The Baldwin Library
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' I I I
2BST iRAYE .
PUBLISHED BY HENRY HOYT,
NO. 9 CORNHILL.
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPEB, 7
JESSICA'S TEMPTATION, 21
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS, 33
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND, 47
A NEW WORLD OPENS 69
THE FIRST PRAYER, 69
HARD QUESTIONS, .. 7
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR, .. 83
THE FIRST PLAYER ANSWERED, 05
THE SHADOW OF DEATH, 111
AND ITS KEEPER.
] \' %' --' ./ S ..^ -'="' ..* ', ,
/-' ." -. -.- I
IESSICA'S IRST PRAYER.
(1' N a screened and secluded corner
i of one of the many railway-bridges
which span the streets of Lon-
don, there could be seen, a few years
ago, from five o'clock every morning
until half-past eight, a tidily set out cof-
fee-stall, consisting of a trestle and board,
upon which stood two large tin cans,
with a small fire of charcoal burning
under each, so as to keep the coffee
8 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
boiling during the early hours of the morn
ing when the work-people were thronging
into the city, on their way to their
daily toil. The coffee-stall was a favorite
one, fbr besides being under shelter, which
was of great consequence upon rainy
mornings, it was also in so private a
niche that the customers taking their
out-of-door breakfast were not too much
exposed to notice; and moreover, the
coffee-stall keeper was a quiet man, who
cared only to serve the busy workmen,
without hindering them by any gossip.
He was a tall, spare, elderly man, with
a singularly solemn face, and a manner
which was grave and secret. Nobody
knew either his name or dwelling-place;
unless it might be the policeman who
strode past the coffee-stall every half.
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER. 9
hour, and nodded familiarly to the solemn
man behind it. There were very few"
who cared to make any enquiries about
him; but those who did could only dis-
cover that he kept the furniture of his
stall at a neighboring coffee-house, whither
he wheeled his. trestle and board and
crockery every day, not later than half-
past eight in the morning; after which
he was wont to glide away with a soft
footstep, and a mysterious and fugitive
air, with many backward and sidelong
glances, as if he dreaded observation,
until he was lost among the crowds
which thronged the streets. No one had
ever had the persevering curiosity to
track him all the way to his house, or
to find out his other means of gaining
a livelihood; but in general his stall
10 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
was surrounded by customers, whom he
served with silent seriousness, and who
did not grudge to pay him his charge
for the refreshing coffee he supplied to
For several years the crowd of work-
people had paused by the coffee-stall
under the railway-arch, when one morn-
ing, in a partial lull of his business, the
owner became suddenly aware of a pair
of very bright dark eyes being fastened
upon him and the slices- of bread and
butter on his board, with a gaze as hungry
as that of a mouse which has been driven
by famine into a trap. A thin and meagre
face belonged to the eyes, which was half
hidden by a mass of matted hair hanging
over the forehead, and down the neck;
the only covering which the head or neck
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER. 11
had, for a tattered frock, scarcely fastened
together with broken strings, was slipping
down over the shivering shoulders of the
little girl. Stooping down to a basket
behind his stall, he caught sight of two
bare little feet curling up from the damp
pavement, as the child lifted up first one
and then the other, and laid them one
over another to gain a momentary feeling
of warmth. Whoever the wretched .child
was, she did not speak; only at every
steaming cupful which he poured out of
his can, her dark eyes gleamed hungrily,
and he could hear her smack her thin
lips, as if in fancy she was tasting the
warm and fragrant coffee.
"Oh, come now!" he said at last, when
only one boy was left taking his breakfast
12 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
leisurely, and he leaned over his stall to
speak in a low and quiet tone, "why
don't you go away, little girl? Come,
come; you're staying too long, you know."
"I'm just going, sir," she answered,
shrugging her small shoulders to draw
her frock up higher about her neck;
" only it's raining cats and dogs outside;
and mother's been away all night, and she
took the key with her; and it's so nice
to smell the coffee; and the police have
left off worriting me while I've been here.
He thinks I'm a customer taking my break-
fast." And the child laughed a shrill little
laugh of mockery at herself and the police-
"You've had no breakfast, I suppose,"
said the coffee-stall keeper, in the same
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER. 13
low and confidential voice, and leaning
over his stall till his face nearly touched
the thin, sharp features of the child.
"No," she replied, coolly, "and I shall
want my dinner dreadful bad afore I get
it, I know. You don't often feel dreadful
hungry, do you, sir? I'm not griped yet,
you know; but afore I taste my dinner
it'll be pretty bad, I tell you. Ah! very
She turned away with a knowing nod,
as much as to say she had one experience
in life to which he was quite a stranger;
but before she had gone half a dozen
steps, she heard the quiet voice calling to
her in rather louder tones, and in an in-
stant she was back at the stall.
"Slip in here," said the owner, in a
cautious whisper; "here's a little coffee
14 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
left and a few crusts. There, you must
never come again, you know. I never
give to beggars; and if you'd begged, I'd
have called the police. There; put your
poor feet towards the fire. Now, aren't
you comfortable ?"
