. TRIED AND TRUE.
TRIED AND TRUE.
ILL UST R A TED.
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON & CO.,
2, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS.
"TRIED AND TRUE."
the year 1619, when King James L's reign was
drawing to a close, our heroine, Lucy Apsley,
afterwards to become Lucy Hutchinson, was
born in the Tower of London.
Her father, Sir Allen Apsley, was Lieutenant
of the Tower, a position of no little importance in those days,
when the Tower was used as a state prison, and the cells and
rooms were but too closely occupied. Those were troublous
times for England; poets, warriors, and nobles, as well as
country boors, were in turn committed to this prison.
Queen Elizabeth herself was during her sister Mary's reign
a prisoner within these walls; and many were the great and
noble names who (less fortunate than the Maiden Queen)
only left their prison to suffer death on the little green of
Tower Hill. Sir Walter Raleigh was one of these. He
was for twelve years a prisoner in the Tower; but this
great man showed to the world that
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage."
He used his cell as a study, and finding himself com-
pelled to retire from the world, he employed his leisure in
writing books, which at this very day are remarkable for
2 Tried and True."
the learning and knowledge they display. Besides this, he
made various experiments in chemistry, the materials for
which were provided by the generosity of the Lieutenant's
wife, the Lady Apsley. In return for this and many other
services which Sir Walter received from the hands of his
kind and humane keeper, he taught Lady Apsley all he knew
of surgery and the science of medicine, and by these means
she became skilful in the healing of wounds and concoct-
ing of simple remedies for the sick. It is said that she
was as a mother to all the prisoners that came to the
Tower. In sickness she would herself make them broth
and dainty dishes, and would minister to their wants with
her own hands; whilst those who were sick with sorrow-
and this was no uncommon disease amongst the Tower
-prisoners-she would console and comfort as best she could,
and endeavour to let them feel none of the inconvenience
of a prison.
We must not forget that the people who were sent to
the Tower were very different to the class of criminals who
now fill our jails. Instead of being people of bad character,
who had offended both God and man, the inmates of this
fortress were then, as a rule, people of exalted station and
gentle manners, and were generally imprisoned because
they were believed to be opposed to the Government of the
day; for at this time opinions that were in favour one
week were declared to be seditious and dangerous the next,
and a man who was once high in favour would suddenly
find himself deprived of liberty for crimes of which he was
often wholly unconscious.
No wonder, then, that the gentle wife of the keeper of
the Tower felt much womanly pity for the prisoners under
her husband's charge; and when her daughter Lucy was
old enough, she would accompany her another on her visits
of mercy to the various cells. A childhood passed amid
" Tried and True."
such scenes made an early woman of the little maid. She
says that at the age of four she could read English per-
fectly, whilst at seven years old she had eight tutors, who
taught her various languages, music, dancing, writing, and
needlework. .Naturally enough this child-woman did not
much care for other children; their games and toys seemed
puerile to her who had already seen the dark side of life.
She appears indeed to have been most precocious in many
ways. In the short history of her life that she has left
behind her, she says that before she had reached her teens,
she was "the confidant in all the loves that were managed
among my mother's young women;" and she quaintly adds,
"There was none of them but had many lovers." -When
Lucy had reached her seventeenth year, the moment arrived
when she was to have a lover of her owi ; she had hitherto
cared little for notice or attention from the gallants of the
day; probably the experience gained in childhood amongst
her mother's young women had warned her that-
"Men were deceivers ever."
But now a grave divinity student fell deeply in love with
her, and she on her part felt an equal affection for him.
The friends on both sides were pleased, and the course of
true love for once ran smoothly until the day of the be-
trothal, when Lucy, gentle pretty Lucy, sickened with the
small-pox. We in these days can hardly imagine what a
dreadful disease small-pox was before the discovery of vac-
cination, which has robbed it of half its terrors. At that
time thousands of persons died yearly of its ravages, and
those whose lives were spared were generally so disfigured
that they were repulsive to look upon. Such was Lucy's
fate. When she recovered, she was, to use her own
words, "the most deformed person that could be seen."
But'John Hutchinson cared not for that; it was Lucy her-
" Tried and True."
self, not her face, that he loved. "He was little troubled
at it," she writes, "but married her as soon as she was able
to quit the chamber, when the priest and all that saw her
were affrighted to look on her." It is pleasing to know that
in time she regained her good looks, though it was some years
before she quite lost all traces of the malady.
The early years of Lucy's married life were passed quietly
and happily, first in London, and then at her husband's
house of Owthorpe, in Nottinghamshire. Two sons were
born, and Lucy then found her chief pleasure in the care of
her babies and the society of her husband. He was much
in his library, but those were troublous times for England,
and soon the books of "school divinity had to be put aside,
and John Hutchinson set himself to understand the matters
in dispute between the King and the Parliament. Civil
war was then raging in our land; the people were divided
into Cavaliers and Roundheads, so called on account of the
different way in which the opposing armies wore their hair.
The Cavaliers, who belonged to the King's party, were
adorned by the long flowing ringlets which we know so
well in the pictures of Charles II., whilst the Roundheads
prided themselves on keeping their hair short and close
cropped. Mr. Hutchinson decided in his mind that the
cause of the Parliament (or the Roundheads) was the most
righteous one; but he had no wish to be concerned with
the fighting on either side, and contented himself with
praying for peace. His wife, however, did not like the
term Roundhead to be given to her husband. She says:
"It was very ill applied to Mr. Hutchinson, who, having
naturally a very fine thick-set head of hair, kept it clean
and handsome, so that it was a great ornament to him,
although the godly of those days, when he embraced their
party, would not allow him to be religious because his hair
is not in their cut." The godly was a name by which the
Tried and True." 5
Roundheads frequently called themselves; and such was
their bigotry, that it was deemed impossible for any one to
be considered godly who varied in any way, either in dress
or opinions, from the rules they had made.
John Hutchinson seems, however, whilst espousing the
cause of the Parliament, to have ever remained moderate
and humane; and in this he differed so much from the rest
of his party, that we are surprised to find him chosen as
the governor of the old castle of Nottingham, and from
henceforth he is always known as Colonel Hutchinson.
In his new post he displayed both courage and skill; the
castle, almost a ruin, is by his orders changed into a strong
fortress, and for five days and nights it is held successfully
against a large army of Cavaliers, who are at last driven
from the town with great losses.
Now is the time for Lucy to show of what stuff she is
made. She has now the opportunity of putting into practice
those lessons of surgery and medicine learnt as a little
child in that prim old fortress of the Tower. We will give
the historian's own words on this matter:-
"There was a large room, which was the chapel, in the
castle; this they had filled full of prisoners, besides a very
bad prison, which was no better than a dungeon, called the
Lion's Den. The new Captain Palmer and another minister,
having nothing else to do, walked up and down the castle
yard, insulting and beating the poor prisoners as they were
brought up. In the encounter one of the Derby captains
was slain and five of our men hurt, who, for want of another
surgeon, were brought to the governor's wife, and she having
some excellent balsams and plasters in her closet, with the
assistance of a gentleman that had some skill, dressed all
their wounds, whereof some were dangerous, being all shots,
with such good success that they were all well cured in con-
venient time. After our wounded men were dressed, as she
6 Tried and True."
stood at her chamber door, seeing three of the prisoners
sorely cut, and carried down bleeding into the Lion's Den,
she desired the marshal to bring them in to her, and bound
up and dressed their wounds also; which while she was
doing Captain Palmer came in and told her his soul ab-
horred to see this favour to the enemies of God. She replied,
she had done nothing but what she thought was her duty
in humanity to them as fellow-creatures, not as enemies.
But he was very ill satisfied with her." Surely we have
improved in Christian charity since those narrow-minded
days. Now, like Lucy Hutchinson, we deem it a duty, nay,
a pleasure, to nurse and feed our prisoners, and make no
difference between them and the wounded of our own
When peace was at length restored to this country,
Colonel Hutchinson and his brave wife returned in thank-
fulness to their country home at Owthorpe. They found it
plundered of all that could be moved, and the building
itself much damaged by the successive regiments that had
passed that way. This was unfortunately the case with
many other country houses, and Colonel Hutchinson wasted
no time in idle regrets, but set at once to work to restore his
home to its former comfort. He now led the useful life of an
English country gentleman. The poor of the neighbour-
hood ever found in him a trusty friend, one to whom they
could apply in all their troubles, and whose time and money
were ever at the service of those who most needed them.
In all his undertakings, Lucy was ever his helper and
wisest counsellor. She was as willing to assist with the
laying out of a cottage garden as she had formerly been to
succour the wounded; nothing that could help a fellow-
creature came amiss to her womanly heart, and both she
and her husband were greatly beloved by all their neigh-
bours. Yet there were those who regarded with disfavour
" Tried and True."
that quiet household at Owthorpe. The Puritans (to which
party the Hutchinsons nominally belonged) looked with
suspicion and dislike on the family where innocent joys
and open hospitality were daily indulged in; while, on the
other hand, the Cavaliers could not forget or forgive the
persevering way in which the Colonel had held Nottingham
Castle against the fierce attacks of their soldiery.
For a time, however, the Hutchinsons were left undis-
turbed in their retired life, occupying themselves chiefly
with draining and planting the estate, and thus giving
employment to many labourers who otherwise would have
suffered great hardships. Other children were born to
them, and their two eldest sons grew up to man's estate,
and showed themselves not unworthy of their parents.
The Restoration, however, brought about a new order of
things, and now the gallant defender of Nottingham Castle
is summoned to London to appear before his enemies.
Colonel Hutchinson seems to have been little surprised at
this command, but prepared cheerfully to obey the sum-
mons; and having a presentiment that he should never
return to his happy Nottinghamshire home, he called
together his labourers, and paid them off with kind words
of farewell. They, honest fellows, wept bitterly at the
thought of losing their good and generous master, but he
comforted them with a smiling resignation; and, accom-
panied as he had ever been.by his devoted wife, he entered
his coach and left Owthorpe, never to return.
The journey to London took four long days; sad and
dreary ones they must have been to the loving wife who
was so soon to be separated from him whom she had
devotedly followed during five-and-twenty years of good
and evil days. Yet through them all the Colonel was
cheerful, nay, almost merry, telling his wife It would
blemish his innocence for her to appear afflicted, and if she
" Tried and True."
had but patience to wait the event, she would see it was all
for the best, and bade her be thankful for the mercy that
she was permitted this comfort to accompany him in the
The journey ended at the Tower Gates, and here, in the
fortress where Lucy had first seen the light, was Colonel
It was a bitter parting for the poor wife, and none the
less bitter that she knew the harsh and exacting character
of the present governor of the Tower.
Lucy's father had long since gone to his rest, and bad
times had arisen for the prisoners. All things within the
walls were now changed, and there was no longer any care
or thought for the unhappy captives, except indeed the con-
sideration of how much money could be wrung out of them.
Colonel Hutchinson's room was in the Bloody Tower; it was
said to be the very room in which the young King Edward
V. and his brother had been so foully murdered by their
uncle's orders, and just below was the chamber in which the
Duke of Clarence had suffered death by being drowned in
a cask of wine; so that that portion of the building certainly
deserved its name.
It was some time before Mrs. Hutchinson was allowed to
visit her husband, who was as strictly guarded as if he had
been some violent malefactor instead of an English gentle-
man who had served his country to the best of his ability.
He was frequently brought before his judges, and at last was
sentenced to be imprisoned in the Isle of Man. This, to
the poor wife, sounded as dreadful as banishment to New
Zealand would appear to us, and she used all her influence
to get the place of his imprisonment changed to one in a less
unknown spot. She was so far successful that Sandown Castle
in Kent was finally chosen for her husband's prison, and
certainly a more wretched spot could scarcely have been
" Tried and True."
found. The castle stands about a mile from the town of
Deal, on a low, flat, marshy shore, and every tide washed
the foot of the castle walls. Naturally enough this made
the rooms damp, whilst a broken roof and dilapidated
walls completed the wretchedness of this dwelling. Still
the Colonel kept up a brave heart, though every indignity was
heaped upon him, and a low-minded man (also a prisoner)
was lodged in his room. His faithful wife begged hard to
be allowed to share his prison, but her loving request was
rudely refused. She was, however, permitted to visit him
during the day; so she and her eldest son and daughter
took lodgings at Deal, and every day, through the rains of
winter or the scorching summer sun, did the heavy-hearted
trio trudge the weary road from Deal to visit the patient
prisoner. They endeavoured, also, as far as lay in their
power, to provide amusement for the lagging hours, which
must doubtless have seemed doubly long to one who, like
Colonel Hutchinson, had previously lived so much of his
life in the open air. His wife and daughter picked up, on
their daily walk to Sandown, the common shells which lay
scattered on the sands, and these the Colonel would arrange
and classify with a simple pleasure, in the same spirit as at
Owthorpe he had taken delight in his beautiful collection
of agates and onyxes. These Kentish cockles were, it is
true, common and worthless in the ordinary estimation of
things, but they were, notwithstanding, the creation of
the same God who had formed the ruby and the diamond,
and not less worthy than these of man's admiration and
This was, however, merely the diversion of his leisure
hours. His chief occupation was the study of God's book,
the Bible; and though his wife had, with some pains, ob-
tained one or two of his favourite volumes for him to
amuse himself with, he thanked her much, but told her
(221) A 2
" Tried and True."
"that as long as he lived in prison he would read nothing
there but his Bible."
After eleven months of this life, Mrs. Hutchinson was
obliged to leave her husband to make arrangements for her
younger children, who remained at Owthorpe. She quitted
him with many forebodings, dreading lest, during her
absence, he might be shipped off to some barbarous place."
It is, however, invariably the unexpected that happens. It
was no rude jailer who carried the Colonel from his wife's
sight, but God's gentlest angel The Angel of Death came
for the prisoner, and bore him far away from this world of
strifes and dungeons. His last words were, "Alas! how
will she be surprised !" and then with a gentle sigh his
As soon as possible the news of his death was sent to
Owthorpe, and the Colonel's two eldest sons and all his
household servants, with a hearse and six horses, went to
the prison, and after some difficulty obtained permission to
convey Colonel Hutchinson's body to the family vault at
Thus ended the life of a good and brave Englishman.
We may not agree with his political opinions, and we
must certainly regret that he should ever have been so
mistaken as to consent to sign the death-warrant of his
lawful sovereign, King Charles I.; but, nevertheless, we
cannot but feel as we read his life that, whether in bright or
dark days, he was ever a man strict in duty and patient in
suffering. Above all, he displayed a childlike gladness of
heart amid his many trials, and his religion was ever gentle
and loving-a rare quality in those days of narrow creeds
and religious intolerance. And Lucy, his devoted wife, a
fitting helpmeet, what became of her ? She long survived
her husband and ever mourned his memory-not idly, with
clasped hands and useless tears, but wisely and lovingly.
" Tried and True."
She erected a monument to his memory, and not content
with graving his virtues on senseless stone, she fixed them
firmly in the hearts of her children, so that they grew up
endeavouring to imitate as well as revere the actions of
their father. She wrote a history of his life for their
benefit, and this book is one of the best of our English
biographies. It is from its pages that this simple story has
MADAME DE LAVALETTE.
ON the return of the Bourbons to the throne of France
after the battle of Waterloo, the Count de Lavalette was
imprisoned on the accusation of being an accomplice in
Bonaparte's treason against the royal authority.
As there was no hope of the captive being liberated
alive, Madame de Lavalette proposed to her husband a
desperate scheme of escape disguised in female apparel.
Lavalette was at first disposed to reject the idea as utterly
impracticable, but the tears and anguish of his wife induced
him finally to consent to it.
It wanted only forty-eight hours to the time appointed
for his execution, when this devoted, though almost heart-
broken, woman presented herself in her sedan chair at the
prison, requesting to be permitted to bid a last farewell to
her husband. Her young daughter was with her, and the
guards permitted them to pass on with looks of sympathy
for the anguish before them.
Madame de Lavalette was clad from head to foot in one of
the rich pelisses which noble ladies wore in that day, while
on her head was the towering erection of silk and feathers
which did duty as a bonnet; underneath these garments,
12 Tried and True."
which she shortly intended handing over to her husband,
she wore her usual indoor dress.
There was little time to be lost when once she had been
ushered into the prisoner's cell; a few words more were
needed to induce the Count to allow his wife to incur the
risk of abetting his escape, a trembling adjustment of the
cloak and bonnet, a fond committal of her treasure to God,
and a recapitulation of directions, and then the brave woman
gave directions to poor little Josephine, who had already
been much agitated by bidding adieu for ever, as she thought,
to papa. The mother had intended to dismiss the child
before the critical moment of escape arrived, but now she
thought that her presence might direct the attention of the
guards away from the disguised man, and with that view
she retained her to accompany her father out of the prison.
When Lavalette was dressed in the disguise provided
for him, the mother asked Josephine-
"What do you think of your papa ?"
The poor little girl only smiled sadly.
"But will he do, dear ?" demanded the anxious wife,
obliged at last to make a confidante of the young girl and
to claim her assistance at this agonising crisis.
"Not very badly," said the child, but her tones were not
Then Lavalette charged the brave woman he was leaving
in the prison to go behind the screen in his room, and make
some little noise as if moving the furniture, so that the
jailer might imagine the prisoner was there still when his
visitors had left.
