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the year's care and toil. The balance was in his favour: he was considerably richer now than at the beginning of the year. A capital year it had been.
"Everything almost has turned out as well—yes, pretty nearly as well as I con.B4 even have wished it," continued Mr. Ackman. Not thwtt he spoke out loud, however, for this was not his custom when, as at this, time, he had no listeners: but he sadd it in his heart: ^yes, everything has prospered* except—" And here Re shrugged his shoulders, for a though* troubled lues. But he soon dismissed it,, and: went ©ni with his self-gra£ufo±ions. Everything else had; Hamed onh well; good! investments in business, comfort* vox Ms* family—the nest «f his family, he mentally pu* m>; hi* eldest daughte* Bad made a good match; hi* sesend son had; obtained! a gowd situation; his younger children were healthy and getting on in their various way*;; his- horns was lusuxraus.— that pleasant country housw of his,, thaw* mile* eu£ o£ town. And as he thought of this, ha> looked! ait his wateai
"I-promised; Do h»-hom» eaasly this «'vt«aing," he said or thought; "and—"
A tap at the- counting-house door interrupted the reverie, and elicited from Mb. Ae&mon a shaipp " Come in."
The door opened geni%, and a gentleman, well wrapped up in good broadcloth, (for the evening was inclement, though fine overhead),, entered, and advanced towards the fire-place;
Mr. Ackman> beW. Qh* his hand),, and took that of his visitor in a friendly grasp. "I did not expect to see you in the city this evening, Campbell," said he.
"No, I dare say not, John; but I am here, you see." And without further invitation the visitor drew a seat to the fire; and, by a familiar gesture, which was both understood and obeyed, he indicated his desire that Mr. Ackman would himself be seated.
There was no resemblance between the two gentlemen, save that they were apparently about the same age, that age being, as might have been guessed, somewhere near to fifty. In fact, though there was much familiarity in their tones and manners towards each other, there was no relationship between them. They were friends of long standing, however.
"You are not very much engaged this evening, John?" said the visitor.
"No, not at all engaged. The fact is, I have closed my books for the year, and was thinking—but—no, not at all engaged; and 1 have an hour at your service." As he said this, he mentally wished, perhaps, that his friend had called at some other time. Nevertheless, he could not, in his heart, feel that he was not pleased to see Mr. Campbell Logan, although the call threatened to interfere with his early departure.
"You were thinking," said Mr. Logan, repeating his friend's words; "I trust your thoughts were not unpleasant ones."
"No; in truth, they were rather pleasant than otherwise." And as Mr. Ackman was naturally communicative, and, it must be added, a little boastful; and as, moreover, he had never been reserved with his old friend, he soon made known the complacent nature of his previous thoughts.
The Bible bids us rejoice with them that rejoice; and Mr. Logan had so much Christian sympathy in his heart, and was so entirely devoid of envy, that he very cordially congratulated his friend on the flourishing aspect of his affairs. "When you and I, John, tramped up to London more than thirty years ago, with not so much as five pounds between us, and our scanty wardrobes strapped to our backs, and no great burden either, we could scarcely have anticipated, with reason, the change which a few years would make in our circumstances and prospects."
"Very true: we have worked hard for what we have got, though, Campbell," said Mr. Ackman, with an involuntary twitching of his right hand, which, being interpreted and put into words, plainly declared that he remembered the early struggles and constant self-denial which had issued in eventual success.
"We worked hard; yes, John, no doubt of it. But there are thousands and tens of thousands around us who have, all their lives, worked as hard, and perhaps harder than we ever worked, and yet have no worldly success to boast of."
"No doubt; at least," added Mr. Ackman, hastily correcting himself, as though he had made an unguarded admission—for it was his creed that every man had, to a great extent, the making of himself in his own power—" at least, it would seem so. But then, you see, we don't know all the ins and outs of these things: if we did, I fancy we should not be surprised at their want of success. But," added he, with a smile which seemed intended to deprecate discussion, "we don't think exactly alike on this subject; and I may as well admit, at once, that there is an overruling providence which shapes our ends rough-hew them as we may; though I do not carry this belief to the same extent that you do." ,
Mr. Logan did not return the smile. On the contrary, there was sadness in his look and his tone as he replied, "I shall not attempt to argue with you, John. I have not sufficient confidence in my powers of argument; and, besides, this is not what I came for."
Mr. Ackman looked sharply at his friend, and said, in a low tone, "You are not come to talk about that—that—" He evidently hesitated for want of a word; and the visitor relieved him from the embarrassment.
