."
"Hope, James Hope, back attic room,
James Hope!" repeated Ben to himself
as he left the shop of the grocer. "I once
knew a chap of that name, though we've not
met these twenty years or more. James Hope!
why, that was the son of our clerk, a hand-
some, sharp lad, likely enough to get on in the
world, well-educated, and ready to turn his
hand to anything. I've no notion that this
poor, broken-down lodger can be he. Who-
ever he may be, though, I'm sorry for him; I
couldn't wish him a harder landlord than Page.
8 GAIN AND LOSS.
Talk of loving money, why, that man worships
it! I don't think he has a thought from
morning to night but how to scrape up pounds,
shillings, and pence. He must have got to-
gether a pretty round sum by this time.
There's the shop, he makes the most of that;
mighty astonished his customers would be if
they knew a few of his tricks of trade. Then
he keeps lodging-houses, two or three, I fancy;
no losing concern to him, I warrant it; he
knows how to skin a flint, how to draw blood
from a stone! I should say, now, that Page
lays by four or five hundred pounds every year
of his life, and he has been laying by for at
least forty .years; that will come to- ,"
here Ben, turning the corner of a street, sud-
denly met a funeral procession, moving slowly
on its way. ".Ah yes! that's what it will
come to," he added; "the more money saved,
the more black feathers to nod over the hearse;
THE LODGERS IN THE LANE. 9
a coach funeral instead of a walking one, that's
the end of it all "
Ben had now reached the entrance of the
lane in which one of Page's lodging-houses
was situated. A narrow lane it was, and paved
with stones, on which a rabble of barefooted
children were playing or quarrelling together,
and some sickly-looking poultry were picking
at the old cabbage-leaves and turnip-tops
which littered the dirty pavement. Strong
beams placed across the lane, as if to keep the
buildings on either side from falling against
each other, gave no very comfortable idea of
security; and Ben, as he made his way towards
the lodging-house, felt little disposition to
envy those who made it their dwelling.
A dirty child answered, his loud ring, and
directed him up the close, narrow staircase,
dimly lighted by a window, covered with the
dust of years, and festooned by blackened
10 GAIN AND LOSS.
cobwebs. The house was evidently full of
lodgers, for a different sound and different
scent seemed to meet Ben at every landing-
place that he passed. He reached the top at
length, and after rapping at the door, entered
the attic-room occupied by James Hope.
Here, at least, was quiet, except from the
voices of lodgers below, or noisy children with-
out. The one little window had been partially
cleaned, and a flood of pure light fell through
it on the slight form of a girl of about sixteen
years of age, who was apparently plying her
needle beside it. The room itself was perfectly
neat, though its only ornament was a hymn
pinned upon the wall, its only furniture a low
pallet-bed, and a deal-box which served as a
seat to the young sempstress. On the pallet
lay a man, whose gaunt frame and pallid face
bore deep traces of suffering and want. The
hand and arm which rested upon the thin
THE LODGERS IN THE LANE. 11
coverlet had been strong and muscular once;
now every vein and bone stood out in painful
distinctness : in the dark eye, gleaming ghastly
from its hollow socket, the pale, sunken cheek,
the colourless lip, Ben could with difficulty
recognize the features of the gay young com-
panion of his boyhood.
"James Hope, can it be you !" he exclaimed.
The sick man started at the voice; he at-
tempted to raise himself, gazed at his visitor,
till his expression of inquiry relaxed into one
of pleasurable surprise. "Ah, Ben Wilson !"
he cried, and the next moment his thin hand
grasped warmly that of his old school-com-
"Who would have thought of seeing you
here !" said the grocer's assistant.
"How kind in you to visit me in my sick-
ness !" cried Hope.
Kind! well, least said soonest mended
1 2 GAIN AND LOSS.
about that," observed Ben, seating himself
without ceremony on the deal-box, which the
young girl dragged forward for his use, having
risen from it on his entrance. I come on an
unpleasant errand from Mr. Page about a
matter of rent. I'm serving now in his shop.
But I'm sorry to find you in this plight, old
fellow! I've lost sight of you for many a long
year, and I'd have expected to have found you
in very different case. You seem to be plagued
with poverty and sickness."
God in His wisdom hath sent both," said
"Oh don't let's have that sort of talk
twixtt you and me," cried Ben; "I aint a
person to be taken with that kind of thing !"
Then, seeing the girl's look of shocked surprise,
and the grave expression on the sick man's
face, he added, resting his broad hands upon
his knees, "It is all right, I daresay, to make
THE LODGERS IN THE LANE. 13
out that everything's for the best, but I own
I can't see it, and I can't believe that others
feel it. I like to call things by their proper
names. Poverty is an evil, sickness is an
evil, death is an evil, the very worst of
"No exclaimed Hope emphatically;
" not the worst, unless you mean the death of
"The soul-oh I don't trouble myself
much about that," replied Ben, with a little
"And yet," said Hope earnestly, "our
bodies axe no more, as compared to our souls,
than the case to the jewel, or the husk to the
Ah !" cried Ben, "you were always more
of a scholar than I, but you were not much
more of a saint!"
"A saint no, I have been a great sinner,"
14 GAIN AND LOSS.
said Hope. If you were to know all that I
have passed through before- "
Ah! well, I should like to hear something
of your goings on since the old days when we
were boys together! I daresay that you've
seen a good deal of life, and, to judge by the
place where I find you, not the brightest side
of it. I've an hour to spare, if it don't tire
you to talk."
It did tire the sick man to talk, but he had
a motive in conversing with his thoughtless
and godless companion, which made him dis-
regard weariness and weakness. He remem-
bered well the character of his schoolmate,
and the few words which Ben had dropped in
conversation gave no cause for a belief that
that character had been altered, at least for
the better. Ben was one whom words of
direct counsel would not reach, but who might
be influenced by the force of example. Hope
THE LODGERS IN THE LANE. 15
thought that the history of his own errors
might prove a warning, and convey a lesson;
and he therefore forced himself to recount that
which brought, even after the lapse of years,
the blush of shame to his pallid cheek.
"I wonder why my father encourages that
bad man .to stay," thought the girl, gathering
up her work, and preparing to leave the little
room. The movement first directed towards
her the attention of Ben.
That pretty lass is your daughter, I
suppose? he said to James Hope, who replied
that she was so.
Too good for a garret," said Ben.
"Helen, my child, where are you going ? "
asked the father, as the girl moved towards
Mrs. Murdoch will let me sit in her room,"
replied Helen, with a glance at the deal-box, so
unceremoniously taken possession of by Ben.
16 GAIN AND LOSS.
"Don't be long away," said James Hope.
"Mrs. Murdoch is a kind-hearted creature, but
not the best companion for you."
"She has been ready to share her last loaf
with us, Heaven bless her for it i" cried Helen,
as she quitted the room.
THE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL. 17
"THE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL.
DIRTY and untidy was the little chamber on
the floor below, which Helen entered after tap-
ping at the door. A basket of oranges had to
be pushed aside from within before she could
enter, and one or two of them rolled over the
dirty floor, scrambled after by a barefooted
child, whose long, uncombed hair hung in
matted locks over her face. Mrs. Murdoch, in
tattered garb, her red elbows looking through
her sleeves, her feet through her worn-out shoes,
greeted Helen with a hearty welcome and bless-
ing, uttered in a strong Irish accent.
18 GAIN AND LOSS.
"I thought you would let me stay with you
for a while," said Helen, as Mrs. Murdoch
pointed to an old rush-covered chair with a
broken back. There's a visitor with father,
and I want-I want some one to hear all my
"Maybe yer father's worse," said the woman,
" and it's the doctor has come to see him ?"