After that there was but time for one hasty adieu, and
the prison doors were unlocked, and the relatives of the
condemned man must leave him to his fate. Out went
first Lavalette himself, greatly embarrassed by the strange
dress and nodding feathers which were meant to personate
Tried and True." 13
his wife, but treading calmly, daring all for the sake of life
and liberty and dear ones. After him stepped his little girl,
her face pale with terror.
In the next room he had to face a file of five seated
jailers. Of course he was holding his handkerchief to his
eyes; but, to make matters more alarming, poor little trem-
bling Josephine forgot her mother's directions, and walked
on the wrong side of her father. She should have been
between him and the jailer; instead of which, the man came
up as usual close to the supposed lady and laid his hand
on her arm, a token of sympathy at the parting he supposed
had taken place.
You leave early to-night, madame?" he said; but neither
the disguised man nor his daughter dare answer a word.
Happily the jailer put it down to their intense grief.
Then they arrived at a closed door, where sat the jailer
who kept the keys. He looked steadily at Lavalette,
but presently unlocked the gates, and they were outside
But not safe! There was a staircase of twelve steps to
traverse to reach a court where the sedan-chair was waiting
for the fugitive, and at the foot of the steps stood twenty
soldiers with an officer at their head, within three paces,
waiting to see Madame de Lavalette go by. That was-an awful
moment Lavalette and the child got into the chair, but a
bearer had failed. A sentry was staring at him, on whom
Lavalette also fixed his eye, determining, on the least sign
of suspicion or agitation, to wrest his musket from him and
defend his recovered liberty unto death. Just then, how-
ever, his faithful servant appeared, and the chair was taken
up and carried down a street or two. When it stopped, a
gentleman-Monsieur Baudres-came forward, and offering
his arm to the supposed lady, said aloud, "Madame, you
know you have a visit to make to the President." The
14 Tried and True."
chair porters had yet to be kept in ignorance of the burden
In a little dark street close by stood a cabriolet, into
which Lavalette now sprang, dashing away for dear life.
Poor Josephine stood watching her father for a moment
with clasped hands, praying for his safety; and then, when
she had lost sight of him, she got into the sedan-chair by
herself. Very shortly after it was stopped and searched for
the escaped prisoner; but finding only the child in it, it was
Lavalette discovered that the driver of the cabriolet was
his friend the Count de Chassenon, and M. Baudres soon
joined them again. The fur cloak and bonnet were changed
in transit for a groom's dress; and when the party alighted
from the cabriolet, Lavalette found he was to be hidden in
the very house of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Duke
de Richelieu. A strange place of safety, and one to which
he was indebted to the kindness of the wife of the cashier,
Madame de Brisson, who, while he remained there, literally
stole food from her own table for him, it being necessary to
conceal his existence in the house from all save a very
From the windows of his room Lavalette could hear the
price of his apprehension and the denunciations on those
who harboured him shouted by the town-criers.
Assisted by some Englishmen, Lavalette at last escaped
from Paris disguised as a British general. He passed through
many dangers before he found himself safely out of French
territory, finally taking refuge in Switzerland.
Some may wish to know how fared Madame de Lavalette
after the success of her daring scheme. No sooner was her
husband beyond the gates of the prison than the jailer
peeped as usual into the room, but hearing some one be-
hind the screen, went out satisfied. He returned in five
Tried and True." 15
minutes, however, and still perceiving no one, pushed.aside
a leaf of the screen, and seeing only Madame de Lavalette,
gave a loud cry and ran towards the door. She flew to
prevent him, and in her despair held his coat so tightly
that he left part of it in her hands.
"You have ruined me, madame," he exclaimed in his
rage; and then burst from her, crying, The prisoner has
Immediately the closest and widest search was made for
the captive. Mounted gendarmes galloped wildly about,
passing even the cabriolet in which Lavalette was seated;
but to no effect. Paris was baffled.
Madame de Lavalette was questioned, reproached, in-
sulted, and kept in harsh captivity for some time. The
poor thing, in weak health, and now in a perpetual agony
of suspense lest her husband should be retaken, suffered so
severely at this time that her mind failed her; and though
in after years she was restored to her husband, and he en-
deavoured by the tenderest care to make up for her past
terrors and sufferings, she never entirely enjoyed her
former health. Still, as her husband said, she was ever
good, gentle, and amiable, and able to find enjoyment in
the country. After an exile of six years, Lavalette was
pardoned and allowed to return to France. It is pleasant
to add, after this tale of trouble, that little Josephine
grew up and married happily, passing the later years of
her life in a calmer atmosphere than she had known in
" Tried and True."
A HOSPITAL NURSE.
HAVE you ever heard of the town of Walsall in Stafford-
shire ? Nearly all the men there are employed in coal or
iron mines, or in the great foundries where the iron is
wrought into shape. Many accidents naturally befall them
in this their daily work. Broken bones, burns, and scalds
of a terrible nature are perhaps among the most frequent of
these ills. It was soon found to be inconvenient, as well
as cruel, that these poor sufferers should be sent all the
way to Birmingham to the hospitals. So in the year 1863
a Cottage Hospital was established in Walsall, and a lady
called "Sister Dora" was placed in charge of it.
There was no flourish of drums or trumpets when the
little hospital was opened. No one knew much about
Sister Dora, who with one friend, an old servant, managed
the entire concern-not much, at least, beyond the fact
that she was a real lady, who for love of sick people had
left her own comfortable pleasant home. But by-and-by
people lying ill in dismal alleys, and miners struck down
suddenly by some accident, found that a quiet sunny-faced
woman asked permission to enter their houses. And she
invariably brought with her hope and comfort. She did
not say, "This broken limb must be bandaged; this angry
wound must be bathed and attended to;" but she got out
the bandages and fetched the kettle of water, and never left
the poor sufferer till he was eased and refreshed. Then
she would hurry back to her hospital home. There were
eight beds at first in it, but there were sixteen and twenty
very shortly afterwards. Besides this, there was a crowd of
out-patients pressing daily for her attention. Sister Dora
had not been brought up to this life. She had had very
little to do with sick people till now, but she was determined
" Tried and True."
to learn all she could of doctoring and nursing, so as best
to help her poor friends in WalsalL Her own words at
this time were, "Nobody could possibly be more ignorant
than I was; I had everything to learn." Yet in a very
few years she became so clever in surgery that she could
bandage a broken leg, draw teeth, and plaster broken heads
as well as the doctor himself.
She possessed at the same time one more valuable quality
still, that of being able to make everybody trust her. In
a very short time her patients came almost to adore her.
Rough men and lads, they had never in their lives had such
a sweet bright-faced woman moving about their sick-beds,
doing the commonest work in such tender cheerful fashion
as almost to make it seem that an angel had come down to
comfort them in their trouble. The little hospital which
saw the beginning of Sister Dora's work in Walsall soon
became too small for the increasing needs of that great
town, and a larger hospital was built on a hill called "The
Mount." To this Sister Dora contributed liberally in money,
but that was little compared to her after gifts-her work
and her life. The larger hospital contained twenty-eight
beds in three large wards, so arranged that the sister could
read prayers and be heard in all the three wards at one
and the same time. The windows of the building looked
on a fair-sized lawn and garden, where vegetables and
shrubs managed to grow in spite of bleak winds and per-
petual smoke, and beyond all this somewhat tarnished
greenery stood out boldly the tall chimneys and great work-
shops on which her patients gazed familiarly as the scenes
to which they would return when restored to health. One
more interesting object too met their eyes, the line of the
South Staffordshire Railway, and many a sick man, especi-
ally such as belonged in any way to the railroad, amused
himself in watching .the trains whiz by, and in speculating
" Tried and True."
whether Jack or Bill were driving the engine. Jack and
Bill too knew all about the eager white faces pressed
against those hospital windows, and each had his special
whistle by which he might be known.
And so Sister Dora was comfortably settled at last in her
new hospital, with her own good helper and servant Mrs. H.,
and two under-servants to do the scrubbing and cooking.
Terrible cases were sometimes brought to that house on
the hill. One fine healthy young man came with his arm
so torn and mangled by a machine that the doctor declared
the arm must be taken off immediately. The poor fellow
looked first at the doctor and then at the Sister; and seeing,
as he thought, something in her face that gave him hope,
he cried out earnestly, "Oh, Sister, save my arm for me;
it's my right arm !" Working men and women know what
a right arm means to a poor man. It means the power of
making a living in this busy, pushing world of ours.
Sister Dora had meantime looked the young fellow well
over, and noticed his clear eyes and strong frame. She
could save his arm, she fancied, if she might only try. The
doctor thought her mad to dream of such a thing. But the
poor lad hopefully clung to the suggestion. He was not
afraid of pain, but he was afraid of being crippled in his
youth. At last the doctor gave in so far as to say to the
Sister, Well, remember it's your arm; if you choose to
have the young man's death on your conscience, I shall not
interfere, but I wash my hands of him. Don't think I'm
going to help you." After that speech a weaker woman
would have given in; but Sister Dora was anything but
weak, and she set to work with a will to save her arm.
For three weeks she watched and tended it day and night.
Do not think she was not cruelly anxious, strong-hearted
though she was. "How I prayed over that arm!" she
used to say afterwards. At the end of a month she way-
" Tried and True."
laid the doctor and displayed to him "her arm," straightened,
healing, and in a fair way to become as good an arm as the
uninjured one. "Why, you have saved it!" said the good
man, "and it will be a useful arm to him for many a long
year yet." Sister Dora was bursting with joy and thank-
fulness; she went away and cried, she was so happy.
"Sister's arm" they called this man in the hospital. As
you may imagine, he became one of his nurse's most faith-
ful admirers. She would not let him go back to his work
till he was completely cured. Even after that he seized
every opportunity to come up to the hospital and "let
Sister have a look at his arm," a proceeding which merely
meant that he wanted to have a look at the woman who
had done so much for him.
Many of the Sister's patients were not decent young
fellows like this, but drunken brawlers, who in a street
fight would get badly knocked about, and at any hour of
the night would make their way to the hospital and ring
the bell which stood over her bed-head. Then the Sister
would rise, saying to herself, "The Master calleth for thee,"
and flinging on her clothes, cap, and apron, would hasten
down to let in her visitors. Not pleasant ones perhaps,
but she would dress their wounds and sew up their cuts as
gently and carefully as possible. Then, when they were a
little more comfortable and sobered, she asked them "why
they did not behave like respectable members of society in-
stead of fighting in the streets, and then getting her up at
unearthly hours of the night to mend their broken heads
and bones ?"
When in hospital she always endeavoured to make an
impression on these poor drunkards. One lad, brought in
with a badly broken limb, the result of a drunken fray,
faithfully promised her for the future never to touch drink
any more. On his first day out of hospital he forgot him-
" Tried and True."
self and came back very drunk, reeling up against the
Sister herself. She laid her head down on the table and
cried bitterly. But she was seldom so cruelly disappointed
as this. Many men openly said that they owed the begin-
ning of a better life to the time spent in hospital with
Sister Dora. She not only gave general care and advice
to all, but she went separately to each, praying for a man
by his own bedside, and assuring him that even when he
had left the hospital she should still go on caring for him.
Neither was it all prayer and serious talk; as I have told
you before, she was a woman of a sunny nature, whose
jokes and laughter rippled like a stream in the hospital
wards. "She'd make you laugh when you were dying!"
said a big Irishman, delighted with his cheery nurse.
No bad words or low conversation, however, were tolerated
by this happy-natured woman. One man badly hurt swore
terribly the whole time she was attending- to his wounds.
"Stop that she said, shortly and sharply. The man did
stop, but began again as the pain came on afresh. What's
the good of that?" said Sister Dora; "that won't make
it easier to bear." "No, but I must say something when
it comes so bad on me, Sister." "Very well then; say,
'Poker and tongs !'" she answered, and ever after that if
the Sister, walking up and down her ward, heard low mutter-
ings coming from that bed, she would call out, Poker and
tongs, mind! nothing else." Another day, in the out-
patients' room, a pretty baby girl was brought to her with
a badly set arm which would not mend. When the Sister
began to undo the bandage the tiny thing broke out into
a torrent of curses. The man who had carried the child to
the hospital put his hand over her lips, saying, "Sister
must not hear such words," and would have silenced her
more roughly if the Sister had not stopped him. Alas it
is much to be feared that the small creature had learned
Tried and True." 2
the language from him, though he had the decency to be
ashamed of it before a good woman. When the child had
gone, Sister Dora turned to the other out-patients, rough
men and women too, and asked them with flashing eyes,
"Which was worse, that she should hear such language,
or that innocent baby lips should be taught to repeat it ? "
Some of the patients slunk away, feeling guilty and crest-
fallen, and let us hope determined to keep a guard over
their lips for the future.
But Sister Dora was not one to condemn a sinner.
She generally found some gentler way of bringing him to
a sense of his misdeeds. A patient gave her much trouble
by trying to throw contempt on the religious observances
of the hospital, talking during prayers, and rustling a news-
paper to the disturbance of the rest. He was discontented
too, and a grumbler, who infected the others in the ward
with his complaints. As it happened, he took a bad turn
and became very ill, and Sister Dora, always ready for
the hardest work, sat by his bed' night after night, turning
his pillows, supporting the poor racked body, and trying in
every way to relieve his suffering. He never thanked her,
but one night he suddenly said, I hope they pay you well
for this." Yes," she replied, "very well." "Come now,"
he went on, "what do they give you; I really want to
know ?" And then Sister Dora told him that she nursed the
sick for her Master's sake, and that her payment was the com-
forting of the bodies of His poor, the saving of their souls for
Him. No earthly gold went into her pocket for this loving
service. The man said little then, but afterwards, instead
of being noisy at prayers, he actually went so far as to say
Amen to them, meaning to please Sister Dora. What was
better, he tried to give as little trouble as he could for the
rest of the time that he continued in the hospital.
It is not every one who has so much bodily strength at
" Tried and True."
command as Sister Dora was gifted with. She possessed,
too, the largest share of good spirits and merriment ever
probably bestowed upon woman. One minute she laughed
so much while relating some anecdote concerning her
sick, that one might almost think she must be heartless,
yet the next she was choking with tears over the mention
of some deserted children found starving in a lonely house
with their dead mother. There was a poor servant girl
in the hospital who had lost her leg by the old foolish
trick of playing with a gun that she thought was unloaded.
She was very deaf, and when Sister Dora put her lips close
to her ear, the girl threw her arm round her neck, and
pulled her down to kiss her, in a way that made one feel
ashamed of ever thinking the Sister unfeeling. Sister Dora
had other patients than servant girls, however. At this
very time she was nursing a young man brought to her at
midnight, having cut his own throat after attempting his
sweetheart's life in the same way. The doctors were all
with the poor girl, and when the young fellow was found,
and brought to the hospital, only the Sister was there; the
man was all but dead, so they laid him in the hall, and
thought there was an end of it, but Sister Dora did not
think so. She sewed up his wound, and presently he began
to breathe, so that by-and-by he could be moved into a
bed. Once there she took him in hand body and soul,
though a policeman watched him also day and night, and
when on his recovery he was sent to prison, she wrote him
several letters, begging him to behave well, and avoid bad
company, and promising when he should leave the prison
to lend him a helping hand.
But I must tell you how much the Sister loved little
children, and how well she managed them. She felt like a
mother to such as were brought to her hospital, not liking
to trust them to any one's care but her own, constantly tak.
" Tried and True."
ing one, sometimes two children into her own bed, and once
sleeping with a burnt baby on each arm! You, who know
what it is to soothe and comfort one sick child, may guess how
clever the person must be who could attempt this. One
day a little girl nine years old was carried to the hospital
so terribly burnt that to look at her was to see that cure was
impossible. She was very quiet; there was no suffering now,
but the child was frightened at the strange weakness she
felt creeping over her. Perhaps she guessed it meant the
approach of death. It was a case for quieting and comfort-
ing, as Sister Dora at once saw, so she gave over her other
patients to her helpers, and sat by the bed of the dying child,
telling her about the loving Jesus and the happy heaven
above, in which He waited for little children, till the poor
little thing left off trembling, and looking wistfully at the
flowers on the table in the ward, murmured, "When you
come to heaven, Sister, I'll meet you at the gates with a
bunch of flowers." And so she died. A boy of ten with
a diseased arm she kept happy and cheerful, by making him
of use in fetching the various articles she needed when go-
ing her rounds, such as cotton-wool bandages, old linen, and
so forth. One day his poor arm pained him so that he
remained in bed crying softly under the clothes. This
would do no good, his kind friend knew. So she bustled
about her work, collecting her own materials, but saying so
that he could hear it, How I do miss Sam !" The tears
ceased immediately, Sam dressed himself in all haste, and
came to help his dear mistress. "Now then, Sam, what do
you recommend for this patient ? Sister Dora would ask,
half in fun. But Sam was always ready with a grave answer,
and sometimes a right one. "Iodine paint," he would say,
or perhaps "Zinc ointment" He had seen these things
used very often, and had got to know all about them. Of
course Sister Dora nicknamed him "Doctor:" she gave all
" Tried and True."
her patients names of some sort; it amused them, and made
a little fun in the sick-room.
