The Baldwin Librar
IN AMITY COURT. Page 26.
I0 AMITY COURT.
SHEIPALRD1, Bi MSETO
CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
AUTHOR OF "HOW CHARLEY ROBERTS BECAME A MAN," HOW EVA ROBERTS
GAINED HER EDUCATION," "HOME IN THE WEST."
"There are gains for all our losses,
There are balms for all our pain;
But, when youth, the dream, departs,
It takes something from our hearts,
And it never comes again.
"Something beautiful is vanished,
And we sigh for it in vain:
We behold it everywhere,-
On the earth and in the air,
But it never comes again."
CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM NEW YORK
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 187,
BY LEE AND SHEPARD,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
ANDREW CHAMBRE CAMPBELL.
BY MISS L. M. THURSTON.
TO BE COMPLETED IN SIX VOLUMES*
1. HOW CHARLEY ROBERTS BECAME A MAN.
2. HOW EVA ROBERTS GAINED HER EDUCATION.
3. CHARLEY AND EVA'S HOME IN THE WEST.
4. THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
fANNAlA CRAIG .
AMITY COURT .
THE BIRDS' NEST
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL
COBDEN AND CO. .
BRISK BUSINESS .
"AMITY MEG" .
WHAT HAPPENED TO JEMMY
THE LADIES .
THE LANDLORD .
ONE LESS .
BEING A GIRL
MR. SAUNDERS'S OPERATIONS
A RECOGNITION .
* 0 69
. 0 143
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
AMES CRAIG'S barber-shop in Campfields was
closed. It had been closed for a week. There was
a strip of black crape hanging from the door-knob, and
another from the striped pole. Inside the shop the yellow
shades cast a subdued light. Everything was set in a
solemn sort of order. There was not a brush or a razor
awry in its place; and a gloomy silence reigned where
but few weeks since were plenty of lounging talkers,
plenty of news and gossip retailed, and plenty of busi-
Beyond the shop were the little parlor and kitchen
of James's home. But these too showed an unwonted
stillness and an unnatural order. The parlor was a
bedroom as well. A plump, ruddy-faced boy lay
asleep in a large crib, and on the pillow of the other
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
bed a cloud of fine black hair shaded the delicate and
strangely womanly face of a little girl.
In a low rocker by the table sat the mother and
widow. She had been putting a few needful stitches
into a little garment for Jemmy, and now leaned
back wearily, and rocked slowly and thoughtfully to
and fro. Her mood was restless. The sorrow and
anxiety that had filled the past week had settled into a
steady purpose. She could no longer stay here, and
she had now decided what was wisest to be done. In
the city she had many acquaintances, and could there
find plenty of such work as she could best do. In
Campfields was little opportunity for her to earn a
livelihood. She must go to New York. Hannah was
an excellent laundress. Many wealthy families who
had known her in the ten long years she had been Mrs.
Roberts' nurse for Eva, would perhaps yet remember
her. From them she hoped to secure employment. At
any rate, the effort should be made, and the sooner the
better. So she had set to-morrow as the day to leave her
home, go to New York, and see what could be done.
The children should go with her. They had never seen
the city, and there had been too much of gloom over
their young lives in the past weeks of their father's
sickness and death. She could leave them at the house
of her old friend, Jane Cook, who was nurse for Mrs.
True's Minnie when she was at Mrs. Roberts'. Jane
Cook was married now, and lived in a decent house in
the lower part of the city. The children would have a
fine day, watching the passers from Jane's window.
These plans had all been made a day or two ago.
Hannah was only dreamily thinking them over and
approving them as she sat rocking so slowly. Lines
of care had come into her face in the last few years.
She was also troubled with a growing deafness, and the
effort to hear had added to its anxious expression. But
she was resting now. Her mind went back to those
years happy years before her marriage when she
served in the grand house of Mrs. Roberts in New
York City, when she took care of Eva, who, like her
own Nora, never made any trouble, and there was only
pleasure in the care. It was two years since Charley
and Eva Roberts had come out to see her before going
away to the West. How she wished there was one of
all the Roberts family in New York City now, to wuom
she could go for advice and assistance! But they
were all far away. So, with a sigh, Hannah arose,
laid away her work, and began to prepare for the
As she moved about the room, the little black head
stirred. A pair of soft black eyes peeped through the
long lashes, and watched her movements. Hannah was
not long in observing it, and smiled down at them as
she turned towards the bed.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
What is the matter, mamma? You looked as if
you wanted to cry," said Nora.
"Did I?" replied Hannah, absently. "I was
What were you thinking about ? Papa ?"
No, not just then. I was wishing Miss Eva were in
New York, so I could go and talk with her. It would
be such a comfort! "
Perhaps she is there.",
No. She went away to Chicago."
But that was a long, long time ago. She may
have come back now."
No. She has not come back."
Why? Is n't she ever coming back? '
"I don't know."
She will come back to see you, sometime."
no! She would never come all the way for
"Well, then, to see other folks. Aren't there lots
of folks in New York she knows and will want to see ?"
Yes, of course. Perhaps she will come sometime."
And Hannah was somehow comforted by the thought,
as she often before had been by the kind child-thoughts
of little Nora. If I could only find the card they left
with their address on it, I think I would write to Miss
Eva. But it is lost."
I'm afraid Jemmy got it," gravely suggested Nora.
Jemmy did so much mischief, he generally had the
credit of all that was done or suspected. But now he
slept unconsciously through the charge.
:o I remember her, mamma,. resumed Nora, after a
dreamy silence Miss Eva was just like the picture
of an angel in my story-book, that I got for speaking
a piece in Sunday school. She had just such pretty,
shining, yellow hair curling all down her neck and
shoulders, only the angel's hair was n't curled nicely,
and hers was, and just such dear, pleasant blue eyes.
I was a little girl then. It was ever so long ago."
Hannah smiled; then she said, Miss Eva was about
the best-behaved little girl I ever knew."
"If I am very good, mamma, shall I ever grow to
look like her ?- like an angel, I mean? asked Nora,
Yes, I think you will. You often remind me of
her," replied Hannah, as she smoothed the jet-black
hair over the pillow, and kissed her little girl.
I don't see how I can," said Nora, slowly, holding
up her hair to the light and looking through it. I
don't look at all like her, and my hair has n't turned
yellow a bit."
You can never make your hair yellow or your eyes
blue," said Hannah; but being good will bring the
lovingness and kindness up into your face as it is in
14 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Nora was not satisfied. She lay, holding up her hair
and gazing at it with a sad and thoughtful face. Han-
nah saw it, and the tears came into her eyes. This
thoughtful, earnest child-woman was the greatest bless-
ing and comfort of her life. She loved her with a re-
spect, as well as strength, which few mothers mingle in
their parental affections.
Tears were gathering in Nora's dark eyes too.
"Angels never have black hair," she said, slowly and
softly, with a quiver of her rosy lips. She was afraid
her dark locks might shut her out of angelhood forever.
I don't believe that," said Hannah, quietly.
"Don't you ? "
No. It's nonsense."
What is nonsense ?"
That angels should not be as likely to have dark
hair as light. Angels are only people."
Is that all?" asked Nora, in astonishment.
Yes. Your papa is an angel now."
I know it," said Nora, in a hushed voice.
But his hair is n't yellow," Hannah continued, com-
ing to the bedside again.
"Unless unless he has changed it," suggested Nora.
If he has, I suppose you can," replied the mother,
smiling to see the light come back to Nora's face, as
she said, in a tone of relief, -
So I can."
- HANNAH CRAIG.
Then Hannah put out the light, and soon both were
Jemmy made sure of their being wide awake early
next morning. Going to the city was an event in his
life only to be compared with one other, and that was
the circus which had been in town last summer, and to
which he had been taken, as a great treat, by Lester
Gree. Jemmy had reckoned by it ever since. Every-
thing happened either before or after the circus, in his
Breakfast was soon over, and everything in the
kitchen had once more assumed the prim order of the
previous evening. If Hannah found work, she meant
to move her furniture soon. But while a doubt re-
mained, she would leave her home as it was, that she
might retreat thither if necessary. She packed a few
needful clothes in a large valise, for she might be gone
some days, if Jane could keep her. Then all, at last,
was ready. Nora and Jemmy, in their little best suits
of buff linen, were two as neat and pretty children
as were often seen. Hannah, too, plainly attired in
black, had quite the air of a lady, as she stepped out
from the door of her home, and turned the key. For
the first time in many years, that key went into her
pocket instead of under the blind.
Mr. Beeler, the grocer, "was passing as she came
through the little side yard to the street.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY. COURT.
"Ah! you are starting?" he said.
Yes, sir. I was coming to bring you the key," she
All right. I'11 do the best I can," he said, "and
I hope by the time you return, I shall have found a
man to take the lease of the shop off your hands."
"Thank you hearty sir," said Hannah, gratefully;
but I shall perhaps come back to-night. Perhaps not
for two or three days. I can't tell till I get there, and
find out how things are."
No, of course not. Well, whether you come back
to-night or three months hence, you will find all safe
here and ready for you; and always plenty of old
friends in Campfields to greet you. I don't know what
Lester Gree will do, without your children to play
with." And Mr. Beeler patted Nora's pink cheeks.
Everybody has been very kind, I am sure, sir, ever
since the day that Mrs. Gree came down to help me
when Mrs. Roberts died, till now. I wish I could
see my way clear to stay here, for such good neigh-
"Perhaps you will find better ones in the city,"
replied Mr. Beeler, cheerily; at any rate, let us hope
so." And, with a friendly hand-shake, and good-by, Mr.
Beeler left her.
"' Come, Jemmy," said Hannah.
A very jovial laugh was Jemmy's only reply. He
was at the moment in hot pursuit of an uncommonly
stout and fleet grasshopper.
Jemmy, mamma's waiting," called Nora.
Jemmy sprang at the grasshopper and came down
unsuccessfully, plump on his clean linen knees, in a
very damp and disreputable portion of the street-gut-
ter. Sir Grasshopper settled his chin in his neck-cloth
and contemplated his downfall with serenity from a
I'11 'ave 'im now!" cried the undaunted sports-
man, scrambling to his feet.
Hannah hastened towards him with more energy than
patience. Jemmy opened his mouth with a scream of
defiance, and ran. Hannah could not make a spectacle
of herself by pursuing, and stopped, vexed and dis-
mayed. Nora grasped her mother's hand.
"If you'll walk along, mamma, I'll bring him.
He 'll come with me."
It was not the first time Nora had helped her mother
to conciliate and persuade this difficult little scion of
humanity. And Nora's successes had long ago proved
her judgment and ability. Hannah yielded, and walked
on. Nora stood still by the roadside, and in a very few
moments, by her quietness and quickness, had captured
a fine specimen of the grasshopper family.
"I 've got one, Jemmy! See if it is the one you
18 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Jemmy believed in Nora as he did in no one else.
She never deceived him. Though greatly surprised at
such a sudden capture, he came at once to see. She
opened her hand a crack for him to peep, and 'there
sat the grasshopper, with a look of surprised solem-
"I should n't wonder but 'e 's the very one," an-
nounced Jemmy, oracularly. Looks like 'im. 'Ow
did you catch 'im so quick ? "
I was careful not to scare him."
I don't know but I believe the one I saw was a
leetle bigger. Let me see again."
Jemmy looked again, and the grasshopper very natu-
rally jumped for the open crack of his prison. Jem-
my started back with blinking eyes.
Let's hurry and show him to mamma before he gets
away !" said Nora.
