He had no knowledge of localities. He ran “on and on,” as people do in fairy tales. Sometimes he rested on a doorstep, sometimes he hid in a shutter box or under an archway. He had learned to avoid the police, and he moved quickly from one dark corner to another with a hunted look in his black eyes. Late in the night he found a heap of straw near a warehouse, on which he lay down and fell asleep. At eight o’clock the next morning he was awakened by the clanging of a bell, and he jumped up in time to avoid a porter who was coming to the warehouse, and ran “on and on.”
It was a bright morning, and the sun was shining; but Jan’s feet were sore, and his bones ached from cold and weariness. Yesterday the struggle to escape the Cheap Jack had kept him up, but now he could only feel his utter loneliness and misery. There was not a friendly sound in all the noises of the great city,—the street cries of food he could not buy, the quarrelling, the laughter with which he had no concern, the tramp of strange feet, the roar of traffic and prosperity in which he had no part.
He was so lonely, so desolate, that when a sound came to him which was familiar and pleasant, and full of old and good and happy associations, it seemed to bring his sad life to a climax, to give just one strain too much to his powers of endurance. Like the white lights he put to his black sketches, it seemed to bring the darkness of his life into relief, and he felt as if he could bear no more, and would like to sit down and die. The sound came through the porch of a church. It was the singing of a hymn,—one of Charles Wesley’s hymns, of which Master Swift was so fond.
The sooty iron gates were open, and so was the door. Jan crept in to peep, and he caught sight of a stained window full of pale faces, which seemed to beckon him, and he went into the church and no one molested him.
There is a very popular bit of what I venture to think a partly false philosophy which comes up again and again in magazines and story books in the shape of satirical contrasts between the words of the General Confession, or the Litany, and the particular materials in which the worshippers, the intercessors, and the confessing sinners happen to be clothed. But, since broadcloth has never yet been made stout enough to keep temptation from the soul, and silk has proved no protection against sorrow, I confess that I never could see any thing more incongruous in the confessions and petitions of handsomely dressed people than of ragged ones. That any sinner can be “miserable” in satin, seems impossible, or at least offensive, to some minds; perhaps to those who know least of the reckless, callous light-heartedness of the most ragged reprobates.
This has nothing to do, it seems to me, with the fact that a certain degree of outlay on dress is criminal, on several grave accounts; nor even with the incongruous spectacle of a becoming bonnet arranged during the Litany by the tightly gloved fingers of a worshipper, who would probably not be any the more devout for being uncomfortably conscious of bad clothes. An old friend of my childhood used to tell me that she always thought a good deal of her dress before going to church, that she might quite forget it when there.