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WELLS GARDNER, DARTON & CO.,
2, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS.
SDON'T know how she could have had the heart
to do it; such bits of things too, and crying as
if their hearts would break. It's downright
cruelty, and I doubt if I shall ever let 'em
darken the school doors again."
A sweet summer afternoon, Sunday too, and an angry
woman's voice sounding harshly in the clear, pure air.
There was soon a little crowd in the village street, of
sympathisers, or at least listeners, and the bits of things,"
Liza and Jane, having ceased their crying, were rather
pleased than otherwise at finding themselves the objects of
Mrs. Carter, their mother, was quite ready to explain the
whole affair over and over again to all inquirers; how the
tickets had been given at the school for Miss Trennion's
birthday feast that very afternoon, and how Liza .and Jane
had come home, their faces that swelled up with crying
you wouldn't have known them, and never a sign of a
ticket, while the little Rodgerses, four of 'em, and hardly
a shoe to their feet among them, had all got the red bits
of paper. It was a shame, and Rodgers that drunk over-
night he all but fell into the pond going home, if little
Rhoda hadn't clutched him jnst in the nick. Talk of
2 Cruel Kindness.
justice, indeed! it was enough to make decent people sick
the way they were scorned and slighted, and drunken cob-
blers' children lifted over their heads.
Mrs. Carter's voice waxed every moment shriller as she
told her tale, eliciting sympathetic ahs and ohs from her
All at once a still shriller voice answered her, and a tiny
cripple of some seven years old limped to the front.
Mrs. Carter," he piped forth, your Liza and Jane has
only been three times to Sunday-school since Christmas,
and Miss Trennion she won't have no one at her feast who
misses as often as that. She warned us all a' Christmas
too, didn't she, Jane ? "
That reluctant young person was obliged to nod acquies-
cence, but Liza burst into a fresh roar.
"It was all your doing, mother," sobbed the ungrateful
darling; you said we needn't go last Sunday because our
new bonnets hadn't come, and Sunday afore we was cow-
slip picking, and afore that Aunt Mary came-oh, oh, oh!"
Mrs. Carter's wrath now took a new direction; Liza was
caught and shaken, on the pretence of being dusty and
untidy and late for her tea, but in reality out of vexation
at the child's speech.
"Thank goodness, my children don't need to look to
their betters for outs," she observed to her audience; "they
can always get to their aunt's at Lonidon, and then there's
the Wild Beast Gardens, and the Waxworks, and a lot of
grand places all ready to hand."
"And we're going to live in London ourselves, ain't we,
mother ?" questioned Liza, her mind distracted from her
woes by the remembrance of this great change awaiting
Mrs. Carter put on a meaning expression, while she
affected to scold. Go you indoors this minute,-chattering
Cruel Kindness. 3
about things you know nothing of, we shall have the whole
place soon about our ears. Not that I care who knows we
ain't bound to Ringleigh for life. It's a poor sort of place for
one as has been used to a bit of stir. I'm a Londoner, you
see, born and bred, though my mother was a Yorkshire
woman, and that sort never can get used to the country,
Most people would have thought that Mrs. Carter had
distinctly bettered herself, when, as a girl of seventeen, she
left the hot, narrow London street in which her mother
lived, and the close confinement of the milliner's shop
where she worked, to marry George Carter, the clever
young carpenter from Ringleigh village. He always had
work, he was well paid and well thought of in the neigh-
bourhood, and his creeper-covered house (it was too good a
one to call a cottage) occupied the best position in the
village street. What more could Mrs. Carter need to make
her the happiest woman in the world ?
Children ? Well, she had not long to wait; the baby came
punctually every year, but, alas! the first three barely reached
a twelvemonth old when they drooped and died-just
dining of themselves, Mrs. Carter sobbed to her friends.
It was all nonsense and fidget the doctor saying that the
bit of meat they got hold of, as they sat on her knee, could
harm them. Didn't she give it special to baby Tom to
strengthen him; and besides, who could refuse a little thing
when it stretched out its hands so pretty, or lay back and
screamed itself almost into fits for what it saw father and
mother eating ? She was not one of that prim sort that
kept the children to bread and milk, while their parents
And little Lily that died of the bronchitis, it was down-
right cruel of the doctor to say it was the taking of her to
see the fireworks at the Hall that killed her. Hadn't the
4 Cru)el K'indness.
poor little soul been promised ever so long to see them, and
wasn't she wrapped in her mother's warmest shawl the
But that was just like country folks; they had no spirit,
and always made out you did wrong if you so much as
opened an eye without leave.
When the twins, Jane and Adeliza, were born, however,
Carter himself manifested a troublesome anxiety to retain
these darlings in the cottage. Those green mounds in the
churchyard were a sore sight each Sunday to his fatherly
eyes, but it was impossible to put a stop all at once to the
hurtful indulgences which his wife, on the score of kind-
ness, permitted to her infants, and little Jane was almost
carried off by convulsions, occasioned by too liberal a diet
of ham and spring onions at the early age of fifteen months,
before any impression could be made on the mother's mind.
Then she did seem alarmed; and while the child lay blue
and stiff on her knee, she solemnly promised her husband
that the diet of the twins should for the future be exactly
what old Dr. Brown recommended.
But diet is not everything in the bringing-up of children,
and it is to be feared that Liza and Jane were constantly
subject to other evil influences beside those of salt meat
and raw vegetables.
They were nine years old now, spoilt, and still rather
sickly-genteel-looking children, Mrs. Carter pronounced
them, when she had plaited their colourless hair into long
pigtails, and arrayed them in their Sunday finery of flounces
She would dearly have liked to keep the children out
of the common atmosphere of the village school, but that
Carter would not permit; the clergyman who had taught
him in his youth, who had christened all of his little ones,
and buried three, should still have the care of his little
Cruel Kindness. 5
girls. So Jane and Liza trotted to the Sunday-school
whenever the weather was not too hot or too cold, or their
clothes too shabby or too fine. They were quick children,
and would learn in five minutes the text or the hymn their
class-fellows had been painfully spelling through all the
week previous; and Miss Trennion, conscious that their
irregularity of attendance was generally their mother's
fault, had always a kind word for the little pair. She
could not, however, break her known rule of attendance to
secure the presence of the twins at her ftte; they had been
more irregular than ever this year, and for no special cause,
so they must be left out of the invitations.
When Carter came in, the tale had all to be told over
again to him.
"I wish we were leaving before the treat comes off,"
said his wife sharply. I never could abear my children
to be looked down upon."
They should have been more reg']ar, then," said the
father shortly. When I was a lad my mother never let
me play truant."
Oh, your mother was a pattern, I know," said Mrs.
Carter, tossing her head; but you were a strong lad,
George; it's different with little girls, that can't be sent out
in all weathers."
"Ay, I was a strong lad," sighed Carter; I cannot
think what's come to me of late. My mind misgives me,
Addie, about moving to London; one hazards a deal by it."
"Now, George, that's just low spirits," said his wife
anxiously. She was honestly uneasy about George, who
had been ailing since a fall off a ladder in the winter.
" You know Dr. Brown himself is all for you going to the
London doctors, and you couldn't be running up and down
from here wasting time, and strength, and money. Better
far get rid of this business and feel free, and then we could
6 Cruel Kindness.
take a little house near Aunt Mary in Paddington, and you
could see the doctors, besides getting as much work as you
wanted. I should feel quite young again out of this stupid
Ringleigh's never a stupid hole to me," said George,
smiling. Well, Janie, and what do you think about it
all ? for the child was staring fixedly in his face. Shall
we go to London and never come back again ?"
I'd like to go to London," Janie answered quickly;
" but, father, we must come back some time. I shouldn't
like to think I'd never see Tim Ryder or Fanny Rodgers any
That's a faithful lassie," said her father, much pleased.
But his wife answered scornfully, Tim, indeed! that
pert little lame fellow, and drunken lodgers' child! Well,
I must say, Jane, you've made a pretty choice of
Mother, I keep company with Miss Terbrett and Coach-
man Grey's little girl," said Adeliza. "I don't go with
the common children more than I can help; but Jane
Tush, tush interrupted her father; it isn't pretty for
one little sister to cast blame at another. Come, now, and
sing father the hymn they had in school."
"Two tucks of crape, Mrs. Mullins, and crape round the
neck and sleeves; no one shall ever say as my children did
not mourn their father properly, and a good father he was
too, and a kind husband to me."
Mrs. Carter spoke with real feeling, for poor George,
Cruel Kindnzess. 7
lying dead upstairs in the London lodging, after a weary
two years of doctors and failing health, had indeed been all
a loving wife could desire as helpmeet. If only he had
been a little firmer in his rule, a little more ready to show
the good sense and good principle which governed his own
actions, it might have been better for his wife and children.
But George was of a reserved nature, and depressing sick-
ness had still further quenched his energies, so that he
hardly lay more silent and self-contained now than he had
done for the past many months.
The widow gave him a grand funeral, of course, but after-
wards came the rub, when the guests were gone, and the
bill came in, "To one hearse and pair and two mourning-
coaches and pair," &c., and that other bill for "best crape
mourning," together with an intimation from the owner of
the house that the last three weeks' lodging might agreeably
to her feelings be paid up.
Following on these came, of course, a host of minor
claims; that very black-edged card with the weeping willow
at the top, "In memory of George Carter," must be paid
for. London tradespeople will not wait and trust like their
less tried brethren in the country, and the payment of the
usual household bills might no longer be delayed. The
pulling up of the front blinds meant the real trying time
for the widow, it seemed, for she was left badly off. Poor
George's illness had run away with all the savings, and
though they had incurred no actual debt at the time of
his death, the arrangements of the funeral had been made
with such a lavish hand, that the family were likely to feel
it for some time after.
In vain had poor George painfully scrawled on a piece
of paper, "Directions for my burying. Let it be a very
plain funeral, as cheap as possible. I'm not one as cares for
show, and I've cost them all enough already "--
8 Cruel Kindlness.
There the poor fellow had broken off, either too weary to
write more, or uncertain how to word his wishes.
Mrs. Carter had read the scrap with plenteous tears, and
avowals that George should have the best of everything,
whatever he said; she wasn't one to grudge the dead any-
thing; besides folks should know, by the style they did
things in, that they came of a decent stock, though they
were only in lodgings, that had always had their nice,
respectable house till now.
It took poor George's watch, and a variety of other
treasures, to get the widow clear of the funeral bills, and
then there was so little to look to, that even Aunt Mary,
not a very prudent person herself, recommended Mrs.
Carter to give up the second room, and fit herself and the
girls into the one larger apartment.
Mrs. Carter cried worse over this downfall than over
her husband's death. What would Ringleigh folks think
if they knew the strait Carter's children were in now ? she
should die of shame if any of them found it out.
"The girls will be big enough for service soon," suggested
Aunt Mary, "and then you won't be so cramped. Janie's
a fine-grown girl for only going of eleven."
"I'm going to be a milliner," said Adeliza pertly. "I
don't like dirty work; I shall go to the shop in the day,
like mother did, and sleep at home."
"Bless the child what a spirit she has," said Mrs.
Carter, smiling through her tears. "I always said Liza
favoured me most; I never fancied a missus over me, order-
ing here and fussing there Now, Jane's a meek one like
the Oarters; she'll never rise much. It's odd the difference
there is in children."
Jane blushed under the scrutiny of her mother's eye;
children are quick to note favouritism, and Adeliza was
certainly her mother's darling.
Cruel Kindness. 9
And yet, in face and figure, they're hardly to be known
apart, the neighbours say," continued the mother, meditatively
comparing her offspring.
Mother when my waist is ever the smallest," broke
out Liza indignantly, "and I've much the longest hair,
though it won't curl like Jane's," she added, mentioning
plaintively this one crook in her lot. And, oh mother,
you let the fire out this morning, and never thought to heat
the irons to crimp it, and I shall be such a sight this after-
noon !" and Adeliza pulled into view some wild locks
which were intended to grace her forehead.
"Mrs. Mullins will let me heat the irons at her fire,"
said the mother. La me how badly that crape does wear
on your dress, and the fortune it cost me."
"A lady to see you, Mrs. Carter. She's waiting in the
The thing Mrs. Carter most dreaded had come upon her.
Jane had jumped up with a cry of delight, and led in Miss
Trennion; the want of the red ticket that last summer at
Ringleigh had by no means diminished the child's affection
for her old teacher. Children can appreciate justice as well
as love mercy; it is not everlasting sugar-plums that wins
the young heart. Liza, too, in her way, was fond of Miss
Trennion, and very soon even Mrs. Carter had forgotten her
fears and fancies in the dear pleasure of hearing George praised
by one whom she really respected, and in going over the record
of those last sad months to an appreciative listener.
Miss Trennion had come to propose that one of the twins
should return with her to the Rectory, to work under the
housemaid; she always had one little girl out of the village
to train in her house ;-should it be Jane or Adeliza ?
It was easy to see which of the children desired to go with
her. Jane's eyes brightened, while her cheeks flushed with
anxiety; Adeliza triedtohideherself behind her mother's chair.
(206) A 2
Io Cruel Kiindness.
"Well, Jane, so it is to be you," said Miss Trennion,
smiling at the child. "Liza doesn't want to leave mother
I ain't going to service at all," said Liza, waxing bolder
as the danger seemed past. Jane she don't mind doing
as she's bid, and slaving after people; she helps Mrs.
Mullins just for nothing; but I ain't like that."
"I hope, though, you try and help mother a great deal,"
said Miss Trennion, thinking the child expressed herself
awkwardly, and hardly grasping the selfishness and in-
subordination of the young nature.
Oh, yes," said Mrs. Carter hurriedly ; "she ain't a bad
child, ain't Liza; a bit fond of her own way, but that's
always so with children; I never could be one to be always
grinding them down, and looking for old heads on young
shoulders. Let them enjoy themselves while they can;
when they come to be a poor widow like me, it's time to
put on a solemn face, and think of every word they say.
O Liza yo. naughty, naughty girl, you've got your elbow
against the butter plate and greased all your beautiful
crape. Well, children are a worrit, I must say; what you
spend on them, and then they just go and ruin it Why,
that crape now, Miss Trennion, it cost me that sum that
we haven't had a bit of meat in the house this week past.
George couldn't abide debt, and I've got to feel it uncom-
fortable, so we just stint to pay for the mourning."
Miss Trennion could not help feeling that the meat for
these pale-faced, growing children was a far greater necessity
than the crape, but she never preached when she saw no
reasonable chance of doing good by a sermon, so she simply
remarked that she hoped that when Jane was at Ringleigh
Liza would eat her share, and get fat and rosy. And then,
with a promise of sending for Jane in a few days, she bade
Cruel Kindniess. 1
FORTUNE did not seem to smile on Mrs. Carter after poor
George's death. She tried in various ways to make a living,
for, to do her justice, she was an industrious, striving woman,
but -the struggle ended in her falling into a weak state of
health, and being only able to do little jobs of dressmaking
when she felt easier. She cherished an idea at this time that
Liza might help her in these small undertakings, but the spoilt
child had no intention whatever of remaining in the dull up-
stairs room chained to her needle; her dream had been of work
in a shop with a half-dozen or more other young apprentices,
and she teased her mother to obtain her such a situation.
So, with hair extra frizzed and her best dress on, Liza
and her mother set out one day for Miss Cordy's, the
dressmaker and milliner's shop in Spring Street, Apprentices
Wanted" being a notice generally to be seen in her window.
But Liza was too young: to be sure, Miss Cordy did want
a little girl to run errands, sweep the show-room, and be at
the beck and call of all the workers-if Adeliza Carter
was very obliging and quick and clean she might try her.
Liza jumped at the idea-anything for a change-but she
returned at the end of the week full of complaints. Miss
Cordy was so tiresome, The forewoman was dreadfully
strict, and the girls laughed at her. She wouldn't go there
any more. And Mrs. Carter backed her in her resolve,
saying that no child of hers should be put upon by any
one, sending, too, an impertinent message to Miss Cordy on
Monday morning to the same effect.
Liza next took a fancy to help the confectioner's wife
next door-a genteel-looking child, Mrs. Fritz thought she
might be useful selling pennyworths of sweets to the chil-
dren who kept the bell of the swing-door going.
12 Cruel Kindness.
But Liza was not trustworthy ; she just ran out to see
Punch when left in charge of the shop, and some un-
principled person just ran in the while and robbed the till.
Though a kind-hearted woman, Mrs. Fritz was obliged to
return Liza to her mother, and that half-crown a week
and the girl's dinner vanished into thin air.
Again poor M1rs. Carter remarked that people shouldn't
look for young girls to be as steady as old women, and
thought all the world very cruel to her fatherless child.
A lady who had noticed the delicate-looking widow and
her rather pretty little girl in church, next took Liza in
hand ; her son, Colonel Murray, from India, was temporarily
in England with six children, and wanted a pleasant young
girl to help the nurse. There would be no heavy baby to
carry; Liza could read nicely to the little ones, and wait
on the nursery. It would be an easy way of earning four
shillings a week. Liza was delighted; she was to live
altogether at Oxford Crescent, and only come home on
Sunday to see her mother. The first Sunday there was a
little grumbling; the work was hard, the nursery was dull
and looked to the back; the children were cross, and once,
when Liza only pushed one the least little bit, Nurse flew
into such a rage and threatened to tell the mistress. The
second Sunday things were worse; Liza didn't know that
she could stay to be put upon like that. On the Monday
Mrs. Murray, the grandmother, called with a little list of
Liza's naughtinesses, very gently put, for she was sorry for
sick Mrs. Carter, but still all too true to be pleasant. The
main point was, that Liza would not get up when called;
she shut her ears, turned over in bed, and drove Nurse
wild" with her laziness.