Jemmy was eager enough to do that, and they soon
It was a bright sunny morning, an' on the piazza,
all around the little station, stood groups of men going
into the city. The coming train was already in sight,
and Hannah had just time to secure her ticket before it
came to a stop alongside the platform. When they
were fairly moving, Jemmy, with dilated eyes and his
ruddy little face close to the window, held his breath
with delight, at the whizzing panorama before him. All
the way he kept shouting, above the din of the cars,
to Nora close at his side, to look at the cows, houses,
streets, and people as they flew along. Once a fright-
ened horse caught their attention. Then a row of boys,
on a fence, who waved their caps and cheered the pass-
ing train. Everything was wonderful, exciting, and
delightful to the children. But to Hannah, as the cars
bore her nearer the city she had once known so well, a
strange dread took possession of her. There came an
unaccountable sinking at her heart. The hope that had
buoyed her up heretofore seemed forsaking her in the
time of greatest need. She longed to be safely back
Meanwhile the cars flew swiftly on, and entered
the city, and her busy day must begin. The first thing
was to take the children to Jane Cook's; then she
could go about freely to arrange other matters. This
first task was, however, a hard one. It was a long walk.
Coaches and horse-cars would not much shorten it, and
she could not afford a carriage. She took the plump
valise in one hand, and vigorously grasped Jemmy's wrist
with the other. Nora walked as his guard on the other
side, and held his other hand. It made a convenient
form of infantry troop for the anxious mother, but was
anything but satisfactory to the eager, inquiring eyes of
Jemmy. Always something he wanted to see was
hidden by mother's dress, or Nora's broad-brimmed
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
summer hat. He stretched his neck first one way, then
another. Innumerable things he wanted to see a sec-
ond time, he missed after the first glimpse. Only the
continual appearance of new wonders prevented him
from screaming with vexation at losing sight so rapidly
of old ones. HIe sprang forward to see the last of an
advertising wagon, around Hannah and the valise. He
lagged a step to gaze at a baby in a basement window
they were passing. But Hannah had a good grip on
his little wrist, and she never relaxed it for any strain
that came upon it, perhaps the struggles only tight-
ened it. Nora's attention was divided between Jem-
my's talk, her care over him, and her own interest in
the busy city streets. The noise seemed to stun her,
but Jemmy liked it. It gave him an opportunity for
the full exercise of his excellent lungs.
Hannah walked on, her eyes wandering about for
familiar buildings and landmarks. She had just found
one, and started to cross the street.
My shoe's untied suddenly cried Jemmy, hang-
Never mind," said Hannah, looking up and down
the street, and seeing that now wasa good time to
I step on it! I shall tumble down!" shouted
Nora stooped and tucked in the straggling string.
Hannah watched her, then clutching the valise and
Jemmy, stepped from the sidewalk. Jemmy gave one
scream of objection and fright. Hannah pushed on,
half dragging him with her. Jemmy struggled, and
wrested away his hand just as something struck Han-
nah, and she fell. Jemmy went racing down the side-
walk. Nora followed, not daring to lose sight of him.
Hannah lay senseless and alone, in the street, in the
track of a runaway horse.
Of course a crowd instantly gathered. As her
valise seemed to show her a stranger in the city,
and as no one knew anything about her, the police
placed her in the empty wagon that had done the
mischief, as the runaway horse, quickly captured,
was being led back, and bore her away. Five
minutes afterwards the crowd had again dispersed;
the street was as busy as ever; and no trace re-
mained of the accident, unless one had the curiosity
to inspect the paving in one spot, where a few -spatters
of blood had stained the stones.
22 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
STUMBLING on a broken brick, Jemmy fell over
upon a doorstep, and there he lifted up his voice,
and wept as only Jemmy could weep. In truth, the
child was in a terrible fright, and his previous excite-
ment strengthened and intensified it. His quick eyes
and ears had seen and heard the approaching danger,
though his speech was too slow to tell of it, and his
blind efforts to escape it had been only disregarded as
one of his many unfounded objections to doing as his
mother desired. Nora was quickly beside him. She
threw herself down, panting, upon the doorstep, and
lifted his flushed face into her arms.
What is the matter, Jemmy? There, hush now,
and tell Nora, won't you?"
Jemmy only nestled closer to her, and sobbed bit-
terly, though more quietly. When at length he was
almost still, with only occasional long fluttering breaths
to tell of the pain that had torn his little heart, Nora
Now we '11 go and find mamma." She had been
wondering that her mother had not, before now, come to
find them. But Jemmy broke into a bitter wail at this
O, I don't want to! She'll be all smashed hup.
Hush, hush, Jemmy don't cry any more. Mamma
will be waiting for us, and not know where we are."
No, she won't! The great wild 'orse was coming,
and 'e ran over 'er! Oo !" moaned Jemmy, for he had
seen his mother fall, while Nora, in looking after him,
had not. She remembered now the clatter and rush
of a flying horse and wagon, and her bright cheeks
paled at the thought that her mamma could scarcely
have got out of the way of it. But she answered, in
her usual trusting, cheery way, -
Perhaps not. I guess mamma got out of the way."
No, she did n't! I saw 'er fall down, and the
'orse Ooo !"
You did? Then perhaps she is hurt somehow, so
she can't come to look for us. We must go and find
her. And then we will carry the valise for her, won't
we ? Do you believe you can carry half of it ? "
Yes! cried Jemmy, stoutly. "' Ii could carry the
'ole of it! And his face lighted up with the prospect
of testing his strength.
So Nora rose, and hand in hand they walked back
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
along the busy sidewalk towards the spot where they
had lost their mother. They walked a long way;
they looked carefully and earnestly at every woman
they met. But nowhere could they find their mother.
"I think we must have come by the place," said
Nora. Let 's go back."
They went back far down the long sidewalk again.
Still with no success..
I wish I knew just where it was," said Nora, stop-
ping to gaze anxiously across the street.
What are you looking for, little girl?" asked a
Looking for mother," replied Nora. She is right
along here somewhere looking for us."
The stranger said, 0, well, Jou '11 soon find her
then," and went on.
Others spoke to the two little wanderers, and receiv-
ing the same answer, passed on. The children grew
very tired, and looking down a quiet court, Jemmy
Let 's go in there and sit down; I'm so tired !"
There was no passing of carriages here, for the court
led nowhere. Across the end was a broken fences and
beyond it was the river. The sun lay blistering hot
down the length of the court, but there was beginning
to grow a narrow ribbon of shadow on one side. The
houses were huddled against one another,--houses
of all sizes, heights, and styles, for it had once been a
respectable and desirable place of residence. Here and
there were blocks of decent brick, the old settlers, -
and crowded in between were shabby wooden buildings.
It was in the doorway of one of these that Nora and
Jemmy sat down to rest. Jemmy pillowed his brown
head on Nora's lap, and, quickly putting aside all care
and anxiety, he fell asleep, safe and happy in little
Nora's protecting arms. It was not so easy for Nora
to forget her trouble. Yet, sitting so still, lulled by
the quiet breathing of Jemmy on her lap, the soothing
influence did at last overcome her excitement, and, rest-
ing her head on the lintel beside her, she too slept.
Few people were astir in the court, and those few
were too well accustomed to the sight of stray children
to notice these. Biddy Crowley, coming home from her
day's wash, said,." La sakes, now where did they come
from, the darlints?" as she stepped over Jemmy to
enter the door. But she did not waken them to in-
The shadow had stretched across the court, and was
creeping, tier by tier, up the windows of the opposite
houses, when Jemmy awoke. He sat up and gazed
about in wonder. The movement awoke Nora, and
for a moment the two children stared about and at each
other in silence. Then memory returned, and Nora
sighed. But Jemmy was quite recruited by his sleep,
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
and, seeing some children of his own size playing in a
gutter opposite, cried, -
Let's go over there, and play a while with them.
Till mamma comes, you know," he added, as he' saw
doubt in Nora's face.
She won't find us," said Nora.
"Yes, she will. There's the street, just out there,
and when she goes by she '11 look right down here and
know us by our linen clothes And Jemmy sprang up
and started. Yet the strangeness and newness of the
city threw a shade of coyness over his usually confident
air, and he turned, half-way across, to wait for Nora,
and take her hand.
They walked over and stood by the group, --three
nondescript, half-clothed children, who were piling up
chips and bits of rubbish into an edifice of some inches
in height. The builders took no notice of the little
strangers who stood by looking on. They pretended
not to be conscious of their presence. Nora was try-
ing to find some pleasant word or way of beginning
talk with them. But Jemmy could not wait; and just
as the edifice towered to a proud height, he put out his
foot, and with a little poke knocked it all down. He
did not mean to be rude or ill-tempered. It had always
been his way, when he had built up his block houses,
to have the fun of seeing them tumble down. Indeed,
to him the destruction seemed often the best part of
the play. Not so ran the faith of the little Amity
Courters. A yell of anger arose from the younger
ones. But the larger boy seized a handful of slimy
dirt from the gutter, and flung it full in Jemmy's face.
Jemmy's mouth being open for a laugh, some of the
dirt went in. This indignity was felt to be a mad-
dening outrage. Little Jemmy was never so angry
before. Quicker than Nora could stop him, he sprang
like a tiger at the boy, pounding and shaking him in
an utterly unscientific, but very hearty manner. The
other children cheered. A fight was a species of
entertainment with which they were quite familiar.
More children rushed out to see it. Then, as their
native seemed getting the worst of it at the hands of
the stranger, a bigger boy came to his assistance.
Nora had been trying from the first to pull Jemmy
away from his aggressive onset, but it must be con-
fessed that she redoubled her exertions when she found
him the sufferer. Then he would gladly have yielded
to her efforts to disengage him, but the big boy held
him with one hand while he struck him with the other.
Nora began to cry, and at last, in desperation, wrapped
both arms about Jemmy, bowed her head over him, and
let the blows fall on her own shoulders.
A quick patter of bare feet came down the sidewalk.
"c Hi, Bill! rare fellow! Can lick a little girl, can't
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
The blows ceased, and Bill turned, panting and angry,
on the new-comer. But instead of commencing a new
fight, he said, in a shamed voice, -
I was n't licking the girl. 'T was the boy that was
pitching into little Pat Crowley."
What boy ? And crouching, with his hands on his
knees, and a shrewd, puckering smile about his droll
mouth, Ned peeped under Nora's arms to get a view of
Jemmy. Sure enough! There is one, I declare!
The girl is rather small to be a match for you, but
the boy is so dreadful little, I did n't see him at all !"
They are strangers, anyway," retorted Bill. "Look
at their good clothes."
Nora led Jemmy to a quiet doorway, where he sobbed
a long time, partly perhaps with fright and pain, but
probably a great deal more from unappeased anger. A
terrible heart-sinking had come upon both the children.
It was hunger. But the excitement and anxiety of the
day made them unconscious what ailed them.
Boys came trooping into the court now, group after
group, many munching cakes or doughnuts as they
came. Grown men and women came into it also, some
carrying little empty tin pails, some a saw, some an
axe, some picks; many were quite empty-handed. As
the sun went down, Amity Court seemed to wake up.
Every house was full of life. The open windows each
framed a group of frowsy heads, and dozens of loung-
ing inhabitants swarmed upon the doorsteps and filled
the narrow sidewalks. The houses were like ant-hills.
Coarse voices called back and forth in the gathering
dusk; games of tag and tease occupied the street.
And the evening shadows drew closer their kind cur-
tain over the half-clothed people who loitered about,
resting from the day's toil, and the dirty, pinched-up
children who raced and shouted at their play.
Nora and Jemmy were obliged to leave the doorway
where they had sought refuge. The owners wanted it.
They stood by the corner of a narrow passage that led
through into the back yards. They stood till they
could stand no longer; then they sat down upon the
pavement. Plenty of tired women were sitting on the
sidewalk about them, so it seemed quite in fashion for
them to do so too. In the darkness their good clothes
did not mark them as strangers. No one noticed or
spoke to them. Sitting there, again sleep came to their
relief, and the hum of the voices about them only lulled
them more deeply in its embrace.
