These tidings fell like a weight of lead on the boy’s heart; he would gladly have seen that benevolent face again; but, unable to utter a word or repress the tears that would force themselves into his eyes, he took the folded package and went home.
The stranger had taken a hasty departure, but he had not forgotten or neglected his promise; for, on opening the letter, there was his picture coloured,—and on the back of it was written, “Watch, that you may pray; and pray, that you may be safe.” The boy’s heart was touched with even deeper emotion than before, and as he knelt down that night, the last he was to spend in his native village, he prayed that God would help him to nourish the good seed sown in his heart, and be his Father and Guide in the new life on which he was entering.
William’s new home.
Great was the change our poor boy experienced between living in the country and in the city. Instead of the brightly flashing river, with its sail-boats and schooners, the pleasant village environed by verdant meadows and flower-filled gardens, there was nothing but long rows of tall, stately houses, looking coldly grand, or narrow streets and dark lanes, where mud and filth mixed together were suggestive of cheerlessness and poverty. His heart sunk within him as he walked along the busy streets, where many people were passing to and fro, bent on their various errands of duty or pleasure, and felt that in that hurrying crowd there was not one to care for him, and among that wilderness of houses he had no home.
The shoemaker to whom he was apprenticed had once been a different man from what he was at present. During Raymond’s life, and while on terms of intimacy with him, he had borne the reputation of a pious, and certainly was an industrious and thrifty man; but failure and the loss of an excellent wife had wrought a sad change in his character and temper; and having married a second wife, who turned out a virago and a shrew, there was little hope of his improving. He was still industrious, and owing to his former reputation for honesty and doing good work, he still retained many of his old customers. He had a small shop in a public part of the city, where he took the measures for shoes or sold those on hand; but he lived in a low-roofed, comfortless-looking house, far down the city, where he had also a shop, in which he kept a journeyman or two to do the mending, which was all sent there.
There were no children to gladden this sullen household by their mirth, and there was no piety to send its gleams of sunlight to lessen the gloom that dwelt within its precincts; there was no one there who loved God and honoured his laws, neither did the words of prayer or praise ever ascend from the family altar. They were contented to live for this world alone, caring nothing for that heavenly inheritance promised