Cockney" was a London boy with a leg hurt in a coal-
pit; King Charles" was a man whose face reminded the
Sister of the picture of Charles the First-he had that name
written on the egg brought up for his breakfast. Then there
were Darkey, and Pat, and Stumpy, who all knew their names
and answered to them. I really must put in here a letter
she wrote to her dear patients in the hospital when she
was away from them for many weeks, nay months, nursing
even worse sufferers than themselves, those stricken with
small-pox. Here it is. Remember it is written to men,
women, and children, all sorts of people:-
"MY DEAR CHILDREX,-What did you say to your
mother running away ? I dared not tell you, and I could
not trust myself to come and bid you good-bye. You know
how I love you all and care for you, and it is for this
very love that I have left you. The small-pox was spread-
ing in the town, and might have spread to your wives and
families; the patients would not come to this hospital until
they heard I would nurse them, and then they were all
willing to come. There is not one who has come in that does
not know me. I have got a lad here who is always wanting
something just to keep me by his side. Tell my Irish
friend in the corner, that I have a country-woman of his,
and she is the plague of my life. Tells such accounts of
cases of small-pox as would make your hair stand on end-
how a cat can take it from one ward to another. Tell John
Dawson that to-morrow afternoon Sister must give him some
paper, and he is to write me a letter, with a message from
each of my children, and with it to send word how his foot
is. Remember me to Isaac; he is not to leave the Darkey'
too much. Everlasting' is not to dance about. 'Delicate
Man' is to tell me how he sleeps, and if he does not miss me
Tried and True." 25
to arrange his leg and look after him. Tell my Irishman
I miss his blessing-the man by the door: I will soon come
and starch him (i.e., his leg). Mr. Baker, I hope, is atten-
tive to his duties and has broken no more pink cups. I hope
'Leg is getting on grandly, not sitting up too long; Head'
is better; and 'Thumb' easier; 'Michael' is as contented
as ever. What shall I say to my beloved Sam ? I wish I
had my boy here. I send him twenty kisses, and hope he
has been at church to-day and in time. He must not sulk
all the time I am away. I have two blessed babies who
alternately keep up music all day and night accompanied
by my Irishman's tongue, so I am not dull. Have you
been singing to-day ? You must sing, particularly 'Safe in
the arms of Jesus,' and think of me. Living or dying, I am
His. Oh, my children, you all love me for the very little I
do for you; but oh, if you would only think what Jesus
has done, and is doing for you, your hearts would soon be
full of love for Him, and'you would all choose Him for
your Master. Now whilst you are on your beds read and
study His life; see the road He went, and follow Him. I
know you all want to go to heaven, but wishing will not
get you there. You must choose now in this life; you can-
not choose hereafter when you die. That great multitude
St. John saw round the throne had washed their robes and
made them white in the blood of the Lamb, which was shed
for each one of you. God loves you; I know it by His
letting you get hurt, and bringing you to the hospital. 'As
many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.' Think over these
things, my dear children; your mother is thinking of you
and praying for you. And if it please God you should
never see her again, will you make up your minds to walk
in the narrow way, so that we may all meet in the green
fields above ? May God bring you all safe there, is the
earnest prayer of your faithful friend, SISTER DoRA."
" Tried and True."
I have given you the whole of this letter, because I think
it best explains to you, not alone Sister Dora's work, but
her character. She tells you in it why for the moment she
had changed the place of her labours; but she does not make
you fully realise the sort of hospital she has now under-
taken. On the outskirts of the town of Walsall it stood,
its only scenery huge cinder-heaps, its only neighbours the
poorest and most wretched you could find. At the first
sight of the spot even brave Sister Dora shuddered and said
to the surgeon who conducted her there, Take me back, I
cannot bear this dreadful place." But he knew better, and
answered, Come in." And she came, never going out
again till she had learned to call it That dear Small-Pox
Hospital!" She was a woman, you see, who always did
her work so well, that in time she must come to love it.
The twenty-eight beds were soon filled with sick people
in every stage of that dreadful disease; her helpers here
were two workhouse old women to do the washing, and the
porter, an old man who, though kind and attentive when
sober, had a habit of too often going off on the drink." It
would not do, however, to be too particular, as it was not
every one who dare undertake work in a small-pox
hospital; so Sister Dora put up cheerfully with every one's
shortcomings, and did not complain in a hurry. Her bed-
room was a tiny chamber between the two great wards of
sick. Her patients, coming chiefly from among the lowest
class in the town, were dreadfully dirty, and could only
have their faces and hands washed because they were so
ill; but the Sister does not mind. She says, "I cannot
get a decent woman to come and help, though we pay well.
One man is so delirious, I cannot keep my eye off him or
else he is out of bed." He did get away once, and Sister
Dora thought he had run home, but they found him in an
empty ward. Another woman was so wild with the fever
Tried and True." 27
that it took the porter as well as Sister Dora to hold her
down. The Sister's letters are so delightful to read, and
they tell you so much about her work, in plain, simple lan-
guage, that I should have liked you to hear them all. How-
ever, I must give you some more extracts from them. This
is to a friend of her own :-
"You would laugh to see me washing my babies. Poor
things, they are smothered in pox! I am obliged to put
them into a warm bath. They are getting quite fond of me..
We have all the washing to do beside the night-nursing.
I am writing this while waiting for my potatoes to boil.
My bedroom and sitting-room is getting to look quite gay
with flowers. I find time to read to my patients. They
have scarcely ever heard of Jesus, and they are so ill they
cannot attend to much. I have no one to speak to, no time
to read for myself, and my letters are my only company at
meal-time." To another friend she says:-" I have got a
servant the plague of my life. It is good to have some
cross, so I take her as such." And later comes the news,
" The servant walked off this afternoon, and went drinking,
actually, in the middle of washing! It is now past seven,
and she left me at two, and a boy raving. I am sure he
will die, poor fellow." Her porter, too, was often at his
tricks," as Sister Dora called it, and once left all alone with
a big, strong, delirious man, she had a hand-to-hand struggle
with him to force him back into bed, and hold him there
till the doctor came.
When the last day of April found her yet in the hospital
(she came there in February), she writes :-" I am still a
prisoner, surrounded by lepers. I do feel so thankful that
I came. I have had time and opportunity to spread
the 'glad tidings' to many an ignorant soul who has been
brought in here. I was quite touched the other night when
one little boy said, 'Please tell me some more of Jesus,'
28 Tried and True."
and his face lighted up as he -caught the idea of the
wonderful redemption, and said, 'Did He really die for me ?'
I thank God daily for my life here. I feel He sent me,
and He has blessed it to my own soul; and I hope from
henceforth that I shall indeed serve Him better, and be more
zealous and earnest in winning souls for Christ. Oh, how
sorry we shall be (if there be sorrow in heaven) if we should
enter in at the gate, and enjoy ourselves to all eternity, to
think how little we did to help others on the narrow way.
When I think of it I feel as if I could be all day long on
my knees praying for poor sinners; and I am overwhelmed
with regret when I think of the hours I have wasted, the
souls that have come and gone out of the hospital, and
that I have not led to Christ. I thank Him for sparing my
life a little longer, that I may do better."
Till the middle of August Sister Dora remained at her
post, and then the last patient departed, the small-pox
epidemic vanished out of the town, and she returned thank-
fully to her own work in the Cottage Hospital. Hard work
that was too; if not quite such trying or solitary work as
the Small-Pox Hospital involved, it was sometimes quite as
appalling. In the October of that very same year a fearful
accident happened near Walsall. An explosion took place
in some iron-works, and in a moment eleven men were
covered with the molten metal. In their terror and pain
they jumped into a canal that ran close by, from which they
were with difficulty rescued, and borne all, save one, to
Sister Dora's hospital. Such an incoming was surely never
seen there! All but very serious cases were turned into
the passages to make room for the poor burnt creatures,
who cried, Water Water in their agony. Some were
already dying, others begging the Sister pitifully to dress
them first, they were so bad. She answered tenderly, Oh,
my poor men, I'll dress you all if you'll give me time."
Tried and True." 29
One poor fellow, seeing her perplexity, hushed his moans
to say, "Sister Dora, I want to be dressed very bad, but if
there's any wants you worse, go and do them first." And
then this unselfish sufferer was turned on his face; he was
burnt so badly he could only lie thus, and died in the night!
Another died in two days' time, some lingered ten days;
only two of the number recovered.
During all this sad time Sister Dora never left her patients,
never went to bed even; many people offered to help her
and really meant to do so, but the foul air of the ward
drove them away faint and sick, if the horrors of the scene
did not do so. It is said that many of the poor fellows
were more like charred logs of wood than human beings.
One of the survivors tells of Sister Dora going from bed to
bed talking, laughing, even joking with the poor men, tell-
ing them stories to divert their pain, feeding them, comfort-
ing them, and always pointing out to them the way to
heaven. "What we felt for her," adds the man, I couldn't
tell you, my tongue won't say it." Every time he pro-
nounced her name, he pulled his forelock, as though it were
of some saint or angel that he spoke. Sister Dora called
him Burnty." It was twelve months before he did another
stroke of work, and then she paid for a special pair of boots
for the shrivelled, distorted feet.
I do not think I have told you a story which will show
you how clever Sister Dora was in small surgical cases.
One day a boy came to her, having just chopped off one of
his fingers. "Where's the finger ? inquired Sister Dora,
quietly. It's at home," replied the lad. "You stupid
fellow go and fetch it this moment, and mind you are
quick." Off he hurried, returning with the missing tip,
when Sister Dora pieced it on, bound it up, and in process
of time it healed perfectly, and became good for use.
Amongst her hospital patients it was her sunshiny face
" Tried and True."
and ready wit that first gained her a hearing, and once
dear to her patients, it was easy to slip in the more serious
words. Never, however, did Sister Dora try to cram religion
down the throats of her poor sick, she would patiently wait
for what seemed to be the right moment for speaking of
A patient who had never thought much of his soul or of
the world to come, woke one night to find Sister Dora
kneeling by his bedside, and praying softly, yet fervently
for his salvation. He was deeply touched; her great love
and his own apathy forced themselves upon his attention.
Many men who came into the hospital unbelievers or
scoffers, went out convinced that Jesus was the Christ, and
it was the example of this one faithful servant of His that
had worked upon them. As we have seen before, Sister
Dora was a firm believer in the power of prayer; she
always read prayers aloud in the ward, even if most of the
patients had fallen asleep. "The prayers go up for them
all the same," she would say. She fully believed that
what she prayed for would be granted, and if a poor fellow
were brought to the hospital .insensible from an accident,
and unlikely to recover his senses, "Well," she would say,
"we must pray." And by-and-by, when every one else was
in bed and sleeping, she would herself steal up to the
dying man, and make her petition by his bedside. Her old
servant who slept near her says she used to hear her pray-
ing aloud for hours at night No wonder that in the day
her face shone with the light of these vigils, the light that
is neither of the sun nor of the moon, but comes straight
from the throne of God.
And now I must skip a great deal of the story of Sister
Dora's working days to tell you of those when she too
came to lie sick unto death waiting for her summons. A
new hospital, a larger and better one, was to be built in
Tried and True." 31
Walsall; and when the old one had to be left, the Sister
took so much pains in separating her possessions from those
of the hospital that several of the Committee were surprised'
and said, "Why, sister, one would think you were never
coming back to work the new hospital." "Perhaps I never
may," she said shortly. She knew that, despite her seem-
ingly undiminished strength, she bore about with her the
seeds of a disease that must be fatal in the end, and
might be fatal soon. She never did resume work in
Walsall. She enjoyed a short pleasant summer holiday;
she went to Paris to become learned in sundry surgical
matters, she came back to London to study under a celebrated
surgeon, and then her health suddenly failed, and she
learned that very shortly she was to die. Let me die
among my own people," was now her cry. So they took
Sher back to Walsall. She writes to a friend at this time:-
"I wonder what you will say when you hear the decree
has gone forth-Sister, put thy house in order, for thou
shalt die, and not live. Such has been the verdict of the
doctors, such is my own feeling this time. There
is only Mount Calvary to climb by the ladder of sick-
ness. I have not had two hours' sleep for four days
and nights, but in the midst of the fiery furnace there was
a form like unto the Son of God."
Yes, the busy, hardworking Sister-nurse was now to lie
helpless on a bed of racking pain, her work in this world taken
utterly out of her folded hands. "No hope, only a question
of time," that was the doctor's verdict. And still sunshine
lingered on the bright face, still laughter echoed from the
sick-chamber. I have so longed to go home," are the
last written words that mark the state of mind of the
dying woman, I am so happy. .God has taken away
the fear of death and all sorrow at parting with life."
And though clouds now and again darkened her soul, she
32 Tried and True."
ever clung like a drowning man to the Saviour she had
leaned on in life, and no billows were suffered to overwhelm
her. To the last her hospital, her patients, her friends
were dear to her, and she could take the deepest interest in
all. As she lay a-dying, a Royal life ebbed away in such
pitiful fashion that rich and poor alike grieved over the
tidings. Our Princess Alice !
Sister Dora raised herself in her bed to speak her sym-
pathy with the sorrowing Queen-mother, and then with a
gleam of her old interest in all cases of sickness to ask
particulars of the terrible disease that carried off the precious
life. Ten days later she said, "I am dying." It was
early in the morning. While one attendant ran to summon
aid, the other spake words of comfort-" Our Lord is stand-
ing at the gates of Heaven to open them for you." The reply
came confidently, I SEE HIM THERE; THE GATES ARE OPENED
WIDE." She lingered a few hours, and then on that Christ-
mas Eve her spirit winged its way to the country whose
inhabitants no more say, I am sick."
Her last wish was gratified, "I hope I shall sing my
Christmas carol in Heaven."
Her funeral was a public one. She had specially asked
that it should be very quiet and plain. How then came it
that her wishes were so neglected ? It is easy to explain, and
perhaps Sister Dora herself would not have objected to the
change, for the great crowd who would follow that flower-
covered coffin to its last resting-place were those poor who
had loved the Sister in life, who mourned her in death.
The rich and great were there too; but the poor held
the chief place among that weeping multitude. They
had come to say Good-bye" to the best friend they had
GEFF RAYNER'S STORY.
GEFF RAYNER'S POSY.
These are Thy wonders hourly wrought,
Thou Lord of time and thought,
Lifting and lowering souls at will,
Crowding a world of good or ill
Into a moment's vision ; e'en as light
Mounts o'er a cloudy ridge and all is bright;
From west to east one thrilling ray
Turning a wintry world to May."--Tle CLhristian Year."
ET me show you a pleasant scene.-A long room,
with a window at either end; half of it carpeted
with dark crimson, and furnished with a round
L table on which stands an orange-tree; a sofa,
an old-fashioned writing-table in the window,
and arm-chairs of all sorts and kinds; the walls of the
room are hung with pictures, china, bookshelves, and
knick-knacks from many lands, making it look much like
what it is-the young ladies' sitting-room. The half of
the floor which remains uncarpeted is coloured dark brown,
and that portion of the room is simply provided with
an ancient many-legged table, some quaint high-backed
chairs, a huge cupboard, and an old oak chest; just now,
however, it is furnished with something more-girls and
primroses. Girls and primroses everywhere-the latter
strew the floor, the chairs, the table, the piano, mixed up
2 Geff Rayner's Posy.
with bowls of water, cotton-wool, and little squares of
illuminated card. And larger and larger there grows out
of the medley a store of primrose bunches with their feet
wrapped round with wet cotton wool, and text-cards hung
round their necks all ready for the two workers who are
laying them carefully in a large hamper. "Business goes
on steadily, for the hamper must be packed and ready to
send off by the five o'clock train if the flowers are to reach
their destination fresh and unwithered; and as all are work-
ing in good earnest, there is not much time for talking.
The conversation is something of this kind-
"Where is the cotton-reel ? "
"Oh I am sitting on it."
"Do you want more cotton-wool, Annie ?"
"These bunches must be dipped, but do not leave them
Will somebody put the texts on to this heap ? "
"How are we getting on? Four o'clock !-there the
hamper is ready, now we can send it off and go down-to
It is not about any of these girls that I am going to
write. I have only given you a glimpse of them at their
work as a contrast to the next place to which I am going
to take you,-in
THE BLACK COUNTRY.
Black indeed it is, above, below, around. Over the sky
is drawn a murky veil of smoke through which the sun
shows, when it does show at all, round and yellow as
through a piece of smoked glass; the roads are black, the
grass and such poor plants as attempt a sickly existence in
the blackened soil are dull and grimy; the new red brick
of the houses is dimmed, the very window-blinds look more
grey than white, and on the doorsteps are the blackened
Gef Rayner's Posy.
footmarks of husbands and brothers who wring their daily
bread from dark depths far from the light of day. Yes,
truly, it is a black country.
The cleanest spot, perhaps, for miles round the little
town of Minely is the interior of the hospital which stands
on a desolate-looking bit of ground not far from where a
cluster of huge furnaces and chimneys pour forth volumes
of smoke by day and a wide-spreading glare of red light
by night. The outside of the hospital partakes of the
general dinginess, but inside things are very different. Spot-
less walls, well-scrubbed boards, clean sheets and bright
coverlets, make the accident ward a more cheerful place
than might at first be thought possible. But here one is
reminded even more sadly than by the smoke outside that
one is in the Black Country," for in many of those beds
lie strong men who have been struck down in an instant,
never, it may be, to rise again in health and strength, by
the falling of a block of coal, the bursting of a boiler, or
one of the thousand accidents which put the life of a miner
or iron-worker in continual jeopardy. Poor fellows to
them the cheerful hospital-ward seems little better than a
dreary prison cell, and the hours are long and tedious as
they creep painfully by. How welcome is any little in-
cident that breaks the monotony-anything or anybody
that gives them something to think about. There is a
something and a somebody coming now.