The chill of midnight awoke Nora. The court was
empty, and still as death. She could not stay there on
the cold stones any longer. She half roused Jemmy;
and, leading him to the wooden steps of one of the
shabbiest houses, they crept up into the doorway, and
soon were again asleep.
Jemmy was early awake in the morning, but no ear-
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
lier than many others in Amity Court. The houses
showed signs of movements within, but there was no
such running over at doors and windows as last night.
The men with dinner-pails and tools were going, one by
one or in groups, out of the court to their day's work.
Then went the boys, chatting and chaffing together.
Nora saw Bill and Ned among them, but they were not
together. Ned was with a smaller boy, to whom he was
talking earnestly; Bill was playing rudely with a party
of rougher boys. Nora tried to hide, with Jemmy,
under the open lid of the hatchway of a cellar. She
could not bear to be seen and mocked for good clothes
again. At last the men and boys seemed all gone, and
the children crept out of their hiding-place. They felt
very weak and faint; their heads were dizzy and light
with fasting. Jemmy was ready to cry with a sort of
dumb misery he could not explain. But his eye
caught the water sparkling across the end of the court.
I want to go and see the water !" he said, in for-
Nora led him where he could look through the broken
fence, and see, far out on the river, steamers and sail-
boats gliding to and fro. The novel sight interested
him for a while. Nora, too, enjoyed it, but soon some-
thing nearer called her attention. A large boy had
come up from a little slanting path by the river with a
hand-cart, and left it before the door of the great brick
AMITY COURT. 31
house next the water. He went in and up the stairs,
which Nora could see, as the door stood wide open.
That was the fashion with all the doors in Amity
Court. Soon he came down with a huge sack, very full
and plump, on his back. And behind him came a girl
not quite so large, and she too had a full sack on her
back. Poth sacks were placed in the hand-cart. They
seemed not very heavy, though so very big. Then the
boy and girl went back, and soon returned with two
more sacks, which they also piled on the little hand-
cart. The boy brought down one more, and then the
cart was heaped so full that he had to tie a rope over
the bags to keep them from rolling off. Nora could not
help coming nearer. She liked to see them fill the cart,
and to hear their kind and cheery voices. She hardly
knew why, but it was because these were pleasant-
looking and well-behaved children, and that could not
be said of most of the residents of Amity Court.
"All right, Tom! Now throw me the other end,"
said the girl, who was hidden behind the piled cart,
trying to fasten the rope over it.
"Now it will ride," said Tom, giving the load a
shake to test it.
Just then Jemmy turned, and missed Nora from his
side. With a scream he looked about for her, and she
quickly ran to him.
Come and see what a load Tom has got," she said,
32 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
pointing to the cart which was just beginning to move
Jemmy stared with wide eyes, and Nora stood
with him watching it going out of the court. The little
girl who had helped load it also stood on the sidewalk
Then she turned, and saw the two little strangers.
She smiled at them pleasantly. It was the first bit
of encouragement the children had found. Instinc-
tively they moved towards her.
"Please, could you give us something to eat? We
are very hungry," said Nora.
Are you? Why, yes, we can spare you a break-
fast," replied the pleasant-faced little girl. Come up-
stairs, and I'11 get it for you."
THE BIRDS' NEST. 33
THE BIRDS' NEST.
T was not merely up one flight, nor two, that the
pleasant-faced girl led Nora and Jemmy. But at
the top of the fourth she paused, and.did not go up any
more stairs, for the excellent reason that there were no
more. Just overhead, the sun shone in upon the little
cramped upper hall through a skylight in the roof. A
door that stood ajar she pushed open, and the children
followed her into a long, low room that reached quite
across the house, and had windows front and back, as
well as two at the side looking directly out on the
shining river. There were two beds in the room, -one
tucked away in a corner on the floor, the other dig-
nified with a cot-frame of ample dimensions. In the
latter was a movement as they entered. A little body,
bolstered up to a sitting posture, leaned forward to
catch the first glimpse of the strangers, whose unfa-
miliar footsteps had been noted far down the long
rights of stairs.
"Here is company to breakfast, Harry," said the
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
hostess, going to a cupboard between the chimney and
one of the front corners of the long room.
We don't have company very often, and I'm glad
to see you," said Iarry, feeling, with a child's quick
instinct, a sort of kinship with Nora, and reaching a
puny little hand to shake hands with her.
Nora came to the bedside, and gave her hand
shyly, saying, -
We are not company. We lost our mother, and
why, I suppose we are just beggars." Then, as
the force of this dreadful name came over her, Nora
suddenly sat down on the floor, in a great clutter of
rags that were strewed around Harry's bed, and began
"0 don't!" said Harry, in a heart-broken voice,
leaning over the bedside to look down with pitying
eyes upon her. Bess, do come and take her! "
Bess turned from setting out some bread and baker's
cakes, and came quickly. But Jemmy, whose first
moments on entering had been busy with a severe
survey of the new premises, caught Nora's last words,
and, looking down, saw her crying. With one shriek
of terrified sorrow, he flung himself down beside her,
and wailed forth his despair, at sight of Nora-his'
stronghold of comfort and refuge in tears, in a series
of the most woful moans that ever greeted mortal ear.
Bess stopped half-way to Nora, startled by this new
THE BIRDS' NEST. 35
outbreak. But the emergency instantly hushed Nora's
grief. Brushing back her own tears, she raised Jemmy
in her arms, and soothingly told him that they were
going to have something to eat now, and "wouldn't
it taste good?" Jemmy looked up in her face, and,
finding her no longer crying, consented to accept con-
solation and breakfast.
Bess Canton little knew how much of a charity she
was undertaking when she agreed to give these two
hungry little strangers a breakfast. It was a twenty-
four,hours' fast that they were breaking; and many
a piece of bread and many a baker's cake it required to
make quite good so long a fast, and utterly destroy their
healthy appetites. But Bess was not thinking of that.
"You were very hungry, weren't you?" she said,
watching them with kindly eyes, as they ate so eagerly.
"Yes, indeed," said Nora.
I never was so hungryy 'fore in hall my life," vouch-
safed Jemmy, with his mouth full of doughnut.
Tell me where you came from," was the next
Campfields," said Nora.
It's way off- long way -we came in cars," ejac-
"But you said you lost your mother. When was
"Yesterday--walking along that street," replied
86 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Nora, indicating the other end of the court with a wave
of her hand. Jemmy ran away, and I ran after him,
and when we went back- "
No, first the great wild 'orse came," interrupted
Jemmy; I saw 'im, and mamma did n't, and Nora
did n't. So hi ran away, and Nora ran too, but mamma
stayed, and was all rounded over."
"When we went back," continued Nora, "we
could n't find her."
"Are you sure you went back to the same place?"
"We went all along the street," said-Nora; "we
could n't tell just the place, but we must have gone by
it, and we could n't see mother anywhere; but I think
she will come by and by. She'll be looking for us, you
"Yes," assented Bess, gravely. But in her heart
she thought that probably the children's mother would
never again come to look for them.
When Nora and Jemmy had finished their breakfast,
Bess put away the few fragments that remained, and
tied on her hat hurriedly.
"Now, I must go down to help Tom," she said;
" and I shall have to run, I guess. You can stay here,
if you like, till I come back. It is very pleasant to
look out of the window at the ships. Would you like
THE BIRDS' NEST.
Bess looked at Nora for an answer. Nora looked at
Jemmy. As neither replied, Bess said to Jemmy, -
Would you like to stay here and watch the ships on
the river till I come back? "
Yes," acquiesced Jemmy, climbing on a chair at
one of the south windows overlooking the water. He
was in just that condition of good humor that is agreea-
ble to any and every proposition, and that often comes,
as in this case, from a thorough internal physical satis-
So it was agreed that they should remain. But the
arrangement was not made without reference to Harry's
wish. Bess's eyes had sought his when the meal was
ended, and read their desire to retain this new company
that had drifted in upon them. It was to Nora, not
Jemmy, that the wish had reference. But the two
were not to be distinguished, and Harry already en-
dured Jemmy for Nora's sake, in these first few mo-
ments of their acquaintance.
Jemmy was very quiet at the window, after Bess had
gone. He was tired. His unusual sleeping accommo-
dations must answer for that. Then all his young
strength and vitality were at present employed to digest
his hearty breakfast. Nora, drawn by the gentle ways
andl indescribable attractions of the little boy in bed,
approached, and sat down on the foot of the cot. She
did not speak. She did not know what to say. But
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
she liked to watch him, for two reasons. He was very
much after the pattern of the an;el in her story-book
at home. To be sure, the angel's hair was long and
streaming, and his was cut short, as a boy's should be.
But his was of the golden yellow color that always
suggested heaven and glory to her childish mind; and
it rolled itself up into rings all around his fair pale
face. Iis eyes were very blue and bright, as soft and
gentle as angels' eyes should be, but somehow too sad.
Nora did not think this all out. She only felt a vague,
dumb happiness in looking at him, and an idea of
angels was mixed up in her mind with her idea of him.
Harry was older than Nora, though no larger. He
was very busy all the time, as he sat up in bed; and
this was the second reason she found so much interest
in watching him. A long bag, twice as long as any
that Tom had carried away on the cart, indeed, a bag
made by ripping out the bottom of one like those, and
sewing the sides on the top of another, was beside
him, standing on the floor, its top within easy reach of
his little arms. The bag was stuffed full of rags of all
sizes, shapes, and colors. Harry was sorting them.
He threw the white rags on one side his bed, and the
colored ones on the other. Sometimes he found very
pretty bits of calico or dress goods ; but generally the
rags were old and faded, sometimes not at all clean or
nice to handle. Harry only hurried over such patches
THE BIRDS' NEST. 39
in his rag-bag, and Bess took care in filling it to put
in as little as possible of the disagreeable kind. Soon
Nora saw how he divided them, and began to help.
They spoke little, but a silent sympathy was growing
up between them, expressed chiefly by pleasant glances
from their bright eyes. Nora pitied Harry, and wanted
to help him because he had to stay in bed, and loved
him because he had an angel face. Harry pitied Nora
because she looked so sad and had lost her mother, as
had the Canton children not long since; and he loved
her, too, for the tender care she showed for Jemmy.
Little Jemmy, meanwhile, at the window was so unrea-
sonably quiet that Nora turned to look, and found his
head sunk upon the sill, in the glaring sunshine, his
round eyes fast closed in sleep.
Jemmy's gone to sleep. I'm glad; he must be so
tired," she said to Harry.
He might lie on the other bed. The sun is too hot
for him there," said Harry.
So Nora, half waking him, led him to the bed in the
corner, where he soon was comfortably sleeping.
Then Hlarry and Nora began to talk g(rauaIally more
and more. Harry first told how they earned money by
picking over the rags. Tom went out with the hand-cart
and collected them first. Some he picked up in back
streets and alleys, and at the back-doors of factories
those were the dirty ones. Some were given him for
40 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
taking them away, but those were not worth much, and
some he bought for a cent or two a pound. Then he
and Bess would sort them, there were different kinds
of sorting to be done. He did only the sorting of col-
ored from white cotton rags. Bess picked-out the silk,
the leather, and the paper. When they were sorted,
Tom took them away again, and sold them at the best
places for good prices.
Mother always had a rag-bag," said Nora.