"No, I do not think that he is worse,-I
think that he would be better, if only-only,"
the tears rose to the poor girl's eyes, "if only
I could get him proper food!"
"Poor soul!" cried Mrs. Murdoch compas-
sionately, "and yer working for him from
morning till night! "
No, no exclaimed Helen, "there's my
misery! I can't work-I've been trying hard
-but it won't do-just look here! "
Och what a finger!" cried Mrs. Murdoch;
" sure it's swelled up as big as three !"
THE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL. 19
"I broke a needle into it yesterday, and it
has festered; I could not sleep all night for
the pain. But it's not the pain that I mind,"
continued the agitated girl, "it's the thought,
how are we to get daily bread ? Father can't
rise from his bed-he's half-starved. How can
he ever get back his strength? We have not
one penny to buy food!"
"And sorrow a bit have we to give ye!"
cried the kind-hearted Irishwoman, glancing at
her fireless grate. Nothin' in. the pot, and
nothing' in the pocket, an' I so stiff with the
rheumatics that how to get about I can't tell !
I haven't a cowld pratee for the childer, lettin'
alone something' for my friends."
0 Mrs. Murdoch I never meant that; you
have done too much already!" exclaimed Helen.
It's a sin and a shame that yer own clergy
don't look arter ye!" cried the Irishwoman
20 GAIN AND LOSS.
"Mr. Vyse was obliged to go to the seaside,
he was so ill, and his wife is with him. They
never forget us, never I don't know how we
should have got through the winter without
them, when father was first laid up with the
fever. But the new curate does not know us,
"Ye'll have to come on the parish," said
Oh! I hope not, I trust not!" exclaimed
Helen; to be separated from father, and he
so ill, I'd rather work my fingers to the bone!"
"Ye can't work," said her companion bluntly.
"And I promised that the little dress should
be taken home to-day It is not my fault, I
have done what I could !" cried the poor girl,
with an almost despairing look at the unfinished
task. "I sat with my back turned towards
father, that he might not see me trying and
trying to stitch on, till I could just have sat
THE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL. 21
and cried my heart out over the work. I never
let him know that my hand was hurt, and he'll
never doubt but that the dress is done, for I
told him yesterday morning that it would be
and that the payment for it would get what we
wanted both for this evening and Sunday!
And now--ad now !"
"Now, don't ye take on like that, honey!
I'll tell ye what to do," said Mrs. Murdoch.
"Jist take yer work to the woman as employs
ye, show her yer finger, tell her that yer father
is too ill to rise from his bed; ask her to
advance ye the money, and ye'll work it out
when ye can. Tell her yer trouble about the
rent; ye may as well throw in," added the
woman, with a wink, "that ye've a mither
bad with the rheumatics, and three little
"What do you mean?" asked Helen, in
22 GAIN AND LOSS.
An't I as good as a mither to ye, any days,
and sure it's the big families as gets the big
help. Pat, ye thief! can't ye leave the oranges
alone ?" she cried suddenly, snatching one from
the boy at her feet; "and Norah, keep yer
black fingers off, will ye; don't ye see ye've
left the mark of them on Helen's nate work!"
Not a little vexed at this discovery, Helen
hastily rose from her seat. "It will be best
to go to my employer-yes, and tell her of
father, and how hard he worked as long as God
gave him strength. If she has any heart, she
will feel for us I"
Sure, I knew an employer once," said Mrs.
Murdoch, "as kept a poor family in pratees
and coals all the winter, and-no, ye won't get
out that mark by rubbing, honey; maybe the
lady won't notice it; jist turn over the seam
so as to hide it."
With a heavy, anxious heart, poor Helen
TIE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL. 23
hurried up the lane, and along the streets,
conning over her tale of woe, that she might so
speak as to touch the heart of her employer,
Mrs. Paton. But all her eloquence forsook her
when she found herself in the "juvenile ware-
house," confronting a tall, bony woman, with
high colour and hooked nose, who greeted her
in sharp, quick accents-
"So you're come at last! Mrs. Minchen
has been sending for her child's dress, she's
just leaving town, and wants it directly.
You promised to let me have it before twelve;
I'll employ no one whom I find I can't trust."
I tried "-faintly began poor Helen.
"And-why, it's not finished !" exclaimed
Mrs. Paton, holding up the dress to the light,
and darting a look of fierce anger at the trem-
bling culprit before her.
I hurt my finger yesterday, it has festered,
24 GAIN AND LOSS.
Why, girl, you'll not be able to work a
stitch for weeks !" cried the shopwoman, re-
garding the poor injured hand with disgust
rather than compassion; "and here's all this
trimming to be put on! Dear me !" she ex-
claimed, looking at the dress more closely,
"here's the mark of dirty fingers all along. If
ever I let you touch a thing of mine again- "
"It's the first time," pleaded Helen.
"First time-yes, and last time too! Get
out of the shop directly, and don't let me
see the face of you again !"
Helen timidly turned to go; but the
thought of her sick father, deprived of need-
ful food, gave her courage to speak a few
words more. Ma'am, I'm very, very sorry
for that mark on the dress, but I've been
working hard for my sick father, ma'am;
and if half of what you were going to give me
for it--- "
THE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL. 25
"Give you 1" cried the shopwoman fiercely;
"if ever I knew such impudence in my life!
Spoil my goods, leave your work undone, and
then have the face to ask me for payment !"
It is for my father- "
Your father-fiddlestick-end !" cried Mrs.
Paton. "Some worthless vagabond, I'll be
bound, who has drunk away his money and
Helen could not wait to hear another word;
her heart seemed to rise into her throat, and
with a suffocating sense of misery, she turned
from the door of her employer.
Oh that man was right !" she thought to
herself in her bitterness of spirit; "poverty
is an evil, sickness is an evil; why does God
send them to those who try to serve and obey
Him Why is a good man, a pious man, like
my father, to lie in weakness and pain, fainting
for want of food, willing to work, but not
26 GAIN AND LOSS.
able to work, while such a heartless, hateful
creature as that never knows what it is to feel
faint with hunger, or giddy with want of sleep!
Just see that lady there, rolling in her gay
carriage, with her dashing horses, and her
powdered footmen-why, the mere feathers in
her bonnet have cost more than I have earned
in a month, though I have worked like a very
slave Oh! why, why are things so unequal!
If God really loves His children, why does He
leave them to suffer and want ? Does He, in-
deed, listen to their prayers, or take any notice
of their tears !"
Such were the very whisperings of the evil
one; with such, in all ages of the world, he has
tried to wrench away the temptation-tost soul
from its only anchor of comfort-the assurance
that God is love! O suffering brethren!
if such a doubt ever rise in your hearts, cast it
from you as you would cast away a viper Has
THE DAUGHTER'S TRIAL. 27
the Lord sent to you any grief of which He
has not first tasted the bitterness Himself?
When He left heaven's throne to visit this
world, did He not choose for Himself the path
of poverty, the sharp thorns of trial ? The Son
of Man had not where to lay his head on the
earth that He had made! The King of kings
endured hunger and thirst, in all points tempted
like as we are, yet without sin. Can you not
trust to the guidance of that Hand which
for your sakes was nailed upon the cross ? will
you not listen to the Saviour's voice when He
says, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou
shalt cnow hereafter? norreceive Hisinvitation
of love, Come unto me all ye that labour and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ?
28 GAIN AND LOSS.
IN the meantime, James Hope, from his
pallet, was telling in a feeble voice to his old
school-companion the story of his life.
You know," he began, how I was brought
"Pretty strict, I should say," observed Ben.
"With your worthy old father the clerk,
you'd a good deal more church-going than you
liked, and heard much more preached than you
cared to practise; ha ha ha Many a spree
we had together on the sly; and when, on the
old man's death, you went out to service in
PAST DAYS. 29
the world, I'd a notion that you would pretty
soon show the real stuff you were made of."