The child looked up with a face of in-
tense satisfaction. She was seated upon
an empty basket, with her feet near the
pan of charcoal, and a cup of steaming
coffee on her lap; but her mouth was too
full for her to reply, except by a very
deep nod, which expressed unbounded de-
light. The man was busy for awhile
packing up his crockery: but every now
and then he stooped to look down upon
her, and to shake his head gravely.
"What's your name?" he asked, at
length; "but there, never mind! I don't
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER. 15
care what it is. What's your name to
do with me, I wonder?"
"It's Jessica," said the girl: but
mother and everybody calls me Jess.
You'd be tired of being called Jess,
if you was me. It's Jess here, and
Jess there; and everybody wanting me
to go errands. And they think nothing
of giving me smacks, and kicks, and
pinches. Look here !"
Whether her arms were black and
blue from the cold, or from ill-usage, he
could not tell; but he shook his head
again seriously, and the child felt en-
couraged to go on.
"I wish I could stay here for ever and
ever, just as I am I" she cried. But
you're going away, I know; and I'm
16 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
never to come again, or you'll set the
police on me "
"Yes," said the coffee-stall keeper,
very softly, and looking round to see
if there were any other ragged children
within sight; "if you'll promise not to
come again for a whole week, and not
to tell anybody else, you may come once
more. I'll give you one other treat.
But you must be off now."
"I'm off, sir," she said, sharply; "but
if you've a errand I could go on, I'd
do it all right, I would. Let me carry
some of your things."
"No, no," cried the man; "you run
away, like a good girl; and mind I'm
not to see you again for a whole
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER. 17
"All right !" answered Jess, setting
off down the rainy street at a quick
run, as if to show her willing agree-
ment to the bargain; while the coffee-
stall keeper, witn many a cautious glance
around him, removed his stock-in-trade to
the coffee-house near at hand, and was
seen no more for the rest of the day
in the neighborhood of the railway-bridge.
~~~C~~i ~ ~ "in.8
HE bargain, on Jessica's part, was
faithfully kept; and though the
solemn and silent man under the
dark shadow of the bridge looked out
for her every morning as he served his
customers, he caught no glimpse of her
wan face and thin little frame. But
when the appointed time was finished,
she presented herself at the stall, with
her hungry eyes fastened again upon
22 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
the piles of buns and bread and butter,
which were fast disappearing before the
demands of the buyers. The business
was at its height, and the famished child
stood quietly on one side watching for
the throng to melt away. But as soon
as the nearest church clock had chimed
eight, she drew a little nearer to the
stall, and at a signal from its owner she
slipped between the trestles of his stand,
and took up her former position on the
empty basket. To his eyes she seemed
even a little thinner, and certainly more
ragged, than before; and he laid a whole
bun, a stale one which was left from
yesterday's stock, upon her lap, as she
lifted the cup of coffee to her lips with
both her benumbed hands.
JESSICA'S TEMPTATION. 23
"What's your name?" she asked, looking
up to him with her keen eyes.
Why?" he answered, hesitatingly, as
if he was reluctant to tell so much of
himself; "my christened name is Daniel."
And where do you live, Mr. Dan'el ?"
"Oh, come now he exclaimed, if
you're going to be impudent, you'd better
march off. What business is it of yours
where I live? I don't want to know
where you live, I can tell you."
"I didn't mean no offence," said Jess,
humbly; "only I thought I'd like to know
where a good man like you lived. You're
a very good man, aren't you, Mr. Dan'el?'
"I don't know," he answered, uneasily;
"I'm afraid I'm not."
24 JESSICA S FIRST PRAYER.
"Oh, but you are, you know," continued
Jess. "You make good coffee; prime!
And buns too! And I've been watching
you hundreds of times afore you saw me,
and the police leaves you alone, and never
tells you to move on. Oh, yes 1 you must
be a very good man."
Daniel sighed, and fidgetted about his
crockery with a grave and occupied air,
as if he were pondering over the child's
notion of goodness. He made good coffee,
and the police left him alone! It was
quite true; yet still as he counted up the
store of pence which had accumulated in
his strong canvas bag, he sighed again
still more heavily. He purposely let one
of his pennies fall upon the muddy pave-
ment, and went on counting the rest busi-
ly, while he furtively watched the little
JESSICA'S TEMPTATION. 25
girl sitting at his feet. Without a shade
of change upon her small face, she covered
the penny with her foot, and drew it in
carefully towards her, while she continued
to chatter fluently to him. For a moment
a feeling of pain shot a pang through
Daniel's heart; and then he congratulated
himself on having entrapped the young
thief. It was time to be leaving now;
but before he went he would make her
move her bare foot, and disclose the penny
concealed beneath it, and then he would
warn her never to venture near his stall
again. This was her gratitude, he thought;
he had given her two breakfasts and more
kindness than he had shown to any follow-
creature for many a long year; and, at the
first chance, the young jade turned upon
him and robbed him He was brooding
26 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
over it painfully in his mind, when Jessi-
ca's uplifted face changed suddenly, and
a dark flush crept over her pale cheeks,
and the tears started to her eyes. She
stooped down, and picking up the coin
from amongst the mud, she rubbed it
bright and clean upon her rags, and laid
it upon the stall close to his hand, but
without speaking a word. Daniel looked
down upon her solemnly and searchingly.
