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EDITH AND VINEY
WILLIN, To 13BK t S7lI"'l.
PRINCIPLE AND DUTY I ,SlTRAT'lI)
IN TIH f
STORY OF EDITH AI.IISON
tLONDl N ,iM '77 lirK H .VA .V '
* -" "- .;- .-" "
A-',' P '4.- <'Z, .. ,... \& '
WILLING TO BE USEFUL;
PRINCIPLE AND DUTY ILLUSTRATED IN
THE STORY OF EDITH ALLISON.
Do what thou dost as if the Earth were Heaven,
And that thy last day were the judgment day."
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
I. WILLING TO BE USEFUL, ... .. ... ... 5
II. THE SUNDAY SCHOOL, ... .. ... ... 18
III. THE TEACHER'S VISIT, ... ... ... ... 37
IV. THE SEWING CLASS, ... ... ... ... 50
V. DOING WELL, ... ... ... .. ... 64
VI. A GREAT CHANGE, ... ... ... ... 83
VII. THE TEMPTATION AND VICTORY, ... ... ... 103
VIII. A NOBLE RESOLUTION, ... ... ... ... 117
IX. AN EXCELLENT PLACE, ... ... ... ... 135
X. CAUGHT BY THE INFECTION, ... ... ... 155
XI. DETERMINED TO GO ON, ... ... ... ... 170
XII. WORKING TOO HARD, ... ... ... ... 192
XIIL A MOST DELIGHTFUL PLAN, .. ... .. 205
XIV. SOURCES OF PLEASURE, ... ... ... ... 220
THE STORY OF EDITH ALLISON.
WILLING TO BE USEFUL,
EDITu ALLISON had been reading with much interest
the Life of Henry Martyn. As she finished it she laid it
down with a deep sigh and a saddened expression of
"You have finished your book," said her mother, who,
according to her usual evening custom, was knitting and
reading on the side of the table nearest the fire. "I have
not seen you so much interested in anything for a long
It is very interesting," said Edith; and yet it has
made me sad,-sad that he should die among strangers,
and just, as it seemed, at the beginning of his usefulness.
"Besides what?" asked her mother, after waiting in
vain for her to finish the sentence.
"I don't know but you will think me foolish, mother,"
6 TVilling to be Useful.
said Edith, with some confusion of face; "but it made
me feel so utterly useless. Here I am, well and strong,
able to do ever so much work in the world, and I really
accomplish nothing except to live from day to day and
from year to year. It does not seem right."
"I do not think you quite do yourself justice, my
daughter," said Mrs. Allison. "You do more in the
house than many girls of your age, and you are not be-
hind other girls of your age in your sewing or your
"I know it, mother; but that is not what I mean. I
feel as though I ought to do more for somebody besides
"I quite agree with you, my dear," said her mother.
She stopped speaking a moment to count her stitches,
and, as she looked up, she smiled to see that Edith looked
a little piqued at being taken up so readily.
But if you are really in earnest in your wish to do
good, I have no doubt that some way will soon present
itself. Our work is almost sure to come to us if we are
willing to accept it; but the difficulty usually is that we
overlook the labour that is at the door, and long for
something which looks very grand at a distance. When I
was about your age I remember I had a great desire to
be a missionary."
"What cured you of it?" asked Edith.
"Nothing cured me of it," replied her mother. But
I was led in this way to doubt my own fitness for the
Willing to be Useful. 7
place. At the time I speak of, I was teaching a little
district school, in which there were about twenty-five
scholars. They were not by any means a clever or at-
tentive set of children, and I used to be very much out
of patience with them. One evening, after a more than
usually trying day,-trying to me, and I am sure equally
so to the children,-I went home in anything but a
desirable frame of mind. My father, who was very
quick-sighted, knew at once that something was wrong.
He began to question me, and in a moment all my vexa-
tions came out in a flood. I declared that I would not
keep the school another week, and that nobody ever had
to deal with such an obstinate, contrary, stupid set of
little torments before.
"I shall never forget how my father smiled as he an-
"'And yet you think you would like to be a mission-
ary, Lucy Do you imagine it would be easier to man-
age a set of heathen children, totally ignorant even of
the common decencies of life, addicted to every sort of
vice, and whom you must instruct in a foreign language
"I told him he had no idea how troublesome the chil-
dren were, and related several incidents of the day. He
heard me patiently, and when I had ended my catalogue
of grievances, he in his turn went over them one by one.
I was not a little proud at that time, and eminently self-
willed with every one but my father; but he succeeded
8 Willing to be Useful.
in convincing me that in almost every instance I was the
one most in the wrong.
"'I advise you, Lucy,' he said in conclusion, 'not to
abandon all thoughts of a missionary life, but to try your
talents first upon the materials nearest at hand. See
what you can make of the children now committed to your
care, and if you succeed in reforming and elevating them, you
may, if the way seems open to you, undertake the duties
of a missionary with some reasonable prospect of success.'"
"And did you succeed?" asked Edith.
"In a measure I certainly did," replied her mother.
"I began the next morning with a strong resolution not
to be out of patience if I could help it. In this resolu-
tion, fortified with a prayer for assistance, I went through
the day more comfortably than I had ever done before.
In two or three weeks it had become much easier for me
to get on quietly; and when, at the close of the summer
term, the same school was offered to me again, I had no
hesitation in taking it."
"But you never went on a mission after all."
No, because I found appropriate work nearer home.
Your grandfather, you know, was helpless for many
years, and it was as much as one person could do to take
care of him and wait upon him. As soon as he died I
married your father, and since then the home-field has
called for all my energies."
"But do you think, mother, that one's work always
comes to one without looking for it?"
Willing to be Useful. 9
By no means, my child. We must look for it, and
be willing to see it too. But many times we shall find
it at our own doors; and if we begin there we may go on
widening our field almost indefinitely."
The conversation was interrupted by a ring at the
door, and a young lady entered in some haste. She was
apparently about Edith's age, and very pretty, but bore
in her face marks of grief and anxiety.
"I cannot stay more than a moment," she said, in
answer to the greetings of Mrs. Allison and her daughter.
"We leave at eight in the morning; and I have several
things to do yet, as you may imagine, starting at such
"Starting! where asked Edith, in surprise.
"Why, I thought you knew all about it!" replied Miss
Ansell "Haven't you seen Anna Vaughan?"
"No. She called, but we were all out."
"Then I have my story to tell from the beginning.
We received a telegraphic despatch this morning saying
that Euphemia was very ill, and begging mother or me
to come to her. Mother cannot go to stay, of course; in-
deed I don't think she ought to go at all-and so I must."
How long shall you stay?" asked Edith.
"I have no idea, except that I shall remain till she
gets well, or so long as she wants me. And I want you,
Edith, to take my Sunday-school class. Anna promised
to ask you and let us know, but I have not seen her, and
so came to find out for myself."
Io Willing to be Uscful.
Edith hesitated, and Julia went on :-" Pray don't re-
fuse, Edith. It may be only for two or three Sundays,
perhaps; but I don't like to leave them without any-
body. You know, if you don't like it, you can get some-
body to take it after a while."
It is not from any fear of not liking it, Julia; but I
do not think I am fit to take a Sunday-school class. You
know, I am not like Anna Vaughan,-not religious, I
mean, as she is; and I am afraid I shall not do them
You are as much so as I am, I am sure of that," said
Julia, with a sigh. But I hope I shall be more serious
by-and-by," she continued. I feel as if I had become
much older since the morning."
Is Euphemia very sick?" asked Mrs. Allison.
"Very," said Julia, with a quivering lip; "Mr. Bry-
done says, very dangerously. O Mrs. Allison," she ex-
claimed, bursting into tears, how little and poor every-
thing seems at such times Here I have been occupying
myself all this week with such miserable vanities-dress
and go out-dress and go out-and poor Euphemia, per-
But you did not know it," said Edith, her own voice
trembling as she spoke.
"No, but it seems as if I ought to have known it. What
if it had been me instead!-and Effie is just the same;
she thinks of nothing but-" Tears again choked her
utterance, and she sobbed bitterly. Edith wept with her.
Willing to be Useful. T I
"This will never do, Julia, my love," said Mrs. Allison,
in a tone of kind authority. You will make yourself ill,
and unfit yourself entirely for your journey to-morrow.
I do not want to prevent your serious thoughts, or.even
your self-reproaches, my dear; but now your first duty is
to be ready to take care of poor Effie. Edith, get Julia
a glass of cold water. Drink it, my dear, and compose
yourself if you can."
Julia obeyed, and in a few moments was tolerably
calm. She again urged Edith to take the class. "I
never thought so much about it before, but now it seems
the most important of anything I am going to leave."
"Well, Julia, I will take it," said Edith, after a
moment's hesitation, during which she had con-
sulted her mother's face; "and I will promise you to
teach them as well as I can, if you will only tell me
It is only to hear their Testament lessons, and explain
to them as much as you can. Mother will give you my
class-book, and you will see how I put down the lessons
and attendance. They are dear, good little things, and
will give you no trouble, I am sure."
"But don't you visit them?" asked Edith. "Anna
visits her scholars."
"I know she does, and I have always meant to do so
too; but I have neglected it, to speak honestly. There
never seemed to be any very convenient time for it; and
I was rather shy of meeting the people, too. But I must
12 Willing to be Useful.
hurry home. Do go and see mother as often as you can,
Mrs. Allison; I know it will be very pleasant to her.
Good-bye, Edith; I shall write to you if I can."
"Well, Edith, your work seems to have found you out
pretty soon," said her mother, as the door closed after
"Yes," replied Edith, "rather sooner than I expected,
and, I am afraid, before I am quite ready for it. It
seems such a serious thing to undertake. However, it is
only for a little while-that is one consolation."
In any other circumstances, I should hardly have ad-
vised you to such an undertaking," said her mother but,
just now, teachers are very much needed in the Sunday
school. Mr. Crane's and Miss Haskell's places will be
vacant next Sunday, as well as poor Julia's, and I
hardly know who will fill them."
"After all, it will not take up much of my time," con-
tinued Edith; only a couple of hours on Sunday, and a
little while to prepare my lesson."
Mrs. Allison smiled quietly, but made no remark. She
knew her daughter's disposition to devote all her energies
to whatever she undertook.
"Poor Julia!" said Edith, after a meditative pause;
" what a mournful journey she will have And such a
change, too, from all her gaiety to a sick-room! I don't
wonder she is sad. She told me yesterday that she had
only been at home three evenings in two weeks."
Willing to be Useful. 13
"It may be the best thing that ever happened to her,"
replied Mrs. Allison. "I do not think Julia worse than
other girls of her age; but such an unceasing round of
company and amusement can never be good for anybody.
It uses up all the powers both of body and mind, hinders
all self-improvement, and leaves no room for serious
thought. And, after all, what does it amount to What
has Julia to show for all her pleasures and labours this
winter, except a few crushed flowers, some evening
dresses out of fashion, and-I cannot think of anything
I never could be satisfied with such a life," said Edith;
"it would weary me to death. Not that I mean to take
any credit for that: I do not know but Iam as dissipated
in my way as she is in hers, though, indeed, it seems to
be of rather more use. But Julia really seemed to feel
very much to-night. I don't believe she ever had a
serious thought before in all her life."
I should hardly say that," replied her mother. "I
do not believe any one ever lived to her age without some
serious thought. She has been unfortunately situated in
that respect. I do not suppose Effie and Julia ever had
three hours of religious instruction at home since they
But Julia at least has always been to Sunday school,
Smother. She was in Aunt Grace's class as long as I
was, and that is as long ago as I can remember. Aunt
Grace always took a great deal of pains with the girls;
14 Willing to be Useful.
but it never seemed to do any good, as far as they were
"That is not very strange, after all, Edith. Aunt
Grace had them only two hours in a week, and all the
other hours contradicted the lessons of those two. I am
not so much surprised at the apparent failure of her efforts
in this case as in some others."
Meaning mine," said Edith. It is strange, mother,
that your child can be anything but religious. But there
is time enough yet."
How do you know there is time enough yet ?" asked
her mother. How do you know that you have a lease
of life any longer than poor Effie's seems likely to be?
You are deceiving yourself, Edith; the time will be short
enough, and too short, perhaps, even if you begin now."
Edith sighed, but did not answer. It was the one sub-
ject upon which she and her mother had not an almost
perfect sympathy. She was now her mother's only child.
Mrs. Allison had been for some years a widow, and just
before the death of her husband she had lost three chil-
dren-two boys and a girl-almost at a blow. Her
whole love was now concentrated upon Edith; and Edith
amply rewarded her. She was almost everything that a
mother could wish-dutiful, industrious, and affectionate,
anxious in every way to promote her mother's happiness,
and, though sometimes fretful in her temper, usually
good-natured and amiable. Edith was fond, extremely
fond, of study, and if anything caused her to neglect
Willing to be Useful. 15
home duties and cares, it was either her drawing or the
acquisition of some new language. She had mastered
French and Italian pretty thoroughly, and was just com-
mencing German, in company with her particular friend,
Marcia Carew. They had a good master, who gave them
lessons twice a-week; but this did not satisfy them, and
they spent many more hours than their regular lessons
required in translations and reading.
Marcia Carew was Edith's most particular friend. She
was almost two years older than Edith, and much further
advanced in studies and accomplishments. Marcia was
about nineteen, with a fine countenance and figure. She
belonged to one of the first families in Raeburn, and was
in the habit of regarding with a sort of contempt all who
did not move in the same circle as herself, more especi-
ally if they were people of any pretension. For the
families of mechanics and labourers she felt no contempt,
but she never thought of them as having the same flesh
and blood with herself, or imagined that it was possible
to take any interest in their concerns. The poor were
to be relieved with money and provisions, of course:
that was a duty one owed to society.