James Hope sighed deeply. "There is
nothing," he said, "which shames me more than
to remember how much I learnt in boyhood
from my dear father-the advantages which
I possessed, and threw away. But I believe
that his prayers, though they long seemed un-
answered, yet were a means of leading me to
God; and the knowledge which he gave, though
long neglected, is a help and a guide to me
When you left Burton I lost sight of you,"
said Ben. "Where did you go after you
quitted our village ?"
"You would scarcely care to hear of all the
situations that I entered. I was page to a rich
widow, and when I outgrew that, I went into
the service of a Jew. I tried one place after
another, 'to better myself,' as the phrase goes;
30 GAIN AND LOSS.
if I did so in one sense, I did the contrary in
another, for it seemed as if, in every house in
which I served, I got rid of some scruple of
"And felt all the lighter and more com-
fortable without it," laughed Ben.
"I soon found that the world had made for
itself very different laws from those which I
had learnt from the Bible. No one seemed
to think it a sin to covet what was not his own
-no, nor to take it neither, if the article were
small, and the act not likely to be found out.
It startled me at first to see servants entertain-
ing their own guests at the expense of their
masters; but this, I found, was considered
hospitality. My companions saw no harm in
robbing their employers of the services for which
they were paid, lingering from home when sent
errands, stealing out in the evening without
leave : and before long I began to see no harm
PAST DAYS. 31
in it either, and I did the same as my neigh-
bours. I had been taught at home to serve
God-the world taught me to serve my own
interest; I had once learnt that the love of
money is the root of all evil, but I now learnt
to covet the possession of money as if it were
the source of all good."
Your second lesson was the easiest learnt,"
cried Ben, and the most profitable to carry
into practice !"
"I do not think so; my experience con-
vinces me that it is not so, not even in this
world !" exclaimed Hope. "I am persuaded,
from all that I have seen and known, that we
might as well hope to handle live coals un-
harmed as money not lawfully our own !"
"Ah! well, it poses me to make that out!'
said Ben, with an air of indifference. "But
go on with your story."
At last," continued Hope, I married."
32 GAIN AND LOSS.
That spoilt your prospects, I daresay; a
man can't get on so fast when saddled with a
wife and family. Besides, so many masters
object to married servants."
"I knew that," rejoined Hope, "and took
very good care to keep my marriage concealed.
There had been a time when I should have
blushed to have uttered a lie, but by this time
my conscience was much hardened. Necessity
seemed to me to be a sufficient excuse for
almost anything wrong, and when asked by my
master if I were a single man, I boldly replied
that I was."
"I should have done just the same," observed
"One sin leads to another, and draws the
next on, like links in a chain. I found it
difficult to support a wife on my wages; after
the birth of my child, the difficulty increased,
and I am ashamed to say how many tribes,
PAST DAYS. 33
which I thought that my master never would
miss, found their way to Susan's lodgings. It's
my belief that I was becoming so blind, that
I was losing sight altogether of the line which
divides right from wrong. I had a set of
wretched excuses ready on every occasion, if
a little misgiving should arise. 'I'm no
worse than my neighbours,' I would think;
or, God will never notice such little matters
"Just what I've said a hundred times to
myself," remarked Ben Wilson.
Now, if I'd reflected a moment," continued
Hope, without seeming to notice the interrup-
tion. "I'd have seen that such excuses
could no more protect me against God's wrath
than flax could protect me from a devouring
fire. 'Not worse than my neighbours !' why,
the men of Sodom could each have said that,
yet all were burnt up together The sinners
34 GAIN AND LOSS.
before the flood could have said that, but the
waters swept over them all."
"Ah! they were great sinners; but such
little matters, as we are talking about---"
Perhaps you would think eating forbidden
fruit a very little matter ?" said Hope.
Not much of a sin," replied Ben.
"And yet it was a sin sufficient to con-
demn Adam and his wife to death, and to
bring ruin on a world! It's clear that God
looks on no sin as a little sin, the smallest is
enough to destroy us. The soul that sinneth
it shall die !"
Did your master find you out ? said Ben
abruptly, wishing to turn the conversation.
Not for a long time; not till I had become
all the more hardened by impunity. But he
did find me out at last, and he showed as
little mercy as I had shown conscience. I was
turned adrift on the world without a character,
PAST DAYS. 35
at an hour's notice, at a time when my
wife was sick almost to death, and I had not
one real friend to whom to turn Then I
found indeed that the way of transgressors is
"How did you make a shift to live ?"
"It was a sore struggle, Ben Wilson. My
heart was hard, and bitterly I murmured at
my misery, forgetting that I had brought it
all upon myself. I sometimes managed to
get a day's work; but wages were low,
employment uncertain, and I could scarcely
put bread into the mouths of my poor sick
wife and my dear little Helen."
"It must have been a great trial to you,"
"Ay, and a great temptation. I ha.d
fallen by little and little. Let no one who sets
out on a sinful course imagine that he can
stop himself in it when he will. We have
36 GAIN AND LOSS.
heard of a man getting into a quicksand, feel-
ing the ground unsteady beneath him, then
slowly, gradually, sinking down, down, till
the smothering sand rises over his head, and
buries as well as destroys him He who
begins with his 'cheerful glass' may end as a
confirmed diunkard; he who takes trifles
from his master's larder may perish in jail
as a thief I had got mixed up with wicked
companions, my conscience was seared by evil
habits, and now necessity seemed driving me
on to sins which, had they been foretold
to me when I was a boy, I should have
started from in horror, and exclaimed, Is thy
servant a dog that he should do this thing ?
Ben, were it not to magnify the goodness of
the Lord, who could save even such a lost
sinner as I was, I would be silent for ever on
the subject, and let no one know to what
depths of guilt I have been led!" James
PAST DAYS. 37
closed his eyes as if in pain, and some moments
elapsed before he pursued his tale.
I became connected at last with a gang
of desperate men-I dare not say more wicked
than myself, for they had not abused so many
privileges as I had; but more openly daring
in evil. Two of them are now in a penal
settlement, one has perished on the gallows ?
When I reflect on their fate, I contrast it in
wondering thankfulness with my own. I used
to meet them at a low public-house, where
what remained of conscience was drowned in
the intoxicating draught. I was at length
drawn into consenting to join two of these
men in an attempt to commit a burglary, in a
house a short distance from London."
Ben drew in his lips as if to whistle.
