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tion to give to a man whom he had not seen for a month or two; but Peter Nelson was abrupt. He was a Yorkshireman -a West Riding Yorkshireman; and whilst there are nowhere kinder hearts than in that part of the country, it cannot be denied that there is sometimes a downright kindness about the men which strangers do not at first understand.
Yet Peter Nelson knew what he was about. He had heard that his old friend, George Thomas, had lately passed through a good many troubles and vexations, which he had suffered to annoy him exceedingly; but he had also heard that his wife and children were all well, and he knew that if it were needful he could pay all his creditors thirty shillings to the pound. If he had not known all that, he would have received him very differently.
Peter was one of the kindest, heartiest men I ever knew. His bright, round, open face told you at once that he was an honest, trustworthy man; and the more you got to know about him, the more certain you were that your first impressions were right. There was a pleasant ring, too, about his voice, which told you that he was a cheerful man. Best of all, he was a Christian; he never obtruded his religion; but no one could be long in his company without finding that out. He had such strong faith in the Lord Jesus, such love to God, such a good hope of heaven, and, in short, everything about the gospel was so thoroughly real to him, that I very much doubt whether he could have concealed his religion if he had tried ever so rigorously: yet such was the simplicity and transparency of his character, that I am quite certain he never thought of concealing it. Peter was one of the happiest Christians it was ever my pleasure to meet with. He had not lived to five-and-forty years of age without trouble, and some of his trials had been very severe ones; still he never murmured, and never allowed himself to get flat. It was all for the best, he said; and God knew better than he did what was good for him. It will be readily believed that he was just the man whom people would seek when they were in trouble. Somehow or other they found that a little talk with
Peter put quite a new aspect on life, and lightened their load of care most wonderfully.
Nobody felt this more than George Thomas. He had formerly lived in the same village with Peter, and they had been members of the same Christian church, and very close friends. It was one of his greatest regrets, when he left the place, that he would have to leave his friend Peter; but the opening that presented itself for a much more extensive business than he could do in Westwood was so promising, that in justice to his family he thought he could not decline it, and he removed to a large town at a little distance-one of the great centres of Yorkshire industry. He had scarcely succeeded as well as he had hoped, still he had done somewhat more than keep his head above water. Of late, however, he had been a good deal troubled. Trade was depressed; his workmen had been difficult to deal with; he had endured some heavy losses; and in other ways he had been much tried. He had found no friend in the place to which he had gone like Peter; and so one day—it was a holiday—he said to himself, "I will just run over to Westwood and see Peter Nelson."
He found Peter, who was a cloth-worker in a small way of business, in a snug little office he had boxed off from his workshops, and Peter was alone. We have already told our readers how Peter saluted him.
"Well," replied George, with a smile, "not quite so bad as all that. The shop is shut up, but only for the day, because it is a holiday; and I am thankful to say that my wife and children are all well. But how are you, and all of
They are all at
"Thank God," said Peter, "never better. home, and they will be right glad to see you. a bit, and tell us how the world's been using you. something on your mind: come, tell us all about it."
George Thomas took the vacant seat to which Peter pointed him, and then said, "Well, Peter, I have many a time wished you were a bit nearer, that I might drop in as I used
to do, and talk things over with you.
The fact is, I have
had a number of things to bother me lately, and I have hardly known what to do for the best."
"That's a pity, George," replied Peter; "still our cares and troubles don't come to us by chance, and if we only go to the right place for help, they will be a real blessing to us. 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord: he shall sustain thee.' That's God's promise. But may be you've been trying to be independent, and to carry the load yourself, without asking God to help you. That anxious, care-worn face looks a
bit like it, George."
"There may be something in that, Peter," replied his friend; "yet I don't think I have quite neglected to pray, and to ask help from God."
"Ay, George, but how have you prayed? When you knelt down did you say to yourself, 'Now if I ask God, he will really help me, and lighten my load?' and when you had prayed, did you say, as you got up from your knees, 'I believe God will hear that prayer, and strengthen and bless me?' It's no use praying unless we believe."
