Henry's forge was cold, by this time; so he struck work, and spent the afternoon in securing his two rooms with the Bramah locks. He also took Cheetham's advice in another particular. Instead of walking home, he took a cab, and got the man to drive rapidly to a certain alley. There he left the cab, ran down the alley, and turned a corner, and went home round about. He doubled like a hare, and dodged like a criminal evading justice.
But the next morning he felt a pleasing sense of security when he opened his forge-room with the Bramah key, and found no letters nor threats of any kind had been able to penetrate.
Moreover, all this time you will understand he was visiting "Woodbine Cottage" twice a week, and carving Grace Carden's bust.
Those delightful hours did much to compensate him for his troubles in the town, and were even of some service to him in training him to fence with the trades of Hillsborough: for at "Woodbine Villa" he had to keep an ardent passion within the strict bounds of reverence, and in the town he had constantly to curb another passion, wrath, and keep it within the bounds of prudence. These were kindred exercises of self-restraint, and taught him self-government beyond his years. But what he benefited most by, after all, was the direct and calming effect upon his agitated heart, and irritated nerves, that preceded, and accompanied, and followed these sweet, tranquilizing visits. They were soft, solacing, and soothing; they were periodical and certain, he could count on leaving his cares and worries, twice every week, at the door of that dear villa; and, when he took them up again, they were no longer the same; heavenly balm had been shed over them, and over his boiling blood.
One Saturday he heard, by a side-wind, that the Unions at a general meeting had debated his case, and there had been some violent speeches, and no decision come to; but the majority adverse to him. This discouraged him sadly, and his yearning heart turned all the more toward his haven of rest, and the hours, few but blissful, that awaited him.
About 11 o'clock, that same day, the postman brought him a letter, so vilely addressed, that it had been taken to two or three places, on speculation, before it reached its destination.
Little saw at once it was another anonymous communication. But he was getting callous to these missives, and he even took it with a certain degree of satisfaction. "Well done, Bramah! Obliged to send their venom by post now." This was the feeling uppermost in his mind. In short, he opened the letter with as much contempt as anger.
But he had no sooner read the foul scrawl, than his heart died within him.