He returned to his home with a lighter heart and more buoyant step than had accompanied his going forth; and felt not only resolute, but fully armed to bear whatever reproach or violence he might meet, when he should be questioned about the money, and declare the truth. His fears on this occasion were without foundation. Mr. Walters was satisfied with his reasons for having left the shoes, and asked no further questions; and Mrs. Walters, not wanting “change,” said nothing about borrowing; so William, truly thankful that all had passed over so quietly, retired to rest, wearied indeed in body, but happier in mind than he had been for many days, dreaming not only of the pleasure he should have in making the shoes, but in seeing little Ned’s black eyes dance for joy in receiving them.
A LABOUR OF LOVE.
In the morning, William did not wait for Mrs. Walters’ usual shrill call of “Bill, get up and make the fire;” for, filled with the project of pursuing a labour of love, he was up with the dawn, and having performed all his allotted tasks, he had time to turn over the whole heap of worn-out shoes, which lay piled up in readiness for the scavengers. Was it not a little surprising that one who so cordially disliked shoemaking should voluntarily undertake a task so repugnant as this! Was it not a proof that he was achieving that moral heroism so beautifully lauded in the Scripture? “He that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city,” does not only apply to the restraining of the temper; other discipline is included in its meaning. Does the “charity which, seeking not her own,” but denying self, and sacrificing inclination at the shrine of duty, or in the endeavour to bestow comfort upon the needy, require no effort in its practice? It does indeed; perhaps stronger than to rule the tongue and temper; and although we must admire the moral hero who sets himself firm as a rock to bear reproach in silence, there is more calm grandeur in steady sacrifice of self when performing a repugnant task from a true spirit of benevolence.
It was not, indeed, without some effort, or many temptations to turn away and leave his project unaccomplished, that William persisted in his search. Sad to tell, he could not find what he sought, and he was turning away discouraged, when Jem Taylor came in.
He inquired what Bill had in hand now; and our little shoemaker having told him, he burst into a loud laugh, and declared he could do better for him than that. “I have a pair of shoes,” said he, “of which the upper leather is pretty good, but the soles are all gone; you may have them to cut up for your bare-legged friend. But what are you to do for soles?”
“I never once thought of that!” replied William, and his countenance expressed how great was his disappointment.
“Don’t look so down in the mouth, Bill,” said Jem, good-naturedly. “I suppose. I need not tell you to slice a piece off from old Walters’ leather, for you would consider it stealing, which I don’t; but your cake shall not be all dough, for all that. I’ll buy you a piece of sole, and bring all together to-morrow.”