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He hears the gate open, a step is close to him,
the matches are extinguished, the lad makes
a desperate effort to escape,—but a strong
hand was laid on his shoulder, and a deep
calm voice inquired, " What can have urged
you to such a crime? " Then calling loudly,
the gentleman, without relinquishing his hold,
soon obtained the help of some farming men,
who commenced a search with their lanterns
all about the farm. Of course they found
no accomplices, nothing at all but the handful
of half-consumed matches the lad had dropped,
and he all that time stood trembling, and
occasionally struggling, beneath the firm but
not rough grasp of the master who held

At last the men were told to return to the
house, and thither, by a different path, was
George led till they entered a small,
poorly-furnished room. The walls were covered with
books, as the bright flame of the fire revealed
to the anxious gaze of the little culprit. The
clergyman lit a lamp, and surveyed his prisoner
attentively. The lad's eyes were fixed on the
ground, whilst Mr. Leyton's wandered from
his pale, pinched features to his scanty, ragged
attire, through the tatters of which he could
discern the thin limbs quivering from cold or
fear; and when at last impelled by curiosity
at the long silence, George looked up, there
was something so sadly compassionate in the
stranger's gentle look, that the boy could
scarcely believe that he was really the man
whose evidence had mainly contributed to
transport his father. At the trial he had
been unable to see his face, and nothing so
kind had ever gazed upon him. His proud
bad feelings were already melting.

"You look half-starved," said Mr. Leyton,
"draw nearer to the fire, you can sit down on
that stool whilst I question you; and mind
you answer me the truth. I am not a magistrate,
but of course can easily hand you over
to justice if you will not allow me to benefit
you in my own way."

George still stood twisting his ragged cap
in his trembling fingers, and with so much
emotion depicted on his face, that the good
clergyman resumed, in still more soothing
accents; " I have no wish to do you anything
but good, my poor boy; look up at me, and
see if you cannot trust me: you need not be
thus frightened. I only desire to hear the
tale of misery your appearance indicates, to
relieve it if I can."

Here the young culprit's heart smote him.
Was this the man whose house he had tried
to burn? On whom he had wished to bring
ruin and perhaps death? Was it a snare
spread for him to lead to confession? But
when he looked on that grave compassionate
countenance, he felt that it was not.

"Come, my lad, tell me all."

George had for years heard little but oaths,
and curses, and ribald jests, or the thief's
jargon of his father's asssociates, and had
been constantly cuffed and punished; but
the better part of his nature was not
extinguished; and at those words from the mouth
of his enemy, he dropped on his knees, and
clasping his hands, tried to speak; but could
only sob. He had not wept before during
that day of anguish; and now his tears
gushed forth so freely, his grief was so
passionate as he half knelt, half rested on the
floor, that the good questioner saw that
sorrow must have its course ere calm could
be restored.

The young penitent still wept, when a
knock was heard at the door, and a lady
entered. It was the clergyman's wife, he
kissed her as she asked how he had
succeeded with the wicked man in the jail?

"He told me " replied Mr. Leyton, " that
he had a son whose fate tormented him more
than his punishment. Indeed his mind was
so distracted respecting the youth, that he
was scarcely able to understand my exhortations.
He entreated me with agonising energy
to save his son from such a life as he had led,
and gave me the address of a woman in
whose house he lodged. I was, however,
un-able to find the boy in spite of many earnest

"Did you hear his name?" asked the

"George West," was the reply.

At the mention of his name, the boy ceased
to sob. Breathlessly he heard the account of
his father's last request, of the benevolent
clergyman's wish to fulfil it. He started up,
ran towards the door, and endeavoured to
open it; Mr. Leyton calmly restrained him,
"You must not escape," he said.

"I cannot stop here. I cannot bear to look
at you. Let me go! " The lad said this
wildly, and shook himself away.

"Why, I intend you nothing but kindness."

A new flood of tears gushed forth;
George West said between his sobs,

"Whilst you were searching for me to
help me, I was trying to burn you in your
house. I cannot bear it." He sunk on his
knees, and covered his face with both hands.

There was a long silence, for Mr. and Mrs.
Leyton were as much moved as the boy, who
was bowed down with shame and penitence,
to which hitherto he had been a stranger.

At last the clergyman asked, " What could
have induced you to commit such a crime?"

Rising suddenly in the excitement of
remorse, gratitude, and many feelings new to him,
he hesitated for a moment, and then told his
story; he related his trials, his sins, his sorrows,
his supposed wrongs, his burning anger at the
terrible fate of his only parent, and his rage
at the exultation of the crowd: his desolation
on recovering from his swoon, his thirst for
vengeance, the attempt to satisfy it. He spoke
with untaught, child-like simplicity, without
attempting to suppress the emotions which
successively overcame him.

When he ceased, the lady hastened to the