Saved by Faith by Ian Maclaren
So you have agreed to accept seven-and-six-pence in the pound from
Hatchard?" Oxley said in his slow, quiet manner, as he smoked with his two
friends after luncheon at the Club. "I could not attend the meeting, but I
hear that the affairs showed badly."
"Yes, we took the sum he offered, and of course it would have done no good
to put him in the Bankruptcy Court, as far as the dividend is concerned:
very likely we should only have netted half-a-crown; but I had a good mind
to refuse a composition." And in his excitement Beazley established
himself for oratorical purposes on the hearthrug,—he had recently
taken to municipal politics.
"You mean that Hatchard has acted foolishly, and ought not to have got
into such a hole. I suppose you are right: Tommy was always a sanguine
"Sanguine has nothing to do with it, Oxley, and I fancy you know that
there's more than want of judgment at Hatchard's door. Of course the
longest-headed men in the corn trade may make a mistake and be caught by a
falling market, but that is no reason why a fellow should take in every
friend he could lay hands on. What do you say, Macfarlane?"
That most phlegmatic and silent of Scots never said anything unless speech
was absolutely necessary; and as the proposition that a man ought not to
cheat his friends was one no person could deny, Macfarlane gave no sign.
"I'm afraid that it is a rather bad case," Oxley admitted with reluctance,
"but I'm sorry for Tommy: when a man is at his wits' end he's apt to...
forget himself, in fact, and do things he would be the first to condemn at
other times. A man loses his moral presence of mind."
Macfarlane indicated, after consideration, his agreement.
"That sounds very fine, Oxley," burst in Beaz-ley, "but it's very
dangerous doctrine and would cover some curious transactions. Hatchard
knew quite well that when he was hopelessly bankrupt he ought not to have
borrowed a thousand from Macfarlane and you and five hundred from me: our
business losses were enough."
"Had none," murmured Macfarlane to himself.
"I was so angry," continued Beazley, "that I got hold of him afterwards in
Fenwick Street and gave him as sound a talking to as ever a man got in
this city: he'll not forget it in a hurry. You see he is a friend, and
that makes me sore."
"Can you give us an idea what you said?" inquired Oxley drily, while
Macfarlane showed that he was listening.
"Well, I said various things; but the gist was that his friends were
ashamed of him—not about the cash, you know, but about the conduct,
and that he was little better than a swindler: yes, I did."
Macfarlane smoked furiously.
"No, Oxley, he made no reply. Not one word of defence: he simply turned
round and walked away. I suppose you think that I ought not to have been
so hard on him?"
"Well, no doubt you did what seemed right, and Hatchard has not been quite
straight; but I now understand what I saw two hours ago, and what gave me
a shock. You favoured him with your mind about eleven, I should guess?
Yes: then at twelve he came out of a restaurant in Dale Street as if he
had been drinking. That is the first time Hatchard ever did that kind of
thing, I believe, but it will not be the last: his face was quite changed—half
woe-begone and half desperate."
"If Thomas takes to tasting"—Macfarlane was much moved—"it's
all over with him: he's such a soft-hearted chap."
"Nonsense, you're making too much of it; but I was a trifle sharp,
perhaps: he's been very provoking, and any other man would have said the
same except you two fellows, and the one of you is so charitable that he
would find an excuse for a pickpocket, and the other is so cannie that he
can't make up his mind to say anything."
After which there was a pause.
"Yes," began Oxley again, falling into ancient history, "he has gone off
form a bit—the best may do so at a time—but Tommy wasn't half
a bad fellow once: he got a study at Soundbergh before me, and he was very
decent with it, letting me do 'prep.' in it before exams.; and I never
counted him sidey, did you, B.?"
"I should think not; I'll say that for him at any rate, there wasn't one
scrap of humbug in Tommy: why, he was a prefect when I was in the fourth,
and he didn't mind although a chap 'ragged' and chaffed him; he was the
jolliest 'pre.' in the whole school. It was perhaps rather hard lines to
slang him to-day,—I half wish I hadn't."
"If Tommy got a grub-box from home every chap in Buttery's house knew,"—Oxley
was bent on reminiscences,—"it was shared round in three days, and
his raspberry jam was not to be despised. I hear him yet: 'All right, Ox.,
dig in, there's lots left' Now there's By les, who makes speeches about
hospitals: he was mean if you please."
