i C, / l,_.,
I The Baldwin Librar
THEJ ESBA STRETTON SERIES.
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Th.- S1-:et Sior c.r f OldC ^
1 TWO SIlLLINGS
Fihers -'LDCrbu Haven
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tA ll'h :,rrl -iT--,Th
THE RELIGIOUS.TRACT SOCIETY,
56, PATERNOSTER Row. LONDON.
^' 1- -
'LITTLE MEG'S CHILDREN' 'THE FISHERS OF DERBY HAVEN'
'BEDE'S CHARITY' 'ALONE IN LONDON' 'CAROLA'
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
56 PATERNOSTER Row, 65 ST PAUL'S CHURCHYARD
AND 164 PICCADILLY
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
HAFTt ER1 tr^
-I i^ 'TICrE ,'-_,L-FLrE--SPALL
S' AND IT. KEEPER.
N a i-ereen:d and -eci.iiled corner
of one of the many railway
bridges which span the streets of
London there could be seen, a few
years ago, from five o'clock every morning
until half-past eight, a tidily set-out coffee-
stall, consisting of a trestle and board, upon
which stood two large tin cans, with a small
fire of charcoal burning under each, so as to
keep the coffee boiling during the early hours
6 ,'ES.'i;'. ,S FIRST PRAYER
of the morning when the workpeople were
thronging into the City on their way to their
daily toil. The coffee-stall was a favourite
one, for besides being under shelter, which
was of great consequenceupon rainy mornings,
it was also in so private a niche that the
customers taking their out-of-door breakfast
were not too much exposed to notice ; and,
moreover, the coffee-stall keeper was a quiet
man, who cared only to serve the busy work-
men, without hindering them by any gossip.
He was a tall, spare, elderly man, with a singu-
larly solemn face, and a manner which was
grave and secret. Nobody knew either his
name or dwelling-place; unless it might be'
the policeman who strode past the coffee-stall
every half-hour, and nodded familiarly to the
solemn man behind it. There were very few
who cared to make any inquiries about him;
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER 7
but those who did could only discover that
he kept the furniture of his stall at a neigh-
bouring coffee-house, whither he wheeled his
trestle and board and crockery every day, not
later than half-past eight in the morning;
after which he was wont to glide away with
a soft footstep and a mysterious and fugitive
air, with many backward and sidelong glances,
as if he dreaded observation, until he was lost
among the crowds which thronged the streets.
No one had ever had the persevering curiosity
to track him all the way to his house, or to
find out his other means of gaining a liveli-
hood; but in general his stall was surrounded
by customers, whom he served with silent
seriousness, and who did not grudge to pay
him his charge for the refreshing coffee he
supplied to them.
For several years the crowd of workpeople
8 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
had paused by the coffee-stall under the rail-
way arch, when one morning, in a partial lull
of his business, the owner became suddenly
aware of a pair of very bright dark eyes being
fastened upon him and the slices of bread and
butter on his board, with a gaze as hungry as
that of a mouse which has been driven by
famine into a trap. A thin and meagre face
belonged to the eyes, which was half hidden
by a mass of matted hair hanging over the
forehead and down the neck-the only cover-
ing which the head or neck had, for a tattered
frock, scarcely fastened together with broken
strings, was slipping down over the shivering
shoulders of the little girl. Stooping down
to a basket behind his stall, he caught sight of
two bare little feet curling up from the damp
pavement, as the child lifted up first one and
then the other, and laid them one over another
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER 9
to gain a momentary feeling of warmth.
Whoever the wretched child was, she did not
speak; only at every steaming cupful which
he poured out of his can her dark eyes
gleamed hungrily, and he could hear her smack
her thin lips, as if in fancy she was tasting
the warm and fragrant coffee.
'Oh; come, now!' he said at last, when
only one boy was left taking his breakfast
leisurely, and he leaned over his stall to speak
in a low and quiet tone; 'why don't you go
away, little girl ? Come, come; you're stay-
ing too long, you know.'
I'm just going, sir,' she answered, shrug-
ging her small shoulders to draw her frock up
higher about her neck; only it's raining cats
and dogs outside; and mother's been away all
night, and she took the key with her; and it's
so nice to smell the coffee; and the police has
10 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
left off worriting me while I've been here.
He thinks I'm a customer taking my break-
fast.' And the child laughed a shrill little
laugh of mockery at herself and the police-
You've had no breakfast, I suppose,' said
the coffee-stall keeper, in the same low and
confidential voice, and leaning over his stall
till his face nearly touched the thin, sharp
features of the child.
No,' she replied coolly, and I shall want
my dinner dreadful bad afore I get it, I know.
You don't often feel dreadful hungry, do you,
sir ? I'm not griped yet, you know; but
afore I taste my dinner it '11 be pretty bad, I
tell you. Ah! very bad indeed!'
She turned away with a knowing nod, as
much as to say she had one experience in life
to which he was quite a stranger; but before
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER 11
she had gone half a dozen steps she heard the
quiet voice calling to her in rather louder
tones, and in an instant she was back at the
'Slip in here,' said the owner, in a cautious
whisper; 'here's a little coffee left and a few
crusts. There, you must never come again,
you know. I never give to beggars; and if
you'd begged, I'd have called the police.
There; put your poor feet towards the fire.
Now, aren't you comfortable ?'
The child looked up with a face of intense
satisfaction. She was seated upon an empty
basket, with her feet near the pan of charcoal,
and a cup of steaming coffee on her lap ; but
her mouth was too full for her to reply, ex-
cept by a very deep nod, which expressed
unbounded delight. The man was busy for
a while packing up his crockery; but every
12 JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER
now and then he stopped to look down upon
her, and to shake his head gravely.
'What's your name?' he asked at length;
'but there, never mind! I don't care what it
is. What's your name to do with me, I
'It's Jessica,' said the girl; but mother
and everybody calls me Jess. You'd be tired
of being called Jess, if you was me. It's Jess
here, and Jess there; and everybody wanting
me to go errands. And they think nothing
of giving me smacks, and kicks, and pinches.
Whether her arms were black and blue
from the cold, or from ill-usage, he could
not tell; but he shook his head again seri-
ously, and the child felt encouraged to
'I wish I could stay here for ever and
THE COFFEE-STALL AND ITS KEEPER 13
ever, just as I am !' she cried. 'But you're
going away now; and I'm never to come
again, or you'll set the police on me !'
'Yes,' said the coffee-stall keeper very
softly, and looking round to see if there were
any other ragged children within sight; if
you'll promise not to come again for a whole
week, and not to tell anybody else, you may
come once more. I'll give you one other
treat. But you must be off now.'
'I'm off, sir,' she said sharply; but if
you've a errand I could go on, I'd do it all
right, I would. Let me carry some of your
'No, no,' cried the man; you run away,
like a good girl; and mind I'm not to see
you again for a whole week.'
'All right,' answered Jess, setting off
down the rainy street at a quick run, as if to
14 JESSICA'S FIBST PLAYER
show her willing agreement to the bargain;
while the coffee-stall keeper, with many a
cautious glance around him, removed his
stock-in-trade to the coffee-house near at
hand, and was seen no more for the rest of
the day in the neighbourhood of the railway
CH.API I l i
/ "",- ~iTi EMPTATION.
