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CATHARINE'S PERIL;OR,MQe Little Russian irlI Loast in a forest.A TALE FOUNDED ON FACT.By MRS. M. E. BEWSHER,Atthor of The Little Ballet-Girl, The Gifsy's Secret,' etc. et.AND OTHER STORIES.Sabtntt ESonsanb.EDINBURGH:OLIPIIANT, ANDERSON, & FERRIER(LATE WILLIAM OLIPHANT & CO.).8 8I.
MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.
CONTENTS.PAGECATIIARINE'S PERIL; OR, THE LITTLE RUSSIAN GIRLLOST IN A FOREST, 5THE SHABBY SURTOUT, 27JANE HILL, .. 45
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CATHARINE'S PERIL;OR,THE LITTLE RUSSIAN GIRL LOST IN A FOREST.---CHAPTER I.IN the year 1812, Napoleon Buonaparte, afterconquering nearly the whole of Europe,invaded Russia, and led his victorious army toMoscow, the ancient capital of that country.Soon this city, with its winding streets, its hills,its splendid churches, its fine houses and cottagesso mixed together, its corn-fields, woods, andgardens, as well as the Kremlin, consisting ofseveral churches, palaces, and halls collected onthe top of a hill and surrounded by walls, fellinto the power of the French.5
6 Catharine's Peril; or,Rostopchin, the Governor, impelled by bigotedpatriotism, resolved to set fire to the city con-fided to him by his imperial master Alexander,the Czar of all the Russias.It was truly a heart-rending sight to witnessthe misfortunes of the inhabitants, forced to quittheir homes to escape a horrible death.The provisions stored in the granaries andother places were consumed in the flames.The coriflagration lasted about ten days, untilalmost the whole of Moscow was laid in ashes;The main body of the Russian army had retiredtowards Tula, and taken up a strong positionon the road leading towards that town, in orderto prevent the French from advancing intothe interior of the- country. Thus they werehemming them in on all sides, only leavingthem the choice of being starved or burned, orreturning by the way they had come, andwintering in Poland. This latter expedientmight have saved the army had it been adoptedin time.The terrible Cossacks, first-rate riders, withlances ten feet long, and a musket slung over
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 7their right shoulder, were swarming around every-where, and annoying the French outposts, cuttingoff the foraging parties, and hindering them intheir attempt to penetrate into the south ofRussia, where they would have found plenty ofprovisions for the winter.Winter was fast coming on-a Russian winter,in all its bitter severity. The snow began to fall,the rivers to freeze, and crows and other birdsdied by hundreds.God had sent His frost, and of the 400,000enemies who had entered Russia, but very fewlived to behold again their native land.Amid the confusion and panic that prevailedin the burning city, Catharine Somoff, the littledaughter of a Russian merchant, had beenPseparated from her relations and friends, andto her dismay found herself alone in thecrowd.The weather was intensely cold. Forsakenand half frozen, the child wandered up anddown, not knowing where to find shelter. Bothher parents had mysteriously disappeared, andit seemed as if no one would claim her. So
8 Catharine's Peril; or,passed the long hours of the night; and at thedawn of day, Catharine, worn out by fatigue,cold, and hunger, fell down in front of a churchwhich the flames had not yet reached, hoping togo to sleep.Sleep soon comes to childhood; and, withoutdoubt, this poor child, exposed to such a tem-perature, would never have unclosed her eyesany more in this world, had not a sutler's wifeprovidentially come to fix up her little provisionmarket near this church, and, noticing the lonelyone, felt womanly compassion for the desolate,unprotected Catharine. This humane French-woman took all possible care of her-indeed,treated her as her own child, and by degreesthe young Muscovite, thus rescued from an un-timely death, grew to love her protectress withall the strength of her affectionate nature.Meantime the French army had commencedits retreat, and the sutler's wife had to leaveMoscow.Were M. Somoff and his wife alive, or hadthey perished, like numbers of their fellow-countrymen, by famine or by fire, or amid the
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 9numerous ills of a captured city? This was aproblem not to be solved for many long years.Nothing could be heard of them, so Catharineleft her native place with her kind friend andprotectress, the sutler's wife.The snow was very deep, and every puff ofwind increased the inconvenience of travelling;in some parts the snow-drifts were so bad thatthe poor horses sank into them till nothing buttheir heads was to be seen. The days wereshort, and the fugitives made but little progress,although they were often obliged to march dur-ing the night. It was owing to this that so manyunhappy creatures wandered from their regi-ments. The weather was unusually cold. Eventhose who were fortunate enough to have on a*complete dress of coarse cloth lined with sheep-skin, the wool left on and worn next the body,and over all a large cloth skubb lined with wolf-skin, the fur inside, and a warm lamb-skin cap,their feet encased in boots lined with fur, foundtheir sufferings very great. What must it havebeen for those unfortunates who had but tat-tered pelisses and sheep-skins half burnt ?-how
10 Catharine's Peril; or,fared they? They were perishing from ex-posure, hunger, and cold. Wretched men wereseen fighting over a morsel of dry bread, orbitterly disputing with each other for a littlestraw, or a piece of horse-flesh, which they wereattempting to divide.It is difficult to imagine what the tenderly-nurtured Catharine Somoff had to undergo inthis perilous journey. The hills and forestsaround presented only some white, indistinctmasses, scarcely visible through the thick fog.At a short distance before them lay the fatalriver the Beresina, the scene of untold horrors,which, now half-frozen, forced its way throughthe ice that impeded its progress. The twobridges were so completely choked up by thecrowds of people, horsemen, foot-soldiers, and-fugitives, that they broke down. Then begana frightful scene, for the bodies of dead anddying men and horses so encumbered the way,that many poor fellows, struggling with theagonies of death, caught hold of those whomounted over them; but these kicked themwith violence to disengage themselves, treading
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 1thrcm under foot. Thousands of victims fellinto the waves and were drowned.The reader will not be surprised to hear thatat this awful time the little Catharine wasseparated from her protectress, who was pro-bably drowned or killed, or else imagined thechild to be engulfed in the waters of the fatalriver. At all events, the Russian child andthe sutler's wife never met again in this world'There is a powerUnseen, that rules th' illimitable world-That guides its motions, from the brightest starTo the least dust of this sin-tainted mould ;While man, who madly deems himself the lordOf all, is nought but weakness and dependence.This sacred truth, by sure experience taught,Thou must have learnt, when, wandering all alone,Each bird, each insect, flitting through the sky,Was more sufficient for itself than thou.'eta