And now, Mrs. Carter, I have a plan to propose," said
Mrs. Murray kindly. You and I know what young girls
are-a little kindness often does more with them than a
Cruel KiXndness. 13
great deal of scolding. Suppose I give Adeliza an extra
sixpence a week if she gets up punctually at six every
morning. That is the usual hour, I believe, for rising in
my son's family."
"Thank you, ma'am," said Mrs. Carter stiffly, "but I'd
as soon you didn't. I don't hold with such strict ways
with young girls, and seven o'clock is quite time enough
for Liza to get up. If Nurse ain't satisfied with her, I
suppose she'd better come home to her mother."
In vain Mrs. Murray pointed out to Mrs. Carter the
foolishness of supporting a girl in a mere idle trick. She
was not to be won over; she wasn't going to have her
fatherless children trodden upon. And Liza clenched the
matter by running home without leave the very next night.
Nurse was past bearing, and she knew mother would
stand by her.
Poor silly mother to foster in her young child the seeds
of sloth, insubordination, and vanity !
I knew I never could abear service," declared Liza, as
if the sentiment was something to be proud of.
And then ensued months, nay, years of idleness, of odd
jobs, of hanging at the street door, of friendships with other
silly girls, and of general deterioration of character.
Mrs. Carter had become a little stronger, and able to
keep her child in idleness. It took a good deal to keep
Liza, though, for the girl was very fond of dress, and apt to
run up little bills for feathers and flowers hardly paid for
by her poor mother's earnings.
No matter how silly, how hurtful, how monstrous the
fashion of the day, Liza must needs follow it, and scoff at
Jane, too, when she paid her family a visit in her plain attire.
"No one would think we were twins now," she would
remark, contrasting her gay, fantastic garments with her
sister's quiet dress.
14 Crzel Kinzdnzess.
Jane did not resent the intended disparagement of herself.
She was growing unlike her sister in other respects than out-
ward appearance. Ringleigh and Miss Trennion were her
standard now; she had money in the savings-bank, which
she was secretly treasuring to buy mother a nice, warm
cloak for the winter; she could bear to be without an amber
necklace and light kid gloves. Her ambition was not to be
mistaken for a lady (but a shabby, sham lady after all, too),
but to improve herself so as to become a valuable servant,
living long and happily with Miss Trennion, and then, per-
haps, by and by, in some very far distance there might be
a cottage of her own smiling in the sunshine. In Pingleigh,
of course; Jane felt she could never leave her own dear vil-
lage, and there was a certain big brother of the shrill-voiced
little cripple who fostered this idea of hers. Boys and girls
will form friendships as long as the world lasts, and when
these friendships bear the test of time, who shall say that
they may not develop into a stronger tie ?
Miss Trennion had no objection to her servants forming
acquaintances, or even "keeping company," as they call it,
with respectable young men, when they were old enough to
know their own minds. Tom Ryder and Jane had agreed
that, by and by perhaps, when Tom was out of his time,
and she had laid by a few pounds over and beyond those
presents to mother which she loved to give, they would
walk out together, and till then Jane was content to nod to
the big, sturdy fellow as she passed him in the lane, regard-
less of the fact that Miss Trennion herself might be look-
Jane's thoughts were not all of love and work either; she
went beyond these, if one can really get beyond real true
love in one's best thoughts, which I rather doubt. Any-
way the girl, happy as she was in her daily life, was not
contented with it; she knew that this world is but the school
Cruel Kinzdness. 15
through which we pass to reach the happy home above, and
when she strove to do her work well here, it was as much
to please her Heavenly Father as her earthly mistress.
Liza thought her very odd at times, and said so; for
though Jane mostly "kept these things in her heart," she
could not but seem strangely different to the thoughtless
girls whose company Liza chiefly sought.
"It's living in the country does it," said Liza to herself,
by way of explanation.
"It's London way to speak light-like," thought gentle
Jane. "I know Liza can't mean all she says in that off-
THE twins were just seventeen now. Jane had a fair prospect
before her. Miss Trennion had become so much attached
to her, that she promised, on her housemaid's approaching
marriage, to take her in her place,-a delightful announce-
ment to the young girl, who loved Ringleigh and every-
thing belonging to it.
Liza also wrote word to her sister that at last she was
nicely settled; she had got a place as young lady in the
mantle-room in a large shop in Oxford Street. "They say
they never had such a figure as mine," wrote the vain
child, "and mother has got me a black silk dress with a
long train, though she made a terrible upset at first about
my taking work so far off, and coming home at dark, as if
I couldn't look after myself!"
Yes, at last Mrs. Carter had come to entertain a vague
fear that her bringing-up had hardly been such as to keep
her pretty daughter firm in the slippery paths of this
16 Cruel Kindness.
troublesome world. For a year now she had had doubts
about the respectability of Liza's acquaintances, the .-_ i;lii-
girls and loud young men with whom she walked out in
"But Liza is that headstrong," she complained to her-
old friend Mrs. Mullins; I don't know how it's come about.
Jane, that I see so little of, seems to mind what I say far
more; and yet I'm sure I never grudged Liza anything, and
always took her part against every one else."
Yes, but poor Mrs. Carter had all unwittingly taken her
child's part against her good angel, and now that the dis-
couraged messenger was standing on one side, with drooping
wings and head averted, no wonder the mother's heart quaked.
As Liza said, mother had set her face against the
Oxford Street shop, and the long walk or omnibus journey
in the winter evenings, as hardly safe for a showy-looking
girl like Liza, but the strong will always gains the day, and
it was to be.
Liza had been at her work about a month, when a
wonderful assortment of finery began to appear in her
drawer, by and by followed by bottles of scent, fans, ear-
rings, and such trifles as girls delight in.
It was a pity she spent her money like that, said the
mother; but there! she remembered doing just the same
before she married George, when it all came to an end.
"Ah! but I mean to marry some one who will be able
to give me such things after marriage," said Liza. I shan't
take a carpenter like father."
"A cabinetmaker, please, and a first-rate hand," said the
widow, waxing warm in defence of her dead.
Oh, yes anything you like," returned Liza carelessly.
But, child, what are you doing talking of marrying at your
age-seventeen ? You're a deal too young for such thoughts."
"I don't see that," said Liza pertly. We're doing the
Crel Kindness. 17
trousseau of a young lady who's only just seventeen, and
nothing like so nice-looking as me. She came into the
Mrs. Carter threw up her eyes in amaze. "But right
she is about the looks," she explained to Mrs. Mullins after-
wards, "with the nice colour that's come to her of late and
the new way of rearing her hair up in front. If only I
could be sure she'd keep with the steady ones !"
But no one could be sure. Liza kept her own counsel,
and took her Sundays out far away from her mother, who
had usually reckoned on an afternoon walk with her on
that day in Regent's Park or Kensington Gardens. The
morning service, too, never before neglected since the time
when she had trotted proudly to church by father's side,
was now a thing of the past. Liza, always late in bed at
nights, could not rise early enough to accomplish the
amount of dressing necessary to a Sunday toilette till the
bells of the neighbourhood had long ceased calling the hour
Private prayer went next. First it was a hurried, soulless
repetition of a form of words, sometimes said in bed at
nights and sometimes forgotten; then it was a consistent
thrusting away of all thoughts beyond the cares and plea-
sures of this fleeting world. God, Liza did not dare to
think of; He could be no Father to her, for she desired to
be no child of His, and a life after this one was a matter
so full of discomfort to dwell on, that the girl put that
aside till even conscience grew seared, and failed to accuse
her of being one of those miserable ones who willingly
Twins are commonly supposed to entertain a great affec-
tion for each other, and, despite the distance that these
sisters had drifted apart, Liza certainly was much attached
18 COuel Kindnzess.
Jane regularly came up from Ringleigh once a quarter to
visit her mother, spending the night, and returning the next
evening to her place.
She was a cheerful, simple girl, very open-hearted in her
own confidences and slow to perceive that Liza's world was
different to her own. Every now and then, however, a little
chink in the lattice of Liza's mind was opened to her, and
then the country girl was thrilled with a sudden surprise,
"I don't expect Miss Trennion even has got anything
half so fashionable as these," said Liza one day, exhibiting
to her sister a rather peculiar-looking pair of boots with
grey tops and very high, pointed heels.
Jane's light eyes grew round. "Liza I you never wear
such things ?"
Why not ? said Liza, laughing. Yes, you may stare,
but they're Paris boots, straight from France."
They must have cost a lot," said Jane, almost breathless.
Suppose they did," laughed Liza, "who cares ? not I;
I don't pay. Hush, Jane put 'em by; here's mother coming.
I don't want her to know all my secrets."
But it was not Mrs. Carter's step on the stairs, so the
boots were had out for a second look.
"I should feel as if I were walking on pins," commented
Jane. "Liza, don't you slip on them ? "
Oh, no !" said Liza lightly, "I'm used to the sort; they
are all the fashion. I'm not like you, Jane, wearing old
Rodgers' boots still, I see, clumping things. Well, don't
you want to know what friend I have to give me such fine
boots ? Guess a bit, you slow old thing."
But Jane could not guess, and Liza wouldn't tell, so the
boots were stuffed into a drawer on Jane discovering that it
was near five, and her train went at six, and tea to be got
Cruel Kindness. 19
Weeks and months passed by, and still Liza seemed satis-
fied with her situation. You met with a better style of
people out Regent Street way, she explained to her friends
when they desired to know the reason of her unusual con-
tent. And, by and by, the better sort of people began to
-show up in the small street in Paddington in the shape of a
very smart-looking young man who brought Liza home at
nights, and was very civil to Mrs. Carter.
Now it was very evident where all Liza's pretty things
came from, for Mr. Montague Smith, as the name ran on
the gentleman's highly-glazed card (propped after his first
visit against the glass on the mantelpiece), was more than
generous-he was lavish in his gifts to the young girl.
Articles of all sorts, useful as well as merely showy,
poured in. Liza was intoxicated with delight, Mrs. Carter
flattered that her child should have secured the affections
of so wealthy a young man. Tears of real pleasure found
their way into Liza's eyes (seventeen years will not harden
or stifle natural affection in a young heart) when Mr.
Smith carried a parcel to her mother one night, out of
which he produced a splendid black silk dress, which he
begged her to accept as a little token of regard from one
who hoped-and there he stopped and looked at Liza.
He might hope, nay, expect, anything he liked from that
young lady it was evident, for she was completely dazzled by
his good appearance, his easy manners, and his lavish gifts.
Only Mrs. Mullins was found to ask his antecedents and
how Liza came to know him.
He was a general agent, Liza said, and had been to their
shop several times regarding some special trimmings in gold
and silver braid which he had procured from Russia. Of
course his occupation accounted for his being able to pro-
cure all sorts of dress and ornaments at fabulously cheap
20 Cruel Kizndzess.
Liza believed he had a warehouse in the city-he had
told her so; and anyway she knew he had a beautiful house
at Wandsworth, where there was a piano and a double
drawing-room, and lovely mirrors in all the rooms.
"And, Liza, you're sure he means fair by you ?" queried
the mother, anxious at last for her darling.
"Mother!" remonstrated Liza, "you can see for yourself.
Would he come here and ask to see you if he didn't mean
it all aboveboard ? "
"Could he give a reference, now, to his clergyman ?"
timidly suggested the poor woman, her country experience
prompting the idea.
Liza laughed scornfully. "If you treat him as if he was
an errand-boy wanting a place, you'll be frightening him off,
mother. No, let him alone; surely I can manage my own
affairs. I'm not going to get into a hobble, or marry with-
out my proper white dress and nice trousseau. Will that
content you ?"
It did not content the poor mother, but she dared not
irritate her spoiled darling by contesting the matter.
After a while, however, her heart grew easier; Mr. Smith
was so very kind, things must be all right. There was no
doubt he loved Liza dearly, for he had openly asked her
to be his wife, and now he was inviting Mrs. Carter too to
come and visit his pretty villa on Wandsworth Common.
Liza to live in a villa with a piano-to do no more work
-to become Mrs. Mu:Si .. Smith-to keep a servant of
her own, perhaps two-the vision was too enchanting; no
wonder mother as well as daughter was bewitched by it.
Cruel Kindness. 2
THIE happy day arrived, a glowing summer Sunday, when
Mr. Smith drove up to the door to pick up Liza and Mrs.
Carter in their best dresses. He looked so gay and hand-
some in his glossy clothes, blue tie, and auburn whiskers,
that the poor mother heaved a sigh of relief. No one that
didn't mean fair, she thought again, could look like that,
but yet if only she could have known something of his
family. Of course they must be far superior to the Carters,
and perhaps would object to his marrying a poor cabinet-
maker's orphan, so she had best not press the matter, but
give in to Liza, who had somewhat angrily begged her to
let all that drop, and not spoil her pleasure by such foolish
pressing. Any one could see that Mr. Montague Smith was
quite the gentleman.
The drive was very pleasant once anxious thoughts were
stifled. Mrs. Carter, in the black silk dress, had the back
seat all to herself, and a hamper of provisions provided by
Mr. Smith, and thoroughly did she enjoy the soft breeze,
the sight of the river, and the drive past trees and gay-
gardened villas. Liza, of course, was in high spirits in her
seat by Mr. Smith, and the sound of her rather highly-pitched
laughter was music to her mother's ears.
All was coming right; here was the house, an earnest of
all that was to be her girl's. It was a pretty little villa in
a retired corner just off the road, its windows looking into a
small but shady garden, only a blank wall presenting itself
to the highway. Liza rather regretted this; she would have
liked to picture herself sitting in her best clothes at a win-
dow commanding the road, the admired of all beholders. It
would not be genteel, she knew, to stand at the door when
she was a lady, and yet nowhere else could she be seen.
22 2 Cruel Kindness.
Well, she should have to walk out all the oftener, and with
a servant of her own, that would be easy enough.
It is wonderful what thoughts will career through the
mind in an instant of time. Liza thought all this as Mr.
Smith lifted her down from the box-seat. The house was
locked up; Mr. Smith did not live there yet, and he -ex-
plained that everything was in utter confusion.
"We poor men can't manage much without the ladies,"
he said graciously, and Liza thought what a beautiful way
he had of turning a sentence.
As for Mrs. Carter, she was in a maze of gratified bewilder-
ment at the confused mass of furniture, hangings, knicknacks,
lamps, china, and ornaments that met her eyes in every room.
Everything was in dreadful disorder. There was not a carpet
down, but still, as she repeatedly assured her son-in-law elect,
there was enough in the place to furnish half a dozen such
houses. And Liza tapped her bridegroom affectedly with
her parasol, and called him an extravagant thing.
Mrs. Carter was so carried away by her feelings that she
entreated Mr. Smith to let her come in for a week before
the wedding to straighten the house, but he put on one of
those very bright smiles Liza thought so charming, and
declared that he would find a better office than that for his
Adeliza's mother; when she came to the Laurels, it must be
for pleasure, not work.
Poor Mrs. Carter! no wonder her heart beat with exulta-
tion at the thought of Liza's good fortune. She would have
liked what she called a good rummage through the villa, but
Mr. Smith did not encourage that, indeed, most of the rooms
were locked, and very soon he carried an armchair out under
the trees and begged her to seat herself there, and unpack
the hamper while he smoked a cigar by Liza.
There was a salad to be made, and Mrs. Carter was soon
fully employed. Then came the lunch, a perfect little feast
Cruel Kindness. 23
for the two women-cold chicken, veal pies, and what Mrs.
Carter had never even seen before in her life-champagne
-sparkling in her own glass. Mr. Smith had gone quietly
into the house and returned with a couple of the gold-topped
The church-bells were ringing for evening service be-
fore the meal was finished. By that time Liza's laughter
had grown louder and freer, and the soft pink in her cheeks
had deepened to a glowing red. Mrs. Carter was feeling
heavy and confused; the unaccustomed wine had given her
a headache, and those church-bells teased her with their
They seemed to be accusing her of something-perhaps
of not having been to church that day. She began to feel
uncomfortable; to wish Liza wouldn't laugh like that; to
wonder what father would have thought of this Mr. Mon-
tague Smith; to wish Jane were there with her grave, clear
eyes ; to feel cold, and regret she had not brought her old
shawl. To be sure, when Mr. Smith perceived she was
finding the breeze chilly, he went indoors and brought out
a handsome Paisley shawl, of which he begged her accept-
ance; but still she was glad when the carriage came round
and they started for home. It had been a delightful day,
but- Ah! those buts-don't they often spoil our
pleasure in this world! Liza kept up to the last, but
when Mr. Smith bade the women good-night at their door,
she, too, seemed to become suddenly cross and sleepy, and
refused to indulge her mother in a talk over the events of
The glamour of this visit to Wandsworth illuminated all
Mrs. Carter's thoughts of Liza's future for some time after-
wards. Mrs. Mullins was won over to think with her that good
looks and generosity were quite enough to expect in a son-in-
law, and that Liza was a most fortunate girl. The marriage
24 Cruel Kindness.
was fixed for the early winter. Liza gave up the shop, and
was deep in the consideration of how many gowns could be
bought with a very small sum of money .in hand, and a
certain amount of trust to be had in the neighbourhood-for
Mrs. Carter was now known as an old resident, and an
honest one, if poor-when Jane appeared on the scene, come
for a holiday. A badly cut hand needed London advice,
and Miss Trennion sent her to spend an idle week at home.