-" .ESSICA kept her part
-: of the bargain faith-
L fully; and though the
solemn and silent man under
the dark shadow of the bridge
looked out for her every morn-
ing as he served his customers, he
caught no glimpse of her wan face and thin
little frame. But when the appointed time
was finished she presented herself at the
stall, with her hungry eyes fastened again
16 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
upon the piles of buns and bread and
butter, which were fast disappearing before
the demands of the buyers. The business
was at its height, and the famished child stood
quietly on one side watching for the throng
to melt away. But as soon as the nearest
church clock had chimed eight she drew a
little nearer to the stall, and at a signal from
its owner she slipped between the trestles of
his stand, and took up her former position on
the empty basket. To his eyes she seemed
even a little thinner, and certainly more
ragged, than before ; and he laid a whole bun,
a stale one which was left from yesterday's
stock, upon her lap, as she lifted the cup of
coffee to her lips with both her benumbed
What's your name ?' she asked, looking
up to him with her keen eyes.
JESSICA'S TEMPTATION 17
'Why ?' he answered hesitatingly, as if
he was reluctant to tell so much of himself;
'my christened name is Daniel.'
'And where do you live, Mr. Dan'el? she
Oh, come now!' he exclaimed, 'if you're
going to be impudent, you'd better march off.
What business is it of yours where I live ? I
don't want to know where you live, I can tell
'I didn't mean no offence,' said Jess
humbly, 'only I thought I'd like to know
where a good man like you lived. You're a
very good man, aren't you, Mr. Dan'el?'
'I don't know,' he answered uneasily;
'I'm afraid I'm not.'
'Oh, but you are, you know,' continued
Jess. You make good coffee; prime! and
buns too! And I've been watching you
18 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
hundreds of times afore you saw me; and the
police leaves you alone, and never tells you to
move on. Oh, yes! you must be a very good
Daniel sighed, and fidgeted about hi
crockery with a grave and occupied air, as
if he were ponderng over the child's notion
of goodness. He made gcod coffee, and the
police left him alone! It was quite true; yet
still, as he counted up the store of pence
which had accumulated in his strong canvas
bag, he sighed again still more heavily. He
purposely let one of his pennies fall upon the
muddy pavement, and went on counting the
rest busily, while he furtively watched the
little girl sitting at his feet. Without a shade
of change upon her 'small face, she covered
the penny with her foot, and drew it in care-
fully towards her, while she continued to
JESSICA'S TEMPTATION 19
S' eling o pai
B f#I shot a pang
l i 't ,_._
'i I-- Daniel's heart;
and then he congratulated
himself on having entrapped the
young thief. It was time to be leaving
20 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYEB
now; but before he went he would make her
move her bare foot, and disclose the penny
concealed beneath it, and then he would
warn her never to venture near his stall
again. This was her gratitude, he thought;
he had given her two breakfasts, and more
kindness than he had shown to any fellow-
creature for many a long year; and at the
first chance the young jade turned upon
him and robbed him! He was brooding over
it painfully in his mind, when Jessica's
uplifted face changed suddenly, and a dark
flush crept over her pale cheeks, and the tears
started to her eyes. She stooped down, and
picking up the coin from amongst the mud,
she rubbed it bright and clean upon her rags,
and laid it upon the stall close to his hand,
but without speaking a word. Daniel looked
down upon her solemnly and searchingly.
JESSICA'S TEMPTATION 21
What's this?' he asked.
'Please, Mr. Daniel,' she answered, 'it
dropped, and you didn't hear it.'
'Jess,' he said sternly, 'tell me all about
'Oh, please,' she sobbed, 'I never had a
penny of my very own but once ; and it rolled
close to my foot; and you didn't see it; and
I hid it up sharp; and then I thought how
kind you'd been, and how good the coffee and
buns are, and how you let me warm myself at
your fire ; and, please, I couldn't keep the
penny any longer. You'll never let me come
again, I guess.'
Daniel turned away for a minute, busying
himself with putting his cups and saucers
into the basket, while Jessica stood by trem-
bling, with the large tears rolling slowly down
her cheeks. The snug, dark corner, with its
'2 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
w:-.ni!l hir of charcoal and its fragrant ai.-llI
':f coffee. L .- been a p;":.,-,:. to hIr' r
these two 1:r: ..t spans -.' time; b ut she had
been .i...lHy ,:. the sin which would drive 1- .r
fi-'.-: i. Al .e'-:, the r. i!'::v arch the
streets stretched n.- :.v, cold and 'rl'- .i r, with
no :1 .- -lv to ::I- to Li. 1.. .and no warm
cups of Atr-. to rif:;h her; yt she was
-1 vli- .'- ...l-'.w-. to hear the words
p,:,.:,n ".-:-,'h should _.'rid her to return
to itl-i '-;.: r spot. Mr. Daniel turned
ri.-;.-: at L,;'. and met her 'r:.l. gaze wtrh
a look o:f -r~ e -'l:in.: u;-:c:n his own
solemn ;':. .:..
,' :.' Li.-- said, 'I ,:--..ld never have done
it. a'-,.-L. 1- vc -i may come here every
WeL-.-:--.. v ,:-:i ,. as this is a WA ,:-.'.,-,
and tL-EL l ..'-,-:. be a cup c.i c-.:e for
JTZ 5 -Il. A*S TZT'rTATION 23
She thought he meant that he could not
have hidden the pl1-n1- under his f:i:,t. and
she went away a little ,id.:l,'t:.l and .sii..l.i,:1.
il rititls ..,idij her great d'liTht in the ex-
pectation of such a treat every week ; while
Daniel, Il.j1.:-rlnr_' over the -[rt.i_..:- that
must have passed through her childish mind,
went on his wv-;, from time to time shaking
his heal, anrl imtt:t' to Liiil-4f, 'I couldn't
have done it avy-!i'; I never could have done
it Li v.c lf.
AN OLD FRIEND IN
A NEW DRESS.
L EEK after week,
through the three
last months of the year,
Jessica appeared every
Wednesday at the coffee-
Sstall, and after waiting
"" 1 patiently till the close of
the breakfasting business,
received her pittance from the charity of her
new friend. After a while Daniel allowed
her to carry some of his load to the coffee-
house, but he never suffered her to follow
farther, and he was always particular to
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS 25
watch her out of sight before he turned off
through the intricate mazes of the streets in
the direction of his own home. Neither did
he encourage her to ask him any more ques-
tions; and often but very few words passed
between them during Jessica's breakfast-
As to Jessica's home, she made no secret
of it, and Daniel might have followed her
any time he pleased. It was a single room,
which had once been a hayloft over the
stable of an old inn, now in use for two or
three donkeys, the property of costermongers
dwelling in the court about it. The mode
of entrance was by a wooden ladder, whose
rungs were crazy and broken, and which led
up through a trap-door in the floor of the
loft. The interior of the home was as
desolate and comfortless as that of the stable
20 JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER
below, with only a litter of straw for the
beldding, and a few bricks and boards for the
furniture. Everything that could be pawned
had disappeared long ago, and Jessica's mother
often lamented that she cAi-ll not thus dispose
of her child. Yet Jessica was hardly a
burden to her. It was a long time since she
had taken any care to provide her with food
or clothing, and the girl had to earn or beg
for herself the meat which kept a scanty life
within her. Jess was the diridAe and errand-
girl of the court; and what with being cuffed
and beaten by her mother, and over-worked
and ill-used by her numerous employTeri her
life was a hard one. But now tlihee was
alwa-vs Wediie-ila morning to count upon
and look f,:,wird to; and by-xi ,-lty a second
scene of amazed delight opened-supon her.