"Mean ain't the word for Byles," and in his enthusiasm Freddie Beazley
dropped into school slang, which no public-schoolboy ever forgets, and
which lasts from generation to generation, like the speech of the Gypsies:
"Byles was a beastly gut, and a sneak too; why, for all his cheek now he
isn't fit to black Tommy's shoes. Tommy wasn't what you would call 'pie,'
but he was as straight as a die. I'd give ten pounds not to have called
him that word to-day." Freddie was breaking down.
"Poor old Tommy!" went on Oxley: "one never expected him to come such a
cropper; he was a good all-round man—cricket, football, sports,
Tommy did well for his house; he was a double-colour man."
"Do ye mind the ten miles, lads?" and Macfarlane chuckled.
"Rather," and Freddie could not sit still: "he did it in one hour twelve
minutes and was it fifteen seconds?"
"Thirteen and three-fifths seconds." Macfarlane spoke with decision.
"And he could have walked back to Buttery's, as if he had never run a
yard; but didn't the fellows carry him?"
"I had a leg myself." Macfarlane was growing loquacious.
"Yes, and he didn't swagger or brag about it,"—Oxley took up the
running,—"not he, but was just as civil as if he had won some
footling little race at the low-country schools, where they haven't a hill
within twenty miles, instead of running round Baughfell in the Soundbergh
"What did old Tommy do it for?" and Freddie Beazley almost wept at the
thought that the crack of Soundbergh had played foul: "it couldn't be
money; he was never selfish—as open-handed a chap as ever I saw."
"Wife and kids" answered Macfarlane, smoking thoughtfully.
"The Scot has it," said Oxley. "Tommy doesn't care one straw for himself,
but he wanted, I take it, to keep that dear little wife of his comfortable
and get a good education for his boys, and so he got deeper and deeper,
trying to retrieve himself for their sakes. Mind you, I don't defend him,
but that was his excuse; and now Tommy has gone under."
"Not if I can help it, boys," and Beazley's face flushed. "And I say, here
are three of us: why shouldn't we join and—and—tighten the
rope and haul Tommy on his feet again?" Macfarlane took the briar root out
of his mouth and regarded Freddie with admiration.
"We were all in the same house, and Tommy likes us, and we could do...
that sort of thing when he wouldn't take it from others; and I say, it
would be a jolly decent thing to do."
"You're all right, Freddie,"—Oxley was evidently pleased,—"and
we're with you" ("shoulder to shoulder," said Macfarlane, lighting his
pipe with ostentatious care). "Now the first step is to let Tommy know
that we have not turned our backs on him: my idea is that if he knows we
three are going to stand by him he'll not throw up the sponge."
"Look here," cried Beazley, "I'll go round this minute, and I'll beg his
pardon for what I said, and I'll tell him that we haven't forgotten the
old days among the hills, and that we know he's a white man, and... in
fact he'll take the cup yet."
"That will help mightily; and now let us make up our plans," said Oxley.
And that was how three men joined in a conspiracy for the business and
social and personal salvation of Thomas Hatchard.
"How late you are, Tom—eight o'clock—and how tired you look,
poor fellow! I've been thinking about you all day. Was it very trying this
morning, or were they nice? They ought to have been, for everybody must
know that it wasn't your fault."
"No, I don't think everybody could know that, Amy dear, for I don't know
it myself, and some men have good reason to know the opposite. Well, yes,
I was... rather sick at the meeting, and worse afterwards."
"Did they dare to insult you, Tom? If they had had one spark of
gentlemanly feeling they would have pitied you. Do you mean that they...
said things? Tell me, for I want to share every sorrow with you, darling."
"One man was very hard on me, and I didn't expect it from him—no, I
won't tell you his name, for he behaved very handsomely in the end.
Perhaps I didn't deserve all the sharp words, but I am sure I haven't
deserved any of the kind words that were said before the day was done. But
never mind about me just now: tell me how you got on. Wasn't it your
visiting day? did... any one call?"
"So you were thinking about me in all your troubles!"—his wife put
her arm round Hatch-ard's neck—"and you were afraid I should be
deserted because you were victimised by those speculators! Now confess."