"What's this ?" he asked.
"Please, Mr. Daniel," she answered,
"it dropped, and you didn't hear it."
"Jess," he said, sternly, "tell me all
"Oh, please," she sobbed, "I never
had a penny of my very own but once;
and it rolled close to my foot; and you
didn't see it; and I hid it up sharp;
SWlat's tlis? lie asked. Pagce 26(
rr I '~ ~
JESSICA'S TEMPTATION. 27
and then I thought how kind you'd been,
and how good the coffee and buns are,
and how you let me warm myself at
your fire; and please, I couldn't keep
the penny any longer. You'll never let
me come again, I guess."
Daniel turned away for a minute, busy-
ing himself with putting his cups and
saucers into the basket, while Jessica
stood by trembling, with the large tears
rolling slowly down her cheeks. The
snug, dark corner, with its warm fire of
charcoal, and its fragrant smell of coffee,
had been a paradise to her for these
two brief spans of time; but she had
been guilty of the sin which would drive
her from it. All beyond the railway
arch the streets stretched away, cold and
dreary, with no friendly face to meet
28 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
hers, and no warm cups of coffee to
refresh her; yet she was only lingering
sorrowfully to hear the words spoken
which should forbid her to return to this
pleasant spot. Mr. Daniel turned round
at last, and met her tearful gaze, with
a look of strange emotion upon his own
"Jess," he said, "I could never have
done it myself. But you may come here
every Wednesday morning, as this is a
Wednesday, and there'll always be a cup
of coffee for you."
She thought he meant that he could
not have hidden the penny under his
foot, and she went away a little saddened
and subdued, notwithstanding her great
delight in the expectation of such a treat
every week; while Daniel, pondering
JrJSSICA' TEMPTATION. 29
over the struggle that must have passed
through her childish mind, went on his
way, from time to time shaking his head,
and muttering to himself, "I couldn't
have done it myself: I never could have
done it myself."
*146ttr inb n,: ':
htOld tricld in a 3ew Prs.
( IC EEK after week, all through
Sthe three last months of the
year, Jessica appeared every
Wednesday at the coffee-stall, and, after
waiting patiently till the close of the
breakfasting business, received her pittance
from the charity of her new friend. After
a while Daniel allowed her to carry some
of his load to the coffee-house, but he
never suffered her to follow him farther,
and he was always particular to watch her
out of sight before he turned off through
84 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
the intricate mazes of the streets in the
direction of his own home. Neither did
he encourage her to ask him any more
questions; and often but very few words
passed between them during Jessica's
As to Jessica's home, she made no se-
cret of it, and Daniel might have followed
her any time he pleased. It was a single
room, which had once been a hayloft over
the stable of an old inn, now in use for
two or three donkeys, the property of
costermongers dwelling in the court about
it. The mode of entrance was by a
wooden ladder, whose rungs were crazy
and broken, and which led up through a
trap-door in the floor of the loft. The
interior of the home was as desolate and
comfortless as that of the stable below,
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS. B.
with only a litter of straw for the bea.
ding, and a few bricks and boards for
the furniture. Everything that could be
pawned had disappeared long ago, and
Jessica's mother often lamented that she
could not thus dispose of her child. Yet
Jessica was hardly a burden to her. It
was a long time since she had taken any
care to provide her with food or clothing,
and the girl had to earn or beg for
herself the meat which kept a scanty life
within her. Jess was the drudge and
errand-girl of the court; and what with
being cuffed and beaten by her mother,
and over-worked and ill-used by her nu-
merous employers, her life was a hard
one. But now there was always Wednes-
day morning to count upon and look
86 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
forward to; and by and by a second scene
of amazed delight opened upon her.
Jessica had wandered far away from
home in the early darkness of a winter's
evening, after a violent outbreak of her
drunken mother, and she was still sobbing
now and then with long-drawn sobs of
pain and weariness, when she saw, a little
way before her, the tall, well-known figure
of her friend Mr. Daniel. He was dressed
in a suit of black, with a white neck
cloth, and he was pacing with brisk
yet measured steps along the lighted
streets. Jessica felt afraid of speaking
to him, but she followed at a little dis-
tance, until presently he stopped before
the iron gates of a large building, and,
unlocking them, passed on to the arched
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS. M'
doorway, And with a heavy key opened
the folding-doors and entered in. The
child stole( after him, but paused for a
few minn es, trembling upon the thresh-
old, until the gleam of a light lit up
within tempted her to venture a few steps
forward, and to push a little way open
an inner door, covered with crimson
baize, only so far as to enable her to
peep through at the inside. Then, grow-
ing bolder by degrees, she crept through
herself, drawing the door to noiselessly
behind her. The place was in partial
gloom, but Daniel was kindling every
gaslight, and each minute lit it up in
more striking grandeur. She stood in a
carpeted aisle, with high oaken pews on
each side, almost as black as ebony. A.
