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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThere & Back - Chapter 43. To Be Redeemed, One Must Redeem
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There & Back - Chapter 43. To Be Redeemed, One Must Redeem Post by :Merry_V Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :3054

Click below to download : There & Back - Chapter 43. To Be Redeemed, One Must Redeem (Format : PDF)

There & Back - Chapter 43. To Be Redeemed, One Must Redeem

CHAPTER XLIII. TO BE REDEEMED, ONE MUST REDEEM

The moment he received his wages from his father at the end of the week, Richard set out for Everilda street, Clerkenwell, a little anxious at the thought of encountering the dreadful mother, but hoping she would be out of the way.

When he reached the place, he found no one at home. He could not go back with his mission unaccomplished, and hung about, keeping a sharp watch on each end of the street, and on the approaches to it that he passed in walking to and fro.

He had not waited long before Arthur appeared, stooping like an aged man, and moving slowly He was in the same shabby muffler as of old. His face brightened when he saw his friend, but a fit of coughing prevented him for some time from returning his salutation.

"When did you have your dinner?" asked Richard.

"I had something to eat in the middle of the day," he answered feebly; "and when Alice comes, she will perhaps bring something with her; but we don't care much about eating.--We've got out of the way of it somehow!" he added with an unreal laugh.

"It's no wonder you can't get rid of your cold!" returned Richard. "Come along, and have something to eat."

"I can't have Ally come home and not find me!" objected Arthur.

"You shall put something in your pocket for her!" suggested Richard.

He seemed to yield; but his every motion was full of indecision. Richard took his arm.

"Do you know any place near," he asked, "where we could get some supper?"

"No, I'm afraid I don't," answered Arthur.

"Then you go in and rest, while I go and see," returned Richard.

He searched for some time, but came upon no place where a man could even sit down. At last he found a coffee-shop, and went to fetch Arthur.

He found him stretched on his bed, but he rose at once to accompany him--with the more difficulty that he had yielded to his weariness and lain down. They managed however to reach their goal, and the sight of food waking a little hunger, the poor fellow did pretty well for one who looked so ill. As he ate he revived, and by and by began to talk a little: he had never been much of a talker--had never had food enough for talking.

"It's very good of you, Richard!" he said. "I suppose you know all about it!"

"I don't. What is it? Anything new?"

"No, nothing! It's all so miserable!"

"It's not all miserable," answered Richard, "so long as we are brothers!"

The tears came in Arthur's eyes. Their mother had repented telling them the truth about Richard, and pretended to have discovered that, while sir Wilton was indeed Richard's father, Mrs. Tuke was after all his mother.

"Yes, that is good," he said, "though it be only in misfortune! But I am a wretched creature, and no good to anybody; you are a strong man, Richard; I shall never be worth calling your brother!"

"You can do one great thing for me."

"What is that?"

"Live and grow well."

"I wish I could; but that is just what I can't do. I'm on my way home."

"I would gladly go with you!"

"Why?"

Richard made no answer, and silence followed. Arthur got up.

"Ally will be home," he said, "and thinking me too ill to get along!"

"Let's go then!" said Richard.

When they entered Everilda street, they saw Alice on the door-step, looking anxiously up and down. The moment she caught sight of them, she ran away along the street. Richard would have followed her, but Arthur held him, and said,

"Never mind her to-night, Richard! She don't know that you know. I will tell her; and when you come again, you will find her different. Go now, and come as soon as you can--at least, I mean, as soon as you like."

"I will come to-morrow," answered Richard. "Do you want me to go now?"

"It would be better for Alice. I will go to the end of the street, and she will see me from where she is hiding, and come. She always does."

"Is she in the way of hiding then?"

"Yes, when my mother is--"

"Well, good-bye!" said Richard. "But where shall I find you to-morrow!"

They arranged their meeting, and parted.

The next day, they found a better place for their meal. Richard thought it better not to go quite home with Arthur, but, having learned from him where Alice worked, and at what hour she left, went the following night to wait for her not far from the shop.

At last she came along, looking very thin and pale, but she shone up when she saw him, and joined him without the least hesitation.

"How do you think Arthur is?" he asked.

"I've not seen him so well for ever so long," she answered. "But that is not saying much!" she added with a sigh.

They walked along together. With a taste of happiness, say once a week, Alice would have been a merry girl. She was so content to be with Richard that she never heeded where he was taking her. But when she found him going into a shop with a ham in the window, she drew back.

"No, Richard," she said; "I can't let you feed me and Arthur too! Indeed I can't! It would be downright robbery!"

"Nonsense!" returned Richard; "I want some supper, and you must keep me company!"

"You must excuse me!" she insisted. "It's all right for Arthur: he's ill; but for _me_, I couldn't look myself in the face in the glass if I let you feed _me_--a strong girl, fit for anything!"

"Now look here!" said Richard; "I must come to the point, and you must be reasonable! Ain't you my sister?--and don't I know you haven't enough to eat?"

"Who told you that?"

"No one. Any fool could see it with half an eye!"

"Artie has been telling tales!"

"Not one! Just listen to me. I earn so much a week now, and after paying for everything, have something over to spend as I please. If you refuse me for a brother, say so, and I will leave you alone: why should a man tear his heart out looking on where he can't help!"

She stood motionless, and made him no answer.

"Look here!" he said; "there is the money for our supper: if you will not go with me and eat it, I will throw it in the street."

With her ingrained feeling of the preciousness of money Alice did not believe him.

"Oh, no, Richard! you would never do that!" she said.

The same instant the coins rang faintly from the middle of the street, and a cab passed over them. Alice gave a cry as of bodily pain, and started to pick them up. Richard held her fast.

"It's your supper, Richard!" she almost shrieked, and struggled to get away after the money.

"Yes," he answered; "and yours goes after it, except you come in and share it with me!"

As he spoke he showed her his hand with shillings in it.

She turned and entered the shop. Richard ordered a good meal.

Alice stopped in the middle of her supper, laid down her knife and fork, and burst out crying.

"What _is the matter?" said Richard, alarmed.

"I can't bear to think of that money! I must go and look for it!" sobbed Alice.

Richard laughed, the first time for days.

"Alice," he said, "the money was well spent: I got my own way with it!"

As she ate and drank, a little colour rose in her face, and on Richard fell a shadow of the joy of his creator, beholding his work, and seeing it good.

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