She put some awkward questions to Liza and her mother.
Who knew the young man ? Where did he live, since
they said there was no trace of occupation at the Laurels?
Who were his friends ? Had Mrs. Carter asked Liza's
employers about him ? And was Liza going to marry him
so totally in the dark as she was about his surroundings ?
In vain Liza brought forward her presents-rather valu-
able jewellery had, by this time, swelled the list. Jane
looked still graver.
Miss Trennion is coming to call on Friday," she said;
"let us tell her about it, Liza."
Then Liza waxed angry, and said no fussy person that
didn't know London ways should meddle with her affairs,
and if mother was going over to Jane's side, and meant to
make a bother about her young man that was behaving so
handsome, she'd just leave them all and go and put up with
her friend, Miss Leatherby, at Brixton. Julia Leatherby
would be only too pleased to have her, and she could marry
more respectably from them, living, as they did, in a nice
Poor Mrs. Carter took up her apron at this ; she could not
bear to see her favourite child vexed with her. She assured
Liza that she should never think of contrarying her; that she
had the utmost faith in Mr. Smith; and that it was very
wrong of Jane to be so suspicious.
Poor Jane! she sat by in her enforced idleness, grave
Cruel Kzindnless. 25
and distressed. Mr. Smith might be all they said, but the
thoughts of Liza marrying in the dark, as it were, alarmed
her. She had a curiosity to see the young man, but, un-
fortunately, he was on a journey during her week in town.
Liza thought he had gone to Scotland, or farther, perhaps,
she wasn't sure; nothing did seem sure about her betrothed,
save the fact that he was able to give handsome presents.
Liza recovered her temper with Jane after a day or two,
and wanted to press a parasol and a pair or two of gloves
on her out of her store, but Jane refused as gently as she
could. They would be of no use to her in Ringleigh, she
said; in reality she could not bring herself to accept any-
thing that came from this young man. She was uneasy
Mr. Smith visited very frequently at the house after
Jane left, and Mrs. Carter felt less anxious. Any one could
see how fond he was of Liza, and what more could you
want ? He used no bad language, he was very kind to
her, Mrs. Carter, a poor old woman, and if he didn't just
attend church or talk religious like some, he mightn't be
any the worse. And as for relations, people can't make
them, if they happen to be born only children and lose
their parents in infancy. Liza would at least have no one
to nag at her, as they say mothers-in-law do.
So everything seemed bright once again, and Liza stitched
and sang, and promised her mother many a luxury in the
good days to come.
Presently, however, a different order of affairs set in. Mr.
Smith was in Paris on business; he thought he should
probably take Liza there first on her marriage, and leave
Mrs. Carter in charge of the Laurels.
Liza gave a jump at that. Go to Paris, that beautiful
city where all the fashions come from !-that would be
26 Criue Kindndess.
Mrs. Carter and she held whispered consultations over this
new shaping of their lives. Montague had one crotchet, Liza
said-he hated his concerns talked about. A general agent
often had very delicate affairs to transact, and for women to
gabble about them might mean ruin, so Mrs. Mullins was
no longer made a party to their cogitations.
Then letters came of which at first Liza read portions to
her mother, but which finally she kept to herself, waylaying
the postman, so as to conceal, if she could, the very fact of
their arrival. Liza herself, however, still smiled, though the
smile was scarcely so much that of a light heart as of con-
She had a room to herself now in Mrs. Mullins' house;
how else could the dresses and presents be accommodated ?
and she spent a great deal of time alone in this room,
stitching and arranging her wardrobe.
Mrs. Montague Smith must do her husband credit. Not
a deeper thought had the poor child of the step she was
about to take.
One morning, her mother being out on a job of work, and
Liza off guard, Mrs. Mullins brought the girl a letter.
"We know who from," she said meaningly. Liza
frowned. How tiresome that woman was, recognizing Mon-
tague's handwriting !
She tore open the envelope feverishly the moment her
back was turned. Her face reddened and paled as she
glanced at the very legible handwriting with its stereotyped
Then her mouth set firmly.
It must be done, what he asked. She did not like it,
but she was bound to him by every tie, and specially by
love. Yes, Liza loved this young fellow with his liberal
hand and winning manners; of course she must do as he
bid her. She had half expected such a letter, half expected
Cruel Kindness. 27
to be told that her marriage must take place in Paris, not
here, but she had not imagined that he would make it a
condition she must come alone and secretly to him, leaving
her mother behind. And in such haste, too-this very night.
Of course it was all quite right; mother was to go to
the Laurels directly; he was going to write that, but now
she was bound over to leave clandestinely, to say nothing
to any one of her plans.
She tried to put her clothes in a little order against the
day when she should send for them; it grieved the girl
sorely to think she should not be married in the white
silk dress she had taken such pleasure in thinking of; but
Montague had promised to arrange all that in Paris if she
would only come off at once, and not hamper herself with
clothes. But how to get away unsuspected, that was the
She must make some excuse. Mrs. Fritz, the confec-
tioner's wife, had a sister living in Oxford Street with
whom Liza was on intimate terms. She was a milliner,
and had provided several things for the trousseau.
Liza left word with Mrs. Mullins that she was going to
this Miss Becker's, and might pass the night there; then, to
give the matter an honest colouring, she went to Mrs. Fritz,
and, saying only that she was going to call on her sister,
asked to take the baby with her, a pretty child of a year
old. She wanted to order the silk bonnet for it that she
had long promised it.
Mrs. Fritz, honest woman, was a little surprised at fine
Miss Carter caring to be hampered with a baby, but then,
to be sure, Lizette was such a darling, and her namesake too.
The mother's heart easily explained it.
"You'll stop for tea there," she said, and Liza nodded
"Good-bye You have always been very kind to me,"
28 C iruel i'izd/1ess.
were words that forced themselves to the girl's lips, as she
took the child.
Mrs. Fritz stared. Was Liza ill ? Her eyes were large
and serious, her voice was strange and had a tremble in it.
Only the cold 'perhaps. October had come in sharply with
frosts and dank mists. The good little woman went back
cheerfully to her cakes and her oven.
Now for Charing Cross Station," whispered Liza to the
unconscious child. "I'll take a cab once I get beyond
Oxford Street and have dropped you at your aunt's."
It was afternoon. Liza's arms ached with carrying the
heavy child, but she had so much to think of, she hardly
noticed it. Montague was to meet her at Dover; they
would travel together to Paris, and be married next day.
Then all would be right; she must not let her thoughts
wander till then. Montague had hinted at dreadful conse-
quences if she neglected to fulfil his commands to the letter.
He never could mean to give her up. Liza could not bear
that, No, she would do exactly what he told her.
On, on went the girl. Regardless of anything but her
mission, she was making straight for Miss Becker's. When
there, she would ask her to keep her little niece while she
did some shopping, and after that she would drive imme-
diately to the station, banishing all thought of everything
behind, and only seeing Montague and her new life before
The tiniest little cloud of suspicion hovered on her
horizon now, as to what that life might be, but she was
committed to it, and she did not wish to be enlightened
too soon. She loved the man, whom yet she fancied she
did not thoroughly know.
Here was Oxford Street close by; one half her walk was
done. She was crossing the street, when a hansom cab came
hurriedly round a corner; to escape it Liza tried to run, but
Cruel Kinduess. 29
the child was heavy, and she stumbled, catching those very
high-heeled boots Jane had mistrusted on the pavement.
The cab just cleared her, but the girl lost her balance and
fell heavily. When she was picked up it was with a
broken ankle and concussion of the brain.
There was no clue to her residence to be found about
her, not even Mr. Smith's letter. By his orders she had
burnt that after learning off his directions, so she was
carried unconscious to the nearest hospital, while the baby
was taken to the workhouse.
"YOUNG woman with broken ankle and injury to head.
Lawson Ward, No. 5. Yes, she is quite herself now; can
identify any one, or give evidence. Won't tell her own
address, though. What is it ? Case of the long firm, do
you say ? Swindling to a large extent,-is she concerned, do
you suppose ? Can't move her, you know, for six weeks."
So spoke the scarcely curious young house-surgeon of the
Western Free Hospital to the official who interrogated him
two days after Liza's accident.
The poor girl had unwittingly betrayed a criminal to
justice by her wild ravings on her bed of pain. Mr. Smith's
directions, so faithfully learned, had been repeated in frantic
accents all night long in that hospital ward, and had led to
inquiry on a subject which had for some time been baffling
the intelligence of the London detectives. Burglaries to a
considerable extent had been perpetrated by an individual
who went by many names, and who must have accumulated
considerable booty in London or the neighbourhood. So
wily, however, had he been, and so carefully were all his
30 CIruel Kindness.
designs laid, that as yet he had escaped detection, and his
hiding-place was undiscovered. Now from bed No. 5, Law-
son Ward, Western Free Hospital, had issued the shrill,
girlish voice that was to bring him to justice.
Yes, it was Mr. Montague Smith, alias Jones, Evans,
Brown, Miller, &c., &c., &c., who was wanted, and whose
present address was clearly indicated.
Poor innocent Liza For innocent in this matter she
verily was, knowing nothing of her bridegroom's misdeeds,
knowing even less now how widely she was proclaiming
them. The blow fell on her when she recovered conscious-
ness with fearful violence. At first she laughed at the
detectives who interrogated her. Oh, yes they had made a
mistake; it was not her Mr. Smith they wanted. But, by
and by, when they had brought her 1Ir. Smith to her bed-
side, and she saw the white, hunted look on his face, and
noted his utter silence, she suddenly changed countenance,
and burst into bitter weeping. The ground was cut from
under her feet; she was in another world, a world of mist
and blackness and unutterable misery.
She would die; there was nothing for it but that. She
refused food, she tried to die, but they would not let her.
Doctors, nurses, detectives refused to open the gate of the
grave to her. She still would give no address, but in a case
of this description nothing can be kept secret, and her mother
was very shortly by her bedside, followed soon by Jane and
Miss Trennion. Of all those three, strange to say, Liza
turned to Miss Trennion.
You'll tell me the truth-you'll tell me all. They won't
let me die, and I can't live unless I know."
My poor child," said the kind lady, inexpressibly
touched by the pleading voice, the wild blue eyes, and
the haggard face, "you shall be told all. You have a right
to know it."
C-ruel kindness. 31
And then, bitter as the hearing was, Liza listened to the
terrible recital of her betrothed's crimes.
For months, nay, years, he had carried on a successful
system of robbery, sometimes obtaining valuable goods by
fraud, but usually breaking into empty houses and robbing
them during the absence of the proprietors at the seaside or
on the Continent. Stores of costly articles had been found
in his so-called warehouse in town, at the Laurels, and at a
third house in Blackheath.
In connection with this last place came Liza's worst stab.
A few days after the disclosure of the fearful secret, a young
woman, handsomely dressed but in great agitation, leading a
little child by the hand, asked to see "Miss Carter." Liza's
was a special case, and she was permitted to receive visitors.
This one refused to give her name, but began, evidently in
great distress, to question the sick girl.
"You did not marry him-Mr. Smith ? she stammered,
her lips almost refusing to form the words.
Liza shook her head. "It was to have been next day--he
was fond of me," she said pleadingly.
Her spirit was greatly humbled by trouble.
"Thank God for that," returned her visitor. Girl, I
think you were innocent, but he, my husband, all the same
would have sacrificed you. I am his lawful wife," she added,
drawing herself up to her full height, and clasping the little
child's hand closer in hers.
"And is that his child ?" asked Liza, feeling almost turned
to stone. Oh, yes! you need not answer; it has his eyes."
And then something touched the two poor women, both
deceived, and they wept convulsively side by side, the pretty
boy looking wonderingly at either.
Yes, this was his neglected wife-to her he had also told
the oft-repeated tale of business calling him from home, and
she had been equally ignorant of the means by which he got
3 2 Cruel Kindness.
his wealth, and his connection with Adeliza Carter. The
poor woman had occupied the Blackheath dwelling in com-
fort and peace until now. Mr. Montague Smith had indeed
been a clever scoundrel. But he had wrecked two women's
lives, and his sin had found him out at last. It is needless
to chronicle his further career; it is only with Liza we have
to do. She, poor child, was reaping now the fruits of the
foolish indulgence shown her through life by her over-fond
When she recovered from her accident, she had to go
through many trying scenes as a witness against the so-
called Mr. Montague Smith; that, and the shock to her
system from her double injury, so affected her health that
she continued a partial invalid all winter. Kind friends
managed to get her into a seaside hospital after a while,
but a settled melancholy clouded the poor girl's mind. She
might entirely recover if wisely treated, the doctors opined,
particularly if removed from the neighbourhood where she
had suffered so much, and with this view Mrs. Carter brought
her back to Pingleigh, a little cottage having been offered
to her there, rent free, by the vicar's kindness.
Jane helps to support sister and mother, grudging none
of those savings which were meant to have gone towards
her own modest castle in the air. She has her reward by
the almost piteous dependence on her of her once lively
sister, and the loving gaze of the sad eyes following her
wherever she goes. It begins to dawn on Mrs. Carter that
'had she been wise as well as indulgent towards this cherished
daughter, she might never have seen this blight fall on her
young life. There is, you see, such a thing as cruel kind-
1 ., --
... WT .. :
*E-I r IG T O I. I '
THE WATERGATE OF ALGIERS.
WATER-GATE OF ALGIERS.
c" OOD morning !-how do you do ?-if you please
thank you buy two little boxes of
matches ? "
The last question was asked coaxingly by a
sweet childish voice; and small bronze fingers, stained of a
bright orange colour at the tips with henna juice, pressed
two boxes of wax tapers into my hand.
There was no resisting the appeal, for, though a sober
bachelor, I am as fond of children as any old grandfather
in England; and the little ones-God bless them !-seem to
know this by a kind of instinct. I had been spending the
summer in Germany, and as I sauntered now through the
streets of Algiers, my heart was full of all the little golden-
haired Gretchens and Trilchens whom I had left far behind
when ordered by my doctor to fly with the swallows to
North Africa. I had only landed the preceding evening,
and as yet had found no pets among the dusky though
beautiful Arab children who would be my neighbours for
the next six months.
The little man who now accosted me seemed about 'eight
years old; and I was struck by the beaming intelligence
of his dark eyes, which were the softest and most lustrous
that I had ever seen.
"What is your name, my boy ? I asked, stooping down
2 The Water-Gate of Algiers.
to caress the shapely head, which scarcely rose above my
knee. I naturally spoke in English, but soon found my
new friend's knowledge of our language was confined to the
few sentences which he had strung together to attract my
Here was a perplexity, for I could not speak Arabic, nor
was I skilful in the use of signs, though the small match-
seller stood watching my every gesture as though he were
quick enough to read my meaning, however imperfectly ex-
pressed. Suddenly it flashed over me that the child might
understand French; for since the conquest of Algeria by
that nation, this tongue has become familiar in the colony,
especially to dwellers on the coast and in the larger cities.
This hope proved well founded, for the boy was too intelli-
gent not to have profited by his continual intercourse with
the French settlers. Many of these had been very kind to
him, especially a fisherman from Marseilles, who had crossed
some years since to the African coast, and who now meant
to end his days there, as he found both food and work
more plentiful than on his native shore.
My companion and I were equally pleased at being able
to exchange ideas, and soon we felt like old friends as we
wandered through the scenes that lie had known from baby-
hood, but which were full of novelty to me. When asked
his name in French; he answered Hadad," and told me he
had lost all his family in the terrible famine three years
before. Both of his parents had died from starvation, and
all the children except himself had perished in the fever
which had followed close upon the scarcity of food. He,
being stronger than the rest, had struggled through that
dreadful period, until rain fell and kept away the locusts,
and bread grew again out of the earth."
It was a piteous tale, rendered doubly pathetic by the
careless and light-hearted tone of the narrator. I thought
The Water-Gale of Algiers. 3
as I listened that God's little children seem in a way like
His sunbeams, shining in the darkest places of the earth,
undimmed by the sorrows which they behold.
"Have you always food enough now, Hadad ?" I in-
quired as we turned into the fishmarket, where many strange
creatures, which I had never -seen before, were piled in
baskets, that glistened and shone as though they had been
filled with jewels.
Ah, yes he replied contentedly; only sometimes I
can buy very few dates when nobody wants my matches."
Do you never work in other ways ? I asked, knowing
from my experience of London boys how uncertain is such
a source of livelihood.
Sometimes I do errands for the women in the market,
and they give me some figs or a slice of melon, or a fish,
which old Abou Hassan helps me to fry for our supper."
And where do you sleep ?" was my next question,
"here in the French town, or yonder in the old white
Moorish city on the hill ? "
"I sleep in the great mosque beside the palm-trees," was
the unexpected answer. "Abou Hassan lets me share his
mat, and we lie down together near the fountain after we
have washed and said our prayers."
Is not that rather cold in winter even here ? I asked,
while my rheumatic frame shivered at the thought of a
couch among the fan palms and pomegranates which edged
the clear fountain in the stately marble mosque.
Yes; but then Hassan wraps his woollen bernous round
us both; besides, it is so cool on summer nights," added my
brave little philosopher.
And how does Hassan earn his bread ?" I asked, grow-
ing much interested in the old man who seemed so gentle
"Hassan used to be a camel-driver, but now he can only
4 The Water- Gate of Algiers.
beg. Two years ago, when he was in the desert, the hot
sand got into his eyes, and there was no water to wash it
out, for he and his friends needed every drop to drink.
When he came back here he could not see plainly, and now
he is almost blind; so he has sold his camel, and lives on
the money which he gets from strangers."