gallery of the same dark old oak ran
38 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
round the walls, resting upon massive
pillars, behind one of which she was
partly concealed, gazing with eager eyes
at Daniel, as he mounted the pulpit steps
and kindled the lights there, disclosing
to her curious delight the glittering pipes
of an organ behind it. Before long the
slow and soft-footed chapel keeper disap-
peared for a minute or two into a vestry;
and Jessica, availing herself of his short
absence, stole silently up under the shelter
of the dark pews until she reached the
steps of the organ loft, with its golden
show. But at this moment Mr. Daniel
appeared again, arrayed in a long gown
of black serge; and as she stood spell-
bound gazing at the strange appearance
of her patron, his eye fell upon her,
and he also was struck speechless for a
" Come now!" he exclaimed. Page 38.
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS. 39
minute, with an air of amazement and
dismay upon his grave face.
Come, now," he exclaimed, harshly, as
soon as he could recover his presence of
mind, "you must take yourself out of
this. This isn't any place for such as
you. It's for ladies and gentlemen; so
you must run away sharp before anybody
comes. However did you find your way
He had come very close to her, and
bent down to whisper in her ear, looking
nervously round to the entrance all the
time. Jessica's eager tongue was loosened.
Mother beat me," she said, "and
turned me into the streets, and I see you
there, so I followed you up. I'll run
away this minute, Mr. Daniel; but it's a
nice place. What do the ladies and gen-
40 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
tlemen do when they come here? Tell me,
and I'll be off sharp."
"They come here to pray," whispered
What is pray?" asked Jessica.
"Bless the child !" cried Daniel in per-
plexity. "Why, they kneel down in those
pews; most of them sit, though; and the
minister up in the pulpit tells God what they
Jessica gazed into his face with such an air
of bewilderment, that a faint smile crept over
the sedate features of the pew-opener.
What is a minister and God?" she said;
"and do ladies and gentlemen want anything?
I thought they'd everything they wanted, Mr.
Oh" cried Daniel, "you must be off
"Oh I" cried Daniel, "you must be off
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS. 41
you know. They'll be coming in a minute,
and they'd be shocked to see a ragged
little heathen like you. This is the pulpit,
where the minister stands and preaches
to 'em; and there are the pews, where
they sit to listen to him, or to go to
sleep, may be; and that's the organ to
play music to their singing. There, I've
told you everything, and you must never
come again, never."
"Mr. Daniel," said Jessica, "I don't
know nothing about it. Isn't there a dark
little corner somewhere that I could hide
"No, no," interrupted Daniel, impatient-
ly; "we couldn't do with such a little
heathen, with no shoes or bonnet on.
Come now, it's only a quarter to the
42 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
time, and somebody will be here in a
minute. Run away, do l"
Jessica retraced her steps slowly to the
crimson door, casting many a look back-
wards; but Mr. Daniel stood at the end
of the aisle, frowning upon her whenever
she glanced behind. She gained the lobby
at last, but already some one was ap-
proaching the chapel door, and beneath
the lamp at the gate stood one of her
natural enemies, a policeman. Her heart
beat fast, but she was quickwitted, and
in another instant she spied a place of
concealment behind one of the doors, into
which she crept for safety until the path
should be clear, and the policeman passed
on upon his beat.
The congregation began to arrive quick-
' Once shli ventured to stretch out,- '
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS. 13
ly. She heard the rustling of silk dresses,
and she could see the gentlemen and
ladies pass by the niche between the
door and the post. Once she ventured to
stretch out a thin little finger and touch
a velvet mantle as the wearer of it swept
by, but no one caught her in the act, or
suspected her presence behind the door.
Mr. Daniel, she could see, was very busy
ushering the people to their seats; but
there was a startled look lingering upon
his face, and every now and then he
peered anxiously into the outer gloom and
darkness, and even once called to the
policeman to ask if he had seen a ragged
child hanging about. After a while the
organ began to sound, and Jessica, crouch-
ing down in her hiding-place, listened
entranced to the sweet music. She could
44 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
not tell what made her cry, but the tears
came so rapidly that it was of no use to
rub the corners of her eyes with her
hard knuckles; so she lay down upon the
ground, and buried her face in her hands,
and wept without restraint. When the
singing was over, she could only catch
a confused sound of a voice speaking.
The lobby was empty now, and the crim-
son doors closed. The policeman, also had
walked on. This was the moment to
escape. She raised herself from the
ground with a feeling of weariness and
sorrow; and thinking sadly of the light,
and warmth, and music that were within
the closed doors, she stepped out into the
cold and darkness of the streets, and
loitered homewards with a heavy heart.
S, ,- r -. ', ,
T was not the last time that Jes.
sica concealed herself behind the
baize-covered door. She could not
overcome the urgent desire to enjoy again
and again the secret and perilous pleas-
ure; and Sunday after Sunday she
watched in the dark streets for the mo-
ment when she could slip in unseen.