The glass door at the end of the ward is slowly pushed
open, and a figure enters in a neat dress and a white cap
half covering the smooth .brown hair. Under the cap
is a beautiful face with grey eyes, lighted up just now
with a joyous smile; in her arms she carries a large basket
piled up with primrose bunches, a perfect foam of yellow
flowers. It is Sister Grace, the Sister who has the charge
of the hospital; she is known by no other name. She. has
Gef Rjayner's Posy.
given up family and friends, and all the comforts of a rich
home, that she may be a friend and helper to the sick and
suffering, and to all who need care and sympathy, and so
she is just called by everybody, "Sister Grace." As she
comes in, heads are turned towards the door, and a look of
expectation lights up many a face on which but a moment
before weary lines of pain had been traced; and as she begins
distributing the sweet bunches, eager hands are stretched
out with, "Give us a posy, Sister," and a stir and murmur
arise as the-texts are spelt out. And so from bed to bed
Sister Grace makes her way slowly round the ward with
the wonderful, delicious scent gradually filling the room, till,
at the foot of one of the beds she pauses a moment, as if in
doubt, and looks at the figure of a man of about five-and-
thirty lying there, still and motionless, a hard fixed look
on his face, even though his eyes are closed. If the Sister
had not been so occupied she might have seen how intently
those eyes had been watching her progress; but now they
are shut, and she stands, doubting whether to offer her flowers
here or no,-for Geff Rayner is the "hardest" case in the
ward, the hardest indeed that Sister Grace has ever had to
deal with. Rough and uncouth her patients might often
be, but they were almost always grateful for her care, and
she well understood all the odd little ways and signs by
which they endeavoured to show their appreciation of her
services; but from Geff Rayner came no such signs. He
did not complain or grumble; he never spoke of the pain he
suffered from a shoulder crushed in the mine, but, at the
same time, he never expressed any gratitude for services
rendered, and invariably refused all the gentle ministrations
by which Sister Grace tried to help the souls of her patients,
while she tended their bodies. Her efforts were always
met by short and decided negatives, and the chaplain's offer
of prayer or reading had been opposed with such fierce
Gef Rayner's Posy. 5
determination, that there seemed nothing for it but to wait
and see whether time and tender nursing would soften the
poor fellow's antagonism; and earnestly did Sister Grace
pray for Geff, whose silent endurance of his sufferings and
rejection of the comfort she was longing to give, made her
grieve doubly over her stubborn charge.
It was not surprising, then, that she paused, wondering
whether her flowers would meet with the same reception as
her other attempts at consolation; and she stood a moment
with her head bent over the nosegay she held in her hand,
considering. Lifting her eyes she suddenly encountered
Geffs, and saw in them a look of actual suspense and longing.
Will you have one ? she said.
A movement of his head answered in the affirmative, and
she placed in his one free hand the bunch she had been
holding. Geff caught sight of the little card hanging to
What's this ?" he said, "I don't want no texts; you
may take it off."
"No," she answered quietly, "I don't think I can do
that-those who sent the flowers sent the text; it wouldn't
be fair to cut it off," and she moved on, disregarding the
scowl of displeasure on Rayner's face. For a moment or
two Geff tried in childish anger to detach the card, but it
was fastened securely, and he had only one available hand;
he was weak too, and it seemed a good deal of trouble,
so he contented himself with crumpling it up in his hand
as he smelt the blossoms and laid their cool fresh heads
against his face. Then he lay quite still as before, resting
after hours of pain. His arm was easier, and there was
something wonderfully soothing in the perfume of the
flowers. It was so long-years and years-since he had had
a primrose in his hand, and ah, what memories came back
with the scent !-vague at first, and confused, only bringing
Geff Rayzer's Posy.
a feeling of freshness and sweetness and a dim sense that
there had been a time far back in his existence when things
were different, when the air was pure, and there were
green fields, and hedgerows, and waving woods, and when
he himself-surely it could not be himself of whom he
was thinking, it could never be himself, hard and wearied,
black in body and soul! Yet he sees some one living
in those sweet old days that can have been no one else,
and ever more and more clearly the figure comes out till
he can watch it living and moving in that far-back life.
He sees a boy-a very small boy, arrayed in corduroy, his
first suit, which, having been so made as to allow for
growth, is very baggy, and but for the honour of the
thing, much more cumbersome than the discarded petti-
coats. The trousers are far too large, and are inclined to
swallow up the remainder of his apparel, being tightly
buttoned almost on the top of his shoulders, allowing no
appearance of waist-still they are trousers and not petti-
coats, and that makes all the difference; the boots too, being
made on the same foreseeing principle, are a world too wide,
but then are they not made as nearly as possible on the
model of "father's boots, with real nails and laces ? The
boy is happy and flops contentedly along through the long
grass as, with eyes round and fixed, he skirts the hedgerow
in search of spoil or prey.
A nest! a chaffinch's nest trim and neat, no disappoint-
ing wreck of last year, but bran new and with eggs, no
doubt, in its soft woolly cup. The ground is marshy under
the hedge, and the big boots sink deep into the clay, and are
dragged out with a clammy squeaking sound,-one iron-
shod toe is stuck firmly into the bank, and the small body
is hurled recklessly up against the hedge with hands clutch-
ing wildly at the twigs. For a second anything may
happen-success or failure are equal chances-then the
GeffRayner's Posy. 7
toe on which all depends begins to plough its way, slowly
at first but quickening as it goes, through the loose soil of
the bank, quicker and quicker, the arms plunge helplessly
forward, and behold, there is only a yard of corduroy lying
prone in the quagmire with its scratched face buried in a
root of primroses.
Something very like a laugh coming from Geff Rayner's
bed astonished his neighbours on either side.
The boy picks himself up at last, and even in that
moment of desolation has presence of mind to make a grab
- at the primroses. He's a terrible one for flowers, is our
Geff!" his mother used to say, and he finds time to take
sobbing sniffs at the blossoms and to press them against his
hot smarting cheeks as he stumps home howling dismally,
to receive a cuff and a kiss-a cuff for the muddied clothes,
and a kiss for his own scratched face.
And that boy was himself-Geff Rayner! Another
recollection is brought by the primrose scent.
An old church, dark and dim and cool within, and a boy's
start of surprised delight at finding it all decked out in
spring flowers-reading-desk, font, and pulpit, all transformed
by the bunches of white and purple violets, red buttons and
golden daffodils fastened on them; the very benches are
adorned with posies of faint yellow primroses. There is a
moment's suspense as to whether "our bench" will have a
bunch on it. Yes, it has; and what is more, the boy, kneeling
at his mother's side at the outermost end of the seat, finds
it possible, by quietly protruding his head round the corner,
to smell the flowers at intervals during the service. Easter
Day it is-he knows that because of his own wisp of
new tie and his mother's bonnet strings--the words have
conveyed little to his mind as yet, but to-day there is
brought to Geff's boy-soul an unusually joyous sensation,
and the Easter anthem, Christ our Passover is sacrificed
8 Geff Rayner's Posy.
for us," gets somehow mixed up with the primroses and the
scent of violets, and he feels a thrill of happiness quite in-
comprehensible to himself. Very far away did that Sunday
seem to Geff Rayner lying in his hospital bed-further off
even than the birdnesting day. Surely the old flower-
scented church and the organ swelling the chant Christ
our Passover is sacrificed for us," can be only a dream, and
the boy, who under their influence felt himself "a good
boy," must have died long since.
A young man-the handsomest young fellow in the
village, people call him-leaning against the side of a
cottage gate, with his dark eyes fixed on the downcast face
of a girl; a fair, pretty face all aglow just now with
"You'll never say me nay, Nancy."
There is no answer, and Geff bends down and grasps both
her hands in his.
"Tell me, Nancy. Don't keep a fellow like this-you
love me, don't you, little Nan ? "
The blushing face is slightly raised and a whisper
"I'm half afeared, Geff."
Afeared never say it, Nancy-what should fear you?"
"Geff, you'll be good to me, won't you ?" and the half-
frightened blue eyes were raised to the young man's eager
"Good to you ? aye, that I will, dear lass, as long as I
live. Why, I love you, Nancy, more than a fellow can say
as hasn't many words with him. Come, say the word, tell
me as you'll take me, or just give me the posy you've got
there, and I'll know that you love me and will be my wife."
With trembling hands Nancy took the bunch of primroses
out of her apron string, and put it into Geffs strong brown
Geff Rayner's Posy.
hand; then she turned and fled up the garden path between
the gooseberry bushes, and into the house.
Who so proud and happy then as Geff Rayner He
watched the figure of his little love till it disappeared, and
then he strode away exulting. Did ever primroses smell so
sweet as those he stuck in his button-hole ? Did ever sun
shine so brightly, or blackbirds sing so gaily, as on that May
morning when he won his little Nan ? Geff's heart beat
high with happiness and pride, for many and many a fellow
had been after Nancy, and now he had beaten them all. Little
did he guess how much this had to do with his happiness,
how much thought of self there was in the heart he fancied
he had wholly given to Nancy. Very different scenes came
crowding now into his mind; but it was not the scent of
the primroses that brought them, they have nothing to do
with sweet country life.
He can see Nancy worn down into a pinched, sickly-
looking woman, and her voice grown querulous and fretful
as she upbraids him with having taken her from her country
home, tempted by miner's wages. And what is she the
better for the high wages ? the ugly little house already
lacks some of the comforts they brought with them-where
does the money go ?
Things get worse and worse, times are bad, wages go
down, and poor Nancy gets less and less for herself and her
delicate boy. There are loud, angry words, too. Nancy has
come to talk like the women about her, and uses language
which Geff would little have thought once to hear from his
sweet little Nan; now, however, he scarcely notices it; and he
gives her back rude, violent words when he comes home
from the public-house. Words! ah! if it had been no
more than that! but Geff can remember times when,
half mad with fury, he had-the recollection makes him
shrink, and the words spoken on that May morning come
(222) A 2
Geff Rayners Posy.
back, Good to you ?-Aye, that I will, dear lass, as long as
I live!" A nurse passing by Rayner's bed notices the
expression of his face, and stops to ask if his arm is worse.
She gets a rough "No," and goes on, thinking, What a
strange man that Rayner is, I don't believe he has a spark
of feeling in him." You see people are sometimes mis-
And now Geff sees himself sitting idly smoking-
tobacco has not failed, whatever wife and child have had to
go without-beside the empty grate. A faint voice comes
from the bed in the corner-
"Geff, I reckon I'm dying; could you get a parson to me,
A parson ?-I'll have no parson here! you'll do well
enough without parsons." Geff said to himself that he
wouldn't have any one coming and preaching and frighten-
ing the poor girl now;-it would have been more true if
he had said he didn't want any one to come and frighten
him about his wife.
The faint voice spoke again-
"I've been bad, Geff-I partly think it was you that
made me bad-but now as I'm going I'd like to make it up.
S-forgive you, lad; won't you kiss me once as you used to
Geff rose and kissed the poor pale face, then returned to
his seat, turning his back to the bed on which the boy sat
huddled up, ready to give his mother the mug of water for
which she kept asking. Selfish and cowardly, as men
without religion are apt to become in times of trouble, Geff
could not bear to see her die.
Only once more Nan spoke.
Be good to the boy, Geff."
And had he been good to the boy ? Was it his fault
that the child took the fever? What was it the doctor
Geff Rayner's Posy.
had said about care and better food ? Well! he had left
the boy what food he had for him before he went out
in the morning-what more did they want ? He couldn't
stop in the house to be haunted by the thought of Nan
lying on the bed in the corner there. The lad was better
off now, people said-and it might be so, he couldn't have
been much worse off at any rate than in those past days.
SSo Geff's thoughts ran on. The flood of recollection had
set in, and nothing would stem it-memories which for a
year past he had striven, by every means in his power, by
-work and drink and merry-making, by the excitement of
-dog-fighting and betting, to crush and stifle, now surged up
in his mind with resistless force. All through the day the
scenes of long ago haunted him by their contrast with those
of later years; he could not get rid of them, and at night, in
the intervals of fitful sleep, they were there again, only
jumbled up in bewildering confusion.
Sometimes he fancied that the boy tramping through the
grass after birds' nests was his own little Jem, who, poor
lad, had never been birdnesting in the whole course of his
life; then it was Nan in the next bed ill and dying; then
:again she was standing beside him in all the beauty and
sweetness of their courting days, and through all the words
kept repeating themselves, "Aye, that I will, as long as I
Geff was fully awake when the day began to shine
-through the high windows; the fancies of the night were
past, but in their place remained a sense of intolerable
wretchedness pressing him down like a dead weight in his
weakness. Remorse for the past, and utter hopelessness
for the future, had taken possession of him, and he could
have groaned aloud in his misery.- Was there no relief ?
mo getting rid of this terrible burden ? Turning his head
%wearily on the pillow, he caught sight of the bunch of
12 Geff Rayner's Posy.
primroses lying faded on the coverlet; he took them up
feebly to see if any scent yet remained in them, and the
crumpled card was still hanging to their limp stalks. It
would be a change even to read the words on that slip of
card, so he flattened it out on the sheet, and then held it so
as to catch the dim morning light falling from the window
above his head. This was what he read:
"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as
snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
SISTER GRACE, going her morning rounds, dressed Geff
Rayner's shoulder, smoothed his bed, and made him as com-
fortable as she could. When all her arrangements were
completed, she noticed that he was looking at the fresh
bunch of primroses she wore in her dress. "Ah i" she said,
"I have no right to these. There was one bunch over, so I
took it for my wages and kept it alive in water, but you
shall have them now. Yours are quite dead, poor things."
And she took up the withered flowers, pausing an
instant to read the words on the card-then she looked
gravely at Geff.
"Do you believe that ?" he said sharply.
"Yes, I do," she answered.
I don't, then !"
"Why not, I wonder."
"Because it ain't likely. Is it likely now that a fellow'll
be forgiven when he's gone to the bad like I have ?"
Sister Grace's heart gave a bound-could it be that the
ice was broken ? She knew she must be gentle for fear of
rousing Geffs spirit of opposition, and after one quick
thought of prayer she answered:
Geff Rayer's Posy. 13
"It does seem very unlikely certainly, but as God has
said it, it must be so."
Geff was silent a moment, then he burst out violently:
"I tell you it ain't possible. I said I'd have none of
your texts, and I was a fool to read it. What call is there
to forgive me ? I never wanted to be forgiven, and I don't
know what's set me on thinking of it now. It's all them
He was getting excited, and the Sister felt she must
exert her authority to quiet him.
"Rayner," she said, speaking very firmly, "you know
that is not the way to speak to me-I never allow it. Be
quiet now, and listen. You say you cannot be forgiven-
that it's impossible-and so it would be if we had to get
forgiveness by ourselves ; but see here what is on my card,-
' The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.' "
"Not mine," said Geff. "You don't know,-a lady like
you ain't likely to know what I am."
"No," Sister Grace said, "I don't know, but I suppose
God knew what sins men would fall into, and yet He had
those words written for them."
"I can't even believe it means mine," persisted Geff, but
he spoke less violently.
"Well!" the Sister said gently; "I wouldn't cut the
card off the flowers to please you, and I can't take those
words out of the Bible either. It says 'the iniquity of
us all,' and so it must remain. You had better believe
God, Rayner. Now I must go on; lie still and think it
over, and God grant you faith, my poor fellow."
And for a long time Geff did think, or rather he fought,
for the whole perversity of his nature seemed roused to
reject the hope for which in the depth of his soul he was
craving; and, strange to say, the good that was yet left in
him took part against his peace. It was mean-so he
Geff Rayner's Posy.
thought-for a fellow like him, knowing what he was, to
get comfort out of a few good words which had come in his
way, as it were by chance, without effort or wish of his;
and Geff was not what his companions would have called a
mean man. It appeared to him that to accept the hope of
pardon then, just because he was brought down by weak-
ness, was like trying to shirk the punishment he knew he
deserved. So he tried hard to put the thought of recon-
ciliation away, and to go back to his old sullen state; but
it would not, do-he could not get the words out of his
head, and he battled on till, when, some hours later, Sister
Grace came to his bedside, he broke out vehemently:
"I tell you it's no use; you don't think a chap like me is
to get pardon in a minute just for the asking."
"By believing and repenting," said the Sister.
"By believing either then-I don't see as it's likely."
"How else then?" And as Geff did not answer, she
went on-"Look here, Rayner, don't you see that, wait as
long as you will, if you are to be saved at all it must be
that way at last ? Suppose that for the rest of your life
you were to live better than any man ever did yet, what
would you do about the past? The stain of your sins
would still be on your soul; how would you get rid of it ?
First or last, you can only be saved by the Precious Blood
of our dear Lord; and if He offers you pardon through It
now, why wait ? why not believe in Him now ?"
