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“How did she come into our room at all ?” said the youth.
“We were so frightened,” said little Mary, " when we awoke, for we saw you lying on the ground, and the blood was pouring down from you so fast.”
“And why did you go and call her?” said John Graham, in a reproachful voice, although his heart told him that he had deserved every word Mrs. Schneegans had said, and that he owed her a great deal for her attention in staunching the wound in his head.
"We did not call her,'' answered the children, between their sobs; for, fancying their brother was angry with them, they had commenced to cry afresh. “We were crying, and she heard the noise, and came up and peeped iņ through the door, and when she saw your poor head she came in and tried to make it well. But I'm very sorry she came in," said little Mary, “for she called you bad names, and she must be a wicked woman."
John Graham had the meanness to let his sister think thus badly of the one that had proved a friend in need ; and, as he made no further remark, the little ones remained under the impression that their neighbour was a wicked woman. As to attaching any blame to their brother, such a thing never entered into their heads; they always looked upon him as perfect; and they had not the least idea how he came by the cut, their only care was to have it made well, and to expend all their little caresses upon him, for they could not bear to think that he was hurt.
That Sunday John Graham did not take the little ones for a walk; his head was splitting with pain, and he spent most of the day in bed. The twins waited on him, and lay down with him, and spent all their love on him, reserving all their indignation for “that wicked woman, Mrs. Schneegans." It is true the children did not forget their walk; often during the day they longed for it, for the sky above was bright and blue, and the sun was shining with a most brilliant light. The little Schneeganses they knew had gone, for they heard them go out of the door; but as often as they found themselves regretting too much, they turned to their brother and began to caress him afresh. “No, dear John,” said Eddy, as he heard the former sobbing with his head turned towards the wall, for he was now in bitterness of soul, “ we don't mind staying in : there, don't cry, your head will soon be well;" and little Mary got up upon the bed, to stroke his face, and kiss him with her loving lips.
That Sunday was a miserable one for John Graham, and when at night the two children came and asked him whether he would hear them say their prayers, the way their mother used, he felt as though he could have rushed out of the house at once.
Nor was Monday much better. When the youth went to his employment, he had to invent a lie about a fall, as he would not confess to his having been drunk on the previous Saturday; and there was not a penny in the house with which to provide for the little ones for the week. As to himself, John Graham could at any time have gone without, in order to supply their wants; and willingly he would have done so now, for it was his folly that had cut off their supply; but all was of no avail; the money was gone, and people were very slow to trust. Had the youth been in the habit of always dealing at one place, he might have found credit easier to be had, but he had bought sometimes here and sometimes there, as he saw things cheapest; so now he was puzzled what to do.
One sin is the door to many, and now for the first time unkind thoughts about the helpless twins came into his mind. Something within him said—“Why should you support them? It isn't your fault that they have no food to-day. You're not bound to provide for them. You've been doing this long enough. Why should the blame be put on you if they haven't enough to eat? They have no right to expect that you'll keep them always.” Such thoughts as these would in all probability have never entered John Graham's mind at another time, but now the Wicked One had entered into his heart, and was almost leading him captive at his will; he was hastening him on to that state in which some are described as being, viz. “ without natural affection.” Had John been told of this some time before, he would have said, like one of old, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing ?" Alas! sin never comes alone; little did John Graham think, as he read the account of the shipwreck in the parlour of the “Golden Robin,” that he was on the high road to making shipwreck of his own happiness and peace.
CHAPTER V. THAT morning, for the first time, John Graham entered a pawnbroker's shop. The three golden balls glittered brightly in the sun, as the youth passed beneath them, and deposited a bundle upon the counter. That bundle contained his best coat;-he had always been able to make a respectable appearance in it at his place of worship on Sunday, and to take out the twins for their much prized walk. Had John Graham been compelled to pledge his coat because of the pressure of poverty, or from some unforeseen accident, he might not, perhaps, have felt ashamed, but on the present occasion he certainly felt that he had no right to be in a pawnbroker's shop.
The shopman at the Golden Balls saw at a glance that his customer was not in the habit of pledging, he therefore gave him very little on the coat; but John Graham did not-mind; he got enough to answer his purpose for the present, and he could soon get the coat out again. :
When, however, the end of the week had come, the youth found that his wages would barely suffice for their wants, without allowing anything for the redemption of the coat. At the pawnbroker's, therefore, it had to remain, and on Sunday John Graham did not go near the house of prayer. He was too proud to go unless he was tolerably well dressed, and the pawnbroker had his coat. Nor did he spend the day very profitably at home; he had been angry with himself all the week, and his temper was now considerably soured, and it was not improved by the little ones, who missed their accustomed walk and teased him to take them out.
“ We don't often get a run," said little Mary, “'twould be so pleasant to have a
“Do take us, dear brother," said little Eddy; “ we'll be so good.”
“ There, don't tease," answered John Graham, in a short surly voice; “ you young children ought to be very thankful for having so much done for you, without bothering me all day long."