CHAPTER II.IN spite of all obstacles, Catharine managedto cross over one of the bridges to the op-posite side of the Beresina, and then the poorchild came on with a detachment of the Frencharmy as far as Poland. Many of her companionsperished of exposure and want; others were loston the way; some lay down from sheer exhaus-tion, or to try to sleep, and, ignorant of the hourof march, on awaking found themselves in thepower of the enemy.The sick and the wounded anxiously lookedaround for some humane friend to help them,but their cries were lost in the air. No one hadleisure to attend to his dearest friend-self-preservation, the first law of nature, absorbedevery thought.Under these distressing circumstances, it so12
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 13happened that the friendless little Russian girlfound herself quite alone, forsaken in the midstof a large forest, where wolves and even bearswere frequently seen.The poor child, half-dead with cold, hunger,and fear, the snow nearly up to her knees, sawere long, to her intense horror, a savage bearapproaching; and Catharine, making a franticeffort to escape, found her limbs so benumbedand her weakness so great that she could notmove.The bear was coming nearer, preparing toattack her, when Catharine, in mortal fright,uttered a piercing scream, imploring help.Thanks to a merciful Providence, at the pre-cise moment that the savage bear was preparingto attack her, a shot was fired, and the bear felldead at the feet of the astonished child.The'stranger, when he came to the spot whereCatharine was still cowering, trembling withfright, looked with an eye of pity on the lonelylittle creature whose safety had been so wonder-fully entrusted to him.He proved to be a Polish lord named Bare-
14 Catharine's Peril; or,zewski, and taking some bread, cpid meat, andwine out of his hunting-pouch, he gave themto Catharine, who soon felt better for therefreshment she so much needed, and cheeredby the unexpected kindness of the gentleman,who now took her hand to lead her to his castle,at some little distance.The countess received the poor outcast withmuch tenderness, and in a short time the youngMuscovite was able to relate all she knew of herinteresting and eventful history. The noblePole and his lady were moved to tears byCatharine's recital of her sufferings and thehorrors she had witnessed on the road; but,thanks to their compassionate sympathy andkindness, she soon ceased to think of what shehad undergone, and was capable of appreciatingthe comforts and blessings now surroundingher;Several years passed, bringing no intelligenceof Catharine's parents; meanwhile, she grew inwisdom and in loveliness of mind and person,and no expense was spared to make her anelegant and accomplished young lady. She had
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 15attained her sixteenth year when an importantevent took place.On the anniversary of the Russian child'swonderful and providential deliverance from afrightful death, it was customary each year tohave a grand feast at the Castle, when the gentleand beloved Catharine Somoff would relateanew her thrilling history, and review the kind-ness shown her by her generous protectors, wholooked upon her in every respect astheirown child.The season had come round once again, andshe was in the middle of her tale, when a gunwas heard at a short distance from the Castle.The weather was very stormy; the wind blewviolently, the snow fell in large flakes, darkeningthe sky; it was almost impossible to see a yardbefore one.'Doubtless it is some lost traveller imploringassistance, or perhaps being attacked by wildbeasts, so numerous in the forest. It is impos-sible to be hunting or shooting merely for pleas-ure in this dreadful weather,' exclaimed CountBarezewski, giving orders for his men to providetorches and other needful apparatus, and come
16 Catharine's Peril; or,with him to find out what was amiss. They setoff in the direction of the forest whence thereport of the gun had proceeded-the identi-cal spot where Catharine Somoff had beenthreatened by the bear some years ago. Greatanxiety was felt at the Castle during the hourthat passed before the brave Barezewski ap-peared, followed by his men, who bore the bodyof a bleeding Russian on a litter.Catharine hastened to look at her fellow-countryman, and then expressed a wish to dresshis wound. The stranger was soon restored toconsciousness by the humane attentions of hishosts, and able to express his gratitude, as wellas mention a few particulars of his adventureson this wintry day.He said: 'I am a Muscovite merchant onmy way to Warsaw. Before leaving this part, Iwished to go and see a friend living at somelittle distance. I took my gun, and walked tohis castle, where I was belated. The snow fellin large flakes; I lost my path. In vain I soughtthe proper road, when, noticing two men comingin my direction. I hastened to ask them to put
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 17me in the right way. I did not mistrust themthe least in the world, and was patiently awaitingtheir reply, when suddenly both these rascalsrushed upon me, throwing me to the ground,and robbed me of the small sum of money I hadin my purse. I uttered a cry; then one of them,evidently intending to kill me, pointed his gunat my heart, and fired.'All this time Catharine had kept her eyesintently fixed upon the stranger's counten-ance; she seemed to recall some well-knownfeatures, without being able to remember whereshe had seen them. Her heart beat violently,and her interest in the new-comer becamegreater every moment; indeed, her feelingsappeared to be excited in an unaccountablemanner. Count Barezewski begged his guestto give him a few details of the terrible fire atMoscow, which had caused so much miseryand distress to both Russians and French. TheRussian seemed to feel a very great disinclina-tion to comply with his host's request; however,when he reflected upon the hospitality and kind-ness he was receiving, he knew not how to re-B
18 Catharine's Peril; or,fuse. His voice betrayed excessive emotion ashe described the sad sight of this immense con-flagration; but as soon as he came to his ownprivate misfortunes, he burst into tears, andwith a deep-drawn sigh exclaimed:'Alas! this awful fire not only deprived us ofa great part of our fortune, but, far worse, of herwho formed our chief joy, our cherished daughter.Amid the frightful panic that prevailed, whilstmy wife and I endeavoured to save some of ourmost valuable effects from the rage of the de-vouring element, we lost our only child, thenin her seventh year. Her nurse had taken herfor safety to a house situated in a by-streetoccupied by a friend of ours, where the fire hadnot yet reached; but both the child and thenurse disappeared, and since this melancholycatastrophe all our numerous and anxious in-quiries respecting them have proved utterlyfruitless. Probably they were killed by a fall-ing edifice, and so buried in its ruins; at least,this is my opinion, for my dear wife still hasthe hope of again beholding our long-lost butdearly cherished child.'
