“O, Tom, my boy, the whole world is as empty as an egg-shell.”
“I know it, Mas’r,—I know it,” said Tom; “but, oh, if Mas’r could only look up,—up where our dear Miss Eva is,—up to the dear Lord Jesus!”
“Ah, Tom! I do look up; but the trouble is, I don’t see anything, when I do, I wish I could.”
Tom sighed heavily.
“It seems to be given to children, and poor, honest fellows, like you, to see what we can’t,” said St. Clare. “How comes it?”
“Thou has ‘hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes,’” murmured Tom; “‘even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.’”
“Tom, I don’t believe,—I can’t believe,—I’ve got the habit of doubting,” said St. Clare. “I want to believe this Bible,—and I can’t.”
“Dear Mas’r, pray to the good Lord,—’Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.’”
“Who knows anything about anything?” said St. Clare, his eyes wandering dreamily, and speaking to himself. “Was all that beautiful love and faith only one of the ever-shifting phases of human feeling, having nothing real to rest on, passing away with the little breath? And is there no more Eva,—no heaven,—no Christ,—nothing?”
“O, dear Mas’r, there is! I know it; I’m sure of it,” said Tom, falling on his knees. “Do, do, dear Mas’r, believe it!”
“How do you know there’s any Christ, Tom! You never saw the Lord.”
“Felt Him in my soul, Mas’r,—feel Him now! O, Mas’r, when I was sold away from my old woman and the children, I was jest a’most broke up. I felt as if there warn’t nothin’ left; and then the good Lord, he stood by me, and he says, ‘Fear not, Tom;’ and he brings light and joy in a poor feller’s soul,—makes all peace; and I ’s so happy, and loves everybody, and feels willin’ jest to be the Lord’s, and have the Lord’s will done, and be put jest where the Lord wants to put me. I know it couldn’t come from me, cause I ‘s a poor, complainin’ cretur; it comes from the Lord; and I know He’s willin’ to do for Mas’r.”
Tom spoke with fast-running tears and choking voice. St. Clare leaned his head on his shoulder, and wrung the hard, faithful, black hand.
“Tom, you love me,” he said.
“I ‘s willin’ to lay down my life, this blessed day, to see Mas’r a Christian.”
“Poor, foolish boy!” said St. Clare, half-raising himself. “I’m not worth the love of one good, honest heart, like yours.”
“O, Mas’r, dere’s more than me loves you,—the blessed Lord Jesus loves you.”
“How do you know that Tom?” said St. Clare.
“Feels it in my soul. O, Mas’r! ’the love of Christ, that passeth knowledge.’”
“Singular!” said St. Clare, turning away, “that the story of a man that lived and died eighteen hundred years ago can affect people so yet. But he was no man,” he added, suddenly. “No man ever had such long and living power! O, that I could believe what my mother taught me, and pray as I did when I was a boy!”