It was my first--I will not say great sin,
for my life had been full of sin, but my first
great breach of the laws of my country. I left
38 GAIN AND LOSS.
my wife that evening, without daring to tell
her whither I was going. As I was quitting
the house, I knew not what feeling of misgiv-
ing came over me; I thought that I must see
her once more, for who could tell when I
should ever see her again! Troubles had had
a very different effect upon my poor Susan
from what they had had upon me: mine had
driven me deeper into evil; hers had drawn
her heart towards God. I think that I can
see her now as I saw her on that eventful
evening. Her life was wasting away, like
the candle which burned low in its socket
beside her. How pale and death-like she
looked in the dull, dim light, which cast such
large black shadows on the wall! My little
child in her night-dress was kneeling at her
mother's knee, saying her evening prayer. I
stood with my hand on the half-open door,
listening silently, for even to me there was
PAST DAYS. 39
something strangely solemn in the mother's
look and the infant's prayer. The innocent
little one prayed for her father, for him who
dared not pray for himself! Then she rose,
and putting her two small hands together,
repeated a verse from the Bible. Word by
word she lisped it forth. I knew the verse
well; I had heard it many a time from the
lips of my father; how it brought back the
remembrance of home when I heard it from
those of my child What shall it profit a
man if he gain the whole world and lose his
own soul; or what shall a man give in
exchange for his soul ? I closed the door
noiselessly again, and went out, with the
words ringing in my ears, haunting me like
the voice of a spirit What am I going to
gain ? what am I hazarding to lose ? I dared
not answer the question, yet it would recur
again and again, till I almost resolved to go
40 GAIN AND LOSS.
back, break off for ever from my wicked com-
panions, and suffer anything rather than
endure that remorse which is the foretaste of
misery hereafter "
"Did you go back?" inquired Ben, with
"As I was about to retrace my steps, I was
overtaken by my companions. I felt that it
was then too late to retreat. I was in their
power; my very life would not have been safe
had I appeared to draw back at the last. I
went on-the very stars above my head looking
to me like reproachful eyes. We reached the
house, got over the low garden wall; we had
brought a ladder with us, and according to
the plan decided upon beforehand, we con-
trived to mount upon the roof, as we were to
make our way through the skylight. As I
bent down to remove some of the glass, feeling
the unutterable wretchedness of being dragged
PAST DAYS. 41
on, against my will, in a path that I abhorred,
and that I knew must end in ruin, we were
all suddenly startled by a shout from below,
from some one in the road in front of the
"Ha we're discovered! cried one of my
comrades, with an oath, "let's make off -before
they've time to get round and take away the
ladder Away sprang the two men, fearful
in their guilt, and I rose hastily to follow.
But through accident, or rather through an
overruling Providence, my foot slipped on a
broken slate, and I fell heavily on and through
the skylight, smashing the glass, and crashing
with it into the room below "
"It was a marvel that you were not killed !"
It was a mercy," replied James, for which
I trust that I shall thank God through all
eternity, for had I perished then, where would
42 GAIN AND LOSS.
my soul'have been now But I was grievously
hurt by the fall, my leg was broken, and I
shall probably feel to my dying day the effect
of the injuries which I then received. I was,
of course, quite unable to rise, quite unable to
escape from justice; my position would, prove
my intended crime, and I had nothing to look
forward to but the punishment which I had
"Did you remain long in this wretched
But for a few minutes," replied Hope, for
the loud noise caused by my fall had awakened
the master of the house. I heard approaching
steps, and I could not flee; the door opened,
a light glared in my dazzled eyes; I saw a tall
figure before me, and recollect no more, for I
swooned from the greatness of my pain."
And when you awoke ?"
I awoke with a dreadful consciousness that
PAST DAYS. 43
something terrible had occurred. I found my-
self in a bed, a gentleman was bending over
me, administering something to restore me. I
attempted to move, but motion was agony;
still greater was the agony of remembering that
I was in the hands of one who might bring me
to a jail, in the hands of the man whom I had
intended to rob I looked in his face, and
thought that I read there more of compassion
than of scorn. 'O sir 1' I cried, with a
sudden impulse, 'for God's sake-for the sake of
my dying wife, don't give me over to justice!'"
"And he? "
He-blessings on his memory !" faltered
James Hope; "he followed the example of the
Master whom he served; he would not break
the bruised reed; Mr. Gray did. not give me
over to the fate which I had deserved. He
was a physician, and kindly and skilfully he
tended me through a long and dangerous ill-
44 GAIN AND LOSS.
ness; nor content with this, he helped both by
his advice and his money my helpless, dying
wife. It was from him that I received her
last message; for my forebodings proved but
too true-I never looked on my Susan again !
And Mr. Gray did more than all this ; physician
of the soul as well as of the body, he spoke
comfort to me in my despair; he gave me hope
that even for the chief of sinners there might
yet be pardon and grace. Unwearied in his
efforts to bring back a wanderer to the fold of
God, he watched over me, counselled me,
prayed for me; supported me through months
of weakness, gave me employment as soon as
I had strength for it, and was the earthly means,
I trust, of saving me from ruin here, and
eternal destruction hereafter."
Well, that was a rare friend exclaimed
Wilson; "I never hope to meet with one like
PAST DAYS. 45
"There is a Friend," cried Hope earnestly,
"who is ready at this moment to do more a
thousandfold for you, for me, than any mortal
could do, however merciful and good he might
be. O Wilson i can you not see in my history
an image of what we all are by nature, and
what the Lord Jesus has done for our souls?
We have all fallen, fallen in sin; we lie help-
less, miserable, condemned to the everlasting
burnings which are to consume the impenitent.
The Lord came from heaven to save us from
just punishment, even by bearing the punish-
ment instead He offers free pardon and salva-
tion to those whom He has redeemed by His
blood. He says, Though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be white as snow ; though they be red
like crimson, they shall be as wool. He is the
physician of our sick souls. As His death
saves from the punishment, so His Spirit saves
from the power of sin. Yes, the Lord 'Jesus
46 GAIN AND LOSS.
can save to the uttermost, save the worst, the
most guilty, the most wretched; His promise
can never be broken, He that cometh unto Me,
I will in no wise cast out! "
Ben Wilson sat for a moment silent, then
said, If all has been done for us, as you say,
nothing remains for us to do."
We must come to the Lord by faith, obey
Him through love. Look again at my history.
Had I not to obey the orders of my merciful
physician-take what he gave me, however
bitter, lie still under his hand, whatever suffer-
ing it might inflict? Healing medicine-
needful pain! O my friend!" continued
Hope, his sunken eye brightening with strong
emotion, open your Bible, read there what
tb' Saviour has done, what the Saviour has
suffered for us; read of the hell from which
-He would rescue us; the crown of eternal glory
which He offers; and you cannot but hate the
PAST DAYS. 47
sin which cost Him so dear, you cannot but give
yourself heart and soul to Him in whose favour
is life, in whose right hand are pleasures for
James Hope sank back on his pallet ex-
hausted. Ben Wilson silently rose from his
seat, and slowly and thoughtfully took his way
back to the house of his master.
48 GAIN AND LOSS.
ON Helen's return to her father, she was no
longer able to hide from him either the state
of her hand, or her disappointment in regard
to the payment for her work. With tears
coursing each other down her pale cheeks, she
told him all-all but the repining thoughts,
the sinful doubts which had made her bitter
cup doubly bitter. She would have been
ashamed to have confessed them to him; she
was ashamed to confess them to herself!
James spoke tenderly, hopefully; himself
bound up the swollen finger, and tried to keep
up the fainting spirit of his child, though
greatly needing comfort for his own. His long
conversation with Ben had left him so weary
and weak, that even to whisper was an effort;
and he fainted twice in the course of the night,
partly from exhaustion, partly from want of
the nourishment which Helen had no means
to give. The poor girl rose in the morning
almost desperate. She knelt, as usual, to
pray, but her thoughts remained upon earth,
they could not rise above her own sorrow,
poverty, and pain; hers was not prayer, but
the mockery of devotion. The sweet church-
bells were chiming on the Sabbath'morn, but
instead of reminding her of a heavenly Friend,
bidding her cast all her cares upon Him who
cared for her, the sound appeared only the
more to irritate and distress her. Helen's
only comfort was that her father slept long and
calmly; but when she gazed on his pale,
50 GAIN ANI LOSS.
emaciated face, making slumber look terribly
like death, she felt as if her heart would
Presently James Hope awoke, listened to a
chapter from the Bible, blessed his child, bade
her leave him and go to church, and then fell
again into a long, deep sleep.
Helen slowly put on her old bonnet and
threadbare shawl, and sadly descended the
dirty, creaking stair. The door of Mrs. Mur-
doch's room was open.
"Helen, honey, is that you?" called out
the Irishwoman from within. Step in here
a bit, and shut the door arter ye. Sure its
you I was awishing to see."
