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WITH ILL USTRA TIONS.
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.
BEDFORD STREET, STRAND.
I. THE MORNING WALK 1
II. THE PI-NIo 14
III. THE CONFIDANTE 24
IV. THE RETURN OF PEACE 32
V. FAMILY ARRANGEMENTS 9
VI. THE SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE 57
VII. THE ROLLING STONE s G9
VIII. THE OLD ELM TREE .
IX. THE AFFLICTED FAMILY 82
X. THE WIDOW'S TALE 86
XI. VALUE OF KINDNESS 97
XII. HOPES, HEAVENLY AND E&RTHLY 105
XIII. THE LAST INTERVIEW 109
XIV. THE FINAL EFFORT 114
THE MORNING WALK.
IT was a bright morning in June. The dew
had not yet gone from the grass in the courts
which fronted many of the pretty dwellings in
the still somewhat rural town of Wilks. The
sky wore that peculiarly beautiful blue which is
seen oftener in this month of roses than at any
other season. Not a cloud appeared in the
heavens, save a few of snowy white, far in the
east. The birds were tuning their little throats
for a louder song each than the other; and
strange, though so endless the variety, the ear
could detect no discord.
A small river, or rather rivulet, which wound
its course along the western side of the town,
showed glimpses of its sparkling waters, here
and there, through the trees, to increase the
quiet beauty of the scene. The milkman, with
his cart and bright tin cans, going his early
2 RUTH OLAY~ON.
rounds, and a few labourers, were the only per-
sons yet to be seen abroad, with one exception.
This was a little girl, about eleven years old,
whose eyes seemed to have caught their hue,
with added shade, from the azure above her.
Indeed, one could have fancied she had taken
her whole expression from the smiling and beau-
tiful landscape, so sweet and happy was her
countenance. She was briskly wending her
way along the side-walk, only stopping, now and
then, to take a more leisurely survey of some
court, or garden, or flower, which struck her
Her apparel was faultlessly neat-a light
print dress, with a white apron, made high
and close around the neck, and a white sun-
bonnet; even her little black morocco shoes did
not betray any contact with the dust. In one
hand she carried a small pitcher of cream, while
the other held a little basket of strawberries,
freshly gathered by herself that very morning.
This basket was neatly covered with white paper,
on the top of which was laid a bunch of flowers.
She had already walked some distance, for
ier father's house stood far up the street. A
vomfortable-looking house it was, (though not
showy,) with a porch in front and one at the
back-both overrun with well-trained vines.
There was a large garden in the rear, and a row
of fine young trees growing outside the railing
THE MORNITO WALK. 3
before the door; while at the north side of the
house, in full view as you came up the street,
stood an elm-tree large enough to overshadow
the whole house, looking as if it alone had been
left, when all its forest-brother's were removed
at the time of the first settlement. The garden
and yard were particularly neat-the shrubs
and plants all bearing the marks of careful
attention. Everything around spoke of neatness
and industry, peace and comfort.
Ruth had left her home, after gathering her
roses and strawberries, and tripped rapidly along
the distance of several squares; then she had
crossed over two streets, and had just turned the
corner of another, near which stood a large, hand-
some brick house, when a side-gate opened, and
a girl of about her own age came running out to
meet her. This girl was very pretty. She had
fine black eyes, with a blooming complexion, and
small, regular features; but her appearance was
very different from that of the other. Her hair
was uncombed, her dress torn and soiled. She
wore no apron, and looked altogether slatternly
"Hey!" said she, as soon as she was near
enough, where are you travelling so fast, Miss
Industry ? Mother routed me out of bed a
while ago against my will, and I betook myself
to the garden, with Carlo, to see if I could find
some fun, as I couldn't get leave to sleep; and
4 BURTH CLAYTON.
fortune favoured me, pretty soon, with the sight
of two newly-risen butterflies. I ran after them
-first one, then the other-and Carlo after me.
We were having a fine time of it, when I caught
sight of you, coming round the corner; so I left
the butterflies to take care of themselves, and
ran out to meet you; and now, pray tell me
where you can be going so early."
Why, Ella, it is not so very early. I am
going to the school-room."
To the school-room! At this hour! Who
upon earth ever heard of such a foolish girl ?
Why, it is not time for nearly three hours yet!
What can make you love school so ?"
I love it, because-because it does me good,
and because I hope it will make me so that I
can do good to others, some time. But I did not
mean to say I was going there for all day yet;
it is only a little past six o'clock, and it would
not be right to trouble the teacher so long
before the regular hour; but I wish to get
some of my books, and study some of my lessons
to make up for lost time. Mother had unex-
pected company yesterday, which kept me at
home, and I could not study in the evening,
because I hadn't my books."
"You seem to think so much of always
knowing your lessons," said Ella, shrugging her
shoulders. "For my part," she added, lightly,
"I care nothing about whether I know my
THE MORNING WALK. 5
lessons or not; indeed, for the matter of that, if
I could have my own way, I would never enter
a school-room. What good can it do you?
How much pleasanter to be running about,
trundling a hoop, or chasing butterflies, or play-
ing with Carlo or the cat, or catching minnows,
or sailing down at the creek, or sitting on the
bank, watching the ducks and geese swim, on a
fine, bright day like this, than to be shut up in
a school-room, with nothing but hateful old
books and a cross teacher, to spend a long,
weary day, with nothing pleasant at the end
of it !"
Oh, Ella! what an idle life that would be!
How can you talk so ? You were not created
just to please yourself. My mother says we
had better not live at all, than live just for our
own pleasure; and God will call us to account
for the way in which we spend our time. Don't
you know what the Bible says about the
Oh, well, I haven't got any talents-mother
says so. If I had, I should not so hate to study;
for I have always heard that people naturally
take to anything they have a talent for."
"Why, yes, your time is a talent-one of
those the Bible means; and every opportunity
you have of improving yourself, and doing good
to others, is a talent."
"I don't have much opportunity, I'm sure.
6 RUTH CLAYTON.
Nothing but a common day-school, and a cross
teacher, who won't help me. Now, if I could
.go away to a boarding-school, where they teach
drawing, and painting, and French, and music,
and all such things, which are pleasant to learn,
there would be some fun in it; but who wants
to study grammar, with its nouns, and verbs,
and declensions, and conjugations ? And then
that history-oh! how I hate it! How can I
remember, and what do I care, when Solon framed
his code of laws, or what the third Punic war
was about, or what followed the battle of
Actium, or who were the seven kings of Rome,
"Why, Ella," said Ruth, laughing, "you
remember a good deal now, if you wouldn't get
it all mixed up so."
Well, I don't care for it, anyhow-" said
Ella, stooping to pick up a pebble, which she
threw across the street; "and I never can re-
member dates: it is too hard, and I don't mean
That is the reason why you think it hard
--just because you will not try. But how can
you call our dear, kind teacher cross, Ella ?
I'm sure she is never cross, if you are only
"Why, didn't she refuse yesterday to show
me about that hard sum? And doesn't she
often detain me after school for my grammar
THE MORNING WALK. 7
lessons, after she has refused to explain or help
me to understand them P"
Oh! Ella, you know she always explains the
lesson beforehand to the class, so that all have
an equal chance, if they will only give their
attention; and she could not go round after-
wards to each one, and explain it all over again,
for she has so many other classes to attend to.
Besides, you know, she says it is necessary that
every one should learn to think for herself.
Indeed, I think she is very patient with us all,
and we ought not to give her unnecessary
trouble. Mother says a teacher's duties are
hard enough; even if every scholar should do
Oh, you may speak up for her-she is always
kind to you. Every one] knows you are a
"Now, Ella, what makes you say that? I
don't believe I am a favourite at all; that is, I
don't believe Mrs. Fraser is ever partial: but I
try not to trouble her, when I can help it; and
I strive to learn my lessons and to understand
them, because the Bible says, 'Whatever thy
hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' And,
besides, I love to study, to gain knowledge, and
to please my parents. We know there is nothing
they like so much as to see us do well; and
surely we ought to try to make our parents
happy, Oh, come, Ella," she added, coaxingly
8 RUTH CLAYTOI'.
" do try and study a little more; just try and
learn one lesson well to-day, and see how much
happier you will feel afterwards; because you
will know you have been doing right; and then
when you play after work, it is worth something.
Why, you play so much, Ella, that you fairly get
tired of it."
Oh, how mighty good and wise we are!"
said Ella, raising her hands, and then letting
them drop, with an air of mock admiration, and
looking at the same time not very well pleased.
" No, you may do all the studying for me. I
like to play better than to study, and I mean
always to follow my likings, as far as I can. I
cannot have everything my own way just now,
quite; but wait till I get a little older-never
mind, you'll see. I suppose," turning round
again and lifting up one corner of the paper
which covered the basket, and then glancing at
the pitcher, "these nice things are for 'our
dear, kind teacher ?'" said she, with a pro-
Yes-you know Mrs. Fraser does not keep
a cow, and the people say that the milk they
get from the milkman does not yield much
cream. So mother told me, when I spoke of
going out before breakfast, that I might take
some cream; and then I just thought of the
strawberries myself, and asked mother if I
might pick some for her."
THE MORNING WALK. 9
Ella looked as if she could have said, "Your
mother and you are both arrant fools, for trou-
bling yourselves so much:" but she only said,
rather sneeringly, "You and your teacher are
very kind to one another;" and without another
word, ran back to the garden.
Ella Norris and Ruth Clayton had been born
and brought up, thus far, in the same place.
Pleasant homes they both had, and brothers
and sisters, and kind parents, whose families
attended the same place of worship, and who
patronized the same school for their daughters.
These two girls were the eldest in their respective
families. They were both endowed by nature
with very good mental capacities, and a more
than ordinary share of comeliness; so that, in
many respects, their lot in life appeared to be
about equal and quite similar.
But the resemblance went no further than
in these points. The great difference in their
dispositions, habits, and principles may be seen
from the preceding conversation. Ruth was a
sweet-tempered and cheerful, though a thought-
ful child, with a heart full of love to her parents,
and an earnest desire to promote their wishes;
while this feeling extended itself in a greater or
less degree to all around her. Ella thought
only of herself, and how she could contrive to
secure the greatest amount of what she called
pleasure. We need now not pause to inquire
10 RUTH CLAYTON.
how much-of this difference might have been
the result of home education, and how much
proceeded from natural disposition. No doubt
each of these causes had a share in producing
characters so entirely opposite; but it is suf-
ficient for the present purpose to pass by the
cause, and note only the effect on themselves,
and the consequences in the after life of each.
As the natural fruit of Ruth's great love for
her parents, grew her unvarying obedience to
their precepts. One of these, which had been
inculcated with as much care, perhaps, as any
other, was the diligent improvement of time and
of every opportunity that offered for acquiring
useful knowledge; not that she might win the
praise of others, but for itself alone, and for the
power it would afford her of being useful in the
world. For this reason she always aimed to
get a thorough understanding of whatever she
studied, and never gave up a lesson as finished
until she had made it entirely her own.
When the two girls parted that morning, and
Ruth went on her way, she had a great many
thoughts about Ella; she could not help wonder-
ing at her and pitying her, and wishing she
could persuade her to alter her course. She
had always known Ella, and liked her, as she
liked everybody. She knew, from what she had
been carefully taught, almost from infancy, that
Ella could never be good, respectable, or happy,
THE MORNING WALK. 11
if she persisted in her idle ways; and then,
when she remembered how obstinately Ella
refused even to think, she really felt sad. Now,
it must not be supposed that because Ruth was
so thoughtful of her own duty, and so desirous
that others should feel and act rightly, she was
either womanly, or sober, or dull. Ruth could
laugh as heartily, and play as merrily, as any
young girl of her age in Wilks; and when she
was at home, she might often be heard singing,
like any lark or linnet, when not engaged at
something which required all her attention.
And as she pursued her rapid walk on this
delicious summer-morning, her thoughts could
not long retain any impression uninvested with
that tranquil enjoyment which was habitual to
her. Soon, all unpleasant feelings respecting
Ella, and indeed, all remembrance of her for the
time, were lost in the happy thoughts and fancies
peculiar to childhood and youth, and the bright
exhilaration of spirits which the lovely sights
and sounds of nature all around her were so
well calculated to excite.