As we have said, Marcia was accomplished. She was
mistress of two modern languages besides Latin; she
drew beautifully, and played much better than most
young ladies. Edith was her bosom friend. They read
together, studied together, and walked together. They
were inseparable in company and out, and Edith would
16 Willing to be Useful.
hardly allow that Marcia had any faults, though she
could not but acknowledge that her manner was apt to be
ungracious in the extreme to every one but her own
particular set of friends. Into this circle Julia Ansell
was admitted rather on sufferance, because she was an
old playfellow, and Edith was fond of her. Marcia re-
garded her as well bred, but very frivolous, and quite too
ready to mix with all sorts of people ; for Julia indeed
went everywhere, and visited some families that Marcia
considered so far beneath her as to be quite out of
Anna Vaughan was much more welcome to Marcia,
and indeed to Edith too ; for, while she was as well bred
and striking as Julia, she was almost as accomplished as
Marcia herself, and her associates were altogether unex-
ceptionable. But Anna seldom had time to join them in
their studies and their walks. She was the oldest of a
large family. Her father, though a leading lawyer in the
place, was not very rich. Her step-mother was in deli-
cate health, and all these circumstances threw a great
weight of care upon Anna's shoulders. Mrs. Vaughan
thought her step-daughter almost perfect; and it was no
great wonder that she should, for Anna looked after the
house-keeping and the children, mended their clothes,
heard their lessons, and took care of them when they
were ill. She prepared delicacies for her mother when
her appetite was feeble, read to her when her eyes were
weak, and was cheerful and good-natured under all cir-
Willing to be Uscful. 17
cumstances. Notwithstanding all these avocations, Anna
contrived to have a good deal of time to herself, especi-
ally when the boys went to school and her mother's
health was better than usual for some months together;
but this spare time was not always bestowed as Edith
and Marcia would have desired. Anna had a large class
of young children in the Sunday school, and many spare
hours were spent in visiting them or their parents. Be-
sides, she was an assistant visitor in a charitable society;
and the labour attendant upon that office consumed a
good many moments, especially in winter. Anna had
joined the German class; but she contented herself
with simply learning her lessons, which were always
thoroughly prepared, and she seldom joined Edith and
Marcia in their reading and drawing mornings.
Julia Ansell was the daughter of a rich merchant.
Mrs. Ansell was extremely fond of her children, and, so
far as outward care went, she provided well for them.
But that was all Effie and Julia went to church and
Sunday school-especially the latter-with some regu-
larity, and learned their lessons tolerably well. But it was
no thanks to their mother that they did so. So long as
her children were reasonably quiet on Sundays, and went
to church-when they did go-nicely dressed, they might
read what they pleased and play when they pleased, for
all she cared. Their Sunday-school teacher was faithful,
and to her they owed all the religious ideas they had.
They grew up, under this discipline, good-natured, well-
iS The Sunday School.
bred, perfectly worldly girls ; good-natured from instinct,
polite from example, but without a thought or a care be-
yond to-day, and, perhaps, to-morrow. If there was a
shade of difference, Julia was perhaps the more serious
of the two; for she did read a chapter in the Bible
almost every night, when she was not too tired or too
sleepy, and went to church with tolerable regularity,
especially after Effie's marriage. She had taken a class
in the Sunday school, too, and her well-chosen presents
and sweet manners had attached the children to her. She
pleased herself with the thought that she was doing some
good in this way, and cherished in the bottom of her
heart a hope-nay, quite a confident expectation-that
she should, some time or other, be a true Christian.
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.
As Sunday drew near, Edith's heart began to be troubled
with some misgivings as to the duty she had undertaken;
but she determined to do her best to fulfil it. For some
reason, unacknowledged even to herself, she had said no-
thing about it to Marcia; and it was only when the morn-
ing service was over, and she waited at the door for her
friend to come out, that Marcia first heard that Edith
had taken Julia's class.
Come, Edith," said she, as Mrs. Allison turned inte
The Sunm lay School. 19
the Sunday-schoolroom which opened from the church,
"I am waiting for you to walk home with me."
"I cannot come now," replied Edith with some em-
barrassment. I must go into the Sunday school."
What in the world takes you into the Sunday school?"
asked Marcia, in surprise.
I am going to teach Julia Ansell's class till she comes
home. You know she left very suddenly on account of
Effie's sickness, and she persuaded me to take her class."
Marcia raised her eyebrows slightly, but only said,
"Well, if you must go, I will go too, and wait for you.
I suppose you need not stay long ?"
Edith would rather that Marcia had not been a witness
of her first attempts, but she did not know how to object;
and, accordingly, they entered the crowded and rather
close schoolroom together. Edith found the class full,
and, after getting a comfortable seat for Marcia, she
placed herself in front of her charge, feeling more embar-
rassed than she had ever been in her life before.
Her class consisted of five little girls between the ages
of ten and thirteen, all tolerably well dressed, and one or
two of them very pretty. She went through the opening
services very well; as she had nothing to do except to
find the places; but then came the task of becoming
acquainted with the children. She asked them their
names and ages, and then proceeded to hear their lessons,
which were tolerably well learned. There were not
many explanations to be given, she thought, though her
20 7he Sunday School.
mother seemed to find enough to talk about with her
Come!" said Marcia-rather impatiently, as the last
little one had repeated her lesson, "let us go, if you
I think I ought to stay till the school is out," replied
Edith, with some little hesitation; but don't wait for
me, Marcia." Still Marcia composed herself to wait,
with a countenance of patient martyrdom, and Edith
turned again to her class, trying to think of something
to say to them. Her kind face seemed to give courage
to the little girls, and, after some hesitation, one of them
asked where Miss Ansell was.
She has been obliged to go from home to see her
sister, who is very ill indeed," replied Edith. She sent
her love to you all, and hopes you will be very good girls
while she is gone."
We will," said the one who had taken it upon her to
be spokeswoman. "Are you to be our teacher now ?"
"Yes," replied Edith; and I hope you will do your
best, so that when Miss Julia comes home she may be
able to see that you have improved. I shall do all I can
for you; and, in return, you must do all you can for me.
Have you any other lessons to say ?"
Mr. Parker told us to look out as many texts as we
could in. the New Testament about loving God," replied
another little girl. "He said we were to write them
down and show them to our teacher."
The Sunday School. 21
"And have you found any "
"I haven't;" said one. "I have found two," said
another. "I have not found any," said Kitty Wilson,
the little girl who had first spoken; "I did not know
how to look for them."
"You should have asked your mother or some one
to help you," said Edith; "but, come, I will show
you some, and then I should like to have you try
and find more. We must always try to do what
our teachers, parents, and ministers tell us, even if we
The ice was now fairly broken. The remaining half
hour of school passed very quickly, and Edith was quite
taken by surprise when the superintendent's bell gave the
signal to exchange books and close the school. She felt
that she had really enjoyed the time, and looked forward
with some pleasure to meeting the children again next
Sunday. Marcia, who had sat like impatience on a
monument the whole time, hurried her away the moment
school was out.
Come," said she, "you must be tired to death, as I
am, I'm sure. How could you have the courage to under-
take such a task ? But you will not have to continue
it long, I suppose ?"
"I don't know," replied Edith. "I rather think I
shall like it after I get accustomed to it. They are a very
nice set of children, apparently, and seem to have become.
very much attached to Julia, as well as she to them. I
22 Thie Sunday School.
never saw her so much in earnest as she was in providing
a teacher for them when she went away."
"I am glad she could be in earnest about anything.
You need not frown, Edith; you know I only endure
Julia for your sake. A more frivolous person, I must
say, I never knew. But do you really mean to teach this
class till she comes back '"
"I really do," said Edith, decidedly; I promised her
"And spend two hours every Sunday in that hot
schoolroom, talking to a set of ignorant children, who
can no more understand you than that dog can It is
very good-natured in you, perhaps, but I must say I have
considerable doubts of your doing them any very parti-
cular good. Children never remember what they learn
in Sunday schools."
"I beg leave to doubt whether that is so," interrupted
Anna, who had joined them in time to hear the last
"They never remember what they learn," persisted
Marcia. You told that red-haired child what a garner
was; and when you asked her five minutes afterwards,
she could not tell, any more than if she had never heard."
Marcia," said Edith with a mischievous smile, what
is the meaning of umsonst "
Pshaw !" said Marcia, colouring a little.
I don't believe you can tell, though you have found
it so many times the last week."
The Sunday School. 23
"1 am sure I cannot remember," said Anna. What
is it "
Look in the dictionary, and then you will remember
next time, as Miss Hyde used to tell us when she did not
know herself," replied Edith, laughing, and then con-
tinued more gravely, I suppose they do forget a good
deal, just as any of us would; but certainly they do not
forget all. I remember at least half of the lessons I
learned with Aunt Grace."
She is a remarkably good teacher," said Anna. "I
often wish I had her way of impressing the minds of
children. But then you must remember that she has had
a good deal of experience."
I don't expect to accomplish much," continued Edith;
"but, after all, I may do something. If nothing more, I
can at least occupy a place and keep the class together
till Julia comes. I hesitated about taking it, because I
did not feel myself competent; but, now that I have
taken it, I mean to keep it."
"Very well," said Marcia, a little stiffly; "I don't
want you to give it up for my sake, I am sure;
only you are complaining of want of time already;
"But this will not take up any of my studying-time,
"I am not sure of that," said Anna. You will find
it will occupy more hours than you think, in one way or
another. But, even if it does, there is something to be
"24 The Sunday Sc/ool.
done in the world besides studying. One ought not to
live entirely to one's self in studying, any more than in
dressing and going out. To be sure, it is not a tempta-
tion that besets many people."
The next day Edith and Marcia passed part of the
morning, as usual, in reading together. Nothing was
said about the events of the day before; but Edith could
not help thinking that Marcia's manner to her was some-
what constrained and cold. It might have been partly
fancy, for she was a little inclined to jealousy; but it was
not entirely so. Marcia had always possessed a great in-
fluence over her friend, and, though she did not acknow-
ledge it to herself, she was considerably annoyed at find-
ing that Edith persisted in her undertaking notwithstand-
ing her disapprobation. Marcia possessed, in an eminent
degree, the talent for making people very uncomfortable
indeed without giving them anything to complain of;
and this talent was now brought to bear on Edith for the
first time with considerable success. Edith returned
home, feeling anything but comfortable. When she
entered the parlour, she found Aunt Grace sitting with
her mother, talking, as usual, very fast.
"I really think, Lucy, that they are people that ought
to be assisted," were the first words she caught. They
have evidently tried to help themselves, and have not
applied to anybody. But the man is sick and unable to
do anything at present. I think he will get well, with
T/e Sunday School, 25
proper care, and the child too; but it will be some little
"Are they sober people 1" asked Mrs. Allison.
"I think they are. I have questioned M'Bride very
closely about them, and he says the man is a good, steady
workman, when he is well. The woman, he seems to
think, does the best she can; but both he and his wife
say that she knows nothing about housekeeping, and, in-
deed, that is apparent to any one that enters the house."
"What is it ?" asked Edith, who, having disposed of
her bonnet and books, sat down by her aunt and took out
Oh, the old story-a family in my district. They are
Irish, and have not been long in this country. The man
has always had work, and they have got on more or less
comfortably till now; but now he is sick, and, as they
are entirely dependent upon his labour, they have nothing
to live upon. Such a thought as laying up a penny
never entered their heads, of course. I must have an
assistant in my district,-that is certain; for there is
more to do than one person can attend to; and, besides,
there are places where I do not like to go alone. But I
don't know where to look for one, exactly. There are
several ladies to whom I might apply; but they have no
ideas upon the subject except to give to whoever asks
them, and that does not answer very well."
"It would be better for you to have some one who
would be willing to be guided by you a little," observed
26 The Sunday School.
Mrs. Allison. "You have had the district so long that
you know it pretty well by this time."
"Yes, I have served a pretty good apprenticeship,"
said Aunt Grace with a smile. "It is somewhere about
fifteen years since I began. I remember, I commenced
with the idea that all the clean people must be good, and
all the dirty ones bad, as a matter of course ; but I soon
found out my mistake. But, oh, how I was imposed upon
for the first year !--though the duty was nothing then to
what it is now. I could not bear to think that a woman,
and, above all, a child, could come to me and tell me a
straightforward tale of suffering with tears of distress,
while there was not a word of truth in it from beginning
People say that children and fools speak the truth,"
"People make a great mistake, then," returned Aunt
Grace, gathering up her falling shawl, preparatory to
taking her leave. My experience is that very few chil-
dren speak the truth till they are taught to do so. As
for fools, deception is their general resource. But now
about these people, Lucy?"
"I will take them some broth and bread this after-
noon," replied Mrs. Allison, and we will see what we
can do in the way of clothes for the younger children. Of
course, the society will provide for those who are ill, and
the neighbours or the overseers of the poor must do the
rest. You say you have sent them some coals?"
The Sunday Sc/hool. 27
"Coals enough for two or three days, some bread, and
some rice and sugar. I did not like to give them an order
for any more till I find out more about them. I shall be
very glad to have your opinion."
Miss Grace Allison, or Aunt Grace, as she was much
more commonly called, was the sister of Edith's father.
She had been very good-looking in her younger days;
and, as she possessed a very comfortable property of her
own, no little wonder had been expressed at different
times that Miss Grace did not marry. She had had offers
enough, every one said, but at thirty-five she was as much
of an old maid as at fifty. The early part of her life
had been passed in taking care of an invalid sister, and
since death had relieved her of this charge she was de-
voted to any one and every one that needed help.
