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Because, if he does, I am afraid you will never see your money," said I, bluntly.
The woman turned pale. “He does owe me money,” she said; “ and if you have known the man to be such a character, I don't think it at all kind and neighbourly in you not to have given me warning.”
“ Look here, Mrs. Hobday," I said and I showed her the letter I had in my hand-“it is only this morning that I have known what sort of a man Michael Collins is; and I have been taken in as well as you.”
The poor woman made a lamentable outcry when I had finished reading to her what my brother had written. It appeared that Collins had not paid for board and lodging for several weeks, and also that he had, at times, and on various pretexts, borrowed money of Mrs. Hobday, who was a hardworking, youngish widow, and pretty well off for one in her position, which was that of a laundress.
I could not have suspected such wickedness and deceit,” said the widow, putting her handkerchief to her eyes ; " and to be pretending to be a single man too!"
“Oh, oh!" thought I. “ Is that the real grievance ?"
There was not much more said then ; but it came out afterwards, as such things will, that Collins had been base enough to make the credulous widow believe that he wished to marry her, and so had cheated her not only out of her money,
but her affections. And it was well for her that his career had been prematurely closed, by his foreseeing the exposure which must follow on my writing to my brother Tom.
“But,” said my wife, when this little scene was over, are not quite sure yet that Collins is the man your brother writes about. Perhaps he is not really gone right away, and will be able to clear himself.”
“We shall see,” said I. “This is our committee evening, and if Collins does not make his appearance we shall know what to think of it."
CHAPTER XII.—THE COMMITTEE. Our committee on the evening of the day that I received my brother's letter mustered ten in all; and when I looked round on my associates, I could not but be struck, more than I ever had been before, with the difference which a few weeks had made in our general appearance. Our faces were haggard and careworn; the tones of our voices were querulous and despondent; we were shabby in look, and many of us were dirty and unshaven, as though it were too much trouble to keep clean and neat; and our very clothes hung upon us in a misfitting sort of way. Poor fellows ! some of us had scarcely clothes enough left to stand upright in decently, the pawnbroker having got the best part of the wardrobes of several in his safe keeping.
Altogether it was pitiable--pitiable to see men who, until within two montiw of that time, had been for years earning some of them six shillings and some eight shillings every working day in the week : I say, it was grievous to see them brought down to such wretchedness. And it certainly did seem to me then, as I looked round me, that there ought to be some very strong reason for men's throwing themselves out of work, and cutting off their supplies, as we had done, to make such an act justifiable.
“Where's Collins ?” These were almost the first words I heard when I entered the room. All but Collins were thereat least, all who were expected; but he was absent.
No one answered ; but I saw that two or three of the men besides myself showed a kind of silent consciousness that some unpleasant disclosures were forthcoming.
We waited half-an-hour, and more than this, and all business was suspended during that time, Collins being our secretary, as well as the leading man in all our debates and consultations. At length, however, impatience broke out in exclamations which denoted suspicion likewise.
" I don't think we shall see Collins to-night, nor to-morrow either," said I, presently.
“What makes you say that, Brown ?" asked my old shopmate, Frank Latham.
“Because I have heard to-day that he has not been at his lodgings these two days past; and the woman he lodges with knows nothing of his movements.”
“And why didn't you tell us that before?” I was asked, rather roughly.
“ Because I wanted to give the man a fair chance. If he had shown himself here to-night, well and good; but as he has not "-I pulled my brother Tom's letter out of my pocket—"as he has not, it is only fair to the rest of you to tell you a little news I have had only to-day.” And then I read Tom's letter from beginning to end.
I shall not attempt to describe the scene that followed further than by saying that blank dismay sat on the faces of two or three of the men, while others looked simply astonished and enraged.
“Why, he can't be such a rascal as that !” said Frank.
“He must come back and prove that he is not then,” said I; "and till he does, I shall pin my faith on this letter.”
“He borrowed five shillings of me a few days ago," said one, “and pretty near the last I had got,” he added, with a groan, and something which sounded like an execration.
“And ten shillings of me," said another, who, like myself, had a few pounds in the savings bank when the strike began, and which he had not quite exhausted.
“ And two pounds of me," said I; “but he has done more than that and worse by us all, I am afraid.”
“I don't know what can be worse than being choused out of all the little money we have got left, some of us, by a smooth-tongued, fair-faced cheat," said Frank.
“ It is worse to have been persuaded out of our right senses by him," said I, sorrowfully enough.
Come, come, don't you be turning coat,” cried Frank Latham. “If Collins is a villain, that does not make our cause bad neither."
“It will be pretty near doing it though,” said one who had not hitherto spoken; "and for my part, knobstick or not, I shan't stand out much longer-so come, mates.”
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
The Kingdom of Christ:
SOME OF ITS QUALITIES. “In the days of these kings, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed : and the kingdoms shall not be left to other people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."DANIEL ii. 44.
t is worth observation that the mediatorial action of
the Son of God is of the nature of kingly rule. Christ rules in the first place within the church.
There He is more than Teacher, Example, Friend, and Saviour: He is King of saints. His subjects are hearts willingly submissive to His sway. He rules by His word and Spirit. His administration comprises the enactment and execution of law. "He affords protection. He guides and governs in the direction of final salvation and eternal life. His right to rule is two-fold-first, by right original ; secondly, by right of conquest. He passed to the Throne, "His garments dyed in blood.” Christ, our king, is ever receiving homage and tribute from His saints. “Day by day we magnify Thee, and we worship Thy name, ever, world without end."
His dominion, however, extends beyond the Church. It stretches “from sea to sea, from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust.” Beyond the world of men even His sway extends. Nature and the invisible world are beneath His feet. Over these He rules in order to make all things in all realms subservient to the good of His Church. He is at the right hand of God “in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come : all things are under His feet: He is the head over all things to the Church.”
The kingdom of Christ is of supernatural origin. The stone was detached from its native bed “without hands.” This kingdom is one which the God of heaven set up. It owed its existence to no human counsel, agency, or power. None of the ordinary instrumentalities, by which great effects amongst men are accomplished, had anything to do with its establishment, extension, or perpetuity. The kingdom was conceived in the eternal counsels of the Triune Jehovah, founded by the Son of God, filled and animated by the Holy Spirit. As it was Divine in its origin, so it was endowed with inextinguishable life.
The kingdom of Christ was insignificant in its commencement. Although we are told nothing of the size of the stone, it is evident that it was small, and apparently inadequate to the production of such great effects as are ascribed to it. So was it with the new power which came into the world with the Son of God. Look at the Messiah Himself--at the veil of obscurity which He assumed. He was of a decayed and dilapidated house ; was ranked with the poor ; was without powerful friends or political connections; of no uncommon advantage of learning; and was regarded with contempt and scorn by the great mass of his countrymen." At first He had only a few followers, fishermen and collectors of the public revenue. No culture, influence, arms, wealth, political power had they. The kingdom made way slowly. Judged from the worldly point of view, the Saviour's own ministry could hardly be considered a success. The kingdom was as a grain of mustard-seed, as leaven hidden in a mass of meal. To the world it was a fragment of stone, In Heaven's regard--since Heaven knows the true might of all moral forces-all possible magnificence, prevalence, and perpetuity were in the heart of that stone as soon as it began to advance upon godless
The kingdom of Christ, notwithstanding its small begin