As she turned into the quiet, green lane,
bordered at intervals with clumps of wild-rose
and sweet-brier, which led up to Mrs. Fraser's
house, a bird suddenly rose in the air a short
distance before her, and, as it trilled forth its
sweet song, increasing in loudness and melody
the higher it ascended towards heaven, her
12 RUTH CLAYTON.
heart rose with it, and joined in its hymn of
thanksgiving and praise to that good and be-
neficent Creator who had made the earth so
beautiful, and filled her heart with desires to
please Him, and blessed her with parents so able
and so willing to guide her in the path of duty.
Perhaps these thoughts may not have passed
through her mind just in this form, or in so
nany words; but the conscious sense of happi-
ness arising from them rested on her spirit, and
pervaded her young being with more than the
natural buoyancy of youth, and the peace which
ever attends, in greater or smaller measure, the
steady performance of duty. She received a
kiss, and a smiling "Thank you, a thousand
times, my dear," from Mrs. Fraser, in return for
her strawberries and cream; and when she asked
for the key of the school-room, and apologized
for troubling her so early, Mrs. Fraser said in
the very kindest manner-
I should consider myself extremely ungrate-
ful, my dear Ruth, if I were not glad of an
opportunity to oblige such a pupil as you:
you have never given me the least trouble in
This was gratifying praise to one who loved
her teacher almost as well as her parents.
Mrs. Fraser was a small, delicate woman,-
dignified and ladylike. She was the widow of
a clergyman, and had been teaching in Wilks,
THE MORNING WALK. 18
thus supporting herself and her only child, for
more than ten years. Her qualifications for the
task of instruction were of a superior order, and
her government in school could not be surpassed.
She laboured to inform and rightly impress the
hearts, as well as the minds, of her pupils; and
with most of them her success was quite equal
to her expectations, if not to her wishes; but
her school, like most others, contained some dull
or indolent, some perverse and obstinate, and
some giddy, wilfully heedless spirits, who tried
her patience and tasked her skill. She had
hopes of them all except Ella. On her she had
so entirely failed in producing any perceivable
impression, that she had almost, in her own
mind, given her up.
RUTH procured her books, and by dint of plying
her little feet still more swiftly than before,
reached home in time for breakfast, after which
she sat down, with right good will, to her
studies. At the end of an hour and a half, she
had learned all her forenoon lessons perfectly,
and had even looked over some of those for the
afternoon. But she must stop now, for the
clock told her she had but fifteen minutes left;
so she brushed her hair, donned her little white
sun-bonnet, kissed them all good-bye, and set off
for school, where she arrived just as the bell was
sounding out its summons. How comfortable
she felt! She had no fears that when her turn
came she should be found remiss; and all the
intervening time, occupied by classes to which
she did not belong, she spent in preparing
lessons for the afternoon.
Ella sauntered in about half an hour after
school commenced; received, with her usual in-
difference, her teacher's reproof for tardiness;
took her seat and yawned idly over her books,
sometimes turning the leaves and appearing to
study, but more frequently looking about her,
or covertly whispering to her nearest neighbour
THE PIC-NIO. 15
But her mmd was not altogether unoccupied, as
we shall presently see.
Ella had many friends, or rather many as-
sociates, who liked and sought her society. She
was what might be called popular. Of an easy,
careless temper, arising from thoughtlessness,-
lively, with a good deal of ready wit and humour,
she was quite an amusing companion; and being
always prompt to take the lead in every project
which promised anything like "fun," as she
called it, she had no small influence over many
of her school-mates. But (though not in general
ill-natured) some feeling, not quite amiable,
seemed to possess her this morning.
Perhaps she had been forced to think a little
by that early talk with Ruth; and thinking is
not pleasant work, when it only serves to call up
an accusing conscience. But, be that as it may,
certain it is, that whatever effect Ruth's words
had produced, words so strongly expressing
surprise and disapprobation, though spoken in
the gentlest manner, had called forth no good
feeling towards Ruth herself. Perhaps envy of
those better principles and superior attainments
which she had not the good sense or resolution
.o emulate, may have been at the bottom, rousing
a malicious desire to mortify her monitress.
When play-time came and all adjourned to
the open ground at the back of the house, Ruth
stopped to finish an exercise, and then helped
10 BUTH CLAYTON.
little Lucy Hart to find her bonnet. On reaching
the gate, she found a knot of girls, comprising
all that belonged to the school who were near
her own age, (except Susan and Maria Parker,
and Jane Lewis,) assembled on a rising ground
in one corner of the enclosure. In the midst
stood Ella, who, from her gestures, seemed to be
taking an active part in the conversation, and,
whatever might be the subject, Ruth judged
from the frequent laughter that it must be quite
They were not near enough for her to dis-
tinguish any words; and somehow-from an
undefined feeling or instinct-she did not seem
inclined, just now, to join the group. It might
have been from a vague sense of something in
Ella's look and manner that day which appeared
unfriendly, or, at least, unusual. At all events,
she and the three before mentioned, with some
of the smaller girls, took their skipping-ropes,
or played at "puss in the corner," in a different
part of the play-ground, and returned to the
school-room before Ella and her companions had
finished their colloquy.
The interval of recreation was short, and those
who resided at any considerable distance from
the school did not return home, but brought a
luncheon in their satchels. Ruth was one of
this number. Having eaten her light meal,
she walked about, and chatted and laughed with
THE PIC-NIc. 17
such of the scholArs as came in her way; but
when they began to assemble for afternoon
lessons, she could not help observing that she
was not greeted as usual
The girls, in general, seemed shy; and three
or four of those who were most intimate with
Ella, several times in the course of the after.
noon, contrived, by side-glances, winks, or nods,
first at each other and then slyly at Ruth, to
make her aware that something was on their
minds in reference to her, and that they con-
sidered her quite deserving of their contempt.
In the five minutes given to what was called
"business," (which meant active exercise in the
school-room an hour after school opened,) Ruth
did not rise from her seat, but her self-con-
stituted judges for the day managed it so as to
pass and repass frequently without speaking
to her, while the words "oracle," "female
Solomon," "parson," "Mrs. Fraser's pet," more
than once met her ear, and she could not avoid
seeing that these words were meant for her.
She began to grow uneasy. What could it all
mean ? She was perplexed and annoyed, without
precisely understanding why.
Early the next morning she observed Ella
presenting a paper to Mrs. Fraser, and speak-
ing to her as if making some request, but
she did not hear what was said on either side.
When the time came round which was allotted
18 RUTH CLAYTON1.
for their lunch or dinner, Mrs. Fraser touched
the bell to call attention, and then spoke:-
"You have, with your parents' permission,
asked me to give you a half-holiday this after-
noon, in order that you may have a little pic-
nic; and as the day is likely to continue fine, I
willingly agreed to do so, upon condition that I
should have reason to be satisfied with your
recitations. I have now the pleasure to say
that I am satisfied; you have all-without
exception," (and she glanced at Ella, who
smiled, and drew up her eye-brows,)--"I say
you have all acquitted yourselves unusually
well this afternoon. If I understand rightly,
you are to meet at the old sycamore-tree, near
the bridge, previous to setting out for the
woods, after you have completed your little
arrangements at home, (which, by-the-bye, will
have to be done expeditiously,) and not to start
until each one has reached the spot with her
basket. If you are quick, you may have four
or five hours before you; I will ask my daughter
and Miss Lewis to accompany you, and see that
nothing goes wrong. I hope you will enjoy
yourselves as much as you seem to expect. You
are now dismissed."
Ruth could not disguise her astonishment. A
pic-nic! All the scholars! and she not invited
to join! What could be the matter? What
had turned all the girls against her ? It seemed
TIME PICaNIC, 19
to her like an unpleasant dream. The children
all bounded from the room in high glee, but
Ruth did not at first think of rising from her
seat. Mrs. Fraser had gone out, to attend to
her part of the arrangement, or she would have
noticed the bewildered, distressed expression of
Ruth's face, and seeing that she did not go with
the rest, would have required an explanation
that very moment. But no, there was no one
left in the room but herself, and she hardly
knew, at first, whether she was awake or not.
Presently she recollected herself, and was begin-
ning to make preparations to go home, when
two or three of the smaller girls ran in, calling
Come, Ruth-Ruth Clayton, please, may I
walk with you ?"
I am sorry you cannot walk with me to-day,
Nina, but I am not going."
Not going ? Not going ?-such a beautiful
day! and we shall have such a happy time! Oh!
why are you not going, Ruth P"
Presently, nearly a dozen little ones were
round her, all lamenting, and repeating the
question, Why P"
"I did not know anything about it until just
now. The girls did not invite me."
Not invite you P Why, how strange !" said
they all. "They must have forgotten it."
"I do not know-" said Ruth; and her lip
20 RUTT[ CLAYTOsT.
quivered, and her voice trembled. "But go,
girls, you will be late; you will be left behind."
"I don't care; I don't want to go, if you
don't. But, oh come, Ruth: never mind; you
have as good a right to go as any of them."
Ruth kissed the friendly little creatures, and
then pushed them gently towards the door, tell-
ing them to hurry along and never mind her.
After some more entreaties, they all scampered
off, while Ruth more slowly walked homeward.
At the end of the lane, she found Maria
Parker, who had been waiting for her.
"Why! are you not going to the pic-nic,
No, I wouldn't go with such a set. Isn't it
mean of them to act so ?"
I don't know what to make of it," said Ruth,
trying to speak with a steady voice.
Well, I can tell you, and that is just why I
waited for you. I saw by your puzzled looks
when Mrs. Fraser spoke about the party that
you didn't know what to make of it. Anna
Marshall told me all about it at noon, just after
they invited me to go, for she was present when
the whole thing was got up. She said, that as
soon as they went into the play-ground yesterday,
Ella called out, 'Come, girls; don't you want
some fun ? If so, I will give you an extract
from a sermon I heard this morning.' Then
away she ran to the hillock, and the girls after
THE PIC-NIC 21
her, and began to repeat a parcel of stuff, which,
she said, you had been saying that morning; and
in a drawling, canting tone, you know; it was so
droll, that the girls could not help laughing,
though some of them said it was not right, for
they knew it must be pretty much all her own
nonsense. After she had entertained herself
and them in this way for a while, she stopped all
at once, and said, 'Now, girls, I'll tell you what
I want to-day, and if you'll all join in with me, I
think we can make it do. I have been wishing
for a pic-nic ever so long, and this is such a
beautiful day, that I think it is sure to be fine
to-morrow. Who'll second the motion ?'
"'I will,' and 'I,' and I,' they all shouted.
"'Well, now I'll tell you how we will manage
it. We will ask our parents this afternoon,
and get one of them to write a request to the
teacher, and all the rest, who are willing, to
sign it; and we'll hand it to Mrs. Fraser the
first thing in the morning. If she consents
at all, I know she will make it a condition that
we say our lessons well; but I don't care for
that-I can study well enough, once in a while,
if I have an object. Mary Trainer, and Sarah
Day, and ever so many of the girls, have talked
about it before, and they say they know their
mothers will consent. I can tell Sarah and
some of the others who are not here, as I go
home; it will not be very much out of my way.
22 RUTH CLAYTON.
To-morrow we must ask all the little girls who
are not too little, and tell them all to keep
quiet about it until school is dismissed; and at
home they will have some nice things ready for
us, so that we can start at three o'clock. Won't
it be nice ? But, girls,' said she, as if suddenly
recollecting something,'don't let's say anything
about it to Ruth Clayton-she won't care to go.
She thinks herself a great deal wiser and better
than any of us; indeed, she as much as told me
that she thought I was an awful bad person, and
those who associated with me could not be much
"Nearly all the girls objected to this, and
said that would be too bad; and some of them
even protested against any such thing, saying it
would be shameful. But when Ella said, 'Oh,
very well-I can stay at home, and I will, too,
if she is to be invited, for it would be all spoiled
to me;. but if you would rather have her than
me, so be it.' And then Kate Miller, and Sophy
Jackson, and Margaret Smith, and one or two
more, began to join in with Ella, making sport
about you, because, they said, Mrs. Fraser
favoured you in everything; and thus it was easy
to see why you got so many approbation-marks
to show at examinations. It was all Mrs.