She was a visitor, as we have seen, in the long-estab-
lished charitable society; she was a teacher in the Sun-
day school; she was chief manager of the sewing-society,
besides being nurse, counsellor, and friend in general, to
half the people that knew her. Three-quarters of the
children in the parish had their first knowledge of the
catechism associated with Aunt Grace. In one way and
another, she was connected with the joyful and tender
remembrances of half the families in Raeburn.
She might have had a home with any of her brothers
and sisters, but she preferred to live by herself, and had
boarded with the same widow lady for fifteen years.
Here she had her little parlour, with its old-fashioned
28 7/he Sunday School.
sofa and chairs, and older-fashioned sideboard, in the
centre cupboard of which were stored gingerbread, nuts,
apples, and seedcakes, as her young visitors well knew.
Here she had her large, heavy bookcase, well filled with
volumes ancient and modern; her canary-bird and her
grey parrot,-most i.''..'' ii r. of feathered fowls.
Her little bedroom opened out of the parlour, and was
one of the very neatest places ever seen, with snowy
counterpane and curtains, green carpet, high old-fashioned
bureau, and an immense variety of curious Chinese jars
and boxes. Here she lived from year's end to year's end,
except when she made her month's visit to each of her
brothers and sisters in turn.
Mrs. Allison and her daughter set out in the afternoon,
according to promise, to visit the poor family about
which Aunt Grace had been talking. Leaving one of
the principal streets, they turned, between two high
houses, into an alley so narrow that the people in the
opposite houses might almost have shaken hands across
it. Picking their way as well as they could, they soon
found themselves opposite one of the best-looking houses
in the street, which had possessed some pretensions to
gentility in its day. The lower storey was in good repair,
and looked tolerably comfortable; but the windows of
the upper part were dirty and broken, the apertures being
stuffed with whatever came to hand. The roof displayed
some lines of well-conditioned garments hung out to dry.
"This is the house," said Mrs. Allison. I have been
The Sunday School. 29
here before to see Mrs. M'Bride. The people we want
to see live in the upper part."
Up stairs accordingly they went, and knocked at the
first door they came to. A child about ten years old
opened it, and they entered a good-sized room, in a most
extraordinary state of disorder and dirt. On a bedstead,
in one corner, lay the sick man,-a stout Irishman,-
suffering with intermittent fever. The bed seemed
tolerably well supplied with sheets and blankets, but in
such a state that it required a good deal of courage to
approach them. On a low bed, in the opposite corner,
was the sick child,-a girl about six years old. Two
more children, and the wife of the sick man, were the
other occupants of the room, besides a young lady, plainly
but neatly dressed, who sat by the suffering child.
Everything in the room that could be out of place was
out of place, and everything that could be dirty was
dirty; and yet withal there was a look of respectability
about both the man and the woman, which at once pre-
possessed Edith in their favour.
How do you do this evening, Mrs. Terry ?" said Mrs.
Allison, as she entered. "I have come to see how
you are getting on, and to bring some soup for your
husband. My sister was here this morning, and she told
me about you."
"Indeed, ma'am, you're very kind," replied Mrs. Terry,
taking the pitcher from Edith. "We're getting on but
poorly, ma'am; but the neighbours and the ladies have
30 The Sunday Sclool.
been very good, and I'm in hopes we shall get better
after a while."
The young lady who was sitting by the sick child now
turned and bade Mrs. Allison good-evening. "I think
Peggy is better," she said; at least she has less fever
than she had this morning. She seems to be suffering
from a very severe cold."
Mrs. Allison replied to her salutation, looking at the
same time a little puzzled.
"You do not recognize me," said the visitor; "and
indeed we have only met in Sunday school and at the
teachers' meeting,-Mrs. Stark."
Oh yes !" said Mrs. Allison; "how stupid I was I
am very glad to find you here, Mrs. Stark. What do you
think of our two patients ?"
"I think that they will both be up in a few days,"
replied Mrs. Stark, cheerfully. "Mr. Terry has inter-
mittent fever, but with proper management he will soon
be at work again, I hope."
"Indeed, ma'am, it's kind of you to say so," interposed
the wife; but I'm fearing it's his last sickness he's got
on him, poor man! He was out of his mind all last
night with the fever, and Friday the same."
"That is nothing alarming," replied Mrs. Allison.
"People are often light-headed in these fevers, even when
they are not very severe. Has the doctor seen him
"Yes, ma'am, and left some powders for him. I gave
The Sunday School. 3 r
him one, but he did not seem to improve, and I was
'feared to give him the rest."
"But that is not right, Mrs. Terry. You cannot
expect the doctor to cure him unless you follow his
directions. I would give the powders just as he ordered,
and I have no doubt you will see your husband up again
in a few days."
"It's what I tell her myself, ma'am," said the sick
man; "but she's not used to illness, and, to tell the
truth, she just breaks my heart, crying and going on
"We must put a stop to all that," said Mrs. Allison,
kindly but firmly. You are not very ill, so far as I can
see, though I have no doubt you suffer a good deal. Mrs.
Terry, you must put on a cheerful face, if it is only for
your husband's sake. Don't you see that by indulging
in such lamentations you distress him and make him
worse than he would otherwise be ? Suppose you were
ill yourself; how would you like to have any one
constantly crying over you and telling you that you were
going to die ?"
Mrs. Terry looked as though she thought this rather
Sure, it's my feelings for him and for the poor children
that makes me. Would you have me laughing and
joking, and he maybe dying?"
"I would have you cheerful and pleasant, Mrs. Terry.
You have no right to humour your own feelings at the
32 T/ie Sunday School.
expense of his health and comfort. He may possibly die,
for death is what we are all exposed to; but there is no
present probability of it; and if there were, you ought
to make him as comfortable as you can while he lives.
Come, now, brighten up and show a cheerful face, and I
am sure that it will do your husband more good than a
It's true for you, Mary," said her husband. "I would
not be willing to find fault with you, but the lady says
true. You see, ma'am, she's known little of trouble, for,
thank God, we've always done well before, though we've
been but poor, and this is the first time I've ever wanted
anything of anybody. If I can only get up again, I've no
fear but we will do well yet."
That's right!" said Mrs. Allison. "Are you a Pro-
"Yes, ma'am; we were both brought up Protestants,
though, I'm ashamed to say, I've been but little to church
of late years."
"I asked," continued Mrs. Allison, "because I thought
you might like to see a minister."
"I should like it very much, ma'am," replied John
Terry. I tried to get Mary to go for one, but she did
not like to do it, because she had no clean clothes, and
we were not in very good order."
"Never mind that, Mary," said Mrs. Allison; Mr.
Parker will not mind your clothes or your house. He
knows that illness disarranges people very much. I am
The Sunday School. 33
sure you will like to see him. Do the children go to a
Sunday school ?"
They do not go," said Mrs. Stark; but Mrs. Terry
says they may, and I shall call for them next Sunday.
They have good clothes, if they were only washed and
mended a little. I have brought sheets and a nightgown
for Peggy, but Miss Grace has been beforehand with
How did you find them out ?" asked Mrs. Allison of
Mrs. Stark, as they left the house together.
My husband got acquainted with the children," she
replied. "You know-or, perhaps you don't know-
that he has a passion for children, and especially for
getting them into Sunday school. These little girls
were picking up shavings in the boat-yard, and there
John found them. They told him where they lived, and
that their father was ill; and, after coming here himself
to see that it was safe for me to come, he sent me to see
them. You do not think Terry's case serious, do you ?"
Oh no It is intermittent fever, but it is very easily
managed, if his wife will only follow the doctor's direc-
tions and keep tolerably clean."
That last will be the hardest of all, I fancy," said
Edith. "I must say I never saw a dirtier place."
Oh, my dear," replied her mother, your experience
is small yet. The place was quite comfortable, compared
to many that I have seen."
"I did not think them particularly dirty," observed
34 The Sunday School.
Mrs. Stark; that is, for such people. She has evidently
no idea of putting things in order, and very few of them
have. It is the great trouble of the Irish. You know I
am Irish myself," she added, smiling.
This short dialogue took place at the foot of the stairs
which led to Mrs. Terry's apartment. As they stood
talking, a door was opened, and a very smiling woman,
in a clean starched cap, put her head out.
0 Mrs. M'Bride! how do you do 1" said Mrs. Stark.
"We have been to see your sick neighbours up stairs."
Walk in, ladies," said Mrs. M'Bride, opening the door
wider; "and how's yourself, Mrs. Stark? The girls will
be glad to see their teacher, and they are just in from
school. Walk in, miss, and take a seat. Sure, you've
grown into a young lady almost since I saw you. And
how is the poor man this evening, ma'am ?"
While Mrs. Stark was conversing with the children
(two pretty girls of ten and twelve), and Mrs. M'Bride
and her mother were talking over the case of poor Terry,
Edith silently took a survey of the room. It was about
the size of the one up stairs, quite clean, and contained
some very good furniture, but all in a state of general
confusion. A well-polished bureau stood near the door,
the half-opened drawers of which disclosed an abundance
of clean shirts, children's underclothes, and stockings.
On the top, a goodly quantity of books-chiefly religious
-were arranged in two piles, one of which was sur-
mounted by a plate of biscuit, while a straw bonnet
T/e Sunday School. 35
occupied the other. Behind all, was set up a gorgeous
waiter, ornamented with a soldier firing a yellow cannon,
out of which issued a cloud of purple smoke which en-
veloped a red horse in its folds. A legend under this
remarkable device informed the spectators that it re-
presented the battle of Waterloo! A table covered with
an equally splendid woollen cloth occupied the space
between the windows, and before it lay a piece of red
carpet. In the back part of the room was another table,
without a cloth, but scoured very white, and evidently
used for household purposes. A half-opened door showed
a cupboard with abundance of crockery piled up in a
heterogeneous manner upon the lower shelves, while the
upper were occupied with sundry bonnets and caps,
brushes, a basket of eggs and another of apples, and a
roll of butter. A bed, neatly made, with a patch-work
cover, constituted the remaining furniture of the room.
The fire-place was in a small back-room, with the cook-
ing utensils, which were all in pretty good order.
Mrs. M'Bride herself was comfortably dressed, with the
cleanest of starched caps and checked aprons. The little
girls had good calico dresses and blue pinafores, with
good but coarse shoes and stockings, presenting quite a
contrast to the rags of the children up stairs. Having
finished her survey, she turned to hear what Mrs. M'Bride
"Yes, ma'am, they are dacent people and sober, as I
tell you. The man is a very good sort of man, and works
36 The Sunday School.
very steady; and Mary is a good creature, too, but no
hand to do much. She can't sew as well as my Katy;
and the way she cooks-it makes me sick to see the way
she spoils the good victuals I've tried to show her a
bit; and, indeed, she does better than at first. But that
is the trouble with so many : they don't know how to do
the best with what they have, and so they waste half,
and never have no comfort after all."
That is the difficulty very often," replied Mrs.
"And then it's such a discouragement to a man !'
proceeded Mrs. M'Bride, who appeared to have a fond-
ness for hearing herself talk. No comfort coming in at
night or getting up in the morning : half he earns wasted
by fault of management, and never a penny before-hand.
We are poor folks, ma'am, and perhaps always will be,
but I strive to keep a comfortable home for the good-
man. When he comes in, I have the dinner ready on
the table,-not very much, maybe, but nate and clane,
and the childer with clane faces to welcome him. And
at night we have a drop of tay or milk, maybe, with good
bread, or hot oat cakes, for male's a dale cheaper than
flour. It was yourself taught me to bake the cakes,
if you remember, ma'am. We don't use much butter,
now it's so dear, but the childer likes the molasses twice
as well, and it's healthy for them. And so we get on, pay
our rent, and lay up a penny in the savings-bank, and we
ask nothing of nobody, except to be beholden to the
The Teacher's Visit. 37
ladies who teach the children and come to see us now
Mrs. M'Bride stopped to take breath, and her visitors
seized the opportunity to take their leave, after recom-
mending her to have an eye to her neighbours up stairs,
and to see that the man took his medicine regularly.
THE TEACHER'S VISIT.
Fon the remainder of the week, Edith visited the Terrys
pretty frequently. Terry himself improved rapidly under
the doctor's good management, and seemed likely to be
able for his work again in a few days. But the child
continued to be very feeble, and to suffer a good deal;
and Mrs. Allison had some fears (which, however, she did
not express to the family) that the disease would end in
a settled consumption.
Mary Terry had brightened up a little under Mrs.
Allison's encouragement and her husband's undeniable
improvement, and she even made some efforts to reform
her housekeeping; but, alas! not only the will, but the
way was wanting. She was more ignorant of the right
method of doing her household work than a child of
twelve years' old ought to be. She knew nothing of
sewing and mending. Her attempts at cooking were de-
plorable ; and the more she tried to get rid of it. the
38 Thle Teacher's Visit.
more work seemed to accumulate on her hands. Mrs.
M'Bride helped her as much as she could, and tried to
give her "some notion of dacency," as she said; but Mrs.
M'Bride's own "notions of dacency" were somewhat
confused, and did not extend very far beyond keeping
thoroughly clean, and cooking wholesome food. Besides,
she had as much as she could well do in attending to her
own family. However, she washed and mended the best
frocks and stockings of Honora and Matty Terry, and
washed their faces and hands clean, so that when Mrs.
Stark called for them to go to Sunday school, they pre-
sented a tolerably respectable appearance. They seemed
much interested and pleased with what they saw, and
promised to go regularly every Sunday, while the little
M'Brides zealously undertook to assist them in getting
their lessons. Honora also brought home a book for her
father, which Mr. Parker had himself selected for her
from the parish library.