Jessica had wandered far aw;ay from home
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS 27
in the early darkness of a wh7*itr' Uv-'r i '.
afti-e a violent outbreak of her drunken
mother, and she was .il4l -:.l..iu, now ain.l
then, with l]:_i1i-diraTwn sobs of pain and weari-
nre-, when she saw, a lit-I way .,i:'..re- her,
the tall, well-known figure of her friend Mr.
Daniel. He was dressed in a suit of 1.1-i:k,
with a white neL:.I:!1:.t,. and he was I.:...il,,
with brisk, yet measured .::i, ',.,':,n. the
lih'. str:o-ers. Jessica felt ,l-irli :i f speak-
ing to him, but she f,!1i-wc.il at a little
listi.-r e, until presently he -t 'pp'l 1..":f:-re
the iron gates of a 1rlr'n- 1:ull.lin'i'. and unlock-
ing them, piCl-oil on to the arched doorway,
and with a heavy key *-'pi:nei- the f:Tir.h._'-
doors and entered in. The child stole ;it':,-r
him, but paused for a few minutes, t-iren:IYIHlL
upon the thretholt: uniil the '_cic-a :Af a
light lit up within tempted her to venture a
28 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
few steps forward, and to push a little way
open an inner door, covered with crimson
baize, only so far as to enable her to peep
through at the inside. Then growing bolder
by degrees, she crept through herself, draw-
ing the door to noiselessly behind her. The
place was in partial gloom, but Daniel was
kindling every gaslight, and each minute lit
it up in more striking grandeur. She stood
in a carpeted aisle, with high oaken pews on
each side, almost as black as ebony. A
gallery of the same dark old oak ran round
the walls, resting upon massive pillars, behind
one of which she was partly concealed, gazing
with eager eyes at Daniel as he mounted the
pulpit steps and kindled the lights there,
disclosing to her curious delight the glitter-
ing pipes of an organ behind it. Before long
the slow and soft-footed chapel-keeper dis-
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS 29
appeared for, a minute or two into a vestry;
and Jessica, availing herself of his short
absence, stole silently up under the shelter of
the dark pews until she reached the steps of
the organ loft, with its golden show. But at
this moment Mr. Daniel appeared again,
arrayed in a long gown of black serge; and
as she stood spell-bound gazing at the strange
appearance of her patron, his eyes fell upon
her, and he also was struck speechless for a
minute, with an air of amazement and dismay
upon his grave face.
'Come, now,' he exclaimed harshly, as
soon as he could recover his presence of mind,
'you must take yourself out of this. This
isn't any place for such as you. It's for
ladies and gentlemen; so you must run away
sharp before anybody comes. How ever did
you find your way here ?'
.d-- ~ ^^3=S^ ;;-~-- ~~' -~- -
f'' it..-^- .* ^'^ ^
I g *K :
OLD F I:'D IN A NETW DBESS 81
He had come very close to her and bent
down to whisper in her e~r. ..:l:ui n.-rvn.-T"
round to the entrance all the time. Jessica's
n:,-:-r toL:'..ie was loosened.
MI:ther beat me,' she said, 'and turned
me into the streets, and I see y-:u rthre, so I
t, !l~e'.d yon up. I'llrun away this mvri;t-,-
Mr. Daniel; but it's a nice place. What do
the ladies and gentlemen do when tI:hy come
here ? Tell me, and I'll .- off sharp.'
Thi:- come here to. Iry,' Tlilperie-.I.
What is :pray' ? asked Jci:le:t.
'Bless the child !' cried :Daniel in per-
lexity. 'W]I,, the-y kneel down in those
pews; most ..,f them sir. tlao;:.;h; and the
minister up in the pulpit i.-ll- G.Cl what
Jessica gazed into his face with such an
82 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
air of bewilderment that a faint smile crept
over the sedate features of the pew-opener.
What is a minister and God ? she said;
'and do ladies and gentlemen want anything?
I thought they'd everything they wanted,
'Oh !' cried Daniel, 'you must be off,
you know. They'll be coming in a minute,
and they'd be shocked to see a ragged little
heathen like you. This is the pulpit where
the minister stands and preaches to 'em ; and
there are the pews where they sit to listen to
him, or to go to sleep, may be ; and that's the
organ to play music to their singing. There,
I've told you everything, and you must never
come again, never.'
Mr. Daniel,' said Jessica, I don't know
nothing about it. Isn't there a dark little
corner somewhere that I could hide in ?'
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DBESS 33
'No, no,' interrupted Daniel impatiently ;
'we couldn't do with such a little heathen,
with no shoes or bonnet on. Come, now, it's
only a quarter to the time, and somebody will
be here in a minute. Run away, do!'
Jessica retraced her steps slowly to the
crimson door, casting many a longing look
backwards ; but Mr. Daniel stood at the end.
of the aisle, frowning upon her whenever she
glanced behind. She gained the lobby at last,
but already some one was approaching the
chapel door, and beneath the lamp at the gate
stood one of her natural enemies-a police-
man. Her heart beat fast, but she was quick-
witted, and in another instant she spied a
place of concealment behind one of the doors,
into which she crept for safety until the path
should be clear, and the policeman passed on
upon his beat.
84 JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER
The congregation began to arrive quickly.
She heard the rustling of silk dresses, and
she could see the .
gentlemen and :
ladies pass by the ..
niche -I:,tween the [I
do,:,ar and the post. i
VOnee -se v-entu 'e,:l
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW DRESS 85
to stretch out a thin little finger and touch a
velvet mantle as the wearer of it swept by,
but no one caught her in the act, or sus-
pected her presence behind the door. Mr.
Daniel, she could see, was very busy usher-
ing the people to their seats; but there was
a startled look lingering upon his face, and
every now and then he peered anxiously
into the outer gloom and darkness, and even
once called to the policeman to ask if he
had seen a ragged child hanging about.
After a while the organ began to sound, and
Jessica, crouching down in her hiding-place,
listened entranced to the sweet music. She
could not tell what made her cry, but the
tears came so rapidly that it was of no use to
rub the corners of her eyes with her hard
knuckles ; so she lay down upon the ground,
and buried her face in her hands, and wept
88 JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER
without restraint. When the singing was
over she could only catch a confused sound
of a voice speaking. The lobby was empty
now, and the crimson doors closed. The
policeman, also, had walked on. This was
the moment to escape. She raised herself
from the ground with a feeling of weariness
and sorrow; and, thinking sadly of the light
and warmth and music that were within the
closed doors, she stepped out into the cold
and darkness of the streets, and loitered
homewards with a heavy heart.
