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Title: Sowing and Sewing - A Sexagesima Story
Author: Yonge, Charlotte Mary, 1823-1901
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sowing and Sewing - A Sexagesima Story" ***

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SOWING AND SEWING.

A Sexagesima Story.

by

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE.



New York:
E. P. Dutton and Co.,
39, West Twenty-Third Street.



PREFACE.


PERHAPS some may read allusions to a sacred Parable underlying this
little story. If so, I hope they will not think it an irreverent mode of
applying the lesson.

                                                     C. M. YONGE.



CONTENTS.


          CHAPTER I.                   PAGE
          THE SERMON                     1

          CHAPTER II.
          THE SUNDAY SCHOOL             13

          CHAPTER III.
          THE WORKING PARTY             28

          CHAPTER IV.
          TEACHER AMY                   49

          CHAPTER V.
          THE TROUSSEAU                 64

          CHAPTER VI.
          STITCH, STITCH, STITCH        79

          CHAPTER VII.
          WANDERING EYES               101

          CHAPTER VIII.
          AMY'S VISITS                 115

          CHAPTER IX.
          AWKWARD MEETINGS             127

          CHAPTER X.
          THE RECKONING                150

          CHAPTER XI.
          WHICH SHALL PROSPER?         159



SOWING AND SEWING.



CHAPTER I.

THE SERMON.


FOUR girls were together in a pleasant cottage room with a large window,
over which fluttered some dry sticks, which would in due time bear
clematis and Virginia creeper leaves.

Three of them were Miss Lee's apprentices, and this room had been built
out at the back of the baker's shop for them. The place was the property
of the Lee family themselves, and nobody in Langley was more respected
than they were. Ambrose Lee, whose name was over the baker's shop, and
who kept a horse and cart, was always called Mr. Lee.

He had married a pretty, delicate young girl, who had soon fallen into
such hopeless ill-health, that his sister Charlotte was obliged to live
at home to attend to her and to the shop. And when young Mrs. Lee died,
leaving three small children, another sister, Rose, gave up her place to
help in the care of her old father and the little ones.

Rose Lee had been a sewing maid, and, being clever, had become a very
fair dressmaker; so she took in needlework from the first, and when good
old master Lee died, and the children had grown old enough to be more
off her hands, she became the dressmaker and sempstress of the place,
since there was no doubt that all she took in hand would be thoroughly
well turned out of hand, from a child's under garment up to Mrs. and
Miss Manners's dresses. "For," as her sister Charlotte proudly said of
her, "the ladies had everything made down here, except one or two
dresses from London for the fashion." Her nephews were both from home,
one as a pupil-teacher, the other at a baker's with a superior business,
and her niece, Amy, the only girl of the family, had begun as a
pupil-teacher, but she had such bad headaches at the end of her first
year that her father was afraid to let her go on studying for
examinations, and cancelled her engagement, and thus she became an
assistant to her aunt. Then Jessie Hollis, from the shop, came home from
her aunt's, unwilling to go to service, and begged Miss Lee to take her
and teach her dressmaking; and, having thus begun, she consented, rather
less willingly, to take likewise Florence Cray from the Manners Arms,
chiefly because she had known her mother all her life, and believed her
to be careful of the girl; besides which, it was a very respectable
house.

As plain work, as well as dressmaking, was done, there was quite enough
employment for all the hands, as well as for the sewing machine, at
which Amy, a fair, delicate-looking girl, was whirring away, while
Jessie was making the button-holes of a long _princesse_ dress, and
Florence tacking in some lining; or rather each was pausing a little in
her work to answer Grace Hollis, Jessie's sister, a businesslike-looking
young person, dressed in her town-going hat and jacket, who had stepped
in, on her way to meet the Minsterham omnibus, to ask whether Miss Lee
wanted to have anything done for her, and likewise how many yards of
narrow black velvet would be wanted for the trimming of her own and
Jessie's spring dresses.