Edith found it much easier to get on with her class the
second Sunday than the first. She had become acquainted
with the little girls, and had prepared the lesson before-
hand, so that she had no difficulty in filling up the time
allotted to the exercises. The proof-texts, too, had been
remembered this time. All brought at least one, some
three or four, and all looked proud and pleased when
their teacher commended their diligence and advised them
to persevere and do even better next time. At the close
of the school, notice was given of the teachers' monthly
The Teacher's Visit. 39
meeting, which was to take place the next Friday, at which
time all the teachers were expected to submit written
reports, not only of the attendance and lessons, but also
of the number of visits made during the month. Edith
was standing on the steps, twisting her blank report in
her hands when her mother joined her, and they walked
on a little way in silence, each apparently occupied with
her own thoughts.
"Mother," said Edith, at length, "I suppose I ought to
visit my scholars this week?"
"I think so, by all means," replied her mother, rather ab-
ruptly; "there is nothing to prevent your doing so, is there ?"
Nothing except the awkwardness of the thing," said
Edith, half laughing. "I have never seen any of the
people, and it seems as if it would be a terribly embar-
rassing piece of business, especially as I never had your
talent for getting on easily with strangers."
"You may not find it so awkward as you anticipate,"
observed her mother. "The children, you know, furnish
a ready subject for conversation, and one thing leads to
another. You would do well to take a package of little
books or cards for the little ones. But, awkward or not,
I think you had better go."
"Oh, I mean to go!" said Edith. "I am going to do
as much for them as I can. They are very pleasant
little things, and I have become so much attached to
them already, that I am afraid I shall find it hard tq
give them up when Julia comes home."
40 The Teacher's Visit.
"Julia is not likely to come home very soon, judging
from what Mrs. Ansell says," answered Mrs. Allison.
"Effie, though not, perhaps, in any immediate danger,
is still very ill; and, from the accounts given of her, I
think it very doubtful whether she ever recover, though
she may linger for some time. She will not hear of
Julia leaving her, and Julia herself is anxious to stay
as long as she can be of any use. I read her letter to her
mother, and it gave me a higher opinion of her than any-
thing I ever knew before."
"I always thought Julia had strength of character at
the bottom," said Edith. "I never thought her so frivo-
lous as many people do."
She was silent for a moment, and then said musingly,-
"How something that we have heard said, over and
over, ever since we were born, sometimes gains a new
force to our minds! We hear again and again of the
shortness and uncertainty of human life, till we are tired
of the very sound of the words; but, somehow, I never
attached any particular meaning to them before. Now,
since poor Julia's sad journey, they have hardly been out
of my mind."
"So teach us to number our days that we may apply
our hearts unto wisdom," said Mrs. Allison, more to her-
self than to her daughter. "Surely man walketh in a
vain show, and disquieteth himself in vain: he heapeth
up riches and knoweth not who shall gather them."
And earnestly she prayed that her dear child might
The Teacher's Visit. 41
learn so to number her days as to apply her heart unto
The next afternoon, as Edith and her mother were
sitting in the little parlour, Mrs. Stark was announced.
Edith had met her several times at Mrs. Terry's, and felt
quite well acquainted with her, so that she welcomed
her without any of the stiffness which she was apt to
show towards strangers. After a little general conver-
sation, Mrs. Stark told her business simply and di-
"I have been thinking of a plan for the benefit of those
Terry children and a few others like them, Mrs. Allison,
and I should like to have your advice about it, if you
Mrs. Allison was all attention. She was a woman of
very polished manners, and possessed the inestimable
art of setting every one she conversed with entirely at
their ease directly.
"You are aware, Mrs. Allison, that Mary Terry knows
nothing at all about either sewing or mending, and, of
course, she cannot teach the children. Honora and
Matty are getting to be tall girls, and it seems a pity
for them to grow up as ignorant and helpless as their
It does, indeed," said Mrs. Allison; but how do you
propose to help it ?"
I have thought of such a plan as this : If I could,
with some one to help me, get these children, and three
42 The Teacher's Visit.
or four more of the same stamp, to come together-say
twice a-week-to work for themselves, I could at least
teach them to sew and mend, and perhaps some other
things at the same time. It would require some care and
a little money, for I think it would be necessary to give
them the materials to make up, as an inducement to bring
"You think, then, that the mere desire of learning
would not be inducement enough V" said Edith.
"Oh, no! They do not know the value of learning,
and cannot be expected to do so until they acquire a little.
But what do you think of the plan, Mrs. Allison ?"
It seems to me to be an excellent one," said Mrs. Alli-
son ; is it an original one ?"
No, indeed," answered Mrs. Stark; and then added,
with a slight blush, I learned to sew in just such a
school myself. Do you remember Mrs. Fairbairn, who
used to live here ?"
I knew her slightly," said Mrs. Allison; and I re-
member hearing that she had a class of girls in training.
But you never could have been one of them, surely ?"
I was the first of them," replied Mrs. Stark, smiling,
"and, I believe, about as hopeless a case as any among
them. She found me a home in the country, with some of
the best people that ever lived, who brought me up as if
I had been their own. I lived with them till I was mar-
ried, and nobody ever had a better home. It was think-
ing of what I used to be myself, and what was done for
The Teacher's Visit. 43
me, that put this plan into my head for the Terry chil-
"Whom have you thought of besides the Terrys?"
Nobody but little Rose Denney and Eliza and Jane
Blinn; but I presume I shall have plenty of applications
as soon as the thing becomes known."
"You will find those Blinn children difficult subjects,"
said Mrs. Allison.
Yes, I suppose so. I was doubtful about undertak-
ing them; but Jane has a better disposition than Eliza,
and they are both intelligent. I thought I would give
them at least the opportunity of improvement. Do you
think there will be any danger in doing so ?"
Oh, not at all! I was only thinking of the trouble
to yourself. But you will want an assistant, you
"Yes, ma'am. It is two persons' work to attend to
them,-to prepare their work and keep them in order. I
could hardly think of trying to do it alone."
I should like nothing better than to help you," said
Mrs. Allison, "but it is out of the question. I have my
hands more than full, and my sister is in the same pre-
Do you think I could help Mrs. Stark, mother ?" asked
Edith, after a moment's hesitation. I believe I can sew
"I should think you might, certainly," replied her
44 The Teacher's Visit.
mother. "It would be very good practice for you, too.
But can you spare the time ?"
"I think so-with a little management," said Edith.
"It will take out two of my drawing afternoons, to be
sure, but I think I can spare them. It certainly seems
quite as important that these poor little children should
learn to sew as that I should learn to draw."
Especially as you draw very well already. Well, my
dear, I think you may do very well under Mrs. Stark's
guidance, and I am glad to see you so willing to sacrifice
your own favourite pursuits in order to help others. As
to money, Mrs. Stark, there shall be no difficulty upon that
score; I will venture to engage that you shall have all the
materials necessary. I suppose some good stout cotton
cloth will be the first thing needed ?"
"Yes, ma'am-stout, but not very coarse. It is diffi-
cult to sew neatly upon coarse cotton, you know. We
shall also need some needles and thread, and some cheap
Mrs. Allison promised to see that all things needful
were supplied. It was arranged that the class was to
meet for the first time the next Saturday, and Mrs. Stark
took her leave.
Well, Edith, you really seem likely to have your hands
full," said her mother; you will not be obliged to follow
in lenry Martyn's footsteps to find work."
"No, indeed! But is it not curious, mother, that so
The Teacher's Visit. 45
much should have come to me to do so soon after I was
speaking of it ?"
The work has partly come to you, and you have partly
come to it," said her mother. A year ago, I remember,
Aunt Grace wanted you to help in making up winter-cloth-
ing for the Sunday-school children; but you declined that,
as well as the collectorship for the charitable society, upon
the ground that you had no time."
"I know it," replied Edith; "I have thought of it
several times lately. And I do not think I should find
any difficulty now in filling up my time, without the
assistance either of the Sunday school or Mrs. Stark's
project. I have never seen the day, since I was twelve
years old, that there were not at least three things that I
wanted to do when it was possible to accomplish one."
"You must not expect to find teaching these children
a very pleasant task, my dear," observed her mother.
" You will find them dirty and neglected, with all sorts
of bad habits, and very few ideas of propriety or even
decency. I rather think that one of your first lessons will
be to teach them to come with clean hands and faces and
well-combed hair. You will have to be very patient, and
not allow yourself to be easily discouraged or irritated, or
you will find that you can do them no good."
"I think I shall leave all that to Mrs. Stark," said
Edith,-" all the government, I mean."
You cannot well leave the government of yourself to
her," replied her mother, smiling; and that will be the
46 The Teacher's Visit.
kind of discipline you will find most necessary. But you
must not be disheartened if you make some failures in
the beginning. Most young teachers have to look back
upon many failures in their first efforts. I have often
wished I could have the opportunity of setting right
some of my own blunders in that way."
"Do tell me some of them, mother," exclaimed Edith;
for there was nothing she enjoyed more than the anec-
dotes her mother sometimes related of her own early
I will keep them till some time when you need con-
solation under your own trials of the same sort. But you
have been sitting quite long enough over that drawing.
Put on your bonnet, and go and ask Aunt Grace to come
over to tea. I am going to tell Martha to make some of
her favourite tea-cakes."
The next day, after dinner, Edith set out upon her
visiting tour, with some misgivings, it is true, but with
that determination to do as well as she could which cha-
racterized all her efforts. As she was turning to go out of
a bookseller's shop, where she had purchased a packet of
tracts, she met Marcia coming in.
"So you are out, too, like every one else, to-day-!" she
exclaimed. "I have just been to see you. Where are
you going "
"To visit my Sunday scholars," replied Edith, with a
Light feeling of vexation at finding herself blushing.
Indeed !" said Marcia, with as much of a sneer as her
The Teacher's Visit. 47
good breeding permitted. "You really seem to have be-
come quite a philanthropist. I should think you might
soon arrive at the same degree of excellence as the incom-
parable Aunt Grace herself."
I am sure I wish I might," said Edith with spirit, her
self-possession fully restored by the sneer. "Aunt Grace
is one of a thousand. But don't you think, Marcia, that
it is time for us to begin to live for something besides our
)wn pleasure ?"
I think, Edith, that our time is our own, and that we
have a right to spend it as we please. There are plenty
of people who have no particular intellectual pursuits,
and who are not in society, to do these kind of things,
if they must be done, without our giving up our time to
It strikes me that those who have no intellectual pur-
suits are not exactly the people to be useful in such
matters, Marcia. As for being in society, every one has
a society of their own, which they like just as well as we
do our own particular set, I suppose. But, then, a good
many people that are 'in society,' in the way you mean,
employ themselves in visiting the poor, and in Sunday
school, and like it too."
"Well, I suppose, one can learn to like anything by
being determined to do so. I have no doubt that you will
soon learn altogether to prefer the society and conversation
of Mrs. Wilson the dressmaker, and Mrs. Bdll the washer-
woman, to mine."
4.8 The Teacher's Visit.
Now you are unjust, Marcia, and I shall not answer
you. Do you know that poor Effie Brydone's case is pro-
nounced almost hopeless by the physicians ? Is it not sad
for her, and for Julia, poor thing, so gay as she has been
all winter ?"
I suppose Julia will not stay with her if she is ill
long," said Marcia. "She would hardly give up going out
the rest of the season on any account."
"For shame !" said Edith warmly; how can you say
so 7 I am sure Julia, however gay she may be, is always
ready to do a kindness for any one. She does not say one
word about coming home, but says she shall stay as long
as she can be any comfort to Effie. You never do Julia
justice, Marcia. But here we are at the house where I
have to call first. I suppose it is useless to ask you to go
with me "
Marcia shook her head with an expression of intense
scorn. "Are you to be expected to read German to-mor-
row? she asked; or is that, too, to be sacrificed upon
the altar of philanthropy ?"
When I make an engagement I intend to keep it," said
Edith. I shall be there, to be sure ;" and bidding her
companion good-bye, she turned towards the residence of
Kitty Wilson, the first on her list.
We shall not attempt to follow her through all her
visits. Suffice it to say that she found the parents of her
scholars always glad to see her, and very ready to talk
about their children, their lessons, their progress, and, all
EDITH'S VISITTO MA WULSON
The Teacher's Visit. 49
their little faults and hinderances. She did not find the
business of introducing herself nearly so awkward as she
expected. She had told the children that she was coming
to visit them, and when they were at home there was, of
course, no difficulty; and when they were not, the
mothers seemed to guess at once who she was, and spared
her the trouble of an introduction. Her lively chat with
good motherly Mrs. Wilson dissipated all her unpleasant
feelings, so that she knocked at the next door with very
good courage; and when, after finishing her round, she
took her way homewards, it was with the feeling that she
had not spent a pleasanter afternoon for a great while.
But, after all, mother," she said, as she concluded the
account of her adventures, I do not exactly see what
good it is going to do. We just talked as one would in
paying an ordinary visit, and that was all."
Still, my dear, you have become acquainted with the
parents of the children, and have learned enough to be
able to form some judgment as to the peculiar circum-
stances of each member of your class. Then you have
shown them that your interest in them is real and earnest,
since it has led you to take the trouble of going to see
them at home."
"Do you always introduce religious conversations in
your visits "
No, my dear. I do not always think it desirable to
do so, especially when the parents are irreligious people.
If I find a proper opening, I of course bring it in. But
50 The Sewing Class.
no rule can be given which shall govern all cases. The
teacher must be her own judge. I think it is well to have
a parcel of well-selected tracts to distribute."
Edith went with her mother and aunt to the teachers'
meeting on Friday evening, and handed in her written re-
port with the rest. It contained merely a list of the les-
sons and attendance, and the number of visits made.