But do you mean to say as it takes no more than that
to get a fellow straight-just believing ? "
No, I don't mean that," she answered gravely. It takes
a great deal more than that. What it has taken to save
you was the Life and Death and Agony of the Son of God;
what it will take to show your faith and thankfulness will
be all you can do or bear for Him as long as God spares
you here. Listen, while I read you what your salvation
Geff Rayner's Posy.
has cost;" and sitting down by the side of the bed, Sister
Grace drew out her small pocket Bible and read aloud the
23d chapter of St. Luke. As she closed the Book she
repeated softly The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity
of us all;" and then she left Geff to himself.
I cannot describe to you the thoughts that passed through
Geff Rayner's mind during the next few days. They were
such as he could not himself have put into words, nor did
Sister Grace question him or try to make him speak of his
feelings. She believed that the best work often goes on in
silence, and so she simply read a portion of Holy Scripture
to him night and morning, and was allowed, without
opposition, to kneel beside his pillow and whisper the
prayers she thought would best .speak the needs of the
struggling soul. Whatever were Gefns meditations, they
produced a change in his outward manner. Troubled and
very sad he was at times, but the sullenness was almost
gone; his brow was seldom contracted into its accustomed
scowl; and at last a peaceful look came on his face, and
Sister Grace could see tears shining on his eyelashes as
she finished her reading.
One morning, however, after a restless night, all the
newly-found peace seemed gone, and to her gr6at disappoint-
ment an anxious, harassed look met Sister Grace's morning
"Have you had a bad night, Rayner ?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered, turning his head wearily. "I say,
it's no use, Sister; you tell me as I can be forgiven, but you
don't know the half of it yet."
"Why, Rayner," she said smiling, "you talk as if it were
I that had to forgive you-God knows the whole of it."
"Yes, and He can't forgive it-there's one thing that
can't be got over." He spoke very low and in a voice of
16 Gef Rayner's Posy.
"Will you tell me what it is ?"
"It's Nan he said almost in a whisper.
"Nan ? "
"My wife,-she'd a' been a good girl but for me. She
were a good lass when I married her, but I've been the
ruin of her, and that can't be undone."
Tell me about her, Rayner."
And Geff told all the story to the end-even to the sad
deathbed scene. He made no comment as he went on, and
uttered no word of self-reproach, only when he had finished
he said in a low tone of despair,-
"She's gone, and it's my doing, and there's an end of it."
Sister Grace sat pondering, with her kind sorrowful eyes
fixed on the despairing face. At last she spoke-
"It is difficult to know what to say to you, layner; ydu
don't want me to give you false comfort, I'm sure; and it
is no use telling you not to think of it, for you must and
ought to think of it. You must tell this to the chaplain."
For an instant the old look of aversion crossed his face,
but it passed, and he only said-
"I'd a deal sooner hear whatever there is to hear from
"But I am not able to answer you rightly about this-
the chaplain is the proper person to help us. You must let
me tell him the story, Rayner, and ask him what he thinks;
only one thing I think I may say; your wife forgave and
kissed you, and such forgiveness was no light matter."
Taking his silence for consent, Sister Grace laid the case
before the chaplain, asking anxiously how much comfort she
might truthfully give the poor fellow in the trouble she felt
it so difficult to deal with.
"I wish he would see you," she said at the end of their
conversation; "I am not the right person to guide and
advise a man like this."
Geff Rayner's Posy. 17
"Don't distress yourself about that," answered the chap-
lain with a kind smile. "Was it not a woman who found
the lost piece of silver ? And remember that a man will
often say things to a woman that he would not to another
At her next leisure moment Sister Grace repaired to Geff
with her answer, and his face showed how anxiously he had
been awaiting it.
"The chaplain tells me to say this, Rayner," she said,
shrinking a little at the stern opening of her message,
"your sins against your wife must and ought to be a cause
of deepest sorrow to you, and will be a source of lifelong
repentance, but he bids you remember that she had the
wish for reconciliation with her Heavenly Father, and also
that she forgave you; we may not therefore think that her
God had forsaken her. Such forgiveness could only be the
work of His Holy Spirit, and you must keep in mind that
He who knew all the secrets of her heart longed more
tenderly for her salvation than even you can long now to
know her safe."
Geff heaved a deep sigh that was very like a sob, and
"The chaplain told me to say," Sister Grace went on,
after a moment's silence, that he does not intend to intrude
on you against your wishes, but that if at any time you
would like to see him you have only to send for him."
The courtesy of the message seemed to strike Geff, and
after a pause he answered with another Thank you-I'll
send for him when I want him."
The tone was far more respectful than the words, and
Sister Grace was satisfied.
Before many days had passed the chaplain, for whom
poor Geff in his ignorance had entertained such an aver
Geff Rayner's Posy.
sion, was sitting by his bedside, and he was telling him
things he had never thought to speak of to any one.
A very different Geff Rayner it was who at length left
the hospital, from the one who had been brought in, silent
and sullen, and with no higher thought than that of keeping
his pain to himself, so that no one might come "humbug-
ging about him.
"Good-bye, Rayner," Sister Grace said with a cheery
smile; "remember the work is not done-you'll have a
fight for it yet."
And Geff smiled back at her as he answered shyly-
"Please God, I'll not shirk, Sister."
It was hard work at first-very hard work; with return-
ing health came'the old longings for excitement, and the
sad memories that greeted him in his lonely home. made the
companionship of his former friends seem doubly desirable,
and then to a man of his proud temperament their ridicule
was hard to bear. It was a trial to be called "t' Parson's
lamb," and to be asked "how much he got a Sunday for
going to church ?" There were times when it all seemed
too strong for him, and "his footsteps had well-nigh slipped ;"
but Geff clung on to his new habits, and by prayer and
dogged determination the victory was won, and the old
temptations gradually lost their power. Then the chaplain,
whose work at the hospital was over and above that in his
parish, began to make Geff useful, and some of the evenings
that had seemed so long and dull came to be spent in what
he called going errands for the Parson-for in his humil-
ity it never occurred to him that he could be thought
worthy to teach and help others. As the errands, however,
were oftener than not to the sick and dying, it came about
quite naturally that the thought of the love of Christ, ever
uppermost in Geffs mind, began to take shape in simple
words of counsel and comfort for such as needed them.
Geff Rayner's Posy.
He never, as a rule, spoke of himself or of his conversion;
he was not one of those who seem almost to boast of their
former wickedness, perhaps intending thereby to glorify the
mercy of God, though too often it sounds sadly like glori-
fication of self. Once, however, when a poor fellow was
despairing of pardon, as he himself had once despaired, Geff
broke through his reserve.
"Eh, lad, never say it," he said; "why, He forgave me !
you'd never think what I was; I reckon I don't rightly
know myself-but He knew and He forgave me."
In the depth of his penitence Geff truly believed that
if he could be pardoned, none might despair.
- Children were his special care. He seemed to think
that by loving service to them he could in some way atone
to his own little Jem for his neglect of him, and often
during the dinner-hour some pale, wizened child might be
seen perched on Jem's three-legged stool, sharing Geff's
mid-day meal. Then in the autumn Sister Grace had some
primrose- roots sent from her own home for Geff to plant on
the grave of his wife and boy, so that, as each spring came
round, he had a posy or two for his child-friends; and the
bunch of primroses and the hearty handshake which awaited
her after the early Communion, came to be one of the plea-
sures to which Sister Grace looked forward on Easter Day.
For Geff did not stop short in his Christian course,
content to take all the peace and comfort he could get from
his Saviour's love without ever obeying His dying command;
and after a time he was rarely to be missed from the band
of the faithful gathered at the Holy Feast.
It is a very happy life that Geff Payner lives now, and
it cannot be called a lonely one, for he has friends in every
part of the town, and he can scarcely walk down any street
without a shrill little voice coming from some open door,
"Geff our Geff !" while a pair of clumping feet bring their
20 Gef Rayner's Posy.
owner, bread-and-butter in hand, to receive the nod and
smile he is sure to get, even if Geff has not time to stop
and swing him up on to his broad shoulder for a ride to
the end of the street. Then, too, in many a humble home
the first thought in sudden trouble (and sudden troubles
are common enough in a mining district) is, Geff Rayner
-we mun send for Geff!" Thus-
"Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes"-
most truly bringing forth fruits meet for repentance."
A MILL AND A MILLER.
" VERWORKED? Of course he has overworked him-
self; they all do. They can all work fast enough,
but they have to learn wow. Good evening,
Sdoctor-your advice shall be attended to."
I confess that, as a deacon of three months' stand-
ing, I was a little hurt at hearing the hard work which I
certainly had found tolerably severe, spoken of as the result of
youthful inexperience, and I suppose the Rector read some-
thing of the kind in my face, for as he came back, after seeing
the doctor out, he said, with a little twinkle in his eyes-
"Oh-our feelings are hurt, are they ? Never mind,
Redford, give me the horse that wants the curb sooner than
the one that wants the spur-he will be the better
animal in the end." Then laying his hand on my shoulder
he added : "After all, it's not for me to lecture you, for I
couldn't have had my holiday in peace if I hadn't known
that you young ones were doing all my work as well as
(The dear old Rector !-I fancy there was not one of us,
"boys" as he always persisted in calling us, who would not
have laid down our lives for him, if necessary, any day.)
At any rate," the Rector went on, "the doctor says rest,
and rest you must have; so you had better pack up your
traps and be off to-morrow."
A Mill and a Miller.
"To-morrow! but, RLector," I began, "there's the Mission-
room Service and"
And the mission school, and the clubs, and the library,
besides Tom, Dick, and Harry, who cannot possibly get on
without you. My dear boy, I know, but the case would be
precisely the same this day twelve months-so to the
country you go to-morrow."
I had to obey of course; and the next day I was whirled
into a land of hill and valley, heather and stream,-and that
was how I came to be standing in the particular spot which
rises before my mind's eye as I write, and which will never,
I think, fade from my memory. How can I describe its
loveliness ? or, if I could, how should I ever be able to con-
vey the spirit of it all? Impossible! I can only try and
tell of the help that came to me there in my weariness and
I was standing on a steep bank overlooking the turbulent
brook, and about me was the sound of many waters, for
upstream the topaz-brown water with crests of foam came
tumbling down a rocky incline, to be split up and turned
aside by sharp boulder-stones; part of the stream too had
been directed on to the great mill-wheel now standing
motionless, so that the unused power of water rushed down
from the wide wooden spout and added its share to the froth
and fume. Down-stream the flow was calmer, and the dark
water had only islets of many-coloured rocks to contend
with, as it slipped away down the cool narrow gorge, so
narrow that the walls of moss-covered rock on either hand
almost met, and only a mist of lighter green glimpsed at
between them, and a clearer light coming through interlacing
branches showed that the stream widened out once more
before joining the river in the great leap," which was one
of the lions of the valley. There was no sunshine ; indeed,
though scarcely felt where I stood leaning against the stem
A Mill and a Miller.
of an ash tree, a light rain was falling, decking grass and
fern with tiny sparkles, burnishing the leaves of overhanging
trees, bringing out the thousand soft shades and tints in the
wet rocks, and giving to the moss that peculiar intensity of
green which seems almost to deepen into a glow" as one
gazes at it.
I was just in that state when outward things photograph
themselves indelibly on the brain, without any conscious-
ness of one's own, for my mind was all the time busy with
far different matters. Too weary to turn into other lines of
thought, it kept beating along the old ones-going over again
and again the ideas and scenes that had occupied me during
the last few weeks, although I instinctively felt it a
desecration to bring them there into the cool tenderness
and purity of the place, where a man might indeed go and
wash, body and soul, and be clean. The contrast forced
itself on me more and more strongly, and with it awoke a
struggle, born, I trust and believe, of over-tasked bodily
strength, and not of any real "looking-back" or regretting
of the great choice I had made a few months before. There
swept over me a dreary sense of the ugliness, the common-
ness of my work viewed from without, and just then I
could not rise to its inward meaning; it was so unutterably
ugly and repulsive: dirt and squalor, sin, hypocrisy, and de-
ceit-these had for long been my daily surrounding, and
it seemed just then as if all the beauty to which I had
always been so keenly susceptible were for ever shut out of
my existence. I know in all honesty that I had no other
intention in taking a London curacy than of working hard
and conscientiously, but in my ignorance I had cherished a
secret hope that in the great city I should be within reach
of some of the art and culture for which I had longed in
my little country-town home. I had had visions of stealing
away in moments of leisure for a blissful hour in gallery or
A Mill and a Miller.
museum; but somehow my leisure moments were few and
far between, and I found that "stealing away" from the
clergy-house at St. Ann's, S.E., to Bond Street, was a longer
business than I had thought; and if it took the form of
omnibuses, it became expensive. No," I thought rather
bitterly, "beauty either of nature or art is not for me-I
have made my choice, and must abide by it, and leave
other things to those who can enjoy them." But what a
discord it all seemed! to think of a place like this existing
not only in the same world as, but only a few hours'
journey from, a certain court which I could recall with all
its hideous characteristics.
The rain was becoming heavier, and dutifully recollecting
that I had been sent to acquire health and not bronchitis,
I turned sadly away to seek shelter in the mill. Such a
curious, old-world little mill! I had to cross a bridge of
planks to enter the door high up in the long shed-like
building, and found myself in a whitey-grey "interior," with
roof, floor, and all the quaint wooden fittings toned down
into soft shades of grey, not by the dust, but by the flour of
ages; and on a higher level, reached by some rickety steps,
sat the soul of the body-the miller of the mill-chipping
away at a great stone dish, the upper millstone, while near
him lay the nether millstone of proverbial hardness. Having
asked and obtained leave to rest awhile on a friendly plank,
I watched the old man as he sat by the small window in
the' gable, the light showing his finely-cut face in relief
against the dusky shadows of roof and rafter, and just
touching the white hair scarcely distinguishable from the
grey tones about it. He was deepening the grooves in the
millstone, he told me, for the new wheat would be heavy,
and would require a stronger draught of air to prevent its
clogging. I was in a mood to take up grievances, so I took
up that of the new corn. A sad ending it seemed to the
A Mill and ad iller. 25
growth of months and the waving glory of the fields, to be
brought here and ground into indistinguishable powder;
the ultimate result of bread was too comfortable an idea for
my then state of mind, and I went on drearily musing and
moralising as I watched the miller. Then I wondered
whether he, living in this wild lonely spot, and working on
in his daily round, ever troubled his head about the questions
which underlie everything and rise up to harass us just
when we seem least able to solve them. 'His was a quiet,
thoughtful face, and I thought I would try him.
It seems a curious thing that the corn should grow and
flourish only to come to your grindstone at last," I said.
The old man paused a moment in his work, then went
on again, curtly remarking:
"I reckon it's what it's for."
Another silence-then the miller once more laid down
his tools and turned his keen grey eyes on me. "I'm
just a bit of a preacher on the Lord's Day," he said, "and
to look at you, I should say you were the same."
A preacher! How I should have resented the term two
months ago, and with what an elaborate definition of my
office I should have tried to enlighten this old man! But
just now I was too jaded to enter on a discussion-indeed,
I felt as though it would be very restful to sit there and
be preached to by the old man, so I meekly replied, Yes;"
and the miller continued: "Well, as I sit working here or
go about the mill, I think over things as I shall have to
tell our folk on the Sabbath, and when I see the grain
bruised and broken up till it comes out fine white flour, I
just think how as the Lord seems to bruise most things as
He intends to use for us-there's the wood has to be
chopped up and broken afore it can be made firewood of,
and the coal has to be broken, and the iron melted in the
furnace, and a sight of other things. And then I look at
A Mzlt and a Miller.
it this way-the Lord Himself was bruised afore He could
I might well sit still and be taught; the miller knew
more of these things than I-he had found the clue which
I had lost.
I went back, pondering deeply, to my ash-tree for another
look down the cool green gorge; and, perhaps, because the
old man's words had raised my thoughts from myself to
God, its beauty spoke to me now, and I could hear. The
words came -to me, Without Him was not anything made
that was made," and then the thought of what the mind
must be that could devise such a scene as this; for was I
not looking on a thought of God," a thought of Christ made
visible ? Of Christ-of Him who was bruised that He
might become our Life, our Bread in a far more real and
literal sense than the old preacher probably knew. Then
what must human life have been to Him, the deviser of all
beauty!-the commonness of the carpenter's shop, and the
houseless, homeless wanderings; what must the touch of
the beggar and the leper have been to Him, who had
imagined the exquisite tenderness and purity of the tints
and forms there before my eyes; and more than all, what
must those details of the Passion, of which we read with
such reverence as almost to lose sight of their real nature
-the brutality, the ugliness, the degradation-what must
these have been to Him! And I had dared to think the
discord too great between the loveliness here and my own
surroundings I had thought it hard that my little feeble
"feeling for beauty" should be crossed and thwarted, and
in my heart I had rebelled against the small share of
" bruising" which might one day make me fit to be used
by my Master for the good of His Church and His people.
I began to see how I had been getting to make myself the
centre of my work, and to look at it as it affected me. What
A Mill and a Miller.
wonder then,. that it had grown repulsive Apart from my
Lord, how could it be otherwise ? But where He is the
Origin and Creator of all beauty of art or nature, surely
nothing can be wholly ugly, wholly commonplace. He is
the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" the Christ Who
tells us that He is present to us in the poorest and weakest
of His brethren, is the same without Whom were none of
these things made that were made, the same Christ Who so
used and conquered the humiliating elements in His own
death and passion, as to make them for all ages the object
of the reverent love and admiration of His people.