Miss Lee was gone up to the house for a grand measuring of all the
children for their new frocks; but Amy began to calculate and ask
questions about the width and number of rows, and Jessie presently
said--

"After all, I think mine will look very well without any round the
skirt."

"Why, Jessie, I thought you said the dress you saw looked so genteel
with the three rows----"

"Yes," said Jessie; "but I have thought since--" and she hesitated and
blushed.

Amy got up from the machine, came towards her, and, laying her hand on
her, said, gently--

"I know, Jessie."

"And I know, though you wanted to keep it a secret!" cried Florence. "I
was at church too last night!"

"Oh, yes, I saw you, Florence; and wasn't it beautiful?" said Amy,
earnestly.

"Most lovely! It is worth something to have a stranger here sometimes to
get a fresh hint from!" said Florence.

"I call that more than a hint," said Jessie, in a low voice. "I am so
glad you felt it as I did, Flossy."

"Felt it! You don't mean that you got hold of it? Then you can tell
whether it was cut on the bias, and how the little puffs were put on!"

"Why, what are you thinking of, Flossy?" exclaimed Amy. "Bias--puffs!
One would think you were talking of a dress!"

"Well, of course I was. Of that lovely self-trimming on that cashmere
dress of the lady that came with Miss Manners. What--what are you
laughing at, Grace?"

"Oh! Florence," said Amy, in a disappointed tone; "we thought you meant
the sermon."

"The sermon?" said Florence, half annoyed, half puzzled; "well, it was
a very good one; but----"

"It did make one feel--oh, I don't know how!" said Jessie, much too
eager to share her feelings with the other girls, even to perceive that
Florence wanted to go off to the trimming.

"Wasn't it beautiful--most beautiful--when he said it was not enough
only just not to be weeds, or to be only flowers, gay and lovely to the
eye?" said Amy.

"Yes," went on Jessie; "he said that we might see there were some
flowers just for beauty, all double, and with no fruit or good at all in
them, but dying off into a foul mass of decay."

"Ay," said Grace; "I thought of your dahlias, that, what with the rain
and the frost, were--pah!--the nastiest mess at last."

"Then he said," proceeded Jessie, "that there were some fair and comely,
some not, but only bringing forth just their own seeds, not doing any
real good, like people that keep themselves to themselves, and think it
is enough to be out of mischief and do good to themselves and their
families."

"And didn't you like it," broke in Amy, "when he said that was not what
God asked of us? He wanted us to be like the wheat, or the vine, or the
apple, or the strawberry, some plain in blossom, some fair and lovely to
look at, but valued for the fruit they bring forth, not selfishly, just
to keep up their own stock, but for the support and joy and blessing of
all!"

"One's heart just burnt within one," continued Jessie, "when he bade us
each one to go home and think what we could do to bring forth fruit for
the Master, some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold. Not only just
keeping oneself straight, but doing something for Christ through His
members."

"Only think of its being for Christ Himself," said Amy softly.

"Well," said Grace, "I thought we might take turns to go to Miss
Manners's missionary working parties. I never gave in to them before,
but I shall not be comfortable now unless I do something. And was that
what you meant about the velvet trimming, Jessie? It will save--"

"Fifteen pence," said Jessie.

"Very well--or you may say threepence more. So we can put that into the
box, if you like. I must be going now, and look sharp if I'm to catch
the bus. So good-bye, all of you."

"Oh! but won't you have the self-trimming," broke in Florence. "Perhaps
she'll be there on Friday night, and then we might amongst us make out
how it is done."

"Florence Cray, for shame!" said Grace. "I do believe you minded nothing
but that dress all through that sermon."

"Well," said Florence, who was a good-humoured girl, "there was no
helping it, when there it was just opposite in the aisle, and I'd never
seen one like it; and as to the sermon, you've just given it to me over
again, you've got it so pat; and I'll go to the missionary work meeting
too, Grace, and very like the young lady will be there, and I can see
her trimming."

"If you go for that, I would go to a fashion-book at once," said Grace;
"but I must really be off now, I've not another minute to stop."