I was touched by this simple -history, and glad to find,
even in Africa, among poor Moslems, who have never been
taught Christ's law of love, the same spirit of mutual help
and sympathy which I had so often remarked among the
destitute in England.
The sun now began to be so powerful that I was obliged
to return to my hotel, so I took leave of Hadad after having
bought several more boxes of his matches. I was interested
in the energetic little fellow, and I asked myself what I
could do to help him. This was clearly no case for alms-
giving-work was what he needed, and I thought the best
beginning would be to engage him as a guide for the next
morning. He was much pleased to accept my offer, and
he promised to be awaiting me at seven o'clock in the fish-
market, as I wished to choose a point for sketching that
picturesque scene when I could find more leisure.
I sat down to breakfast in good spirits, for already a
warm human tie made this strange country feel like home.
My walk had given me no appetite, however, owing to the
oppressive heat, which rendered the very sight of food dis-
tasteful. I cut a large yellow peach, but found no juicy
pulp inside, only a mass of something dry, which looked
like cotton-wool. Next I tried some choice grapes, of a
delicate lilac tint, but they were not refreshing either,
though very nice in their way, like jam or sugar-plums.
The burning sun had turned their cooling juice into rich
syrup, as the North African climate does not suit these
dainty productions of Spain and Italy. There are excellent
The Water-Gate of Algiers. 5
fruits at Algiers, such as sweet lemons, dates, pomegranates,
and the finest oranges which I had ever seen; but all this I
learned only by degrees, when I grew more familiar with
That first day I was very busy in unpacking my books and
writing to dear friends at home. Then I began to consider
how these months in Africa could be spent to the best
advantage. God has fresh work prepared for us in every
new place to which we are called, and though I could not
yet hope to discover mine, it was at least sure that this
precious gift of time should be improved. Thus thinking,
I drew out my watch, and found it had run down through
my neglect to wind it the previous night. I rang the
bell, and a French servant entered. The time, sir ? he
said, in an obliging tone ; "I will run to the great mosque,
and let you know directly."
How strange it seemed to set one's watch not by a
townhall or cathedral clock, but by an Arab mosque This
trifling circumstance impressed on me the fact that now I
was no longer in a Christian country, but among the fol-
lowers of the false prophet Mahomet, in a land which
upheld the crescent instead of. the cross. I had prayed
every Good Friday since my childhood for them and for
all who were not yet gathered into the fold of the Good
Shepherd, but my interest had been very feeble as compared
with that which was called forth by actually seeing them
and living in their midst.-
During the afternoon I tried to get the sleep which is
so needful for health in warm climates, but the wind, which
swept in gusts through my closed blinds, seemed as
parching as the blast from an oven, and I felt too feverish
even to sit still. I tried to keep my mind quiet, however,
and to interest myself by forming little plans of usefulness.
For one thing, I should take lessons in Arabic, and seek out
6 The Water-Gate of Algiers.
some very poor man to teach me. Even a slight know-
ledge of the language might help one to render little acts of
kindness. Besides, study is a good thing in itself, and the
more we can learn the greater will be our power of useful-
ness. There always is some danger lest the buried talent "
should rust in our keeping, unless we are careful to look at
our opportunities in every change of circumstance. People
who roam abroad, whether in search of work, pleasure, or
health, are more liable to this risk than those who live in
quiet houses amid a settled round of duties.
When a faint sea-breeze sprang up towards five o'clock,
I wandered forth again, but felt too languid for enjoyment.
The Bay of Algiers seemed to me yet finer than that of
Naples, though I missed the islands of the latter, and the
smoking white cone of Vesuvius. I was, however, disap-
pointed in the beauty of the landscape; all nature seemed
to have been either bleached dead white or burned into
the colour of mahogany. No rain had fallen for five
months, and the dust had hardened into a solid mass, which
rendered the colouring of that lovely coast as sombre as the
bays of Scotland.
I had little rest during that night. The wind died away
soon after sunset, and the sultriness increased, until at last,
in the small hours, there seemed scarcely any air to breathe.
Twice I went to the open window, being tempted thither by
the land swell of the sea, which rolled in heavy billows to
the beach, as though a strong gale had arisen. There,
indeed, were the white-crested waves, dashing in angry surf
against the rocks, but not the lightest breeze was stirring.
The ocean seemed agitated from beneath, for all around was
a dead calm. Towards dawn I fell asleep for a couple of
hours, but I was glad when the time came for rising, and
the clock had not struck seven when I entered the market-
place, where Hadad already awaited me.
The Water-Gate of Algiers. 7
Scarcely had I returned his courteous Eastern salutation,
ere a question burst eagerly from my lips.
Hadad, why are the stalls empty this morning, and
what has become of all the fishwomen ? Is this a holiday
among the Arabs ?"
Oh, no! the boats cannot leave the harbour; it would
not be safe to do so, for there may be an earthquake at any
The boy spoke as quietly as though he had predicted
hail or snow. Indeed, I had seen many English people far
more frightened at the prospect of a thunderstorm.
Why do you think that likely?" I inquired with a
sense of uneasiness which seemed to amuse my little friend.
"There is no danger," he said reassuringly, except upon
the sea. The earthquake never does much damage here;
though there are places not far off where it sometimes
destroys whole cities. The strangers may have no fish for
several days," he added, as he glanced round with a prac-
tised eye; the earthquake weather sometimes lasts a week
But how do you know this is earthquake weather, as you
call it? "
Did you not hear the moaning of the sea last night, and
how the waves roared when there was not wind enough to
scatter the ripe figs ?"
"Yes; but now all is peace," I answered, falling naturally
into the Scriptural language of this place, where nearly every
sight and sound helped me to understand some portion of
"The sun's face is hidden," pursued Hadad, "and tk e
heavens are grey, but not with rain-clouds. It is the breath
of the desert which moves the leaves, and soon the ground
will tremble; but that often happens, and only the strangers
8 The Water-Gate of Algiers.
I took courage from IHadad's example, and began to think
an earthquake which caused neither injury nor alarm might
be rather an interesting experience. Such, indeed, it proved;
for there were several slight shocks while I was in Algiers,
and no one paid any regard to them. At such times the
ocean and sky were of the same dull lead colour as on this
morning, while the air felt stifling, and the glittering Arab
city on the hill-top lost its marble purity, and seemed like
some fantastic town carved from a chalk cliff.
Later in the season I had many rambles up and down
those steep staircase-like streets, where tall houses nearly
met overhead, and where the blue sky hung so high above
that one felt as though walking through a well. There
were Arabian sculptures over doorways, and openings into
dim courtyards, each with its clear fountain, around which
grew gorgeous flowers, which we in England never see
except in hothouses. Then overhead were narrow lattices,
such as the one through which Sisera's mother "looked
forth with her ladies." There were also women gliding in
and out among crescent-shaped archways, clothed in a white
garment like a sheet, with gay boots of yellow or red
morocco, while the men wore turbans of such brilliant
colours that they looked like huge bunches of flowers. The
girls, all except the tiny ones, were closely veiled like their
mothers, and the boys were dressed like Hadad, in bright
tints and textures, too thin for anything but a warm climate.
It was all so quaint and curious and foreign, that I never
tired of the old Moorish city, and however often I might
visit it, I always found something fresh to interest me.
One day I went over the barracks of the French soldiers,
which crown the top of the hill. The space where they
now stand was formerly occupied by the palace of the Deys
or rulers of Algiers, who sent forth pirate ships to Spain
and Italy and other Christian lands. These would return
The Water-Gate of Algiers. 9
laden with men, women, and children, whom they sold as
slaves, and many of whom died from the effects of ill-usage
and hard toil under that burning sun. Others, among them
little children, were cruelly put to death because they
would not give up the Christian religion, while yet others
denied their Lord, and thus, at a terrible price, won ease
and wealth among their captors. At last good Christians
in Europe fitted out some vessels which were called the
Ships of Mercy, and raised money enough to ransom some
of their brethren from captivity. I used to pace up and
down the parade-ground, where formerly spread the palace
gardens, and picture the Dey looking out for his pirate
vessels over that blue sea, and the poor prisoners longing
for a glimpse of those snowy sails which would tell them
that God had sent friends to their rescue.
It was too hot for climbing the hill, however, on that
first ramble with Hadad, so we went instead all over the
French town, which was chiefly built in arcades with a
long avenue running beside the sea. At last we turned
into a street which Hadad told me was called the Bab-el-
oned or Water-Gate, because it led to the old portal of
that name, beyond which lay the public gardens, whither
we were bound. The shops, though still built under arches,
were inferior to those in the neighboring street of Bab-el-
zoun or the Gate of the Tun, and I saw at a glance that
we had left the fashionable quarter of the town behind
My walk that day came to a speedy end; for just as we
were passing from the street into the open country, I re-
marked a notice of furnished apartments, and a sudden
impulse led me to inspect them. The landlady proved a
cheery, brisk little French colonist, and the rent of her
comfortable rooms was very moderate. I had intended
to remain at the hotel, but this arrangement would be so
(207) A 2
10 The Water-Gate of Algiers.
much less expensive, that I forthwith secured the accom-
modation, which exactly suited me. The lodgings which I
had engaged were at the top of a rather high house, but,
when reached, they were very pleasant, affording pure air
and overlooking some beautiful gardens, beyond which
rose a graceful minaret, with a feathery palm-tree growing
Before a week elapsed, I began to feel like an old
inhabitant of the picturesque Water-Gate, where my life
soon became as systematic in its daily round of duties as in
England. Very un-English, however, was the outward
setting of that quiet existence. The common sights which
surrounded me were those of Bible-lands, and many were
the Scriptural lessons that I learned merely from watching
all which passed around me. Sometimes on my way to
the English Church I met a train of camels bound for the
Sahara, that great desert, which begins within a few days'
journey from the town. Should all be well, they would
return laden with ripe dates, gathered fresh from the oases;
but, alas! the poor beasts and their ragged owners must
first be exposed to deadly peril. They might all be buried
suddenly under the hot red sandstorm, or perish from
thirst, should anything detain them in the parched waste,
where no drop of water could be found. Fever and
dysentery might sweep them away, or they might die, as
did the Israelites, from the bite of the horned viper, that
most fatal of all enemies to travellers in the Sahara. It is
a snake which lurks amid the burning sands, and, when
aroused, springs to some distance through the air upon its
victim. Learned men declare it to belong to the same
species as the "fiery flying serpent" of which we read in
the Book of Exodus. This dangerous reptile does not
infest the country around Algiers, but in the cactus hedges
and stone walls are numbers of the scorpions so often
The Water-Gate of Algiers. 1
mentioned both in the Old Testament and in the New.
Sometimes they even creep into the houses, and I once
found two on the floor of my bedroom. They were shaped
like tiny lobsters, with a pair of branching horns, and their
long tails were armed with poisonous stings. The sight of
these venomous creatures gave new meaning to the words
in which our Lord promises His disciples that they shall
"tread down serpents and scorpions, and all the power of
At Algiers there are not merely Christians and Moslems,
but also a multitude of Jews; and I went to- see several
of the synagogues which were scattered about among the
mosques and churches. Once a Jew who took the name of
David was baptized after the English service by a missionary
who had been sent out from London. He first spoke the
solemn vows in Hebrew, and then repeated them in French,
as nearly all the congregation understood that language. It
was very interesting to see this lost sheep of the house of
Israel" gathered into the true fold, and we all prayed that,
like St. Andrew, he might be the means of leading numbers
of his brethren to the Messiah.
As time passed on, I formed so many acquaintances that
the hours never seemed half long enough for my varied
engagements. My English friends had feared I should be
solitary in obscure lodgings, but I was seldom alone from
morning until night. I had grown intimate with many
families, and felt my life daily becoming richer and more
blessed from the many other lives with which it was
entwined. Hadad, who at the first came to me daily for
several hours to make himself generally useful, now lived
with me as my little servant, and a very loyal one he
proved. Old Hassan was found lying dead upon his mat
one cold December morning, and his charge would have
been left quite desolate if there had been no friend to
12 The Water- Gate of Algiers.
shelter him. I placed the poor child, with his own con-
sent, under the care of the missionary clergyman, who
understood both French and Arabic, that he might be
taught the way to a better home than any I could offer
him. After a few months of instruction, Hadad was
baptized into the Christian faith, as David the Jew had
been before him, but that was not until long after the
period of which I am now speaking.
When Christmas drew near, I began to make many
calculations as to ways and means, for I was not rich, and
it needed much contrivance to accomplish the pleasant
schemes I had in view. All my poor friends, whether
Christians, or Jews, or Moslems, must be made happy if
possible upon our Saviour's birthday; for did He not come
to the whole human race ? How interesting my account-
book became to me with such an incentive to thriftiness !
I object to economy for its own sake, if it be an aimless
hoarding of shillings and pence, left to rust like the buried
talent." But how its character changes when a loving heart
denies its own pleasure and ease to meet the wants of
Almsgiving assumes sundry forms in different countries,
and instead of the parcels of tea and sugar which are so sure
to be prized in England, I began to purchase a store of fresh
dates to be distributed on Christmas morning. The mouldy,
worm-eaten refuse of the fruit-shops was, alas all that some
of my neighbours could afford to buy, and I knew how their
dark eyes would glisten at sight of the golden clusters which
Hadad was deftly packing into bags or boxes. There were
also native sweetmeats and cakes for the little ones, and,
lastly, a pile of warm garments. Ice and snow are almost
unknown in Algiers, but the air is often very cold, and the
rain falls in torrents. The poor Arabs are easily chilled,'and
I have seen them crouching under doorways, ~With their
The Water-Gate of Algiers. 13
woollen mantles wrapped around them, shivering as though
exposed to an east wind in London. There were blind, sick,
and lame among them, and, with Hadad's help, I learned
many pathetic histories. One remained a sealed book to me,
however, a deep mystery which could not be solved.. I
never obtained any clue to it from the first hour of my
meeting with its object until her untimely end.
Seated within the Water-Gate itself, in the wide, vaulted
space where judges might have gathered as in ancient Israel,
was an Arab woman whose mien told of past and present
suffering. Her face was, of course, veiled, all excepting
the forehead and the sunken eyes, which listlessly followed
the stream of traffic that surged through the portal between
dawn and dusk. Sometimes I stood beside her for awhile,
entranced like a child with a magic-lantern by the vivid,
ever-shifting picture. There were oxen, sheep, camels, and
asses, with their drivers in quaint Eastern garb, some of the
Bedouins from the desert being clad in a garment of brilliant
patchwork, which is thought to be the same as Joseph's
" coat of many colours." There were also Moorish maidens
with bracelets and necklaces of golden coins, and Jewesses
with graceful headgear and black velvet boddices, and
many more varieties of human beings than I can describe.
Every day some new sight met my delighted gaze, but they
must all have been far too familiar to divert the thoughts
of my companion.
Hadad informed me that she was called Zeba, but he
added that her real name was not known, nor whence she
came, as she only appeared in Algiers the year after he was
born. One morning she was found sitting at sunrise in the
Water-Gate, which she had haunted ever since, and there was
only one fact clear respecting her, namely, that she was deaf
and dumb. I soon learned, however, that she had a grateful
soul and a clinging love for my little servant, who had often
14 The Water- Gate of Algiers.
shared his meal with her when she was nearly starving.
When we first met I gave her a small silver coin, and she
thanked me in Eastern fashion by pressing it on her heart
and forehead. At last she began to welcome me as warmly
as she did the child, and, while supplying a few of her wants,
I pondered how I could relieve her more effectually.
"Do you know where Zeba lives, Hadad ? I once asked
when the night-chill was gathering around the frail being,
who should long since have been sheltered in some house-
Oh, yes !" and the boy mentioned a low, crowded street,
which I fancied must be a fever-nest, because it was so
full of the unhealthy odours common to Eastern and
Might we not visit her, and see if there is anything
that can be done to make her home more comfortable ?"
The boy shook his head.
She will not let even me go to see her. Arab women
do not receive men or boys, and Zeba will not admit any
Have you no idea to what place she belongs ?"
"The neighbours say that she came here dressed like the
wife or daughter of some mountain chief. She had a few
jewels, which she was forced to sell, and she seemed shy
and timid in the streets, as though she were not used to
wandering about alone."
As Hadad spoke I could quite picture Zeba's life as that
of a young Eastern lady in her father's home. It had been
the most private portion of a house enclosed within high
walls, with its own separate gardens, courtyard, and cool
fountain, for the sole use of the women. I had seen many
such dwellings in and around Algiers, and could imagine
the helplessness of their inmates if thrown unprotected
on the world. Why was poor Zeba thus forsaken by her
The Water-Gate of Algiers. 15
kin ? Had she been banished from their midst or had she
left them to escape some tragic fate ? Such were the silent
questioning to which I never obtained any answer.
The months glided rapidly, and I trust not quite fruit-
lessly away, till I began to count the rambles which might
yet be taken in search of the lovely wild flowers, that
seemed doubly interesting because I knew they were like-
wise natives of Palestine. How varied were the transfor-
mations which Nature had undergone during my sojourn !
I had first seen the "dry wilderness begin to "blossom as
the rose under the gentle influence of the latter rains,"
that with magical swiftness had robed the bleached wilds
and plains with verdure delicate and tender as in April.
Next had come the rich autumn, when both sea and sky
seemed dark from their intensity of blue, and then followed
successively the winter storms, the beauteous spring, the
radiant early summer of these latitudes. Now all alike
were past. The very moon began to rain down heat,
" burning by night as the sun did by day, and the scorch-
ing breath of the desert was abroad over the thirsty lands.