Helen entered the miserable room, and
found her friend rocking herself backwards and
forwards on her broken-backed chair, like one
"Och sich a night as I've had of it !" she
cried; "I've the rheumatics worse than ever;
not a step can I. stir out this blessed morning,
and how are the oranges to be sold, and how am
I to get bread for the childer! Ohone, ohone!"
and the poor woman began to cry bitterly.
"I am very, very sorry for you!" said
Helen sympathisingly; "I only wish that I
could help you, Mrs. Murdoch !"
"Sure, and it's jist that I was thinking
about!" said the woman eagerly, looking up
through her tears. "Says I to myself, there's
Helen Hope, as kind a cratur as is to be found
out of would Ireland; she can sell though she
cannot work, she'll do a good turn for a
neighbour, as has done many a good turn for
her; she's the girl to take up yer basket, and
go out, and reckon with ye fair and honest
when the fruit is sold, and half the coppers
that she gets she shall keep, to get something
nice for her father "
52 GAIN AND LOSS.
"I -should be so willing-so glad-but
-but it's Sunday !" cried Helen, rather
startled at the proposal.
Sure, the better day the better deed I"
"But my father would be- "
"Be asy there, yer father shan't ever know
it, my honey; Judy Murdoch's-not the woman
to get a friend into trouble. Sure, yer father
will think ye're at the church."
"Oh !" exclaimed Helen, in real distress,
as this new and unexpected temptation assailed
her, "it would be so wrong, so very wrong I
I dare not break the commandment of God !"
"Sure the good God will never be angry
with ye for turning an honest penny to keep
yer father from starving. I've sold every
Sunday these forty years and more, and never
knew a bit of harm to come of it yet !"
It would be a sin- -"
I say it would be a sin not to care for yer
own-a sin not to help a poor neighbour in
throuble-a sin not to get food for these
hungry childer!" exclaimed Mrs. Murdoch
impatiently; and her little ones, as if to
strengthen their mother's appeal, began bit-
terly to cry and to wail.
"To-morrow-to-morrow- "began Helen,
but the Irishwoman cut her sentence short.
Don't spake to me of the morrow, Sunday's
the day for the selling and that there fruit
won't keep-sure some of the oranges are as
soft as butter already !" Then changing her
tone to one of pleading, the poor woman con-
tinued, "It's the first time, Helen Hope, that
I've asked ye to do a bit o' kindness for a poor
lone cratur, as hasn't another soul to help her
in this wide world. If ye won't do it for the
sake of the money for yer father, do it for the
sake of charity, and all the saints' blessin' be
54 GAIN AND LOSS.
The Irishwoman knew with whom she had
to deal; she had the shrewdness to try the
arguments which would have most weight with
her affectionate and kind-hearted young friend.
Helen doubted long, hesitated long, but yielded
at last, as all are likely to do who stop to
parley with temptation. The faith of Helen
had been tried-it had failed in the trial; and
where faith gives way, neither love nor
obedience are likely to hold out long. If
Satan once persuades us to doubt God's love,
the next step is easy to lead us to disobey His
Helen left the lodging with the heavy basket
of oranges on her arm, and a weight like lead
on her heart. She hurried out of the lane, as
if fearful that her father might see her from
his window, though his room was at the back
of the dwelling, and he himself confined to his
bed 1 She breathed more freely when, on
turning a corner, she was out of sight of the
house. She forgot that the sleepless eye of
her Father in heaven was fixed upon her, that
go where she might she could never escape
from the presence of a heart-searching God !
Helen could not muster up courage to cry
her oranges, but the ripe, yellow fruit spoke
for itself to the eyes of passers-by. The first
purchaser wondered at her confused manner,
flushed face, and the tremulous reluctance
with which she received his penny. Remember
the Sabbath-day to keep it holy: in it thou
shalt do no manner of work, was ringing in
the poor girl's ears.
Helen wandered on and on, her basket
growing lighter, her heart yet heavier. She
saw lines of people in different directions
moving towards various places of worship.
She stood for some time opposite a church-
door, and watched with a sad eye the congre-
56 GAIN AND LOSS.
gation thronging up the steps, and entering in
at the door which she now might not enter.
The basket which she carried shut her out.
" Oh!" thought Helen, in anguish, ray it
be that one day I shall find myself shut out
from God's heaven, as I now shut myself out
from His house !" She fancied that she could
hear the distant sound of sacred music from
the building. Others were singing to the
praise and glory of God, and she-Helen could
not bear to stay there longer, and moved
farther along the road.
Hours passed, dreary hours to Helen; again
the streets were thronged with the congrega-
tions returning to their various homes. Helen
was ashamed to meet the stream of church-
goers, and turned down a quiet street to avoid
them. Buyers werehere, however, comparatively
few, and she returned before long to a busier
thoroughfare, where, resting her weary form
on a door-step, she disposed of a considerable
portion of her fruit. Her festered finger was
very sore, but she scarcely noticed the pain,
or the sickening pang of hunger, so much
keener was the suffering inflicted by an up-
Again the church-bells began to sound,
ringing for the afternoon service. A child
now approached the orange-seller, holding a
piece of copper in her hand, and eyeing the
tempting basket with a timid, hesitating air.
Just as she was about to make a purchase, she
was joined by a blue-eyed little girl, who
hastily exclaimed to her companion, 0 Ann !
what are you doing ? Don't you know that
it's wicked to buy upon Sunday ? "
The child drew back, as if ashamed; but
far more ashamed was the unhappy Helen.
" Miserable that I am !" she reflected; I am
not only breaking the commandment myself,
58 GAIN AND LOSS.
but making others do so! I am acting the
part of tempter to these poor little children.
Can I forget the fearful warning given by the
merciful Saviour Himself, Whoso shall offend
one of these little ones which believe in Me, it
were better for him that a millstone were
hanged about his neck, and that he were
drowned in the depth of the sea. To offend,
father has told me, is to cause to sin; how
many have I caused to sin this day! Surely
I have been doing Satan's work! 0 God,
forgive me! God forgive me I will do so no
more!" and hastily taking up her basket,
which she had rested on the door-step beside
her, Helen with a rapid step proceeded at once
towards her home. She sold not another
orange that day.
A RETURN. 59
"AND it's welcome ye are, and it's good luck
ye've brought us!" was the greeting of Mrs.
Murdoch, as Helen, flushed and weary, laid
down the half-emptied basket in the Irish-
woman's room. There's been a visitor up
to yer father, and when she'd left, says I, I'll
send up one of the childer just to see how he
does. Maybe the lady didn't come empty-
handed; wasn't it a big, black bag as she
carried on her arm And troth, Pat came
back with his mouth full, and his hand full;
it's James Hope is the man to share with a
60 GAIN AND LOSS.
neighbour Good cold beef and white bread
we've had this blessed day; sure the like of
it I've not tasted since the tickets were given
at Christmas !"
Then my father has had food exclaimed
Helen: she would have added, "Thank God !"
but the words seemed to die on her lips.
She was hastening out of the room, but Mrs.
Murdoch called to her to stop. Sure ye've
clane forgot the half of the money ye've
I could not touch it, keep it-keep it "
cried Helen, hurrying up stairs; for she dared
not take that which she could not but look
upon as the price of her conscience.