She soon learned the exact time when
Daniel would be occupied in lighting up,
before the policeman would take up his
48 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
station at the entrance, and again, the
very minute at which it would be wise
and safe to take her departure. Some-
times the child laughed noiselessly to
herself, until she shook with suppressed
merriment, as she saw Daniel standing
unconsciously in the lobby, with his
solemn face and grave air, to receive
the congregation, much as he faced his
customers at the coffee-stall. She learned
to know the minister by sight, the tall,
thin, pale gentleman, who passed through
a side door, with his head bent as if
in deep thought, while the two little girls,
about her own age, followed him with
sedate yet pleasant faces. Jessica took
a great interest in the minister's chil.
dren. The younger one was fair, and
the elder one was about as tall as her-
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND. 49
self, and had eyes and hair as dark;
but oh, how cared for, how plainly waited
on by tender hands! Sometimes, when
they were gone by, she would close her
eyes, and wonder what they would do
in one of the high black pews inside,
where there was no place for a ragged,
bare-footed girl like her; and now and
then her wonderings almost ended in a
sob, which she was compelled to stifle.
"It was an untold relief to Daniel
that Jessica did not ply him with ques.
tions, as he feared, when she came for
breakfast every Wednesday morning; but
she was too shrewd and cunning for
that. She wished him to forget that she
had ever been there, and by and by
her wish was accomplished, and Daniel
50 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
was no longer uneasy, while he was
lighting the lamps, with the dread of
seeing the child's wild face starting up
But the light evenings of summer-time
were drawing near apace, and Jessica
foresaw with dismay that her Sunday
treats would soon be over. The risk of
discovery increased every week, for the
sun was later and later in setting, and
there would be no chance of creeping in
and out unseen in the broad daylight.
Already it needed both watchfulness and
alertness to dart in at the right mo-
ment in the grey twilight; but still she
could not give it up; and if it had not
been for the fear of offending Mr. Daniel,
she would have resolved upon going until
PEEPS INTO PAIRY-LAND. 51
she was found out. They could not
punish her very much for standing in
the lobby of a chapel.
Jessica was found out, however, before
the dusky evenings were quite gone.
It happened one night that the minister's
children, coming early to the chapel, saw
a small tattered figure, bareheaded and
barefooted, dart swiftly up the steps be.
fore them and disappear within the lobby.
They paused and looked at-one another,
and then, hand in hand, their hearts
beating quickly, and the color coming
and going on their faces, they followed
this strange new member of their father's
congregation. The pew-opener was no-
where to be seen, but their quick eyes
detected the prints of the wet little feet
which had trodden the clean pavement
52 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
before them, and in an instant they dis.
covered Jessica crouching behind the
"Let us call Daniel Standring," said
Winny, the younger child, clinging to her
sister; but she had spoken aloud, and
Jessica overheard her, and before they
could stir a step she stood before them
with an earnest and imploring face.
Oh, don't have me drove away," she
cried; "I'm a very poor little girl, and
it's all the pleasure I've got. I've seen
you lots of times, with that tall gentleman
as stoops, and I didn't think you'd have
me drove away. I don't do any harm
behind the door, and if Mr. Daniel finds
me out, he won't give me any more
"Little girl," said the elder child, in a
" O, don't have me drove away." Page 52.
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND. 53
composed and demure voice, "we don't
mean to be unkind to you; but what do
you come here for, and why do you hide
yourself behind the door? "
"I like to hear the music," answered
Jessica, '*and I want to find out what
pray is, and the minister, and God. I
know it's only for ladies and gentlemen,
and fine children like you; but I'd like
to go inside just for once, and see what
"You shall come with us into our pew,"
cried Winny, in an eager and impulsive
tone; but Jane laid her hand upon her
outstretched arm, with a glance at Jes-
sica's ragged clothes and matted hair. It
was a question difficult enough to perplex
them. The little outcast was plainly too
dirty and neglected for them to invite her
64 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
to sit side by side with them in their
crimson-lined pew, and no poor people
attended the chapel with whom she could
have a seat. But Winny, with flushed
cheeks and indignant eyes, looked re-
proachfully at her elder sister.
"Jane," she said, opening her Testament,
and turning over the leaves hurriedly,
"this was papa's text a little while ago.
'For if there come into your assembly a
man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel,
and there come in also a poor man in vile
raiment; and ye have respect to him that
weareth the gay clothing, and say unto
him, Sit thou here in a good place; and
say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit
here under my footstool; are ye not
then partial in yourselves, and are become
judges of evil thoughts?' If we don't
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND. 55
take this little girl into our pew, we
'have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Lord of glory, with respect of per.
"I don't know what to do," answered
Jane, sighing; "the Bible seems plain: but
I'm sure papa would not like it. Let us
ask the chapel-keeper."
Oh, no, no," cried Jessica, "don't let
Mr. Daniel catch me here. I won't come
again, indeed; and I'll promise not to try
to find out about God and the minister,
if you'll only let me go."
"But, little girl," said Jane, in a sweet
but grave manner, "we ought to teach
you about God, if you don't know him.
Our papa is the minister, and if you'll
come with us, we'll ask him what we must
56 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
"Will Mr. Daniel see me?" asked Jess.