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 19Catharine, who had listened with the mostheartfelt interest to this touching recital, couldnot restrain her emotions any longer. She threwherself on the stranger's neck, exclaiming,'My father, my dear father!'It was a most affecting moment. We willnot attempt to depict the joy and the thank-fulness that filled the hearts of both parent andchild. Let our young readers try to imaginethemselves in Catharine's situation, or else in herfather's; then only can they enter into the realsentiments that overpowered them both. Howpleasure and pain are intermingled in this life !Catharine's delight at being re-united to herdear father was undoubtedly great, but sorrowat the prospect of leaving friends like the Countand Countess proved a trial to the affectionateand grateful girl.'Then happy those, since each must drawHis share of pleasure, share of pain;Then happy those, belov'd of Heaven,To whom the mingled cup is given,Whose lenient sorrows find relief,Whose joys are chastened by their grief.'
CHAPTER III.W HEN the first excitement of this unex-pected meeting had somewhat subsided,Catharine, in her turn, told of the wondrous andprovidential dealings to which she was indebtedfor her preservation amid countless perils.The good sutler's wife was not forgotten inthis extraordinary account; and with what sen-sitiveness and touching expressions of gratitudeshe disclosed to her attentive listener the in-numerable acts of kindness she had received allthese years from the noble Polish lord and hislady, who had loaded her with constant benefits,and had in every respect treated her as their ownchild.In a few days Catharine's father had quiterecovered from the effects of his wound. His20
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 21business required attention, and he was impa-tient to restore his beloved child to her mother'sarms, so father and daughter bade adieu to thePolish Count and Countess, but not before as-suring them that their gratitude would nevercease as long as they lived.M. Somoff and his long-lost Catharine re-turned to Moscow, where they were welcomedwith surprise and joy by the delighted mother,who forgot all her sorrows when once more em-bracing her child, who had been lost to her forso many long years.Very soon the young Russian's marvellous"history became known. She was asked in mar-riage by an officer holding high rank in thearmy, and in due time she became his wife.Ten years passed.Great changes had taken place on the Conti-nent of Europe. Poland had proclaimed its in-dependence, and Nicholas, the Emperor of allthe Russias, had an immense army in the field torepress the efforts of this brave but most unfor-tunate nation.The horrors that were perpetrated, and the
22 Catkarine's Peril; or,sad issue of this too unequal warfare, are wellknown.Catharine's husband had taken part in thiscampaign, and she had followed him to thecamp.We will not stop to describe the heartrendingscenes connected with this war, but merelyinform the reader that Warsaw was taken byassault; and in this is included a whole chapterof misery. On this fatal day many thousandPoles as well as Russians lost their lives. Inthe course of the evening after the battle, thesuperior officers of the triumphant army wentto inspect the scene of the late bloody combat,where heaps of dead and dying were lying inconfusion, for there might be seen the victor andthe vanquished side by side.Moved by charity, touched with compassionfor the fate of those to whom fortune had beenso unpropitious, Catharine's husband sent allwho still retained a breath of life to the hos-pitals and ambulances. He was just on thepoint of leaving this desolate spot, when, cast-ing his eye on a heap of corpses being covered
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 23over with earth, he noticed a Polish officer ofhigh rank, decorated with numerous crosses andmedals. He thought he saw some signs of ani-mation, so he had him removed, and carefullyconveyed to the house in which Catharine thenwas. Once there, every possible care was be-stowed upon him. By degrees he recoveredfrom his lethargy, and looked around theroom.Catharine was sitting at his bedside. Sud-denly she uttered a cry: she had recognisedthe Polish lord Barezewski, her preserver andbenefactor.The Count recovered from his wounds, buthe had only escaped one peril to fall into an-other even more terrible; his name was on thelist of proscribed persons, and the mildest punish-ment for this in Russia nmeans degradation andexile to Siberia.Catharine rio sooner discovered the fresh mis-fortune impending over the noble Pole than shedetermined to risk everything, and obtain anaudience of the Czar Nicholas, when, fallingbefore him, she embraced his knees, and with
24 Catharine's Peril; or,tears implored him to accord the pardon of hergenerous protector, Barezewski.Nicholas, much touched by her gratitude andher earnest entreaties on behalf of the Polishlord, graciously granted his pardon.Perhaps some of my readers may thinkCatharine need not have been so frightened atwhat she had to do in seeking an interview withthe Emperor; but in our highly-favoured landwe can scarcely enter into her feelings, for inRussia the sovereign is all-powerful, and, especi-ally in past days, political offenders, or thosetaking their part in any way, were punished withthe greatest severity.I will tell you what happened during the reignof the Empress Elizabeth to the most beautifuland delicately nurtured lady at the court ofRussia, because, poor creature, she had themisfortune to offend her imperial mistress. Shewas condemned to the knout, a fearful instrumentof punishment made of a strip of hide, which iswhizzed through the air by the hangman on thebare back and neck of the hapless victim, andeach time it tears away a narrow strip of skin
The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest. 25from the neck along the back. These blowswere repeated until the entire skin of the lady'sback hung in rags; then this woman's tonguewas plucked out by the roots, and she was atonce sent off to Siberia.What does 'sent to Siberia' imply? Worse,far, far worse than any criminal, however vileand hardened, endures in our beloved country.We frequently hear of persons being condemnedto penal punishment for many years, or even forlife; but this is absolutely nothing compared tobeing exiled to Siberia, a place where the crimi-nals of the Russian empire, and persons suspectedof intrigues, are often sent without even know-ing the cause of their banishment.A faint idea of what the poor unfortunateexiles have to suffer may be gleaned from thedescription which follows:-' Barren and rockymountains, covered with eternal snows, wasteuncultivated plains, where, in the hottest days ofthe year, little more than the surface of theground is thawed, alternate with large rivers, theicy waves of which, rolling sullenly along, havenever watered a meadow or seen a flower expand.