"About your eldest son, poor Arthur; yes."
"No, no; I cannot hear you: anything besides, any other subject but that," rejoined Mr. Ackman, in a calm, measured tone: "you know that that was to be a dropped subject between us."
"I never promised that it should be, John; though months have passed and I have not mentioned Arthur's name in your hearing. So far I have obeyed your injunctions; but I must speak once more, and you—you will not refuse to hear."
"If you will speak, I must hear, Campbell," returned Mr. Ackman; "but I tell you beforehand that it will be useless."
"John," said Mr. Logan, impressively, but still addressing his friend by the old familiar name, "do you hate your son—your firstborn?"
"That, at any rate, is well."
"I do not hate him. You know—none know better— how I loved that boy, doted on him, indulged him."
"Yes, I do know," rejoined the friend.
"And see the return 1 have had. Campbell," exclaimed Mr. Ackman, raising his voice passionately, yet speaking entreatingly, while the flush on his countenance deepened, "why will you stir up these feelings? why bring back the past, which can never be recalled? why not let the matter rest where it is? Be merciful."
"This is what I would say to you, John—be merciful. 'Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.'"
"Campbell," said Mr. Ackman, almost angrily; "say at once what you have to say: tell me what you would have: but first of all put yourself in my position. Think that you have a son—." Mr. Ackman paused here abruptly. The barrier somehow broke down, and his feelings rushed in, in a full tide. He rose impatiently from his seat, and walked to and fro in much agitation. Presently he stopped. "It is too bad, Campbell; and from none but you would I bear this."
"I know it, John," replied the other, kindly and tenderly; "and it is because I know, or believe, that you will bear it from me, that I make this last appeal. John, dear old friend, by the memory of our ancient love, which has not yet died out, I entreat you to hear me. Your boy behaved ill to you: granted. He thwarted your projects: granted. He disappointed your hopes: granted. He squandered your property: granted this too. But I am here now, and for the last time, to ask you to forgive him, even as you hope that God, for Christ's sake, will forgive
"You press me too hard, Campbell," said the prosperous man but unhappy father, drawing his hand across his eyes; "knowing all that you know, you press me too hard. Arthur has taken his course: I have taken mine. Why not let the matter rest where it is?"
"Because I cannot see you persist in a grievous sin unchecked; dare not see you throwing away your hope of eternal life without one more attempt to hold back your hand."
"My hope of eternal life? Campbell: what do you mean?"
"What do these words mean, John? 'If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.' And these words: 'Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?' And "if a brother, how much more a son—a once dear son, John?"
"Arthur is not in need, Campbell," rejoined Mr. Ackman, huskily; "he is not starving, I know. I have taken care of that, unworthy as he.is."
"But he is in need, John; he needs your love more than ever; and you shut up your bowels of compassion from him."
"You are cruelly hard upon me, Campbell—cruelly hard," groaned the obdurate father; "and 1, Bo pleased as I was to see you just now!" he added, reproachfully. "And after all, what can I do?"
"You can forgive, John; you can forgive, and leave all the rest in God's hands. Come, come?"
The faults of Arthur Ackman had been very grievous. He had been an imdutifnl son. Too highly prized, perhaps, by a too indulgent father, he had forfeited that father's favour by ingratitude. Not all at once, indeed, but by slow yet sure degrees he had worn away parental patience. Drawn aside by profligate companions, the youth had become profligate, had scorned counsel, and contemned reproof. There is no need to trace his progress step by step, however. It is enough to say that now, in manhood, he was an alien from his father's house. For years his name had scarcely been whispered there. As far as it was possible for a son to be forgotten, Arthur Ackman was forgotten, save that a scanty allowance had been doled out to him by his father through a channel which was intended to bring home to the unhappy young man a keen sense of his degradation.
But a change had come over the young man. In the day of adversity he had considered. By God's infinite grace and mercy he had been rescued from the snares of sin, and been brought to repentance. The gospel of Christ had been made to him, by the almighty influences of the Divine Spirit, "the power of God unto salvation;" and he had returned to his heavenly Father with weeping and supplication, saying, in the spirit and language of the repenting prodigal in the parable, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight;" and praying, "Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me." His Father in heaven had had compassion on him, had forgiven him, had received him graciously and loved him freely; but his father on earth had turned away coldly from his prayer for forgiveness; had spurned him; had rejected intercession on his son's behalf. He prided himself on his firmness and consistency: he did not credit his son's reformation, would not believe hie repentance to be genuine; and if it were, why, he had passed