Here is the harmony into which melt all the discords of
life-all but sin itself.
One look back before turning out of the quiet little dale.
The stream was hidden from sight, but the air was filled
with its music, the long line of the low mill-roof was
drawn against the background of trees, and high above stood
a heather peak, its purple dimmed by the mist-wreaths
passing across it.
"Without Him was not anything made that was made."
LITTLE world in itself !-That was the general
remark of the visitors who now and then wan-
dered curiously through the great Naval School
at Whitlar. A school it was, in name and
reality; and yet it was a ship, a huge un-
wieldy creature, that rose and fell with the changeful
waves of the great river at whose mouth it was moored.
And here I must pause for one moment, to say that if
my readers think I am going to give an account of the
workings of this great sea-school they are very much
mistaken; they can guess for themselves what sort of
business goes on all day there; and if I, who am no sea-
man, were to pretend to know all about sails, and ropes,
and such matters, the little cabin-boy who had only made a
single voyage would soon find me out, and laugh at me.
No; I am going to write only of what I know,-and that
is, a little of the life-story of two of the boys, out of the
several hundreds who are in the school. In each case the
old question from boy to boy, of Who's your father ? met
the brief answer Dead,"-but Harold Grey, the handsome
lad, spoke up boldly, and added, "He was a gentleman;"
while little Jamie Duncan's eyes fell, and grew. dim, as
he repeated the short sad word which meant so much
Whitlar Boys. 29
Harold soon settled well to his work; he was strong
enough to do easily what fatigued many others, and he had
a smattering of book-learning and a good bold handwriting,
which made him useful to the petty officers.
Jamie Duncan, meanwhile, was lost in the crowd : a
patient, striving boy, without much talent, he did his duty,
and no one thought any more about him. Yet, for some
reason, this quiet boy was constantly at Harold Grey's elbow,
listened eagerly to his voice, and did him many a little
service without reward, or scarcely thanks.
Harold liked the thought of a sea-life; and being a good-
tempered fellow on the whole, his companions took no
farther notice of his boastful laments over his past life, than
to dub him the Gentleman,"-a title Harold rather liked
One terrible anxiety poor Jamie had for his friend-he
felt sure that Harold left the ship at night with one or two
others, though for what purpose, and where he went, he .did
And now there came a sore trial to the poor sensitive
boy. The usual day for the repair of the boys' garments
came round, and under the charge of the master-tailor they
were all seated on their chests, busily working. All except
Harold, who as usual despised the needle, and declared
there were no rents in any of his clothes.
Then take and mend this, for practice," said the tailor,
who had little patience with Harold's airs, and he handed
him a waistcoat belonging to the steward's assistant. Harold
dared not refuse, but he was obliged to pretend to do the
work; more he could not do, since he had not the skill to
execute the needed repairs.
Little James was creeping up to him, intending to relieve
him of his task, when he noticed a gold coin slip out of the
pocket of the waistcoat as Harold turned it round. Harold
saw the coin too, and his fingers closed over it, and then
went into his pocket.
Next day the bit of gold was inquired for,-the steward's
assistant felt sure he had left it in the pocket of the torn
waistcoat. Jamie, to whom the neat repair was traced,
.answered that he had found no half-sovereign in the waist-
coat; and then he hoped to hear Harold tell how he had
found it. But Harold never spoke; "the Gentleman was
utterly silent. And this was Jamie's great grief, for how
could he believe his friend to be a thief?
Meantime the whole school was startled and dismayed by
the declaration of a poor half-witted man, who helped the
cook, that his money-box had been robbed, and his savings,
amounting to two or three pounds, had been taken. Poor
Mike was drowned in tears,-what mind he had, had been
*so devoted to these two or three gold pieces.
While affairs were in this condition Jamie received a sum-
mons from the sick ward: Harold was ill, he wished to
speak to him.
"I wish I had kept to you, Jamie, for a friend," he said;
" then I might not have broken rules so much, and gone out
-at night. Sykes and Turner, they persuaded me; and first
it was the theatre, and then a grand singer in Turner's
brother's public-house ; they got the boat, and managed it
.all, and I had to pay: you can't tell, Jamie, how difficult
it was for me, a gentleman's son, to refuse: and then I
was short of money,--and mother's letter never came,-
And you took Adam's half-sovereign," said Jamie,
calmly, trying to save Harold's panting breath.
Harold gasped "Yes. And when the row was made
about it, Sykes lent me ten shillings to put in Adam's berth.
I guessed he could not have come honestly by the money,
-and now I am sure"-
Whitlar Boys. 3
"That he took Mike's money," said Jamie, gravely.
"Harold, you must tell all this to the Chaplain."
But Harold flushed up and hesitated,-" Gentlemen
never tell," he muttered; you don't know, Jamie, it's so
different for me. What I wanted to ask you was, Could
you lend me the money? and then I would pay Sykes,
and he would perhaps put Mike's money back, and all
would be right."
Jamie shook his head; he was not a very clever boy, but
he could see that it was all wrong.
"I have no money, Harold, only one half-crown; but
please listen to me, and perhaps you will when I tell you
that I am a gentleman too. My father was a clergyman,
and he meant me to be one too; but fever came, and they
died, father and mother; and Ellen and I had no money:
so she is a governess, and I was sent to this school."
The next night Harold summoned Jamie to tell him,-" I
can't die, Jamie, I feel I can't, till Mike has his money back.
I heard the poor chap crying like a baby yesterday outside
the door. I know the Chaplain and the Governor mean
kindly; they are hushing matters up till I am dead, but
it won't do. I didn't take the money, but I must get it
him back. Oh, if only I had a bit of strength to write
to mother, or do something I" and poor Harold groaned in
"They have written twice," said Jamie. But stop,
perhaps my sister,-we have very little money, Harold, but
she might be able to get us some : I will get leave to-morrow,
and see, for I think you are quite right to try and give
Mike the money back."
That night Harold had a long sleep, the first for many a
weary night. And Jamie got his leave, special leave, at
the Chaplain's request, and came to the sick ward next
evening, bright and beaming.
It's all here, Harold," he said, holding a little leather
"All ?" said poor Harold, feebly.
"Yes," said Jamie, proudly; "Ellen had just been paid
her salary, and she gave it to me. Won't Mike be glad ?"
"Thank you, Jamie," said Harold, "please give it Mike,"
and turning round, he fell asleep directly.
Next day Mike was all smiles again, his treasure was
restored to him, and his poor wearied wits never puzzled
themselves as to why or how, so he was perfectly happy.
Affairs were managed very quietly at Whitlar : the same
day that Harold, carefully wrapped up, and tenderly carried
by a big sailor, was taken on shore to be nursed by his
mother, Sykes and Thornton also left the school, never to
return. After due inquiry it was thought best to dismiss
them both from the ship.
From that day there was no longer any chance of boys
getting out at night. Harold's confession of his misdeeds
had led to a change in the rules of the ship which put a
stop to such pranks. No one exactly knew why at this
time James Duncan come to be generally looked up to and
respected, or how sundry whispers got about that he had
been a real gentleman, even more so than poor Grey.
And here my story really ends; though one sorrowful
sentence, and one glad one, must be added.
Harold only lived a year, carefully tended by his mother;
but, as far as we can tell, that year was well spent, in
learning to be gentle, humble, and repentant.
And Jamie is still at Whitlar. All his companions like
him; and when a new boy comes to the school, Jamie is
pointed out as in some mysterious way "a real gentleman."
And so he is. -
A VILLAGE NEAR GENOA.
A VILLAGE NEAR GENOA.
A TRUE STORY.
WO pupils in God's school were slowly spelling
out the same lesson of Faith under the patient
eye of the great Master. The one was a toil-
worn middle-aged woman, and the other a very
Beppo was doomed to watch those dearest to him as they
faded one by one in wasting sickness from earth to the
better home above. Peppina was called upon to resign her
children, each and all, to friends beyond the sea, who
promised them ease, comfort, and prosperity, in exchange
for the life of obscure poverty to which they had been born.
The lesson, although differently worded, was essentially the
same. Peppina perhaps needed stronger faith than Beppo,
for to the imagination of those simple peasants South
America seemed a more unknown land than did the heaven
of which they had heard from infancy. She was, in fact,
being taught in a parable, like the immediate disciples of
the Master. Like them also she was sometimes slow in
learning the task set before her, but she never closed
her ear to the divine voice, nor refused obedience to its
The child and the woman, although not related, were
near neighbours, dwelling in a village some few miles distant
from Genoa, that grand and beautiful Italian city, of which
A Village near Genoa.
the churches and palaces rise on a mountain slope cut into
terraces, out of the blue Mediterranean Sea. The town
itself is bleak, but there are sheltered places in its neigh-
bourhood where the climate is warm and brilliant for a
great part of the year. Delicate invalids hence flock thither
in numbers to escape the rigour of a Northern winter. Yet
consumption and decline are very prevalent along that
lovely coast, strange though the fact may sound to those
who dream only of Southern skies, and balmy breezes, and
orange-trees with white fragrant flowers and golden fruit.
Few persons who have never been abroad realise that
there is cold weather every year even in Italy. A sharp
north wind blows from the snow-clad mountains, bearing
frost and ice upon its wings; or deluges of rain, such as are
scarcely known in England, flood the houses, which are built
with small regard to warmth and comfort. In the palaces
the floors are of rare inlaid marble; in the cottages, of rough
grey slabs of stone; while through both whistles the keen
blast from ill-made doors and windows, exposing the inmates
to continual draughts. Carpets and fires are alike unknown,
and the food of the peasants is not such as to develop
vigorous frames. Many live chiefly on a kind of paste cut
into tiny strips resembling fiddle-strings, and actually bearing
that very name. A dish of this pasta, boiled in water with
a little salt, is often the dinner or supper of a family, but
although satisfying hunger, it does not contain sufficient
nutriment to strengthen the body against disease. When
these things are considered, we can scarcely be surprised at
the number of poor Italians who die every winter in the
very climate that so often restores health to wealthy and
luxurious British visitors.
Beppo's life had been very sad, for he belonged to a
consumptive family, yet there was no gloom in the merry
weather-beaten face, so plain while in repose, so beautiful
A Village near Genoa. 3
when lighted up with its brilliant Italian smile. He was a
human sunflower, basking in every ray of gladness which
pierced through the dark clouds of his many trials.
The office of sick-nurse seems a strange vocation for a
boy, but it was one to which Beppo had been called in very
early childhood. Before he was eleven years old he had
already watched beside the deathbeds of both parents, his
two brothers, and his baby sister Rosa. No one else could
be spared to attend them, for the time of the bread-winners
was doubly valuable when sickness increased the expenses
of the household. Then came a year during which Beppo
went to school, and received the care of a mother from his
eldest sister Angela, the only near relation who was left to
him. There seemed some hope that her life might be spared,
as she had passed her seventeenth birthday without showing
any traces of the fatal malady. One day, however, Angela
caught a slight chill followed by fever, in returning home
from the silk-factory at which she was employed. She
drooped for a few weeks, then grew rapidly worse, and was
soon stretched upon the pallet where so many of those dear
to her had breathed their last. Like theirs, her illness
seemed to have been only caused by a neglected cold, yet
no one doubted from the first that it must end in death.
When Beppo looked upon her wasted form, he knew that
she was very near the Unseen World, whither he should
soon follow her. The humble neighbours were very plain-
spoken, and had often said in the boy's hearing, that though
he might now seem stronger than the other children, he
would never live to be a man. The thought was too
familiar to alarm him, though he sometimes wondered
vaguely who would watch beside him when it should
become his turn to be the patient instead of the nurse.
The doubt, however, was too passing to disturb him, and it
never grew into a positive anxiety.
A Village near Genoa.
Strangers sometimes suspected Beppo of indifference to
the loss of those very friends whom he had so devotedly
attended. He could smile at the grave, and on returning to
the lonely house, eat his coarse food with youthful appetite,
and sleep soundly upon the bed newly deserted by its
moaning occupant. Nay, more, he could even enjoy a merry
game when there was no immediate call upon his services.
They did not realise that the poor child must long ago
have sunk under his heavy load but for the very buoyancy
which they condemned. Why should his spirits droop
when he and his dear ones would so soon be once more
together in their Father's home? Why should he not play
innocently, as he had before worked heartily, while waiting
for the summons of the Messenger?
Peppina's history was even more sad than that of her
little neighbour. Long ago her husband had deserted her
and his five children, leaving her not only burdened with
their care, but also with the charge of his father and her
own mother, both of whom were advanced in years. The
support of the old man devolved solely upon Peppina, as
she was the only creature to whom he could look for help.
The expense of her mother's maintenance was shared with
the devoted daughter of her brother; but as he was a poor
fisherman, with four small children and uncertain gains,
Peppina never felt able to count on his assistance. Her
life became a hard struggle, and one which aged the' comely
peasant before she had reached her prime. At length a
portion of the weight was lifted from her shoulders, although
only to be transferred to her loving heart. The eldest girl
married, and went with her husband to Buenos Ayres, where
so many enterprising youths from Genoa seek and find an
honest livelihood. Being steady and industrious, he soon
succeeded, made a comfortable home, and encouraged his
wife to send to Italy for her next sister, to whom he pro-
A Village near Genoa. 5
mised a father's care. Teresa sailed accordingly, and before
two years had expired married in her turn, and sent for her
only brother, Stefano, for whom she had already secured
suitable employment. Meanwhile the worthless father had
rejoined his prosperous children, that he might- drain their
small savings, and force from them the few coins which had
been treasured for their mother as the fruit of great self-
sacrifice and arduous labour. But for him they might have
risen more rapidly in the New World, but as the spendthrift
was kept by their influence from vicious courses, they agreed
to bear much rather than turn him adrift.
Two little girls remained as yet in Italy under Peppina's
care, Carmela and Cecilia. Their ages were fourteen and
eight, and the elder had already become very useful. -She
nursed the old grandparents with whom she lived, watched
faithfully over her little sister, mended and made the gar-
ments of the family, and tried to spend the scanty earnings
of her mother to the best advantage. The poor commonly
enjoy freer space in Italy than in England, as the land there
is less valuable, and Peppina rented several tiny rooms at a
less cost than would have to be paid for one in London.
They were flooded by glorious sunshine and swept by pure
breezes from the sea and mountains, but they could only be
reached by seven flights of steps, so dark and dangerous
that it seemed wonderful no lives were lost in trying to
mount or descend them. In order to support this small
establishment Peppina's life was an unceasing round of toil.
She was maid-servant at an inn where many English visitors
resorted for the winter, and which was filled during the hot
months with Italians, who flocked to the seaside from the
fever-stricken cities of the plain. It was a rambling old
palace, with rich painted ceilings, and dim ghostly galleries,
and marble staircases, and broad flat terraces, which over-
hung the glittering sea. Nothing could be more unlike our
A Village near Genoa.
idea of a hotel, but this mansion, like many others of the
kind in Italy, had been let by its princely owner, who pos-
sessed more residences than he and his relatives could
occupy, to an innkeeper who desired to settle in the village.
There Peppina laboured from four in the morning till eleven
at night, living on the most scanty fare, taxed hourly far
beyond her strength, bewildered by the many mistresses and
masters whom she had to please, and never enjoying a
single holiday, even at Christmas. True, the hotel was
empty for a few weeks every year in spring and autumn,
but she was then employed in house-cleaning on so vast a
scale, that the demands on her seemed rather to increase
than to diminish. Peppina's fellow-servants came and went,
seeking, for the most part successfully, to better their con-
dition. She was compelled to remain, for so strong were
the ties which bound her to her native village that no work
beyond it would have been available. Her payment at the
inn, though small, was regular, and she was in the way
there of receiving little presents from the visitors-money
or left-off clothing-every article of which Carmela's busy
fingers turned to the best possible account. Despite such
help, however, the poor maid began to sink under her
burden; and although the firm will never failed, her health
was so enfeebled that she sometimes dreaded lest she should
become a helpless invalid.
While her heart was saddened by these forebodings, a
letter arrived from South America renewing the offer, which
she had already twice refused, of joining her family there,
and taking with her the two little girls, to be adopted by
their married sisters. To resist such a temptation called
for Christian heroism, but she did not waver. The old
mother, ninety years of age, was too childish to feel her
loss, and Peppina could send part of her earnings home
from Buenos Ayres to the brother who united with her to
A Village near Genoa. 7
support his parent. Her real tie was the father of the man
who had deserted her. How could she leave him friendless
with no one who would take it to heart whether he lived
or died? He loved her and would miss her personal care.
Not even an increase of ease would make amends to his
affectionate nature for her actual presence. When con-
vinced of this by calm reflection, she turned with tears
from the tempting prospect to face the steep uphill path of
duty and self-sacrifice.