Helen found her father better and brighter
than she had seen him for many a day. The
nourishment which he had taken had revived
him, and hope and pleasure had not only
refreshed his spirits, but seemed to have a
A RETURN. 61
beneficial effect on his bodily frame. He
pointed eagerly to some meat and bread which
he had placed for his daughter on the wooden
box which served for table as well as for
"See, my darling, see, what God has provided!"
he exclaimed; sit and eat freely, my
Helen, and while enjoying the gift, you will
not forget to return your thanks to the
Helen showed no haste to partake of the
repast, although she greatly required it. She
felt like one receiving unmerited kindness
from a friend whom he has offended, and with
more pain than pleasure, in silence com-
menced her meal. She had not even the
heart to ask to whose thoughtful beneficence
she owed it. But her father, whose soul was
overflowing with thankful joy, did not wait to
62 GAIN AND LOSS.
When you had left me this morning, my
child, I own that I was low, and tempted to
repine. I felt it hard to be obliged to lie
here in hunger and weakness, very hard not
to be able to go with the multitude to the
courts of the house of my God. Such sinful
thoughts would come over me, and I tried in
vain to wrestle them down, till I had recourse
to prayer. I laid all my sorrows and trials
before my Heavenly Father, just as I would
before an earthly friend. I said to Him,
Lord Thou knowest of what I am in need.
In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted; let me
never be confounded. Give us this day our
daily bread, for the sake of the blessed
Saviour Presently my heart grew lighter;
I took my Bible from my pillow, and read the
34th Psalm. Helen, did it not contain a
joyful message for me! This poor man cried,
and the Lord heard him, and saved him out
A RETURN. 63
of all his troubles I have found the truth
of it this day And so, while I was praying
on my bed, and my child praying in the midst
of the congregation, God was sending help to
us both, by the hand of our kind benefactress,
Mrs. Vyse "
"Oh! has she returned?" exclaimed Helen.
She returned home with her husband last
evening; his health, thank God! greatly
restored. One of her first thoughts was for
us, though she knew not the greatness of our
distress. It was a joyful thing to look on her
kind face again, and listen to her cheering
voice. She has promised to pay off what is
owing for my rent-- "
Helen glanced up for a moment with an
exclamation of joy.
That is doing much-more than I could
have hoped for; more than I could ever have
dared to ask-for she has so many poor to
64 GAIN AND LOSS.
care for, whose need is as great as our own.
But, Helen, she has promised yet more. She
means, God bless her to get occupation for
you, that you may earn your bread for
yourself, till I am strong enough to labour
Helen looked down almost despairingly at
her hand. I am able to do nothing," she
I believe that you are to have work for
the head, and not the hand; for I told the
lady of your poor finger, and she questioned
me about your reading and your knowledge of
the Scriptures. She desired that you might
call at her house as soon as afternoon service
should be over. I can't help thinking that
the occupation has something to do with
teaching in the infant school."
"Oh that would be delightful!" began
Helen, but she stopped "short. The remem-
A RETURN. 65
brance of her transgression rose before her,
and the colour mounted even to her brow.
" I am not fit to teach others," she said sadly;
and turned away to hide from her father the
tears which welled up into her eyes.
Nay, Helen, though I say it who should
not say it, there are few more fit than you
are to teach little ones their duty. There's
many may have more learning, many more
experience of life, but," continued the parent,
with fond pride, for patience under trial, and
industry at work, dutiful care of a sick father,
and quiet submission to God's will, I would
not fear to match my Helen with any girl in
This was too much-Helen could bear it
no longer. She sank on her knees beside the
pallet, buried her face in her hands, and
exclaiming, Oh! how little you know me.
When you thought me at church, I was
66 GAIN AND LOSS.
breaking God's law-I was selling fruit on
His holy day!" She burst into a flood of
more agonising tears than any that want or
pain had ever forced from her eyes. The
spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity,
but a wounded spirit who can bear !
The father's heart was wrung with disap-
pointment and sorrow. Not that. he was hard
on his erring child, not that he felt not the
force of her trial; but he had never believed
it possible that she could so yield to tempta-
tion, and he would not have given credit to
the tale had it been uttered by any tongue
but that of Helen. James Hope was deeply
humbled, as though the error of his daughter
were his. own. He found some comfort on
learning that Helen had not retained a single
farthing of the ill-gotten gain; that though,
under strong temptation, she had committed
a fault, conscience would not suffer her to
A RETURN. 67
profit by its effects; but the sunshine of his
spirit was overclouded, his well-spring of joy
was embittered, and the voice of thanksgiving
in that humble room was exchanged for earnest
pleadings for pardon and grace, uttered by a
father for his penitent child.
68 GAIN AND LOSS.
"IT seems to me, Helen Hope, that you are
well qualified for the situation to which I
intend to recommend you, and I trust that
you will perform its duties as faithfully and
as conscientiously as you have done those of
your present station. Your salary as an under-
teacher will render you independent of your
needle; and I believe that it will add to your
satisfaction to think, that while you are support-
ing your father, you are at the same time
doing God's work, by leading His lambs to the
REPENTANCE TESTED. 69
Such were the words of Mrs. Vyse to Helen
that evening-words which, but a day before,
would have filled the poor girl's heart with
delight, but which now only deepened her
sorrow and regret.
"You shall come with me at once to the
evening-school, this is the hour at which the
dear children assemble," continued Mrs. Vyse,
moving towards her own door.
"Oh, ma'am!" commenced Helen, and
Mrs. Vyse looked at her with a little surprise.
"Do you not like the situation ?" she asked.
"Oh yes! but-but I am not worthy."
"Of that," replied the lady, with a smile,
"you must be content to leave others to
judge; and leading the way, she proceeded
into the street, liking Helen none the worse
for the humility and modesty which she
thought that the young teacher displayed.
70 GAIN AND LOSS.
"And why should I tell her--why need I
confess?" thought Helen, as she followed with
a beating heart. If the lady knew what I
have done, I fear that the situation would be
lost Yet, is it honest to conceal the truth?
Am I not deceiving my benefactress by my
silence? O God! help me to do what is
right! Would a blessing come with the money
which I earn, if it were gained by an act of
deception ? "
Helen found that every minute of delay
rendered her duty more difficult. Her repent-
ance had been deep and sincere. When she
had stopped upon a forbidden path, it was not
merely to look back and sigh over her wander-
ings, but it was steadfastly to retrace her
steps. There is no true repentance without
forsaking of sin, and an earnest effort at
amendment. Just as, following Mrs. Vyse,
Helen was approaching the door of the school,
REPENTANCE TESTED. 71
into which groups of children were thronging
like bees into a hive, Helen, after a silent
prayer for strength, found courage to address
"May I speak a word to you, ma'am?',
Mrs. Vyse stopped; Helen felt that her mild
eye was fixed upon her-she dared not meet its
gaze; with a trembling voice the poor girl
went on, Oh I am not what you think me;
this very day I have broken the fourth com-
mandment, I have sold- The unfinished
sentence was interrupted by the exclamation of
"a blue-eyed little girl, who was hastening with
"a companion to the school, Look, Ann there
is the very girl that was selling oranges to-day
on the door-step !"
Mrs. Vyse said nothing; she walked on.
The children around the door stood curtseying
and smiling, she nodded kindly to them, but
passed the entrance. She proceeded straight
72 GAIN AND LOSS.
onwards, as if absorbed in thought, and poor
Helen followed, feeling something like a culprit
about to receive sentence from a judge.
When Mrs. Vyse had reached a very quiet
street, she turned round and addressed her
companion. Her countenance was grave, but
kind, and her tones were very gentle as she
said, Was this the first time, Helen Hope,
that you ever sold on God's holy day ?"
"Yes, the first-the only time," faltered
"I believe you," said the lady quietly, "for
the confession which you were beginning to
make with such evident pain convinces me
that though you may sadly have erred, you are
yet a truthful and conscientious girl. Had I
learnt your fault from that child instead of
from yourself, I should have regarded you as a
grievous hypocrite, and lost my interest as well
as confidence in you. Helen, I fear that I
REPENTANCE TESTED. 73
cannot recommend you as teacher in a school
where it is known that you have sold upon
Sunday; the fact would destroy all your in-
fluence for good, it would never be forgotten
by the children."
"I know it-I know it !" sobbed Helen.