Most of the others contained some particular account of
the progress and conduct of the children; and Edith was
rather surprised to find herself so much interested in
them, and in the discussions which they occasioned. She
was beginning to have some of the spirit of an earnest
Sunday-school teacher, though she had as yet but a dim
and distant view of the great thing which she ought to
teach. But of this one thing needful" she was learning
to feel the want, and there was hope that in time she
would come to see that, wanting that, she was destitute
THE SEWING CLASS.
THE next Saturday, at two o clock, Edith, with her work-
basket on her arm, and furnished with a supply of
needles, thread, and a pair of large scissors, took her way
to Mrs. Stark's. She found her living in a neat cottage,
with a pretty garden, which was well filled with flowers
The Sewing Class. 51
and shrubs, as well as vegetables, for Amy had brought
with her from her country home many of her old fa-
vourites, and, as John shared her floral tastes, her collec-
tion increased year by year. As Edith stooped to examine
some early crocuses, Mrs. Stark opened the door for her.
"They are all here," she said, smiling, "and rather
more than we invited; but I think we shall be able to
provide for them."
Edith laid aside her bonnet and shawl, and followed
her hostess into the neat kitchen at the back of the
house, where the children were assembled. And a motley
group they were!-a group which would at once have
disheartened many a fancy philanthropist. Honora and
Matty-thanks to the care of good Mrs. M'Bride-were
quite clean, and not very ragged. They were the oldest
of the group, though not the tallest. The next in age
were Eliza and Jane Blinn, the one ten and the other
twelve. They were the children of a woman who had
been dependent upon the town and upon the charity of
neighbours for more than twenty years,-which she
seemed to think rather an honourable distinction than
otherwise. There was no reason in the world why she
and her husband should not support themselves, except
that he preferred to spend his earnings in drink, and she
suffered under a constitutional indisposition to do any-
thing. Jane and Eliza had been employed in begging ever
since they were able to speak, and with such an education
they had grown up as might have been expected. They
52 The Sewing Class.
considered themselves as having a perfect right to what-
ever they could get out of the community, by whatever
means; and the idea that they were in the least degree
degraded by living upon charity had never entered their
heads. On one occasion, Eliza came round to Mrs. Alli-
son's just before night, and, being called into the parlour,
she delivered her message in this wise:-
Mother says she is ill, and hasn't any appetite, and
she wants you to send her a bit of cold meat and some
"Does your mother want a bit of cold meat because
she has no appetite ?" asked Edith.
Eliza did not answer.
"You must not come to me in that way, Eliza," said
Mrs. Allison. "That is a very improper way of speaking.
I cannot possibly go out to attend you this evening.
You may go to Miss Vaughan, and she will do what she
thinks best for you." Anna Vaughan was the other
visitor in Mrs. Allison's district, and was well acquainted
with all the circumstances of the family.
Eliza vanished, and in a few minutes little Harry
Vaughan came round. Mrs. Allison," said he, "did you
send Eliza Blinn round to Anna to get a bit of cold meat
and some butter?"
"No," replied Mrs. Allison; "I sent her round that
Anna might do as she thought best about it. I said
nothing about her giving them anything."
The Sewing Class. 53
"Well, she came round and told Anna that you said it
was her business to provide what was wanted for them,
and that she was to give her some cold meat and ever so
many other things!"
This little incident will serve to show what Eliza had
become and was becoming under her course of life.
Jane had a better disposition. Her mother said she
was not so smart as her sister. She could not tell a lie
without stammering and blushing painfully; and she
lacked the quickness with which Eliza would bring one
fiction after another to support her first story. Conse-
quently, she was less employed and less trusted by her
mother than her sister; and, as she was more willing to
work, she was kept busy at home, and thus escaped a part
of the hardening process to which Eliza was subjected.
Rose Denney was a pretty little Irish child, perhaps
nine years old, and almost as dirty and ragged as a child
could well be, but still with something pleasant and at-
tractive about her. The same could not be said of her
neighbour, Mary M'Sweeney. She was tall and very
thin; her neglected yellow hair was as dirty as an old
mop, and seemed as though she had never seen or heard
of a comb. Her clothes did not more than half cover
her, and her naturally fair skin was seamed with dirt and
disfigured with bruises and scratches. Her voice sounded
coarse and hollow, and her manners were rude and re-
pulsive in the extreme. Edith remembered to have seen
her begging with a basket through the winter. Another
54 The Sewing Class.
little girl, eight years old, completed the class. She was
the smallest of the whole, and rather the most respectable-
looking; but there was a hard, old expression in her little
face, and a slyness in her glittering dark eye, which pro-
mised a character difficult to manage.
The first thing was to take their measure ; and as this
was done they were sent out, one by one, to wash their
faces and hands at the pump by the door, while Edith
and Amy prepared the sewing. Eliza Blinn and Mary
M'Sweeney had to be sent back twice before they were
pronounced in a fit state to begin. After some little time,
they were all provided with work carefully turned down
and lightly basted, and Mrs. Stark and Edith employed
themselves in going from one to the other, encouraging
their efforts and setting them right when wrong.
Not so, Mary! See how I hold it. You are sewing
exactly the wrong way. See ; this is the way to put the
needle in-take up a very little bit of both sides, and
push the needle through with your finger. Slowly at
first: that is right. Now another, very close to it; so!
Now another. Try to make it look close and smooth,
like mine. You never tried to sew before, did you?"
"No!" replied Mary.
No, ma'am," said Amy, gently, correcting her about
her reply. "You should say, 'No, sir,' and 'No, ma'am,'
when you speak to an older person. Try now to sew a
little piece by yourself, while I see to some one else.
Now, Eliza, let me look at yours. But you must take
The Sewing Class. 55
the stitches closer together, my child! See; your work
will all pull apart!"
I can't sew any better, because that girl keeps knock-
ing my elbow," said Eliza, pouting, and pointing to Matty
Terry, who was quietly minding her work by her side,-
so much engaged, indeed, as not to hear the conversation.
But little Honora at once took up the cudgels in her sis-
She never touched you but once, and that wasn't on
purpose. You know she didn't!"
Hush!" said Mrs. Stark in a decided tone. Eliza,
you may come and sit over here by yourself, and then you
will have no cause to blame your neighbours. But you
must take more pains, or you will have it all to rip out
and do over again."
Eliza sulkily took the seat assigned to her, and went
on with her work, casting some vindictive glances at
Honora and Matty. Meantime Edith was occupied in
like manner with her half of the class.
Has the reader any idea of the amount of pains needed
to teach the art of managing a needle to a child who has
not only never sewed, but who has never seen sewing
done? Every stitch must be watched, and the needle
directed in and out every time. Knots must be disen-
tangled, and ends fastened off, and, withal, a strict watch
must be kept that the needle be not broken,, or slily
thrown away, or perhaps used to give a sudden wound to
an unsuspecting neighbour. Amy and Edith found their
56 The Sewing Class.
time very fully occupied with the six scholars they had,
and were very glad they had commenced with no more.
By degrees, however, it began to grow a little easier.
Mary and the little one, Lavinia, especially, made very
good progress, and began to show a tolerable-looking seam,
though not such a one as most little girls of five would
like to display to their mothers.
Do any of you know anything about Jenny Green?"
asked Mrs. Stark, at length.
She was at our house last night," said little Lavinia, or
Viney, as she was called. "The old man has gone to jail."
"He got drunk," said Mary, taking the word out of
Viney's mouth, "and he began to beat the old woman,
and to break all the dishes, and Johnny ran off and got
the policeman and had him put in jail."
"Put his father in jail?" exclaimed Honora Terry,
in an accent of extreme astonishment and horror. "A
boy put his father in jail !"
Yes," said Mary, and he did just right, too." She
stopped to disentangle her thread, and then went on
(though speaking more to herself than to any one else),
" and the very next time mother gets drunk and begins
beating the children, I mean to have her put in jail too."
Amy and Edith looked at one another. They did not
know exactly how to deal with this frank expression of
determination upon Mary's part.
"Your mother does not drink, does she, Mary?" asked
The Sewing Class. 57
"Yes, she does!" interrupted little Viney. She gets
drunk almost every day, and beats the old man-"
Hold your tongue, you little--," interrupted Mary, in
her turn, giving Viney a knock with her elbow. She is
no worse than your mother, any way. Yes,-yes, ma'am,
I mean,-she does drink."
"Drink makes all the trouble in the world !" said Jane
"Not quite all, perhaps, but a great deal of it," said
Edith. "It does more towards making and keeping
people poor than everything else put together."
My father don't drink, nor mother either," said Matty
Terry, and we are poor, and so is Mrs. M'Bride."
"I don't call M'Bride's folks poor," said Eliza Blinn.
"I'm sure they go to church on Sundays dressed out like
any lady; and the girls go to school too. They know
well enough how to get things out of people."
"There you are mistaken, Eliza," replied Mrs. Stark.
" Mrs. M'Bride never asks anything from anybody, but
she and her husband work for all they have, and earn it
honestly. They would be ashamedto beg so long as they
Father says it is the business of rich folks to help poor
folks," persisted Eliza. He says they have got enough,
-more than they want,-and they ought to give it away.
The world owes him a living, he says, and he means to
have it, too."
"' The world owes him a living if he earns a living, and
5 The Sewing Class.
not unless," replied Mrs. Stark. The Bible says, If a
man will not work, neither shall he eat."
Is that in the Bible?" asked Jane.
Yes, and a great many more things of the same sort,
as I hope you will find out some day. You can read,
Jane, can't you?"
"Yes, ma'am, I can read some."
"Do you go to a Sunday school ?"
"Not now. I used to go last winter; but Eliza couldn't
go any more, and I didn't want to go alone."
"And why did you not go, Eliza 1"
I didn't like it. The teacher wasn't good to me, and
didn't believe what I said. She came to see mother, and
told her that I told stories, and then mother wouldn't let
me go again. Besides, my clothes all got wore out, and
I hadn't anything fit to wear. Mother says we may go
next winter, if we want to go."
I go to the Sunday school," said little Rose, and the
teacher is real good to me. She gave me a nice warm
blue frock and cape, and I mean to go always."
That is quite right, Rose. I hope you will, and try
to learn all you can. Is that frock you have on the one
your teacher gave you?"
"No, ma'am; I keep that for Sundays."
I think it is a good deal better to work, because then
you get paid for it," said Mary, after a little pause; and
then it ain't nobody's business what you have. If you are
always begging, you have just to take what folks like to
The Sewilng Class. 59
give you; and they do be always asking questions. And
it ain't any harder to work, either, as I see. Billy Brown
works always in the mill, and he has a great deal more
fun than I have."
"Very true, Mary," replied Edith. I hope, when you
are older, you will get a place and work honestly for your
Mother won't let me," said Mary.
Mother says I may have a place if somebody wants
me for company," said little Viney. "She said so the
other day. There was a lady talking to her that said she
would take me, and bring me up like a lady, and keep me
just for company to her and her little girl; but mother
couldn't spare me just then."
Take care, Viney !" said Edith; I am afraid you are
not speaking the truth."
"Yes I am; she was a real handsome lady, with a silk
dress on, and came in a carriage."
"That will do," said Mrs. Stark. You need not say
any more about it, Viney. Now you may all put up your
work. Fold it neatly, and put your thimble inside.
Stick the needle in so. Then you will know where to
find it next time. Now let me see you go out, one by
one, and say 'Good afternoon' properly. Viney first;
that will do. Now Eliza and Jane; very well. Rose-
Honora-Matty-now Mary. Come again next Thurs-
day, all of you,-and with clean hands and faces, re-
6o The Sewing Class.
"Well, what do you think of our class ?" she asked,
as the door closed behind the last one, and they set
themselves to collecting and looking over the work,
which had previously been marked,-each piece, with
the name of the owner.
"I don't know," said Edith. "Some of them seem
teachable enough; but that Mary,-do you think we
shall ever make anything of her?"
"She looks like a difficult subject, certainly, and the
fact of her family being so degraded does not help the
matter much; but I do not think her the most hopeless
of the set. Little Viney and Eliza Blinn are the hardest
Viney is very quick at learning, however," said Edith.
"See how well she has done the last of this seam."
"The great trouble is, she has not the least idea of
telling the truth. I do not think she even knows
what it means. She does not lie, like Eliza Blinn, simply
for the sake of gaining her ends, but she just says what-
ever comes uppermost in her mind at the moment. One
might almost say that Viney lies from impulse, and Eliza
".What can they be but bad, having such parents?"
said Edith. The idea of children talking about sending
their fathers and mothers to jail, and their getting
drunk !-I am sure I do not know what one is to say
to such things. You cannot tell them to honour such
The Sezwing Class. 61
"I think the best way is to say as little as one can
about it; but one is often puzzled. Honora and Matty
seem nice children."
"Yes, they are the best of the set, decidedly. How
horrified poor Honora was at the idea of Johnny send-
ing his father to jail! I think that family will get on
and do pretty well by-and-by."
"If they can only learn any management or econ-
omy," said Mrs. Stark. "But as long as they continue
to eat and waste all they earn they must be poor, of
They do not seem to have much idea of saving any-
thing when they have it to spend," said Edith. "As long as
they have any meat they eat it for breakfast, dinner, and
supper, and perhaps the next day go entirely without.
Then they will have butter, and tea, and coffee,-such
things as they never thought of in Ireland, I dare say.
Mother showed John how much it would come to in a
year if he would leave off his tobacco and put the money
in the savings' bank. He was perfectly astonished, and
declared he would try it; and I believe he has persevered
so far. They really seem to have excellent dispositions,
if they were not so ignorant."