26 Catiarines Peril.The Government supplies some of-the exileswith food, very poor and very scanty; thosewhom it abandons subsist on what they obtainby hunting. The greater number of these hap-less beings reside in the villages which borderthe river from Tobolsk to the boundaries ofTschimska; others are dispersed in huts throughthe plains. For these unfortunates not a singlehappy day exists.'To such a state of exile and misery would thenoble Polish lord have been reduced if Nicholashad not granted Catharine's petition. This taleshows how the eye of a tender and watchfulFather is ever over the young and unprotected.How true are these beautiful words:'No earthly father loves like Thee;No mother, e'er so mild,Bears and forbeans as Thou hast doneWith me, Thy sinful child.'
THE SHABBY SURTOUT.'r
My reader, need you ever say,With Titus, I have lost a day,'When right, and left, and all around,God's poor and needy ones are found 728
THE SHABBY SURTOUT.-4--I HAD taken a place on the top of one ofthe coaches which ran between Edinburghand Glasgow, for the purpose of commencing ashort tour in the Highlands of Scotland. Itwas in the month of June, a season whentravellers of various descriptions flock towardsthe Modern Athens, and thence betake them-selves to the northern or western counties, astheir business or fancy leads. As we rattledalong Princes Street, I had leisure to surveymy fellow-travellers. Immediately opposite tome sat two dandies of the first water, dressed inwhite greatcoats and Belcher handkerchiefs, andeach with a cigar in his mouth, which he puffedaway with marvellous self-complacency. Be-29 A
,30 The Shabby Surtout.side me sat a modest and comely young womanin a widow's dress, and with an infant aboutnine months old in her arms. The appearanceof this youthful mourner and her baby indi-cated that they belonged to the working classof society; and though the dandies occasionallycast a rude glance at the mother, the look of calmand settled sorrow which she invariably at suchtimes cast upon her child seemed to touch eventhem, and to disarm their coarseness. On theother side of the widow sat a young gentlemanof plain yet prepossessing exterior, who seemedespecially to attract the notice of the dandies.His surtout was not absolutely threadbare, butit had evidently seen more than one season;and I could perceive many contemptuous looksthrown upon it by the gentlemen in the Belcherhandkerchiefs. The young gentleman carried asmall portmanteau in his hand, so small, in-deed, that it could not possibly have containedmore than a change of linen. This article alsoappeared to arrest the eyes of the sprigs offashion opposite, whose wardrobes, in all proba-bility, were more voluminous: whether they
The Shabby Surtout. 31were paid for or not, might be another ques-tion.The coach having stopped at the village ofCorstorphine, for the purpose of taking up aninside passenger, the guard, observing that theyoung gentleman carried his portmanteau in hishand, asked leave to put it into the boot, to whichhe immediately assented. 'Put it fairly in thecentre, guard,' said one of the dandies. Whyso, Tom ?' inquired his companion. 'It maycapsize the coach,' rejoined the first,-a sally atwhich both indulged in a burst of laughter, butof which the owner of the portmanteau, thoughthe blood mounted slightly into his cheek, tookno notice whatever.". The morning being fine at our first setting out,the ride was peculiarly pleasant. The dandiestalked of horses and dogs, and fowling-piecesand percussion-caps, every now and then men-tioning the names of Lord John and Sir Harry,as if their acquaintance lay among the greatones of the land. Once or twice I thought Isaw an expression of contempt in the counten-ance of the young gentleman in the surtout, but
32 The Shabby Surtout.in this I might be mistaken. His attention wasevidently most directed to the mourner besidehim, with whom he appeared anxious -to get intoconversation, but to lack for a time a favourableopportunity.While we were changing horses at the littlevillage of Uphall, an aged beggar approached,and held out his hat for alms. The dandieslooked at him with scorn. I gave him a fewhalfpence; and the young widow, poor as sheseemed, was about to do the same, when theyoung gentleman in the surtout laid his handgently on her arm, and dropping a half-crowninto the beggar's hat, made a sign for him todepart. The dandies looked at each other.' Showing off, Jack,' said the one. 'Ay, ay, suc-cessful at our last benefit, you know,' rejoinedthe other; and both again burst into a horselaugh. At this allusion to his supposed profes-sion, the blood again mounted into the younggentleman's cheek; but it was only for a moment,and he continued silent.We had not left Uphall many miles behind us,when the wind began to rise, and the gathering
The Shabby Surtout. 33clouds indicated an approaching shower. Thedandies began to prepare their umbrellas; andthe young gentleman in the surtout, surveyingthe dress of the widow, and perceiving that shewas but indifferently provided against a changeof weather, inquired of the guard if the coachwas full inside. Being answered in the affirma-tive, he addressed the mourner in a tone of sym-pathy, told her that there was every appearanceof a smart shower, expressed his regret thatshe could not be taken into the coach, and con-cluded by offering her the use of his cloak. 'Itwill protect you so far,' said he, 'and, at allevents, it will protect the baby.' The widowthanked him in a modest and respectful manner,and said that for the sake of her infant sheshould be glad to have the cloak, if he wouldnot suffer from the want of it himself. Heassured her that he should not, being accus-tomed to all kinds of weather. 'His surtoutwon't spoil,' said one of the dandies, in a voiceof affected tenderness; and besides, my dear,the cloak will hold you both.' The widowblushed; and the young gentleman, turningC
34 The Shabby Surtout.quickly round, addressed the speaker in a toneof dignity which I shall never forget. 'I amnot naturally quarrelsome, sir, but yet it isquite possible you may provoke me too far.'Both the exquisites immediately turned as paleas death, shrank in spite of themselves intotheir natural insignificance, and scarcely openedtheir lips, even to each other, during the re-mainder of the journey.In the meantime the young gentleman, withthe same politeness and delicacy as if he hadbeen assisting a lady of quality with her shawl,proceeded to wrap the widow and her baby in hiscloak. He had hardly accomplished this whena smart shower of rain, mingled with hail, comrmenced. Being myself provided with a cloak,the cape of which was sufficiently large to en-velope and protect my head, I offered the younggentleman my umbrella, which he readily ac-cepted, but held it, as I remarked, in a mannerbetter calculated to defend the widow thanhimself.When we reached West Craigs Inn, thesecond stage from Edinburgh, the rain had