Fraser's partiality; and that was caused, Ella
said, by your own artfulness in pretending to be
so good, and coaxing her up by presents and
THE PIc-IIc. 23
such things. Some of them even said you were
no better or cleverer than the rest of the girls,
only Mrs. Fraser and you both tried to make
people think so. Just then, Anna says, the
school-bell rang, and she went in, but the others
remained a few moments longer, to settle about
where they were to meet, and what each one
should take; and they agreed not to let any but
those present know that you were not to be
invited, lest they should tell Mrs. Fraser. I
was half-resolved to tell her myself, but Anna
said, if I did, she would never forgive me; the
girls would all be so angry with her. And when
I came to think of it, I concluded it would not
be of any use, for you would not want to go
with them after all that, and so I held my
tongue. But I determined upon two things;
one was, that I would not go myself-the other
was, that I would tell you all about it. Indeed,
mother would not let me go, if she knew the
circumstances, and I could not ask her without
at the same time making her acquainted with
the true state of the case."
Maria did not get to the end of her story
until long after they had reached the place
where their roads separated; so they stopped
until it was finished, and then Ruth went on
RUTH went on alone, but her heart was sore-
sorer than it had ever been in her life before. A
multitude of questioning thoughts perplexed her.
At one moment, she feared that perhaps she had
spoken improperly to Ella, and made herself
ridiculous, by expressing her feelings and opi-
nions too freely; and then a sense of shame
would cause the blood to rise to her face, making
her cheeks glow again. She tried to think, and
recall all the words that had passed between
them; but she could not remember anything
she had said which appeared to her at all wrong
or out of place; thus a feeling of anger rose
against Ella and her companions for their cruel
falsehood and fickleness. But anger could
not long retain possession of such a child as
Nothing could have been a greater treat to
her than such an excursion on such a day. It
was just the kind of amusement she most keenly
enjoyed. But it was not that which made her
heart swell, and the tears rush to her eyes. It
was a sense of the injustice and unkindness of
the whole business, that strongly forced itself
TIlE CONFIDANTE. 25
upon her mind; and if she had not felt something
else, stronger still, within her, which prevented
her from giving way, she would have relieved
herself by a hearty fit of crying; but she was not
far from home, and she suppressed the tears, for
her mother would be alarmed if she saw her
with such marks of sorrow upon her face. It
would also damp the spirits of the children
to see Ruth come home crying, and would seem
particularly strange on a half-holiday.
She thought, as she drew near the house, that
she had never returned from school with so little
pleasure. But as soon as she entered the court,
Martha and Mary ran to meet their "darling
sister," as they called her, each one seizing a
hand; and when she opened the door of their
quiet, neat, pleasant sitting-room, and met her
mother's kind smile; and when little Annie, the
curly-headed baby and pet of the house, came
towards her, reaching out her chubby arms, her
blue eyes dancing with joy, calling out Ooty !"
" Ooty!" and threw her arms around her neck,
and lovingly stroked her cheeks with her little,
fat, dimpled hands, and laid her soft face to hers,
--Euth felt the burden lifted from her heart, as
a cloud moves upwards before the light of the
rising sun, and she thought, Surely there are
enough here to love me, if the whole world
beside were against me."
Afterwards her father came in to tea, and laid
26 RUTH CLAYTON.
his hand fondly on her head, and said, How
is my dear Ruth this evening Then the
tea-table was cleared, and all the family as-
sembled at the end of the back-parlour-the
windows of which opened into the cool porch,
shaded and overrun with honeysuckles, eglan.
tine, and white and climbing roses. Then John
and Charley took their seats-one on each side;
John with a new dissected map, which she must
help him to put together, and Charley with his
book of prints, which he wanted her to explain;
both saying that the evening was the best part
of the day, because then Ruth could be at home.
Then Martha brought the nice dress she had
made for Annie's doll; and Mary showed the
patch she had sewed so neatly that day, because
Ruth had taught her to sew. Then father took
his newspaper, and mother the knitting she
always kept on hand for evenings; so that all
were busy, but not so fully occupied as to inter-
fere with the easy flow of cheerful talk that
went buzzing through the room, or to prevent
all due attention to the various performances of
little Annie, who sat well pleased, for a time,
rocking her doll in its tiny cradle on the floor.
Soon, however, she felt a desire for some more
stirring amusement, and would leave off and
make an occasional tour around the room, in
quest of adventures; stopping at each chair,
successively, and challenging one and another,
THE COTNIDANTT. 27
in her own baby fashion, to a game of romps;
always contriving with well-feigned terror, when
in danger of being caught, to make her way to
Ruth's protecting arms, where she was sure to
be snatched up and kissed at least a dozen times.
When Ruth looked around upon them all,
she thought, Surely no one ever had so good
a home, or such dear parents, brothers, and
sisters, as I have. The girls who treated me so
badly to-day cannot keep me from being happy."
But yet, notwithstanding all her love for her
family, and all the delights of her home, and
all the interest she encouraged herself to take in
the pursuits of her little brothers and sisters,
Ruth was but a child, and a keen sense of dis-
appointment and injured feeling would rise up,
and cast its gloomy colouring over all. For the
first time in her life, she dreaded the thoughts
of school the next day; and more than once
that evening did poor Ruth's countenance wear
an expression of sadness and vexation very
visible to any one who noticed her. She could
not help it.
Her mother observed the occasional cloud
upon her face, and the more because it was so
unusual to her; but she forbore to question her.
She thought if there was anything upon her
mind which troubled her, Ruth would not fail to
acquaint her with it; and she was not mistaken.
Ruth could not retire to rest without first un.
28 UTH CLAYTOm.
burdening her mind to her dear, kind mother,
and asking her advice as to her proper course of
conduct. So, when prayers were over, and all the
children except herself had gone to bed, and when
her father had taken his lamp, and her mother
was about to follow, Ruth softly begged her to
remain a few minutes, as she wished to tell her
something. And then she sat down, and gave a
minute and truthful account of all the events
of the last two days, which seemed to her of so
She felt even more deeply than she had
expected, when repeating it; and when she came
to tell of the unkind words and actions, and
the undeserved ill-will which had been mani-
fested towards her, the suppressed torrent burst
forth, and she sobbed as if all the griefs of a
whole lifetime had just then come at once upon
Sympathizing tears gathered in the mother's
eyes. She did not ask, "Now, Ruth, are you
certain that is all you said ?" or, Can it be
possible that these girls could do so and so?"
She was sure Ruth had told the whole truth,
so far as she knew it, for she had never been
known to utter a falsehood, and now sincerity
was marked in every line and feature of her
face. Mrs. Clayton knew more than Ruth did
of the workings of evil in the human heart. She
knew how one sin usually leads to another; how
RUTH CONFIDES IN WER MOTHER.
To face cage 28.
THE CONFIDANTE. 29
an evil passion or habit grows by indulgence,
until it becomes powerful enough to rule the one
who fosters it, and, if not early conquered, may
lead on to any degree of folly or wickedness.
She knew, also, the power of example, and the
force of popular inclination, always tending
towards that side which happens, for the time
being, to hold the balance of power, and which
is, therefore, more likely to advance the present
interest or pleasure of those who favour it. She
thought (and justly) that this little foolish affray
at school, of which her poor :uth had been the
innocent object, and by which she had suffered
so much, was only a childish phase of the same
temper that governs corrupt human nature-
only a germ of the principle which, full grown,
rules over all that are of the earth, earthy."
She did not say anything for a little time, but
sat looking thoughtfully and tenderly upon her
troubled child. "Ruth," she at length said,
as she drew her head down upon her lap, and
smoothed her hair caressingly, you have been
taking your first lesson in the ways of the world;
and though I would wish you to be always
sensitive to evil in any shape done to yourself or
others, yet I hope you will not allow such things
to take too strong a hold upon your feelings, and
that you will not indulge in anything like anger
towards those who do them. Those girls are
more to be pitied than you, Ruth; especially
30 RUTH CLAYTON.
poor Ella, who is, I fear, growing up without
any fixed principles to restrain her from any
sin to which her natural levity may incline her.
And now, my dear," continued Mrs. Clayton, "it
is your duty not to vex yourself any more about
this. Let your own good sense, and your con-
sciousness of right motives, keep you from
being too much moved by such little matters.
Meet your companions as usual in the morning,
and feel and show kindness towards them just
as you have done before, and think no more
"But, mother," said Ruth, "how can I be
pleasant to them and love them, after they have
treated me so, and behaved so spitefully to me,
and all for nothing ?"
"Ah, Ruth dear, in that you betray a feeling
that must not be indulged for one moment. You
must go to God, my child, and, with your whole
heart, ask Him to give you His Holy Spirit,
that you may be enabled to forgive and love
those who have injured and ill-treated you: just
as the Lord Jesus Christ forgave even His
murderers, and pitied them, and prayed for
them. And then you must act. You must
strive to do that which you ask Him to assist
you in doing; and surely, when you reflect how
often you offend against Him, and need forgive-
ness at His hands, you will be able to do this.
And besides, I am certain, Ruth, that few, if
THE CONFIDANTE. 31
any, of those girls really bear you any ill-will.
Depend upon it, their conduct to-day was in.
fluenced chiefly by the whim of the moment.
Your companions have always seemed to like
you very much; and I do not believe any of
them, now, have really any unfriendly feelings
towards you. I do not deny that Ella may be
affected, in some degree, by that baneful pas-
sion, malice; but even that will be deprived of
its power, and defeated in its object, if you do
not allow yourself to be disturbed by it. As
for the rest, some of them will be sorry, and
others, perhaps, will scarcely think about it;
and I am confident that in this affair the cloud'
will soon blow over, and all be as bright as ever.'
Ruth kissed her mother, and promised to follow
her advice. Before her head touched the pillow
that night, she earnestly besought her heavenly
Father, for Christ's sake, to pardon her sins and
give her a spirit of meekness and love for all-
even for those who had behaved most unkindly
to her. And was her prayer not answered?
Had any one entered her chamber an hour after
this conversation with her mother, they would
have known it was. As they looked upon her
in her calm sleep, and marked the perfect con
tentment that smiled all over her innocent face,
they would not have supposed that she had even
yet taken her first lesson in the experience of
this world's deceitful ways.
THE RETURN OF PEACE.
THE early morning found our young friend up
and ready for her duties, and as happy as ever.
She almost wondered how she could have felt so
much disturbed and cast down the day before.
She felt no enmity against any one. Brisk as
a bee, she applied herself, until the breakfast-
hour, to the task of preparing herself and her
lessons for school.
Mrs. Clayton marked, with pleasure, Ruth's
return to her accustomed cheerfulness, and did
not think it necessary to add anything to the
counsel she had already given her.
When Ruth entered the school-room, it was
somewhat earlier than usual, and but few of the
scholars had yet arrived. She always found
plenty of employment before the opening of
school in looking over what she had to repeat.
So that, as the girls came in, one by one, or
sometimes two or three together, she was not
called upon to notice the manner of any one
toward herself. And through the day, when
she happened, in the course of school exercises,
to be brought into contact with any of the prime
movers in the affair which so grieved her at first,
THE RETURN OF PEAU 33
she was able to meet them with her own pleasant
smile-her countenance showing not the smallest
trace of any unpleasant recollection connected
with them; so that some of them indeed forgot,
as her mother had predicted, that they had borne
any part in the shameful doings. Somehow-it
was strange, and even Ruth wondered at it
herself-no allusion was made, in her hearing, to
anything done at the party. Whether they en-
joyed themselves as much as they had anticipated
or not, she never knew, and she never asked.
There were some among those who had been
foremost in joining with Ella in her silly revenge,
who felt moving of compunction and regret,
and a strong desire to make amends for their
injurious treatment of one so free from all
blame in the matter as she had shown herself
to be. But how to apologize, or in what way to
approach the subject, they could not tell, as
Ruth gave no sign, by look, word, or action, that
she remembered aught against them. Instead
of that, she embraced every opportunity that
occurred through the day of displaying the beaua
tiful effect of the principles which governed her
conduct, by returning good for evil. In the
forenoon, after all the girls had gone out to
play, she discovered Kate Miller searching
through the room, under the desks, on the
wvindow-seats, and behind the chimney-boards,
with a look of much perplexity and vexation.
34 RUTH CLAYTO1.
SWhat's the matter, Katy ?" she asked.
"Why, I've lost my spelling and definition-
book," said Katy, in a whining tone, "and the
class will be called in a quarter of an hour, and
I don't know one word of my lesson; and there!
I've got to have another black mark, which makes
five this week: it's too bad!"
Oh, never mind, Katy-here, you may take
mine. I know my lesson, and after school I'll
help you to look for yours."
"Oh, Ruth, what a dear, good girl you are!"
said Katy, thankfully taking the offered book,
and inwardly resolving she would try to imitate
her, and never again be so foolish and wicked as
to do anything to vex her.