"Nobody but papa is in the vestry,"
answered Jane, "and he'll tell us all, you
and us, what we ought to do. You'll not
be afraid of him, will you?"
"No," said Jessica, cheerfully, following
the minister's children, as they led her
along the side of the chapel towards the
He is not such a terrible personage,"
said Winny, looking encouragingly, as Jane
tapped softly at the door, and they heard
a voice saying "Come in."
3 ^ew ?World 4Ou.
'HE minister was sitting in an easy
Qj chair before a comfortable fire,
with a hymn-book in his hand,
which he closed as the three children
appeared in the open doorway. Jessica
had seen his pale and thoughtful face
many a time from her hiding-place, but
she had never met the keen, earnest,
searching gaze of his eyes, which seemed
to pierce through all her wretchedness
and misery, and to read at once the
60 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
whole history of her desolate life. But
before her eyelids could droop, or she
could drop a reverential curtsey, the ..lnis
ter's face kindled with such a glow of
pitying tenderness and compassion, at
fastened her eyes upon him, and gave
her new heart and courage. His chil.
dren ran to him, leaving Jessica upon
the mat at the door, and with eager
voices and gestures told him the diffi-
culty they were in.
Come here, little girl," he said, and
Jessica walked across the carpeted floor
till she stood right before him, with
folded hands, and eyes that looked frankly
What is your name, my child?" he
"Jessica," she answered.
A NEW WORLD VPHNS. 61
"Jessica,' he repeated, vith a smile;
"that is a strange name."
"Mother used to play 'Jessica' at the
theatre, sir," she said, "and I uned to
be a fairy in the pantomime, till I grew
too tall and ugly. If I'm pretty when
I grow up, mother says I shall play too;
but I've a long time to wait. Are you
the minister, sir? "
Yes," he answered, smiling again.
"What is a minister?" she enquired.
A servant!" he replied, looking away
thoughtfully into the red embers of the
"Papa!" cried Jane and Winny, in
tones of astonishment; but Jessica gazed
steadily at the minister, who was now
looking back again into her bright eyes.
"Please, sir, whose servant are you?"
62 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
"The servant of God and of man," he
answered, solemnly. Jessica, I am your
The child shook her head, and laughed
shrilly as she gazed round the room,
and at the handsome clothing of the
minister's daughters, while she drew her
rags closer about her, and shivered a
little, as if she felt a sting of the east
wind, which was blowing keenly through
the streets. The sound of her shrill,
childish laugh made the minister's heart
ache, and the tears burn under his eye-
"Who is God?" asked the child.
"When mother's in a good temper, some.
times she says God bless me?' Do you
know him, please, minister?"
But before there was time to answer,
A NEW WORLD OPENS. 63
the door into the chapel was opened,
and Daniel stood upon the threshold. At
first he stared blandly forwards, but then
his grave face grew ghastly pale, and
he laid his hand upon the door to sup-
port himself until he could recover his
speech and senses. Jessica also looked
about her, scared and irresolute, as if
anxious to run away or to hide herself.
The minister was the first to speak.
"Jessica," he said, "there is a place
close under my pulpit where you shall
sit, and where I can see you all the
time. Be a good girl and listen, and
you will hear something about God.
Standring, put this little one in front of
the pews by the pulpit steps."
But before she could believe it for
very gladness, Jessica found herself in.
64 JESSICA'S FIRST PRATER.
side the chapel, facing the glittering
organ, from which a sweet strain of
music was sounding. Not far from her,
Jane and Winny were peeping over the
front of their pew, with friendly smiles
and glances. It was evident that the
minister's elder daughter was anxious
about her behaviour, and she made ener-
getic signs to her when to stand up and
when to kneel; but Winny was content
with smiling at her, whenever her head
rose above the top of the pew. Jessica
was happy, but not in the least abashed.
The ladies and gentlemen were not at all
unlike those whom she had often seen
when she was a fairy at the theatre;
and very soon her attention was en-
grossed by the minister, whose eyes often
fell upon her, as she gazed eagerly,
A NEW WORLD OPENS. 65
with uplifted face, upon him. She could
scarcely understand a word of what he
said, but she liked the tones of his voice,
and the tender pity of his face as he
looked down upon her. Daniel hovered
about a good deal, with an air of un-
easiness and displeasure, but she was un-
conscious of his presence. Jessica was
intent upon finding out what a minister
and God were.
lyZ in rst
.,. .ji 1 .,
THE FIRST I'KAYER.
HEN the service was ended, the
minister descended the pulpit
steps, just as Daniel was about
to hurry Jessica away, and taking her by
the hand, in the face of all the congrega-
tion, he led her into the vestry, whither
Jane and Winny quickly followed them.
He was fatigued with the services of the
day, and his pale face was paler than
ever, as he placed Jessica before his chair,
into which he threw himself with an air
of exhaustion; but bowing his head upon
70 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
his hands, he said in a low but clear tone,
"Lord, these are the lambs of thy flock.
