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Instead of wishing the very next day
To cast it in the dirt away,
Like an infant with its bells and coral.
And that's the Moral.




AT the time arranged the previous
day, they set out on their walk to see Nicholas
Higgins and his daughter. They both
were reminded of their recent loss by a
strange kind of shyness in their new
habiliments, and in the fact that it was the
first time for many weeks that they had
deliberately gone out together. They drew very
close to each other in unspoken sympathy.

Nicholas was sitting by the fire-side in his
accustomed corner: but he had not his
accustomed pipe. He was leaning his head upon
his hand, his arm resting on his knee. He
did not get up when he saw them, though
Margaret could read the welcome in his

"Sit ye down, sit ye down. Fire's welly
out," said he, giving it a vigorous poke, as
if to turn attention away from himself.
He was rather disorderly, to be sure, with
a black unshaven beard of several days'
growth, making his pale face look yet paler,
and a jacket which would have been all the
better for patching.

"We thought we should have a good
chance of finding you, just after dinner-time,"
said Margaret.

"We have had our sorrow too, since we
saw you," said Mr. Hale.

"Ay, ay. Sorrows is more plentiful than
dinners just now; I reckon my dinner hour
stretches all o'er the day; yo're pretty sure
of finding me."

"Are you out of work?" asked Margaret.

"Ay," he replied shortly. Then, after a
moment's silence, he added, looking up for
the first time: "I'm not wanting brass.
Dunno yo think it. Bess, poor lass, had a
little stock under her pillow, ready to slip
into my hand, last moment, and Mary is
fustian cutting. But I'm out o' work a' the

"We owe Mary some money," said Mr.
Hale, before Margaret's sharp pressure on
his arm could arrest the words.

"If hoo takes it, I'll turn her out o' doors.
I'll bide inside these four walls, and she'll
bide out. That's a'."

"But we owe her many thanks for her
kind service," began Mr. Hale again.

"I ne'er thanked yo'r daughter there for
her deeds o' love to my poor wench. I
ne'er could find th' words. I'se have to begin
and try now, if yo start making an ado
about what little Mary could sarve yo."

"Is it because of the strike you're out of
work? " asked Margaret gently.

"Strike's ended. It's o'er for this time.
I'm out o' work because I ne'er asked for it.
And I ne'er asked for it, because good words
is scarce, and bad words plentiful."

He was in a mood to take a surly pleasure
in giving answers that were like riddles. But
Margaret saw that he would like to be asked
for the explanation.

"And good words are—?"

"Asking for work. I reckon them's almost
the best words that men can say. 'Gi' me
work' means, 'and I'll do it like a man.'
Them's good words."

"And bad words are refusing you work
when you ask for it."

"Ay. Bad words is saying 'Aha, my fine
chap! Yo've been true to yo'r order, and
I'll be true to mine. Yo did the best yo
could for them that wanted help; that's yo'r
way of being true to yo'r kind; and I'll be
true to mine. Yo've been a poor fool as
knowed no better nor be a true faithful fool.
So go and be dd to yo. There's no work
for yo here.' Them's bad words. I'm not a
fool; and if I was, folk ought to ha' taught
me how to be wise after their fashion. I
could mappen ha' learnt, if any one had
tried to teach me."

"Would it not be worth while," said
Mr. Hale, " to ask your old master if he would
take you back again? It might be a poor
chance, but it would be a chance."

He looked up again, with a sharp glance
at the questioner; and then tittered a low
and bitter laugh.

"Measter! if it's no offence, I'll ask yo a
question or two in my turn."

"You're quite welcome," said Mr. Hale.

"I reckon yo ha' some way of earning your
bread. Folk seldom live in Milton just for
pleasure, if they can live anywhere else."

"You are quite right. I have some
independent property, but my intention in settling
in Milton was to become a private tutor."

"To teach folk. Well! I reckon they
pay yo for teaching them, dunnot they?"

"Yes," replied Mr. Hale, smiling. "I
teach in order to get paid."

"And them that pays yo, do they tell yo
whatten to do, or whatten not to do wi' the
money they gives you in just payment for
your painsin fair exchange like?"

"No; to be sure not!"

"They dunnot say, yo may have a brother
or a friend as dear as a brother, who wants
this here brass for a purpose both yo and he
think right; but yo mun promise not to give
it him. Yo may see a good use, as yo think,
to put yo'r money to; but we don't think it
good, and so if yo spend it a-that-ens we'll
just leave off dealing with yo. They dunnot
say that, dun they?"

"No: to be sure not!"

"Would yo stand it if they did?"

"It would be some very hard pressure
that would make me even think of submitting
to such dictation."

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