In the afternoon, Ruth observed one of her
nearest neighbours, Sophy Jackson, crying bit-
terly over a difficult sum in fractions. She
would not trangress the rules by speaking, but
waited for business," which was near at hand.
This, as we mentioned before, was a short
interval in which all who chose might amuse
themselves by active exercise in-doors. But as
Ruth rightly conjectured, poor Sophy did not
feel disposed to join in the sports that day.
The moment, then, that "business" was an-
nounced, she went up to her, and inquired kindly
what was the difficulty.
Sophy looked up surprised, (for she had been
one of Ruth's most active enemies the previous
THE RETURN OF PEACE. 35
day,) but told her how impossible it had been
for her to understand the general explanation
given by the teacher. She could never do that
hateful sum, and should be disgraced or detained,
beyond a doubt.
1 Well, now," said Ruth, "if you choose to
remain in at play-time, I think I can show you,
for I have been through those sums, and, you
know, the class will not be called until after.
Oh, will you ? Oh, that's very kind," said
Sophy. Then, all at once seeming to recollect,
she blushed and put up both hands to hide her
face. Presently she looked again at Ruth, as if
to assure herself she was in earnest, and said, in
a low, hesitating tone, "I almost wonder, Ruth,
that you should be willing to do anything for
me, after-after yesterday."
Oh, never mind that," said Ruth, smiling;
"that is all past, and it has not done me any
harm. I know that if you, or almost any of the
girls, had thought a little, you would not have
acted as you did."
Indeed, you may say that," replied Sophy;
' and now, for my part, if you really forgive me,
Ruth, I give you my word that I will never go
with Ella Norris again."
"Oh, but you must not make any such
promise, Sophy; do not ill-treat Ella on my
account. I am not angry with her; and I hope
86 BUTH CLAYTOT.
she, too, will think rightly about this, by-and.
Sophy was more than twelve years old-old
enough to be astonished at Ruth's gentleness
and forbearance, and she wondered much about
it in her own mind. She could not understand
it. She saw and felt that it was lovely, and
it had its effect upon her own heart, then and
afterwards; but she said nothing further at the
time, for just then school was called to order.
But where was Ella all this time ? Had she
no compunctious feelings ? If she had, they
were very quiet, and did not trouble her. She
had used up all her spite, to be sure, and her
malice was satisfied, or rather would have been,
had she succeeded in wounding her unoffending
companion. As it was, however, she cared no
further about the matter; only she felt some
little curiosity to see in what manner Ruth's
conduct would be changed towards her. She
occasionally cast a side-glance towards Ruth's
seat, and saw her intent upon her studies, but
could detect no mark of sorrow, anger, or ill-
will; and so she dismissed the affair from her
thoughts altogether, very much as she would have
thrown aside an old plaything.
Mrs. Fraser accidentally discovered, in the
course of the day, how matters had been con-
ducted, and questioned Ruth on the subject.
Ruth said as little as possible, but what she did
THE RETURN OF PEACE. 37
say confirmed all that her teacher had heard.
She was much surprised and displeased, and
would have called the ringleaders to account,
but Ruth begged her to say nothing more
"I certainly feel it to be my duty to reprove
those girls, and show them the evil tendency of
such a course of conduct against any one, but
especially against one who, from all I can learn
of this business, and from what I know of her
character, has done nothing to deserve it."
"Oh, dear Mrs. Fraser, please do not say
anything to them. Please let it pass: I do not
feel uncomfortable about it now."
Mrs. Fraser smiled, and said, "Well, Ruth,
surely you have a right to be heard in their
favour; and, for your sake, I will for once
depart from my rule, and pass it over, because I
think perhaps your example may have a greater
effect upon them than anything I could say."
Thus ended this little school difficulty, which
has occupied more time in the narration than,
perhaps, its importance demanded; but we could
in no other way so well describe our little
heroine's disposition, and the degree of self-
control which Christian principles, early instilled,
enabled her, even then, to exercise.
All things went on, after this, much in the
same way as before, until school-days were
ended with some, and others left to "finish their
38 RUTiH CLAYTON.
education" in some city school;-much in the
same way, I said, except that Ruth had more
friends afterwards than before; and those who
had before been her friends, now loved and
respected her more than ever.
She continued perfecting herself in every
branch of study taught in the school, until Mrs.
Fraser herself confessed, though grieved to part
with her, that she had learned all she could
undertake to teach her. Accordingly, she was
sent to a higher day-school, till her father should
decide upon one where she might be received as
a boarder. Of several which had been recom-
mended, he inclined to the one nearest home, but
thought he would wait until he could make some
further inquiries; and, to say the truth, Ruth's
parents found it difficult to make up their minds
to part with her. Her innocent gaiety, her
kind, affectionate manner towards her brothers
and sisters, her respect for her parents, and her
constant thoughtfulness for their comfort, made
her presence in the house a perpetual sunshine.
Time, with his stealthy tread, moved on, and
Ruth had passed the age of fifteen before Mr.
Clayton had come to any decision. In the mean-
while, events transpired which placed all thoughts
of this entirely out of the question.
THE desire of happiness, inherent in our nature,
when it aims at nothing higher than what this
world can give, assumes a variety of forms, dif-
fering according to the ideal standard by which
it is governed. With some, it is the attainment
of honour or fame; with others, the free enjoy-
ment of pleasure and sensual indulgence. Others,
again, seem to think that what constitutes hap-
piness is no less than all these united, or some-
thing else equally false, empty, and unsatisfy-
ing. But it is believed that by far the greater
portion of mankind imagine it to consist in the
possession of wealth; and consequently they form
all their plans and bend all their energies with a
view to the acquisition of it.
The pursuit of such an object may be right m
itself, if in subservience to higher aims, and if,
when acquired, riches are employed for useful
and benevolent purposes; but, when prompted
by a selfish love of gain, or motives of vanity,
display, or luxury, it has been, in all ages, the
fruitful source of misery, and often of crime.
This restless thirst for gain which pervades all
classes, has given rise to a countless multitude
10 RUTH CLAYTON.
of expedients. The worshippers of mammon
often become impatient of the slow but sure
and safe path of persevering industry and mode.
rate profits, until in their eagerness to grasp
the idol at once, they often find themselves
obliged to let go all that they already possess.
Sometimes this spirit is met and encouraged by
a certain train of circumstances, under which it
spreads like a pestilence, infecting whole com-
munities with an unholy influence; nor does it
subside, until it has impoverished many more
than it has enriched.
The course of our story brings us to the
period when such a moral disease, or excitement,
as it was called, raged throughout the country
from east to west, from city to city, from one town
to another; not like an epidemic, laying hold
upon one here and there, but seizing upon all.
All who were not either too old or too young to
come within the range of its influence, were, in
a greater or less degree, affected by it. Few
escaped, except those favoured ones whose eyes
had been opened to see the light of a brighter
sun than shines upon this world, and who had
thereby been enabled to discern the folly of such
an eager chase after things which "perish with
the using." And even of this class there were
many who foolishly allowed themselves to be
borne on with the current, perhaps even un-
consciously to themselves. The hope of be.
FAMILY ABAINGEMENTS. 41
coming "quickly rich" stirred up an inordinate
desire, and a corresponding contempt for any-
thing short of that great end. Property was
rated at an unreasonable value. What would
be considered a large fortune at other times, now
appeared a trifle; and a competency was beneath
The town of Wilks shared, of course, in the
prevailing mania. Mr. Clayton became affected
by the contagion, and, losing sight of his usual
prudence, was induced to join with a number of
others in the purchase of a large tract of land
which was then thought to be rapidly rising in
The fever went down as fast as it had risen;
and before Mr. Clayton and his company had
succeeded in realizing anything from their pur-
chase, they saw it thrown as worthless upon
their hands, and found themselves involved to
an extent far beyond any means they were able
to command. Upon an estimate of his share of
the loss, and an examination into his circum-
stances, Mr. Clayton found that, after making an
assignment of all his property-viz., his ware-
house and goods, together with the habitation
where he lived,-he would still owe more than
he could ever hope to pay!
There was sorrow in the house when this
came to be known, for their home was very dear
to them all; and they must leave it. There the
42 RUTH CLAYTOIl.
children had all been born and reared thus far,
and there some of their happiest days had been
spent. Many a plant, and shrub, and even tree,
had Mrs. Clayton planted with her own hands;
in the care of which she had found Ruth, as she
grew older, an active assistant. But she was a
calm, placid, Christian woman, and felt herself
sustained by the consolation of that faith which
can enable us to bear much greater trials than
this. True, she felt deeply for her children, and
for their altered prospects; as well as for her
husband, who was greatly dejected, and who,
having the pangs of self-reproach added to his
misfortunes, seemed almost unable to arouse
himself from the gloom into which these events
had cast him.
Even Ruth's heart was heavy for a time. She
was sad for her parents; and sad at the thoughts
of giving up her dear old home, which had been
the scene of all her joys and of her few little
sorrows. She could almost put her finger on
the spot where every event of any importance
had occurred in the family, and her recollections
were all coloured from her own bright feelings
at the time. She could remember the advent
of every little new-comer, after Charley, from
Martha down to the youngest infant: the room
where she was first permitted to see them, and
the other snug back-room where the baby was
generally kept, and where she had always done
FAMILY ARRANGEMENTS. 43
her full share in teaching each one to lisp her first
words:-and the parlour (selected for the pur-
pose on account of its greater roominess and
freedom from interruption) where she had given
each little sister her first lessons in walking-
first making her stand up against the wall, and
then stimulating her to attempt the daring feat
by some alluring prospect held before her, in the
shape of a bright red morocco pocket-book, a
doll, or some other equally attractive object;
and when the little creature actually succeeded
in achieving several independent steps, how it
would spring, crowing, into her arms, not more
delighted, however, than herself!
All these, and many more such things, were
flowery spots in Ruth's memory, and she could
have wept bitter tears at the thought of quitting
for ever the place where she had been so happy;
but she strove to cheer her parents with all her
might, and, in so doing, felt her own heart grow
Her cheerful spirits and hopeful words, to-
gether with her mother's quiet submission and
trust, had a wonderful effect in keeping up the
heart of her father. He could not wholly yield
to despondency while those living, breathing
embodiments of faith and hope were with him.
But there was much to be done, and done soon.
The first thing, after disposing of all but a
small part of the most necessary furniture, was
44 RUTH CLAYTON.
to seek a tenement small enough to suit his
present circumstances. After some difficulty,
and several disappointments, he succeeded in
finding a small house in a back street, and
thither the family removed. Next, he must look
out for some employment; and this he found a
still more difficult and disheartening task. So
little encouragement did he meet with, that,
sometimes on the verge of despair, he almost
resolved to leave home and try his fortune in
some far-distant city. But then he could
not take his family, and to be separated from
them for an indefinite time seemed a terrible
prospect. Besides, he reflected that he ought to
have, at least, as much reason to expect ultimate
success where he was so well known, as among
strangers. He therefore concluded to remain
and wait patiently a little longer.
Several weeks-indeed, nearly two months-
passed in this unsatisfactory manner. At his
first mention of leaving home, the family had all
been greatly alarmed, from the mother down to
the youngest child who was old enough to think;
and the fear that this might yet be the only
resource left for him, outweighed the dread of
want and all the other sources of anxiety.
At length, one evening, Mr. Clayton came in
"Well, wife, I have at length decided upon
one of two things. You know the firm of
FAMILY ARRANGEMENTS. 45
Barton and Brown. Mr. Brown, you know, is
Barton's wife's brother. He is about selling
out his interest in the firm, and intends going
to another place, to engage in the iron trade.
Mr. Barton will then want a clerk, and has offered
me the situation, at a moderate yearly salary.
Another proposition was made-that I should
join his late partner, and commence business on
borrowed capital; but I do not feel willing
again to embark in anything which involves
risk, and I think I had better take Mr. Barton's
offer, and stay at home. If I should go, I could
not take my family-at least, until I had made
full trial of the experiment. I have about made
up my mind on the subject, but if you think-"
"No, indeed," said Mrs. Clayton, in her quiet
way, I could by no means advocate the scheme
that involves uncertainty, if there is any other
means open to us; and I am very glad you
incline to the other course. In my opinion, it
is much the best. I am sure we can manage,
with economy, to live comfortably upon a small
annual income. True, we shall be obliged to
do most of our own work. The boys will have
to study at home until they can find some
employment which will enable them to help
their father, or, at least, themselves. And poor
Mrs. Clayton was about to give utterance to
a thought which, just at that moment, struck
i6 RUTH CLAYTTO.
upon her mind, causing something very like
a pang, that Ruth, with capacity for almost any
degree of improvement, must be compelled to
forego her long-cherished expectation of passing
a year or two at one of the higher schools, and
perfecting herself in some of the more elegant
accomplishments; yet she did not say it. She
felt her heart ache, and her eyes filled with
tears; but the next instant, she reproached
herself for having indulged in what seemed to
her like a murmur.
