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two of the young misses, are just come into the hall.
Mr. Loveg. to Mrs. Loveg. My dear, will you go with them into the parlour? [To the Farmer.] Mr. Littleworth, you must go in with me.
Far. I am afraid if I do it will quite overcome me as bad as ever. But if you think it best I'll try, and perhaps the 'Squire may give us some advice on this
Mr. Worthy. [After the usual salutations. ] Why, Mr. Littleworth, I did not expect to see you here. I came to enquire of our worthy minister if he had heard any tidings of your son, as I see by the newspapers a packet arrived at Falmouth on Wednesday last from the fleet in which he sailed.
Loveg. Mr. Littleworth has a letter from him, and a blessed one it is! Would you let Mr. Worthy see it, Mr. Littleworth?
[Mr. Littleworth again in tears. ] Far. Yes; but I cannot read it, it so affects me. [To Mr. Worthy. ] If I had all your honour's estate, it would not have given me half the joy I have felt in receiving that letter.
[Mr. Littleworth lends it to Mr. Worthy. ] Mr. Worthy. Sir, as you say it is so good a letter, if it contains no family secrets, may I read it out, that my eldest daughter, who has a serious turn of mind, may gain some instruction by it?
Far. O yes, Sir, you may read it out, but then I cannot stop to hear it again.
Loveg. I think, Mr. Littleworth, you had better not stop, but take a walk in the garden while Mr. Worthy and I read over your son's letter, and converse about it.
Far. Why yes, Sir; if the 'Squire will pardon me,
I would rather do so, for I cannot stand it again.
[The letter is again read over, and the farmer is a second time introduced.]
Mr. Worthy. Well, Mr. Littleworth, I must not say too much to you in a way of congratulation, as you cannot bear it; but we have been planning, that on the evening your son comes home, Mr. Lovegocd had better give you the meeting, and spend the first evening with you.
Far. [To Mr. Worthy.] To be sure it would be desperate unmannerly to ask such a gentleman as you are to come and meet us; but in our old house I have a hall that would hold twenty such guests, and a heart big enough to hold a thousand more.
Mr. Worthy. Thank you, my kind friend; but as Mr. Lovegood will be of the party, you will have quite.company enough on that occasion.
Mrs. Worthy. But Mr. Littleworth, next Wednesday three weeks, Mr. Lovegood is to examine the Sunday school children, and preach a sermon to them and their parents at the church, and afterwards Mr. Worthy is to give them all a supper in the ser. vants' hall. Perhaps your son may be returned by that time, and then we shall be happy to see you and all your family to tea, that you may go and hear the
Far. Ah, madam, if you and the 'Squire will but put up with our countrified fashions; to be sure we should be mighty proud to make such a visit; and perhaps my daughters Polly and Patty may hear a sermon that the Lord may bless to their hearts, for they are desperate fond of being with fine gentlefolk.
[Mr. Worthy's servant enters the parlour.] Servant. Sir, Thomas Newman has brought Mr. Littleworth's horse.
Far. Tell liim I shall be with him presently. I thought as I walked here it would be too much to
walk home against the hill, so I thought as soon as the horses had doneplough, Thomas should bring one of them. My knees and ancles are deadly weak; what have I suffered by the gout! but there, the Lord forgive me, it is in a measure through my own wickedness, for I have made a God of my belly.
Loveg. Tell Thomas to put the horse in my stable, and come in and refresh himself.
Far. O no, Sir, I thank you, I'll be getting home. My wife is mighty fond of Thomas, though she does not like his religion; and he has alway's victuals enough when he comes to our house; and it was Thomas's good life, that made me think so well of your good sermons.
Far. to Mr. Worthy. I wish your honour a good day; the same to you,
madam. Worthy. Farewell, Nir. Littleworth.
[Mr. Lovegood goes with the farmer to see him mounted.]
Loveg. Well, Thomas, how do you do? how is betty and all the children ?
Tho. They are all very well, Sir, thank the Lord, except little Joseph, and he has been sore bad with the hooping cough ; but madam Worthy sent him some doctor's stuff that has done him an abundance of good.
Loveg. Let me see, Thomas; Joseph is one of the twins.
Tho. Ah, sweet child; and I felt him as dear to me as an Isaac, and I should have needed an Abra. ham's faith to have parted with him.
Loveg. But have you heard that master Harry is coming back again from sea ?
Tho. Why, Sir, I heard that just before I came down, and that my master has been most desperately affected at the news. Lord grant that he may be
brought home so as that he may be brought to God. Who can tell, master?
Far. Oh, Thomas, that is done already; praise the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless his holy name!
Tho. What, has master Harry felt the converting
grace of God!
Far. Oh, Thomas, [Farmer weeps and wipes dis eyes, ] but I'll tell you as I ride along, and you shall walk by me.
Loveg. Well, Mr. Littleworth, the Lord bless and support you!
Far. And you too, Sir, a thousand times, for the good you have done to my immortal soul. [They go home. The Farmer continues speaking to Thomas.]
Oh, Thomas, you will be all amaz ment to hear how broken and humble and contrite my son writes about his wicked courses.
Tho. Master, that is a blessed sign; for when once we are made to hate sin, we may be sure there is a divine change. The Lord be praised if master Harry has been saved from his wicked state ; for how wild and wicked for sure he was! but, master, if you and I do but think what we once were, and what through the grace of God we now are, we need despair of none. Can't you remember what Mr. Lovegood said about three Sundays ago, when he was preaching about Christ being able to save to the uttermost: Who but a God can tell how far God's uttermost can go?"
Far. Why he has no notion how the Lord has converted the heart of such a poor old sinner as I have been. How he will be surprised when he comes home! it quite overcomes me to think of it.
Tho. Had we not better contrive to tell him this before hand ?
Far. That we have contrived already, and you are to go and meet him at Mapleton, and Mr. Lovegood is to come and sup with us. O what a blessed meeting it will be !
Tho. And how much more blessed still will be the meeting in heaven! But, master, if I may be so bold, how came it all about?
Far. Here, Thomas [lending him the letter,] you shall take this letter home with you, and you and Betty shall read it together; but be sure and take care of it, for I value it more than untold gol. O how I shall count the days till my son comes home! And after supper Mr. Lovegood will give us family prayer, and after that I am determined in my poor fashion to keep it up; for then we shall be quite strong when deir Harry comes home; and who knows but it may be a blessing to my wife and two daughters.
Tho. Why every body knows what a Christianlike family our 'squire's is; and I do think it is all on account of the wonderful good order that is kept up in family prayer.
Far. Aye, aye, Thomas; and by the blessing of God we'll have family prayer too; and Mr. Love. good says he will make a hymn on purpose upon the prodigal's return, and a brave hymn I'll warrant it will be. Thomas, you must be there to pitch the tune; and Mr. Lovegood says you shall be clerk at church next, if any thing happens to old Andrew Snuffle.
Tho. Ah dear, how shall I feel if ever our minister should make such a poor simple creature clerk of our parish; to be sure it would be a wonderful help to me and my poor dear Betty, to bring up our children; but I am sadly afraid Mr. Lovegood will not be long minister of our parish.