But Harry was shy of talking about her mother. It
seemed as if it must be a painful subject. He did not
realize how far from Nora's mind was any fear of never
finding her mother again. He had seen the grave look
in Bess's face, and understood it. He said nothing of
Nora's mother, just as Nora said nothing of his being
in bed, because she felt sure it was something dreadful
that kept him there. He was evidently not sick. His
clear bright eyes, his cheerful smile, the busy work of
his fair little hands, all proved that no pain was in his
small body, no fever dimmed and wasted his life. Yet
only from his waist up did he seem alive. Ie leaned
forward, or rested back upon his pillows. Ile worked
briskly with hands and arms; his head and face
moved and lighted up with quick, keen interest. But
as stationary as a rose in its garden patch, or a flower
upon a tree, was little Harry Canton in his wide cot-
THE BIRDS' NEST. 41
Nora told him, in return for his story about the rags,
how she and Jemmy used to play with mud-turtles in
Campfields brook, and turn them on their backs to see
them "'beg"; but how they always took care to turn
them back again, right side up, before leaving them,
because Lester Gree had told them that the poor
turtles could never turn over themselves, and would die
so, if left on their backs. Harry listened with interest,
yet his pale face saddened slightly as he said, -
We used to live in the country when father was a
"Was your father a minister?" asked Nora, in some
awe at conversing so familiarly with the child of such a
"Yes; but it was ever so long ago, when, I was very
little, no bigger than Jemmy."
Nora was rather relieved at this explanation, and
Harry went on to give more of his history.
Father was sick, very sick, for a long time. We
came to the city to see a doctor here. It was a won-
derful doctor who could cure everything and everybody.
But he did not cure my father. I did n't know much
about it then. Sometimes, since, I have heard Tom
and Bess speak of those times when we first came to the
city. We lived in a better house, had more rooms, and
we did not work we little ones; but mother did, -
she was always at work. Then father died. That was
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
long ago, two or three years, I guess. Pretty soon
after that we moved into another house where we had
fewer rooms. Then into another, where we had only
two rooms. Last summer we came here. But 'it is
pretty cold here in the winter. In the summer it does
very well. I heard Tom say that we must get away
from here before winter comes again, or we shall all
Don't you have a fire in the winter?" asked Nora,
with her earnest little face full of interest.
0, yes, all we can. But it costs lots of money, and
it does n't warm the room any. The wind blows in so
at the cracks in winter! Mother used to sit close to
the chimney there, with her feet to the fire and the sun-
shine on her back, and then she said she was very com-
fortable. But sometimes there was not any sunshine,
and the snow sifted in through the roof, and made it
damp and chilly. Then mother would cough all day
long. But she kept on sewing just the same. 'T was
then that she thought about the rag business, and sent
Bess out when it was pleasant to gather all she could
find. For a long while Bess would come with such
little lots. But by and by she learned where to go to
find them, and what places had them to sell or give
away, and then some days she used to get more than
she could bring home at one load. Then mother said
we must have a hand-cart. She took off her ring, it
THE BIRDS' NEST. 43
was a beauty,- and told Tom to go and turn it into a
hand-cart. That sounds like fairy-tale ways of doing,
I know; but I suppose Tom only sold the ring, and
bought the hand-cart with the money. That was when
spring was coming, I know, because, after the hand-cart
was bought, mother let me sort rags. She would not
let me before, because they were so cold to handle;
she was afraid I might take cold from them and be sick."
Nora was silent when Iarry seemed to have made an
end of his recital. There were many things she would
have liked to know, but she forbore to ask. They sorted
a long time in silence, till a great yawn from Nora dfew
You are tired. Where did you sleep last night? "
On the sidewalk and some doorsteps."
You did? Could you sleep there?"
SWe had n't anywhere to go, you know. I did n't
sleep as sound as I do in bed."
Of course not," cried Harry, with a merry smile.
" Now I '11 tell you what you must do. Go and lie
down on that bed with Jemmy, and have a good nap till
Bess and Tom come back."
Nora hesitated; but Harry insisted, and she at last
consented. With her head upon the pillow, she fixed
her gentle black eyes on Harry's sunny head, and let
the pleasant vision be her last as the white lids slowly
slipped down, and Nora fell into a comfortable and
44 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL.
"I WOULD as soon as you, Bess, if we only could,"
said Tom Canton, rummaging rapidly in the
great heaps of rags he had tumbled from some large
sacks, upon the floor under the rear windows of the
Bess was setting out an afternoon meal between the
front windows at the farther end of their house. She
made no answer, save by a little sigh, and a mournful
glance towards the bed upon the floor, where lay Nora
and Jemmy, still asleep.
"You see," continued Tom, everything is changing
with the war. We do but barely manage to live now.
I don't see how we shall make out to do that when
winter comes. And prices are going up, and rags are
scarce and high. Sometimes, Bess, I am afraid we
shall starve, ourselves. So how can we take those two
children in? They can sleep here, of course, but we
cannot possibly feed and clothe them; so it is better
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL. 45
they should go where they can be better cared for.
They are too young to be pu:t to work."
Bess only sighed .again, but this time the sigh was
taken up, and echoed from the small cot-bed, where
Harry, wearied with his work, lay back upon his pillows,
pale and still. Bess heard it as well as Tom. Both
glanced towards him, and then went silently on with
Ned's coming !" said Harry, in a glad, soft voice,
a moment later.
The door opened and closed, admitting a figure so
full of life, drollery, and shrewdness in every line and
motion, as to suggest wonder how it could have entered
without a heralding of boisterous noise. Harry raised
his face with a welcoming smile, Ned took it between
two rough, grimy little paws, and grinned into it cheer-
fully. Anybody but Ned would have kissed it.
Business is just snapping," was Ned's first remark;
and, thrusting his hands into the two pockets of his
baggy pantaloons, he rattled the cents therein, then put
down a wad of very dirty little green rags upon the
See there And the evening trade not begun yet!
Thought perhaps you'd like some before night, so I
ran home with it."
Bess looked across to Tom. Tom was busy, and kept
his eyes on his work. She gave one happy smile to the
46 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
generous provider who brought home his gains so freely.
Ned grinned back, but it was a grin of more sober and
thoughtful a character than the one he had bestowed on
Harry. His gray eyes showed an earnest, kind light.
His white, even teeth slipped back behind the shrewd
lips, and hid quite out of sight. His glance of hearty
good-will for the moment outdazzled the great brown
patches of freckle on the stubbed, turned-up nose,
and the smaller, fainter ones upon his tough young
cheeks. For that moment Ned Canton's plain face was
quite lovable. Then the mischief and the swaoger
"Pretty soon, Bess, I'11 support the whole family of
you. Tom can go into a counting-rc m, and we can
all live like the gentlefolks we are."
'All but the newsboy who has to pay the bills," said
Tom. You will not grow very wealthy at your trade.
I never heard of any one who did."
Well, there's a first time to everything," returned
Ned, with his hand luxuriating among the jingling cop-
pers in his pocket.
But you see Bess and I are earning less now than
before the war. The war is killing our business."
"Is it? It is the making of mine. There was a
battle yesterday, and the papers go to-day as fast as
I can make change."
I shall have to find something else to do. In a
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL.
week there will be no more rag-picking for me. It will
take more capital to carry on the trade than we can
"0, how do you know? Perhaps I can," replied
Ned, with a cheerful look, not without suggestion of a
mystery somewhere in hi3 most interior thought. But
Tom asked no questions. It was a very common look
with Ned when he was hunting for an idea.
Besides," continued Tom, here are two children
who have drifted in on Bess, and she wants to keep them
with us. But they are too little to do anything. Look
at them !"
Ned's eyes grew round. He walked down the long
room and looked at Nora and Jemmy, flung down so
wearily on his own couch,-- Nora's arm thrown across
Jemmy as if to protect him even in sleep. For a mo-
ment he looked. Then he whistled, very long and very
low, not to wake them. Then the pucker slipped out
of his lips, and his customary grin took its place.
SIf that is n't the little chap I saw fighting in the
court! Only he did n't get on well at it, and so the girl
stepped in and took it herself. She's a brick that
little girl. Come, now, she could sell papers. There's
room for new-comers in the business. She could sell
for me, and I could get stock for her. Come now, Tom,
what's better than that? "
Do you suppose she would like it? I should so like
THE CHILDIIEN OF AMITY COURT.
to have her stay !" said Harry, gently. But Tom made
It would be hard, rough work. You ought not to
put her into it," said Bess, gravely.
I'll agree she shall get a living ; that is, pay for
the feeding of herself and the boy. When it comes to
clothes, she must beg some, I suppose," Ned added,
in a lower tone, "if she can't buy them."
What do you say, Tom?" asked Bess.
Hullo!" cried Ned, dropping into his former droll
attitude, hands on his knees and chin raised, his keen
eyes and inquisitive nose taking on an air of interested
inquiry. Little Nora was sitting up on the bed, and
her soft, dark eyes were raised in strong entreaty to the
unconscious face of Tom, who stood as arbiter of her
Please do let us stay," she pleaded; it's so nice
here, and so near for mother to find us! I'11 do any-
thing you say, and so will Jemmy, won't you?" she
broke off, as Jemmy rolled over his sleepy red face at
sound of her voice.
Ye-es," with both fists in his eyes, Jemmy replied.
We 'll be very good."
Tom glanced up and smiled at her. Bess saw it, and
answered for him.
Tom would like you to stay, as well as I, if we
can manage to get enough to eat."
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL.
O, we won't eat much!" cried Nora. And Bess
smiled, remembering the breakfast. Just till mother
comes, you know." The smile faded, and Bess turned
away her face.
"Come now, Bess, if we are going to have anything
to eat, I want mine now cried Ned.
It is all ready," was the reply.
Bess carried some of the bread and buns to Harry.
Tom left his rags, and began to wash his hands. There
were not chairs enough for all, so Ned stood up, and
Jemmy shared Nora's. Thus they made a cheerful
meal, enlivened by some droll stories, of which Ned had
always a stock on hand. When they had finished,
which was soon, he turned suddenly to Nora.
Come, now, I want you to go with me and sell
papers for the evening's trade. 'T will be brisk to-night."
Nora looked up in his face with startled eyes, that
needed no words of surprise or inquiry.
You said you 'd do anything we said, and you see
you'll have to earn as much as you eat, you and the
But I don't know how !" stammered Nora.
O, I'll show you, easy enough Come !"
Nora took up her little straw hat, and put on
He can't go," succinctly stated Ned.
Nora obediently took off the hat from Jemmy's head.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
"Yes, hi will go too screamed Jemmy, with great
A puzzled look crossed Nora's face.
She had always
imperative will, but now she felt
there was some one else to be
influences balanced, and produced momentary inaction.
No, you won't, my man," said Ned, who was accus-
tomed to being considered something of a ruler among
" Come, now, stay here
like a good boy,
and we '11 come back
by and by."
" Hi say
his hat, he put it on again.
"But, Jemmy," began Nora, softly, I am afraid you
might get lost from me, and then what should I do? "
SBut supposing I could n't, any more than we
where to find
mother ? "
" Hi 'll
hold of you,"
But you 'd better stay at home," put in Ned.
"But Hi won't!
'T ain't 'ome, nor nothing like it."
But Jemmy was too quick, and caught her other arm.
" Could n't he go?" falteringly asked
Nora, torn by
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL. 51
SYou 'd lose him just as certain as he did," said
Ned. Or else you'd be so busy looking after him,
you would n't sell the papers."
Take one of the sack-ropes and tie them together,"
Ned grinned. He picked up one of the ropes that
were used to tie the sack-mouths, and saying, tersely,
Come on, then," led the way down-stairs. Nora and
Jemmy quickly followed, and soon their steps were lost
to little Harry's listening ears.
Bess had cleared the table, and cleaned the few
plates. She was busy now making the bed for Harry.
She had first taken up the pale, thin child in her
motherly arms, and, wrapping an old shawl about
him, given him to Tom. It was a regular morning
and afternoon duty with them, -a relic of the old
home-days, when they felt they had a real home.
Tom sat down in the one low rocker, that had been
the mother's chair, and holding Harry in his arms as
gently and tenderly as had that mother, rocked softly
and slowly the little burden. It rested the child from
his weary bed. It was the happiest part of his day, -
those two half-hours when Tom and Bess took turns to
hold and rock him. When the bed was thrown open and
tossed up for an airing, Bess came and sat beside them.
