“You dursn’t do it, Bob,” ses Peter, all of a tremble.
“It ain’t me, Peter, old pal,” ses Bob, “it’s my friend. But I don’t mind stopping ’im for the sake of old times if I get my arf. He’d listen to me, I feel sure.”
At fust Peter said he wouldn’t get a farthing out of ’im if his friend wrote letters till Dooms-day; but by-and-by he thought better of it, and asked Bob to stay there while he went down to see Sam and Walter about it. When ’e came back he’d got the fust week’s money for Bob Pretty; but he said he left Walter Bell carrying on like a madman, and, as for Sam Jones, he was that upset ’e didn’t believe he’d last out the night.
[Illustration: “The Temptation of Samuel Burge.”]
Mr. Higgs, jeweller, sat in the small parlour behind his shop, gazing hungrily at a supper-table which had been laid some time before. It was a quarter to ten by the small town clock on the mantelpiece, and the jeweller rubbing his hands over the fire tried in vain to remember what etiquette had to say about starting a meal before the arrival of an expected guest.
“He must be coming by the last train after all, sir,” said the housekeeper entering the room and glancing at the clock. “I suppose these London gentlemen keep such late hours they don’t understand us country folk wanting to get to bed in decent time. You must be wanting your supper, sir.”
Mr. Higgs sighed. “I shall be glad of my supper,” he said slowly, “but I dare say our friend is hungrier still. Travelling is hungry work.”
“Perhaps he is thinking over his words for the seventh day,” said the housekeeper solemnly. “Forgetting hunger and thirst and all our poor earthly feelings in the blessedness of his work.”
“Perhaps so,” assented the other, whose own earthly feelings were particularly strong just at that moment.
“Brother Simpson used to forget all about meal-times when he stayed here,” said the housekeeper, clasping her hands. “He used to sit by the window with his eyes half-closed and shake his head at the smell from the kitchen and call it flesh-pots of Egypt. He said that if it wasn’t for keeping up his strength for the work, luscious bread and fair water was all he wanted. I expect Brother Burge will be a similar sort of man.”
“Brother Clark wrote and told me that he only lives for the work,” said the jeweller, with another glance at the clock. “The chapel at Clerkenwell is crowded to hear him. It’s a blessed favour and privilege to have such a selected instrument staying in the house. I’m curious to see him; from what Brother Clark said I rather fancy that he was a little bit wild in his younger days.”
“Hallelujah!” exclaimed the housekeeper with fervour. “I mean to think as he’s seen the error of his ways,” she added sharply, as her master looked up.