I think that is the case with most of the Irish," said
Mrs. Stark. It is as Jane says,-' the drink makes all
the trouble with them.' I know a number of hard-work-
ing Irishmen,-day-labourers,-who have brought up
their families respectably and comfortably, and who have
62 The Sewing Class.
always contrived to have something beforehand. The
boys learn trades, and the girls go out to places, and they
will be several degrees better off than their parents
before them. M'Bride's boys will very probably rise to
be masters in their trades, and die rich men. One of
them works for my husband, and can earn good wages
already. The other is apprenticed to a baker. My
husband was a poor boy, and has made his way by his
work alone. He was a day-labourer when I first knew
Edith now took her bonnet and shawl and went her
way homewards, receiving a polite bow from the tall and
stalwart master of the house as he opened the gate for
her. When she arrived at home, she found a letter
from Julia Ansell. Poor Julia wrote in a very sad spirit.
Effie was no better, nor likely to be, though the doctor
thought she might improve a little as the weather became
settled. But there was no hope of her recovery, or even
of her lasting more than a few months at most. She
had insisted on knowing the exact truth, Julia said, and
seemed less agitated by it than they expected. She only
said, "Then I have nothing more to do with the world,"
and asked them to leave her alone for a little while.
"Since then," said Julia, in continuation, "she has seemed
much changed. She is very quiet and patient, and does
not want to see any one but ourselves and Mr. B., the
minister of their church, who visits her very frequently.
She talks about mother a good deal, and has been trying
The SewiVng Class. 63
to write to her; but I fear the letter will never be finished.
Mr. Brydone sits with her every moment that he can
spare from his business, and reads to her a good deal,
though she hardly cares to hear anything read but the
Bible and her Prayer-book. I never saw any one so
changed. Mr. Brydone says she has seemed more
thoughtful and earnest ever since her baby died. You
know it only lived a few days. She has been out a good
deal, but she has not seemed to care for it, and she has
been to church very regularly. Poor Effie! only think,
Edith, in another year-.
"I do not go out at all," she continued, "only to walk
a little and to go to church; and I don't want to go
anywhere else. I am ashamed enough when I think
how I have spent the last three years-in such miserable
dissipation. Now I feel as though I should never care
for company again, or for anything else except being
really a Christian, and doing some good, if I can. You
have not the same things to reproach yourself with that
I have. You have not been so giddy and careless, and
neglected so many duties. When I was going out every
evening, you were studying and improving yourself; and
you can't tell how my life looks to me. But I am glad I
can see it as it really is; and I hope, if I come back, I
shall be very different. Tell Aunt Grace I remember
now a good many things she used to teach me in the
Sunday school, which I did not think much of then.
Efie has spoken of her several times, and begged
64 Doing Well.
me to give her love to her. Remember me to the chil-
dren in the Sunday school. I hope I shall be a better
teacher when I come back."
Edith shed some tears over the already blistered
sheet,--it was so different from Julia's ordinary gay
tone, and yet so like her in its childlike simplicity and
That night she spent more time than usual in reading
her Bible, and, as she retired to rest, she prayed more
earnestly than she had ever done before.
FoR two or three weeks the sewing school went on and
prospered quietly, without any very noted incident. Three
or four more pupils were added, of much the same class,
and all made pretty good progress in the use of the needle
and in reading; for it was judged expedient to add a
lesson or two to the other instructions given. The im-
provement in manners was perhaps the most remarkable
of all. Most of the girls learned to open and shut the
door softly; to say, "Yes, ma'am," and No, ma'am," to
their teachers, and "If you please," and Thank you,"
to each other. They came with clean hands and faces,
too, and with combed hair.
The change was most clearly manifest in Mary
Doing Well. 65
M'Sweeney, whom Edith had pronounced "the hardest
case of all." The child seemed to have an almost intuitive
perception of what was good and desirable, as soon as it
came in her way. She adopted, almost without being
told, proper and becoming modes of sitting and standing.
She began to take pains with her dress and hair, though
indeed, her materials were but scanty; and many a girl
in a good school might have been put to shame by the
pains which Mary took, and her great anxiety to profit
by instruction. Her mother seemed to be gratified with
the improvement of the child, though she complained
that Mary was not worth nearly as much, to send about
begging, as formerly.
Little Viney, too, improved wonderfully, both in sewing
and reading, and succeeded in making an entire dress
for herself in a surprisingly short space of time; but her
teachers could not flatter themselves that there was any
amendment so far as conduct was concerned. She still
told whatever story came uppermost in her mind, without
the slightest regard for truth, and still watched her
opportunity to give, with the most impish sliness, pinches
and pricks to her neighbours, always denying, with great
vehemence, and even with tears, that she had ever touched
them. At last, they found that the only way was to set
her entirely by herself, and not permit her even to speak
to the other girls. They did not like to give her up, so
long as there was any chance of benefiting her. The
other children did as well as the same number would be
66 Doing Well.
likely to do, taken from any families in the city and sub-
jected to the same amount of instruction,-perhaps a
little better; for they felt it an honour and a pleasure to
be taught, and took more pains to learn than any one is
likely to take who receives instruction as a matter of
Edithgrew very much interested in her labours for the
children, and they occupied a large part of her time and
thoughts during the week. She still read German every
other morning with Marcia, and prepared her lesson for
her master as carefully as ever; but her studies did not
occupy her as formerly. She was extremely interested
in observing the improvement of her pupils, and very
much gratified to find that she had the power of attaching
them to herself.
Edith was in some respects remarkably fitted for a
teacher. She had that power of throwing all her energies
into the explanation of a lesson, which always incites
children to do their very best, and interests them in
their employment, whatever it may be. She was not
remarkably quick in learning herself, and she knew how
to bear with and to encourage those who were slow.
With a dull scholar she never lost patience; with a lazy
one, it must be confessed, she sometimes did; and an idle
pupil was apt to find herself rather uncomfortable in her
She now began to look forward with pleasure to meet-
ing her children in the Sunday school, and treasured up
Doing Well. 67
in her reading such incidents as she thought likely to
interest them and to illustrate their lessons. Julia had
never done more than hear them repeat the words of
their task, and praise them if they repeated it accurately.
Edith, while she was still more careful that every word
should be repeated, asked questions, made explanations,
and frequently recurred to the lesson of the Sunday before;
so that her pupils not only acquired a perfect knowledge
of the text of Scripture, but were also obliged to exercise
their minds upon it.
Edith," said Mrs. Allison, one morning, as Edith was
busily engaged over a translation, which formed part of
her German lesson, do you know that Jane is going
"Jane going away! When ?-and for what I thought
she was perfectly satisfied here."
So she is, but her mother is very much out of health,
and she,wants to go home and stay till she is better.
She thinks she will not be away more than five or six
"It seems hardly worth while to get a new servant for
that time, if Jane really means to come back," said Edith;
I think we can manage without one for the time; and
I like her so much better than any one else."
"So do I. The question is, whether we can do the
work ourselves: and here is another thing; Mrs. Blinn
has been here, and she wants us to take Eliza. What do
you think of that 2"
68 Doing Well.
"I am afraid you would find her very troublesome,
mother, especially as she is so near home."
I should expect a good deal of trouble with her, of
course, brought up as she has been; but then, is not the
good of the child to be considered ? If I do not take her
I don't know who will, and she is going to utter ruin.
It is something that her mother wants to get a place for
her; and it is barely possible that, by sufficient pains and
watchfulness, Eliza may be trained into respectability and
usefulness. The question is, whether you think the ex-
periment worth trying, and whether you are willing to
take your share of the work."
"I am willing to do my part, certainly," said Edith.
"Eliza is not wanting in intellect; but she cannot tell
the truth,-well, I suppose she could if she tried,-but
she never does try. It certainly seems a pity that no
one should make an effort to save her. I do not suppose
she knows how to do anything."
Yes, she can wash and iron pretty well; and I suppose
she can make fires and bring up coal and wood. I think
she would soon learn to set the table and wash the dishes
clean; for, with all the rest of their faults, the Blinns are
not dirty. Are you willing to try her? for here comes
her mother back again, I see."
Mrs. Blinn entered. She was a tall and good-looking
woman, tolerably well dressed, and had not the least
appearance of being cast down or depressed by her suf-
Doing Well. 69
"Well, Mrs. Blinn," said Mrs. Allison, "we have de-
cided to try Eliza for a while; but you*know, if we do,
it must be on the condition that she shall be entirely under
my authority. She shall come and go at such times as I
think proper, and at such only."
I suppose you will be willing to let her come home
whenever she wants to come," interrupted Mrs. Blinn.
"By no means," replied Mrs. Allison. "It might be
very inconvenient for me to spare her. And, besides, one
of the principal things she needs to learn, is to content
herself to stay quietly in the house. She may go home
at reasonable times, but only when I give her permission;
and the same rule must apply to her going anywhere else."
When I was in service, I used to go and come when
I pleased, and nobody cared, so long as my work was
done," replied Mrs. Blinn.
"But cannot you see that it would be impossible to
take the charge of a girl like Eliza upon such terms ? She
cannot be expected to have much discretion at her age;
and, having run in the street so much, she has, no doubt,
formed many undesirable acquaintances. Even suppos-
ing that she professed to go nowhere but to your house,
and that it were best to give her that liberty, I could not
be sure that she was always at home when she said so.
No; if I am going to take her, I must have her entirely
to myself, and direct all her motions. I would not at-
tempt to take care of a child of my own upon any other
70 Doing Well.
"Well," said Mrs. Blinn, "I suppose I must let her
come, for I can't do anything with her at home; but I
think you won't find it easy to keep her in when she
wants to go out. Will you not give me a little of some-
thing to help us through the day? We hain't got any
sort of provisions, except a little meal."
"How does that happen ?" asked Mrs. Allison. "Mrs.
Harding gave you an order for three shillings' worth of
provisions only the day before yesterday."
"Three shillings don't go far," replied Mrs. Blinn, with
a disdainful toss of her head. A pound of butter costs
fourteenpence, and you can't get a quarter of a pound of
good tea for less than a shilling."
It seems to me I would do without them, rather than
spend all I have and be destitute so soon again," said Mrs
Allison. We are very careful ourselves about using
butter, now that the price is so high. But, even suppos-
ing you got the butter and tea, you had still tenpence
Don't you suppose a poor family wants a good dinner
now and then ?" retorted Mrs. Blinn. Oh, dear me! it
was a sad thing for the poor when good Mrs. Howe
moved out of the city. She'd give a poor body what they
wanted, and not be inquiring into every penny they spent.
Many's the time she has sent me round a good hot dinner,
as nice as she had herself, and never asked for the dishes
back again She was a visitor that there was some com-
fort in going to. A pretty story, truly, if every penny a
Doing Well. 71
poor family gets must be accounted for and talked over !
I've had help from the overseers of the poor and the
society twenty years, and this is the first time I have
ever heard of such a thing."
It is very necessary to know how the society's money
goes, nevertheless," replied Mrs. Allison. There is only
a limited amount to be laid out, you know, and each
visitor has her share to spend in her own district. I have
to account to the society for all their funds that I use,
and to show that it is laid out judiciously. There are a
great many to be helped beside yourself, and many who
need help more, and if I give all to you I shall have none
for them. Now it certainly does appear to me, that, with
your small family, you might make three shillings last
you rather more than two days, if you were careful in
laying it out. When you earn money for yourself, nobody
will make the least objection to your doing what you
please with it; but when you are assisted by the money
of others, you should use it with economy."
Mrs. Blinn looked very much discontented with this doc-
trine, but she was sufficiently acquainted with Mrs.
Allison to know that it was useless to contend about the
matter with her; and she took her leave, promising to
send Eliza directly, and chuckling to herself over the idea
of her being made to do anything against her will.
"Are there many such people as Mrs. Blinn ?" asks
some young reader, in astonishment. Yes; a great many
more than we wish there were. We know of many such
72 Doing Well
families,-families that have depended from year to year
upon the stated funds for the relief of the poor, till they
have lost all sense of shame at being dependent, and con-
sider all they receive, from every source, as a simple right,
to which they have as good a claim as though they had
earned it. Such people are very difficult to deal with,
especially when there are children to suffer with their
parents. As almost all the money they get comes to them
without labour, they have very little sense of its value,
and spend as fast as it comes, depending upon the usual
sources for a further supply. The children are trained
np in habits of dependence, idleness, and begging, and too
frequently lying and stealing are added. It is difficult to
induce them to stay steadily in any place, as they dislike
the constant employment, and, above all, the restraints,
of a respectable family; and the parents are always
ready to take the part of the children against their em-
ployers. If'they can be taken to a distance and subjected
to a firm and judicious government, they often do well;
but they require a vast deal of patience.
The same afternoon Eliza presented herself, and was
kindly received by Mrs. Allison, who showed her what
she was to do. She was not wanting in natural capacity;
and as either Mrs. Allison or Edith was almost always
in the kitchen, she had very little opportunity for mis-
chief. Her manners were not particularly pleasant; but
that was of no great consequence, and Mrs. Allison began
to think that she had done the child injustice, and that
Doing IWell. 73
she was not so difficult to manage after all. But she was
"Mother," said Edith coming into the kitchen one
morning, "have you done anything with the blue sugar-
"Nothing," replied her mother; "why?"
"I cannot find it. I filled it with sugar yesterday
morning, and set it in the pantry; but it is gone. Have
you seen it, Eliza I"
"A blue sugar-bowl? No, ma'am," replied Eliza, in-
nocently. There is a brown one here in the closet," and
she produced an old one from the shelf.
"That is not the one I mean. You must have seen it
since you came, for it has been both down here and on
"I don't know anything about it," persisted Eliza; "I
never noticed such a one."
"Are you sure you filled it, Edith?" asked her mother.
Oh yes, quite sure. Don't you remember my getting
up from the breakfast-table to do it?"
I should think it must be in the house somewhere,"
said Mrs. Allison; and she quietly commenced a search.