Help me to feed thy lambs l"
Children," he said, with a smile upon
his weary face, "it is no easy thing to
know God. But this one thing we know,
that he is our Father-my Father and
your Father, Jessica. He loves you, and
cares for you more than I do for my little
He smiled at them and they at him, with
an expression which Jessica felt and un-
derstood, though it made her sad. She
trembled a little, and the minister's ear
caught the sound of a faint though bitter
"I never had any father," she said,
God is your Father," he answered,
THE FIRST PRAYER. 71
very gently; "he knows all about you,
because he is present everywhere. We
cannot see him, but we have only to
speak, and he hears us, and we may ask
him for whatever we want."
"Will he let me speak to him, as well
as these fine children that are clean, and
have got nice clothes?" asked Jessica,
glancing anxiously at her muddy feet, and
her soiled and tattered frock.
"Yes," said the minister, smiling, yet
sighing at the same time; "you may ask
him this moment for what you want."
Jessica gazed round the room with
large, wide-open eyes, as if she were seek-
ing to see God; but then she shut her
eyelids tightly, and bending her head upon
her hands, as she had seen the minister
do, she said, "0 God I want to know
72 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
about you. And please pay Mr. Daniel
for all the warm coffee he's give me."
Jane and Winny listened with faces of
unutterable amazement; but the tears
stood in the minister's eyes, and he added
"Amen" to Jessica's first prayer.
ANIEL had no opportunity for speak.
ing to Jessica; for, after waiting
until the minister left the vestry,
he found that she had gone away by the
side entrance. He had to wait, therefore,
until Wednesday morning, and the sight
of her pinched little face was welcome to
him, when he saw it looking wistfully over
the coffee-stall. Yet he had made up his
mind to forbid her to come again, and
to threaten her with the policeman if he
76 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
ever caught her at the chapel, where for
the future he intended to keep a sharper
look-out. But before he could speak Jess
had slipped under the stall, and taken her
old seat upon the up-turned basket.
"Mr. Daniel," she said, "has God paid
you for my sups of coffee yet."
"Paid me?" he repeated, "God? No."
"Well, he will," she answered, nodding
her head sagely; "don't you be afraid for
your money, Mr. Daniel; I've asked him a
many times, and the minister says he's
sure to do it."
"Jess," said Daniel, sternly, "have you
been and told the minister about my
"No," she answered, with a beaming
smile, "but I've told God lots and lots of
HARD QUESTIONS. 77
times since Sunday, and he's sure to pay
in a day or two."
"Jess," continued Daniel, more gently,
"you're a sharp little girl, I see; and now
I'm going to trust you. You're never to
say a word about me or my coffee-stall;
because the folks at our chapel are very
grand, and might think it low and mean
of me to keep a coffee-stall. Very likely
they'd say I mustn't be chapel-keeper any
longer, and I should lose a deal of
"Why do you keep the stall then?"
"Don't you see what a many pennies
I get every morning?" he said, shaking
his canvas bag. I get a good deal of
money that way in a year."
78 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
"What do you want such a deal of
money for?" she enquired; "do you give
it to God?"
Daniel did not answer, but the quest
tion went to his heart like a sword
thrust. What did he want so much
money for? He thought of his one bare
and solitary room, where he lodged
alone, a good way from the railway-bridge,
with very few comforts in it, but con-
taining a desk, strongly and securely
fastened, in which was his savings' bank
book and his receipts for money put out
at interest, and a bag of sovereigns, for
which he had been toiling and slaving
both on Sundays and week-days. He
could not remember giving anything away,
except the dregs of the coffee and the
stale buns, for which Jessica was ask
HARD QUESTIONS. 79
ing God to pay him. He coughed, and
cleared his throat, and rubbed his eyes;
and then, with nervous and hesitating
fingers, he took a penny from his bag,
and slipped it into Jessica's hand.
"No, no, Mr. Dan'el," she said; "I
don't want you to give me any of your
pennies. I want God to pay you."
"Ay, he'll pay me," muttered Daniel;
"there'll be a day of reckoning by and
"Does God have reckoning days?"
asked Jessica. "I used to like reckoning
days when I was a fairy."
Ay, ay," he answered, "but there's
few folks like God's reckoning days."
"But you'll be glad, won't you?" she
Daniel bade her get on with her break.
80 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
fast, and then he turned over in his
mind the thoughts which her questions
had awakened. Conscience told him he
would not be glad to meet God's reckon-
Mr. Dan'el," said Jessica, when they
were about to separate, and he would
not take back his gift of a penny, "if
you wouldn't mind, I'd like to come and
buy a cup of coffee to-morrow, like a
customer, you know: and I won't let
out a word about the stall to the minis-
ter next Sunday, don't you be afraid."
She tied the penny carefully into a
corner of her rags, and with a cheerful
smile upon her thin face, she glided
from under the shadow of the bridge,
and was soon lost to Daniel's sight.
An Unexpected Visitor.
HEN Jessica came to the street
into which the court where
she lived opened, she saw an
unusual degree of excitement among the
inhabitants, a group of whom were gath-
ered about a tall gentleman, whom she
recognized in an instant to be the minister.