"Do you suppose I shall ever grow any bigger?"
said Harry, softly.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
remember when you were not half so large as now, -
out at Briarwood.
" But I
have n't grown any since .I came into
" Not so much, I suppose.
None of us have.
were only rich
would begin to grow," said Bess.
" Well, we
Harry, with a mournful
sort of resignation.
But you will grow some, here."
I don't want to; because then I shall get too
to be rocked.
And how shall I ever bear it to lie
the time, and
be too big
to be taken
rocked ? "
is that it?" said
"We 'll always rock you, if you
" You could n't."
"Yes, I could.
grow as big as Tom."
I could rock Tom now."
"Not if he took his feet up ? cried
creeping up in his blue eyes and delicate face.
" Yes, indeed!
Let me take him now, Tom; it's my
" I 'm not tired," said Tom.
did n't suppose you were,"
But you can have him while I am spreading
up the bed, so I want him now."
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL.
Tom yielded the rocker and his burden; Bess
rocked, and meanwhile sang a little song their mother
taught them long ago. And Harry smiled sweetly, as
the motion and the music lulled the weariness from his
poor little body.
I didn't do much to-day. See he said, pointing
to the rags he had sorted, when Bess had returned him
to Tom's care. Seems to me I don't do nearly so
much in a day as when I first began."
Th re's no need you should now. We shall have
very few more rags to sort," replied Tom.
And what will you do then ?"
"0, something else. I don't know. exactly what,
yet," Tom said, absently.
The fresh bed stood ready, but Tom and Harry lin-
gered yet some time, talking pleasantly of many little
things. Then Harry was laid back upon the snowy
sheets, the other bed boasted no such luxury, and
Tom took up his hat.
SI am going again, Bess," he said; come and help
Bess followed him down the many stairs, saying, -
" X here are you going now? I thought you could get
no more to-day."
In the open doorway Tom sat down, and Bess sat
down beside him. The afternoon sun shone slanting
on the river, and sparkled up into Amity Court. She
54 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
lifted her earnest, kindly face to his; but Tom turned a
look of helpless trouble in reply.
He had hid it
Harry, but now he must pour out all his anxiety
despair for Bess to soothe and brighten.
" If we
had, say, fifty dollars, we could go
make money perhaps.
But as it is, we must give up."
"' For want of money ? said Bess, with a faint smile.
" What a pity we are not rich rag-pickers !
" It is a pity, and no
either," Tom replied,
" I was just beginning to see how to make
-- ~N JVL 1 V~~~L LI~VVN V LL IV nNI
both ends meet, and perhaps save a few dollars towards
it would all
go on smoothly
safely, now I had got started,"
did you meani
to be always
asked Bess, gravely.
Of course not! was the indignant reply.
Then now 's the time to do something better."
But what ?"
I don't know yet what.
do the old way, there 's always a
new way, gener-
better way, only we must try hard,
bravely in order to find
I believe that just
you can't pick rags any more, you will find
better to do."
I wish I did," said Tom, gloomily.
"But I don't know anything about it, nor do you."
THE BIRDS IN COUNCIL.
God does," replied Bess, softly; and if we try, we
shall find out."
Somehow, seems as if- hesitated Tom, I should
feel better if I knew myself."
A puzzled little smile came on Bess's face. Of
course," she said, "or there wouldn't be anything to
make you try. Have you been to see Cobden & Co.
again?" she asked, suddenly.
You said Mr. Saunders promised you the next
Yes; and I went every week, till New-year's; and
I 've been every month since till--" Tom stopped
Why not go again now?"
I suppose I shall, some day. But it won't do any
good. I have n't any hope there. Mr. Saunders is only
the Co '; he is n't Mr. Cobden nor Mr. Waters. If
it had been the nice old gentleman who lost his pocket-
book and was helped out of a street row by me, it
would perhaps have amounted to something for me;
for his word is law there. Or if Mr. Waters had taken
a fancy to me, he could have put me into a good place.
But, you see, I don't think Mr. Saunders can."
You can go and try."
Of course "
Well, go to-day, won't you? "
for ? "
very best day
to make a beginning.
we have,' mother used
' To-day is
; but if I
go, and get
put it off
, I keep
it is lost."
you do hope
COBDEN AND CO. 57
COBDEN AND CO.
M R. COBDEN'S white hair was too utterly snowy
to have grown any whiter in the last five years.
His full, round, red face was just as round and as red.
Something of the old strength and energy of manner
had perhaps slipped away from him. The firm lines of
his mouth and chin were a little relaxed. Iis step was
more feeble, and his stout walking-stick had grown to
be a friend for use rather than for amusement. He
came late to the counting-room, as was his custom.
He lingered for a few words with Mr. Saunders at the
desk in the outer office. Then he went on, to the busi-
ness parlor beyond.
There, at a handsome desk, sat Mr. Waters, the
practical head of the firm, deep in a pile of papers that
were spread before him. His crisp black hair, with its
irrepressible kink, was tossed and tumbled by the
worrying of his nervous finger. His black brows were
bent in a most unpromising scowl. His black eyes
glowered in an anxious, gloomy manner.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Mr. Cobden entered in the blandest humor. Put-
ting down his heavy gold-headed stick, and rubbing his
hands gently and cheerfully, he tottered up to his
nephew's chair. Mr. Waters wheeled suddenly about,
at his approach, and shoved the papers aside. The
gloomy scowl would linger; but he placed a chair for
his uncle, and greeted him carelessly, as is the wont
between business men who meet daily.
SThat's a good thing a good thing -of Saun-
ders!" began the old man. "We shall make a cool
twenty thousand by it. IIe's developing a talent for
business. Keeps his eyes open like a wide-awake
man. Can't imagine how he managed to get such a
Yes; Saunders seems to have made a pretty neat
thing of that agreement," replied Mr. Waters, ab-
Saunders is goinf to make a smart business man.
lWhoever the goose is that has agreed to import him
a bill of goods at such prices must get badly bitten.
But we can afford it if he can; hey, Dick?"
Ye-es," with an absent shuffle of his papers.
Another year we must settle new terms for Saun-
ders. His services will be worth more. We must
allow him something handsome; hey, Dick? Don't-
you think he ought to share more equally with us?'"
How much capital does he represent?"
COBDEN AND CO.
"Well, not much, not much, I admit. Very few
thousand, I know. But it's all he has got, you see.
And that's just what we put in! Hey, Dick?"
Mr. Waters laughed. It was an uncomfortable
and rather a disagreeable laugh. But it answered
every purpose as well as a better one. Mr. Cobden
laughed too, in a pleased, simple-hearted manner; and
perceiving that his nephew was preoccupied and dis-
traught, walked away to his own desk at the other side
of the room, and sat down there.
Very few books or papers cumbered Mr. Cobden's
desk. What few belonged there were not in so frequent
use as to prevent their being kept in excellent and
orderly arrangement. Mr. Cobden sat down, and
looked at them in rapt contemplation. He was trying
to think of something to do with them. He had years
agO given up all active participation in the business of
the firm which in his earlier manhood he had founded
and fostered. But he loved to watch its growth and
prosperity. He loved to hear of all its interests, risks,
and good fortune. It was the darling of his heart;
and for its sake, having no children of his own, he had
adopted his nephew, Richard Waters, and made him
his own successor, to take the helm that he knew him-
self no longer able to hold. But his whole life was
still in and for the firm. It grieved him sometimes
that there was nothing he could do for it. It grieved
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
him now, as he sat staring blankly at his own private
books and papers. How dusty they were for want of
constant use? They might at least be dusted, and so
look as if they were in busy requisition. But it was
not his business to dust the office, and he did not know
where to find the feather-brush.
Where 's Louis?" he inquired of Mr. Saunders,
putting his head through the door into, the outer office.
"Don't know. HIe has n't come."
Not come And Mr. Cobden brought his whole
portly person through the door, and went up to Mr.
Saunders' desk. Not come! consulting his watch.
Why, 't is twelve o'clock!"
I know it. I 'm afraid he is sick."
"Well, but if he is sick, you know, he may not come
for a week."
Mr. Saunders was reading a letter, and did qlot
Everything is getting dusty and dirty," pursued
Mr. Cobden, fretfully. You must get some one else
at once. The place is n't fit to live in to-day." And he
kicked under the table a wad of crumpled paper that
had escaped the waste-basket.
"Patrick swept out this morning," quietly replied
Mr. Saunders, laying down the letter he had finished
My desk is so dusty I can't touch it," grumbled
COBDEN AND CO.
the old man again, displaying a grimy cuff that had
leaned too closely upon the objectionable piece of
Mr. Saunders smiled merrily. When he was not too
busy, Mr. Cobden's fretfulness was apt to be an amuse-
ment to him. If busy, it was an intolerable annoy-
ance, and required all his patience and self-control to
restrain hasty and angry replies. Now, however, he
was not very busy, and on account of the success
of his last project was in the best of humor; so he
walked into the parlor, took the feather-brush from its
peg in the closet, and neatly and carefully dusted off
every inch of Mr. Cobden's desk and chair. His con-
descension was even so extensive, that, having begun,
he went on and dusted all the furniture of the hand-
somely appointed room.
Meanwhile, Mr. Waters sat gloomily bowed over his
desk, his eyes gazing blankly, his face black and drawn,
and his whole consciousness absent from what trans-
pired around him ; and Mr. Cobden indulged in little
disconnected phrases of talk, in whiffs, as he stumped
up and down the room with his cane.
Boys ought to be regular reliable. I always
was when boy. Times changed, Louis LeGrange
was never just the boy for this place. Unstiddy. Off
a day here and a day there. Tidy boy. Well-behaved.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
"He has been sick, you know,"
" No business to be sick.
I 'm never sick.
boy to-morrow to-day.
One that 'll
stiddy to business."
Mr. Saunders had finished
But the duty of
getting a new
no means on his mind.
Patrick could sweep out.
of the clerks could dust and tidy up sufficiently to
isfy fussy old
Mr. Cobden; and there was little
of a boy.
A rustle of soft silks startled the
business ears that
that sound but seldom
In at the open door of the office swept the sheeny, sibi-
lant robes, and on
him from the revery which more obtrusive interruptions
had failed to break.
sailed across the office parlor, wearing
alert, but Mr. Waters did not raise his eyes or turn his
He had seized a pen, at the first warning
approaching silks, and was now so intent
copying a bill that happened to lie
COBDEN AND CO.
seemed utterly incapable of noticing anything that
I told you I wouln come down, Richard, and so I
have," she said, in amiable accents.
Mlr. Waters raised his head and looked at her, with
an angry glance in his black eyes that suggested any-
thing but pleasure at her fidelity to the promise, or
strong mutual affection between the man and wife thus
placed, for the moment, face to face.
But the lady feigned unconsciousness of whatever
might be disagreeable in the reception she met, and
Ma and Ria have been over to see me this morning,
and ma thinks it will hardly cost so much as I said.
Perhaps a hundred or two less. And if it is n't con-
venient for you to furnish the two hundred I want to-
day, ma will let me have it, and you can repay her in a
Another flash from the black eyes. Mr. Waters rose,
and walked once or twice across the floor. Then he
passed hastily through the outer office. But he stopped
at the warehouse door. Outside was Mr. Meredith's
elegant carriage, and in it sat Mrs. Meredith and her
beautiful widowed daughter. Mrs. Meredith nodded,
and shook her little delicately gloved hand at him mer-
rily, as she greeted him. Mr. Waters returned the
' Good-morning" gruffly.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
You must n't keep Sophy long !" she said. We
are waiting, you see."
She had not told me that," he said, with a more
gracious bow for the fair young widow who had shrunk
back into the corner and her crapes at his approach.
I must go out or an errand for her; but I'll be back
in a few minutes."