Presently she called Eliza and showed her the identical
article on the upper shelf of a cupboard, appropriated to
baking utensils. It was pushed carefully into a corner,
and covered with a tin pan. It was quite empty; there
was a hole in the side, and one of the handles was off.
How did it come there, Eliza?"
74 Doing Well.
"Oh, that one !" answered the girl, perfectly unabashed.
"That has been up there ever since I came here, with
the handle knocked off. I didn't know you meant that
Edith was perfectly confounded by the coolness of the
"Why, mother, I know perfectly well that I filled it
yesterday morning and left it in the pantry."
"Now, Eliza, tell me the exact truth," said Mrs. Allison.
"How did it get there? and what has become of the
For some time Eliza persisted in saying that it had
always been in the cupboard ever since she came; but at
last she confessed that she had brought it down stairs
to put some sugar on her bread and butter, and had
dropped it on the hearth and broken it. Then, fearing
detection, she had swept up the sugar and thrown it in
the fire, and hidden the broken dish in the cupboard.
This account was partly true and partly false. It was
true that she had broken the bowl, in the manner she
described, but it was after she had given the contents to
Mrs. Allison tried hard to bring her to a sense of the
sin she had committed, but without much success. At
first she felt tempted to send her home at once, but, re-
flecting that she was totally untaught, and might after a
while yield to good influences, she resolved to make a
thorough trial of her. Edith who had undertaken the
Doing Well. 75
task of teaching her to read and write, was faithful to her
charge, and, so far as that was concerned, she had the
satisfaction of seeing her pupil make rapid progress.
The sewing school was now increased to twelve scholars,
and the young teachers became every day more and more
engaged in their work. Among the new pupils was a
little girl named Martha Loring, in whom Edith took an
especial interest. The mother, having been left a widow,
had married a second husband,-a person of some con-
siderable education, but who bore no very enviable repu-
tation, even in the not very select neighbourhood where
he lived. His business was that of a pedlar, and his
wife kept a sort of small grocer's shop when she was
well. Of late, however, she had been very ill, and her
husband had applied for relief to Mrs. Allison, as well as
to Dr. H., on the plea that his wife was a member of
that church. Mrs. Allison went to see the woman several
times, and became convinced that they belonged to the
very worst class of society. Both Martha and her mother
evidently stood in mortal terror of the man, and would
turn pale and tremble at the very sound of his step and
voice. Martha was a dark, pale child, with very large
black eyes, which seemed as though they were always
watching for a blow. The least word of fault-finding
filled them with tears, and a little praise or a kind caress
made them flash with pleasure. Her step-father denounced
her as the very worst child that ever lived, and enter-
76 Doing Well.
trained every one that came to visit his sick wife with an
account of her enormities. He even went so far as to
call upon Mrs. Stark, when he found out that she went
there to sew, and went over the account of the child's
vices and evil dispositions, concluding by saying, in reply
to some remark which Amy made about finding a place
for her, that he could not allow Martha to go into any
respectable family without giving them clearly to under-
stand what a fiend in human shape she was, in order that
they might use the necessary severity with her,-that he
owed it to his conscience not to let any one take her,
ignorant of her vices."
I should advise you not to take such a course," said
Mr. Stark, in rather a dry tone.
"Why not?" asked Mr. Loring, rather astonished; for
he had flattered himself that he was making quite a
Because people will judge of you by her," returned
John, quietly. "No child is naturally so depraved as
you have described Martha to be; and if she is so bad,
which I beg leave to doubt, it is because she has had bad
examples set before her. I have no doubt that you have
treated her harshly enough, if that were everything
necessary; but good precepts and good examples go much
further towards making good children than any amount
Mr. Loring actually turned white with rage. He looked
at his opponent as though he would have enjoyed knock-
Doing Well. 77
ing him down; but John continued eating his supper,
not in the least disturbed by his glances, and he departed
to vent his anger upon his miserable wife. Martha con-
tinued to come regularly to the sewing school, however,
Mr. Loring having his own private reasons for not pro-
voking any particular inquiry into his affairs, and she
was at least happy while there. Her mother continued
to get weaker day by day, and there seemed no reason to
hope that she would live much longer.
Our old friends, the Terrys, were in greatly improved
circumstances. Mary seemed at last to have discovered
the desirableness of knowing something about house-
keeping. She really applied herself with considerable
energy to learning the best ways of doing her work, and
with the counsel and assistance of Aunt Grace, who visited
her very frequently, and the help of good Mrs. M'Bride,
the rooms began to assume an appearance of considerable
comfort. The wood was no longer scattered about the
floor, but piled neatly in one corner out of the way.
There was a good pantry in the apartment, and no. want
of dishes and cooking-utensils, which had usually been
strewed in picturesque confusion from one end of the
room to the other. One day Aunt Grace proposed to
Mary that she should permit her to put the pantry in
order. Mary was rather shocked at the idea of Miss
Grace taking so much trouble; but she was very much
obliged to her, and scrubbed the shelves and floor as a
preparatory step; for she was very neat at cleaning.
78 Doing Well.
Then Miss Grace arranged and sorted the dishes accord-
ing to her own ideas, putting crockery on one shelf and
tin on another, and ranging pots and kettles below, while
Honora and Matty handed her the things, and Mary
looked on with great interest. She was surprised to see
how neat and pretty her tea-cups and saucers looked
when they were arranged in rows on the clean shelves,
and how little room they all occupied, while she freely
acknowledged that the room outside looked much better
Indeed, Miss, it is a great improvement, and I'm much
obliged to you; but I'm fearing it won't last long."
"Why not ?" asked Miss Grace. If you are careful
to put everything in its place as soon as you have done
with it, and teach the girls to do the same, your pantry
will never get out of order. It will need some care, of
course, at first; but I know you are willing to take pains,
because you did so with the soup the other day. I am
sure you felt paid for all your trouble when your husband
Indeed, I did," said Mary, smiling and blushing. "He
said it was the best he ever ate, and he'd hardly believe
me when I told him how little it cost."
Every one has to take pains to have their homes com-
fortable," continued Miss Grace. "It makes no differ-
ence how large or how handsome their rooms are. I have
been in houses twice as large as the whole of this, and
where there was plenty of handsome furniture and abun-
Doing Well. 79
dance of servants, and yet the family lived in a state of
perpetual discomfort and annoyance, because the mistress
took no care of her housekeeping."
I think there is a great dale in learning when a body
is young," said Mary, surveying her orderly room with
great satisfaction. "Now, when I was a girl, I was
kitchen-maid in a large house, and never did anything
only to wash dishes and pots and the like. The mistress
-a goodlady she was-had me taught to read and write,
and I learned so I could sew up a seam nately, but not to
contrive anything, like. Then I was but a young slip when
I was married-only just seventeen, and John not much
older. He was always good to me, and steady to work,
but he was only a day-labourer, and the wages there is
very low; so we came to this country.
"But we never had a day's sorrow till he and the child
got sick; and never a word of difference did we have from
the first that we went to church till now. Oh, but it's a
sore heart I had at the thought of losing him !" And
Mary took up her apron, and cried again a little at the re-
membrance of it.
"It is, as you say, a good deal in learning young," re-
marked Miss Grace; "and that is another good reason,
you see, why you should take pains now, so that Honora
and Matty may learn betimes. They are going on nicely
with their sewing and reading, my niece tells me."
"Yes, ma'am, they are improving greatly, and it's very
fond of their teacher they are, and in the Sunday school
So Doing Well.
the same. The father does be teaching them their verse
and hearing them read in their books, most every even-
He teaches me too," said poor little Peggy, who, com-
fortably bolstered up in a large chair, was trying to occupy
her languid fingers with some patchwork. "I can say
Gentle Jesus,' and 'Thou shalt have no more gods but
me,' as well as Honora."
"And all the commandments Peggy can say, ma'am,"
continued Matty, anxious that all her sister's accomplish-
ments should be appreciated.
"I am glad to hear that Peggy is fond of her book,"
said Aunt Grace; "it will be a great diversion to her if
she learns to read well. Have you been to church yet,
"I went last Sunday, Miss. The children coaxed me
so, I could not refuse them, poor things; and I was glad
I did. It made me feel like home again to hear the same
psalms and prayers I used to say when I was a little girl,
and the sermon was so beautiful like, and yet so plain.
Dr. H. is a kind man, Miss; don't you think so ?"
"Very kind, Mary."
He came to see us yesterday," continued Mary, "and
he sat down and talked to me and the children like we
had been old friends. Oh, this is a good country for poor
folks, if they are only steady and hard-working; and if
they are not that, there's no place good for them."
Nor for rich folks either," said Aunt Grace.
Doing Well. 8
Good Mrs. M'Bride rejoiced greatly in the improved
circumstances of her neighbours, especially as she took
some credit to herself for .it; and she did indeed give
Mary many valuable hints and much neighbourly help
about working and washing. The M'Brides were good
examples of the way in which a labouring man may
prosper and bring up a family if he and his wife are
prudent and industrious. He had always worked at day's
work, and his wife had taken in washing ever since she
was married-an employment which she found very pro-
fitable, as she understood clear-starching, and had a special
reputation for doing up white dresses. M'Bride had a little
money laid up when he married, and his wife a good stock
of clothes, so that they began life with considerable ad-
vantages over those who form such connections thought-
lessly. They began their married life with the determi-
nation that they would lay up something every week, let
the sum be ever so small; and to this they steadfastly
adhered, though it cost them a good deal of pinching,
and often porridge, or plain bread and milk, or something
equally cheap, formed their breakfast and supper for
weeks together. They had never been behind a day in
paying their rent, and every article was paid for when
purchased, so they had no debts to trouble them. Their
two oldest children were boys; and almost as soon as
they were able to move alone, they were set to work at
something-gathering chips, splitting firewood, taking
care of the baby, or cleaning the steps and the little yard;
82 Doing Well.
for in work, out of mischief," was one of Mrs. M'Bride's
cardinal proverbs. The girls were brought up in the
same way; and by the time they were nine years old they
could get dinner almost as well as their mother. Though
Mr. M'Bride had been but a labourer himself, he meant
that his boys should be better off; and as soon as they
were old enough he apprenticed them to good masters-
the one to learn the trade of a baker, the other that of a
carpenter. Taught to work from their earliest remem-
brance, they did not feel it to be any hardship, and their
father and mother had the satisfaction of hearing excellent
accounts of them from their masters.
The M'Brides had never been much in the habit of
going to church till their children went to a Sunday
school. This brought the teacher to see them, and the
teacher brought the minister. It was not long before they
were persuaded to go at least once on Sunday, if only to
take care of the children. Then it was found possible to
attend twice, by putting off the principal meal till after
evening service. By degrees they became interested, and
felt at home in the sanctuary; and, after some calculating
and reckoning of means, Mr. M'Bride found that he could
afford to have a pew of his own. Volumes were taken
from the parish library; the boys purchased a large
family Bible for a Christmas present to their mother, and
after a while it became a regular custom for the master of
the house to assemble the family around him for reading
and prayer, both morning and evening.
A Great Change. 83
A GREAT CHANGE.
WHAT with her sewing class, the Sunday-school children,
and teaching Eliza Blinn, Edith's hands were pretty full.
She had never had quite so much to do since she left
school. Marcia complained that her head was so full of
poor people and dirty children that she would talk of
nothing else, and was getting as tiresome as Anna
Vaughan herself. Marcia had no sympathy with any
such pursuits. Poor people seemed to her to be a neces-
sary part of the community, who were made to work, and
to be relieved with money when they could not help
themselves; but she never thought of bestowing any such
thing as feeling upon them. She was out of all patience
with Edith and Anna for standing in a shop to chat with
Mrs. Stark; and considered it a piece of impertinence
when John Terry took off his woollen cap and came up
to speak to Edith, who stood kindly conversing with him
in the very midst of the crowd of well-dressed idlers in
Who is that man? how can you be troubled with his
long stories?" Marcia asked, sharply.
That?" said Edith, why, it is Mr. John Terry, that
lives in Exchange Alley. and he is the father of two of
my most promising pupils. I had the honour of calling
upon his wife yesterday, and of giving her some instruc-
84 A Great Change.
tions in the mystery of binding off the heels of stockings.
They are very interesting people, I assure you."
And such a fellow to stand speaking to you in the
"Why not? Does it require such great courage to
speak to me?"
What nonsense, Edith Don't you know you do such
people a great deal of harm by setting them up, and
making them feel above their place?"
What is their place?" asked Edith.
Marcia was not exactly prepared with an answer, and
I agree with you that anything which makes a man
or woman ashamed of working for their living, and
earning it honestly, is a great injury to them. But I
confess I do not see how that should be the effect of
John's speaking to me in the street, or my teaching his
wife to knit. In order to do such people any good, you
must have a real sympathy with them; and you must
show them that you have, too. If you make it appear
that you consider them an inferior class, and not of the
same flesh and blood with yourself, you can do nothing
A great many such conversations did Edith and her
friend hold, which ended, as arguments usually do, in
each one's being more firmly settled in her own opinions.
But they had this good effect, that they opened Edith's
eyes more and more to the fact that she had been spending
A Great Change. 85
the whole of her days in a way that was almost entirely
selfish. She grew more and more dissatisfied with herself
every day. Something seemed to be wanting in her life,
which she had never missed before, but which she now
felt it very difficult to live without. She was slow to
admit even to herself that this something was a firm reli-
gious principle-a faith which should recognize God as
her Father and Christ as her Saviour, and which should
make his approbation, and the prosperity of his spiritual
kingdom, the great rule and object of her life. She
believed in the Bible as she believed in any other history
-only more firmly; and she reverenced a Christian faith
and hope in others, though she had none herself. She
had always been to church and to the Sunday school ever
since she could remember, and the desire of doing every-
thing well, which was a part of her nature, led her to
learn her lessons perfectly. She was very much attached
to Dr. H., whom she had known from infancy, and whom
it was impossible not to respect; but she never thought
of applying to herself anything he said in the pulpit.