Months rolled away. Peppina's lungs grew delicate,
and she was only saved from pleurisy by the timely gift of
warm flannels from an English lady, who had noticed how
the poor old woman was exposed early and late to the
inclement weather. Then one cold February night came
startling news from South America. The elder sisters had
sent for the two little ones, whose passages were paid, and
who would be protected on the voyage by a trusted, worthy,
married sailor. The ship which brought the tidings was
even then lying in the Genoa harbour, and they were to
sail with her on her return to Buenos Ayres, which would
be within four weeks. No wonder that the mother's heart
should sicken as she went about the weary tasks which
scarcely left her any leisure to bestow upon her children's
needs. What anguish did she not endure at the thought
that she must so soon be parted from her sole remaining
treasures True, she might not have been able much longer
to maintain them, but they were the sunshine of her daily
life. She did indeed expect to follow them sooner or later;
but would they not be so changed as scarcely to appear
like her own offspring ? Carmela in her budding youth
might indeed only have developed into mature womanhood,
but would not bright little laughing Cecilia have grown
wholly out of her remembrance ? Perhaps it was the
knowledge that she must for ever lose the childhood of this
A Village near Genoa.
youngest darling which brought the sharpest pang to the
One care which weighed heavily on Peppina was the
question as to how she could secure a proper outfit for the
little travellers. They were going to live with relations
who moved in a higher sphere, and she was anxious that
they should be neatly and respectably attired; yet to find
money for their clothing was impossible, when even the
house-rent was in arrears.
Her now slender wardrobe was reviewed, and every
garment which could be spared put aside, but the result
proved so unsatisfactory that poor Peppina was disheartened.
Happily unexpected aid poured in on her from several
quarters. The old peasant woman had made friends among
the English guests at the hotel, whose tastes and habits,
which must have seemed so strange and unlike her own,
she faithfully tried to consult. Those to whose comfort
she had thus ministered felt they were only repaying a
debt of gratitude when they agreed among themselves to fur-
nish what was requisite for the outfit of the little maidens.
Wardrobes richer than Peppina's were laid under contribu-
tion for gowns which could be adapted to their use. Under-
garments were also provided, and new prints for Sunday
frocks, and brilliant handkerchiefs for the head-gear which
in Italy is the usual substitute for hat or bonnet among
women of the poorer ranks. Nothing so tended to soften
the pain of this bitter parting to Peppina as the knowledge
that her children would neither disgrace nor burden the
relations who so generously offered to adopt them.
One afternoon the sorrowing mother chanced to meet
Beppo in the street, and stopped him to inquire for Angela.
"I think she will be leaving us about the same time as
your children," said the boy; nor did his answer strike the
questioner as unusual.
A Village near Genoa. 9
Beppo had become almost as skilful as the parish doctor
in detecting the successive stages of decline.
The next day, however, the physician called again, and
gave a different verdict. Angela having survived the March
winds, might now live until the autumn, provided she could
have suitable nourishment. There was no mention of broth,
wine, and other luxuries beyond reach of the patient, but
the doctor charged Beppo to vary his sister's diet, as the
fidellini could no longer tempt her appetite.
The poor child's faith was now as keenly tested on the
score of food as that of Peppina had been respecting rai-
ment. Neither of them had as yet mastered the lesson
taught us of the birds and lilies, at least not where the
welfare of their beloved ones was concerned. The little
brother knew that Angela was virtually sinking from star-
vation; for although there was no actual lack of provisions
in the cottage, he had no means of procuring any suited to
a dying girl. It seemed almost a case of being told to make
bricks without straw, and Beppo sat down to consider ear-
nestly how he could act on the doctor's instructions. The idea
of begging did not occur to him, for, like most of the honest
Italian poor, he never forced his wants on others, nor even
supposed they were such as to claim especial sympathy.
Many, both in the village and around it, were as ill as
Angela, and some more destitute, yet all patiently bore the
hardships of their lot. His was no case for alms-seeking;
but it is very different to ask a service at the hands of a kind
neighbour, and the only question was to whom it would be
wisest to apply.
There was his sister's namesake, good old Angela, with
her bent frame and her white locks flying like snowflakes in
a March wind, and her cotton gown, which had been so fre-
quently mended that it looked like a patchwork of many
colours. She lived high among the vineyards in a four-
io A Village near Genoa.
roomed cottage, with gay prints upon its walls, and windows
of which each one framed a different landscape. On the left
was Genoa, with its marble palaces piled one behind another
on the hill-slopes, separated by exquisite gardens, while
almost in the sea rose a tall lighthouse, and beyond stretched
a beautiful headland, steeped in the soft gemlike colouring
of Italy. In an opposite direction, looking towards France,
the eye wandered over the long sweep of the Maritime
Alps, chain beyond chain of graceful peaks, on some of
which a silvery crown of snow stood out against the tender
blue of the spring sky. At the rear of the cottage, and
around it, the Apennine mountains raised their heads, the
lower ranges terraced into gardens of figs, almonds, grapes,
and olives, while the higher were covered with forests of
the stately umbrella pine trees, of which the rounded tops
appear, as has been truly said, like dark-green islands set
among the clouds.
Angela's was as fair a home as heart could wish, but
sorely did she struggle to maintain it by the field labour
for which she grew yearly more unfitted. Beppo knew she
would gladly help him, but he did not like to ask her for
the oranges, goats'-milk, or early vegetables which she sold
at the hotels and villas. Later, when the strangers were
gone, and garden produce was more plentiful, it would be
different; but meanwhile he was too considerate to encroach
upon her slender store.
The friend who always pressed assistance upon others,
whether or not she could easily afford it, was Paulina, whose
life was full of deep poverty and constant care. Her hus-
band was subject to epilepsy, and when she saw symptoms
of an attack, she dared not leave him for an instant, night
or day. He was a gentle, lovable old man, whose face,
innocent as a baby's, often wore a fixed, vacant expression,
which showed how much the brain had become affected by
A Village near Genoa. I
disease. Paulina kept him always neat and clean, and she
herself was a pattern of tidiness, though how she contrived
to be so remained a mystery to more than one slatternly
neighbour. Both she and her husband, when the latter was
able to work, earned a part of their clothing by oakum-
picking, which was the employment of many beside them in
the village. They were connected with a large rope-factory
in the next town, attached to which was a warehouse for
cotton fabrics, and the workers were paid in yards of print
or similar materials instead of in shillings and pence. A
little help was given them in money by a married son, and
they also possessed another source of gain, though one far
too uncertain to be counted upon as a regular addition to
At the end of the squalid open court in which they lived
was the chief entrance to a nobleman's estate, of which the
key had been intrusted to Paulina by its absent owner.
The hall and the private gardens were not shown to
strangers, but all might freely wander through the wilder-
ness of the park, which was, indeed, little else than a
mountain-side partly enclosed, with here and there traces
of cultivation. Nursery-maids and children, picnic parties,
botanists, and sketchers availed themselves of this beautiful
resort during the "English season." But the neighbour-
hood abounded with rival attractions, and sometimes Paul-
ina would be deserted for days, or even weeks, by the
capricious visitors. Most of these pleasure-seekers gave a
copper to the sickly woman, who descended at their call
from the top floor of a tall house that overlooked the stag-
nant ditch which poisoned the surrounding atmosphere.
Many did not bestow a thought on the gatekeeper, but the
sympathising few witnessed a touching sight. The merry-
hearted and indifferent saw only Paulina's patient smile;
but the first word of kindness, or a gift beyond her
A Village near Genoa.
customary fee, so thrilled the overstrung sensitive nerves as
to call forth a gush of tears. Paulina's sorrowful existence
had unfitted her for happiness, as the gloom of a dungeon
unfits prisoners for the light of day.
Beppo knew she would give him her last penny, or part of
her insufficient meal, but he had no desire to take advantage
of such generosity. Several more cases were considered by
the boy, only to be dismissed by the delicate tact of an ima-
ginative nature, which enabled him to realise the circum-
stances of his friends. How he longed to earn enough to buy
Angela's supper; but what way was open to a child whose
presence could not be long spared from the sick-room ? It
was the girl herself who solved the difficulty, about which
she had not even been consulted. "Beppo," she said,
stroking his hand caressingly, "I should so like a new-
laid egg. Do you think Maddalena would let me have
In an instant Beppo's feet were flying down the staircase,
and along the coast, where yellow sea-poppies waved in
the breeze, and through the straggling village street, until
he stopped at the house of the dressmaker. It was a small
low dwelling, occupied by Maddalena, her fisherman-brother,
two sisters, and several nieces, who, besides the needlework
which was their chief employment, undertook the washing of
lace and fine muslins for the visitors. They were contented
people, earning rather more than sufficed for their wants,
and always willing to relieve the needy. Beppo's request
was cheerfully granted, and two fresh eggs were placed in
his little osier basket, together with some ripe lemons, a
solace for which Angela often pined during her feverish
nights. The dressmaker was arrayed in her picturesque
Sunday garb for a friend's wedding-feast, having at an
earlier hour attended the marriage procession, which is
almost as common a spectacle in Italy as in the East. She
A Village near Genoa. 13
looked strikingly handsome under the black lace veil which
fell around her like a cloak, while the gold earrings, which
had been part of her dowry, glittered amid the dusky folds
of her abundant hair. Her soft yet brilliant eyes sparkled
with pleasure, and her gestures were full of excited interest,
Maddalena knew how to' enjoy a holiday, and her needle
would fly only the more briskly on the morrow.
While talking to Beppo, she suddenly pulled the latchet
of the street door, and a long train of fowls began to patter
up the staircase. Every crested head was raised high as
its owner fearlessly crossed the workroom and passed through
a doorway to a tiny hanging garden on the flat roof,
where these pet birds were allowed to feed and roost. It
was just twelve, and punctual as the church clock were
the feathered guests, who would shortly disperse, to return
home for supper and bed when the sun dipped into the sea.
Their time was generally spent upon the beach or in
pecking at such stray fruits and vegetables as hung within
reach of their beaks from the greengrocery stalls that lined
Towards autumn many a tempting prize was wrested
from these humbler fowls by the tall turkeys which then
thronged the streets and roadsides in such numbers as to
form a leading feature of the place. Everywhere they
were to be seen, stretching their stately necks upward to
the clusters of amber or purple grapes, or snatching at
plums, peaches, even cabbage leaves, till they were driven
away by the vendors with shrill outcries, which seemed
scarcely to ruffle their dignity. Living upon this unsub-
stantial fare, and sharing in most instances the dwellings
of their owners, rendered the birds so docile that, far from
being a terror to childhood, they were caressed by the very
babies, and dragged unresistingly indoors or out by creatures
whose plump hands could scarcely clasp around their swell-
A Village near Genoa.
ing throats. Many a nursery group fresh from England
stopped to watch the pretty sight, which was nearly as
short-lived as it was attractive. On the day after Christmas
not a trace of the children's playfellows would be left, except
masses of glossy plumage, or occasionally a hapless survivor.
Beppo was too familiar with the ways of poultry to pay
any heed to Maddalena's favourites, though he did delay
an instant to admire a parrot which a sailor-cousin had
just brought her from Brazil. Then he went down the
staircase with a caution unlike his usual impetuous rush;
but once on level ground, he was skimming as fast as ever
homeward, when he suddenly came to a pause and drew a
deep breath of surprise.
There was a group of strangers in front of the black old
castle at the water's edge, which had been built more than
eight centuries ago as a refuge for the women and children
of the district against the fierce pirates of Algiers. A pretty
English girl sat on a rock sketching the fortress, while a
lady some years older, with two fair-haired children, stood
beside an overloaded starving donkey, which was tethered
to a post. The little ones were feeding the poor animal
with pieces of white bread, which they drew from their
pockets. Very stale it seemed, judging by the loud crunch
with which the creature's mouth closed over every morsel,
but the sight of such extravagance astonished Beppo. A
donkey fed upon these snowy rolls, which seemed too dainty
for any but a sick lady And she must be a very rich
lady," mused the peasant lad, "or she could never afford
such expensive bread except on Sunday."
Presently the younger child coloured and shrank close to
"Miss Ware," she said, "why does that boy look at me
with such large round eyes, just as though I were doing
something naughty ?"
A Village near Genoa.
Miss Ware turned, and was no less struck than her pupil
had been by the earnestness of Beppo's gaze.
"What is it, little fellow ?" she asked gently in Italian,
"do you like to see how the poor beast enjoys his meal ?"
"Is there any left, Signora?" rejoined Beppo, as he looked
into the kind eyes which smiled down upon him.
Any of these dry crusts ? No, I believe not; but sup-
posing there had been, what then ?"
"I should have asked you to let me have my share,
lady," replied Beppo.
"Are you so hungry then, my poor child ? asked Miss
Oh, no I can eat anything; but Angela, my sister, is
too ill to live on pasta, and the doctor says she will soon die
unless I can find something to give her an appetite."
This hard stale bread is not suitable for a sick girl, my
"I should have made it into soup, Signora, with hot
water and a drop of oil and plenty of garlic," exclaimed
Beppo, and then Angela would have had such a delicious
Miss Ware, who had never before been abroad, was amused-
at the ideas of her new acquaintance on the subject of in-
valid cookery, but she only said-
"Angela shall have something else instead, and you may
come with me to buy anything which you think she would
"Anything!" cried the child excitedly. Oh, then, Sig-
nora, let it be some pane dolce, if you please."
"That is what we get every evening at tea in the nur-
sery," remarked Hubert, who began to understand a few
words of Italian. His sister, Lucy, agreed with him that it
was a very poor kind of plumcake, not one-half so nice as
that which was served twice a year on the vicar's lawn to
A Village near Genoa.
the school children. Beppo, however, held a very different
Signora, pane dole is very expensive," he said warningly,
as he followed the governess and her charges into a shop
equally frequented by strangers and natives from the variety
and excellence of its stores. Miss Ware smiled reassuringly,
but the next moment her sweet face softened into a look of
sympathy. Before the counter stood an aged'man, bent
nearly double, wistfully eyeing the pinch of coffee for which
he had just exchanged two hard-won farthings. He sighed
as he made way courteously for the ladies, and with feeble
footsteps tottered out into the street.
Girolamo spends all his coppers on coffee for his sick
wife," observed the grocer, on perceiving that his wealthy
customers seemed interested in the transaction. Little
lady," he added, addressing Lucy, I have just received
fresh jams and marmalade from London. Is there any
way in which I can serve you this afternoon ? Did you
say pane dolce, madam? Here are some hot from the
Miss Ware called Beppo to receive the largest of the
Enough to last Angela for a week!" he cried repeatedly.
Then taking leave almost abruptly, he ran homeward at his
utmost speed, eager to reach his sister's bedside and relate
to her his wonderful adventures.
Miss Ware lingered to inquire old Girolamo's address, and
to purchase a good supply of coffee and moist sugar, which
she hoped to deliver to him on the morrow.
Peppina's children sailed early in April, and she stood
alone at a window of the palazzo, watching until the steamer
which bore them away melted into the glory of the spring
sunset. Like the rest of the emigrant passengers, they had
been forced to spend many long hours on board before the
A Village near Genoa. 17
vessel left. No doubt this was a wise and needful regula-
tion, but the sense of nearness, combined with the actual
separation, made the interval a trying time to all con-
The little sisters sat on the deck hand in hand, almost
awed by the splendour of the city, with its streets of pal-
aces, and hanging gardens, and encircling mountains, which,
although close to their birthplace, they had never visited
before. They were so young and buoyant that their tears
dried quickly, and their spirits rose amid the animation of
the scene. But as the day wore on, with flagging strength
their hearts grew heavier, and when at length, coasting along
the bay, they passed within sight of their village, their arms
were outstretched with eager yearning, and the cry of home
and mother escaped from their lips. Every link with the
past seemed severed, and the new existence which opened
before them was a blank.
While they were speeding onward towards the gorgeous
lands of the far West, Peppina was faithfully struggling
to fulfil the duties for which failing powers increasingly
unfitted her. Both sleep and appetite seemed to have left
her with the children. The long strain on her nerves, and
the aching void which succeeded, told even upon the quick
intelligence which had hitherto made amends for want of
early training in domestic service. She moved about the dim
old painted chambers in a dream, conscious of a strange
inability either to understand or recollect what every one
expected at her hands. All seemed like a bewildering din
of orders, for the most part contradictory, and of bells
calling her in opposite directions, which haunted the
feverish slumbers that stole on her from exhaustion just
as dawn summoned her to resume the round. She rallied
once when a note came, dictated by the elder girl and
posted at Gibraltar, where the ship touched on its outward
A Village near Genoa.
voyage. But soon the listless apathy returned, only to be
dispelled when she began to count the days for the vessel
to be due once again in Genoa.
It came at length, bearing the wished-for letters which
announced the safe arrival of Camnela and Cecilia, and bore
tender messages of love to her from all. There the com-
munication ended. There was not the least clue as to the
employment or surroundings of her little ones; nothing
to tell if they were living at the pole or in the tropics;
no point upon which her fancy could seize to fill up the
outline of their altered lives. The interchange of thought
through correspondence, which among the educated brings
distant friends close together, was a blessing denied to
Peppina; but as she could not imagine its existence, so she
did not mourn its loss. The little ones were well and
happy, so the few lines from their guardians assured her.
More than that fact she had never expected to learn. The
tidings would have been almost as vague to her as if sent
from another world, but for an interview with the old
sailor under whose care her darlings had crossed the ocean.
He gave further though still scanty information respecting
the two households at Buenos Ayres, and aroused his
listener by cheery predictions that the time would soon
come when she should be free to join the circle of awaiting
When the doctor next went to see Angela, he was sur-
prised at her improved condition. She was free from the
hectic fever which had so long sapped her strength, and
her pulse, though feeble, was quiet and regular.