I'll tell you what, father," said John. "I,
for one, am glad you are going to stay. Mother
says she's glad, and I know Ruth's glad, and,
Charley, and all the rest. So little Annie
would be, perhaps, the gladdest of all, if she
knew you had ever thought of going away.
If I can only go to school one more winter, to
learn book-keeping, I can get a situation some-
where. It is true, I would rather have gone to
college, but I can study at home when I have
time; and who knows but something may turn
up, that I can go yet ?"
Father knows how glad I am," said Charley;
"so I needn't say anything about it: and I
don't care so much about going to school any
more." (Charley, by-the-way, had never been
remarkably fond of study.) "I can learn a
trade. I'll be a good mechanic, and make
FAMILY ARRANGEMENT8. 47
Mr. Clayton smiled. "You and John have it
all fixed, Charley; but where is Ruth P She
has not had her say yet."
Ruth had been busy with Mattie in preparing
tea, and setting it on the table. She had heard
most of the conversation as she passed back-
wards and forwards from the kitchen to the
small room which served for a sitting-room,
dining-room, and parlour; for she had listened
intently, but she did not offer any remark.
Ruth had a great thought working in her little
head. It had been there for some time: it had
kept her from sleeping a good part of a great
many nights. It was this: Why could not
she do something to help her father ? He had
done all he could for her all her life. He had
given her every possible advantage while it
remained in his power, that she might fit herself
for usefulness; and now, why should she not
use the knowledge she had gained for his benefit
and that of the family? What was to hinder
her from keeping school? Mrs. Fraser had
given up more than a year before this, and gone
to reside with her married daughter; since which
time there had been in Wilks no girls' school
of any note. True, she was very young-not
quite sixteen, but she felt competent, as far as
the task of instruction was concerned; and as
for the rest, she would do her best, and ask
help from God.
48 RUTH CLATOl.'rN
She could not broach the subject to her
father while he was so much perplexed, and she
lacked courage to speak of it even to her mother.
But now she felt the time had come when she
was thus called upon for an opinion.
Setting down the plate of biscuit she had just
brought in, she drew a long breath, then softly
approached the back of her father's chair, and
throwing her arms around his neck, laid her head
on his shoulder, while she lifted her mild blue
eyes coaxingly to his face.
Dear father, I am going to ask of you a
"A favour, Ruth? Well, speak out, my
dear; though there never was a time when your
poor father was less able to grant favours than
the present. But go on; I am not afraid of its
being anything very extravagant."
"Why, then, father, I want you to say you
are willing I should set up a school."
A school, Ruth P" And Mr. Clayton fairly
laughed, at first, at the idea of his little Ruth,"
whom he still regarded as a child, being a school-
mistress! And then he sighed and shook his
head sorrowfully, looking down upon her at the
same time with the utmost kindness; then
taking her head between his two hands, he said,
"And what do you think such a little pigeon
as you could do with a school ?"
"I can try, father. I am not sure about tLhe
FAMILY ARRANGEMENTS. 49
governing, but I know I can teach. I am pretty
perfect in everything I have learned, as far as I
have gone-thanks to you and dear mother, who
always made me feel it a duty to be diligent.
Mrs. Fraser said so, and Mrs. Butler too."
That is to say, you think yourself a right
clever girl, hey, Ruth ? Well, I agree with you,
and I will promise to think about it."
Mrs. Clayton sat quietly at her work, listening.
She smiled, and yet the tears which had once
before that evening risen to her eyes, now
found their way out. But she managed to wipe
them off without attracting observation, and
rising, she put aside her work.
Come," said she, "let us go to tea, before
it is cold, and you can settle this question
When tea was over, Mr. Clayton did not
advert again to the subject, but seemed disposed
to talk about something else. Nor did Ruth,
much as she was interested, feel willing to
bring it forward again herself. But presently
there was a pause, when John said-
Well, father, what about Ruth's project ?"
"Yes, father," said Mrs. Clayton, "let her
Well, be it so," said he; let her try it. It
cannot do her much harm; and if she finds it
more difficult than she now thinks it to be, she
can giye it up. But, Ruth, should you succeed
50 RUTH CLAYTON.
in obtaining scholars, what will you do for a
room P And how will you procure the necessary
furniture ? My funds are too low at present to
allow me to assist you; and I have determined
not to incur debt to the amount of one shilling."
"Oh, father," said Ruth, cheerily, "I have
thought of all that. There is the room up-
stairs, which we use only for lumber. That can
be stowed away somewhere. To be sure it is a
low room, and will want some setting to rights;
and back-stairs will be needed, too. But then,
you know, there is good Mr. Simpson, the
carpenter, who altered our back-porch and
partitioned the pantry, three or four years ago,
and who always seemed so obliging and friendly.
He has two nice little girls. I will get him to
do the work and to send his children to school
till he is paid, if you and mother will let me
have the room."
"Well, my child, you shall have it all your
own way. I only hope that you may not meet
with discouragements and disappointments
where you least expect them."
And so it was settled that Ruth should engage
in the enterprise; and as soon as possible she
set about carrying her plans into operation.
But first she besought the guidance of her
Almighty, heavenly Father, and His blessing on
an undertaking which was prompted by the
pure and single-hearted motive of relieving and
FAMILY ABB&ANGEMEXTs. 51
assisting her parents. And she prayed that God
would grant her courage and wisdom for the
task, and give her success, if consistent with His
And the courage seemed to be given her at
once, to a degree which surprised herself; for
she had always been timid with strangers. Her
first step was to endeavour to secure patronage.
She went to Mrs. Willis, a lady who had always
been on intimate terms with her family, and who
possessed some influence in the town of Wilks.
This lady had three daughters, under twelve,
whom she promised to send, but stipulated that
she should probably wish to remove Harriet, the
eldest, before long, and place her at Mrs. Butler's
for a year, preparatory to sending her to a
boarding-school. She promised also to interest
all her friends and acquaintances, as far as might
be in her power. This was an important point
gained, and Ruth took fresh courage, and went
on her way with gladness.
She next called upon three other ladies of her
mother's acquaintance, and all but one of these
promised their support. Her applications in-
variably called forth, at first, some degree of
wonder, on account of her extreme youth; and
it may seem surprising, considering that circum.
stance, that she should so readily have received
encouragement. But Ruth was well known.
Her proficiency and thoroughness had been
52 BURTH CLIYTQOn .
often admired at the half-yearly public examine.
tions; and no one who had seen much of her in
her intercourse with others, whether at home or
abroad, could fail to be struck with her good
sense, her amiable disposition, and the gentle
dignity of her manners. Every action of her
life showed that self was not the ruling object
with her. They could not but see and appreciate,
in a measure, the principles by which she was
Such a character as Ruth's would naturally
inspire parents with confidence, when asked to
commit children to her care. They would invo-
luntarily find themselves reasoning in some such
way as this: "She is very young; but then a
girl who has improved her time so well, and has
been so well instructed, must surely be capable
of instructing others. And one so accustomed
to control herself might be able to manage a
school, young as she is."
Ruth could not be otherwise than gratified
with her success thus far, and she concluded now
to wait until she should hear from some of the
ladies who had kindly promised to interest them-
selves for her.
The next thing to be done was to see Mr.
Simpson, the carpenter; and here she encoun-
tered a difficulty. Mr. Simpson's daughters
were already placed at a school, where they had
commenced a second term a few weeks before;
FAMILY ARRANGEMENTS. .53
and he himself was busy with a job for which
he had contracted, which prevented his doing
her work as soon as she required. He expressed
regret, and said he wished she had come a month
or two sooner.
Here was a damper. What was she to do?
she returned home, for once, quite fatigued
and dispirited. But it was not long before she
began to rally. Something whispered to her,
" Cheer up, Ruth. If you are trying to perform
your duty, God will provide the way, and it will
all come out right."
The next day, Mrs. Willis called, and told her
she had engaged eight scholars for her, besides
her own three; which, with those Ruth had
secured herself, and her own sisters, would make
quite a school already. A day or two after,
another lady called with the names of five more.
Ruth could not find words to thank these kind
friends sufficiently; and now all that was want-
ing was the room.
That evening, she was pondering, in much
perplexity, the probable necessity of seeking one
in some other place. She was on the point of
consulting her father, when there was a knock
at the front door, and a voice inquired for
"little Miss Ruth."
Little Miss Ruth" was soon forthcoming,
and who should it be but Mr. Simpson! Ruth
handed him a chair, and wondered what he could
54 RUTH CLAYTOI.
want with her. Mr. Simpson was an honest,
good-hearted man, of few words; but just now
he seemed disposed to enlarge a little. He
smoothed the rim of his hat, which he held on
his lap, and then passed his fingers through his
front hair; then laid his hat on the nearest
chair, leaned forward, and placed a hand on
"Well, Miss Ruth," said he, "I've been
a-thinking about that business of yours since
I saw you, and it seems a pity you should be
disappointed; and the more I thought about it,
the more it seemed so: so, at last, I said to my
wife, 'I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll put one or
two off for two or three days next week, and
what with that, and working evenings and odd
hours, I think I can manage to make them
desks for that girl. I've a notion to send our
girls to her as soon as they get through their
quarter with Miss Stone. I'd rather they'd go
to Miss Ruth's, that I would; and I know she'll
do right by 'em, if anybody will.' So I can go
to work to-morrow, if you like."
Ruth expressed herself truly grateful for the
confidence the good man placed in her; and
prayed in her heart that she might be enabled
to prove it was not misplaced.
To face pae 51.
THE SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE.
EVErYTHINtG was now soon arranged, and Ruth
entered upon her new labours. She at once
found herself deeply interested in the employ-
ment, and the family looked forward to a com-
fortable winter of laborious yet contented in-
But while Ruth was pleasing herself with the
thought of being so early employed in doing
good, not only to those of her own household,
but to others also, a demand was made upon
her services in a different and more trying line
of duty. Her father was taken ill. The dis-
appointment, care, and anxiety of the last few
months had told upon him; and though his
mind was now comparatively easy, and no one
ever heard him utter a regretful word, still, at
times, he suffered much, in secret, from de-
spondency and self-upbraiding. He thought it
was now too late in life for him to hope that he
should ever retrieve his losses, so as to do what
he wished for his children. The idea haunted
him that they would be doomed to perpetual
poverty, and grow up without any of the ad-
vantages he had always hoped to secure for
58 RUTH COX TOBW.
them. This concealed discontent had its effect
upon his constitution, and, combined with what
he had previously undergone, induced a slow
nervous fever, that for weeks and weeks refused
to yield to any medicine. For some time the
physician really feared for the result. These
were the days that tried Ruth's soul. Never
had she known the full meaning of the phrase
"mental anguish" before. The idea of losing
her father appeared so intolerable, that she
thought her faith must give way before it. Then,
shocked at her want of submission to the Divine
will, she would humble herself, and her heart
would cry out mightily to God. But even now
she struggled resolutely to feel and appear hope-
ful, for the sake of the rest.
She knew her mother needed all the support
and comfort she could give her, and she strove,
in this affliction, to forget herself entirely.
She could not dismiss her school, for that was
now their only means of support; but every
moment that she could possibly spare was given
to him. She slept in his room, when she did
sleep, but the greater part of her nights were
spent at his bedside. And when nature would
claim her right, or her mother would almost
force her to take a few hours' rest, she was
roused at the slightest noise made by her father,
and was again at her post. This gave her mother
more time to attend to her requisite domestic
THE SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE. 59
duties, and to do what was needful for the
Such affectionate nursing asRuth's was exactly
suited to benefit Mr. Clayton in his peculiar
state of mind: he was comforted by it more than
any one knew. He felt an assurance that God
would bless such a child, and the feeling was
often impressed upon his mind that they would
all be blessed for her sake. Whether this was
a correct impression or not, it had a wonderful
power in aiding his recovery.