T ER IV.,
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND.
T was not the last time that
9J.N' Jessica concealed herself be-
hind the baize-covered door.
She could not overcome the urgent desire to
enjoy again and again the secret and perilous
pleasure; and Sunday after Sunday she watched
in the dark streets for the moment when she
could slip in unseen. She soon learned the
exact time when Daniel would be occupied in
lighting up, before the policeman would take
up his station at the entrance, and, again, the
very minute at which it would be wise and
safe to take her departure. Sometimes the
88 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
child laughed noiselessly to herself, until she
shook with suppressed merriment, as she saw
Daniel standing unconsciously in the lobby,
with his solemn face and grave air, to receive
the congregation, much as he faced his
customers at the coffee-stall. She learned to
know the minister by sight-the tall, thin,
pale gentleman, who passed through a side
door, with his head bent as if in deep thought,
while two little girls,, about her own age,
followed him, with sedate yet pleasant faces.
Jessica took a great interest in the minister's
children. The younger one was fair, and
the elder was about as tall as herself, and
had eyes and hair as dark; but oh, how cared
for, how plainly waited on by tender hands!
Sometimes, when they were gone by, she
would close her eyes, and wonder what they
would do in one of the high black pews inside,
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND 89
where there was no place for a ragged, bare-
footed girl like her; and now and then her
wonderings almost ended in a sob, which she
was compelled to stifle.
It was an untold relief to Daniel that
Jessica did not ply him with questions, as he
feared, when she came for breakfast every
Wednesday morning; but she was too shrewd
and cunning for that. She wished him to
forget that she had ever been there, and
by-and-by her wish was accomplished, and
Daniel was no longer uneasy, while he was
lighting the lamps, with the dread of seeing
the child's wild face starting up before him.
But the light evenings of summer-time
were drawing near apace, and Jessica fore-
saw, with dismay, that her Sunday treats
would soon be over. The risk of discovery
increased every week, for the sun was later
40 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
and later in setting, and there would be no
chance of creeping in and out unseen in the
broad daylight. Already it needed both
watchfulness and alertness to dart in at the
right moment in the grey twilight; but still
she could not give it up; and if it had not
been for the fear of offending Mr. Daniel,
she would have resolved upon going until
she was found out. They could not punish
her very much for standing in the lobby of a
Jessica was found out, however, before the
dusky evenings were quite gone. It hap-
pened one night that the minister's children,
coming early to the chapel, saw a small
tattered figure, bareheaded and barefooted,
dart swiftly up the steps before them and
disappear within the lobby. They paused
and looked at one another, and then, hand in
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND 41
hand, their hearts beating quickly, and the
colour coming and going on their faces, they
followed this strange new member of their
father's congregation. The pew-opener was
nowhere to be seen, but their quick eyes
detected the prints of the wet little feet which
had trodden the clean pavement before them,
and in an instant they discovered Jessica
crouching behind the door.
'Let us call Daniel Standring,' said
Winny, the younger child, clinging to her
sister; but she had spoken aloud, and Jessica
overheard her, and before they could stir a
step 'she stood before them with an earnest
and imploring face.
'Oh, don't have me drove away,' she
cried; 'I'm a very poor little girl, and it's
all the pleasure I've got. I've seen you lots
of times with that tall gentleman as stoops,
42 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
and I didn't think you'd have me drove away.
I don't do any harm behind the door, and if
Mr. Daniel finds me out he won't give me
any more coffee.'
'Little girl,' said the elder child, in a
composed and demure voice, 'we don't mean:
to be unkind to you ; but what do you come
here for, and why do you hide yourself behind
the door ?'
I like to hear the music,' answered
Jessica, 'and I want to find out what pray is,
and the minister, and God. I know it's only
for ladies and gentlemen, and fine children
like you; but I'd like to go inside just for
once, and see what you do.'
'You shall come with us into our pew,'
cried Winny, in an eager and impulsive tone;
but Jane laid her hand upon her outstretched
arm, with a glance at Jessica's ragged clothes
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND 43
and matted hair. It was a question difficult
enough to perplex them. The little outcast
was plainly too dirty and neglected for them
to invite her to sit side by side with them in
their crimson-lined pew, and no poor people
attended the chapel with whom she could
have a seat. But Winny, with flushed cheeks
and indignant eyes, looked reproachfully at her
'Jane,' she said, opening her Testament,
and turning over the leaves hurriedly, 'this
was papa's text a little while ago:-" For if
there come into your assembly a man with a
gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come
in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye
have respect to him that weareth the gay
clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in
a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou
there, or sit here under my footstool; are ye
44 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
not then partial in yourselves, and are become
judges of evil thoughts ? If we don't take
this little girl into our pew, we "have the
faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of
glory, with respect of persons." '
I don't know what to do,' answered.Jane,
sighing; 'the Bible seems plain; but I'm
sure papa would not like it. Let us ask the
'Oh, no, no !' cried Jessica ; 'don't let
Mr. Daniel catch me here. I won't come
again, indeed; and I'll promise not to try and
find out about God and the minister if you'll
only let me go.'
But, little girl,' said Jane, in a sweet but
grave manner, 'we ought to teach you about
God if you don't know Him. Our papa is the
minister, and if you'll come with us we'll ask
him what we must do.'
PEEPS INTO FAIRY-LAND 45
'Will Mr. Daniel see me ? asked Jessica.
'Nobody but papa is in the vestry,'
answered Jane, '-and he'll tell us all, you and
us, what we ought to do. You'll not be
afraid of him, will you ?'
No,' said Jessica cheerfully, following the
minister's children as they led her along the
side of the chapel towards the vestry.
He is not such a terrible personage,' said
Winny, looking round encouragingly, as Jane
tapped softly at the door, and they heard a
voice saying, 'Come in.'
A NEW WORLD OPENS.
SIHE minister was sitting
in an easy chair before
ii- a comfortable fire,
S -' with a hymn-book
Sin his hand, which
he closed as the
three children appeared in the open doorway.
Jessica had seen his pale and thoughtful face
many a time from her hiding-place, but she
had never met the keen, earnest, searching
gaze of his eyes, which seemed to pierce
through all her wretchedness and misery, and
to read at once the whole history of her deso-
late life. But before her eyelids could droop,
A NEW WORLD OPENS 47
or she could drop a reverential curtsey, the
minister's face kindled with such a glow of
pitying tenderness and compassion as fastened
her eyes upon him, and gave her new heart
and courage. His children ran to him,
leaving Jessica upon the mat at the door, and
with eager voices and gestures told him the
difficulty they were in.
Come here, little girl,' he said; and
Jessica walked across the carpeted floor till
she stood right before him, with folded hands
and eyes that looked frankly into his.
'What is your name, my child ?' he
'Jessica,' she answered.
'Jessica,' he repeated, with a smile; that
is a strange name.'