"Well," replied George, "perhaps I have not been as believing and trustful as I ought."
"We have all need," said Peter, "to pray "Lord, increase our faith.' We want more faith both for the things of this life and for those of salvation. But what is it that has troubled you?"
"For one thing," replied George, "I never had so many serious losses as I have had during the last year. You heard of Owen's failure; he owed me a large bill, and I got five shillings in the pound. Brooks absconded one night to America, taking care beforehand to sell that house of his for which we did the wood-work. I took a contract for some large offices, and I was pretty sure I was on the safe side; but, somehow or other, I found that it did not turn out as I expected. The men struck work in the middle of it, and the architect made matters worse by his unreasonableness."
"All that in one year!" said Peter; "trying, I'm certain.
I'm afraid there won't be an over large slice of profit left when all that is taken off. I suppose, indeed," he added, with a significant twinkle in the corner of his eye, "that there will be nothing for it but calling your creditors together?" "Come now, Peter, you know better than that."
"To be sure I do,” replied Peter, "or I would not have said it. Now just tell me another thing. These losses, as I have good reason to know, are sadly disappointing. It's a hard thing when you've earned your money to lose it in any way, and most of all to be cheated out of it; and I daresay your heart was heavy enough sometimes, and that you lost some good nights' rest; but you live in the same house you did, don't you?"
"Yes," replied Mr. Thomas.
"And a nice, comfortable house it is," said Peter. you have not sent away your servant; and you have not told your wife that she must put you all on short commons; and the children are going to school just the same; and if a friend were to drop in and intended to stay a day or two, you would not send him away, saying you could not afford to entertain him, but you would make him as welcome as ever ?"
"We have not made any difference yet,” replied Mr. Thomas, "and we don't intend, unless indeed matters get a good deal worse than they are."
"Then, George, notwithstanding your losses, God's promise has not failed, 'Thy bread shall be given thee: and thy water shall be sure.' You have not wanted yet, and you don't seem likely to want. Now don't you think," asked Peter, "that when things like these happen, instead of thinking about what we've lost, we had better try and think of what God still gives us? You remember that bank going down, don't you? All my bits of savings were in it, and I lost every penny. There were four of us just going to start yon mill, and I had about enough to pay my share. I had thought many a time what a capital thing it would be to have a mill like that, and what a nice start it would be for Ned and Harry. I can tell you I was fairly felled when I heard that my money was all gone. But,
bless the Lord, I soon got over it. I hardly knew how to tell Mary, thinking it would upset her completely. But when I told her she said, 'Well, Peter, it can't be helped; it's the Lord's doing; it's plain he does not mean us to be rich, anyhow, yet a bit. We can work for our living, as we have done till now; and as for the lads, why, they'll just have to make their own way in the world.' We have had the Lord's blessing with what he left us, and that has made us rich with only a little; and we've been very happy."
"I remember the time," said Mr. Thomas, " and how well you bore your trouble."
"It was all the Lord's goodness," replied Peter. "He only fulfilled his promise, 'As thy days, so shall thy strength be.' You wanted to be rich, George,-or if not just that, to get on in the world-rather faster than the Lord thought good for either you or your family; and so he pulled you up a bit in your race. 'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.' Your lads will just have a trifle harder to work for themselves."
Things don't look very bright, Peter," said Mr. Thomas. "I never knew them much worse, and I don't see much prospect of their getting better. There's hardly any getting a contract now, except on terms that won't pay; and then one hardly knows whom to trust. It keeps one in constant anxiety."
a great deal more than is
"Ay, I dare say," said Peter, of any use. I have troubled myself in my time about tomorrow, and I never found myself any better for it. Tomorrow and to-day are both in the Lord's hand. A good many years since, when I was making myself far more anxious than was good for me, I went to the house of God with a troubled heart, and that morning our minister preached from that text, 'Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.' He told us it meant we were not to be anxious, not to fret, not to worry ourselves about things, but commit them to God. You can't think how it all came