Then he hastened down the sidewalk. He had only
thought, at first, to escape from his wife; now he
thought no more of that. There was no escape. Mrs.
Waters wanted two hundred dollars to spend in prelim-
inary repairing and enlarging her costly wardrobe for a
summer trip among the watering-places with her mother.
Mr. Waters wanted all the money he could command,
for some business ventures of his own. Such little
contretemps frequently occurred between them, owing
to an utter want of unity in their interests. Generally
Mr. Waters was master of the situation. To-day Mrs.
Meredith was arrayed with her daughter against him;
and he was vanquished. Ten minutes later he re-en-
tered the counting-room, silently laid the required
money before his wife, and turned his back upon her.
Mr. Waters cultivated taciturnity in all his family
relations. He considered it dignified to do so. Per-
haps he admired the virtue more because it was one
in which his wife was sadly deficient.
The more angry Mrs. Waters was, the faster she
COBDEN AND CO. 65
talked; the more angry Mr. Waters was, the more
utterly and implacably silent he became. It would be
hard to decide which method was the more irritating
and exasperating to the other.
Mrs. Waters gathered up the money into her pocket-
book, and with a very cheery good-morning, addressed
airily towards the square shoulders of her inattentive
spouse, who was watching the evolutions of a flock of
pigeons on the rear slope of an opposite roof, she
swept out to the carriage, and was driven away.
When she was gone,' Mr. Waters left the window and
again sat down at his desk, with the old frown on his
brow. He had not addressed one word to his wife, nor
did he, for hours, speak to any one. He was busily por-
ing over plans and expedients in the business world that
formed the chief arena of his life.
Tom Canton came bravely up the warehouse steps,
but he stopped at the door of the counting-room. He
missed a face he had learned to look eagerly for, one
that had always a smile for him. It was that of Louis
LeGrange. He was not there. Louis had heard Tom's
frequent applications, had pitied his many disappoint-
ments, and once had followed him to the door to offer
his sympathy and say how glad he should be if they
only would take Tom, for he was sure he would be a
pleasant work-fellow. It had cheered Tom's heart won-
derfully, though he knew the boy was a friend who
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
could have no power to aid him. To-day he missed
those great, clear eyes that had always looked out from
the fair, delicate face with pleasant welcome for him.
He stood, hat in hand, just inside the door. A clerk
looked up, and asked his errand.
I came in to see if there was work enough to need
another boy here," said Tom, slowly, all the time won-
dering where Louis was.
There is a boy wanted, I believe; is n't there, Mr.
Saunders ?" said the clerk.
Call to-morrow, and I'11 see," was the curt reply,
without turning the head.
Tom was astonished, hurt; but surely Mr. Saun-
ders did not know it was he. Mr. Saunders had prom-
ised him, last winter, the next chance there was in the
warehouse. Tom came forward, and stood before Mr.
Is there a place for a boy now?"
"0, it's you, is it?" said Mr. Saunders, a little
less ungraciously. Well, I can't tell exactly, to-day.
Louis has n't come, but he may be here to-morrow."
"0, I don't want to take away Louis's place!"
cried Tom, full of generosity for his friend.
No, of course not," quickly assented Mr. Saunders.
" And so, you see, I don't like to make any talk about
it, now -that is, until I hear from him."
What's that? What's that?" cried Mr. Cobden,
COBDEN AND CO.
suddenly, as his white head and rosy face popped out
from the office-parlor. No keeping places for lads
that are n't stiddy at their work. Who is this lad?
Some one you know? "
No," said Mr. Saunders. Then seeing the angry
color flash into Tom's face at this denial of him, he
hastily added, Not exactly what you would call an
acquaintance,- knowing all his lineage back for three
or four generations,--but I know him personally a
Well, what do you know of him ?" interrogated the
"I know nothing against him, except that he is
poor," replied Mr. Saunders, with a laugh.
Might be cured might be cured!" cried Mr.
Cobden, laughing heartily. Was poor myself once.
Got over it, though. Come to-morrow morning in good
season, lad, and have the office swept and dusted, and
put in good shape. I hate an untidy office. Mind
now! At half-past seven, sharp! I like a lad that's
smart and lively."
Louis will probably be here to-morrow," coolly
suggested Mr. Saunders.
Can't help it -can't help it! Should have been
here to-day! Mind and be on hand! And warningly
shaking his heavy stick at him, Mr. Cobden retreated
to the inner office.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Tom bowed assent, but still hardly knew whether to
consider himself engaged to work for the firm or not.
He stood irresolute; when Mr. Saunders, who had
ignored his presence the moment Mr. Cobden was gone,
suddenly turned on him, saying, -
"Did n't you understand Mr. Cobden to hire you for
to-morrow ? He does n't want anything of you to-day."
Tom hastily bowed and retired. But it was all too
strange and surprising for him to realize, until after he
had talked it over with Bess, and accustomed his mind
to it by hearing the glad congratulations of his
Louis LeGrange did not come next morning, but
Mr. Saunders contrived to intimate to Tom that he was
only employed temporarily till Louis should return.
Mr. Cobden, however, in the office-parlor, praised Tom's
quick readiness, and said, Keep on and improve, my
lad, and you shall find a good place here. Reemeber
you are on trial now on trial; and your prospects all
depend on yourself."
Tom, counting Mr. Cobden a more influential patron
than Mr. Saunders, was accordingly encouraged, and
felt secure in his position. But he did sometimes
wonder what had become of Louis LeGrange.
BRISK BUSINESS. 69
NED stopped on the front steps and tied the rope
around Jemmy's waist, knotting it firmly behind.
Jemmy essayed remonstrance, but Ned coolly told him
that no rope meant not going, while Nora suggested,
" Perhaps we shall find mamma somewhere in the
street." Thus persuaded, Jemmy submitted, and they
walked up the court, Nora holding Jemmy by the hand,
while Ned ostensibly carried the rope," carried it,
however, with a good, firm grip that would not have
yielded to any sudden strain. Ned had already seen
enough of Jemmy's peculiarly enterprising disposition
to be on his guard against surprises.
It was some distance to the newspaper office, and
Jemmy saw a great many interesting and curious
objects that challenged investigation. But in some
remarkable way he had already come to stand in consid-
erable awe of Ned, a boy who could stop a fight by
mere word of mouth, without fisty emphasis, who seemed
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
to have command of unlimited resources, and carried
unimagined riches of nickels in his trowser-pockets.
Jemmy had submitted to him with unusual docility, as
soon as the chink of desirable pennies proved to him
Ned's wonderful ability. Thus it was that, notwith-
standing the temptations of the way, the little party
reached the newspaper office without any serious acci-
dent, or even sharp skirmishing.
Ned quickly secured a large package of the evening
papers, and they again started forth. In a doorway
Ned divided the papers, counting carefully the number
he gave to Nora.
"Here are twenty papers to begin with," he said,
" and now I'll give you a dollar in pennies to make
change. Three from ten are how many?" he asked,
SWhat? queried Nora anxiously, holding Jemmy's
wrist firmly while 'he squirmed to catch sight of a tall
man in scarlet uniform, who happened to be passing.
Whew! whistled Ned. "I never thought about
the arithmetic. Supposed, of course, you could make
"Perhaps I can," ventured Nora. Iow do you
make it ?"
Ned laughed. "Not till you can count."
I can count," protested Nora.
Let's hear," ordered Ned, with attention.
Nora counted rapidly till Ned stopped her in the fifties.
How far can you go on in that way? he asked.
To a hundred."
Well, the papers are three cents apiece. Now if
a man gave you a ten-cent scrip, what should you do ?"
Why -ask him if he had n't got three cents," hes-
Ned laughed again. You never traded much," he
said, with a shade of disappointment following the
laugh. Supposing he had n't got the three cents, if
he had, he would have given them to you in the first
place, could n't you give him back pennies enough to
make up for what he gave you too much ?"
O, yes," said Nora, brightening. "Jemmy, don't
How many?" asked Ned.
Nora picked up the end of Jemmy's rope and handed
it to Ned. Then she took a handful of the pennies Ned
had put in her pocket, counted out ten, and put the
surplus back, took three into the other hand, and after
rapidly counting the remainder, announced the change
to be seven cents.
Ned looked on through this somewhat complicated
performance, though Nora both moved and counted rap-
idly, with rather a doubtful face.
I don't know whether they will care to stop for all
that," he said, slowly.
72 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Then they would n't get the seven cents," said Nora,
Ned laughed again. No, so they wouldn't. I
guess you'll manage somehow," he added, with bright-
ening face. Then he proceeded to give some instruc-
tions, taking care to fix in her mind the amount of
change to be made from a five, ten, and twenty-five cent
piece, saying she would hardly have occasion to change
anything else. He tied Jemmy with rather a short
rope to the iron clamp of the shutter of a large show-
window, Nora meanwhile calling his attention to the
beauties therein displayed. Ned also pointed out to
Nora the tall building opposite with a colored sign, the
two adjacent corners, and the flag on a neighboring
roof. Bidding her keep near the place and offer a
paper to every man who passed, Ned moved away,
promising to return soon and see how she got on.
Nora, see! 0, Nora, there's a hand-organ!"
shrieked Jemmy, struggling vainly with his rope.
Get out the way, youngster!" said a gruff, but
not unkind voice, as a burly man shoved Jemmy and
his tether back into the doorway. Then Nora ran
back from her curbstone to say,--
"You must n't call me, Jemmy, because I shall be
so busy I can't hear you; and you must n't stretch
the rope across the sidewalk, or the people will fall
over it. Sit down here on the step, and watch all the
BRISK BUSINESS. 73
people, and see if you can find mamma. I have to
ask the men to buy papers, so I don't see the women.
You must keep watch of them. Now, be a good boy,
Jemmy, won't you?"
"Ye-es," was the grave reply, the blue eyes of
the speaker fixed on the passing throng.
Paper, sir? Paper, sir? Have a paper, sir?"
It was not at all like the usual shrill tones of news-
venders. One after another stopped, with a smile for
the timid little face and voice, and produced the requi-
site pennies to purchase of the news-girl. She changed
fives and tens successfully many times, though some-
what to the amusement of the waiting customer. The
afternoon was waning; the sidewalk became crowded.
Ned had been twice to look at her, and supply her with
more papers. He was stationed some two blocks
lower down the street. Jemmy would get into fre-
quent dilemmas with his tether, impatience, and ex-
citement; but Nora managed to keep him tolerably
contented, and yet have time for her work. She
scarcely dared look up into the faces. Seeing so many
strange ones frightened her; and some of them were
anything but pleasant or sunshiny. So she kept her
timid, black eyes on the pavement, and offered her
papers before each pair of advancing legs. One hand
that took a paper offered in payment a half-dollar.
Nora looked at it aghast. She had utterly forgotten
n %/ t:0VLMVVLJ LV
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
how it was she was to change the twenty-five cent piece,
- and this she saw had a fifty on it, and so perhaps
was n't a twenty-five cent piece at all. Puzzled and
frightened, she lifted a pleading face to her customer.
Can't you change it?" he asked, kindly.
No, sir; I don't know how," she said, sadly.
O, is that all? Let me see your change, and I '11
show you how."
Nora took out a handful of scrip, pennies, and post-
age-stamps from her pocket, and held it up in both
hands for the gentleman's inspection. As she did so
she looked up once more into his face. There was a
smile on it, half of amusement and half of kindness;
his hair peeped in soft, brown waves from beneath a
light, straw hat; beard, thin and brown, shaded his
mouth and chin; and a pair of gentle, deep, brown
eyes were looking quietly down on the mass of dirty
cash offered for his choice. Nora was glad when the
dainty-gloved fingers selected the cleanest piece. It
seemed appropriate. Then he went on turning it over
gingerly, and picking out other pieces. Nora 'stood
quietly, her papers tucked under her arm, her little
summer hat fallen back on her shoulders, and the fine
black hair in a frizzy cloud around her flushed face, jos-
tled often by the passers, both hands upstretched with
the change, and her mind full of wonder at the number
of pieces it took to make change for fifty cents. A
sudden shriek from Jemmy sent a cringe of dread over
the poor little girl. What had happened now there
was no knowing. She jammed the change back in her
pocket, and, followed by her customer, rushed away
in season to catch a glimpse of Jemmy's red and dis-
torted face over the shoulder of a tall policeman, who
was carrying him off bodily.