'Mother used to play Jessica" at the
theatre, sir,' she said, and I used to be a
48 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
mi e till I IIg
too talln ugly. If
I'm pretty wi n I U
grow Up, -i-othlir :.ys
I've a long tim-e to
I shall 1 i b -
wait. Are you the sm a-
Yes,' he answered, smiling again.
Yes,' he answered, smiling again.
A NEW WORLD OPENS 49
'What is a minister ?' she inquired.
'A servant,' he replied, looking away
thoughtfully into the red embers of the fire.
Papa !' cried Jane and Winny, in tones
of astonishment; but Jessica gazed steadily
at the minister, who was now looking back
again into her bright eyes.
'Please, sir, whose servant are you ?' she
'The servant of God and of man,' he
answered solemnly. Jessica, I am your
The child shook her head, and laughed
shrilly as she gazed round the room, and at
the handsome clothing of the minister's
daughters, while she drew her rags closer
about her, and shivered a little, as if she felt
a sting of the east wind, which was blowing
keenly through the streets. The sound of
50 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
her shrill, childish laugh made the minister's
heart ache and the tears burn under his
Who is God ?' asked the child. 'When
mother's in a good temper, sometimes she
says, God bless me !" Do you know Him,
please, minister ?'
But before there was time to answer, the
door into the chapel was opened, and Daniel
stood upon the threshold. At first he stared
blandly forwards, but then his grave face grew
ghastly pale, and he laid his hand upon the
door to support himself until he could re-
cover his speech and senses. Jessica also
looked about her, scared and irresolute, as if
anxious to run away or to hide herself. The
minister was the first to speak.
Jessica,' he said,' there is a place close
under my pulpit where you shall sit, and
A NEW WOBLD OPENS 51
where I can see you all the time. Be a good
girl and listen, and you will hear something
about God. Standring, put this little one in
front of the pews by the pulpit steps.'
But before she could believe it for very
gladness, Jessica found herself inside the
chapel, facing the glittering organ, from which
a sweet strain of music was sounding. Not
far from her Jane and Winny were peeping
over the front of their pew, with friendly
smiles and glances. It was evident that the
minister's elder daughter was anxious about
her behaviour, and she made energetic signs
to her when to stand up and when to kneel;
but Winny was content with smiling at her
whenever her head rose above the top of the
pew. Jessica was happy, but not in the least
abashed. The ladies and gentlemen were not
at all unlike those whom she had often seen
52 JESSICA'S FIRST PLAYER
when she was a fairy at the theatre; and very
soon her attention was engrossed- by the
minister, whose eyes often fell upon her as
she gazed eagerly, with uplifted face, upon him.
She could scarcely understand a word of what
he said, but she liked the tones of his voice
and the tender pity of his face as he looked
down upon her. Daniel hovered about a good
deal, with an air of uneasiness and displeasure,
but she was unconscious of his presence.
Jessica was intent upon finding out what a
minister and God were.
S/HW C PTERVI.
M THE FIRST
.. -'- PRAYER.
,// ." HEN the service
'was ended, the
the pulpit steps, just as
S i Daniel was about to
hurry Jessica away,
and, taking her by the
hand in the face of all the congrega-
tion, he led her into the vestry, whither Jane
and Winny quickly followed them. He was
fatigued with the services of the day, and his
54 JESSICA'S FIBST PRAYEl
pale face was paler than ever as he placed
Jessica before his chair, into which he threw
himself with an air of exhaustion; but bow-
ing his head upon his hands, he said in a low
but clear tone, 'Lord, these are the lambs of
Thy flock. Help me to feed Thy lambs '
'Children,' he said, with a smile upon his
weary face, 'it is no easy thing to know God.
But this one thing we know, that He is our
Father-my Father and your Father, Jessica.
He loves you, and cares for you more than I
do for my little girls here.'
He smiled at them and they at him, with
an expression which Jessica felt and under-
stood, though it made her sad. She trembled
a little, and the minister's ear caught the
sound of a faint though bitter sob.
'I lever had any father,' she said sorrow-
THE FIRST PRAYER 55
God is your Father,' he answered very
gently; He knows all about you, because He
is present everywhere. We cannot see Him,
but we have only to speak, and He hears us,
and we may ask Him for whatever we want.'
'Will He let me speak to Him as well as
these fine children that are clean and have
got nice clothes?' asked Jessica, glancing
anxiously at her muddy feet and her soiled
and tattered frock.
'Yes,' said the minister, smiling, yet sigh-
ing at the same time; 'you may ask Him this
moment for what you want.'
Jessica gazed round the room with large
wide-open eyes, as if she were seeking to see
God; but then she shut her eyelids tightly,
and bending her head upon her hands, as she
had seen the minister do, she said, '0 God!
I want to know about You. And please pay
56 JESSICA'S FIRST PLAYER
Mr. Dan'el for all the warm coffee he s give
Jane and Winny listened with faces of
unutterable amazement; but the tears stood
in the minister's eyes, and he added 'Amen'
to Jessica's first prayer.
,ANIEL had no op-
portunity for speak-
ing to Jessica; for, after waiting until the
minister left the vestry, he found that she had
.gone away by the side entrance. He had to
wait, therefore, until Wednesday morning, and
the sight of her pinched little face was welcome
to him when he saw it looking wistfully over
the coffee-stall. Yet he had made up his
mind to forbid her to come again, and to
threaten her with the policeman if he ever
58 JESSICA'S FIRST' PAYER
caught her at the chapel, where for the future
he intended to keep a sharper look-out. But
before he could speak Jess had slipped under
the stall, and taken her old seat upon the
'Mr. Dan'el,' she said, 'has God paid you
for my sups of coffee yet?'
'Paid me? he repeated; God? No.'
'Well, He will,' she answered, nodding
her head sagely; don't you be afraid of your
money, Mr. Dan'el; I've asked Him a many
times, and the minister says He's sure to do
'Jess,' said Daniel sternly, have you
been and told the minister about my coffee-
'No,' she answered, with a beaming smile,
'but I've told God lots and lots of times since
Sunday, and He's sure to pay in a day or two.'
HARD QUESTIONS 59
'Jess,' continued Daniel more gently,
'you're a sharp little girl, I see ; and now,
mind, I'm going to trust you. You're never
to say a word about me or my coffee-stall;
because the folks at our chapel are very grand,
and might think it low and mean of me to
keep a coffee-stall. Very likely they'd say
I mustn't be chapel-keeper any longer, and
I should lose a deal of money.'
Why do you keep the stall, then?' asked
'Don't you see what a many pennies I
get every morning?' he said, shaking his
canvas bag. I get a good deal of money
that way in a year.'
'What do you want such a deal of money
for ?' she inquired; 'do you give it to
Daniel did not answer, but the question
60 .7ESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
went to his heart like a sword-thrust. What
did he want so much money for? He thought
of his one bare solitary room, where he lodged
alone, a good way from the railway bridge,
with very few comforts in it, but containing
a desk, strongly and securely fastened, in
which was his savings-bank book and his
receipts for money put out at interest, and a
bag of sovereigns, for which he had been
toiling and slaving both on Sundays and
week-days. He could not remember giving
anything away, except the dregs of the coffee
and the stale buns, for which Jessica was
asking God to pay him. He coughed, and
cleared his throat, and rubbed his eyes; and
then, with nervous and hesitating fingers, he
took a penny from his bag, and slipped it
into Jessica's hand.