The Shabby Surtout. 35ceased; and the young gentleman, politely re-turning me my umbrella, began to relieve thewidow of his now dripping cloak, which he shookover the side of the coach, and afterwards hungon the rail to dry. Then turning to the widow,he inquired if she would take any refreshment;and upon her answering in the negative, he pro-ceeded to enter into conversation with her, asfollows:-'Do you travel far on this road, ma'am ?''About sixteen miles farther, sir. I leavethe coach six miles on the other side of Air-drie.''Do your friends dwell thereabouts ?''Yes, sir, they do. Indeed, I am on the wayhome to my father's house.'' In affliction, I fear ?''Yes, sir,' said the poor young woman, rais-ing her handkerchief to her eyes, and sobbingaudibly; I am returning to him a disconsolatewidow, after a short absence of two years.''Is your father in good circumstances ?''He will never suffer me or my baby to want,sir, while he has strength to labour for us; but
36 The Shabby Surtout.he is himself in poverty, a day-labourer on theestate of the Earl of Hyndford.'At the mention of that nobleman's name, theyoung gentleman coloured a little, but it wasevident that his emotion was not of an unpleasantnature. 'What is your father's name ?' said he.'James Anderson, sir.''And his residence?''Blinkbonny.''Well, I trust that, though desolate as far asthis world is concerned, you know something ofHim who is the Father of the fatherless and theJudge of the widow. If so, your Maker is yourhusband, and the Lord of Hosts is His name.''Oh, yes, sir; I bless God that, through a piousparent's care, I know something of the power ofdivine grace and the consolations of the gospel.My husband, too, though but a tradesman, wasa man who feared God above many.''The remembrance of that must tend muchto alleviate your sorrow.''It does indeed, sir, at times; but at othertimes I am ready to sink. My father's povertyand advancing age, my baby's helplessness, and
The Shabby Surtout. 37my own delicate health, are frequently too muchfor my feeble faith.'' Trust in God, and He will provide for you;be assured He will.'By this time the coach was again in motion,and though the conversation continued for sometime, the noise of the wheels prevented me fromhearing it distinctly. I could see the dandies,however, exchange expressive looks with oneanother; and at one time the more forward ofthe two whispered something to his companion,in which the words 'Methodist parson' alonewere audible.At Airdrie nothing particular occurred; butwhen we had got about half-way between thattown and Glasgow, we arrived at a cross-road,where the widow expressed a wish to be setdown. The young gentleman therefore desiredthe driver to stop, and, springing himself fromthe'coach, took the infant from her arms, andthen, along with the guard, assisted her to de-scend. 'May God reward you,' said she, as hereturned the baby to her, 'for your kindness tothe widow and the fatherless this day!'A2
38 The Shabby Surtout.'And may He bless you,' replied hei 'withall spiritual consolation in Christ Jesus!'So saying, he slipped something into herhand. The widow opened it instinctively; Isaw two sovereigns glitter on her palm. Shedropped a tear upon the money, and turnedround to thank her benefactor, but he hadalready resumed his seat upon the coach. Shecast towards him an eloquent and grateful look,pressed her infant convulsively to her bosom, andwalked hurriedly away.No other passenger wishing to alight at thesame place, we were soon again in rapid motiontowards the great emporium of the West ofScotland. Not a word was spoken. Theyoung gentleman sat with his arms crossedupon his breast, and, if I might judge by theexpression of his fine countenance, was evi-dently revolving some scheme of benevolencein his mind. The dandies regarded him withblank amazement. They also had seen thegold in the poor widow's hand, and seemed tothink that there was more under that shabbysurtout than their 'puppy brains'were able to
The Shabby Surtout. 39conjecture. That in this they were right wasspeedily made manifest.When we had entered Glasgow, and were ap-proaching the Buck's Head-the inn at whichour conveyance was to stop-an open travelling-carriage, drawn by four beautiful grey horses,drove up in an opposite direction. The eleganceof this equipage made the dandies spring to theirSfeet. 'What beautiful greys!' cried the one;'I wonder who they can belong to ?' 'He isa happy fellow, anyhow,' replied the other; 'Iwould give half Yorkshire to call them mine.'The stage-coach and travelling-carriage stoppedat the Buck's Head at the same moment; anda footman in laced livery, springing down frombehind the latter, looked first inside and then atthe top of the former, when he lifted his hatwith a smile of respectful recognition.'Are all well at the castle, Robert?' inquiredthe young gentleman in the surtout.'All well, my lord,' replied the footman.At the sound of that monosyllable the facesof the exquisites became visibly elongated; butwithout taking the smallest notice of them or
40 The Shabby Surtout.their confusion, the nobleman politely wishedme good morning, and, descending from thecoach, caused the footman to place his cloakand despised portmanteau in the carriage. Hethen stepped into it himself, and the footmangetting up behind, the coachman touched theleaders very slightly with his whip, and theequipage and its noble owner were soon out ofsight.'Pray, what nobleman is that?' said one ofthe dandies to the landlord, as we entered theinn.' The Earl of Hyndford, sir,' replied the land-lord ; 'one of the best men, as well as one ofthe richest, in Scotland.''The Earl of Hyndford !' repeated thedandy, turning to his companion. 'What asseswe have been! There's an end to all chanceof being allowed to shoot on his estate.'' Oh, yes, we may burn our letters of introduc-tion when we please!' rejoined his companion;and, silent and crestfallen, both walked up-stairs to their apartments.'The Earl of Hyndford!' repeated I, with