You have lost your situation, but you have
not lost your friend. Your honesty and can-
dour have increased my desire to aid you in
this time of distress. Such aid as I can afford,
you shall have at present, and if a future
opportunity should occur of giving you perma-
nent employment, you may be assured, Helen
Hope, that you shall not be forgotten by me."
74 GAIN AND LOSS.
THE DANGEROUS HOUSE.
ABOUT three weeks after the occurrences related
in the preceding chapters, as Ben Wilson was
one morning busily engaged chopping up
loaf-sugar in Mr. Page's shop, before the
regular business of the day began, he was
surprised by the entrance of James Hope.
"Ah, Hope! heartily glad to see you," he
called out in his jovial, good-humoured manner,
stretching his hand across the counter; didn't
think you'd have got so soon on your legs
again; you look a deal better than when I last
THE DANGEROUS HOUSE. 75
"I am gaining strength every day, thank
God," replied Hope. "I began work again
Ah and you found some friend, I take it,
to help you out of your trouble ?"
When I first turned to my God, I found
in Him a friend who could help me out of all
troubles," said Hope. "Health is His gift,
earthly friends are His gift, and He hath pro-
mised never to leave or forsake us."
"Now, Hope, I'm glad enough to have a
chat with you, specially about the old times;
but I don't like to have religion coming in at
every other word. It don't make one comfort-
able-like, you see."
"It is all my comfort," said James Hope
"Ah !" replied Ben, while a shade of gravity
came over his jovial face, that's just 'cause
you and I look at it from two different sides.
76 GAIN AND LOSS.
You like to think of God, because you look to
Him for comfort, and help, and everything else
that you want, and 'cause you make sure that
whatever troubles you may have here, He'll
make it all up to you a thousand times over
in the world that is to come. But I "-here
the gay, careless look returned-" I'm content
with the world that is, I don't want to look any
farther; and if I'd a conscience like yours,
always telling me that this thing and that
thing was wrong, and to be reckoned for at the
judgment, it would make my very life a torment,
so I throw the matter overboard altogether."
"In plain words," said Hope, "you are not
sure whether to consider the Almighty as your
enemy or-your friend, and, therefore- "
"I don't want to think at all!" exclaimed
Ben, resuming his chopping with energy;
"time enough to mind religion and such
matters when one is lying on a sick-bed !"
THE DANGEROUS HOUSE. 77
James Hope saw that his companion was
determined not to continue conversing upon
serious subjects, and therefore proceeded to
mention the business on which he had come.
"Can I see your master ?" he inquired. "I
wanted to speak to him about my lodging. I
don't think it safe ; I've found out that the dry-
rot has got into the beams."
Ben Wilson gave a little whistle. "He
won't like that news," said the shopman, nor
thank you for bringing it, I take it."
I told him my suspicion before," replied
Hope, and it's better that he should know all
the truth, even if it make him 'uncomfortable-
like,' he added, with a meaning glance at his
Ben's reply, whatever it might have been,
was interrupted by Page's entering the shop
through a back door, with his hat on, and a
stout walking-stick in his hand.
78 GAIN AND LOSS.
Hey, you here, James Hope? he said in
the dry, harsh tone that was natural to him.
Hope came forward, and in a few words
explained his reasons for coming, his con-
viction that the house in which he lodged was
really in a dangerous state, and his intention
to quit it directly.
Mr. Page's brow grew more contracted, and
his wrinkles deepened as he listened; and
before Hope could finish what he had to say,
he was rudely interrupted by the landlord.
"If that's all you have to tell me, you may
just take yourself off, or I'll make you go a
little quicker than you came exclaimed Page.
"The house is as sound as the Royal Exchange;
'twill stand as long as the monument of
London; and if you go on with this fool's
prate about it, I'll have you up for a
libel!" and he struck his stick hard on the
THE DANGEROUS HOUSE. 79
If it were not a matter concerning men's
lives, sir- began Hope in a firm but
"I'll not hear another word !" cried the
landlord; "don't come to me with your non-
sense and lies. If you choose to give notice,
you may leave; I've no wish to keep such
fellows in my house; but if. you go on a-
giving an evil name to my lodgings, I'll make
you pay for it, I will!" and shaking his stick
fiercely at his lodger, Page bade him leave the
"How unwilling are men to believe what
they do not like to hear !" thought Hope, as he
turned his steps homewards; "I was once my-
self like a man who sleeps in a house that has
decay in its very timbers; and if God in mercy
had not sent affliction like a loud peal of thunder
to rouse me, I might have kept in it, and
perished in it too! I have given fair notice to
80 GAIN AND LOSS.
my landlord, and it's now my duty to warn
my fellow-lodgers of their danger." He had
reached the narrow lane, and was glancing up
suspiciously at the great beams that crossed it.
as supports to the houses.
"And it's ye as is always looking up and
watching them beams !" cried Mrs. Murdoch,
who sat on the door-step of the lodging-house,
sorting out the bunches of flowers with which
she had replaced her oranges. The warm,
kindly breath of spring had so far relieved
the poor woman's rheumatism, that she was
able again to follow her humble trade in the
The house isn't safe," said James Hope.
"Och it's not once or twice that ye've told
me that," cried the woman, "and maybe it's
right that ye are; but this house was standing'
afore I was born, and maybe 'twill last out
THE DANGEROUS HOUSE. 81
I shall not remain in it," said Hope; "and
I heartily wish, friend, that you would leave
this dangerous lane, if not for your own sake,
yet for that of your children."
"Sure the place is mighty convenient, and
it would be a bother to move the spalpeens;
maybe it's easily frightened ye are; them
beams won't come down in our day."
James Hope sighed as he slowly walked up
the steep, narrow stairs of his lodging, which
creaked at every step that he took. The very
walls of the old house seemed to be bending
forwards towards the street, the plaster was
cracked in a dozen places, and the cobweb-
hung window on the staircase, loosely rattling
in its frame, let in as much air as light.
On entering his little attic, Hope was met
by Helen with a beaming smile on her face.
"Oh father, father, I have good news for
you!" she cried, putting down the sewing
82' GAIN AND LOSS.
which she had lately been able again to begin;
" Mrs. Vyse promised that she would not forget
me, and she has been as good as her word.
She has just called to tell me that she will take
me into her own nursery to help to look after
her children, and she said that she trusted me
because-because- ," Helen stopped and
looked a little confused, so her father finished
her sentence for her, Because she knew that
my lass would always teach her children to
speak the truth, and keep the Sabbath holy."
0 father !" murmured Helen, blushing
and looking down, after all that has
"What has happened," said James Hope,
laying his hand on his daughter's shoulder,
will be, I trust, a warning and a lesson to you
to the end of your life. It's when our faith
begins to fail, it's when we look away from the
Saviour, that we begin, like Peter, to sink in
THE DANGEROUS HOUSE. 83
the waves of trouble. But, even then, if we
cry, Lord, help me! there's a ready hand
stretched out to- save us, and the Lord will
never leave us to perish, if we cling in our
weakness to Him !"
84 GAIN AND LOSS.
IT was on a bright Sunday afternoon in
June that James Hope revisited the narrow
lane in which he had been a lodger at the
time when our story commenced. The place
was little changed in appearance, while the
heat of the weather made it more close and
oppressive than it had been in the earlier
part of the year. Lean poultry were still
picking up scraps from the dirty pavement,
bareheaded children still played by the gutter,
and threw pebbles at the dingy sparrows,
and sometimes the noise of laughter, and
THE END. 85
sometimes that of crying, resounded along
James Hope made his way up the well-
known staircase to the room in which Mrs.
Murdoch still lodged. She was at home, with
her dirty, half-clad children around her, and
welcomed him with all the kindness with which
her warm Irish heart overflowed.