'No, no, Mr. Dan'el,' she said; 'I don't
HARD QUESTIONS 61
want you to give me any of your pennies. I
want God to pay you.'
'Ay, He'll pay me,' muttered Daniel;
'there'll be a day of reckoning by-and-by.'
'Does God have reckoning days ?' asked
Jessica. 'I used to like reckoning days
when I was a fairy.'
'Ay, ay,' he answered; 'but there's few
folks like God's reckoning days.'
'But you'll be glad, won't you?' she
Daniel bade her get on with her breakfast,
and then he turned over in his mind the
thoughts which her questions had awakened.
Conscience told him he would not be glad to
meet God's reckoning day.
'Mr. Dan'el,' said Jessica when they
were about to separate, and he would not take
back his gift of a penny, 'if you wouldn't
62 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
mind, I'd like to come and buy a cup of coffee
to-morrow, like a customer, you know; and
I won't let out a word about the stall to the
minister next Sunday, don't you be afraid.'
She tied the penny carefully into a corner
of her rags, and with a cheerful smile upon
her thin face she glided from under the
shadow of the bridge, and was soon lost to
S... HEN Jessica came to
the street into which
tlhe court where she lived
opened, she saw an un-
u,-ual degree of excite-
ment among the inhabitants, a group of
whom were gathered about a tall gentleman,
whom she recognized in an instant to be the
minister. She elbowed her way through the
midst of them, and the minister's face bright-
ened as she presented herself before him. He
followed her up the low entry, across the
squalid court, through the stable, empty of
64 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
the donkeys just then, up the creaking rounds
of the ladder, and into the miserable loft,
where the tiles were falling in, and the broken
window-panes were stuffed with rags and
paper. Near to the old rusty stove, which
served as a grate when there was any fire,
there was a short board laid across some
bricks, and upon this the minister took his
seat, while Jessica sat upon the floor 'before
'Jessica,' he said sadly, 'is this where
you live ?'
'Yes,' she answered; 'but we'd a nicer
room than this when I was a fairy, and mother
played at the theatre; we shall be better off
when I'm grown up, if I'm pretty enough to
play like her.'
My child,' he said, I'm come to ask your
mother to let you go to school in a pleasant
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR 65
place down in the country. Will she let
you go ?'
'No,' answered Jessica; 'mother says
she'll never let me learn to read, or go to
church; she says it would make me good for
nothing. But please, sir, she doesn't know
anything about your church, it's such a long
way off, and she hasn't found me out yet.
She always gets very drunk of a Sunday.'
The child spoke simply, and as if all
she said was a matter of course; but the
minister shuddered, and he looked through
the broken window to the little patch of
gloomy sky overhead.
'What can I do?' he cried mournfully, as
though speaking to himself.
'Nothing, please, sir,' said Jessica; only
let me come to hear you of a Sunday, and
tell me about God. If you was to give me
68 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
fine clothes like your little girls, mother 'ud
only pawn them for gin. You can't do any-
thing more for me.'
Where is your mother ? '
Out on a spree,' said Jessica,
and she won't be home for a day or
two. She'd not hearken to you, sir. There's
the missionary came, and yshe pushed him
down the ladder, till he was nearly killed.
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR 67
They used to call mother the Vixen at the
theatre, and nobody durst say a word to her.'
The minister was silent for some minutes,
thinking painful thoughts, for his eyes seemed
to darken as he looked round the miserable
room, and his face wore an air of sorrow and
disappointment. At last he spoke again.
Who is Mr. Daniel, Jessica ?' he in-
'Oh,' she said cunningly, 'he's only a
friend of mine as gives me sups of coffee.
You don't know all the folks in London,
No,' he answered, smiling; 'but does
he keep a coffee-stall?'
Jessica nodded her head, but did not trust
herself to speak.
How much does a cup of coffee cost ?'
asked the minister.
68 JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER
'A full cup's a penny,' she answered
promptly; 'but you can have half a cup; and
there are halfpenny and penny buns.'
Good coffee and buns ?' he said, with
'Prime,' replied Jessica, smacking her
Well,' continued the minister, 'tell your
friend to give you a full cup of coffee and
a penny bun every morning, and I'll pay for
them as often as he chooses to come to me
for the money.'
Jessica's face beamed with delight, but in
an instant it clouded over as she recollected
Daniel's secret, and her lips quivered as she
spoke her disappointed reply.
'Please, sir,' she said, 'I'm sure he
couldn't come ; oh he couldn't. It's such
a long way, and Mr. Daniel has plenty of
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR 03
customers. No, he never would come to you
for the money.'
'Jessica,' he answered, I will tell you
what I will do. I will trust you with a
shilling every Sunday, if you'll promise to
give it to your friend the very first time you
see him. I shall be sure to know if you
cheat me.' And the keen, piercing eyes of
the minister looked down into Jessica's, and
once more the tender and pitying smile re-
turned to his face.
SI can do nothing else for you ?' he said,
in a tone of mingled sorrow and questioning.
'No, minister,' answered Jessica ; 'only
tell me about God.'
'I will tell you one thing about Him now,'
he replied. 'If I took you to live in my
house with my little daughters, you would
have to be washed and clothed in new
70 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
clothing to make you fit for it. God wanted
us to go and live at home with Him in
heaven, but we were so sinful that we could
never have been fit for it. So He sent His
own Son to live amongst us, and die for us,
to wash us from our sins, and to give us new
clothing, and to make us ready to live in
God's house. When you ask God for
anything, you must say, For Jesus Christ's
sake." Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'
After these words the minister carefully
descended the ladder, followed by Jessica's
bare and nimble feet, and she led him by the
nearest way into one of the great thorough-
fares of the city, where he said good-bye to
her, adding, God bless you, my child,' in a
tone which sank into Jessica's heart. He
had put a silver sixpence into her hand to
provide for her breakfast the next three
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR 71
mornings, and, with a feeling of being very
rich, she returned to her miserable home.
The next morning Jessica presented
herself proudly as a customer at Daniel's
stall, and paid over the sixpence in advance.
He felt a little troubled as he heard her
story, lest the minister should endeavour to
find him out; but he could not refuse to
let the child come daily for her comfortable
breakfast. If he was detected, he would
promise to give up his coffee-stall rather than
offend the great people of the chapel; but
unless he was, it would be foolish of him to
lose the money it brought in week after week.
JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER ANSWERED.
VERY Sunday evening the bare-
footed and bareheaded child might
be seen advancing confidently up to the chapel
where rich and fashionable people worshipped
God; but before taking her place she arrayed
herself in a little cloak and bonnet, which
had once belonged to the minister's elder
daughter, and which was kept with Daniel's
serge gown, so that she presented a some-
what more respectable appearance in the eyes
JESSICA'S FIZiST PRAYER ANSWERED 73
of the congregation. The minister had no
listener more attentive, and he would have
missed the pinched, earnest little face if it
were not to be seen in the seat just under the
pulpit. At the close of each service he spoke to
her for a minute or two in his vestry, often
saying no more than a single sentence, for the
day's labour had wearied him. The shilling,
which was always lying upon the chimney-
piece, placed there by Jane and Winny in turns,
was immediately handed over, according to
promise, to Daniel as she left the chapel, and
so Jessica's breakfast was provided for her
week after week.
