Page:Haworth's.djvu/66

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46
"HAWORTH'S."

"Why don't you say summat?" he demanded, sardonically. "Summat moral. You don't mean to tell me you've not got pluck enow?"

"I don't see," said Murdoch, deliberately,—"I don't see that there's anything to say. Do you?"

The man stared at him, reddening. Then he turned about and flung himself into his chair again.

"No," he answered. "By George! I don't."

They discussed the matter no further. It seemed to dispose of itself. Their acquaintance went on in the old way, but there were moments afterward when Murdoch felt that the man regarded him with something that might have been restrained or secret fear—a something which held him back and made him silent and unready of speech. Once, in the midst of a conversation taking a more confidential tone than usual, to his companion's astonishment he stopped and spoke bluntly:

"If I say aught as goes against the grain with you," he said, "speak up, lad. Blast it!" striking his fist hard against his palm, "I'd like to show my clean side to you."

It was at this time that he spoke first of his mother.

"When I run away from the poor-house," he said, "I left her there. She's a soft-hearted body—a good one too. As soon as I earned my first fifteen shillin' a week, I gave her a house of her own—and I lived hard to do it. She lives like a lady now, though she's as simple as ever. She knows naught of the world, and she knows naught of me beyond what she sees of me when I go down to the little country-place in Kent with a new silk gown and a lace cap for her. She scarce ever wears 'em, but she's as fond on 'em as if she got 'em from Buckingham Palace. She thinks I'm a lad yet, and say my prayers every night and