At length, Dr. Selby pronounced him out of
danger, but said it would be necessary for him
to be kept as calm and tranquil as possible; and
that he must not think of trying to attend to
any business, perhaps all the winter. Then-to
harass him-came the fear of losing the only
situation he had been able to procure. He
could not, in his weakened state, overcome a
tendency to anxious forebodings. At such times,
it would have warmed the heart of a misanthrope,
to see Ruth's efforts to cheer and amuse him.
"Dear father," she would say, "pray do not
have one thought about such things. We are
all so happy and thankful that you are better;
and we shall get on nicely now. My school is
increasing already, and you may feel just as
quiet and easy as you please. As soon as the
weather will permit, father, Dr. Selby says you
orght to walk out; and then we shall have such
60 JRUTH CLATTON.
pleasant walks! And sometimes we can borrow
Mr. Cook's chaise; and he has such a gentle
old horse, that I am quite sure I can drive him
Ah, Ruth, you would have your father con-
tinue a poor, idle, helpless, good-for-nothing sort
of man for a long time yet."
"Only till you are well and strong again.
You have always worked hard, father; and it
may be that God sees you need a little rest."
And now he mended rapidly. By the early
spring he was allowed to resume business. Mr.
Barton had engaged a temporary clerk, but he
was too anxious to retain the valuable services
of Mr. Clayton to give his situation to another.
And Ruth could now continue her school-
duties with a thankful heart, and with an ac-
tivity and zeal which had, through the winter,
been much impaired and retail ed by night-
watchings and daily fatigue and anxiety.
Her first aim had been to secr-e the affections
of her pupils; and this done, all the rest was
comparatively easy. Her own thorough know-
ledge of all she attempted to teach gave her a
wonderful aptness in explaining to others. Her
cheerfulness and kindness furnished her with
agreeable methods of imparting instruction.
Her lessons on politeness were always based on
the simplest and most beautiful of all rules given
by our blessed Saviour. This was the model by
THE SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE. 61
which she endeavoured to form her own manners
because it begins at the mainspring of all action
-THE HEART. And there can be little doubt
that if this single precept of the Bible were
fully carried out in all the intercourse of society,
the mind and taste being at the same time pro
perly cultivated, there would not be much need
for polishing the manners after prescribed modes,
in order to produce true refinement and even
elegance of manners.
Ruth's school-room was a cheerful place. Her
pupils loved it, and, in consequence, progressed
rapidly in their studies. The school soon became
exceedingly popular, and increased so much in
size that she was obliged to remove to a larger
and more convenient room, which was provided
and furnished for her use -by some of the parents
of her elder scholars, who had been charmed
by the self-sacrificing spirit she manifested, and
the energy, guided by prudence, which charac-
terized her course throughout.
She had not been engaged more than three.
quarters of a year when she was forced to limil
her number-the applications being more nume-
rous than she could entertain. Every moment
in which she was not at her principal post of
duty, found her busy at home, assisting in what-
ever was in hand. In the morning, she took
upon herself the office of sweeping and putting
the house in order before she went away; and
62 RUTIH CLALYTON
in the evening, she helped to sew for the family,
or to do anything else she could to lighten the
burden of care and toil. And this she did still
more effectually by her almost unvarying cheer-
fulness and contentment, and her loving, affec-
tionate words and actions. She denied herself
almost all amusements-more, indeed, than
perhaps she ought; and she had her trials and
perplexities in school,-for what teacher ever
escaped them ? But the consciousness of her
motives, and the good she saw herself able to
accomplish, upheld her through all.
Yes, Ruth, like all other teachers, had her
trials; some of which she managed with a tact
quite surprising at her age, but others there
were which it was more difficult for her to
One of her pupils was the daughter of a poor
woman, a widow, who earned her living by
sewing. This little girl was unusually dull and
rather idle. On this account, Ruth spared no
pains to encourage her to study, and devoted
more time in talking and explaining to her than
fell to her share; because," as Ruth often said
to her mother, "Mrs. Anderson cannot very
well afford to send Emmeline to school, and she
ought to make more than ordinary progress, to
compensate her mother for the effort she makes
to give her the opportunity of learning. But
instead of that, I cannot see that she improves
THE SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE. 63
much, if at all, although I take more pains and
spend more time with her than I do with any
other child of her age in the school."
Mrs. Clayton always told her that she thought
she was not required, and could not be expected,
to do more for one than for another; and that
if she performed her part faithfully to them all,
she did not think she need make herself uncom-
fortable because she could not give them a
capacity to learn. Yet still Ruth, from the
overflowing goodness of her heart, would labour
over that child, out of pity for her and for her
mother. One day, Miss Emmeline, coming into
school, went straight up to her, and, with a very
meaning smile upon her face, handed her a note.
It ran as follows :-.
"Mis CLAYTON,,-If you don think worth
wile to pay no tention to mi chile, i'le take her
rite out in schule, if you don't chus never to
heve her resit no lesens. i don't se whi mi chile
isn't as gud as enne uther pursins chile.
Now, some people would have laughed at
such a thing; but Ruth had too much heart, too
strong a sense of justice, for that. She felt it
keenly, but made no reply until she should con-
sult her never-failing adviser. Her mother's
64 RUTH CLAYT01N.
counsel was, that she should not take any notice
of it whatever. Nor did she; and the girl con-
tinued her attendance, while Ruth still perse-
vered in her endeavours to induce her to learn,
and had the satisfaction, at length, of seeing a
There was a family in Wilks named Harris.
The father was sickly, and the mother not very
capable of managing. Almost as a matter of
course, they were not very abundantly supplied
with this world's goods; but they had a great
deal of jealous pride, and a corresponding desire
to appear better off than they really were.
They could not afford to pay for the tuition of
more than one of their daughters at once; but
they had three, all above eight. So they engaged
for one, and then sent the three alternately; or
else they would keep them all at home for a few
days, and then send all three at once; and the
girls would bring for an excuse, after they had
had been absent, "Mother had company," or,
" Mother was not very well, and could not spare
In vain Ruth remonstrated with them on this
irregular mode of attendance. She called to see
Mrs. Harris several times, and talked to her on
the subject. She told her it was impossible for
any of the children to make advances in learning
at that rate; that they lost the connexion of
their lessons, lost their places in the class, and
THE SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE. 65
lost their interest in the whole business; that it
would be much better to send one at a time,
steadily. But they still continued to attend in
the same way; and Ruth, finding she could do
no better for them, endeavoured, to the utmost
of her ability, to make up to them the dis-
advantages under which they laboured. Still,
they did not get on: how could they ?
One evening, just as school was dismissed,
Lucy Harris, the eldest of the three daughters,
came up to Ruth with a request from her mother
that she would "call over," as she wished to
see her. Ruth did not exactly comprehend
why Mrs. Harris could not come herself, if she
wished to see her. But she had nothing very
important in hand that week to prevent her
going; so the next evening, after tea, she went.
Mrs. Harris received her very politely; but,
as soon as she was seated, went on with her
sewing, and talked about the weather and some
of the children who had been ill-dwelling at
considerable length on each topic, and making
no allusion to the purpose for which she had
requested to see her. At length, Ruth, fearing
night would overtake her before she should even
leave for home, moved her chair in such a way
as to cause Mrs. Harris to look up; then leaned
forward, and looked at her inquiringly.
Yes," said Mrs. Harris, answering the look,
I did wish to speak to you, Miss Clayton
06 BUTH OLAYTOlf.
on the subject of removing my children from
your school. I thought you might perhaps
consider it a whim, and I should not wish any
one to suppose that I ever do anything without
good reason for so doing. I have decided, Miss
Clayton, to place my children at Miss Stone's
school. Her plans are very excellent, and her
pupils make very great progress. We are not
satisfied, Miss Clayton, with the way in which
our children are treated in your school, nor
with their progress in learning. We should
prefer having them where the children of the
wealthy do not receive all the attention, while
those whose parents are equally genteel, but
whose circumstances are not affluent, are neg-
lected. You have your favourites, Miss Clayton,"
(with a look intended to be mildly reproachful,)
stand a school will never be productive of much
benefit where there is favouritism."
Ruth sat quietly, but with burning cheeks,
throughout the whole of this high-flown speech,
which was long enough to allow her time to
calm her ruffled feelings; and when it was con-
eluded, she was able to reply, with a steady
If I am not mistaken, Mrs. Harris, you may
remember several occasions when I have tried
to make you aware of the real cause why your
children do not improve. It is impossible they
should learn with me or any one else, unless
THE SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE. 67
you change your home plans. If you would
but send them to school regularly, I have no
doubt t.ey would advance as fast as other chil-
dren of their age, for they are very capable;
Lucy in particular."
Then rising, she went to the door. But before
she opened it, she turned round and said, Your
little girls have my best wishes, ma'am, for their
success; and I know that whatever school they
may attend, that success will be in proportion
to their regularity. Good evening," she respect-
fully added, and hastened home.
Many such ungrateful returns did Ruth meet
with in the course of her school-experience ; and
though, at first, they tried her feelings severely,
yet she at length learned to expect them, and
also to bear them. She found, in such cases, the
course recommended by her mother to be the
best-to take no pains to exculpate herself, or
to refute, any unjust censure, but to follow the
straight line of uprightness, and to let her school,
like her life, speak for itself. It was not pride
that sustained her in such a course; but it was
the testimony of a good conscience. Her inward
thoughts were often "accusing" her of secret
faults which the world's eye could not detect;
but, on the other hand, they were "excusing"
her from the false charges which prejudice and
slander brought against her. Hence while she
walked humbly, she also walked trustfully with
68 RUTH CLAYTON.
her God. She had committed her way to Him,
and therefore she rested in the promise, "He
shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light,
and thy judgment as the noon-day." And in
her case was proved what is meant by that text,
"He that believeth shall not make haste."
When trouble came, she was not impatient, not
anxious, not flurried. She could look calmly at
the rising clouds, however stormy they appeared;
for she knew that her heavenly Father, if He
pleased, could scatter them in a moment. Nor
was her hope such as to make her ashamed.
In the main, her principles and conduct were
properly appreciated, and the success of her
school equalled her most sanguine hopes. And
now, while Ruth is going on so industriously
and prosperously, we will leave her a while, to
see how it has fared with Ella.
THE ROLLING STONE.
MANY others in Wilks suffered shipwreck in
their fortunes besides Mr. Clayton, at the time of
his failure; and among them was Mr. Norris.
He, too, lost all, and more than all he possessed,
in that game of chance. His house, furniture,
and stock in trade were sold for the creditors,
leaving the family a bare pittance for present
need. And Ella-poor, thoughtless, idle Ella!
-what could she do to help her father ? She
did nothing, she could do nothing; she could
not even help herself; indeed, she thought
herself the most deeply afflicted of all. Ever
accustomed to think only of her own gratifica-
tion, and now deprived of all the comforts, and
even conveniences, which the family had always
enjoyed, with no employment to interest her,
and nothing to hope for, her spirits sank. She
became peevish and quarrelsome, and often
vented the overflowing of her discontent on
her brothers and sisters. Mrs. Norris, always
rather feeble in health, could not bear up under
these trials, and she fretted and wept incessantly.
And, alas for the poor father! almost any
outward misfortune can be borne with some
70 RUTH CLAYTOW.
degree of fortitude while there is sunshine in
the house and around the hearth-stone. But if
it is all cold, bleak, and discordant there, and
the mind, thrown back upon itself, finds nothing
but regret and self-reproach, and if it has no
higher source of consolation,-there, indeed, is
unhappiness. Such was the case with Mr.
Norris; for his fretful wife and quarrelsome
children made the poor home he had been able
to provide so uncomfortable, that he was inclined
to seek a substitute wherever he could find it.
He began to frequent bar-rooms and other
lounging places. He had not yet obtained any
regular employment, but would occasionally get
some trifling job, such as copying, or assisting in
some warehouse or office during a busy time,
and his wife tried to make something by
needle-work. By rapid degrees, however, he
ceased to be of any service to his family, and, on
the contrary, began to look to them for support.
They might have earned a meagre subsistence
by the needle, for many would have been willing
to aid them in that way; but poor Mrs. Norris
was feeble and heart-broken, arid could not do
much; and as for Ella, she had never learned
even plain sewing well enough to be of any use
At length it became evident that they must
either ask charity or take some decided steps
towards providing for themselves. It was de.