"You have been learning to eat, child," he said approv-
ingly, "and Beppo has invented something better than the
"I should think so!" said Beppo proudly, as he opened
the door of the cupboard and drew out a wing of chicken
A Village near Genoa. 19
and a jug of broth: "the very smell gives Angela an
"You have rich friends then, children, I am glad of that.
I suppose they must be among the foreign visitors ?"
"They are the English people who feed donkeys on
white bread, sir," answered Beppo, much to the amusement
of his questioner. "They are going soon to England, but
they mean to come back for next winter, as the little lady
whom they call Lucia is not strong."
"That is a happy prospect for you and the donkeys,"
laughed the genial doctor as he took his leave. But his
face clouded when he was alone, and he walked thought-
fully along the cliffs in the direction of the house which
came next on his list. There lay a woman about fifty, who
had not, like Angela, inherited disease, yet who was now
equally beyond help from human science. She was dying
from the effects of scanty food and sleep, united to excessive
toil. Exhaustion had first laid her low, and then an in-
flammation of both lungs quickly reduced her to the ranks
of the incurable. Hers was one of the most interesting
cases in the parish to the doctor, owing to the fond hearts
which seemed bound up with that frail existence.
"Poor Barberina!" he mused almost audibly as he
mounted the staircase; "I pray God her mother may be
spared until that sailor-husband returns from Japan. Only,"
and he sighed, "she cannot bear the expense much longer.
I wish Beppo's new friends could make her acquaintance."
This desire was not destined to be gratified, yet upon
entering the sick-room the visitor found signs of unwonted
comfort. Barberina herself stood beside the pillow, and
explained that she had just received a gift in money from
a family leaving the hotel in which she and Peppina were
fellow-servants. She had obtained an hour's leave of absence
from her mistress, and had gone at once to buy meat for the
20 A Village near Genoa.
soup on which her mother's life chiefly depended. She could
also afford to get coffee and sugar, and the cooling medicine
which would prevent fever at night. Did not the signor
dottore think the invalid would now do well, especially as
the warm weather had begun ?
The doctor said, with perfect truthfulness, that many
months on earth might yet be in store for his patient, if
the benefits which she now enjoyed could be continued.
Barberina returned to the inn after receiving the physi-
cian's orders, and tried to throw all her energy into the
laundry work, which was the duty that just then devolved
upon her. She was a healthy young woman, but several
successive nights of nursing, followed by arduous days, had
rendered her so languid that her eyelids nearly closed as
she stood at the ironing-board. In her hand was an elegant
little frock, belonging to an English baby, and requiring the
minutest care, as it was wrought with delicate embroidery.
Beside her was a pile of linen garments of various descrip-
tions, all to be done against time. It was the height of the
flitting season for the Northern swallows, and the bustle of
many departures surged through the hotel. Her occupation
was such as to bring her seldom into contact with the guests,
and hence she did not often receive the parting fees which
made amends for increased labour to some of the other
servants. Now and then her painstaking skill was noticed
and rewarded, but in general her only recompense was the
approval of her Heavenly Master. None of those whom she
served, however, were more light-hearted than Barberina, as
she remembered the encouraging state of her mother, to whom
she was bound by the most passionate affection. She could
provide all that was requisite for the next fortnight, and
she might soon expect the wages of her sailor, which were
punctually sent whenever his ship touched at a convenient
port. Her marriage was as happy as that of Peppina had
A Village near Genoa. 21
proved miserable, although it involved the trial of prolonged
and frequent separation. Pietro was the best of husbands,
"just like a good boy," as his wife expressed it, and he
clung to his home and its inmates with a constancy which
was the chief of safeguards against the temptations of a
roving life. His dwelling was indeed one in which any
man might feel an honest pride. It was among the most
desirable in the village, and its rent was higher than the
average, but both the husband and wife felt that such
respectability was worth a struggle. Pietro had adopted
Barberina's family, and so united were their interests that
the gains of each were for the benefit of all. Her brother
was one of the operatives in a factory where he earned
fifteenpence a day, and Rosalia, her eldest sister, who was
parlour-maid in Genoa, contributed four shillings every
month towards the rent of the home which would be always
open to her in sickness or sorrow.
The youngest girl, Marina, wrought in a cloth-mill two
miles distant, where she was paid at the rate of fourpence
for twelve hours during the winter months, and sixpence
when the longer days admitted of earlier and later sittings
at the loom. Of course this pittance barely sufficed for
her food, but Barberina wisely thought that the industrious,
steady habits thus acquired would enhance her sister's use-
fulness through life. As the walk to and from Marina's
mill secured to her fresh air and exercise, the vigour of
fifteen would scarcely have been overtasked but for the
arrears of domestic claims which had to be crowded into
the evening. She must wait on the invalid and cook the
supper, and undress Pietro's rosy little boy, who, although
only five years old, could be intrusted with the purchase of
provisions, and was the sole guardian of his grandmother
during the absence of the elders. Barberina was in general
allowed to sleep at home, but as she was not released from
22 A Village near Genoa.
her post until eleven at night, and then only until six on
the following morning, there could be no division of house-
hold cares between Marina and herself.
Miss Ware, Hubert, and Lucy remained until the end of
June in the villa which they had occupied since the begin-
ning of October. The other members of the family were
making a tour of the Italian lakes, but it was thought best
not to interrupt the regular routine of lessons for the
schoolroom party. It was still cool enough to take long
walks in search of the gorgeous wild-flowers which made
all the hillsides look like a succession of conservatories.
Most interesting of all to Christian eyes were the magnifi-
cent flame-coloured lilies, sometimes deepening to blood-
red, which, as the heat increased, began to blaze like flakes
of fire in every grassy dingle. Miss Ware gathered them
almost with reverence, for she knew they belonged to the
same species as those "lilies of the field" in distant Pales-
tine, of which the royal splendour surpassed "even Solomon
in all his glory." Beppo usually accompanied the ramblers
to carry their baskets, guide them through the forest paths
and winding valleys, or scramble up the rocks, where only
his clinging bare feet could find a hold, in quest of rare
exquisite ferns, such as in England are not to be seen
except in hothouses. The boy was rewarded for these
pleasant services, and every penny was carefully saved for
Angela, that she might not want during the long period when
there would be nobody to provide for her except himself.
At length Beppo's friends received a summons to join
the rest of their circle at Turin, and after they were gone
the village was entirely deserted except by Italians. The
child was however happy, since Miss Ware had left with
him a small allowance for Angela's comfort; and being a
"thrifty little fellow, he supported her on milk, eggs, fruit,
and vegetables, at a very moderate expense. The sick girl
A Village near Genoa. 23
nearly lost her cough, and although often languid from the
heat, yet rallied so decidedly that the doctor began to hope
her extreme youth might gain the victory over disease.
Peaceful and sweet were these bright summer weeks to the
brother and sister, who asked no enjoyment beyond that
of each other's society. Miss Ware had shaded Angela's
window with a green gauze curtain, which was a far
greater protection against glare and insects than the flap-
ping branches that Beppo had formerly waved over her
couch. Their house was built at the edge of a cliff, and
the invalid found constant amusement in gazing down a
sheer precipice into the sea, and watching the fish leap out
of the crystal waters. It was altogether a time of refresh-
ment. Never had such a lull from present sorrow and
care for the future occurred previously within Beppo's re-
That year the hot weather continued very late, and on
Michaelmas Day Angela felt the lurid atmosphere more heavy
and oppressive than even in August. Beppo, whose sturdy
frame was not affected by changes of climate, leant out of
his sister's window, fairly shouting with glee at the gambols
of two fisher-children underneath. The tiny figures, looking
like a pair of statuettes sculptured in bronze, were rocking
on the wavelets in a bright green boat, so small as to appear
like the half-folded leaf of a pond lily. Sometimes the
baby-mariners balanced themselves at seesaw on their fairy
craft. Sometimes they overturned it, dived beneath the
water, and with ringing laughter scrambled once again on
board, only to recommence their joyous freaks. Even
Angela smiled faintly as the tide of merriment increased,
when suddenly Beppo's ear caught some more distant sound,
and breathlessly gasping, The little lady's voice," he darted
from his sister's side before she could rally from her astonish-
24 A Village near Genoa.
Miss Ware and her pupils were indeed climbing the
staircase, and soon their familiar faces appeared in the door-
way, where they were received with such a welcome as had
greeted them throughout the village, making the strange
foreign land seem like a second home. They had only
arrived two days previously, and their first visit was to
Angela, whose sunken eyes and wan cheek brightened at
the sight of her kind English friends. They were the earliest
of the winter colony, but others quickly followed, for despite
the steamy heat which still brooded upon the coast, cold
showers had begun to fall among the mountains. The hotels
and villas filled even more speedily than usual, and the soft
splendour of a southern autumn melted into Christmastide
without bringing a change over the gold .nd azure of the
skies, or more than freshness into the invigorating air.
But the New Year was ushered in with bitter frosts, which,
far from softening into rain as was predicted, lasted for
nearly six weeks with a rigour almost equal to that of
northern latitudes. It was a terrible ordeal even for rich
invalids, and fatal to many among the poor. Benedetta
and Angela became very ill, and must have died but for
the timely succour which was extended to them both
through different channels. Peppina felt that she must
soon succumb, though bravely did she wage war with the
enemy, which threatened every morning to vanquish her
before nightfall. At length, conscious that the hour was
approaching when she could no longer meet even her own
expenses, she sent word to Buenos Ayres that she would
consent to join her children if they were still willing to
receive her. The return mail brought dutiful letters,
soothing hopes of a speedy reunion, and every assurance of
continued love, but no definite invitation from the heads of
either household. Peppina resigned herself to the dis-
appointment. Two months more elapsed, and the next
A Village near Genoa. 25
message she received was that all the arrangements for her
voyage were concluded, and that she must sail for South
America without any more notice than had been afforded to
Carmela and Cecilia.
This haste involved serious inconvenience, for there was
no one to assist Peppina in winding up the affairs of a life-
time for herself and others, and the three weeks which
remained were not her own. Her labours at the hotel
could not be suspended, as the house was full, and she was
not to quit her post until the very day of her departure.
Again English friends came to her aid with gifts of cloth-
ing and a sum sufficient to provide for the immediate
wants of the old couple whom she was leaving behind.
Peppina was torn by conflicting feelings. She had fancied
her whole heart weaned from her birthplace, and trans-
planted to the country which held her children, and she
now discovered that its every fibre was still firmly rooted
in her native soil. Strive as she might, she could not
reconcile herself to the idea of thus drifting away from all
ties and associations into the regions of the unknown.
She tried to have her passage-money transferred to the next
steamer, and the attempt was warmly seconded by her em-
ployers, who were anxious to retain her services as long as
possible. The answer given at the office of the ship's
company was, that such a concession could not be made
except in the event of illness. She was strongly urged to
make that plea, which would indeed have been partially
true, but she shrank from the least vestige of deception
with the loyalty of an upright and candid soul.
The vernal equinox was raging wildly when Peppina,
amid sobs re-echoed by the moaning winds and waters,
passed away from the haunts of her childhood into the
white seething tempest which blotted out earth and sky.
Humble although she was, her virtues had won for her a
26 A Village near Genoa.
position which the proudest might have envied among those
of her own race and station.' Even British strangers felt
that something was taken out of their lives when that
quaint figure vanished from the ghostly galleries, never
again to be seen gliding within their shadow. All those to
whom Peppina had endeared herself rejoiced in the happi-
ness to which she was hastening through clouds and gloom,
as loving friends rejoice when they turn from a death-bed.
Would not her blessedness be indeed a symbol of that to
which we aspire in the land beyond the grave ? Twelve
weeks elapsed before these questioning could be set at
rest, and then the information which arrived was startling.
The voyage had been safe and prosperous, and when Pep-
pina disembarked, all the beloved ones were waiting upon
the shore to welcome her; even the faithless husband was
among them, seeking for a reconciliation. Nothing marred
outwardly the full significance and beauty of the parable;
only in one essential point its meaning failed. Every
report of Peppina, every line which she dictated, bespoke
the keen anguish of the exile, and heart-sickening yearnings
for Italy, and such an aching void as neither ease, pleasure,
novelty, nor even her children's companionship could fill.
It was a natural, almost inevitable consequence of being
thus transplanted in mature age to a foreign soil, but none
the less were those who had followed her history disappointed.
They need not have been so. She had, after all, only ex-
changed one phase of earthly trial for another.
Next to Peppina's aged charges, there was probably no
one who missed her to the same extent as Barberina.
They had long been intimate, and each found in the other's
sympathy a solace for many privations. The younger
servant was promoted from the laundry to the more lucra-
tive office which her fellow had left vacant; but even this
solid benefit was little compensation for her loss. All
A Village near Genoa.
lesser pangs were soon, however, to be merged in a more
poignant sorrow. Benedetta had a dangerous relapse, and
hovered for several days on the brink of death, Again, the
poor maid felt the strain of overwork unbalanced by regular
sleep, for the night-hours were spent in applying remedies,
and she could not venture to close her eyes except when
sitting upright at her mother's pillow.
By slow degrees hope dawned for Benedetta. The attacks
of bleeding at the lungs grew less severe and frequent, and
the appetite of convalescence began to repair her wasted
strength. The spirits of the watcher rose with a rebound
of gladness. Not alone was her mother yet, spared to her,
but she might soon expect Pietro, whom she had not seen
for fourteen months, during which interval his ship had
sailed nearly round the globe. True, he could not stay
very long with her, but while he was on shore she should
devote herself entirely to him only, returning to the hotel
after his departure, as had been agreed between the land-
lady and herself. The vessel had been overdue a fortnight
before she was signalled at Marseilles, but Barberina scarcely
began to be seriously anxious ere her wanderer appeared on
his own threshold. Their meeting was one of such pure
happiness as seemed like a foretaste of Paradise. Absence
had wrought no change on either, unless to enhance their
mutual affection. Soon the great sea-chest was unpacked,
and its accumulated stores from many lands displayed to
view. All were remembered in the distributions-her
employers at the inn; English guests there who had be-
friended her; neighbours in poverty, sickness, or trouble;
every one, in short, who had a claim on her pity or grati-
tude. Very few of Pietro's offerings were left to embellish
his own dwelling, but that gave him small concern so long
as Barberina was contented.
Even in this short holiday the husband and wife were
28 A Village near Genoa.
not idle, nor could they contrive to be always together
while engaged in their several pursuits. Pietro was a most
delightful inmate, happy from morning until night, and
occupied unceasingly for the welfare of those he loved. He
hired himself out to the fishermen, thus winning his share
of a favourable "haul." He roamed among the rocks,
collecting for sale the sea-fruits," or shell-fish, which are
so esteemed in Italy, and undertook such whitewashing
and carpentry as were needed in his own household. Bar-
berina meanwhile had ample scope for her energies in
cleaning the rooms which had been so long neglected, and
in renewing the wardrobe of her sailor, which she found
reduced to a hopeless condition. How respectable and neat
all her surroundings looked when the substantial furniture,
and pretty crockery, and other trifles had been disposed to
the best advantage. How delightful it seemed to be mis-
tress of her own humble establishment, free from those
jangling bells which had distracted her at the inn, and at
liberty to arrange the day's routine according to her own
When Pietro had been with her for about a month, the
dreaded trial* of her mother's death overtook Barberina.
There had been so much pain towards the last, that no one
could desire it should be prolonged, and it seemed merci-
fully ordered that the blow should fall while the wife was
sustained by her husband's strong yet gentle presence.
When Benedetta had been laid under the cypress trees
of the churchyard upon the hill-top, there were grave and
anxious consultations on the part of the survivors. Pietro
had been notified that he must soon be ready for a two
years' voyage, and who would be the centre of the family,
and keep watch over its younger members as the invalid had
hitherto done despite her helplessness ? Clearly there was
only one way, namely, that Barberina should give up the hope
A Village near Genoa.
of earning money for the present, and be satisfied to save it.
She must sacrifice her situation for the sake of the brother,
sister, and little child who needed her care so imperatively.
Their food might often be scanty as well as coarse, and
many a struggle would it cost her to make both ends meet;
but it was finally decided to try the experiment. Her
face beamed with satisfaction at the thought of living among
her own people, and Pietro felt equally thankful as he took
his hand-net and went down among the rocks, eager to
capture a few of the small fish, with whose haunts he was
acquainted. Barberina had been busy during the discus-
sion in converting her oldest print gown into a summer suit
for her boy to wear at school. Clothing must be utilised
to the uttermost, as she did not know when any could be
purchased, and there would be none of the timely supplies
which had been of so much assistance while she was in
service. Laying aside her needle, she began to cook the
dinner, which consisted of rice boiled in milk and water,
with a pennyworth of chestnuts chopped fine to give it a
flavour. There was no dish which Pietro liked so much,
and it would be a treat for Angelino when he came back
rosy and ravenous from his school. It was more expen-
sive than the fidellini, but Pietro would not be with them
much longer, and she should like to feel, when he was
far away, that she had tried to consider his tastes and com-
After a short reprieve the heavy parting came to that
united pair, but they bore it courageously. Barberina
cheerfully began a new chapter of life, by no means a lonely
or sad one, for never, so she declared, were there such civil
and obliging neighbours as the six large families gathered
beneath the same roof as herself. Perhaps the secret lay
in her sweet readiness to share their burdens, and unfailing
sympathy towards young and old. Babies were her espe-