But at last there came a Sunday evening
when the minister, going up into his pulpit,
did miss the wistful, hungry face, and the
shilling lay unclaimed upon the vestry chim-
ney-piece. Daniel looked out for her
74 JESSICA'S FIST PLAYER
anxiously every morning, but no Jessica
glided into his secluded corner, to sit beside
him with her breakfast on her lap, and with
a number of strange questions to ask. He
felt her absence more keenly than he could
have expected. The child was nothing to
him, he kept saying to himself; and yet he
felt that she was something, and that he could
not help being uneasy and anxious about her.
Why had he never inquired where she lived ?
The minister knew, and for a minute Daniel
thought he would go and ask him, but that
might awaken suspicion. How could he ac-
count for so much anxiety, when he was
supposed only to know of her absence from
chapel one Sunday evening ? It would be
running a risk, and, after all, Jessica was
nothing to him. So he went home and
looked over his savings-bank book, and
JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER ANSWERED 75
counted his money, and he found, to his
satisfaction, that he had gathered together
nearly four hundred pounds, and was adding
more every week.
But when upon the next Sunday Jessica's
seat was again empty, the anxiety of the
solemn chapel-keeper overcame his prudence
and his fears. The minister had retired to
his vestry, and was standing with his arm
resting upon the chimney-piece, with his eyes
fixed upon the unclaimed shilling, which
Winny had laid there before the service,
when there was a tap at the door, and
Daniel entered with a respectful but hesi-
Well, Standring ?' said the minister
'Sir,' he said, I'm uncomfortable about
that little girl, and I know you've been once
76 JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER
to see after her; she told me about it;. and
so I make bold to ask you where she lives,
and I'll see what's become of her.'
Right, Standring,' answered the minister:
'I am troubled about the child, and so are
my little girls. I thought of going myself,
but my time is very much occupied just now.'
'I'll go, sir,' replied Daniel promptly;
and, after receiving the necessary information
about Jessica's home, he put out the lights,
locked the door, and turned towards his lonely
But though it was getting late upon
Sunday evening, and Jessica's home was a
long way distant, Daniel found that his
anxiety would not suffer him to return to
his solitary room. It was of no use to reason
with himself, as he stood at the corner of
the street, feeling perplexed and troubled, and
JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER ANSWERED 77
promising his conscience that he would go
the very first thing in the morning after he
shut up his coffee-stall. In the dim, dusky light,
as the summer evening drew to a close, he
fancied he could see Jessica's thin figure and
wan face gliding on before him, and turning
round from time to time to see if he were
following. It was only fancy, and he laughed
a little at himself; but the laugh was husky,
and there was a choking sensation in his
throat, so he buttoned his Sunday coat over
his breast, where his silver watch and chain
hung temptingly, and started off at a rapid
pace for the centre of the city.
It was not quite dark when he reached
the court, and stumbled up the narrow entry
leading to it; but Daniel did hesitate when
he opened the stable door, and looked into a
blank, black space, in which he could discern
78 JESSICA'S FIRST PRATYE
nothing. He thought he had better retreat
while he could do so safely, but, as he still
stood with his hand upon the rusty latch, he
heard a faint, small voice through the nicks
of the unceiled boarding above his head.
'Our Father,' said the little voice, 'please
to send somebody to me, for Jesus Christ's
'I'm here, Jess,' cried Daniel, with a
sudden bound of his heart, such as he had
not felt for years, and which almost took
away his breath as he peered into the dark-
ness, until at last he discerned dimly the
ladder which led up into the loft.
Very cautiously, but with an eagerness
which surprised himself, he climbed up the
creaking rounds of the ladder and entered
the dismal room, where the child was lying
in desolate darkness. Fortunately he had
JESSICA'S PIRST PRAYER ANSWERED 79
put his box of matches into his pocket, and
the end of a wax candle with which he
kindled the lamps, and in another minute a
gleam of light shone upon Jessica's white
features. She was stretched upon a scanty
litter of straw under the slanting roof where
the tiles had not fallen off, with her poor
rags for her only covering; but as her eyes
looked up into Daniel's face bending over her,
a bright smile of joy sparkled in them.
'Oh !' she cried gladly, but in a feeble
voice, 'it's Mr. Dan'el Has God told you
to come here, Mr. Dan'el ?'
'Yes,' said Daniel, kneeling beside her,
taking her wasted hand in his, and parting
the matted hair upon her damp forehead.
'What did He say to you, Mr. Dan'el ?'
'He told me I was a great sinner,' replied
80 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
Daniel. He told me I loved a little bit of
dirty money better than a poor, friendless,
helpless child, whom He had sent to me to
see if I would do her a little good for His
sake. He looked at me, or the minister did,
through and through ; and He said, Thou
fool, this night thy soul shall be required of
thee: then whose shall those things be which
thou hast provided ? And I could answer
Him nothing, Jess. He was come to a
reckoning with me, and I could not say a
word to Him.'
'Aren't you a good man, Mr, Dan'el?'
'No, I'm a wicked sinner,' he cried, while
the tears rolled down his solemn face. 'I've
been constant at God's house, but only to get
money; I've been steady and industrious, but
only to get money; and now God looks at
JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER ANSWERED 81
me, and He says, "-Thou fool !" Oh, Jess,
Jess! you're more fit for heaven than I ever
was in my life.'
'Why don't you ask Him to make you
good for Jesus Christ's sake ?' asked the
I can't,' he said. I've been kneeling
down Sunday after Sunday when the minister's
been praying, but all the time I was thinking
how rich some of the carriage people were.
I've been loving money and worshipping
money all along, and I've nearly let you die
rather than run the risk of losing part of my
earnings. I'm a very sinful man.'
But you know what the minister often
says,' murmured Jessica. '" Herein is love,
not that we loved God, but that He loved us,
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for
82 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
'I've heard it so often that I don't feel it,'
said Daniel. 'I used to like to hear the
minister say it, but now it goes in at one ear
and out at the other. My heart is very hard,
By the feeble glimmer of the candle Daniel
saw Jessica's wistful eyes fixed upon him with
a sad and loving glance; andithen. she lifted
up her weak hand to her face, and laid it
over her closed eyelids, and her feverish lips
'God,' she said, 'please to make Mr.
Daniel's heart soft, for Jesus Christ's sake.
She did not speak again, nor Daniel, for
some time. He took off his Sunday coat and
laid it over the tiny shivering frame, which
was shaking with cold even in the summer
evening ; and as he did so he remembered the
JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER ANSWERED 83
words which the Lord says He will pronounce
at the last day of reckoning : 'Forasmuch as
ye have done it unto one of the least of these
My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.'
