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HOME > Short Stories > Sue, A Little Heroine > CHAPTER XIX. A SAINTLY LADY.
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 When so many strange things were happening, we may be sure that Father John was not idle. He had hoped much from Peter Harris's knowledge of the byways and dens and alleys of Westminster. But although Peter was accompanied by the sharpest detectives that Scotland Yard could provide, not the slightest clue to Connie's whereabouts could be obtained. The man was to meet more detectives again that same afternoon, and meanwhile a sudden gleam of hope darted through Father John's brain.  
What a fool he had been not to think of it before! How glad he was now that he had insisted on getting the name and address of the brave fireman deliverer from Connie on the previous night!
He went straight now to the house in Carlyle Terrace. He stopped at No. 12. There he rang the bell and inquired if Mrs. Anderson were within.
Mrs. Anderson was the last woman in the world to refuse to see any one, whether rich or poor, who called upon her. Even impostors had a kindly greeting from this saintly lady; for, as she was fond of saying to herself, "If I can't give help, I can at least bestow pity."
Mrs. Anderson was no fool, however, and she could generally read in their faces the true story of a man or woman who came to her. More often than not the story was a sad one, and the chance visitor was in need of help and sympathy. When this was not the case, she was able to explain very fully to the person who had called upon her what she thought of deceit and dishonest means of gaining a livelihood; and that person, as a rule, went away very much ashamed, and in some cases determined to turn over a new leaf. When this really happened Mrs. Anderson was the first to help to get the individual who had come to her into respectable employment.
She was by no means rich, but nearly every penny of her money was spent on others; her own wants were of the simplest. The house she lived in belonged to her son, who, although a gentleman by birth, had long ago selected his profession—that of a fireman in the London Fire Brigade. He had a passion for his calling, and would not change it for the richest and most luxurious life in the world.84
Now Mrs. Anderson came downstairs to interview Father John. Father John stood up, holding his hat in his hand. He always wore a black frock-coat; his hair hung long over his shoulders; his forehead was lofty; his expressive and marvelously beautiful gray eyes lit up his rugged and otherwise plain face. It was but to look at this man to know that he was absolutely impervious to flattery, and did not mind in the least what others thought about him. His very slight but perceptible deformity gave to his eyes that pathetic look which deformed people so often possess.
The moment Mrs. Anderson entered the room she recognized him.
"Why," she said in a joyful tone, "is it true that I have the honor of speaking to the great street preacher?"
"Not great, madam," said Father John—"quite a simple individual; but my blessed Father in heaven has given me strength to deliver now and then a message to poor and sorrowful people."
"Sit down, won't you?" said Mrs. Anderson.
Father John did immediately take a chair. Mrs. Anderson did likewise.
"Now," said the widow, "what can I do for you?"
"I will tell you, madam. Her father and I are in great trouble about the child——"
"What child?" asked Mrs. Anderson. "You surely don't mean little Connie Harris? I have been nervous at her not reappearing to-day. At her own express wish, she went to visit her father last night. I would have sent some one with her, but she wouldn't hear of it, assuring me that she had been about by herself in the London streets as long as she could remember; but she has not returned."
"No, madam?"
Over Father John's face there passed a quick emotion. Then this last hope must be given up.
"You have news of her?" said Mrs. Anderson.
"I have, and very bad news."
Father John then related his story.
"Oh, why—why did I let her go?" said Mrs. Anderson.
"Don't blame yourself dear lady; the person to blame is the miserable father who would not receive his lost child when she returned to him."
"Oh, poor little girl!" said Mrs. Anderson. "Such a sweet child, too, and so very beautiful!"
"Her beauty is her danger," said Father John.
"What do you mean?"
"She told me her story, as doubtless she has told it to you."
"She has," said Mrs. Anderson.
"There is not the least doubt," continued the street preacher, "that that notorious thief, Mrs. Warren, used the child to attract people from herself when she was stealing their goods. Mrs. Warren is one of the most noted pickpockets in London. She has been captured, but I greatly fear that85 some other members of the gang have kidnapped the child once more."
"What can be done?" said Mrs. Anderson. "I wish my son were here. I know he would help."
"Ah, madam," said Father John, "how proud you must be of such a son! I think I would rather belong to his profession than any other in all the world—yes, I believe I would rather belong to it than to my own; for when you can rescue the body of a man from the cruel and tormenting flames, you have a rare chance of getting at his soul."
"My son is a Christian as well as a gentleman," said Mrs. Anderson. "He would feel with you in every word you have uttered, Father John. I will send him a message and ask him if he can meet you here later on to-night."
"I shall be very pleased to come; and I will if I can," said Father John. "But," he added, "my time is scarcely ever my own—I am the servant of my people."
"Your congregation?" said Mrs. Anderson.
"Yes, madam; all sorts and conditions of men. I have no parish; still, I consider myself God's priest to deliver His message to sorrowful people who might not receive it from an ordained clergyman."
Mrs. Anderson was silent. Father John's eyes seemed to glow. He was looking back on many experiences. After a minute he said:
"The consolation is this: 'He that shall endure to the end—shall be saved.'"
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