She elbowed her way through the midst
of them, and the minister's face brightened
as she presented herself before him. He
followed her up the low entry, across the
84 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
squalid court, through the stable, empty
of the donkeys just then, up the creaking
rounds of the ladder, and into the miser.
able loft, where the tiles were falling in,
and the broken window-panes were stuffed
with rags and paper. Near to the old
rusty stove, which served as a grate when
there was any fire, there was a short
board laid across some bricks, and upon
this the minister took his seat, while
Jessica sat upon the floor before him.
"Jessica," he said, sadly, "is this where
you live ?"
Yes," she answered, "but we'd a
nicer room than this when I was a fairy,
and mother played at the theatre; we
shall be better off when I'm grown up,
if I'm pretty enough to play like her."
"My child," he said, "I'm come to
"Jessica," he said sadly. lPage 84.
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR. 85
ask your mother to let you go to school
in a pleasant place down in the coun-
try. Will she let you go?"
"No," answered Jessica, mother says
she'll never let me learn to read, or go
to church; she says it would make me
good for nothing. But please, sir, she
doesn't know anything about your church,
it's such a long way off, and she hasn't
found me out yet. She always gets very
drunk of a Sunday."
The child spoke simply, and as if all
she said was a matter of course; but the
minister shuddered, and he looked through
the broken window to the little patch
of gloomy sky overhead.
"What can I do?" he cried mournful-
ly, as though speaking to himself.
"Nothing, please sir," said Jessica,
86 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
"only let me come to hear you of a
Sunday, and tell me about God. If you
was to give me fine clothes like your
little girls, mother'ud only pawn them
for gin. You can't do anything more
"Where is your mother?" he asked.
Out on a spree," said Jessica, "and
she won't be home for a day or two.
She'd not hearken to you, sir. There's
the missionary came, and she pushed him
down the ladder, till he was nearly
killed. They used to call mother the
Vixen at the theatre, and nobody durst
say a word to her."
SThe minister was silent for some min-
utes, thinking painful thoughts, for his
eyes seemed to darken as he looked
round the miserable room, and his face
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR. 87
wore an air of sorrow and disappoint'
ment. At last he spoke again.
"Who is Mr. Daniel, Jessica?" he in-
"Oh, she said, cunningly, "he's only a
friend of mine as gives me sups of coffee.
You don't know all the folks in London,
No," he answered, smiling, "but does
he keep a coffee-stall?"
Jessica nodded her head, but did not
trust herself to speak.
"How much does a cup of coffee cost?"
asked the minister.
A full cup's a penny," she answered,
promptly; "but you can have half a cup;
and there are halfpenny and penny buns."
"Good coffee and buns?" he said, with
88 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
"Prime i" replied Jessica, smacking her
"Well," continued the minister, "tell
your friend to give you a full cup df
coffee and a penny bun every morning,
and I'll pay for them as often as he
chooses to come to me for the money."
Jessica's face beamed with delight, but
in an instant it clouded over as she
recollected Daniel's secret, and her lips
quivered as she spoke her disappointed
"Please, sir," she said, "I'm sure he
couldn't come; oh! he couldn't. It's such
a long way, and Mr. Daniel has plenty of
customers. No, he never would come to
you for the money."
"Jessica," he answered, "I will tell you
what I will do. I will trust you with a
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR. 89
shilling every Sunday, if you'll promise to
give it to your friend the very first time
you see him. I shall be sure to know if
you cheat me." And the keen, piercing
eyes of the minister looked down into
Jessica's, and once more the tender and
pitying smile returned to his face.
"I can do nothing else for you?" he
said, in a tone of mingled sorrow and
"No, minister," answered Jessica, "only
tell me about God."
"I will tell you one thing about him
now," he replied. "If I took you to
live in my house with my little daugh-
ters, you would have to be washed and
clothed in new clothing to make you fit
for it. God wanted us to go and live
at home with him in heaven, but we
00 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER.
were so sinful that we could never have
been fit for it. So he sent his own Son to
live amongst us, and die for us, to wash
us from our sins, and to give us new
clothing, and to make us ready to live
in God's house. When you ask God
for anything, you must say 'For Jesus
Christ's sake.' Jesus Christ is the Son
After these words the minister care-
fully descended the ladder, followed by
Jessica's bare and nimble feet, and she
led him by the nearest way into one
of the great thoroughfares of the city,
where he said good-bye to her, adding,
"God bless you, my child," in a tone
which sank into Jessica's heart. He had
put a silver sixpence into her hand to
provide for her breakfast the next three
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR. 91
mornings, and, with a feeling of being
very rich, she returned to her miserable
The next morning Jessica presented
herself proudly as a customer at Daniel's
stall, and paid over the sixpence in ad-
vance. He felt a little troubled as he
heard her story, lest the minister should
endeavor to find him out; but he could
not refuse to let the child come daily
for her comfortable breakfast. If he was
detected, he would promise to give up
his coffee-stall rather than offend the great
people of the chapel; but unless he
was, it would be foolish of him to lose
the money it brought in week after