0, please please, sir cried Nora, catching the
stern officer by the skirt of his dark blue coat, don't
carry-him off! He's my Jemmy," she added, in reply
to his look of surprise. He '11 be good, sir, he'll be
very good, if you'll only put him down. I'll take care
"Can't have him tied there across the sidewalk,"
said the officer, decidedly. "I've chucked him back
into that doorway three times this afternoon already.
I ought to have carried him away before now."
But he won't go out of the doorway again; will
you, Jemmy? "
"No," was the cowed answer. Jemmy had ceased
his tempest of expostulation when Nora came to the
rescue, and was now sniffling mildly, and wiping his
face on his sleeve.
The officer looked about in perplexity. It was his duty
to keep the streets clear, but he did n't like to be cruel.
You had better take your brother home," he said to
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
So I will- very soon.
- till Ned comes for me."
But I don't know the way,
" He will hardly
make any more
said Mortimer Salsby, with a pleasant smile in mouth
he stood, still holding
in one hand,
officer Staut, doubtfully,
as he put Jemmy on his feet again,
tether round his waist, with a laqgh.
I want two cents more," said Mr. Salsby to Nora.
" Confound two cents!
You won't break if we go
Nora now first noticed, was waiting for Mr. Salsby.
Salsby vouchsafed no reply to the snappish
words, and having received the two cents explained
Nora that two twenty-fives made
counted over the change to her.
fifty, and then
tively, for she knew she must learn.
Thank you, sir," she said, looking up with pleased
how kind he was, and that no one
had spoken a single word to her.
To be sure, he
would not, if she could have
Nora did not think of that.
It is new work for you, I see," the gentleman said.
sir; I never did it till
learn; and Jemmy '11 be good when he gets used to it."
BRISK BUSINESS. 77
Jemmy had kept tight hold of Nora's dress, ever
since the policeman set him on his feet again.
Mr. Salsby took a silver quarter from his vest-
pocket, saying, -
"There's a luck-penny for your first day. I'll
hope to buy papers of you again sometime."
Not if it takes her so long to make change,"
growled Mr. Waters, as they walked away, leaving
Nora overcome with gratitude, and a rush of tears that
had somehow come crowding into her eyes, though she
had not the least desire to cry. "Women never do
have any idea of money."
Mr. Salsby looked gravely in his companion's face.
"Then you call her a woman?"
She will be if she grows up," was the careless
reply, and Mr. Salsby's eyes wandered disappointedly
away. They are all alike women," contempt-
uously added Mr. Waters, with an angry, discontented
cloud in his sharp eyes.
I think if your acquaintance had been more
extended, you would be of a different mind. It does
not follow that no woman knows the value of money
because some do not."
"They are all alike. Mrs. Meredith, Mrs. Donald-
son, and my wife," muttered Mr. Waters. All
Merediths, and all alike, the whole family."
Nonsense!" was the half-earnest, half-laughing
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
exclamation. There is marked difference in the
character of the ladies you have seen fit to introduce.
A family similarity of course there is, but it is of the
Roberts family, please observe, not the Meredith."
Mr. Waters stopped short in his walk for a moment,
as if it were a new thought to him, then went mood-
"What is the matter with you to-day, Waters?"
resumed Mr. Salsby, more cheerily.
Well, I am savage, I admit. I have.just planned a
fine new branch for the business, and we want to intro-
duce it immediately; and as things stand now, our
capital is all in, and we must negotiate a loan some-
where before we can enlarge as we want to. I hate to
work on borrowed capital. We should aim to pay it
off, fast as possible. But we must begin so. I would
not favor undertaking it, if it was n't going to be a
specially good thing. Have n't you got a few spare
thousand to invest at a big per cent ?"
You know my property is all in real estate."
"You might sell some. This would pay better."
"No, I would rather not do that. Why don't you
put off enlarging for the present, while everything is so
high ? When the war is over, such a change will come
Ah, but now is just the time to make it go! By
and by will be too late."
They had reached the door of Mr. Waters' handsome
house, and with a few words of farewell, parted.
Meanwhile Nora still stood in her place, offering her
papers, and selling many to the passers on the now
"Stay close by me," she said earnestly to Jemmy.
And Jemmy seemed to have no disposition to disobey.
The crowd jostled and hurried by. The sale of
papers slackened; Nora looked about, and found no
Jemmy at her side. It was perhaps five minutes since
she last felt him pull at her dress, and lean close against
her to avoid being brushed away by the hurrying people.
Nora looked up and down the sidewalk, dodging in and
out among the passers. But no Jemmy could she find.
She called, but her voice seemed to go only a few
inches from her, and served merely to fix many wonder-
ing eyes on herself. When she had searched as far as she
dared to go from her post, and found no trace of him,
she stepped in an agony of terror within the doorway
where he had first been placed. She was growing very
tired; and the heat, weariness, and fear were too much
for her to bear. There was nothing to be done but
wait for Ned. She dared not go away. And how long
it seemed since Ned had brought her the last papers!
Dropping her head in her hands upon her lap, the sobs
came choking in her throat, and would not be crowded
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
"Here he is, Nora; don't cry," said Ned's cheerful
voice; and Nora looked up to see Jemmy standing
beside her, with a decidedly crestfallen and disgusted
Jemmy had been tempted by a monkey, riding home
on a hand-organ. He followed it only a few steps.
Seeing this, the organ-grinder asked if he would like to
feed the monkey. Of course, Jemmy would like noth-
ing better. The man said, If you will go along to a
place where I can set down the organ, you shall feed the
monkey with a cake." And Jemmy went. At first
very willingly; but when they had crossed a street he
began to hesitate, and the organ grinder took hold
of his wrist just as everybody else always did. Then
it was that a pair of sharp eyes spied him out, and
Ned's salutation, more energetic than complimentary,
sounded in his ears.
Here, you little rat! what are you running off with
that monkey for ?"
The organ-grinder obsequiously explained, that he
was going to let him see the monkey eat his supper.
Perhaps he would not have yielded up his captive so
readily, were it not for Officer Staut who stood near,
looking sternly on.
Come, we'll go home now," said Ned. It is time
this young traveller was asleep, and you too."
Snug in the twilight of the birds' nest," they told
BRISK BUSINESS. 81
their adventures and counted their money. Jemmy
could with difficulty keep awake till his supper was
Tom was there too, with his good news; and joy
and happiness prevailed.
" This has been such a nice day said Harry, turn-
ing his blue eyes from one to another with loving looks,
- each one a caress. I wish things would happen,
and people come here every day."
If people came every day, there would have to be
people going away too," said Bess, and that would
not be so pleasant."
I'm so glad Nora can stay," replied Harry, softly.
Nora went timidly and kissed him good-night. A
third bed had been arranged on the floor. A curtain
that hung against the wall was stretched across, divid-
ing the room. Ned was soon asleep beside Jemmy.
Tom took what had before been Bess's place in Harry's
cot; while Bess and Nora made themselves as com-
fortable as they could in the new bed curtained off in a
corner. Tired out, but all very happy, they slept
soundly till the sun peeped in with the morning.
82 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
UEER work for a girl," said Tom Canton, look-
ing dubiously after the retreating figures of Ned
and Nora as they went softly out, taking Jemmy with
them, early the next morning.
Tom and Bess were moving quietly about without
shoes, for Harry was not yet awake. The little invalid
was generally wakeful all the first part of the night,
and found his best sleep after one or two o'clock in the
Ned's business required an early start, and the
children had all learned the gentleness that tender
care of a weaker dear one never fails to impart. So
Harry slept softly, while Tom noiselessly sorted their
last sack of rags, and Bess sat mending some of Ned's
sadly worn clothes. At Tom's words she looked up
with a troubled glance, but did not speak.
At length Harry moved, lifted his arms with a weary
little yawn, and said Good-morning" pleasantly.
Had a good sleep?"
smile of morning welcome.
Ias Ned been long gone? "
" Half an hour."
" And Nora? "
" She went with him."
" I think we
had better send
to the asylum,"
0, don't said Harry.
And Bess added,
" Not yet."
" It will be only putting
'the end we shall have to take
said Tom, for
them there when we
" 0, no! cried Bess, heartily.
" How can you say
so, Tom, when you have just got work yourself, and we
shall all do better than ever, soon ? "
Don't you know that I may be turned off any day
have not a particle of confi-
that Saunders, and I know he
does n't want
me to stay.
Even if I stay, my pay will be little more
than I have been
you will have nothing
at all to do."
are greatly mistaken, Tom
Canton, if you
to do nothing,"
" You '11
do," retorted Tom, gloomily.
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
"Of course. And getting something is just what I
am going about."
The getting is neither pleasant nor profitable, only
the doing pays."
Bess laughed uneasily. You have got up wrong
side out this morning."
Tom looked up with a forced smile, that instantly
gave place to his former expression of grave concern.
"Perhaps so; but really, Bess, things don't look quite
clear to me, if they have mended a little. I would as
lief starve quickly from having nothing to eat, as by
inches for never having enough."
"0, Tom, how can you?" cried Bess, glancing anx-
iously at Harry, whom she did not like to have hear
such discouraging talk.
Well, I'll hold my tongue."
"And I've been thinking, Tom, of how to arrange
things. I have a plan already. I can sell papers with
Ned and Nora. Ned says there can't be too many in
that business since the war."
You're too old," said Tom, decidedly.
"Too old? Why, you sold papers till six months
ago! and I'm only just thirteen. I'm not too old at
thirteen, if you were not at fifteen."
You 're a girl," oracularly pronounced Tom.
Bess colored painfully, and was silent. She felt for
some reason too much shamed by this simple statement
to dare open her mouth further.
Neither could Harry, and hle asked, -
that ? "
d up, but did not at once reply. TI
truth was, he did not know how.
Girls have to eat all the same," pursued Harry,
thoughtfully, and sometimes they have to earn what
Which is a great pity," said Tom, earnestly.
SI don't think so," said Bess, quietly.
A long silence followed.
Harry broke it.
Tom, why don't you tell us just why you don't want
Bess to sell papers ? "
I have told you."
Being a girl is no reason."
Yes, it is; because newsboys lead a rough life; they
swear, and do and say all manner of coarse, low things!"
you did n't;
would ? "
No, but I don't want her to see and know anything
believe they would ever be rude to me, because I should
be rude to them, and because --well,
because I am a girl! "
Of course they would n't be rude to you, but you
would see and hear coarse, profane talk."
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Really, Tom, I had no thought of associating with
newsboys any more than I have before. Having
two brothers in the business, I could n't help some
acquaintance with that dreadful race. I presume
there are other good boys who sell, papers. And I
make my friends, not for their happening to be in the
same work, but because they are worth having for
"Then there's the exposure in-: the street, all
O, I was used to that when I went for rags! We
can't have such storms as last winter."
"I did n't mean that. But pushing round among
strangers all day long. Suppose some one should
carry you off?"
Bess laughed out heartily. Why, Tom Canton,
what an absurd idea! Nobody could, unless I were
fool enough to follow a monkey or some such thing, as
Jemmy did. And you know I have sense enough to
attend to my business, and call a policeman if any one
Tom's cross about something this morning," said
I'm sorry he is so set against it," Bess said,
gravely, because there is really nothing else I can
find to do just now. I've thought over everything,
and so, I shall have to sell naners." It was very
quietly and softly said, but there was firm resolve under
I shall be very much displeased, Bess, if you do,"
said Tom, with authority.
