But Stephen could not believe that good, gentle Miss Anne found it as hard to be a Christian as he did. Everything seemed against him at the works. The short indulgence from hard words and hard blows granted him after his father’s death was followed by what appeared to be a very tempest of oppression. It was very soon understood that the master had a private grudge against the boy; and though the workpeople were ground down and wronged in a hundred ways by him, so as to fill them with hatred and revenge, they were not the less willing to take advantage of his spite against Stephen. His work underground, which had always been distasteful to him compared with a shepherd’s life on the hills, was now made more toilsome and dangerous than ever, while Black Thompson followed him everywhere and all day long with oaths and blows. Stephen’s evident superiority over the other boys was of course very much against him; for he had never been much associated with them, as his distant home had separated him from them excepting during the busy hours of labour. Now, when, through his own self-satisfaction and Tim’s loud praises, his accomplishments became known, it is no wonder that a storm of envy and jealousy raged round him; for not only the boys themselves, but their fathers also, felt affronted at his wonderful scholarship. To be sure, Tim never deserted him, and his partisanship was especially useful on the bank, before he went down and after he came up from the pit. But below, in the dark, dismal passages of the pit, many a stripe, unmerited, fell upon his bruised shoulders, which he learned to bear the more patiently after Miss Anne had taught and explained to him the verse, ’But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.’ Still Stephen, feeling how hard it was to continue in the right way, and knowing how often he failed, to his own sore mortification and the rude triumph of his comrades, wondered exceedingly how it was possible for Miss Anne to find it as hard to be a follower of Christ as he did.