THE ROLLING-STONE. 71
termined that Ella should try to learn some
business-millinery or dressmaking, embroidery,
crochet, or knitting,-and that the two younger
girls should remain at home to assist their
mother; while a grocer of large business in the
place took the eldest boy. If Ella had ever
learned to be a good needle-woman, she might
very soon have been earning something for
herself ard her family; for two or three ladies,
who knew all the circumstances, had exerted
themselves, and found a place for her with a
milliner, who agreed to let her work for a month
or two, and, if she showed any aptness for the
business, to give her low wages for all she could
do, until she was quite expert.
Here was a capital opening, which might have
enabled her to be-oh, such a blessing to her
family! But this was the last thing Ella cared
for. She would have considered all she earned in
that way little enough for her own wants. She
had acquired, as she grew towards womanhood,
an exceeding fondness for dress and finery; to
gratify this now ruling passion became the end
and aim of her life; and she made quite an
effort, for a while, to acquire a knowledge of the
business, more that she might earn the means
of dressing, which seemed to her the sum and
substance of all that was desirable, than from
any wiser or better motive.
But her habits of sloth and giddiness were so
72 RUTTI CLATTOf.
rooted, that she could not shake tnem off, nor
fix her attention for a sufficient length of time
to accomplish her object. It soon became ap-
parent to Mrs. Somers (the milliner who had
taken her) that she would never be of any use
to her in that line. She then tried her at plain
mending, and thought she would let her work
for the family; but found she did even this so
indifferently, as not to be the slightest assistance.
Being a kind-hearted woman, and knowing how
the family were situated, she was reluctant to
send her away, but told her that if she chose to
remain on low wages, and assist in taking care
of the children, and rendering any help she
could, such as carrying home bonnets or other
little matters, she might do so.
Ella had. no choice; she had no place to which
she could go, so she remained for a time; but
she could not long endure such a life, and she
therefore went and begged some of those ladies
who had tried to serve her before, to get her
some place where she could be employed at her
After a while, Mrs. Morrison, whose husband
was very wealthy, and who lived in a hand-
some style, heard that Ella was anxious to live
in some family as a seamstress. She thought
she would take her on trial, but soon discovered
that she would not answer her purpose. Ella's
version was that Mrs. M. was too particular."
THE BOLLIIG STONE. 78
After this, she lived at several different houses,
with persons who had heard or known some-
thing of the family, and who, out of pity for her
mother, as well as for herself, bore with her
awkwardness, and tried to teach and encourage
her; but all in vain-she never attained to skill
in any single department of labour. Her pride
was tortured; and finally, to escape her present
hardships, she incurred still greater ones by
marrying a worthless young man, who left her
within a year. Her only resource was to return
to her poor mother, to share in her poverty and
bear a part in the harrowing scenes which were
now of frequent occurrence, especially when her
besotted father returned home in the evening to
aggravate the wretchedness of his family.
Soon after this, it was suggested to Mrs.
Norris that perhaps she and her family might
do much better if they removed somewhere else,
and both she and her children eagerly seized
upon the idea of any change. How they con-
trived to carry this into effect, it would be diffi-
cult to tell; but they left Wilks, Ella and all,
and went no one knew whither,-the miserable
husband and father accompanying them.
THE OLD ELM-TREE.
EIGHT years have passed since Ruth first opened
her school, and it is a clear, frosty afternoon in
December. The sun has just sunk brightly
to rest, and the glittering snow creaks and
crackles beneath the feet as you walk. The
sharp air resounds with the crisp tread of
homeward-bound labourers, and the merry
shouts of boys who are still out, amusing them-
selves with their sports.
As we walk hastily along the streets, the co-d
will not allow us to take a minute survey of
the different places we pass. There are many
good and even elegant residences in this street,
which runs north and south, parallel with the
river. But there is one we particularly note.
We look at it-take a few steps-and then turn
and look again. We have seen that house
before; but it is altered. There is the same
old elm at the side, and the same row of trees
before the door, but they are taller and more
wide-spreading. The house, too, is larger:
there have been wings added, and a tasteful
cornice; the windows have larger casements and
new Venetian blinds.
The room is lighted, but the shutters have
THE CLD ELM-TEEE. 75
not yet been closed. One of the crimson curtains
is partly undrawn, so that any one who chooses
can have quite a view of the interior. A bright
fire is burning in a very handsome grate, and an
astral lamp sheds its mellow light over the room,
which is furnished with every appliance neces-
sary to comfort, and even elegance. There are
sofas, and ottomans, and beautiful pictures in
elegant frames; but the room is not occupied.
You would have to enter the house, and look
into a room further back, to see the family, who
have not yet assembled for tea. Some one
has just opened the door leading from the
back-room, disclosing, for a moment, a bright
light within; and could you look into that snug,
cozy sitting-room, you would behold a happy
family circle there assembled.
At a centre-table, covered with books, (not
for show, but use,) several young persons are
sitting. Ona is a tall, pleasant-looking young
man, about two or three-and-twenty years of
age; his face looks full of goodness and intelli-
gence: this is our Ruth's brother John. By
his kind sister's help, he has been furnished with
the means to pursue his preparatory studies, and
was admitted to the bar nearly two years ago.
He lives about one day's journey from Wilks,
has already quite a respectable practice, and is at
home now for a week's holiday.
Then there are four young girls, Mattie,
76 RUTH OLATTON.
Mary, Annie, and a winsome girl about the age
of Annie; she is a visitor. Further from the
table, and nearer the fire, sits an elderly gentle-
man, with a noble, benignant countenance; he
has just laid down his paper, and removed his
spectacles, which he still holds in his hand,
while his other hand rests on the back of a
chair occupied by a young lady of remarkably
prepossessing appearance. Her dress is per-
fectly plain, and yet exceedingly neat and be-
coming. This is Ruth herself-a little thinner
and paler than when we saw her last, but
looking very little, if any, older.
She is talking to her father, and appears to
feel even more than usually happy and satisfied;
for she holds in her hand an open letter from
dear Charley, who is a clerk in a mercantile
house in L They have not seen him
since spring, and now he has written to say he
is coming home to spend Christmas. On the
opposite side of the fire sits a tranquil, dignified-
looking lady, of middle age. She is occupied
at her knitting; and though she listens to all
that is said in the room, and occasionally throws
in a word or two, she seems rather inclined to
thoughtfulness and silence, while ever and anon
her fair, placid countenance is turned, with a
look of love, towards the side of the room where
Ruth and her father are seated.
Mr. Clayton himself regards Ruth with an
THE OL) ELM-TREE. 77
evident mingling of pride and affection. The
group around the table are all busily engaged
in making slippers, pin-cushions, book-marks,
and doyleys, for Christmas presents; for even
John contributes his mite to the industrious
movements going forward, by holding skeins of
wool, cutting pencils, and other little aids of the
same kind, though it must be confessed that
now and then a lurking spirit of mischief gets
the better of his gallantry, and tempts him to
hinder quite as much as he has previously
This merry group, with their flying fingers,
lively tongues, and light-hearted laughter, often
find it necessary to pause and refer to Ruth for
her opinion, though she seems unconscious of
what is nevertheless true, that each and all of
them, from Annie even to John, look up to her
with a feeling of admiring fondness, as if she
were something quite superior, in every way, to
themselves. And though there is nothing in
her manner to cause this, (for she is always,
when among them, just like one of themselves,
and never assumes even the authority of an
elder sister,) yet well does she deserve the
gratitude and love of all the members of her
family. Her filial zeal and devotion, her loving
and untiring energy, have been the procuring
causes of all the comfort and happiness they
now enjoy. By taking the burden off from her
78 RUTH CLAYTON.
father, she set him free to make that disposal of
his own time and labour which has resulted in
his present prosperous circumstances.
Her school had continued to flourish and
increase, so that she was -under the necessity of
employing an assistant; and as soon as she
ascertained that the income derived from this
source was amply sufficient to support the family
in their then small way of living, her father, at
her earnest persuasion, invested his own earnings
in such a way that, at the end of three or four
years, he again found himself in possession of
a small capital. About this time he availed
himself of an opportunity to enter into a lucrative
business in company with another gentleman.
The latter advanced by far the greater portion
of the stock; but Mr. Clayton, in consideration
of his thorough experience, his good business-
capacity, and his willingness to undertake the
active management of the concern, entered the
firm as an equal partner.
The enterprise proved to be so profitable, that
in a few years Mr. Clayton, after having paid
the balance of his debts, began to look round
for a spot on which to erect a house. His
own former dwelling had been purchased by a
gentleman and a man of feeling, who, being an
acquaintance, had witnessed, on one or two
occasions, the struggle it cost the family to
leave the old home. Not wishing to occupy tho
THE OLD ELM-TREE. 79
house himself, he had offered it to Mr. Clayton
at a somewhat reduced rent; but it was more
than the latter could at that time afford.
Mr. Oldham, the gentleman to whom we al.
lude, would willingly have named a price to suit
Mr. Clayton's probable means; but he himself
was poorer by some thousands than he had been
before the excitement, and thought duty required
him to be prudent. He therefore leased the house
for a term of years to another person; but this
having expired, and Mr. Clayton's intention to
build having become known, he proposed to let
him have his old abode again for what it had
cost. Mr. Clayton was pleased at the idea, but did
not give an answer before having mentioned the
matter at home. It caused great joy there, and
to none more than Ruth, whose heart had always
clung to the "dear old place," as she called it.
"Well, my darling," said her father to her,
drawing her closely to his side, "I will then
accept the proposal, on one condition."
"Condition! What can that be, dear father 1"
"Why, if I take the house, I must have it
repaired, and beautified, and enlarged, which
will take some time, and you can have that
time to make your arrangements; for I stipu-
late that as soon as we are ready to remove
you shall give up your school. You have worn
yourself out, by working too long for us all
and I hope there is no longer any need for it."
80 RUTH CLAYTOI!.
Ruth did not hesitate to accede to this
for the long confinement and constant exertion
were beginning to tell on her health; but she
blushed, for she thought she knew another
reason why she should soon be called to terminate
her labours in that line, and so did her father,
though he seemed just then to have forgotten it.
"Oh, well, dear father," said she, "proceed
with your bargain; I will do whatever you
This was in May, and the repairs and altera-
tions could not be finished until October. Ruth
would have dismissed her school almost imme-
diately; but when she announced her intention
of so doing, many of her pupils, with their
parents, expressed so much regret, that she was
induced to continue it till the autumn.
Charley having practised penmanship and
studied book-keeping under the teaching of his
father and Ruth, had been recommended by a
friend of Mr. Clayton's to an acquaintance in
L--, who was at the head of a mercantile
hose, and who, if he did not need a clerK,
could probably find him a place. He employed
him, however, himself, being prepossessed in
his favour by his bright, open countenance, and
cheerful, off-hand, independent readiness of
manner. Charley had now been closely con-
fined to business for nine months, and had given
entire satisfaction; so that when Ruth, at her
THE OLD ELM-TREE. 81
father's request, wrote to urge his coming home
for a short time, his employers readily granted
him leave of absence for a fortnight. It will
be a happy Christmas to Ruth; for in the
course of the holidays she expects one other,
which will make the number of her best-beloved
ones complete. There is but one alloy to the
happiness of the whole group-Ruth is to leave
them the next spring for a dwelling of her own.
Mr. Selwin, the gentleman with whom she
is to share her new home, endeavoured to per-
suade her to make the exchange two years ago,
but Ruth was firm. Nothing could induce her
to leave her parents until she saw them comfort-
able and at ease. Now she can go without
hesitation on that score; and, besides, her mother
will not now be left without daughters old enough
for companions, as Mattie is past nineteen, and
Mary not far from eighteen, and Annie sixtee..
Annie is not the youngest: when she was
almost six years old, another was added to the
family; and though he is now a tall boy of ten,
they still call him "little Alick."
THE AFFLICTED FAMILY.
NoT long after dark, Alick came home, and
after carefully suspending his skates on the peg
appropriated to that use in the wood-house,
walked quietly in and took a seat near his
mother, by the fire. The sight of Alick seemed
to remind Mary of something she had forgotten,
for she started up and exclaimed, Oh, Aliclk!
do you remember Bobby Norris? I saw him
Why, no," said Mattie, "he cannot remem-
ber Bobby Norris-he was so little."
Yes I do, Mattie," said Alick; I remember
him very well, for he snatched up my poor
little Prince once, when he was trotting after
me, and ran away with him; and for all my
running after him as fast as I could, I could
not get up to him, because he was so much
bigger than I. And when I began to cry, he
called me a baby, and threw my puppy down so
hard, that I thought it was killed; and then he
scampered off as fast as he could, and left the
poor little fellow yelping and crying on the
ground. But I tell you, it didn't take me long
to get to it and pick it up."