"Well, you know, Amy, society is not very merciful, and I think women are
the crudest of all. What hits a man, if he is unfortunate, or... worse, is
that his poor wife is made to suffer. If her husband has done... I mean
has acted foolishly, well, say, has lost money, his wife is neglected and
cut and made to feel miserable. It's a beastly shame, and I was afraid
"I would be sitting all alone to-day, because we are poor. Do you know,
Tom, I was just a tiny bit nervous too, although I would not have told you
this morning for worlds. And now I have splendid news to give you: our
friends are as true as steel. Now answer a question, Tom, to see whether
you and I agree about the difference between acquaintances and friends.
Mention the names of the three families you would expect to stand by us in
"The Oxleys, of course, wife, and... I would have said the Beazleys, and,
let me see, yes, the Macfarlanes, although their manner doesn't allow them
to show what they feel. Am I right?"
"To a man (and woman), they all called today—the women, I mean: I
daresay the men called on you. And they all said the nicest things, and
what is best, they said the nicest things about you: yes, they did, and if
you doubt my word we shall separate... do you really think I would chaff
"Sit there, just where I can lay my head on your shoulder, and I shall
describe everything. It was half-past two when I began to watch the clock
and wonder whether any one would come: have other people had the same
feeling? About a quarter to three the bell rang, and my heart beat: who
would it be? It was nothing—a tax paper; and I began to think what I
would have done if the same thing had happened to one of our friends—how
I would have simply rushed along and been in the house the first decent
minute after lunch, and how I would..."
"I know you would, Pet, and that is why they did it to you. Well, drive
"Exactly at eight minutes to three—oh, I know the time to-day
without mistake—the door opened, and in came Mrs. Macfarlane; and do
you know what she did?"
"She didn't!" cried Hatchard—"not kissed you?"
"Yes, she did, and a real kiss; and she took me in her arms, and I saw
tears in her eyes, and—and... I cried for a minute; I couldn't help
it, and it was quite a comfort. She hadn't said a word all this time, and
that was just right, wasn't it?"
"I'll never say a word against the Scots' manner again," said Tom huskily.
"But she spoke quite beautifully afterwards, and told me of some trials no
one knows, which they had ten years ago, and how they had never loved one
another so much before. When reticent people give you their confidence it
touches your heart, and we used to think her voice harsh, and to laugh at
"God forgive me!" said Thomas: "I'm a fool."
"She said: 'You know how quiet Ronald is, and how he hardly ever gets
enthusiastic. Well, it would have done you good to have heard him speak
about Mr. Hatchard this morning. He said...'"
"Don't tell me, Amy—it... hurts; but I'm grateful all the same, and
will never forget it. And who came next?"
"Mrs. Oxley; and what do you think? We are to have their house at Hoylake
for August, so the chicks will have their holiday. Mr. Oxley has been
quite cast down, she says, about you, for he has such a respect——"
"It's good of them to think about the children, but never mind about me."
"You are very unfeeling, Tom, to stop me at the best bits, when I had
saved them up and committed them to memory: perhaps you would get vain,
however, and become quite superior. What do you think of your 'kindness.'
and your 'generosity,' and your 'popularity,' and your 'straightness'? You
are shivering: are you cold?"
"No, no; but you haven't told me if Mrs. Beazley was kind to you: did she
call between four and five?"
"Yes: how did you know the hour?"
"Oh, I.. guessed, because she... was last, wasn't she?"
"She apologised for being so late; indeed, she was afraid that she might
not get round at all, but I'm so glad she came, for no one was more
glowing about you: I saw, of course, that she was just repeating Mr.
Beazley's opinion, for every one can see how he admires...
"Tom, you are very ungrateful, and for a punishment I'll not tell you
another word. What is wrong? has any one injured you? Was it Mr. Beazley?"
"Beazley said kinder things in my office to me, in difficult circumstances
too, than I ever got from any man: some day, Amy, I'll tell you what he
said, but not now—I cannot—and he spent two hours canvassing
for business to start me as a corn broker, and he... got it."
"It could not be Mr. Oxley."
"Oxley has given me a cargo to dispose of, and I never had any of his
broking before; and he told me that some of my old friends were going
to... to... in fact, see me through this strait, speaking a good word for
me and putting things in my way.