SThe Shabby Surtout. 41somewhat less painful feelings. 'Does he oftentravel unattended ?''Very often, sir,' replied the landlord, 'espe-Scially when he has any public or charitableobject in view; he thinks he gets at the truthmore easily as a private gentleman than as awealthy nobleman.''I have no doubt of it,' said I; and havinggiven orders for dinner, I sat down to muse onthe occurrences of the day.This, however, was not the last time that I wasdestined to hear of that amiable young noble-man, too early lost to his country and mankind.I had scarcely returned home from my tour inthe Highlands, when I was waited upon by afriend, a teacher of languages in Edinburgh, whotold me that he had been appointed Rector ofthe Academy at Bothwell.'Indeed!' said I; 'how have you been sofortunate ?''I cannot tell,' replied he, 'unless it be con-nected with the circumstance which I am goingto relate.'He then stated that, about a month before, he
42 The Shabby Surtout.was teaching his classes as usual, when a younggentleman, dressed in a surtout that was notover new, came into his school, and politelyasked leave to see his method of instruction.Imagining his. visitor to be a schoolmaster fromthe country, who wished to learn something ofthe Edinburgh modes of tuttion, my friend ac-ceded to his request. The stranger remainedtwo hours, and paid particular attention toevery department. When my friend was aboutto dismiss the school, the stranger inquiredwhether he was not in the habit of commend-ing his pupils to God in prayer before theyparted for the day. My friend replied that hewas; upon which the stranger begged that hewould not depart from his usual practice on hisaccount. My friend accordingly prayed withthe boys, and dismissed them ; after which thestranger thanked him for his politeness, and alsowithdrew. Nothing more occurred; but, fouror five days afterwards, my friend received aletter from the Earl of Hyndford, in which thatnobleman, after stating that he had satisfiedhimself as to his piety and ability as a teacher,
The Shabby Sr-tout. 43made him an offer of the Rectorship of theAcademy at Bothwell.'Was your visitor fair-haired,' said I, 'and hissurtout of a claret colour ?''They were,' replied my friend ; 'but what ofthat?''It was the Earl of Hyndford himself,' said I;'there can be no doubt of it.' And I gave himthe history of my journey to Glasgow.'Well, he took the best method, certainly, totest my qualifications,' rejoined my friend. 'Iwish all patrons would do the same; we shouldhave better teachers in our schools, and betterministers in our churches.'' All patrons, perhaps, are not equally quali-fied to judge,' said I; 'at all events, let us re-joice that, though "not many wise men after theflesh, not many mighty, not many noble, arecalled," still we see one here and one there dis-tinguished by divine grace, to the praise and theglory of God the Saviour.'
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JANE HILL.'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'SOME years since a fire broke out in oneof the narrow alleys which abound in thepoorer parts of the town in which I live. Itoriginated, as fires so often do, in the careless-ness, or rather helplessness, of a tipsy woman,,who had thrown herself across her bed, and lainthere in a drunken stupor, while a candle, whichshe had left burning on a table in the room, hadfallen over and set fire to some shavings, bywhich the flame had gradually been communi-cated to the furniture and to the house. Theauthor of the mischief was rescued; she livedon the ground floor, and the firemen had gainedaccess to her room through the window from47
48 Yane Hill.which the smoke was first seen bursting, thusgiving the alarm of fire to the neighbourhood.She was quite insensible, partly from the effectsof drink, and partly from being half-suffocatedwith smoke;. but she soon recovered, while theeffects of the mischief she had wrought lightedupon other and more innocent heads. It wasan old rickety house, and the landlord had de-termined on putting it into thorough order, asotherwise it ran the risk of tumbling to piecesaltogether. He had therefore given notice toall his tenants to quit; and they had done so,with the exception of the woman I have men-tioned, who caused the fire, and a very respect-able widow, who, with five children, occupied theattics. These women had been allowed to staytwo or three weeks after the tenants of the firstfloor had left, because they had not succeededin getting houses to suit them; and1 the workof patching up the old house not having yetbeen begun, they had remained in it on suffer-ance. The opening of the window gave the firethe draught which was all it wanted to gainfresh strength for its fatal work ; and in two or
Yane Hill. 49three minutes after the unfortunate woman whohad caused it had been carried out, the flamemight be seen leaping upwards with fearfulforce and rapidity, as if furious at having beendisappointed of its prey. I had been spendingthe evening with a friend, and had to pass thealley where the fire was; and as the house wasvery near the end of it, I could see and hearwhat was going on without being in the verythick of the crowd.It was a fearful but a glorious sight. Thenight was frosty and clear; and as the flamesdarted out of the windows, arn-hreishowers of sparks, the bright red glare of thefire made the sky in relief seem of the mostSintense dark blue. Some one told me thatthe house was empty, so I was rather enjoyingthe grand beauty of the scene, when, hearinga fearful shriek, my eye was attracted to theattic windows of the house, and I perceived,to my horror, a woman and several childrenstanding at it. Clear and distinct they stoodagainst a black background, with the ruddyglow of the flames robing them in a crimsonD
50 ane Hill.light, and at the same time revealing the agonyof terror which was expressed in their counten-ances. 'Go to the back of the house,' shoutedthe firemen, 'we can do nothing for you there.'But the little group stood paralyzed with fear,,unable to attend to the directions which weregiven them, or perhaps unable to hear them,for the fire was roaring and crackling enough todeafen any one. Three brave men of the fire-brigade went with a ladder round to the backof the house, while the engines kept the firesomewhat down by constantly playing on thefront, as far .-the confined space would allowof their doing so. In reality, I suppose, notmany minutes elapsed from the time that thefiremen had carried round the ladder till one ofthem appeared at the window where the womenand children stood: to me it seemed an age;and what must it not have appeared to the poorsufferers themselves? As the man came for-ward and joined the group, and the flame lightedup his tall, strong figure, a deafening shout fromthe crowd hailed his appearance, and encouragedhim to his perilous task. It seemed at first as
