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By-and-by, I got her history. We were talking of our homes. Somehow she seemed sad. She didn't toss her head and throw it off, as Mary Willings did one day when I told her Nellie's tale. My lassie looked really sad, and looked her sadness right into me. I didn't know what to say to help her, for I did not know why she felt such pain ; but she told me. Oh, how touching it was to hear her simple voice saying :
Alice, shall I tell you about my home? When I was a little girl we had a good house, and large garden, and every comfort. Father was prosperous in his business. Mother always called me her little lassie, and was very indulgent to
I was the only girl, and had three brothers. But one morning when we came down to breakfast, father was looking like death, and mother couldn't speak a word, and even forgot to kiss us. They scarcely drank a drop of coffee, and didn't touch their food. We could not understand it, and when our breakfast was finished we all got together in the nursery and cried. For four days we heard nothing to tell us what was the matter, but thought father and mother would both be ill. Mother did fall ill. Then father said to us, just before we went to bed on the fifth evening after their sorrow came, that he had lost a great deal of money through some wicked men, who had ruined a bank in which his money was invested, and that we should have to go into a very poor house and forfeit all our comforts.
All our things were sold. Mother never rallied. We removed to a tiny little cottage, and the removing (so they said) was too much for our darling mother in her illness, and she died. So as soon as I was old enough I went to business, and, poor father ! he isn't so good to us as he used to be.”
Ellen never said more- –I knew enough, perhaps she thought. But there was more. It was the only time I ever found her hiding anything, for she never seemed to have things to hide. I heard more afterwards from one who had known the family well and watched all their course. She told me that Ellen was too young to go to school when the troubles came, and that Ellen and her brothers had been taught by a governess who lived in the house and had a very handsome salary. After the troubles, the father seemed deadened for a long time, and could get no employment that he would accept. He had been a good business man in his prosperity, but not a man of much heart. When prosperity ceased he grew heartless, and barely showed a sign of care for the four little children who depended on him. They hung about the barren cottage day after day, and year after year, without a scrap of education being provided for them. The boys grew up selfish, and unruly, and reckless, following their father. But Ellen battled with her hardships; and nobody knows how, through her pinched childhood, she picked up the good business education she possessed, and taught her brothers against their will. She did it so well, though, that no one I ever met is readier, and no one makes fewer mistakes in their reckonings than she does. I guess, from what I have seen in our bedroom, that she practised herself in quiet, and always kept on practising. The few books she had must have been better used by her than by
Then she put herself to business before she was fourteen, and had kept one situation in a house that has a bad name for hardness and stinginess until the very day we met; she only left it because her health obliged her.
Nellie, as I said, never told me these things. She told me all that brought no blame on her “poor father ;" she did not tell me more against him than just enough to keep me from close questionings. About her brothers she was always silent. I, too, am keeping silence on many things I know concerning them. But wasn't my lassie brave ?— brave to do, brave to bear, brave to speak, brave to be silent? She might have let me think her well off in her home ; she might have told me of her struggles and perseverance; she might have added to her own virtues by the faults of others. Not she, though—not she, my brave lassie! God bless her! God make many like her!
I soon wondered what made Nellie so good ; before I had known her a week I felt streams of living goodness flowing out of her, which I didn't understand. Only one thing could I notice specially, and that was that she cared so much to have a quiet time with her Bible and on her knees. It seemed real in her. However, she taught me what I didn't understand. It came to this : I was no Christian then; she was a Christian in deed and in truth. She soon put religion into her conversation with me; and she didn't do it like folks squeeze an odd parcel that belongs to somebody else into the last corner of their overloaded trunk just before they start upon a journey. She did it just like the leaves come on the trees in spring, and the flowers peep through the leaves. It all came as part of herself, which she couldn't keep away and didn't want to. I felt a gnawing in my conscience at the sight of that, and the gnawing turned to yearning. Of course I told her then-of course I did. Gracious words fell from her lips. She knew Christ for herself, and His Spirit was filling her. And I have often thought since that she to me was like John the Baptist of old; one sent “to prepare the way of the Lord;" for she got me ready for His voice, and I, with her, became partaker of
I was married five years after our meeting, and left the business. I should have left that business earlier, but couldn't leave her. Since then I have not had the chance of seeing her, save when she has spent her holidays with me. She was not married. She stayed on in the same house. I have heard a great deal about her, and know her progress, though separated from her.
She was advanced from stage to stage in the departments, until at last she was made head of all the female handsabout one hundred and forty. Scarcely a dozen ever passed through her influence without gathering blessing as the children pick the bluebells in the wood. Open, unpretentious, diligent, trusty, generous, cheerful and very wise, she was a mother amongst them all. It would take a book to
record all the little incidents of Christian meekness and Christian kindness I have heard about her. I will write
An important order had been given, and the work was divided amongst several hands. Just when the order was to have been completed, word came from one of the hands who lived out, that she was ill, and could not attend business for that day. The loss of her help threw all things out, for her work was difficult for the others, and their hands were full. A week afterwards Nellie heard that she had not been ill on that day, but had been to a gala. Now my lassie's temper was tried. What should she do? To pass it over was against her duty. She was being watched. She spoke : spoke of the negligence; spoke warmly; spoke of the lie indignantly. The recreant was exposed. A struggle was in Nellie's soul. Presently, as openly as she had uttered the reproof, she turned again to the assistant and said with tender pathos, “ Jane, if I seemed wrong and harsh, and too severe on you an hour ago, I hope you will forgive me.” Jane had hardened herself under the reproof, and tossed it off in pride; but she was smitten to the heart by this. Wasn't my lassie brave?
I am old now—seventy-four. Nine years ago my lassie died. She had grown in esteem, in thoroughness, in Christian usefulness all her life. At her death there was mourning in all that house. The proprietors provided her an honourable funeral. But above all the mournful display of that sad burial, one incident speaks a voice that gives a saintly testimony. Sixty-five poor girls were there, each with a little bunch of flowers, and each dropped them on her coffin in the cold clay bedewed with many tears. They had come of their own accord. They were her Sunday class. God bless my brave lassie! May God send many like her. May God make her story to raise up some. And when I go above, a brand of her plucking-a fruit of her sowing—may I see her smiles again, and hear what her open words are now they have become an angel's song.
J. E. G.
Two Little Waifs, and the way they Dristed.
educational institution in London, and a gentle-
friendless everywhere, was invited to address them. And after helping to wait upon them with ample supplies for the feast, the kind familiar words of one who evidently loved them were anticipated with respectful attention. They were substantially to the following effect:
“ Dear boys, my heart and mind are so full of the last thing that has happened to me that I must let you share it as well as I can by description. Such a beautiful sight! Seventy children, about thirty girls and forty boys, rescued from the streets of a great town, where they were wandering in hunger and nakedness, or trained in wickedness by cruel and selfish relatives, or entering on a life of beggary on their own account-all brought under loving care and Christian instruction, fed, clothed, and taken from all the degrading associations of their early years, to be adopted into hearts and homes in another land !
“ I was in time to see the embarkation of these happy orphans, brought about by the energy and perseverance of one Christian lady, around whose gracious effort had gathered the help with which generosity and self-denial ever follow the lead of practical sympathy with human need. I wish I could describe to you the loving reverence with which they looked up to her as each little one passed out before her, and the last farewells that were given with the grasp of rough little hands to the teachers and helpers who stood around, many with tears in their eyes, tears of thankfulness for the wonderful result of a few months' training, which had changed these wild creatures of the streets into an orderly band of obedient pupils. Some of the boys had been just like young savages, as ignorant and