Duties and friends alike awaited me -in England, yet each
hour bound me more closely to the bright African scenes
which I might never more behold. There were hard sepa-
rations, too, in prospect, and the loss of Hadad, who had
become part of my life. Gladly would I have taken him
entirely into my service, had not far higher advantages been
offered to the boy. The clergyman who had baptized him
undertook the charge of Hadad, promising to give him such
a training as should fit him to promote God's glory among
his own people. There could be no question as to what was
right, and I yielded my prior claims with a keen pang.
Another from whom it was difficult to part was Zeba.
To her I could only convey the idea of farewell by larger
gifts than usual and by pointing across the shining sea.
16 The Waler-Gate of Algiers.
At first she did not seem to understand, but probably the
meaning of my gestures dawned upon her when she was
Two days later I saw her waiting beside the pier at
which passengers embarked in small boats to reach the
steamer, which was anchored at some distance in the bay.
Hadad was to accompany me on board the vessel, and accord-
ingly sprang with light steps into the little bark. Thinking
the boy meant also to desert her, Zeba seized his hand
and held it tightly, even after the oarsmen had pushed from
the shore. In vain I signalled to the men to pause, intending
she should make the trip with Hadad, and return to land
under his care. It was too late; the frail creature had lost her
balance and had fallen into the deep water, where I knew that
sharks were often to be found. My head swam and a mist
floated before my eyes, but already two active sailors had
sprung overboard, and laid the dripping form down at my
feet. I bent over her with pity, but with small uneasiness,
for the weather was warm and she had not been long under
the waves. My second glance, however, showed a deep
wound in the temple, which must have struck against
some stone in falling, and I knew that she would never
Did this event shed a gloom over my departure, or was
it the lifting of a burden from the faithless heart which had
distrusted the love that had made, redeemed, and would
assuredly never forsake her ? Little Hadad in his innocent
simplicity first put my mingled feelings into words: We
weep that her place knows her no more, but the good God
has come for her Himself, because she did not know the
way to Him."
These were almost the last words ever spoken to me by
the child; for owing to our long delay, the steamer was
already about to weigh anchor, and he could not even come
The Water- Gate of Algiers. 17
on board with me. A fortnight later found me restored to
the English homestead, where improving health has ever
since allowed me to remain. No other place can vie with
it in my affection, yet it is sweet to have ties of love with
distant countries, and a letter very often comes to me from
Hadad, telling how it fares with my old neighbours in the
Water-Gate of Algiers.
COTTAGERS OF PENNMAEN-MAUR.
light all our life such vigil be,
And Christmas morn eternity !"
-REV. A. GURNEY.
HE brightness of a wintry sunset was merging in
the soft gloom of twilight. Hardly a breath of
Swind disturbed the pendant icicles which drooped
From the branches of the leafless trees. The
evening star shone forth in her serene, pale beauty, reflected
in the clear waters of the frozen stream, and glimmering
amid the wreaths of drifted snow which wrapped the surface
of the earth as in a robe of dazzling purity. All breathed
of peace, and holiness, and calm. It was a fitting season
for the return of Christmas-that festival of which the very
name suggests high thoughts of joy unspeakable, yet fraught
with a mysterious power.
Within a solitary mountain shieling, Which nestled close
beneath the loftiest peak of Pennmaen-Maur, the influence
of this hallowed joy pervaded every member of the humble
household. The aged grandmother, in holiday attire, fault-
lessly neat, with clear-starched muslin cap and snowy frill,
had laid aside her knitting, and was cosily ensconced in a
snug corner of one of the wooden settles, which stood on
either side of the well-swept hearth, whereon a fire of peat
was blazing with a ruddy glow. Two little maids, ten and
twelve years old, stood near her, and directly opposite this
Cottagers of Pennnmaen--Maur. 19
group were seated the father and mother of the family, the
latter of whom, a gentle, kindly matron, was holding a lovely
infant on her knee.
Are we all here ? inquired Hugh Williams, as he stirred
"Yes, all but Owen," replied his wife, "and I expect
him every minute. I have sent him down to neighbour
Jones' with a plate of aberfraws as a Christmas present for
"It is bitterly cold, although there is no wind," rejoined
the father; "but Owen is as hardy as a snowdrop, though
he looks so white."
At that moment there came a tapping at the outer door,
and rightly supposing it to be her brother, the eldest of the
children, Gwen, at once hastened to admit him. He was a
slender, fragile boy of six, with large, lustrous eyes, and a
face usually colourless as marble, but just then mantled
with a crimson flush, the bloom of healthful exercise and
Oh, I love Christmas better than any other time of the
whole year, grandmother," he exclaimed, as he doffed his
heavy wrappers, and threw himself upon the floor at Dame
Williams' feet, burying his sunny curls in the folds of her
coarse but clean dark woollen gown.
"Were Bessie and Helen pleased with their aberfraws ?"
inquired Owen's mother, upon finding that, contrary to his
usual habit, her little boy made no allusion to his favourite
"Yes, and they sent you many thanks," he answered;
"but now, grandmother, for the tale you promised us. I
was so afraid of being late that I hardly stopped at neigh-
bour Jones' for a moment."
"I was only waiting to begin till you came back, my child;
but the story is not new to any of you. You have all
20 CoffGtagers of Pennmaen-MAlur.
heard about the Holy Babe of Bethlehem on every Christ-
mas Eve since you can remember, and very often also in
the church at other times."
But it does not seem so real on common days," said
little Joan, "and besides, we never tire of listening to you;
so please begin, dear grandmother, and we will pay attention
to every word you say."
The good old woman readily consented, and while un-
broken silence reigned throughout the circle of her auditors,
she commenced, in the plaintive and wildly musical lan-
guage of the country, that wonderful narration which has
rejoiced the hearts of all simple-minded, humble Christians
during the long lapse of many centuries.
The family Bible, with its massive silver clasps, the only
article of value the hut contained, was lying beside a Prayer-
Book on a painted chest which occupied one corner of the
room; but Dame Williams did not need its aid, for her
memory was richly stored with its precious lore. The little
band around her listened with if.:..ri ;l- t.: reverence, while
she repeated, word for word, those chapters of the Gospel
which "relate to the nativity of Christ; and when she had
concluded, they still lingered to converse upon the sacred
"It must have been glorious to see the angels and to
hear their song," said Joan. Gwen thinks it was even
sweeter than the hymns they sing in church on Christmas
"It was to shepherds, watching their flocks by night, that
the heavenly hosts appeared," observed Owen suddenly, in
a tone of thrilling earnestness.
"And what then, my boy ?" demanded Hugh, who
was struck by the singularity of the child's manner and
"I am a little shepherd, father. You know that I have
Collttagers of Pennmaen-Maiaur. 21
often gone with Gwen to tend the sheep and lambs upon
the mountain-side. Perhaps if we were there to-night, we
too might see shining spirits in the air."
But the sheep are safe within their fold," replied the
father, as he cradled his treasure in his arms; and my
little lambs will stay here in their warm home, instead of
roaming over the snow in a December night."
"The angels are not visible to us, as they were to the
watchers on the Judean hills," pursued the old grand-
mother ; "but though no human eye can see them, they are
ever near to guard us in the hours of sleep or danger, and
if we continue in our Saviour's love, we also shall be
glorified and happy spirits when we die."
A deeper shade of thought passed over the features of
the little boy, but he did not answer, and soon sliding from
his father's knee, he left the room.
Where do you think he can have gone ? demanded
little Joan of her elder sister.
"Oh, to watch the stars, I dare say," answered Gwen.
"You know he would stand looking up at them and
dreaming about spirits all night long if we would let him.
Last Sunday afternoon, when we had heard a sermon on
guardian angels, he told me he had prayed that God would
let him be one very soon."
It was a child's thought. Men cannot be angels. Hugh
Williams rose from his seat.
Is it not nearly supper time, good wife ? he asked.
No, not exactly," replied Norah, laughing. You forget
that we are expecting Guylelm and Mary Hoel from Penn-
maen-Bach; and I do not think they will be here for the
next half hour at least."
Before he had time to answer her remark, a sound of
voices was heard outside the door, and the guests of whom
they had been speaking entered. They had come earlier
22 Cottagers of Pennmaen-Mfazir.
than they intended, Guylelm said, because they wished to
spend a nice long evening with their friends, and they must
have merry games to please the little ones; but his wife
was rather feeble, and she could not be out late at night.
"We will have our supper to begin with," said the
hospitable Norah, for you must require it after your bleak
walk and then we can amuse ourselves in any way we like."
It was quite a grand repast that had been provided in
honour of the welcome night; for in addition to the oatmeal
cakes and the large earthen bowls of buttermilk, there was
a small supply of tea, a luxury unknown to this simple but
contented family, except in illness or on such occasions as
the present. A loaf of coarse-grained wheaten bread, con-
taining a sprinkling of caraway seed, as is common among
the peasantry of Wales, was likewise placed upon the table,
together with a dish of aberfraws, a thin, fan-shaped cake,
somewhat resembling a jumbal, only much lighter, and
more delicate. This last-named dainty was the crown of
the entertainment to the little ones, and had been prepared
for them as an especial treat by their indulgent mother.
"Joan, dear, will you call your brother ?" said Hugh,
when they were all gathered around the supper board.
The child left the room in obedience to his request, and
after an absence of ten minutes returned to say that Owen
could not be found. She had gone into the dairy and the
sleeping-rooms, and out into the garden, but could see no
trace of him whatever.
It is as still as summer," remarked neighbour Guylelm;
"I will just step outside and call aloud; the little truant
will come running to me fast enough, I doubt not."
He rose as he spoke. Hugh Williams followed, and the
two men, raising their strong voices to the highest pitch,
called long and repeatedly upon the boy, but without receiv-
ing a reply.
Colagers of Peznnmaen- Maur. 23
It is growing too late and chilly for him to be abroad,"
said Norah, as she stood beside her husband at the entrance
of the hut.
"Let us go a few steps down the path," suggested
Guylelm; "perhaps he may have wandered towards the
Or to the pasture," interrupted Hugh. I know his
mind was full of the angels of Bethlehem to-night. But
Norah will tell you all about it, for I cannot stay." And
without waiting to explain his movements, Williams hurriedly
Guylelm Hoe], who perceived his friend's uneasiness,
hastened to join him and offer his assistance, while Dame
Williams related to her guest the conversation which had
taken place that evening. When she had concluded, Norah,
making a great effort to restrain her feelings, once more took
up her station at the table, and begged that they would all
resume their meal. It would not be very long, she hoped,
before Guylelm and her husband returned with the little
wanderer; so she would set the teapot on the hxarth, in order
that there might be something to refresh them when they
Despite their attempts at gaiety, however, the spirits of
the party languished. All eyes were fixed eagerly upon the
door, and every ear was strained to catch the first sound of
approaching footsteps. In about two hours the men re-
entered, unaccompanied by Owen, and it was then impos-
sible for any to deny that there was cause for the most
serious alarm. They had gone some distance up the moun-
tain, and had also thoroughly explored every nook and corner
of the village, but without success. No one had heard or
seen anything of the little boy since dusk; but already more
than a dozen of the neighbours were searching among the
rocks and glens, and the moment any sign of him should be
24 Cottagers of Peznumaenl-Malr.
discovered, intelligence was to be forthwith dispatched to the
I will go with you," said Norah calmly, but in a tone
of resolution, as the men again prepared to leave the hut.
"Think of our mother, dearest," whispered Hugh, and he
pointed to the settle where his aged parent was reclining
with a face of ashy paleness and hands tightly clasped.
"Do not refuse her, my son," said the old woman, who
had overheard his words, for I have faith that a mother's
instinct will guide her to her child."
God grant that our sweet innocent be soon restored to
us," said Norah, as after, with impassioned earnestness, em-
bracing each one of her remaining treasures, she quitted
the shieling in company with her husband and their kindly
When little Owen left the cottage, it was, as his elder sister
had imagined, merely from a wish to contemplate the myriads
of stars which came forth slowly one by one to glitter in
the dark blue firmament. A low stone wall surrounded the
enclosure of the hut, and there the boy had taken his seat,
to gaze with wistful earnestness upon the fair calm beauty
of the moon-lit earth, and at the spangled arch which
stretched above in its illimitable vastness. Strange musings
possessed that childish soul, and a sense of awe mingled
with rapturous devotion swelled his bosom, filling his mind
with sweet and tender images, visions of the infant Saviour
in His manger cradle-of the adoring shepherds on the mid-
night plain-and of the marvellous revelation which then
dawned upon their view. The young child felt a yearning
desire to press onward, as the worshippers of old, to the
lowly birthplace of his Saviour-King. The monarchs of the
"jewelled East" had brought rich gifts -of yore to the Re-
deemer's feet; but, haply, all their costly offerings were not
Cottagers of Pennmaen-Maur. 25
more precious in His sight than was the incense of grateful
praise which then ascended from the altar of that youthful
Owen raised his head. One single radiant planet, larger
than all the other orbs of heaven, and beaming with a milder
and more chastened lustre, arrested his attention. Perhaps
it was the Star of Bethlehem, he thought. Oh, if he might
but follow where it seemed to lead He watched until the
silvery messenger appeared to hang just over the loftiest
summit of the mountain, and then, without a moment's pause,
heedless alike of friends and danger, the child followed the
star's lucid flight.
It was intensely cold. The very air seemed frozen, and
not a voice of living thing broke in upon the deathlike still-
ness. But Owen's brain was fevered, although his parents
knew it not; and even the icy blast which greeted him
when he began to tread the upland height felt like the
warm breath of the southern gale as it fanned his burning
brow. The way was steep and slippery. One might have
fancied it quite inaccessible indeed to aught save the spring-
ing step of the wild goat; for towards the last the narrow
footpath wound in and out amid huge rocks and boulders,
intermingled with loose rolling stones, all gay in summer
with the blended petals of the dark purple heather and the
golden gorse, but now covered with untrodden snow and
blocks of thick-ribbed bluish ice.
About midway up the mountain-side there was a sheltered
hollow, smiling in spring-time with soft emerald turf; and
here, when the bleak winter had departed, Owen and his
favourite sister would often pass long sunny days, guarding
the flock on which their parents chiefly depended for support.
Then, when in sportive mirth he had pressed onward to
gain the topmost peak, he trembled lest a careless step
should plunge him down some fathomless abyss; but now
26 Cottagers of Pennzmaen-MAaur.
he seemed totally devoid of fear, and bounding like a fawn
from point to point, he soon left the snowy pasturage behind,
and stood at length upon the elevated tableland which forms
the summit of the mighty Pennmaen-Maur.
It was a glorious scene on that fair, cloudless night. On
one hand rose the far-extending mountain-chains, all clad
in purest white, and on the other stretched the boundless
sea, whose crested billows dashed against the base of the
bold, rocky promontory on which Owen stood, full fifteen
hundred feet above its level.
With his gaze still riveted upon the starry sky, Owen
nestled close within the shadow of the hoary rock. Moment
after moment rolled away until the solemn midnight settled
in majestic grandeur upon the slumbering earth, ushering in
the glorious hour of Christ's nativity. And now a gentle
languor, a sense of calm, unutterable repose, stole over the
slight frame of the infant watcher;-the air seemed filled
with radiant beings, while low, sweet strains of angel melody
floated in soft cadence on the breeze. Involuntarily the
boy closed his eyes, and soon the small hand became stiff
and cold; the bright head drooped heavily, and the spirit of
that little Christian child had taken its flight to join the
blessed Christmas throng in the mansions of the redeemed
The bells of the village church of Pennmaen-Maur were
pealing forth their joyous matin chimes. Pale roseate hues
flushed the cloud-cleaving surface of each snowy peak, while
the whole earth sparkled as though sown with diamonds,
and the purple east was glowing in its re-awakened beauty.
Alas the brightness of that hallowed morning dawned upon
sorrow-stricken though unmurmuring hearts.
"He will not come again," said the old grandmother, in
Cottagers of Pennimaen-Maur. 27
a voice of tearless calm, when each new messenger arrived
bearing tidings of the utter failure of his mission; "God
listens to the prayers of such as he, and the babe has, I
doubt not, been ere this removed into a world of innocence
The mother felt the same within her heart, but she shrank
from admitting the painful truth, even in her own most
secret thoughts. Exhaustion had long since compelled her
to remain inactive, and Norah sat before a blazing fire,
surrounded by everything which could be needful for any
emergency that might occur. The prevailing idea was that
the little boy had fallen from some precipice, and a new
band was organised, with instructions to explore all the
dark gorges and the deep lonely dells among the rocks, that
so, if life had indeed departed, they might, at all events,
recover the frail corpse.
It is useless to go farther up the mountain," exclaimed
the worthy rector, Mr. Alwyn, as he quitted the desolated
cottage. "We have been as far as it is practicable in this
direction, my good friend," repeated Mr. Alwyn, speaking
very gently, yet in a decided tone, upon finding that his
parishioner still hastened onward, apparently unconscious of
the words which were addressed to him.
"It is impossible for any living thing, except a goat or
mountain sheep to. scale that dizzy height," said the young
clergyman, as they stood at the base of the lofty jagged
peak which frowned above them.
Do you see that ?" demanded the father quickly, and
he pointed to a shelving hollow filled with snow, which,
being softer than the frozen masses that blocked up the
pathway, retained the distinct impression of a tiny foot-
Mr. Alwyn gazed with a feeling of bewilderment, while
his more hardy comrade dashed past him with fierce reckless
28 Cottagers of Pennmaen-Malur.
haste, ever mounting higher on that giddy path, until even
the dim outline of his figure was quite lost to view. Then
ensued a breathless pause, broken by a loud cry of anguish,
and, unmindful of aught save the desire to comfort, the
young rector followed in the track, to him, so full of danger.