Yane Hill. 51if the woman were too stupified to understandwhat he said to her, for we saw him put a childinto her arms, and then push her from the win-dow. He himself managed to carry two littleones, and to send a boy and girl of some tenand twelve years of age after their mother.Then we lost sight of them all, and there wasanother interval of terrible suspense, when ashout from the crowd which had collected atthe back of the house announced that some-thing important had taken place there. In afew minutes we learned that, by the help of theother two firemen, who had also mounted theladder and made their way into the house, thepoor woman and all her children had beensaved.With a thankful and relieved heart I mademy way home, determined on the morrow toseek out these poor sufferers for another's sin,and to see what assistance could be affordedthem; I felt sure they would stand in no needof further help that night. There is often aprincely generosity among the poor towardstheir still poorer brethren; and I was confident
52 Jane Hill.that many a kind-hearted man and motherlywoman would willingly forego a night's rest andcomfort, if, by so doing, they could afford ashelter to these poor houseless ones. Nor wasmy confidence misplaced, for, on going to in-quire after the family on the following day, Ifound that they had been well looked after andtaken care of. It was now, however, that theirreal difficulties were to begin. The poor widow,whose name was Martin, had lost her little all-her scanty furniture, the decent clothingwhich it had cost her many a hard day's workto earn money enough to buy, and many awakeful hour at night to keep in order and tomend, all were gone. They had been in bedwhen the alarm of fire had awoke them, andhad nothing on but their night-dresses whenthey were saved. She had been an industrious,hard-working woman, had long struggled bravelyand womanfully against poverty and difficulties,but this last blow seemed fairly to have brokenher spirit; and when I went to see her, I foundher sitting at the fireside of the kindly neigh-bour who had given her a night's shelter,
yane Hill. 53looking the very image of blank and helplessdespair. She was a proud woman in her way,possessed of that pride which one likes to seeand so heartily respects, and which, alas is sofast dying out among us,-the pride of honour-able independence, which would willingly workday and night rather than receive charity fromstrangers. The bugbear of her life, since evershe had been left a widow with five helplesslittle ones to support, had been the UnionPoor's-house; and now want, starvation, andthe Union seemed staring her in the face. Itwas pitiful to see the spasm of positive painwhich crossed her face as'I put a trifle into herhand on leaving. She murmured a few wordsof thanks; but I heard her say with a deepsigh, as I left the room, 'I'm nothing betterthan a beggar now, living upon other folk'scharity.'The following day was a Sunday, the firehaving taken place on a Friday night. Thelessons in my Bible-class were sooner over thanusual that day, and I took advantage of the shortinterval of time before the concluding prayer
54 .7ane Hill.was offered, to tell my class about the fire, andof the utter destitution in which the poor widowand her children had been left. All the girlsseemed very sorry, and I heard them discussingthe subject as we were coming out, after theclass had been dismissed. The next morningI was told that a girl wanted to speak to me;and on going down-stairs I found it was one ofmy scholars, Jane Hill. She had a sweet, gentlecountenance, and her modest manners, and theattention she always gave to her lessons, hadmade her a great favourite with me. I sawthat she felt some timidity in telling me whatshe had come about, so I spoke to her encou-ragingly, and, after a little hesitation, she said :'Please, ma'am, would you give this to thepoor woman whose house was burnt?' and,placing a small packet in my hands, she seemedinclined to run away.'Wait a moment, Jane,' I said, 'and let ustalk this matter over.' She followed me withapparent reluctance, and then, after I had madeher sit down, I opened the little parcel she hadgiven me, and found that it contained seven and
Yane Hill. 55sixpence. I knew that her mother, though amost respectable, hard working woman, wasvery poor, as she had several children, and herhusband was in bad health, and in consequenceoften out of work for weeks at a time. I wastherefore surprised at what, under the circum-stances, seemed to be really a munificent gift,and asked whether the money could really bespared; 'because you know, Jane,' I added,'though it is true "the Lord loveth a cheerfulgiver," yet we are told also it is accepted ac-cording to that a man hath, and not accordingto that he hath not.''Oh, please, ma'am,' she answered eagerly,but blushing deeply,' I can spare it quite well,I can indeed; and mother gave me leave tocome to you with it. She knows all about it.''But how do you happen to have so muchmoney to spare?' I said, still feeling somereluctance in taking so large a sum fromher.'Well, you know, ma'am, I get half-a-crowna week from Mrs. Higgins, for going messagesand carrying the baby out every day for a
56 Yane Hillwalk; and so mother, she said she would keepby sixpence a week to buy me a new cloak forthe winter, as she thought my old one a bitshabby, and she's been putting it by all summerin a teapot; and yesterday the parson preachedupon that text, how it's more blessed to giveaway than to get things given to you. I don'tquite mind the words; but mother and me, wetalked it all over when we come home, and tellsfather about it,-for he has got one of his badturns, and can't go to the church,-and I tellsthenm all about Mrs. Martin and the fire; and Isays, "Mother, I don't think my old cloak is sovery shabby after all, and maybe if you couldiron it and bind it, it would do quite wellanother winter; and at any rate I'll be betteroff than Mrs. Martin's children, who haven'tgot no clothes at all ;" and so mother, she says,"And that's too true, Jenny;" and father said,"God bless you, my lass, and give you healthto wear your old cloak,"-and oh, ma'am, Idid feel so glad that I had something to giveto the poor woman and her children!'I was much touched with her earnest, simple