Och! but it's glad that I am to see ye; I
thought that ye had clane forgot us! And
Helen, the darlin', how is she? I've not seen
her this many a day."
"I've brought you a little present of her
own work," said Hope, spreading out a neat
dress which his daughter had made for the
youngest child of her old friend. "Helen is
very happy in her place, and very busy, but
you see that she has not forgotten you, or your
kindness to her when the times were so bad."
Great was the admiration lavished on the
86 GAIN AND LOSS.
dress. Mrs. Murdoch exclaimed that she
should not know her own spalpeen in it! She
sent many a kindly message to Helen, and
again bid her father heartily welcome.
It's ill-luck, it is, that we've just finished
the pratees," said the hospitable Irishwoman,
looking with regret at two empty plates,
cracked and chipped-by rough usage, which
had contained the dinner of the family. Pat
was scraping one of them so clean, that it was
clear that his late meal had not spoilt his
appetite for more.
"I have dined, I thank you kindly," said
James Hope. I came to-day chiefly to tell
you that our clergyman was to have a preach-
ing this afternoon, and I thought that you and
your children might come and hear him for
"As if they'd let the likes of us into a
grand church!" exclaimed Mrs. Murdoch
THE END. 87
impatiently, glancing down at her ragged
"He is preaching in the street," replied
James quickly. It is exactly for such as you
that the minister is giving God's message in
the open air, with nothing but God's sky above
In the street !" cried Mrs. Murdoch, in sur-
prise; sure but that's something' new I'll no'
mind standing' in a crowd for a minute or so,
jist to hear what the thing is like." And
pulling up her youngest boy from the floor
with more of force than gentleness, she called
to her other children to follow, and went out
into the lane with James Hope.
"Ye thought as how them timbers would
give way," said the Irishwoman, with a smile,
as they passed under the heavy beams; "but
they've stood, and they'll stand, maybe, till
the green turf's over our heads !"
88 GAIN AND LOSS.
At the end of the lane, the party came
suddenly upon Mr. Page himself, who, stick
in hand, was on his way to call on one of his
lodgers who was behind-hand with his rent.
"If it's Patrick O'Grady ye're wanting to
see," cried Mrs. Murdoch, who easily guessed
the object of the landlord's visit, "it's he that's
gone to Hampstead this blessed day-ye'll not
find a soul in the house."
"I'll see and judge for myself," said Page
gruffly, casting a scowling glance at James
Hope as he passed him. The very children
shrunk back from the hard unfeeling man,
who would wring pence from the starving poor
with as little pity as he spurned the dust at
his feet; and all the little idlers in the lane
hurried after the steps of Hope, either from
fear of the landlord, or curiosity to "hear the
A little crowd had gathered in an open
THE END. 89
space at no great distance, in the centre of
which stood Mr. Vyse, surrounded by some of
the poorest and most ragged of a London
population. Barefooted urchins, rough-headed
girls, careworn and weather-beaten mechanics
were pressing in a circle about him. The
clergyman was proclaiming aloud to all the
Saviour's invitation of love. He was telling
the prodigal of a father's home, a father's heart
still open to receive him; he was telling the
wanderers from the Christian fold of the Good
Shepherd who had come to seek and to save
that which was lost-of Him who had given
His life for the sheep.
Amongst the casual listeners stood Ben
Wilson, who, while idling away the Sabbath
afternoon, had been attracted by the sight of a
crowd, and had sauntered towards it in hopes
to see some juggling tricks, or perhaps a fight.
He listened at first with his thumbs in his
90 GAIN AND LOSS.
pocket, and a half-mocking smile on his face,
but before the short sermon was ended, a
graver expression was there.
"Well met, Ben Wilson," said Hope, catch-
ing sight of his old companion, as the crowd
began to disperse.
Ben looked somewhat ashamed at having
been caught in the act of listening to preach-
ing, and putting on more than his usual levity
of manner, said, with a laugh, "I came to
look out for you, my lad, where I knew I was
surest to find you. This sort of thing is more
in your line than mine."
"Sure, and the parson preached beautiful,"
cried Mrs. Murdoch, brushing the moisture
from her eyes; "maybe if I'd heard the like
of that when I was young, I'd ha' turned out
a different cratur. But it's the want, the
hunger, that drives poor souls to do wrong."
"It's the chink of the money !" exclaimed
THE END. 91
Ben, striking his pocket as he spoke; "from
the time when we first knew black from white,
it's nothing but gaining and getting, gaining
and getting. The business of filling the purse,
that's the main business of life."
"Ay, ay," murmured Hope, half aloud,
" that's how man goes to ruin; how true is the
Bible account, The love of money is the root
of all evil !"
"But money, say what you will, is a great
good," cried Ben. "I'll own," he continued,
with sudden frankness, "that what the parson
said did seem to strike home to the heart, it
did make a fellow think that it would be a
grand thing to look forward to a home up
aloft, when all life's business is ended; but,"
he added, with a shake of the head, the next
time that I see old Page, and think how he's
rolling in gold, the fortune he has made, the
luck he has had, I'll be bound I'll- -"
92 GAIN AND LOSS.
The speaker was suddenly interrupted by a
tremendous crash, which, like the explosion of
gunpowder, made the very ground tremble
beneath his feet, and caused every cheek to
turn pale. Hope and his companion had,
during the preceding conversation, been walk-
ing towards the lane, they were now close to
its entrance, but it was impossible to see any
distance down it, such a dense cloud of dust
and rubbish blotted out the sunshine, and
choked the air.
"Mercy on us!" shrieked Mrs. Murdoch,
"if it aint the house as has fallen in !"
""Thank God you were not in it !" exclaimed
The timbers had indeed given way; the
neglected house lay a mass of shapeless
ruins. Crowds of people rushed eagerly to
the scene of the accident, drawn towards it by
the tremendous noise of the fall, which had
THE END. 93
been heard for a great distance round. It was
with difficulty that the police cleared a way
through the mob for those who were to work
amongst the ruins. It was a terrible scene of
alarm and confusion; mothers were shrieking
for their children, wives for their husbands;
none could at first know the extent of the
injury done, or the name and number of the
sufferers, and fear magnified the evil tenfold.
James Hope and Ben Wilson were both
amongst those who, with heart and hand,
laboured amongst the ruins, to save, if it were
possible, any poor wretch who might be buried
beneath them. Providentially, both the house
and the lane had been unusually empty, and
the labourers worked for many hours before a
single body was found.
As night was beginning to close around, and
torches were lighted, that the search might be
still pursued, Ben, while pausing to take
94 GAIN AND LOSS.
breath, after his heavy toil, caught sight of
part of a walking-stick, beneath a heap of
bricks and mortar. Calling aloud to James
Hope to help him, by their united efforts
enough of the ruins were removed to enable
them to draw forth a mangled and lifeless form.
There lay Page, crushed as he had been beneath
the weight of his own possessions, buried under
the ruins of that which he had valued more
than his soul! What was his hoarded gold,
what his ill-gotten gains to him then !
Ben Wilson, with a trembling hand, wiped
from his own brow the cold drops that started
as he gazed down on the man whose fortune
he had envied-whose example he had been
ready to follow-whose final fate he had been
ready to share. As with suppressed emotion
he grasped the hand of James Hope, it needed
not the voice of a living man to enforce the
solemn lesson preached by the silent dead-
THE END. 95
WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAIN
THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSE HIS OWN SOUL?
OR WHAT SHALL A MAN GIVE IN EXCHANGE
FOR HIS SOUL ?
Reader, have you ever asked yourself that
question, and does your whole life show that
you count all things but loss, compared with
that godliness which is great gain, having
the promise of the life which now is, and of
that which is to come?