It was some time before his progress was at all perceptible,
for the way was steep, and the treacherous stones, encased
in ice, seemed scarcely able to support his weight. By slow
degrees, however, now springing over some obstructing rock,
now clinging to a rugged boulder, he advanced, and, faint
from the unwonted toil, he gained at last the highest point
It was a melancholy but most touching sight which met
his eyes. Hugh Williams was kneeling upon the snowy
ground holding the form of the little slumberer strained
closely to his bosom. Alas! not even the warmth of that
beating heart could restore animation to the senseless clay.
Mr. Alwyn possessed some skill in surgery, so tenderly.
raising the dead child from his parent's arms, he applied
every means which his experience could suggest to bring
back the vital current; but it soon became too clearly
evident, even to the unpractised eye of Hugh, that their
united efforts were of no avail. It was a bitter trial to the
cottager to be thus bereft of his darling and his only son;
but the calm beauty of the cherub face checked, as with a
magic spell, the sighs of dark despair. It seemed impossible
to sorrow "as those who have no hope," there in the presence
of the loving angel messenger who had summoned little
Owen to his happy home.
His will indeed be a thrice-blessed Christmas," whispered
Mr. Alwyn in a soothing voice. "Let us try to think of
that, my friend, and still all selfish longings and regrets; for
very soon we trust that, through God's grace, we shall once
more behold this precious child, who has but gone a little
Cottagers of Pennmaen-Ma~ r. 29
while before us, soon to enter upon his glorious and eternal
A gush of tears relieved the father's overburdened soul.
"Come with me to Norah," he exclaimed in an imploring
tone. And with a silent pressure of the hand the young
clergyman followed his parishioner from the mountain's brow.
The Christmas octave had not yet run its course when a
band of mourners might be seen winding slowly down the
rugged side of Pennmaen-Maur. They all belonged to the
humbler class of the community, and in truth it was a thrill-
ing scene which they were met to witness: the obsequies of
an immortal being, his dust about to be consigned to earth,
"in the sure and certain hope of a joyful resurrection."
The base of the mountain was soon reached, and, guided
by the deep and measured tolling of the bell, the crowd
advanced onward in the direction of the church. It was
beautifully situated in the midst of its own sweet church-
yard, which spread over the entire surface of an extended
sloping hillock. Range upon range of mountains might be
thence discerned, the whole panoramic landscape bounded
by the far-off peaks of the Snowdon chain, which gleamed
with an azure hue in the transparent atmosphere.
The church itself was small, but everything around bore
testimony to the spirit of earnestness and loving reverence
which ever guarded and preserved inviolate the sanctity of
How dear to all then seemed the soothing prayers in
which they had been wont to join when no cloud obscured
the sunshine of their days! How sweet the holy strains of
song, the hymns and anthems, all chanted in the native
tongue, while the organ poured its tide of harmony in
"softly ebbing murmurs through the consecrated temple !
After the service there was a momentary hush, and then
30 Cotlagers of Penmmaen-MJIaur.
the mourners once more assembled by the chancel, and the
train wound its way out into the open air. A sunny nook
on the south side had been selected, and while proceeding
along the narrow path, Mr. Alwyn commenced the funeral
rites by reading as usual the appointed words, "I am the
Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in me, though
he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and
believeth in me shall never die." There was not one there
present who did not, even in the midst of sorrow, feel con-
scious of a thrill of triumph, and breathe from his soul's
depth a fervent prayer that he also might continue faithful
to the end, that so living and dying in the full communion
of Christ's Holy Church, he might be a partaker of those
unfailing joys which are prepared for all who love Him in
sincerity and truth.
A solitary English wanderer had been attracted by the
tolling bell to this lone mountain sanctuary. Unseen he
had knelt behind a pillar in a remote corner of the church,
and when the procession formed to leave its walls, he too
had followed at a distance, and, still unobserved, had
mingled with the throng which crowded around the open
grave. A Prayer-Book, the pledge of unity, was in the
stranger's hand, while his attire clearly denoted him to be
His tears flowed freely when the service closed and the
voices of the young children were uplifted in a solemn
chant. The air (although not the words) was familiar to
the listener's ears-nay, more, to his inmost heart; for but
a few short weeks had passed away since a beloved child-
his only one-had been cradled in the green churchyard of
an English valley to the music of that strain.
Mr. Seaton--for that was the traveller's name-joined
in the words of the well-known dirge. The Southern
accents, blending sweetly with the wild Welsh tones,
Cottagers of Pennmaen-Maur. 31
betrayed his presence, and many eyes were turned towards
him with unfeigned interest, for in that hour the strong
bond of a common brotherhood was fondly owned.
When the last notes of the chant were ended, the
stranger walked rapidly away, as though unwilling to be
seen or questioned; but when all, even the relatives of the
deceased, had left the churchyard, he returned and stood
beside the grave, to indulge in solitude the tender musings
awakened by the scene in which he had so lately borne a part.
A wide-spreading yew tree overshadowed little Owen's
tomb, but there were fewer plants near that and the
surrounding graves than would have been the case in
England. The stranger appeared struck by the omission;
so gathering a branch of evergreen, he framed a slender
cross, and having entwined it with a wreath woven from the
delicate fresh leaves of the young ivy, he planted it upon
the mound, and then turned to leave the spot, perhaps for
ever. At that moment a hand was laid lightly on his arm,
and he was addressed in the much-loved accents of his
"I perceive you -are a clergyman and alone," said Mr.
Alwyn. Will you not remain with me in my mountain
home to-night ? There is a tempest near. I can see the
black clouds gathering fast around the brow of Pennmaen-
Mr. Seaton gratefully accepted the hospitality thus
frankly proffered. But a short time was needed to render
the intercourse between the brother clergymen as familiar
and unrestrained as though they had been personally known
for years; and when the English stranger inquired of his
new friend the history of the little child who slept beneath
them, the Welsh pastor found a pensive satisfaction in re-
lating all he knew of the departed, and his still and holy
death on Christmas Eve.
32 Cottagers of Penumaen-Maur.
Mr. Seaton listened with attention; and when he heard
of the singular loveliness of Owen's mind and character, his
eyes filled with tears, and, in a voice half-choked by grief,
"I too have lately lost a darling boy-one who through
all the phases of a lingering and painful illness ever showed
the same meek trust and resignation. I feel my own loss
to be his inestimable gain; but oh this world is dark and
dreary to me now."
Mr. Alwyn did not immediately reply. A ray from the
declining sun, which penetrated the sombre veil of clouds,
streamed like a halo over the new-made grave, and lighted
up the ivy-wreath around the simple cross with a pale
"It .-...:. a crown of glory," observed Mr. Alwyn, on
perceiving that the gaze of his companion was, like his own,
riveted upon the sacred symbol. These little ones have
both been mercifully called away ere yet the blessed sign,
imprinted on their brow at holy baptism, was dimmed by
sin. We would not, if we could, dear friend, recall them
to this weary earth."
"No, God forbid !" rejoined Mr. Seaton earnestly, as
he stooped and gently severing a single leaf from the cross
which his own hand had formed, laid it between the pages of
his Prayer-Book. I have struggled hard to be resigned,"
he added, "until even health gave way; but now I will
return to labour with more ardent zeal among my people,
strong in the consolation which has been this day vouch-
safed to me in a Welsh Highland parish."
"In so doing you will assuredly find peace," said Mr.
Alwyn, "and in due time 'an exceeding great reward.' Let
us not forget the glorious truths of which we have been so
forcibly reminded in this mountain burial, for if we live as
little children, we know our end shall be like theirs."
Oft in life's stillest shade reclining,
In desolation unrepining,
Meek souls there are, who little dream
Their daily strife an angel's theme,
Or that the rod they take so calm
Shall prove in Heaven a martyr's palm."
HO has not read over and over with delight the
beautiful poem of which these lines form a part?
Who, in doing so, has not thought of some they
have known, who have borne, perhaps in obscurity,
the bitter cross of sharp pain, or tedious suffering, or cruel
disappointment, or neglect, or loneliness, who are now
wearing the martyr's crown, as truly as those who won it
through fire and torture, because they suffered willingly.? It
is grand indeed to suffer thus, to do so consciously-to hang
on the cross, as it were, with eyes ever fixed on Him we
would be made like to!
But surely there are some, too, who literally "little
dream what they are doing-who suffer, scarcely knowing
for whom they are so brave and patient; thinking (if they
think of themselves at all), "It is all in the day's work;"
and so are content, because it is their work, sent, as every-
2 Jean Ross.
one's is, from God, and sure therefore neither to be too hard
or too long.
When I think over such things, the story comes into my
mind of a poor little girl called Jeanie Ross; and I will
tell it just as it comes to me.
Jean Ross was what is called a "general servant,"-alas !
too general, I think. With her early childhood we will have
nothing to do here, though it was a very important part
of her life, for it was then there was planted in the ignorant
child's soul the seed that grew up almost in darkness till it
reached the sunshine where it blooms so sweetly now.
Enough to say that Jeanie was baptized, and had a
mother who cared for her in the best way, and brought her
up to be a credit to her," as some say, though perhaps
they don't always mean quite what I do by it. At fourteen
years old she went to service, and obtained her first place
in the following way.
In a quiet street, not very far from the Tottenham Court
Road, is a house bearing a brass plate on the door with the
words "Registering Office for Servants." The door is always
open, and shows a passage inside with a glass-door on the
left-hand side; and if you peep over the green curtain that
covers the lower half of the glass, you will see a stout,
middle-aged woman sitting at a table piled with books
and folded papers, busily engaged writing in a large square
volume. If you look over her shoulder, you may see such
entries as these :-" Upper-house or parlour-maid. Jane
Wilks. Age 25. Keep plate. Wait at table. 2-1 years'
character. 16. All found." Or, "Page. Thomas Smith.
Age 16. 12 months' character. Town preferred." And
many similar ones.
But it was neither Jane Wilks nor Thomas Smith who
knocked timidly at the door one foggy November afternoon.
It was some one so diminutive in stature that she could
Jean Ross. 3
not, even standing on tiptoe, see over the green blind, and
a very small thin voice answered Mrs. Wood's invitation to
enter with Please'm, is this right for the office ?"
"Yes; what do you want ?"
"Please'm, I've come to ask you to enter me for a
general servant. I'm"-
Stop! what did you say ? Mrs. Wood could not at
once determine whether she was speaking to a very old or
very young person; the shrill voice was like that of a child,
and the wretched little stunted figure too, in spite of the big
bonnet and large tattered shawl drawn round it. But who
ever saw a child with such a shrunken, careworn face, such
great, wise, eager grey eyes ?
"If you really mean that you want a place," began
Mrs. Wood; but was interrupted by a spidery hand sud-
denly appearing from the folds of the shawl, in which a
shilling was tightly clutched.
"There!" said the small creature, depositing it on the
edge of the table with an air of triumph; "I said I would
come straight here directly I got it, or I'd be sure to spend
it. It was what Mrs. Watling give me for doing out the
place when the first-floor went out-that was sixpence; and
fippence change out of what the party at No. 4 "--
"There! never mind how you got it, child; I dare say it's
all right. Now tell me what you want here. Where do
you live ?" and Mrs. Wood prepared to make an entry in
"No. 5 Tilbury's Buildings, front-kitchen, ring bottom
Mrs. Wood entered as much of this address as was
necessary, and then went on, Your name ?"
"H'm, Scotch, I suppose; you don't talk so."
"No'm, I ain't Scotch; but father's people was afore
4 Jean Ross.
they come to town. Grandfather kep' a bootshop some-
where up Islington way, t'other side the railway arch in
the Camden Road. And then work got slack, and he was
forced to give up, and got took on as foreman down this
way-leastways father did, as took to the business after
him; and then when he'd married mother he got ill, and
trade worse than ever, and so it's been pretty much all
along, so that mother says if things ain't no better soon, no
work, and eight under me, and baby ain't a year old "--
Here came a stop, and a queer little catch in the breath
like a sob.
Mrs. Wood meanwhile turned to another large book, and
ran her finger slowly down a list of names, till, bringing
it to a standstill, she raised her eyes and surveyed Jean
thoughtfully. You're not very strong, are you ? "
"Strong! oh, yes'm. Mrs. Watling often says she never
see a stronger gal for my age, which is fifteen next April."
But you are very small."
Oh, yes'm; all mother's family was small, but I'm a deal
stronger than you'd think for. Why, I've minded our little
ones pretty near as long as I can remember, and I used to
carry our Tommy when he was almost as big as me, when
he broke his leg through jumping on one of them round
things where they puts in the coals; and Jane Watling often
gets me to carry up the scuttles and such-like, as is too
heavy for her, though she's seventeen, and tall grow'd of her
Mrs. Wood looked once more very curiously at Jean, and
wondered whether the' stooping, uneven shoulders and queer,
twisted gait might not be due to Master Tommy and Miss
Watling, and whether such boasted strength was really quite
compatible with these outward signs of weakness. How-
ever, these were not matters of business, so she went to the
Jean Ross. 5
"I've mostly got several such places, but to-day it hap-
pens I've only just one, and maybe it won't quite do for you."
Another pause, and doubtful scrutiny, met, however, by such
a pair of eager, hungry eyes, that suspense seemed cruel.
"It's a good strong girl wanted by a person as keeps a
lodging-house at No. 4 Upper Grove Street. To have her
keep and one shilling a week. Must be ready to make
herself generally useful. Part of the washing done at home,
and wanted in on Friday."
To some of my readers these details may not sound very
inviting, and perhaps still less so to Mrs. Wood, who had
known too well the ins and outs of London service. But
to little Jean it was wealth-or the beginning of it, inde-
pendence ; the first step on the ladder-well, not quite the
ladder of fame, but of something better; and she was right,
for it would lead her higher than worldly success, up above
the smoky city and the big houses of the rich and great.
It was the ladder of duty, which may begin in a kitchen or
a cellar, but its end is in Heaven.
There are in this lond stunning tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th' everlasting chime ;
Who carry music in their heart
Through dusky lane and '. r 111, I;; mart,
Plying their daily task with busier feet
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat."
" IT was all Mrs. Brackly's doing as I got it," was Jean's
account of her success to a neighbour. "She's the widder
6 Jean Ross.
as come in to our back-parlour last Thursday week, and was
so kind to our Sarah when she fell down the ary steps the
very day she come. 'Jean,' she says to me, 'if you be
going to service,' she says,' mind and start respectable. You
wait a bit, and pay your shilling at a office all in the
regular way, and wait till they finds you a nice little place.
And don't be looking too high at first; a young gal can't
expect much wages all at once, and must expect plenty of
work. And don't be afraid if it's a bit hard, but be sure
Him who gives you work gives strength for it along with
it. And don't mind a rough word now and then, for it
cant hurt if you deserve it, and still less if you don't.'"
It is wonderfully encouraging to meet with success, and
Jean had certainly succeeded if she wanted a "little place;"
for little indeed it was, as far as pay, comfort, food, &c.,
went, though great if we regard the work to be daily
accomplished, and the strength and patience needed for it.
Nevertheless, all joys come mingled with pain, and it was a
hard wrench to Jean to leave home.
Home Ah readers, it is very easy to imagine the natural
sorrow of some village girl going out alone into the great
world, taking her last fond look at the little white cottage
covered with roses and honeysuckle, leaving behind her the
quiet village, with its old grey church lying so snugly
sheltered by the great soft green hills, amid rich pastures
and golden cornfields. But you will not so easily guess the
sharpness of the pang with which Jean turned at the corner
of Tilbury's Buildings, setting down her very small stock of
worldly goods on a doorstep, and straining her eyes through
the fog to catch the last glimpse of the old lamp-post
opposite No. 5, round which some of the eight under me"
were consoling themselves with the game of hopscotch.
Ah, dear! home is home after all, though it be only a close
front-kitchen underground; and it cost a sorer heartache
/eanz Ross. 7
to leave it than all the troubles and cares (and they were
not few nor small) that she had known before. True
enough her arms had daily ached, and her shoulders too,
"minding the children," as it is called; but not all the gold
on earth would ever be to Jean like the feeling of the small
weak hands clinging to her dress, the puny arms round her
neck; no master's praise so sweet to her ear as the children's
voices calling for "Jean Jean Our Jean !" every minute
of the day.
Jean had grown a woman while she was yet a child, and
with the woman's face lined with cares and fears had come
the strong wonderful love that every true woman has for
all that is small and weak and helpless, faint shadow of the
higher Love which asks only blind, childlike trust as the
all-sufficient claim on His boundless care. Still there were
many things to sweeten the bitterness of parting. Every one
had been so kind. Mrs. Watling had told her to be as good
a "gal" in service as at home, and she'd do well, and had
given her a shilling to help get mother's shawl out of pawn-
so that was off her mind-and an old pair of Jane's boots,
which would last ever so long with just a patch on the toe;
and Jane herself had told her (thinking no doubt of the
coal-scuttles) that she should miss her terrible. Then, too,
Mrs. Brackly had promised to help mother a bit, sometimes,
with the children; and "mother thought, now she was out
of the way, they could manage with the back-kitchen
instead of the front (as soon as the parties turned out,
which would be in a fortnight), and that would be sixpence
off the rent, and nearly as much room, though dark through
the winder being close against the wall of the next house,
and clothes hung out constant." You see I can't help
dropping into Jean's mode of expressing herself; it seems to
come so naturally as I write about her. So she entered on
her work like most other girls do, with mingled hopes and
S Jean Ross.
fears, and was soon settled in Grove Street as if she had
been there all her life.