Not very long after the little argument with Marcia,
with which this chapter begins, Edith went up to the
parsonage on an errand for her mother, and was directed
by Mrs. H. to go up to the study. She tapped at the
door and was invited to come in.
Ah, good morning, my dear!" said the doctor, kindly,
but without raising his pen from the paper, over which
it was travelling at a great rate. Sit down for a few
86 A Great Change.
moments, if you can find something to entertain yourself
with. I shall be at leisure directly."
Edith never wanted means of entertainment in the
doctor's study so long as she had access to the book-shelves.
But it was only a minute or two before she had an oppor-
tunity to do her errand, and was preparing to go.
"And pray how goes on the sewing school asked the
doctor. "From all I hear, you are getting your hands
full of business. Do you not find that your new pursuits
rather interfere with the old ones ? Do not the charitable
visiting and teaching and so forth rather shorten the time
allotted to drawing and German?"
Rather so," said Edith, smiling. Not so much with
the German, though, because I had an engagement about
that, and, of course, could not break it; but the drawing
afternoons are somewhat shortened, certainly."
And do you find your new pursuits more or less satis-
factory than the old ones?"
Edith hesitated a moment, and then said frankly, "To
tell you the truth, sir, none of them are satisfactory.
Nothing that I do seems to satisfy me."
How does that happen?"
"I cannot tell, sir. I suppose it is so with every one."
"Not every one. I do not think it is so with your
mother, or your Aunt Grace. If you were to ask Anna
Vaughan, I do not think she would tell you that she
found no satisfaction in anything. But suppose we try
to get at the bottom of this dissatisfaction, Edith."
A Great Change. 87
"I have tried a good deal lately," said Edith, with a
sigh. I do not want you to think that I am tired of
what I am doing, or want to give it up. Far from it.
It is pleasant to feel that one has been the means of doing
any good, but after all-"
"After all," said the doctor, as she hesitated, "you
want something more than the mere pleasure of doing
good,-something that shall console you when you fail
in your efforts, that shall give you strength and courage
when you are weary, that shall teach and direct you when
you are at a loss, and to which you may look forward as
to the end and reward of all."
Edith promptly acquiesced.
You want 'the peace of God,' Edith; nothing else,
nothing less can satisfy you. You want such a love for
Christ as shall make all burdens light and easily borne
for his sake, or else support you under them when they
are hard and heavy. God your Saviour is the friend you
want. He is perfectly just; he cannot do wrong. He is
all love, and cannot be unkind. He is faithfulness itself,
and will never leave nor forsake his own children. His
omnipotence is upon the side of them that try to serve
him; and his faithfulness and truth are the shield and
buckler of all those that put their trust in him. He
knows his own sheep, and is known of them. Are you
one of them 1"
"I fear not," said Edith in a low voice.
"We have authority from Scripture, as well as from
88 A Great Change.
our own observation," continued the faithful pastor,
" for dividing mankind into two great classes. The one
class make God's law their rule, and God's approbation
their end, in all that they do. They seek daily communion
with him in the way that he has appointed. They look
to him for direction in all the affairs of life. They do good
because they can thus show their love for him and glorify
his name among men; and they avoid evil because it is
hateful in his sight. If at any time they are guilty of
sinning against him, they are unhappy, and do not rest,
till by repentance and prayer they have sought and ob-
tained forgiveness. The other class consists of those who
do not habitually refer to God's will at all. They seek
in one way or another to please themselves. They make
no reference, in their pursuit either of business or amuse-
ment, to what God requires. They are not distressed at
the thought of sinning against him. They do not love him,
and are indifferent to his approbation. They live very
much as they would if there were no God, and as if heaven
and hell, instead of being the most real of all things, had
no existence. To which of these classes do you be
To the last, I am afraid," said Edith, frankly. It
has scarcely seemed to me possible to love God. I know
very well that I have lived heretofore as though there
were no God."
But God is," said Dr. H. You believe that, do you
A Great Change. 89
"Speculatively, I believe it," replied Edith. I am as
well convinced of it as I can be of any fact whatever.
But, practically, it has no effect upon me."
"Then, my dear, is it any wonder that you feel dis-
satisfied with yourself? You are living in direct opposi-
tion to the great end of your being. You are practically
putting aside the great truth on which all other truth
depends; and, while in Him you live and move and have
your being, while you can no more escape from his pre-
sence than from your own soul, you are trying to live as
though there were no such Being!
"It is not, however, by reflections upon the abstract
wisdom and goodness of God that you learn to love him.
You must feel what he has done for you in Jesus Christ.
You must have a sense of his goodness in sending his
beloved Son to suffer and die, that the way might be
opened for him to be just, and yet the justifier of the
ungodly. You must realize the infinite love of your
Lord and Saviour in thus dying for you, and then, too,
you must feel your wickedness and ingratitude in neglect-
ing him so long. Will you not think of these things? I
rejoice to see you so much occupied in efforts to do good;
but, believe me, you will never find peace in these or any
other pursuits, till you are at peace with your Maker-
till you can feel that he looks upon you with love and
complacency. Edith, do you pot feel that you are
altogether wrong as you are ?"
Yes, sir," said Edith frankly. She would not have
90 A Great Ch/ange.
said as much a month before; but, of late, she had felt,
in spite of herself, that it was even so.
I am glad to hear you say that; and now, will you
not promise me to make this matter your chief concern
for the time to come, and never rest till you feel assured
that you have learned to know and to love God 1"
"I will, sir, if you will tell me where to begin."
"You must begin with prayer, my child," said Dr. H.
"You must go to God, and endeavour, with your whole
heart, to pray for repentance and faith. 'God be
merciful to me a sinner,' is the prayer for you and for us
all. And do not be discouraged if your prayers seem to
have no answer at first. When the Syrophoenician
woman went to Christ to seek the healing of her child,
it was not the first nor yet the second prayer that he
answered. Remember that you cannot be in a more
dangerous state than you are, and strive with all your
might to escape. May the Lord fulfil all thy petitions,
and accept thy sacrifices !" said he, as they parted.
Edith went home thoughtful and sad. A struggle of
no ordinary strength was going on in her mind. She
felt and knew that every word her kind friend uttered
was certainly true; but her pride, which was one of her
strongest feelings, rebelled. She thought if she came out
now, and took a decidedly religious stand, it would in
effect condemn all her former life. It would be confess-
ing that she had been entirely in the wrong, and this it
was hard for her to do. But, if pride was strong, the
A Great Change. 91
love of truth was stronger. She determined to follow
her pastor's advice, and to abide by the consequences.
Before retiring that night, she sat down and carefully
read through the narrative of the last sufferings and
death of the Saviour, and one or two chapters in the
Epistle to the Romans, which Dr. H. had pointed out to
her, and then, kneeling down, she asked God, for Christ's
sake, to work such a change in her heart as that she
might see her sinfulness, and be able to repent and
believe. Her prayer was earnest; for, once having
come to the point of asking, she felt as though she hardly
dared desist till her petition was granted. But she found
very little satisfaction. An overwhelming sense of her
presumption and ingratitude in neglecting so long to use
the means of salvation possessed her soul. She rose
from her knees with a heavy sigh and with a sad coun-
tenance, and sought her pillow with a more sorrowful
spirit than she had ever known before.
For several days she persevered in reading her Bible
and in prayer, but the more she prayed the more unhappy
she felt. She had now no need to wish to be convinced
of sin. As she looked back upon her life, she could see
nothing but sin. She wondered how she ever could have
lived as she had done, in the face of so much teaching
and so many prayers and sermons, which now seemed
all to condemn her. She went about her duties as usual
with a mechanical exactness, but her heart was full of
only one subject, and she took little interest in anything
92 A Great C..,'
else. She said nothing to her mother; for though accus-
tomed to make known every thought and wish to her,
she felt that of this matter she could not speak, at least
till it was all settled. It was an affair between her
and her God, in which the dearest earthly friend had
little to do.
One night she went to her room, determined, if pos-
sible, to end the struggle. She resolved to throw herself
entirely upon the mercy of God, helpless and undeserving
as she was. She besought him to grant her peace in
believing, and the forgiveness of her sins for Christ's
sake. And the prayer was heard and answered.
Say, you who, like her, have felt yourself a helpless
sinner, and like her have sought pardon and accept-
ance with God through Christ, andfound it, is there any
joy comparable to that you felt when assured that your
sins were blotted out, and that God, through Christ, was
your reconciled God, Friend, and Father? Did you not
feel that no sacrifice could be too much, no effort too
great, to show your love and gratitude for your release?
Did you not then consecrate yourself, soul and body,
to the service of your Saviour, who bought you with
his blood? How has that consecration vow b(,n
And those who have never had such an experience,
and who think, it may be, that it is all fancy or enthu-
siasm, may be confident that it is a real and reasonable
experience. God does hear humble prayer, and does
A Great Cha-nge. 93
answer it, positively and sensibly. If we will have
anything like lasting peace, anything like safety, any-
thing like happiness, we must go, as Edith Allison did,
to Christ, and humbly submit ourselves to him as his
disciples and followers.
It was with a new feeling that Edith met her Sunday-
school class the next time; and, though they could not
have accounted for it exactly, the little girls felt that
their lesson this day was explained and enforced in a
manner very different from anything they had ever heard
before. They felt that it was something not only to be
learned and repeated, but something which intimately
concerned them. Kitty Wilson and Martha Wood agreed,
on the way home, that they liked Miss Allison better
than any teacher they had ever had; and Kitty told
her mother she was almost sure there were tears in
Miss Allison's eyes when she was talking about the pro-
digal son's returning home. But it was not only in the
Sunday school that she felt the change; the church
music, the songs of praise, the sermon, all had a new
interest for her. The prayers expressed her desires, the
psplms her aspirations, and the songs and praises the
enjetions of her heart. Her language was, Bless the
Lord, 0 MY soul !' The sermon was a message to her
individually, of which she could not afford to lose a
word. For the first time'in her life she was a won-
SHIPPER, and not a mere spectator in the sanctuary.
She felt, with Jacob, Surely the Lord is in this place,
94 A Great Change.
and I knew it not. How dreadful is this place! This
is none other than the house of God and the gate of
It may well be supposed that Edith was not less
active in the duties she had undertaken for the change
that had come over her. Her poor friends, her sewing
class, interested her more than ever. Two of the chil-
dren excited her interest in an especial manner; these
were Martha Loring and Mary M'Sweeney. Martha's
mother was a little better again, and her step-father had
gone off on one of his country excursions with his pack,
so that the child's condition was, for the time, improved.
She learned very rapidly, and showed herself very easily
influenced either for good or ill, At the sewing school,
or sitting quietly with Mrs. Stark, she was perfectly
happy; but her dread of going home was painful to
witness. Mary's condition grew worse and worse. The
mother was a very active, clever woman, and not at all
ill-tempered when she was sober; but she never was
sober more than three hours in a day. When she was
drunk, she was a perfect fiend in her temper.
One day poor Mary came to her class with her arms
and neck all covered with deep scratches and bruises,
and her eyes swollen and red with crying. Mrs. Stark
and Edith tried hard to find out something from her,
but she would not say one word about it. Little Viney,
however, was not so scrupulous.
"Her mother beat her with the broom-handle," said
A Great Change. 95
she, in a voice loud enough to be heard all over the room,
"because she told stories about her."
How did her mother know that she told stories about
her T" asked Mrs. Stark, turning round to Viney.
Viney did not answer; but Mary said, She told
Smy mother that I told you she got drunk and beat
my brother and me, and that she was a bad woman
"But you never did tell me so, Mary! It was Viney
that told me."
"Yes, ma'am, I know; but Viney said I did, and she
told my mother; and my mother ain't a bad woman, and
I never said such a word. If she didn't drink, she'd be
Viney, how dared you tell such a wicked falsehood,
and get poor Mary into trouble?"
I didn't say one word about it," said Viney, with
much earnestness. I never told anybody anything;"
and to this declaration she steadily adhered, in spite of
all Mary could say.
We must get hold of that woman in some way," said
Mrs. Stark, after the children had gone. "She must
not be allowed to go on abusing that girl in the way she
"I hardly know how she can be reached," replied
Edith. "According to what both Mary and Viney say,
she is not a safe person to encounter."
"She is a very good-looking woman when she is
96 A Great Change.
sober," remarked Amy. "It does seem a pity that she
should go to destruction, and bring up the children to the
"Who is the visitor in that district?" asked Edith.
"Your aunt. Suppose you mention it to her. She
may find some way, perhaps; for I know she is very suc-
cessful in gaining an influence over such people."
Edith agreed to do so. As she went along home, she
called at her aunt's and related the story of Mary's
wrongs, and their desire that something might be done
for her. Aunt Grace listened with interest, and pro-
mised to consider the subject. She did not think it
so hopeless as Amy and Edith seemed to regard it.
I know the woman very well," said she; "and,
though you may think it hard to believe me, she has
some excellent qualities. It is drink which makes such
a brute of her. If I can only persuade her to take the
pledge (and I do not despair of doing so), she may be
"But would she keep such a pledge ?"
"I rather think she would, if she took it deliberately.
Whether she will do so is a question; but it is worth
trying. She is ill with ague almost every spring, and is
always sure to send for me. I will try to bring the sub-
ject before her if she does."
When Edith returned home she found her mother in
fresh trouble about Eliza.
"I really don't know, Edith, how I can keep the child.