THE AFFLICTED FAMILY. 83
"Yes," said Mary, laughing, "I thought
Alick would remember that; and that is why I
thought of Bobby as soon as Alick came in,
"But, Mary, you said you saw Bobby this
evening; have his parents come back?" asked
"Yes, mother; he told me that they had
come back last autumn-that is, his mother.
His father, he says, is dead; and his mother is
very ill, in a consumption. He showed me
where they lived-away down the street, in a
little old brown house at the end of the alley
behind Mr. Newton's house."
"I am sorry you did not mention this sooner,
Mary. If she is sick and in distress, she may
need something; and I should like to have gone
to see her this evening."
"Oh, mother, I am so sorry! I was coming
here as fast as I could walk, thinking all the way
of telling you the moment I got into the house,
because I had often heard you speak of Mrs.
Norris, and pity her. But just as I was opening
the gate, I saw father coming up the street with
a letter in his hand, and, somehow, I felt sure it
must be from Charley, (I believe just because he
carried it in his hand;) and then I came in with
him, quickly enough you may be sure, to see.
And when father gave it to Ruth, and she read
that Charley was coming home, I was so glad,
84 BRUTH CLAYTON.
that I forgot all about Bobby, until Alick
"I see," said Mr. Clayton, with a grave smile,
"that I must be careful in future how I make
known any good tidings I may happen to bring,
until I have ascertained if there are any interests
or duties beside those that immediately concern
ourselves, which require our attention; lest in
our selfish joy we should be led to neglect some
act of kindness or some errand of mercy."
"It may not be too late yet," said Mrs.
Clayton, looking at the timepiece. "It is only
a few minutes past six, and tea, I believe, is
ready. We could go immediately after. Mary
will have to go, to show the way, and John
Clayton, junior, can leave his sport there for a
short time, to attend us and carry a lantern, if
we should need one."
"I will go, mother," said Ruth: I wish to
go; and if there are three of us together, we
can dispense with John." She spoke the more
readily, as she thought she perceived that John
had no very great relish for the expedition.
Oh, mother," said Alick, "it is ever so far!
If it is anywhere near Mr. Newton's, it is at
the very end of the street; and it is cold, I
"I think you had better not go to-night,"
said Mr. Clayton; "you can go as early as you
choose 'in the morning." So it was settled
THE AFFLICTED FAMILY. 85
that they should start immediately after break-
"But how did you happen to see Bobby ?"
asked Annie, who had been very quiet for some
"I will tell you while we are at tea," said
Mary, as the servant entered, to announce that
tea was ready.
"The fact is," said she, "I went down to
get the wools we wanted this evening, to finish
those slippers and other things; and I could
not get the right shade at Farnum's, so I had to
go away down to that shop near Mr. Newton's,
where they keep the best assortment of such
articles; when, just at the last crossing, I met a
ragged-looking boy, whom I thought I had seen
before. I could not be sure at first, but by the
time I had nearly passed him, I was sure it
must be Bobby Norris. He either did not
know me, or did not wish to speak to me; but
when I turned and called him by his name, he
seemed to be at no loss to know who I was,
I shook hands with him, and asked him all
about his family; and he told me what I have
Poor child !" said Mrs. Clayton; "we must
have breakfast a little earlier than usual to.
THE WIDOW'S TALE.
THEY found it, as Alick had said, quite a long
and a very cold walk. When they reached
the house, they could scarcely believe, from its
ruinous condition, that any one could live in it.
They knocked, and the door was opened by the
eldest daughter at home, who knew them at
once, and said she was glad to see them. She
immediately invited them into the small room
opening from the kitchen, which they had
already entered, there being no passage-way.
In this room they found poor Mrs. Norris, an
emaciated object, with a worn-out, sorrowful
look, which it was sad to behold. She had been
trying to work, and a half-finished shirt lay on the
chair by the bedside, but she had laid herself
down from exhaustion. Two poor-looking beds,
and the same number of chairs, were all the
furniture the room contained. In the only other
room, the kitchen, was another small, miserable
bed, a stove, a few chairs, and a table. There
was no carpet on either of the floors, and no
place for a fire in the sick room, which depended
for all its share of warmth upon the kitchen-fire.
Two daughters of eighteen and twenty were in
THE WIDOW'S TALE. 87
the room-one of whom was sewing, the other
making some gruel for her mother. Two others,
of eight and ten, were sitting by the stove-the
eldest of whom was trying to mend an old
Mrs. Norris appeared to be quite overcome
upon the first entrance of the visitors, nor did
she seem inclined, at first, to say much. Mrs.
Clayton apologized for having called so early, by
saying she was not aware of Mrs. Norris's having
returned until the evening before, and then
having learned, at the same time, about her hus-
band's death and her own sickness, she thought
she would not wait, but come to see her at once;
and she asked her why she had not let her know
when she returned.
Mrs. Norris thanked her faintly, and then
said, while the large tears rolled down her face,
"Yes, it seems as if the Lord has dealt very
hardly with me; and, to tell the truth, Mrs.
Clayton, it was some feeling of this kind in
reference to our very different lots which has
kept me from intruding myself or my affairs
upon you. But I know I ought to give up all
such thoughts now, especially when you have
been so kind as to come yourself."
Mrs. Clayton inquired as minutely into her
circumstances as she felt at liberty to do; and
found her, after the first, quite willing to tell
the history of her troubles, though what she
88 RUTH CLAYTONI
said was interrupted by frequent fits of cough.
ing. "I left this town," she said, "because I did
not know what else to do; and my husband
acted so, that I was almost crazy. One day,
Mr. Smith, our neighbour, said to me,' I'll tell
you what I think, Mrs. Norris; if you could
only get him away to some other place, before
he is too far gone, and while he may still have
some little pride left, and then if you could rent
a little farm, or something in that line, and
could get him interested in doing something,
perhaps he might take a turn yet, and do
"I gladly caught at the idea of anything
which held out the shadow of a hope; and on
my taking the opportunity, one morning, when
he was sober, to talk to him about it, I thought
he seemed rather pleased at the notion; so I
determined to lose no time, if I could only raise
the money. I took the only things I had left
to remind me that I had ever been anything-
some silver that my poor mother left me, and
a gold ring that he had given me himself when
we had neither of us so much as dreamed of all
this-and sold them. I had held on to these
things through all-even when we were on the
verge of starvation. I could not bring my mind
to part with them. But for the sake of a hope,
I would have sold the hair of my head. With
the money thus obtained, and a little help
TIE WIDO'S TIALE. 89
besides, we managed to make our way to a small
town on the coast, where I had a cousin who
had settled there some years before. He seemed
to be very sorry for me, and did all he could to
help us. But he had a large family, and had
suffered much himself and in his family from
"He took us to his home, while he looked
round, and at length actually succeeded in
finding a small farm, about eight miles from
the town. It was on a lease of three years,
rent free, on condition that the tenant should
drain and cultivate so much waste-land each year.
After that, we could still have the privilege of
retaining the place, if we wished, at a moderate
rent. There was only a small residence, but
one which willing hands could easily make
tenantable. And oh, how I did work to en-
courage him! I performed my duty then,
Mrs. Clayton, better than I had ever done
before. I toiled night and day, and cheerfully
too. I left no means untried to make his home
comfortable, and to interest him in his new
employment. And he did take a turn for the
better, and really worked hard, and seemed to
feel a great deal happier than he had done.
"This lasted a little more than a year, and
I thought it was a good year for me. Though
we had very little to live on but hope, yet I
fancied it was the beginning of better days, and
90 RIJTH CLAYTOSI.
I was more contented than I had been for a long
while before. But one day, at the end of that
time, he thought he had occasion to go to town.
He there fell in with one of those sink-holes of
iniquity-a gin-shop-and it was too much for
him. His old taste revived; he was lost.
"I felt a little uneasy, but tried to hope for
the best. Yet when evening came, and still no
signs of him, my heart began to sink lower; and
when at last he came, late at night, as soon as I
saw him-oh, Mrs. Clayton!-I knew it was all
over with us then."
And here the poor woman, whose voice had
for some time been growing fainter and more
tremulous, was utterly overcome, and, covering
her face with the bed-clothes, wept bitterly.
Mrs. Clayton and Ruth, scarcely less affected
than herself, could not refrain from weeping
also, and begged her not to distress herself by
recalling such painful scenes. But as soon as
she could speak, she said, Yes, I have gone so
far, and I will finish, if you are not tired of listen-
ing to my tale of woe. There is not much more
to tell. I had watched beside the death-bed of
my mother, two sisters, and a brother-all of
whom died of the disease which is now drying
up my life-springs. I had buried two sweet
babes. For the last nine years, I and my chil-
dren had been the greater part of the time, from
day to day, in constant dread of want, nay, in
Z 79~Z -
.- . . .
- -= ---2c = =-----
THE NEW HOME.
THE WIDOW'S TALE. 91
the actual endurance of it, harassed with grief
and anxiety, and often in fear for our lives. But
all the sorrows of my whole life, compressed into
one, could not compare with the bleak misery
that fell on my heart at that moment. I needed
nothing more to make me feel that my cup of.
bitterness was full, and that I had nothing left
to do but to drain it to the very dregs.
"And I was right. From that time, he grew
worse and worse. When under the influence
of liquor, he was more violent than ever before;
and when he came to his senses, he was miserable.
He could not bear it, but went off to town and
procured more, by some means-I know not how
-and returned home, to repeat the same fearful
scenes over and over again. I made some feeble
efforts still to encourage and reclaim him, but it
was of no use. He neglected his work, and
soon gave it up altogether. At length, one
dreadful night, he was brought home in a waggon
raving with madness. It was his second attack,
and he died two days after. Oh, Mrs. Clayton!
to think that I could ever come to feel relieved
at the death of one who was once all in all to
me, so that the very thought of losing him would
have made the world a blank! As soon as it was
over, and we had buried him, I gathered up the
few things I had, with a determination to leave
the place. I had ceased to hope for anything,
and I have never cared for anything since.
02 RUTH CLAYTO3.
But still we must live, and I struggled on
There for a while, and tried to do all the sewing
of any kind I could get; but it was no place for
work, as the people generally did their own
SAfter trying for some time, I found we must
go elsewhere, and I thought perhaps I might be
able to obtain employment from the same man
who used to give me slop-work here; so I wrote
and asked him. He did not answer me for a
long time. At last, he wrote, telling me that
he was not in that line at present, but he had
spoken to the personwho had bought hiabusiness,
and he said he thought he could give me some-
thing to do.
My cousin-poor fellow !-helped me to get
back, and Mr. Jones, the man for whom I used
to work, exerted himself to find me a house.
His successor was as good as his word, and fur-
nished me with plenty of work; and we could
have managed to make a tolerable living, but
that my health has been gradually failing for some
years; for the great exertions and exposures I
underwent the first year we were at the farm,
and my terrible distress afterwards, laid the foun-
dation of this disease. Then I got chilled on our
journey here; and after we came into the house,
there was a cola, rainy season; the house was
leaky, and that brought on the attack. It is
consumption, I am well aware. I know that I
THE WIDOW'S TALE. 93
cannot be here long; and if I am only prepared,
it will be a happy change for me."
Mrs. Clayton asked if she had any present
means of support, or any physician, and whether
her eldest son could not assist her.
"Yes," she said, "poor Sarah does all she
can, and so does Maria; but Maria is sickly and
is often laid aside ; so then Sarah has us both to
take care of, and to see to the house-work be-
sides, which hinders her a great deal. George
has never received wages yet. Mr. Hills pro-
mised to pay him something this year: I think
he would give it to me, if he had it, for he is an
affectionate boy, and he may have it in his power
to help the girls a little. But before he has
anything to spare, I shall be provided for; and
as for a physician, none could be of any use
"Where is Ella ?" Ruth inquired.
"Ella is living with a widow in C----,
who takes in plain sewing, and has more than
she can do. She has been kind to Ella, and
taken pains to get her on, so as to do her
work neatly. She has succeeded so well, that
Ella can now help her a great deal. Poor girl!"
she added with a deep sigh, she has learned by
sore experience that she must exert herself or
starve. I shall soon have to send for her. I
have deferred it as long as I could, for I disliked
to bring her away from a place where she is