|CHAPTER XIII. -- IN THE HOSPITAL AND OUT AGAIN.|
WHEN Harry Hazeley returned to consciousness, he found himself in bed in one of the wards of a hospital, with his head bound up, and a dull aching in his side. He was in too much pain to wonder how he came there, so he closed his eyes and tried to go to sleep, but he could not. It seemed as if his mind had never been so active as it was now that he belonged to forget everything, in the hope that this might ease his throbbing head. But that troublesome thing, memory, would assert itself, and his thoughts would travel back to the home he had left, and the sorrowing ones in it, and--perhaps it was owing to the weak state of his system--the tears forced themselves from underneath his eyelids, and rolled down his cheeks, But what is the good of thinking about these things? he mentally asked, and so he impatiently brushed the tears away.
Poor Harry had a hard time of it. He did not improve very rapidly, although he had the best of attention and
The pain from his wound, together with a low fever, racked his system until it was almost unbearable. His brain, however was unusually active, and over and over again did he recall his life since he left home, and each time his repugnance grew, and when he began to convalesce, and he realized there was hope for him, him, he determined to lead a different life as soon as he was able to be around again. He sincerely and deeply repeated of the past, and he felt the need of a savior, as he had never done before. He longed for some one to come and tell him of the Christ and of his saving power. He fully realized that he must have a helper, stronger than his will or his resolutions.
"One morning, when Harry was getting a little more strength, there hobbled over to his bedside a crippled young man, who supported himself upon crutches. His body was distorted, and his legs were drawn up and twisted in a sad manner; but his face was bright and cheerful and intelligent, and his shoulders, arms, and
"Well, friend," said this odd mixture of strength and weakness, as he seated himself slowly and cautiously by the bed "Well, friend, how goes the world with you?"
"I'm sure I don't know," replied Harry, drearily. "I haven't been caring much about the world lately. I ain't in much of a hurry to care either. There'll be time enough when I get out in it again."
"Time enough! Time enough! Yes, that's the cry," said the young man. "That's what has caused more misery in the world than anything else; it's a rope that has lost many a soul forever."
Harry turned away impatiently. He did not want to hear.
"Of course you don't want to hear me talk that way," said the lame man bluntly, divining his thought. "I didn't suppose you did. But, let me tell you, young fellow, there's enough of that rotten rope left for you to lose your soul with. Will you turn your head away when you feel it snap, and find yourself dying, with nothing to hold on to,
Harry tried to be glad he was gone. He did not succeed as easily, however, in dismissing from his mind the words he had heard. Perhaps it was the odd, abrupt way in which they were spoken, that made them fasten themselves so tenaciously on his memory. Certainly he would have been angry had any one else spoken so plainly and unceremoniously to him. The sight of his body, telling such an eloquent tale of suffering, made it almost impossible for any one to be angry with Joel Piper. Harry presently found himself wondering about him, and wishing he would come back and talk to him again.
He did not come, and one day Harry found courage to ask the nurse, who was busied near him, to tell him the name of the lame young man who talked to him one day.
"Oh, do you mean Joel Piper?" she asked in return.
"I didn't know that was his name," replied Harry, looking amused.
"Yes, it is," replied the nurse. "It's an odd name, I know, but he is just as nice as he can be. He's had
"Wasn't he always that?" asked Harry, curiously.
"No, indeed, he wasn't. He was one of the wildest young men, and it was that which brought on the sickness--rheumatic fever--which twisted him up so. It was this illness too, that brought about his conversion; and now he likes to visit the hospitals and talk to all the young man he can find, and try to get them to turn about. He says he's trying to make up for lost time. Some think he's crazy, but he isn't--only eccentric."
"Does he come here often?" asked Harry.
"Well, sometimes he does," was the answer. "Would you like to see him again?"
"I wouldn't mind having a little talk with him," admitted Harry.
"I'll tell him," said the kind woman.
Joel came; but Harry could not tell from his manner whether he was pleased or not at his having expressed a desire to see him.
Now that he was there, what should he say? Harry asked this question, but no answer came.
But Joel seemed to understand all about the matter, and began right away:
"You've had a rough time, eh? Didn't expect it, now, did you, when you started out? Going to have a good time, enjoy yourself, and all that? Well, it's all right. You've had about enough of that sort of thing, I guess, You'd like to turn right about face now, and go back to your mother, perhaps?"
"Who told you I had a mother?" asked Harry, sharply.
"Nobody," was the calm rejoinder.
"How did you know?"
"I didn't know; I only guessed. Somehow or other, you look as if you had. Have you?"
"Yes, I have," groaned Harry, "and a sister too; but I came away and left them, and now I'm ashamed to go back."
"Well, if you're made of the right kind of stuff you'll go to work as soon as you're out of this, and fix things so you'll not be ashamed to go back," said Joel. "Between us," he went on, bending over and looking at Harry with one eye shut up tightly, "I've got a mother and sister too. I did pretty much as you did, only worse. I guess. I've been working hard to make a man
"To work!" exclaimed Harry, looking at the crooked figure pityingly. "What can you , do?"
"Do?" repeated Joel, raising his brows, and opening wide his eyes. "Look," and be held up his long slim fingers. "I can write beautifully," he continued, with the simplicity of a child. "And I'm a clerk in a large clock and jewelry establishment. A good kind friend who came to see me at the hospital when I was so ill, secured the situation for me. And if you mean to turn about sure enough, and no going back about it, I will try and get you taken on as a salesman."
Harry was completely won by Joel's plain, straight forward manner and hearty kindness, and gave his promise to turn over a new leaf. What is of more importance he kept the promise faithfully.
When Harry was discharged from the hospital, he looked quite different from what he did when he first entered it, or rather when he was carried there. He was worn almost to a shadow, it is true; but his sickness had taken from him the look of the outcast, and his intercourse with his new friend, and the hopes he had
He was clad in a suit that had been worn by Joel ere his body was so distorted by rheumatism. It was not a perfect fit, but it was clean and nest, and gave to Harry a very presentable air.
True to his promise, Joel tried and succeeded in getting the situation he spoke of for his young friend toward whom he had been strongly attracted.
Harry was also naturally smart and intelligent, and now that he had put off the shackles of the false friends with whom Satan had provided him, promised to do well in his new position. Joel was determined that through no fault of his should Harry fail. He never lost sight of him for any length of time. The two boarded at the same place, and Joel insisted on his accompanying him to church. They read, talked, and walked together, and as a natural consequence became much attached to each other.