"Yes, of course Macfarlane came to the office, and said nothing for
fifteen minutes: just gripped my hand and smoked, and then he rose, and as
he was leaving, he merely mentioned that Beazley and Oxley had become
securities for £5,000 at the bank; he is in it, too, you may be sure."
"How grateful we ought to be, Tom dear; and how proud I am of you!—for
it's your character has affected every person, because you are so
honourable and high-minded. Tom, something is wrong; oh, I can't bear it:
don't cry... you are overstrung... lie down on the couch, and I'll bathe
your forehead with eau de Cologne."
"No, I am not ill, and I don't deserve any petting; if you knew how mean I
have been you would never speak to me again. If they had scolded me I
would not have cared; but I can't bear their kindness.
"Amy, you must not send for the doctor, else you will put me to shame; my
mind is quite right, and it isn't overwork: it's... conscience: I am not
worthy to be your husband, or the friend of these men."
"You will break my heart if you talk in this way. You unworthy! when you
are the kindest, truest, noblest man in all the world—don't say a
word—and everybody thinks so, and you must let us judge. Now rest
here, and I'll get a nice little supper for you," and his wife kissed him
again and again.
"It's no use trying to undeceive her," Hatchard said to himself when she
was gone; "she believes in me, and those fellows believe in me—Freddie
more than anybody, after all he said; and please God they will not be
disappointed in the end."
"You've got here before me, Mac.," cried Freddie Beazley, bursting into
Oxley's private room, "and I simply scooted round. Oh, I say, you've
broken every bone in my hand, you great Scotch ruffian: take the ruler out
of his fist, Ox., for heaven's sake, or else he'll brain us.
"Ox., you old scoundrel, read that letter aloud. Mac wasn't a creditor—he
wishes he was this day—and he doesn't know it verbatim, and I'm not
sure about a word or two. Stand up, old man, and do the thing properly.
There now we're ready."
July 7, 1897.
"It will be in your recollection that in July, 1887, I was obliged to make
a composition with my creditors while trading as a corn merchant under the
style of Thomas Hatchard & Co., and that they were good enough to
accept the sum of seven shillings and sixpence in the pound.
"Immediately thereafter, as you may be aware, I began business as a corn
broker, and owing to the kind assistance of certain of my creditors and
other friends, have had considerable success.
"Having made a careful examination of my affairs, I find that I can now
afford to pay the balance of twelve shillings and sixpence which is
morally due to my creditors of 1887, and it affords me much personal
satisfaction to discharge this obligation.
"I therefore beg to enclose a cheque for the amount owing to you, with 5
per cent compound interest, and with sincere gratitude for your
consideration ten years ago.
"I have the honour to remain,
"Your obedient servant,
"Isn't that great, young gentlemen?" and Beazley took a turn round the
room: "it's the finest thing done in Liverpool in our time. Tommy has come
in again an easy first on the ten miles—just skipped round
Baughfell: there's nothing like the old school for rearing hardy fellows
with plenty of puff in them for a big hill."
"Thomas 'ill be a proud man the night," remarked Macfarlane, "and his wife
will be lifted."
"What about the Hatchard securities and encouragement company? isn't it a
booming concern, and aren't the three men lucky dogs who took founders'
shares? Oxley, old chap," and Freddie grew serious, "it was you who put
Tommy on his legs, and helped him on to this big thing."
"Nonsense! we all had a share in the idea; and now that I remember, it was
you, Beazley, who sang his praises that day till Macfarlane allowed his
pipe to go out, and I had to join the chorus. Isn't that so, Mac.?"
Macfarlane was understood to give judgment of strict impartiality—that
the one was as bad as another, and that he had been a victim in their
hands, but that the result had not been destructive of morality in
Liverpool, nor absolutely ruinous to the character of Thomas Hatchard,
beyond which nothing more could be said.
He offered the opinion on his own account that the achievement of Thomas
had been mighty.
"You can put your money on that, Mac.," and Beazley went off again: "to
pay up the balance of that composition and every private loan with
interest, compound too, is simply A1. T. H. has taken the cake. And didn't
he train for it, poor chap!
