Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet: Ch. 27

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"I fully agree with you, my dear fellow. No one hates the bishops more than we true high-churchmen, I can tell you—that's a great point of sympathy between us and the people. But I must be off. By-the-by, would you like me to tell our friends at D * * * * that I met you? They often ask after you in their letters, I assure you."

This was a sting of complicated bitterness. I felt all that it meant at once. So he was in constant correspondence with them, while I—and that thought actually drove out of my head the more pressing danger of his utterly ruining me in their esteem, by telling them, as he had a very good right to do, that I was going to preach Chartism to discontented mobs.

"Ah! well! perhaps you wouldn't wish it mentioned? As you like, you know. Or, rather," and he laid an iron grasp on my arm, and dropped his voice—this time in earnest—"as you behave, my wise and loyal cousin! Good night."

I went home—the excitement of self-applause, which the meeting had called up, damped by a strange weight of foreboding. And yet I could not help laughing, when, just as I was turning into bed, Crossthwaite knocked at my door, and, on being admitted, handed over to me a bundle wrapped up in paper.

"There's a pair of breeks for you—not plush ones, this time, old fellow—but you ought to look as smart as possible. There's so much in a man's looking dignified, and all that, when he's speechifying. So I've just brought you down my best black trousers to travel in. We're just of a size, you know; little and good, like a Welshman's cow. And if you tear them, why, we're not like poor, miserable, useless aristocrats; tailors and sailors can mend their own rents." And he vanished, whistling the "Marseillaise."

I went to bed and tossed about, fancying to myself my journey, my speech, the faces of the meeting, among which Lillian's would rise, in spite of all the sermons which I preached to myself on the impossibility of her being there, of my being known, of any harm happening from the movement; but I could not shake off the fear. If there were a riot, a rising!—If any harm were to happen to her! If—Till, mobbed into fatigue by a rabble of such miserable hypothetic ghosts, I fell asleep, to dream that I was going to be hanged for sedition, and that the mob were all staring and hooting at me, and Lillian clapping her hands and setting them on; and I woke in an agony, to find Sandy Mackaye standing by my bedside with a light.

"Hoolie, laddie! ye need na jump up that way. I'm no' gaun to burke ye the nicht; but I canna sleep; I'm sair misdoubtful o' the thing. It seems a' richt, an' I've been praying for us, an' that's mickle for me, to be taught our way; but I dinna see aught for ye but to gang. If your heart is richt with God in this matter, then he's o' your side, an' I fear na what men may do to ye. An' yet, ye're my Joseph, as it were, the son o' my auld age, wi' a coat o' many colours, plush breeks included; an' gin aught take ye, ye'll bring down my grey haffets wi' sorrow to the grave!"

The old man gazed at me as be spoke, with a deep, earnest affection I had never seen in him before; and the tears glistened in his eyes by the flaring candlelight, as he went on:

"I ha' been reading the Bible the nicht. It's strange how the words o't rise up, and open themselves whiles, to puir distractit bodies; though, maybe, no' always in just the orthodox way. An' I fell on that, 'Behold I send ye forth as lambs in the midst o' wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents an' harmless as doves;' an' that gave me comfort, laddie, for ye. Mind the warning, dinna gang wud, whatever ye may see an' hear; it's an ill way o' showing pity, to gang daft anent it. Dinna talk magniloquently; that's the workman's darling sin. An' mind ye dinna go too deep wi' them. Ye canna trust them to understand ye; they're puir foolish sheep that ha' no shepherd—swine that ha' no wash, rather. So cast na your pearls before swine, laddie, lest they trample them under their feet, an' turn again an' rend ye."

He went out, and I lay awake tossing till morning, making a thousand good resolutions—like the rest of mankind.