yane Hill. 57tay of putting what was in fact a very greatsacrifice as if she really felt it to be none at all..1 remembered the old cloak she had worn thewinter before, how thin and thread-bare it was;but I could not refuse the sweet pleading eyes,which were looking at me with such anxiety,lest I should reject her gift; so I said,' Well,Jane, since your father and mother both ap-prove, and you yourself are willing to give upyour new cloak for the sake of these poorhouseless ones, I can only say, God speed yourgift, and make you to realize, in its fullestsense, the blessedness of giving!' Her facebrightened with pleasure, and she thanked mewarmly, as she made her curtsey and preparedto leave. 'No, I cannot let you go away,' Isaid; 'you must come with me, and take thismoney to Mrs. Martin yourself.''Oh, please, ma'am, I'd rather not,' she said,looking shy and timid again.'But I want you to go, Jane, because I thinkthis kindness and sympathy from one so young,and who is not much richer than herself, willdo the poor woman as much good as the money
58 Yane Hill.itself. She is very much cast down; it troublesher to think that she is dependent upon others;and I think if you could say to her exactlywhat you have just said to me-if you told herthe real pleasure you have in helping her, itmight cheer and comfort her to think that thecharity which is bestowed upon her in herheavy trouble is not flung at her as we mightfling a bone to a dog, but is the offering ofwarm, kindly, and loving hearts.'I am not quite sure if she understood allthat I said to her, but she made no furtheropposition to going with me. I therefore gotready as soon as possible, and we went togetherto see Mrs. Martin. She was still with thesame kind neighbour who had taken her in onthe night of the fire, and still sat cowering overthe fire in the very spot and attitude that I hadleft her two days before.'She sits that way the whole day,' the goodwoman whispered to me, 'and there's no rous-ing her; she seems gone stupid-like.'I went up to her and told her my errand,saying that the money I put in her hand was
Yane Hill. 59from the little girl who came with me, and whowas anxious to contribute something to helpher in her sore need. She looked at me, at thegirl, and then at the money, and muttered-'Yes, yes, I must live on charity now, andthen go to the workhouse.''Speak to her, Jane,' I said, while I left thetwo together, and began talking to the womanof the house, that they might not feel them-selves observed. I heard Jane speaking at firstin very low tones, timidly and softly; thenthere was the same sweet, earnest, pleadingvoice with which she had spoken to me. In theintervals of my own conversation, I overheard"one or two sentences. I heard her telling ofthe sermon she had heard, which seemed tohave made a great impression on her mind;and then I heard her say:'I'm sure if it had been mother's house thathad been burnt down, and you had heard howfather and mother and me and my brothersand sisters had no house, nor furniture, norclothes, you would have done what you couldto help us; now, wouldn't you ? And you know
60 .ane Hill.it's just the same thing, only it's you and yourchildren instead of mother and us that's introuble; and you needn't mind taking a littlehelp when you would willingly have givenit.''And that's true,' I heard the widow reply,in a tone of greater interest than I had yetknown her speak.Her hostess looked at me, and said low,'Them's the first words she has spoken in herown natural voice since her trouble.'Jane continued, not aware that we werelistening to her now:' I've often heard father say it's no disgraceto be ever so poor, and to get help from others,when it comes on us from God's hand, and notbecause we are idle and won't work. Many atime he says that, when he is ill and can'twork, and mother gets downhearted, and thinkswe'll have to come on the parish; and he sayseven going on the parish ain't no disgrace then,when it ain't one's own fault. But mother saysshe'd work her fingers to the bone sooner thanshe'd go on the parish; and with one thing and
Yane Hill. 61another, we've always got on somehow, and sowill you, I'm sure.''Yes,' said the woman, with an energy thatstartled us all, while it delighted us,-'yes, Imay get on too, with God's help; but not if Iam to sit here with my hands folded, before thefire, thinking of my trouble instead of trying tomend it. God bless you, my lass, for yourmoney, which I'll take from you thankfully;and if I can't never repay you, may He do it.It will serve to get me some clothes, and thenI can work; and who knows but I may have ahome of my own again some day ?'Finding her able and willing now to listen toreason, I explained to her that some friendswho had heard of her loss had placed threepounds at my disposal for her use, and that shemust look upon the help she got quite as muchas coming from God as Elijah did when theravens fed him, because it was God who putit into people's hearts to give her money. Shetook what I gave her gratefully, and enteredwarmly into all the plans which we suggestedfor her future. It was agreed that she should
62 Yane Hill.at once take a small furnished room, and gowith her children to occupy it. She said shehad for some time had regular work as a char-woman for three days in every week. This workshe could still have; and I engaged to get hersome needlework from a working society, whichmight help to occupy her spare time, and bringin a little money. The woman in whose houseshe was staying told us that a sister of herswould willingly take the eldest girl, who waseleven years old, as she wanted a girl to takecare of her baby while she looked after asmall shop. She engaged that for a yearher sister should feed and clothe the girl, ifshe gave satisfaction; and said that if shebehaved herself, she was sure her sister wouldkeep her till she was old enough to get abetter place.It was pleasant to see how heartily Mrs.Martin entered into all these arrangements asthey were severally proposed, and the eagergladness of Jane Hill's face as she listened toour plans, and, with the hopefulness and inex-perience of youth, evidently believed that each
Yane Hill. 63one was to lead to competence, if not to actualwealth.The fire did, indeed, in the end, prove tohave been the greatest blessing to the Martins.Many people were led to interest themselvesin the poor widow and her children, who w6uldnever have heard of them but for it. Mrs.Martin got more work to do than she couldget through, and her children obtained situa-tions as soon as they were old enough to workfor themselves. She never forgot the debt ofgratitude she owed to Jane Hill. 'But for her,'she said, 'she believed she would have mopedherself into her grave.'The Christmas-day after the fire, I had thepleasure of taking to Jane a nice, warm, wintercloak. She began to say, in a deprecating way,'Oh, ma'am, indeed it's far too kind! mineis quite good yet;' but I stopped her, saying,'No, Jane, you must not keep all the pleasureof giving to yourself. Remember that to others,as well as to yourself, it is true that "It is moreblessed to give than to receive."'
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