Grove Street is like many others of its class, shabby and
dingy and quiet compared with the great noisy thoroughfare
from which it leads. There is a large public-house at one
corner, and an undertaker's opposite, with green blinds
adorned with pictures of funerals as turned out by that
establishment, a source of great interest to the swarming
juvenile population, and only rivalled by the white chalk
cow at the milkshop farther down.
Jean's mistress was one of those whom one does not know
whether most to blame or pity. Her lodgers took her in,
stayed out late, and broke her furniture; her husband lived
on her exertions, and spent her money in drink; her ser-
vants hitherto had always been dishonest and impudent,
dirty and idle, and, to use her own words, Them gals is
all alike, every one on 'em, the idle good-for-nothing things !
The more you pays 'em the worse they are, and the less you
gives 'em and the less you trusts 'em the better; and it's the
same with all." So what wonder if Mrs. Griffen's temper
was violent, and if blows and hard words were pretty freely
bestowed on that new gal," bitter enough anyhow, but very
bitter to the sore young heart that had never been alone
Whether Mrs. Griffen's temper was the cause or effect of
her troubles I do not know; it only concerns us to know
that it made Jean patient as well as brave. We have,
indeed, not much concern with anything higher in the
house than the kitchen. I was going to say "higher than
Jean," but it would be truer to say lower than Jean; for,
though to follow her outward life we must go down under-
ground, we must go a different way if we would follow her
inner life, which is the real one after all.
Jean's domain was not extensive; front and back kitchen,
Jean Ross. 9
both small, dark, and ill-ventilated; a narrow bit of passage
leading to the very smallest of back-yards, where were a
dust-bin and a knife-house, in which last Jean passed away
many hours trying, with numbed fingers, to restore brightness
to boots and knives, or wringing out sheets to grow black again
in the smoky air of Grove Street. Her bed was in the
back-kitchen, "turned up in a corner behind the sink, and
handy in the day for placing the damp plates upon, there
being no other furniture except a box. If Jean had been
given to curiosity, she might have wondered who invented
so skilful a torment for aching limbs and called it a bed;
but then, you see, Jean had often slept on the floor, so she
did not wonder about it; and if she were cold and sleepless,
she had brighter and pleasanter things to think of than her
lonely little self. Then, too, rest, even in a turn-up bed-
stead, did not at any time come very largely into her lot.
Sunrise and sunset make little difference in smoky Grove
Street, at least in the kitchen. There was a church clock
near, whose striking was like a voice to Jean-and its
words were very few-that told her it was time to get up,
stiff and shivering, to her work; and most days it had said
the most it had to say before the rattle of brushes and pails
was quite still below, when Mrs. Griffen could rest undis-
turbed by that "lazy gal," who never got through her work
in proper time, and when that "lazy gal" could lay her
tired head down at last and pass away into the other life.
2Q0S) 3A 2
Io Jean IRoss.
But Love's a flower that will not die
For lack of leafy screen,
And Christian hope can cheer the eye
That ne'er saw vernal green.
Then be ye sure that Love can bless
Even in this crowded loneliness,
Wherever moving myriads seem to say,
Go thou art naught to us, nor we to thee-away !'":
BUT now I must tell you something of Jean's pleasures; for
she had pleasures, as we all have, if we would only take
them and be thankful.
I am not speaking now of the higher pleasure, when the
day's work was done, and Jean knelt down among her pots
and pans and forgot cold and weariness in the thought that
she was loved and tenderly cared for.
Nor of the dream-world, where every night she talked
with mother and played with the children. Ah! those
were good times indeed in dreamland! Father had work
and had lost his cough, and there was plenty for all at
home; mother's face looked young again, and the little
ones never cried because they were cold and hungry!
Polly and Dick went to school, and Jean had grown rich
enough to do wonders One night she took a journey with
little sickly Tom to the seaside in one of the cheap excur-
sions. Jean's knowledge of the sea was confined to pictures
in the printshops, and descriptions from Mrs. Brackly, who
had been to Margate once a long time ago. But still, as
she wandered that night hand in hand with Tom, drinking
in the pure air, it all seemed familiar to her; and as they
stood on the shore, Tom's face was all bright and rosy with
Jean Ross. 1 i
the red sunset light coming all across the sea from the other
side, and the waves were all blue and gold and violet.
When Jean woke, there was a message to her from home
which made her heart very sore in spite of mother's poor
consolation-" You see, there's one less to feed and grieve
for, and the back-kitchen'll take us all nicely now."
What I want to tell about are two little gleams of sun-
shine that came into Mrs. Griffen's kitchen-poor little pale
dusty rays, it is true, but still coming as straight from the
sun as the golden glory of summer.
Jean loved flowers dearly, though she had never seen the
country. She was often tempted to linger at the street
corners in the spring, feasting her eyes on the flower-girls'
baskets full of spring wildflowers. More than once she
had gained leave to bury her face for a minute among prim-
roses and violets piled up fresh and cool on damp moss;
"just as they might be growing," thought the ignorant
creature, knowing nothing of mossy banks and deep copses,
where the sweet flowers dwell among the soft young spring-
ing grass and tender ivy sprays, gleaming gold and purple
under the quivering leaf shadows.
Not flowers only, but all green things, even in London,
were dear to her. Sometimes she had stood at the garden-
gate of a square through which she passed, longing just once
to run across the turf and feel the soft green blades of grass
under her tired feet. She would watch with wistful eyes
the women at the pumps sprinkling their watercress baskets
fresh and crisp; and even in Tilbury's Buildings, a certain
dingy green plant something like a nettle, trained upon
three sticks in one of the windows, had been like an old
friend to her.
Grove Street was rich compared to Tilbury's Buildings.
There was a fine plant of variegated laurel behind the white
cow at the milkshop, and a deeply interesting box of
12 Jean Ross.
mustard and cress just over the way, besides a whole row of
geraniums in the front-parlour window next door.
These last were a source of particular interest to Jean,
and many a sympathising smile was exchanged with their
owner as she daily watered them out of a broken teapot.
One day she nodded to Jean and said, "You're fond of
Yes; you've got a nice lot," replied Jean, smiling up
brightly from the doorstep she was scrubbing, "I dessay,
now, they cost you a sight of money, didn't they ?"
"Well, they didn't exactly cost me anything, though I
wouldn't part with them for ever so much. Yes, they're
nice plants," continued Mrs. Tompkins, surveying her posses-
sions with a satisfied, eye as she brushed the blacks from
the leaves of her favourite, "though they don't grow as I
should like to see them; and some of the best was killed
this summer. But lor! if you'd seen where they come
from, you'd not think nothing of them! They come out
of our garden at home the last time as I saw mother afore
she died, two years ago last midsummer. Ah! she had a
nice little place of her own just on 'Ampstead 'Eath, afore
you passes Jack Straw's Castle. Not as you'd know the
place now, through all them new rows as they've run up.
I don't suppose there's much of a garden left now; but two
years ago I never see a prettier little place, with a nice
gravel walk all up the middle, and a arbour where you
could sit and have your tea, just as if you was ever so
far away from London! And as to the flowers! why,
there was a rosebush as stood on the left-hand side of the
path as I've counted thirty-three roses out all at once
on, besides buds And as for the sweet-williams, and
chiny-asters, and marigolds, let alone the geraniums and
At this point Mrs. Tompkins' powers of description
Jean Ross. 13
failed, and Jean was left with a vaguely glorious idea of
the Hampstead paradise and an increased reverence for the
But summer brought changes at No. 5. Mrs. Tompkins
fell ill, and the poor plants were left untended, till one
day the house changed hands, and the friendly flowers that
Jean had taken such pleasure in were carried off with the
rest of the furniture. All but one small thing that was
not worth carrying away-a poor little sickly dried-up
plant, with one or two shrivelled yellow leaves at the top.
Jean watched it anxiously till the new people came, and
one day plucked up courage, with a very beating heart, to
ask the servant, who was cleaning the front windows, if
"that there plant belongs to any one now ? Because," she
went on hurriedly, "if it ain't wanted up there, I've a nice
sill down there to my winder, where it would stand beauti-
ful, and I'd take a deal of care of it."
Why, it's pretty near dead now," said the girl, turning
it round contemptuously; but if you think it's worth
keeping, you're welcome to it as far as I know, for it don't
belong to our people; so you'd best take it away at once."
Never was royal guest received with more honour than
the old geranium stump by Jean. You would have laughed
or cried to see what a fuss the little creature was in over
her new possession. Never did plant require so much
attention. There was a certain corner of the front-kitchen
window where the sunshine came slanting down between
the railings for a daily peep at Jean and her work. Here
the flower-pot was placed, standing in an old saucer; and
here the happiest moments of her life were passed with the
new friend, watering it, tenderly removing the dust from
its sickly leaves, sometimes even talking to it, while the
warm sunbeams came stealing down to kiss the two pale
stunted things that were so much to each other. "For
14 Jean Ross.
surely," Jean thought; it has no one to care for it but
me; and it is the only friend I have here."
For some weeks Jean watched it most anxiously, like a
nurse over a sickly little child, fearing it would die; and
her heart failed as the shrivelled leaves drooped and dropped
one by one, till nothing was left but a dry stump to care for.
Oh, but he's not dead i" she would say to herself, sur-
veying the stump anxiously. "I wonder if wouldd be
wrong to pray for him, for there ain't no one else down
here to talk to, and it would be so lonely without him
now Maybe I'd best have let him be, and then I
shouldn't have missed him."
True enough! Joy and sorrow go ever hand in hand,
and there would be no shadows but for the sunshine.
"There! I knew he'd come to!" she said one day, with
a queer little sob, as she saw at last a little thin white
shoot coming to justify her belief; and the foolish creature
actually laid down her plain little face beside the pot and
cried-a thing she had not done for months. Jean was
not given to crying over her troubles; she was too wise a
woman for that, and felt them too keenly; but joy made a
baby of her. Why, he'll flower soon if he goes on at this
rate!" she said; and truly it was wonderful how fast it'
threw up its long transparent white stems towards the sun-
light, each ending in a minute green leaf.
It is queer how things grow in the dark, if they grow at
all, stretching up with all their strength to the sky: the
very darkness keeps them white. Surely their blooming
will come quicker than with others !
But you will be tired of Jean and her flower, and indeed
something rising in my throat makes me hnrry to get out
the rest. One day a street urchin threw a stone between
the rails and broke the plant to pieces. Jean gathered the
pieces up very tenderly, and put them out of sight, and
tried to forget it. She never had another plant.
Jean Ross. 5
"Learn to be content with a little, and to be pleased with things plain
and simple, and not to murmur against any inconvenience."
"Verily the life of a Christian is a cross, yet is it also a guide to
READER, I can fancy you are thinking just now that I am
making a mountain out of a molehill, wasting my time and
yours over very small, common, uninteresting things. It
may be so; and I beg you, if you have not done it before,
to close the book here, for I tell you frankly I have nothing
great to tell;-Jean's life and death were equally obscure,
utterly wanting in what makes some lives so interesting to
You do not, in truth, often find heroines in the kitchen,
though there may still perhaps be found here and there a
Cinderella wearing her shining dress amid the ashes. But
one thing it is well to remember : that our notions of great
and small are not always quite correct, and that some day
we shall all stand like travellers on a great height, looking
down on the world as a flat plain, seeing perhaps most
clearly objects that we thought little of when we were near
them, while others that we have busied ourselves over seem
now but of little importance.
The loss of her plant made Jean feel very dull for a time;
and as the dark autumn days dwindled to winter, the loneli-
ness of her lot weighed on her as it had not done before.
She had caught cold in some way, and though it did not
last very long, it left a nasty cough behind that "fidgeted
one out of one's life, especially of a night," as Mrs. Griffen
said with an irritable feeling that, if the "gal" were to be
ill or otherwise troublesome, she might have some difficulty
16 Jean Ross.
in replacing her; so Mrs. Griffen did not like the coughing
at all. Then, too, Jean was getting a very rheumatic old
woman, owing to damp stones and old boots, so she was not
by any means outwardly flourishing just now. The only
immediate result of her infirmity was, that she left off going
home from time to time to see how they did in Tilbury's
Buildings. She had done so whenever she had a chance,
hungering for a sight of home faces and the sound of home
voices, only the more so because the faces did not grow less
sad, and the voices had no better days to tell of.
"They've trouble enough already," she thought, as the
winter came on; and I couldn't a-bear to see mother
fretting because I look such an old guy. They'll know that
no news is good news; and when spring comes I'll go and
take them all by surprise."
So she kept to her resolution; and her mother was com-
forted in all her troubles with the thought that her girl was
One damp foggy afternoon in November, Jean found a
new friend, which more than consoled her for the loss of
her plant. She had just been down the street to the public-
house for her master-a very frequent errand, I am sorry to
say, and one Jean did not like, though, coming as it did in
the day's work, she regarded it as a matter of business to be
done, the quicker the better. The gas was lighted, and there
were several people there, being Saturday, so that she had
to wait some time for her turn to come; and as she went
out of the glare and heat into the fog, it made her cough so,
that she had run against a group of boys in the road with-
out knowing where she was.
Hullo where are you a-shoving to ? exclaimed one;
and just then she heard a laugh, a dog's bark, and a faint
squeal like a stifled child. Something small and in pain !
Jean could see clearly enough now through the fog; and in
Jean Ross. 7
another minute she was engaged literally tooth and nail dis-
puting with an ill-looking savage our the possession of a
wretched little half-dead cat, which the boys had been tor-
menting. How she came out of the fray she never clearly
knew, but she did reach home somehow, with a great bruise
on her shoulder, a torn dress, the marks of the dog's teeth
in her wrist, and her prize safe under her shawl. A miser-
able starved kitten, rusty black, thin and ragged, with only
half a tail and a torn ear; but alive, and capable of being
loved and kissed and cried over, and her own by the right
of conquest. Luckily the dog had only just caught it by the
paw when Jean appeared, so that there was only one broken
leg to be mended, and a scared savage look in its hungry
green eyes to be coaxed away by care and kindness. Jean's
eyes would grow soft and bright as she watched over her
patient, and they were dim once more with tears when at last
it left off crying and actually purred itself to sleep on the
corner of the bed.
Being the second broken leg she had had to do with, Jean
bestowed on her new friend the name of Tom; and Tom's
good qualities are, I think, best described in Jean's own
words to the servant next door, who had taken quite an
interest in her doings since the death of the geranium.
Yes, thank you, his foot is nicely, and he'll soon put it
to the ground now, I think. There! I don't know how I'd
get on now without my Tom He ain't a beauty, and small
growed, like myself, so we're just companions. But ain't he
sensible Why, there never was such a cat! To see him
cock up his head a one side, looking so sensible with his one
ear, when I comes in of a afternoon, as much as to say,
' Ah! I knows there's a ha'porth of milk for me out of
your beer-money to-day; or one of them nice little
sticks of meat, through meeting the man with the
barrer down the mews; or don't I know as the party
18 Jean Ross.
at No. 8 had two 'errings for supper last night, and
their 'eads left in the gutter by the man just handy like
for my dinner.' Oh, Tom's a sharp un, he is! But
the best time to see him is when happen I've done my
washing up early, or the gents upstairs is out late, and
missus is tired, and says, 'Jean,' says she, I can't go
setting up all night, I be that tired, so you just wait a bit
to let them in; but mind you rakes out the fire at half-past
eleven and locks up, for I won't have no staying out after
midnight in my house, as was always respectable, and shall
be as long as my name is Martha Griffen.' Ah that's the
time as Tom and me has our talks. I locks up all but the
front-door, and sees as it's all right, and then I sits down
on the floor with my feet pretty nigh under the grate-for
it's bitter cold there of a night through the back-winder
being broke ever since I come; and then I says, 'Well,
Tom, old chap,' I says, 'and what have you got to tell me
to-light?' And don't he talk just! Why, bless you,
tea-kettles is nothing to it, when he's got me on the snug
like. Come up, then,' says I; and there he is all of a
minute a-rubbing hisself against my neck, and licking my
face with his little rough tongue till he makes me all of a
shudder. And then he sits up looking so wise with them
great eyes of his, while I tells him what we'll do when
missus goes to see her sister who lives at Fulham, as has
a party of a Christmas Day every year, and that's a fort-
night to-morrow; and the front-parlour agoin' out the day
before, and we're to have the sweeps in, so no one can't
come in afore the Monday, and Tom and I'll have the
place to ourselves pretty much, through master being out
late, as always is so when missus is out. So we're to have
a feast that night through missus a-sayin' as how she'll
give me my money, what I has for beer, afore she goes, to
last over to Monday; so when I've got a drop of milk.for
Jean Ross. 19
Tom, there'll be enough left for us to do it comfortable
together. Only what it's to be, that's what Tom and me
can't make up our minds about. You see, there's so many
nice things when one looks into the shop-windows. Some-
times we think we'll have a saveloy, or 'arf a polony if we
can afford it, and sometimes Tom's all for sprats, and last
night nothing would do but one of them nice little meat
pies as they makes at the cook's shop down Birdcage Street."