"No man enjoyed a good cigar more than Tommy—could not take him in
with bad tobacco. Well, I happen to know that he hasn't had one smoke
since July 7th, *87. Of course he could have had as much 'baccy as he
wanted; but no, it was a bit of the training—giving up every luxury,
"I wish I was Thomas the night," remarked Macfarlane. "He 'ill have a
"He rather liked a good lunch, and did justice to his grub, too,"
continued Beazley. "Well, for ten years he's taken his midday meal
standing, on milk and bread—not half bad all the same—at the
Milk-Pail in Fenwick Street, and he wouldn't allow himself a cup of tea.
You saw how he lived at Heswall, Oxley?"
"Yes, he found out that he could get a little house, with a bit of garden,
for forty pounds, taxes included, and so he settled there and cut the
whole concern here. There was one sitting-room for the children and
another for themselves, and the garden was the drawing-room; but I don't
believe Hatchard was ever happier, and Mrs. Hatchard has turned out a
"Tommy played up well," broke in Beazley, "and he never missed a chance.
There has not been any brokerage lying loose in the corn market these ten
years, you bet; and what he got he did well. Do you hear that MacConnell
of Chicago has given him his work to do? Tommy is steaming down the
deep-water channel now, full speed. What's to be done? that's the
question. We simply must celebrate."
"Well," replied Oxley, "I suppose the creditors will be giving him a
dinner at the Adelphi and that sort of thing. But there's something
Hatchard would like far better than fifty dinners. He has never entered
the corn exchange since his failure, and I know he never would till he
could look every man in the face. What do you say to ask Barnabas
Greatheart to call at his office and take him?"
"Oxley, you are inspired, and ought to take to politics: it's just the
thing Greatheart would like to do, and it will please the men
tremendously. I bet you a new hat there will be a cheer, and I see them
shaking hands with Tommy: it will touch up two or three scallawags on the
raw first-rate, too, who have made half a dozen compositions in their
time. But what about ourselves, Ox.?"
"Aye," said Macfarlane; "we're not common shareholders in this concern:
we're founders, that's what we are."
"I was thinking before you men came in that a nice piece of silver for
their dinner-table—they will come up to town now—say a bowl
with some little inscription on it..."
"The very thing: we'll have it this afternoon; and Ox., you draw up the
screed, but for my sake, as well as Tommy's, put in something about
honour, and, old fellow, let it be strong; it'll go down to his boys, and
be worth a fortune to them, for it will remind them that their father was
an honest man."
It is not needful to describe, because everybody in the Liverpool Corn
Market knows, how Barnabas Greatheart came into the room arm in arm with
Thomas Hatchard, and how every single man shook hands with Thomas because
he had gone beyond the law and done a noble deed, and was a credit to the
corn business; and how Tommy tried to return thanks for his health a week
after at the Adelphi, and broke down utterly, but not before he had
explained that he wasn't at all the good man they thought him, but that he
happened to have had better friends than most men.
What is not known is that on the very evening of the great day a special
messenger brought over to the cottage at Heswall a parcel, which, being
opened, contained a massive silver bowl, with this inscription:—
MRS. THOMAS HATCHARD,
From Three Friends,
In Admiration of her Husband's
Business Integrity and Stainless Honour.
July 7, 1897.
and that on the first anniversary of the great day the Hatchards gave a
dinner-party in their new house at Mossley Hill, where six guests were
present, whose names can be easily supplied, and the bowl, filled with
roses, stood in the centre of the table so that all could read the writing
thereon; that without any direct allusion to the circumstances, or any
violation of good taste, the bowl came into conversation eleven times:
once in praise of the roses; once in discussion of the pattern (Queen
Anne); once with reference to the pedestal of Irish bog-oak; once in
verification of the fact that "honour" was spelt with a "u" (it was
Freddie who, with much ingenuity, turned the search-light on honour); and
seven times in ways too subtle and fleeting for detection. When the ladies
left the room there was a look between the host and his wife as he held
the door; and when the other men's cigars were fully lit, Tommy made and
finished, with some pauses, a speech which may not sound very eloquent on
paper, but which the audience will never forget "There's a text somewhere
in the Bible," he said, pretending that his cigar was not drawing—"which
runs something like this, 'saved by faith,' and when I look at that bowl I
remember that I... was saved that way; but it wasn't... my faith: it was
the faith... of you three men."