Bess dropp. d her work in her lap, and rocked in the
mother's low rocker, silently, with her eyes gazing
straight forward as if they would look far down the dim
future. But there was no doubt in their clear depths,
no wavering about the still, grave mouth.
Don't be cross, Tom," pleaded Harry. I'm sure
Bess would n't do anything that was n't best to be done."
But Tom made no reply as he hurried on with his
work, anxious to finish and sell these last rags before
he began the day's work at his new place.
SAnd Tom," persisted Harry, turning his pure, pale
little face upon the pillow, what's the use of all this
fussing about boys' work and girls' work? There is n't
really any difference, except what you think into it
Tom raised his head, and looked thoughtfully at the
delicate face turned towards him.
You know, when we were little, we all used to play
and talk and think the same, and Bess was just like
the rest of us, we never thought of telling her sh1
was a girl. And I know she thinks and feels jur
you do now. And there isn't really any differeil
only in your thinking about it."
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
It was Tom's turn to blush now. Bess rose, and
began setting out Harry's breakfast. Tom stuffed the
sorted rags into their several sacks. Harry had hit a
deeper truth than he himself quite understood.
Bess came and took him in her arms to the table
for his breakfast. Tom shouldered his sacks, and car-
ried them down-stairs. He would not return till night.
Bess and Harry were left alone for the day. After
breakfast, Harry was laid in his bed till Bess had put
away his dishes. Then she took him up, and rocked
him for half an hour.
I 'e got a plan too, Bess," Harry said, as he rested
a flushed cheek on her shoulder, and half closed his
eyes in the languor of painless weakness.
Where did you get it ?" asked Bess, with assumed
asperity and a very contradictory smile.
S0O, don't go to being very much displeased,'
returned Harry, with a comic counterfeit of Tom's
What is it?" said Bess.
I remember a story you read to me once, of a boy
who was sick, and who earned money by carving pretty
things out of wood,- brackets, frames, and such things.
And I was thinking perhaps I could learn to do some
Harry paused, and Bess rocked silently.
Are you 'very much displeased'?" he asked, with
an earnest voice, that belied the effort for pleasantry in
SNo, Harry, of
I was only
how we could manage it.
and then some wood. I
You would need a nice knife
3ut first you would need prac-
tice, and you could have that with Tom's old knife-
he could get it sharpened for you and any soft
pick up for you where
there is a
nice wood when you
And I want pencil and paper to draw the figures
I love dearly to draw figures."
" Yes," assented Bess, still
" Meg 's
stairs, were heard
Iarry, as, far down the long
slow, irregular footsteps
" So she is," Bess answered, listening.
IIHarry added, his face softening with
The door opened.
was poor Meg
came in a couple of steps, and halted, hesitating.
Come in, Meg," said Bess, pleasantly.
Meg shut the door and moved towards a chair.
was certainly the forlornest creature that could be
in much searching.
whence she came.
No one knew who she was or
tant of Amity Court remembered her as a six-year-old
90 THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
child, who lived in the court. But she never belonged
particularly to any one. When she was hungry, no one
refused her a crust. In one way or another, also, she
had always contrived to have a gown to cover her,
though she had little else. In whatsoever house night
found her, there she was allowed to sleep. Every one
pitied her. Meg paid for the favors she received, by
many a small service gladly rendered. She was even
more grateful for an opportunity to be useful, than for
the daily -bread that was pitifully, though kindly, given.
Meg was dimly conscious that she was not quite as
other folks. Wherein lay the difference she could not
divine. That there was a difference she felt, no less
keenly because vaguely, in a hundred little incidents of
every day; and the feeling went eating through her
heart, in a blind pain, all day long.
What are you doing to-day, Meg?" asked Bess.
Nothing," she answered, with listless vacancy.
"Do you know of anything?" she asked, suddenly,
brightening with the hope.
No, Meg. I'm sorry. I don't even know what
to do myself."
I shall have something for you to do by and by,
Meg," said I-arry.
"Will you? What is't? Something I can?" were
the eager questions, as Meg bent forward on her chair,
- she never sat in a chair, but roosted awkwardly on
gazed hungrily out from her
pinched and sallow face.
TIer wide mouth widened yet more for a smile.
"I '11 lay you down on the other bed, Harry," said
Bess, while I make yours."
SO could n't
her long, thin arms outstretched.
like to hold
" Only Tom and I hold
towards the other bed.
The truth was, Amity Meg" was not altogether an
person for such a service.
How could she
be ? Still, the look
of bitter pain that came crushing
down over her hopeless old-young face went to the
heart of both Bess and Harry.
Bess stayed her
and looked down into Harry's eyes.
Harry said, -
" I'd rather Meg held me."
The smile of delight on that wan, simple face
the boy for his own sacrifice, as the ready arms cradled
him gently as a mother's, and carried him back
the bed, while
of carving, and
her to bring
bits of soft pine wood from the refuse
at some new building.
only less disagreeable
Iarry found his nurse not
than he expected,
Bess was ready
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
go out for her slender marketing, Harry chose to
remain with Meg, instead of going again into his bed.
They made a curious picture, the castaway, Amity
Meg," and the delicate, crippled Harry Canton. The
vacant, simple, staring look had quite gone out of
Meg's face, it always went when she took a child
in her arms. The sharp angularity of her features
seemed softened in the tenderness that flooded them.
The dull eyes were love-lighted. The long arms lost
their awkward listlessness, and became elastic and
gentle. Even the harsh brush of unkempt hair, rusty
and uneven, fell like a kind curtain to conceal defects.
Hugged to the hollow chest of this sad representa-
tive of a city's refuse population, lay the fair, sweet
face of Harry Canton. Beaming with gentle pleasure
in the rest afforded his weary little body, happy in know-
ing that Meg was as glad as himself, Harry's blue eyes
shone softly, and his sweet lips wore a smile that de-
lighted Meg, and was not more pure and lovely than
Meg's own, though the face was so strangely unlike.
Bess stopped in the doorway to look at them when
she returned. She could not help smiling, too, as she
saw them so happy together.
Now, I'll go back to my bed," said Harry; and
Meg put him tenderly down.
You look better than when you came in, Meg," said
Meg stood up, squared out her sharp elbows akimbo,
and sighed, -
' I was n't
feeling just right to-day,"
Z:5 zn t
the old vacant look creeping back to her face.
" But seemed as if I got over it while I had him."
Are you sick? asked Bess, anxiously.
I don't know," was the simple reply ; do you think
I am ?"
Seems to me you don't look quite as usual."
Bess scanned her face with perhaps a shade more
ness than sympathy.
Meg went and looked out the window.
The sun was
br lightly on the river.
She turned away and
sat down again.
Sometimes it's a snapping in my head, and some-
times it's a heaviness in my legs," she
often has pains that nobody asks about, and they go off,
by and by."
I suppose you do," said
heart full of sudden pity.
" I 'm
going to borrow Biddy Crowley's Mikey, and
take him out for a walk," Meg answered, hastily.
" You do love babies,
don't you, Meg ?"
" Yes, 'm, they never pities me."
Meg was gone.
And with the words,
They heard her heavy tramp down the
many stairs, and then on the sidewalk outside.
THE CHILDREN (F AMiTY CUIUT.
IT was high noon in Amity Court. The sun blazed
up and down its dirty length, and gleamed back
from the still surface of the sluggish river. Meg walked
slowly up the scorching pavement, but the heat sick-
ened her. The throbbing pain came back to her thin
temples, and her eyes grew blind in the glare. She sat
down on a doorstep, and longed to crawl away where
no one could see her, and where she might try to forget
herself and her misery. She rose and staggered down
a deserted cellarway. It was cool and shady there.
Her head felt better, though she shivered with the
damp chill of the place. On the dusty boards of the
floor she lay down. She had found the solitude she
craved, and it was grateful to her. Meg was but an
untaught animal, with a few glimmerings of something
human and higher. So, like an animal woun(led or
suffering, she stole away alone to stolidly endure the
strange misery she could not understand. Meg seemed
AMITY MEG." 95
to have slept there on the mouldy floor of the old cel-
lar. Thrown down in a careless, awkward abandon,
the rough hair falling over her homely, yearning face,
the vacant eyes closed, the simple unthinking head pil-
lowed on her bony arms, Meg found herself, hours after-
wards, slowly rousing from a sort of stupor. She
dragged herself to her feet, and looked up the open
cellarway. The sun had slid far down the afternoon
side of the sky.
Biddy Crowley will let me take the baby now,"
Mleg thought. It was too hot before."
The pain was almost gone from Meg's head, but it
felt light and dizzy.
It must be hungry I am," she said aloud, as she
steadied her steps by the brick walls of the house.
" I'11 ask Biddy for a bit of bread just to put strength
Biddy Crowley was busy, and baby was crying. It
was very hot in her stifled room, where she was obliged
to have a fire to iron. She was but too glad that baby
should be taken out, and every one knew that Amity
Meg was a most trusty nurse. She willingly gave her
the bit of bread she asked, and even added a mouthful
of meat for a relish. Meg took Baby Crowley on one
armn, anld her repast in the other hand, and walked up
the court t/o the street to look at the horses." She
had to sit down on a step, for her limbs were weak, and
THE CHILDREN OF AMITY COURT.
Baby Crowley was a plump round little fellow, of active
disposition, who kicked and crowed heartily as soon as
he was outside the house. Meg tried to eat the bread
and meat, but she did not feel hungry. The first
mouthful sufficed, and the meat proved anything but a
relish; the very smell of it sickened her. A little dog
came sniffing and begging for it, and Meg fed him. It
amused baby much more than eating it herself would
have done, so Meg was satisfied.
Finally Baby grew tired, or restful perhaps, with the
fresher out-door air, and the pleasant change of scene
after a day in his mother's cramped, hot kitchen. His
round face dropped on Meg's arm, his bright eyes grew
hazy, and the white lids came sliding slowly over them.
Baby Crowley was asleep, and Meg rocked him softly
with a swaying motion of her long arms and lank body.
Strangers passing stopped to pity. One offered a
few pennies, which Meg took thankfully, and slipped
away in her ragged pocket. But it was 'pity always
pity. Only a baby could feel and understand the one
sweet spot in poor Meg's heart, and love her for it.
Only a baby never saw the dirt and squalor, never
noticed her awkward splay hands and feet, her long,
lank limbs, her unkempt hair and vacant face; but did.
see the humble, holy light that came trembling up into
those dull eyes, hopeless, pleading with the one prayer
" Let me love you." Babies always granted it. Babies
AMITY MEG. Page 97.
' AMITY MEG."
always went freely into Meg's yearning arms. Babies
graciously suffered her love. If they never returned it
adequately, they at least appreciated it. Not the most
irate screamer in Amity Court but would silence his
elocution for Meg's persuasion, and condescend to smile
into her asking eyes. Meg was scarcely sixteen, but
she might have been thirty-five, with that disheartened
face and poverty-aged body. She was only half-witted
Baby Crowley woke and began to dance and play.
Meg walked up the street with him. But the plump
child was very heavy, heavier than was ever a baby
before to Meg's willing arms. She did not care to
sit down again. The air seemed close and hot.
Down the court she could see hazy clouds dimming the
sun. There was a cool breath from the river. Meg
went through the court, and looked over the water. She
crept slowly and faintly along the zigzag path that
went sliding sidewise down the river-bank, and stood
on the brink. It was a muddy, oozy shore; the water
dragged sluggishly along, black and still.
Farther down, a small boat was tied to a post driven
in the bank. Meg determined to get into the boat.
There she could sit and rock Baby, and play in the
water for his amusement. It was easy work to draw
the boat ashore, and Meg stepped in. It was of no
consequence that she wet her stockingless feet and