Daniel Standring felt his heart turning with
love to the Saviour, and he bowed his head
upon his hands, and cried in the depths of his
contrite spirit, 'God be merciful to me a
THE SHADOW OF
the railway arch the
.. and Daniel's regular
customers stood amazed as they drew near the
empty corner, where they were accustomed
to get their early breakfast. It would have
astonished them still more if they could have
seen how he was occupied in the miserable loft.
He had entrusted a friendly woman out of the
THE SHADOW OF DEATH 85
court to buy food and fuel, and all night long
he had watched beside Jessica, who was light-
headed and delirious, but in the wanderings
of her thoughts and words often spoke of God,
and prayed for her Mr. Dan'el. The neighbour
informed him that the child's mother had gone
off some days before, fearing that she was ill
of some infectious fever, and that she, alone,
had taken a little care of her from time to
time. As soon as the morning came he sent
for a doctor, anid, after receiving permission
from him, he wrapped the poor deserted
Jessica in his coat, and bearing her tenderly
in his arms down the ladder, he carried her
to a cab, which the neighbour brought to the
entrance of the court. It was to no other
than his own solitary home that he had
resolved to take her ; and when the mistress
of the lodgings stood at her door, with her
86 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYEB
arms a-kimbo, to forbid the admission of the
7- i i 1 I
:1AL / f 'tc d iand
'I.- l t1 child,
"'H," i" 1 'i"l by the
-l K Q_' 1 n f a half-
IIi I, -r,' i i : slipped
Id Ki 1- IIbrI hand.
-By that after-
:_;;noon's post the
minister received the following letter :-
THE SHADOW OF DEATH 87
' REVEREND SIa,
SIf you will condescend to enter under
my humble roof, you will have the pleasure
of seeing little Jessica, who is at the point of
death, unless God in His mercy restores her.
Hoping you will excuse this liberty, as I
cannot leave the child, I remain, with duty,
'Your respectful Servant,
'P.S.-Jessica desires her best love and
duty to Miss Jane and Winny.'
The minister laid aside the book he was
reading, and without any delay started off for
his chapel-keeper's dwelling. There was
Jessica lying restfully upon Daniel's bed, but
the pinched features were deadly pale, and
the sunken eyes shone with a waning light.
She was too feeble to turn her head when
88 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
the door opened, and he paused for a minute,
looking at her and at Daniel, who, seated at
the head of the bed, was turning over the
papers in his desk,. and reckoning up once
more the savings of his lifetime. But when
the minister advanced into the middle of the
room, Jessica's white cheeks flushed into a
Oh, minister!' she cried, God has given
me everything I wanted except paying
Mr. Dan'el for the coffee he used to give
Ah! but God has paid me over and over
again,' said Daniel, rising to receive the
minister. 'He's given me my own soul in
exchange for it. Let me make bold to speak
to you this once, sir. You're a very learned
man, and a great preacher, and many people
flock to hear you till I'm hard put to it to
THE SHADOW OF DEATH 89
find seats for them at times; but all the
while, hearkening to you every blessed
Sabbath, I was losing my soul, and you never
once said to me, though you saw me scores
and scores of times, Standring, are you a
saved man ? "'
Standring,' said the minister, in a tone of
great distress and regret, I always took it for
granted that you were a Christian.'
'Ah !' continued Daniel thoughtfully,
'but God wanted somebody to ask me that
question, and He did not find anybody in the
congregation, so He sent this poor little lass
to me. Well, I don't mind telling now, even
if I lose the-place; but for a long time, nigh
upon ten years, I've kept a coffee-stall on week
days in the city, and cleared, one week with
another, about ten shillings ; but I was afraid
the chapel-wardens wouldn't approve of the
90 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
coffee business, as low, so I kept it a close
secret, and always shut up early of a morning.
It's me that sold Jessica her cup of coffee
which you paid for, sir.'
There's no harm in it, my good fellow,'
said the minister kindly; 'you need make
no secret of it.'
'Well,' resumed Daniel, the questions
this poor little creature has asked me have
gone quicker and deeper down to my con-
science than all your sermons, if I may make so
free as to say it. She's come often and often
of a morning, and looked into my face with
those dear eyes of hers, and said, Don't you
love Jesus Christ, Mr. Dan'el ?" Doesn't
it make you very glad that God is your Father,
Mr. Dan'el ? Are we getting nearer heaven
every day, Mr. Dan'el ?" And one day, says
she, Are you going to give all your money
THE SHADOW OF DEATH 91
to God, Mr. Dan'el ?" Ah that question
made me think indeed, and it's never been
answered till this day. While I've been
sitting beside the bed here I've counted
up all my savings: 3971. 17s. it is; and
I've said, Lord, it's all Thine; and I'd
give every penny of it rather than lose the
child, if it be Thy blessed will to spare her
Daniel's voice quavered at the last words,
and his face sank upon the pillow where
Jessica's feeble and motionless head lay.
There was a very sweet, yet surprised smile
upon her face, and she lifted her wasted
fingers to rest upon the bowed head beside
her, while she shut her eyes and shaded them
with her other weak hand.
Our Father,' she said in a faint whisper,
which still reached the ears of the minister
02 JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER
and the beadle, 'I asked You to let me come
home to heaven ; but if Mr. Dan'el wants me,
little lon -e
4-"ALt L ---
S'", -f,, e" t -.1 C' ia-.A.'s
S :I 1 -__ 1-ill
/ ,,, " :+ F .-r ___. ....
Lvt' 'J.M II-
,~-- prayer there was
a deep and unbroken silence in the room,
THE SHADOW OF DEATH 93
Daniel still hiding his face upon the pillow,
and the minister standing beside them with
bowed head and closed eyes, as if he also
were praying. When he looked up again at
the forsaken and desolate child, he saw that
her feeble hand had fallen from her face, which
looked full of rest and peace, while her breath
came faintly, but regularly, through her
parted lips. He took her little hand into his
own with a pang of fear and grief; but, in-
stead of the mortal chillness of death, he felt
the pleasant warmth and moisture of life. He
touched Daniel's shoulder, and, as he lifted up
his head in sudden alarm, he whispered to
him, 'The child is not dead, but is only
Before Jessica was fully recovered, Daniel
rented a little house for himself and his
adopted daughter to dwell in. He made
94 JESSICA'S FIST PRAYER
many inquiries after her mother, but she
never appeared again in her old haunts, and
he was well pleased that there was nobody to
interfere with his charge of Jessica. When
Jessica grew strong, enough, many a cheerful
walk had they together in the early mornings,
as they wended their way to the railway bridge,
where the little girl took her place behind the
stall, and soon learned to serve the daily cus-
tomers ; and many a happy day was spent in
helping to sweep and dust the chapel, into
which she had crept so secretly at first, her
great delight being. to attend to the pulpit
and the vestry, and the pew where the
minister's children sat, while Daniel and the
woman he employed cleaned the rest of the
building. Many a Sunday also the minister
in his pulpit, and his little daughters in their
pew, and Daniel treading softly about the
THE SHADOW OF DEATH 95
aisles, as their glance fell upon Jessica's eager,
earnest, happy face, thought of the first
time they saw her sitting amongst the congre-
gation, and of Jessica's first prayer.
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