Indeed, this festivity was enjoyed many times by antici-
pation, and Jean scarcely felt the searching north wind and
bitter frost, though they chilled her very blood, as she
sallied forth on Christmas Eve to get these wonderful sprats
that had cost her so much thought. For Christmas Day
itself her greatest treat had been reserved; for her resolu-
tion had given way under the temptation of the unusual
holiday, and she had determined to go home and wish them
all a happy Christmas. Wouldn't the children be pleased
with Tom and a penn'orth of toffy? and, best of all, there
was a very small screw of tea to be brought home, as well
as the sprats, which would do mother's heart good. Jean
had been quite extravagant, you see; but Christmas is a
tempting time, and the foolish creature thought she could
manage with her old boots a bit longer yet. Very bad
management! Had she bought those new boots a little
earlier, instead of hoarding her money, she might have
saved her life! Yes, truly, so she might, and have still
been slaving out her sad young life in the damp Grove
Street kitchen, instead of resting in the warm summer land
But to go back to Christmas Eve and the sprats. Spite
of the frost, life out of doors was very attractive. The
shops were wonders of Christmas plenty, all wreathed with
evergreens and blazing with gas, and Jean stopped often to
admire the good things. Now at the grocer's windows, all
20 Jean Ross.
heaped with candied fruits and plums and raisins, and gay
boxes of sweatmeats and crackers; now at the poulterer's,
with its regiments of fat geese and turkeys; now at the
butcher's, where the prize Christmas beef looked quite
elegant, decked out in satin bows. There was a pleasant
bustle, too, in the streets; people hurrying to and fro with
big baskets, intent upon Christmas dinners and presents,
and friends meeting in the streets and shaking hands with
beaming smiles and hearty good wishes of the season. There
was even a kind look, now and then, for the shabby little
lonely figure revelling in the warm glow from the shop
windows, with her pinched face and great wistful eyes all
glowing with the kindly spirit of Christmas.
Once she stopped before a church, where the pavement
was strewn with bits of box and holly, and the bell was
ringing for service. There was bright light within, and as
Jean stood straining her eyes to see as the door opened to
admit the people in, a stout good-natured looking woman
touched her on the arm, saying, Well, come in then, child,
if you are coming; the bell will stop in a minute."
Jean drew back. I don't know as I was coming in,"
she said doubtfully.
Well, why stand here then ? Are you waiting for
any one ? "
"No," said Jean ; "but I'd like to have a peep in at the
door, it looks so nice in there, only I can't stay for service,
leastways in this here ragged frock. I'd have put on my
Sunday shawl if I'd thought I'd have been coming here."
Why, bless the girl! don't you know as church is for
us all the same, shabby or fine, Sundays and week-days alike ?
You might just as well talk of getting a new gown to go to
Jean was not ignorant of this fact, and indeed her
Sunday shawl was not much to boast of; but still we all
Jean Ross. 21
of us like'to put on our best when we go to speak with our
best Friend. However, she did not fear being looked down
upon here because she was shabby, so she yielded to the
woman's kindly, There! come in quick," and in another
minute the outer world was completely forgotten as though
she were asleep.
Warm light, beautiful music, rarest, sweetest flowers !
What are they not for such as little Jean ? O friends !
are we not too ready to say, "To what purpose is this
waste ?" thinking painfully perhaps of those in want of
daily bread. Surely there are poor souls hungering for one
little foretaste of Heaven's beauty to keep them from
starving in this hard unlovely life! Surely this costly
spikenard of holy worship is for Christ's poor, as for Christ
Himself! Let us not grudge it them.
So little Jean went home with her bundle of sprats to
Tom, and a rare feast they had indeed. The house was won-
derfully quiet that evening. All the "gents" were out,
including the master, and Jean's heart failed a little as she
thought how he would most likely return home, with no
missus to help him up to bed.
But if the rest of the house was quiet, there was bustle
enough in the kitchen. Jean had picked up some bits of
laurel in the street, and begged a fine spray of holly from
the milkman. These were stuck in a jug as the centre
ornament of the table, whilst the black bottle that served
for candlestick, and another containing a drain of vinegar
"just for a relish," completed the array. There were also
some sufficiently dry pieces of bread and cheese, and last,
but certainly far from least, the sprats. Oh, what a
business it was cooking them! how they frizzled and how
Tom's eyes got rounder and rounder, and what was left of
his tail actually trembled with excitement. Presently pre-
22 Jean Ross.
parations were completed, and the friends sat down, Jean
on one side, Tom on the edge of the table opposite, all quite
correct; and whether Jean enjoyed most the sprats them-
selves, or the sight of Tom's keen enjoyment, I don't know.
"And now that's over," she sgid, as the tail of the last
sprat disappeared down Tom's throat, and he sat licking his
whiskers with half-shut eyes of contentment. And don't
you never say as we ain't well off here, after such a treat as
that Mind, there's many a poor cat in London as don't
know the taste of a sprat, and many a poor girl as would
think herself lucky to be Jeanie Ross And now, sir, you
just stir up and lick them plates clean afore I washes up,
for we won't have no idle cats here as wants all play and
no work, and two great black beetles awaiting to be ate
down there by the fender under your very nose !"
So Jean preached contentment and diligence to herself
in her own way.
The master was late that night, having met friends, as
was natural on Christmas Eve. There was much drinking
and noise and laughter at first, and drinking and noise and
quarrelling afterwards, so that Mr. Griffen came home with
the firm determination to have it out" with the first per-
son he met. This person was Jean, opening the door in
a fright, to let in the clear frosty midnight air, and the
sweet voice of the Christmas bells, and the staggering,
blustering master, and running back to the top of her dark
staircase till he should have got safely into his room. But
oh, hapless fate 1 The passage was all dark save one streak
of gaslight from the lamp outside, and as Jean waited with
a beating heart while he fumbled to find the door, a soft
something brushed past her, and Tom, heedless of results,
was standing, small and black in the strip of light, close
under master's feet.
Jean Ross. 23
To be tripped up by a cat wasn't it enough to provoke
even a sober man ? And then, as a kick sent the creature
squealing into the street, insult was added to injury by a
sudden outcry worse than the cat itself, Oh, don't hurt
Tom He's done you no harm. You can beat me if you
like, only don't hurt him !" What could be expected but
what followed ? It was all a moment's work. Jean's cry,
sharp and sudden, as if she had been stung, a spring forward,
and then a heavy blow, followed by a fall on the narrow
stairs. Then it was all dark, as it seemed to her, for a long
time; and then all at once she passed out into a new,
strange life, half bright, half dark, like one standing on
the threshold of a lighted house, longing to enter, but kept
back by an unseen hand.
Now she was once more in the frosty street, looking into
the church, beautiful and bright still, but now it seemed
only like a great porch leading on to something else warmer
and brighter still, where some one was waiting for her with
outstretched hands and loving eyes-her Master; but not
the master in Grove Street. Now she was back at home,
weary and tired, dragging the little dead brother with his
lame leg, and bidding him look at the gaily lighted
Christmas shops; and suddenly the gaslight shone red on
his face, and she saw it cl.1ig.: and brighten, and now it
was he who was drawing hier on with his weak little hands
somewhere, where she longed to follow and could not.
Now she was watching the geranium stump, and as the sun
came stealing through the railings, it grew and spread into
great branches and 'leaves, snow-white, tender green, with
half-open crimson buds; but just as the flowers were
unfolding, the sunshine blazed in her eyes, and she could
see no more.
Then it was dark; and when she woke again, the end
of it all seemed to be very near.
24 Jean Ross.
"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all."
-Hymns for Little Children.
THE last chapter! "Now," some readers will say, "comes
the proper finale to such a tale-a fine deathbed scene,
such as we seldom find except in story-books." Or some
more sympathetic one will say, "The fitting end indeed-
death after life-freedom after bondage-rest after toil."
And so indeed it seemed the natural end, looking either
to what was seen-the worn-out frame, blighted from its
birth, weakened by neglect and overwork, the cruel, almost
fatal blows; or to the things unseen-the strong simple soul,
so tired of life, surely so fit to go, and the merciful Father
yearning to take His weary child to rest and comfort her.
But we are often mistaken, even in what seems so plaif
and natural. Little Jean did not die after all, though, as
we have seen, she was very near to it. It may be that one
more grace was needed, another sort of discipline before she
was fit to go-the discipline of lying still, folding the hands
that were longing to work for others, to be "a thing of
no use," as it seemed, while the strong young spirit learnt
obedience. Jean had always loved work, even though it
cost her a sore effort at times.
You see I were always such a one for work," she said;
"never could bide to be doing nothing. Mother was just
the same, and what's bred in the bone comes out in the
flesh, as the saying is. And then, you see, there's such a
deal to be done everywhere-more than enough for every
Jean Ross. 25
one, even such as me;-always folks in trouble or ill, or
all of a muddle like, and glad of a helping hand to straighten
up a bit and do the odd jobs, such as running a errant, or
doin' out the place of a Saturday, or mindin' the baby, till
one wishes one had four pair of hands, or like a bird, in
two places at once, as they say. Not as I see much sense
in that, though partial to birds myself, through getting
quite thick with a young sparrer afore my Tom come and
frightened him away, as were that tame, a setting' on the
sill just where I shake out the. crumbs of a morning, a
turning 'is 'ead about and chirruping that cheerful as it
were a pleasure to hear him for one as 'adn't a creature to
speak to most times."
But perhaps there was a more gentle Providence staying
Death's hand from claiming Jean. Life, even in this sad
world, is a precious gift, and a beautiful one too in spite of
all trouble. Its lessons are not all hard and stern. God
sets flowers as well as thorns on our path home, and He
would not have any of us leave the world only because we
find no good there, forgetting who made it "very good"
and filled it so full of beauty and goodness.
It is not weariness of life
That makes us wish to die;
But we are drawn by cords which come
From out eternity."
And so perhaps Jean had to learn last, what most of us have
to learn first, that life is good and precious, a golden gift,
worthy to be laid down willingly at the Master's feet, not a
cruel chain to be cast away too lightly.
There is a nurse at St. Nathaniel's Hospital with a kind
sensible face, who can tell us of Jean's illness, a person
rather above the ordinary set of nurses at St. Nathaniel's,
none the less really tender and sympathetic for her plain,
26 Jean Ross.
matter-of-fact way of telling things, and one likes to think
of her face being the first to meet Jean's eyes as they opened
once more on this world.
"Poor creature!" said Nurse Goodall; "she did suffer
terrible; and it's a miracle to me how ever she got through
it even as much as she did. For my part, I thought it
would have been a happy release if she had been taken.
She was so diseased, you see. I never saw any one so
shrunk and contracted when I undressed her after they
brought her in; and no .wonder, for she'd scarcely any
lungs left, and consumption is a terrible weary death to
die. But God knows best!"
"How did it happen? asked a lady visitor, passing
through the ward one day with the matron, and stopping to
gaze pityingly at the half-suffering, half-unconscious child's
face on No. 57.
Oh, it was a bad job, poor thing She'd angered her
master some way on Christmas Eve, just when he'd been
drinking, and he knocked her downstairs; and there she
laid all night, and might have laid, but a young man they
had in the house happened to find her, and had her brought
here. She had cut her head open against the stairs, and
was near bleeding to death as it was; indeed, I never
thought she would have lasted as long as she did. All
Christmas Day she lay like one dead, and most of the next
day too; and then all of a sudden, just as I was putting
a drop of brandy down her throat, she opened her eyes-
such great eyes too-and stared right in my face as if she
would look me through. Then she began to talk-all about
Tom, and flowers, and I don't know what more; and so
it lasted on and off about two days. That day the person
she'd lived with came to see after her, nearly frightened out
of her life, thinking that if she died her husband would be
Jean Ross. 27
had up for murder. And when she heard how she had been
talking, she went away, and came back with a black cat
that she said had belonged to the girl. And when I said
such things were not allowed in here, she said she'd be glad
just to see if it would not quiet her, she had been so fond
of it. And sure enough it did; for just as I put the poor
scraggy thing down on the pillow, she put out her hands
and drew it down to her face, saying, 'Well, where did you
get to, old man ? I thought you was lost.' And then she
dropped asleep, and stayed so ever so long. Next day came
a poor ragged woman, who said she was the girl's mother
and she'd heard she was dead. 'Not dead yet,' I said,
'though she can't last out the night. Perhaps you'd like to
see her.' So she just went up, and stood looking at the girl
as she laid asleep with her cat in her arms. 'She was a
good girl,' she said, 'and fit to die.'
"And then of a sudden she broke down with a great sob,
flinging herself nigh across the bed and crying out, '0 God,
have pity on a lone woman, and let the child bide a bit
longer, for she's my only comfort!' I was trying to quiet
her, telling her it was no use and she musn't disturb the
other patients, when all at once the child opened her eyes
quite wide and looked into her face, saying, as clear and steady
as though she'd just woke up from sleep, 'Is that you,
mother dear? Never fear, I'm here safe enough. It's not
time to go yet.'
"And then she fell off dozing again, holding her mother's
hand. It wasn't till near a week after she really came back
to herself, and even then I half wish she'd been taken; for
it was a poor story after all that the doctor and I had to tell
her. For, let alone her health, which would never have let
her go to work again, there was the hurt to her back through
the fall, which had paralysed her so that she could never
28 Jean Ross.
use her limbs again more than just to feed herself or maybe
hold a book. But never any more work for her, poor soul !
And when he found she was likely to live, Dr. Williams told
me to find out her mother and friends; and the more I heard
the more I wondered why the child should live, when it was
so plain she'd best have died, for her and all of them. But
there again, God knows best!
"' You tell her, nurse,' says Dr. Williams one day when
she seemed quite herself and had been asking after her
mother and saying she'd like to say good-bye to her, for she
never seemed to doubt but she'd die. So I took her hands
in mine, and said, though it was as much as I could do to
say it, 'You shall see your mother again, my dear, and
often, too, I hope. For you're not going to die yet a while,
Not going to die ?' she said, looking up in my face as if
she could not understand it. Not going to die ? Do you
mean I shall get well again ?'
"And then came the hardest tug of all; and I hardly know
how I made her understand the truth, that she was neither
to get well nor die, which is the truest getting well after all.
But at last she did understand, and then for the first time
through all her illness her patience seemed to fail.
"'It's so hard,' she said; 'so hard; I can't abear it!'
"And then she covered up her face with her hands, and lay
still ever so long, only I could see she was crying; and that
was all the complaint she ever made."
The lady visitor heard Nurse Goodall's story, told in a low
undertone as they stood by Jean's bed, and her kind eyes
filled with tears as she softly touched the wasted hardworked
hands that were to work no more, and looked into the patient
little face. She was a good lady, who had herself known
sorrow and pain, and had learnt their lessons rightly; for as
SJean Ross. 29
she looked at Jean she remembered One who, like her, had
borne toil and poverty for our example, but whom we most
love to remember when, as the world might say, He was "a
thing of nought," when the pierced hands and feet could toil
no more, teaching us that work is great, but suffering is
greater; and she remembered His saying, Inasmuch as ye
have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye
have done it unto me."
She had a long talk with the matron before she left the
hospital that day, and for the result of that talk we will pass
on a few months, and see what the summer had in store for
Well, to be sure, he do sing! He must be 'most tired
by now, I should think, for he's been at it all day. A thrush,
did you say? Why, that was the same what used to sing
so beautiful down at the bird-shop round the corner, and
many's the time as I've stopped to hear him agoin' on fit
to split hisself, though pretty nigh in the dark most times
through the big cage with the guinea-pigs standing right
over him, and the great cat setting just a top of the monkeys
in front, as is a wonder she didn't never touch him, through
being brought up in a 'appy family, I suppose, and maybe
deaf too, as most white cats is, they say, or must have got so
through that bird a going on in his very ears constant. I
wonder what them birds would say if they was to come here
and see all them beautiful trees and flowers and things, as
all the winders in London wouldn't hold 'em, I shouldn't
think ? Sort of queer at first, like me, through most of them
having their wings cut and bein' brought up to a cage, and
no knowing what to do with such a deal of room and so
many places to perch upon."
Jean was lying back upon a snowy pillow, close by the
30 Jean Ross.
open window of a cottage, deep, deep in the very heart of
the country. There was a flower-laden honeysuckle trained
round the lattice, and a great fresh tuft of old-fashioned
cabbage-roses came pushing through the green leaves, mock-
ing the little pale, careworn Cockney with their rosy young
Jean had not been used to very extended views of life,
being unaccustomed to look beyond the day's work or the duty
of the moment. So the roses and the honeysuckle, and a
great brown velvet humble bee buzzing round them in the
morning sunshine, would have been quite occupation enough
for her, without looking farther into the cottage garden,
where were big crisp-leaved cabbages and fragrant beans in
flower, and great sheaves of heavy-headed clove pinks, and,
toddling down the brick path from the gate, a white-headed
baby, with wide blue eyes and fat sun-burned hands, busy
after hairy red and yellow spoils among the gooseberry
bushes; or, farther still, the sunny village green and the
white-thatched cottages grouping round the church among
the trees; or, farther still, the soft green hills dotted with
white sheep and flecked with rolling cloud shadows; and
farthest-nearest of all-the blue summer heaven. Inside
the room, too, there was plenty, more than enough, to look at.
The whitewashed walls hung with bright-coloured Bible
pictures; the tall clock in its dark case, above whose broad
face old Time with his scythe keeps ever cutting off the
peaceful moments with a drowsy tick-tack; the round table,
polished till it shone like a mirror; rush-bottomed chairs
and dresser scoured white as milk and bright with shining
rows of delft ware and pewter; and, best of all, in her elbow-
chair, peaceful old Granny, with her gentle old face, with
her big Bible and spinning-wheel, and little ragged Tom
curled at her feet. Baby and Granny and mother-baby's