"Oh dear, I forgot," cried Florence, jumping up, "I was to ask you to
call for our best tea-pot at Bilson's. And my mother wants a dozen--"
and there her voice was lost as she followed Grace out of the room
through the shop, and even along the road, discoursing on her
commissions.

Amy and Jessie were left together, and Amy stood up and said:

"Dear, I am so glad you felt it as I did!"

"One could not help it, if one listened at all," said Jessie. "Amy, I
must be doing something for His sake. I can't rest now without it. You
teach at the Sunday school. Don't you think I might?"

Amy meditated a little.

"I think they would make up a class for you. When Miss Pemberton's niece
goes away, the class she takes has to be joined to her aunt's, and that
makes a large one."

"Then will you speak to Miss Manners for me?" asked Jessie. "Are they
little girls or big ones?"

"Oh, that's the second class. They would be sure not to give you that,"
said Amy, as if she thought the aspiration very high, not to say
presumptuous. "Perhaps Margaret Roller, the pupil-teacher, you know, may
take that. Then I should have hers and you mine. They are dear little
girls, some of them, only Susan Bray always wants a tight hand over her,
Polly Smithers is so stupid, and Fanny Morris is so sly, one always has
to be on the watch."

"Here she comes," said Florence, who was the nearest to the window, and
the entrance of Aunt Rose, a brisk, fair little woman, young looking for
her age, recalled all her "young ladies," as Florence and Jessie, and
perhaps Amy likewise, preferred being called, to recollect that
stitching was, at that moment at least, the first thing to be attended
to.



CHAPTER II.

THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.


PERHAPS Amy's business-like tone about the school classes fell a little
flat upon Jessie's ear. She had not been to a Sunday school in her
childhood. Her father had been a prosperous upholsterer's foreman in
Minsterham, and Grace and Jessie had gone to an "academy" till, when
they were sixteen and fourteen years old, their father died of a fever,
and their mother, who had a cottage of her own at Langley, resolved on
coming back and setting up a small shop there for all sorts of wares,
with Clementina Hollis over the door.

Jessie was about eighteen, two years younger than her sister. She had
always been a bright, quick, lively girl, but never very thoughtful, and
much too inquisitive, till her curiosity had brought on her a terrible
accident, which had kept her laid up in a hospital for many weeks. She
had come home quite well at last, and much improved. A fellow patient,
and likewise a lady who had visited her and lent her books, had both
made much impression on her. She cared about right and wrong as she had
never done before, was more useful at home, and tried to restrain her
inclination to find out all about everything; she said her prayers more
carefully, went to Church more often, and heeded more what she heard;
and altogether she was what her mother called an altered girl. This was
Lent, and a clergyman was staying with Mr. Somers to preach a course of
sermons on the Friday evenings, and it was one of these that had so much
struck these young girls, and had put into their minds for the first
time, with any real force, the full sense that the true Christian must
seek to work for the good of the household of Christ as well as his own
household, and that "bringing forth good fruit" does not simply mean
taking care of oneself, and trying to save one's own soul.

The language had been beautiful and stirring, and there was a burning
desire in more than one heart to be doing something for Christ's sake.
The first thing that Jessie thought of was the Sunday school. She had
read books about it, and her fellow patient was full of ardour about
"training little lambs," as she called it, so that it seemed the most
beautiful and suitable task she could undertake.

Amy Lee, on the other hand, hardly knew how to spend a Sunday without
the school. She had been a scholar there until she had quite outgrown
the first class, and had been more than a year confirmed, and then she
had become a teacher of the little ones. She liked the employment, and
was fond of the children; she would have been sorry to drop the
connection with Miss Manners or with Miss Joy, the mistress, and the
rest of the school staff; she was pleased to work for and with Mr.
Somers and Miss Manners, and she had been trained to be reverent and
attentive; but it had never occurred to her to think of it as more than
a nice and good thing to do, or to look on it as a work undertaken for
Christ's sake.

"Teaching at school, I do that already," she said to herself, when Aunt
Rose's entrance had made her work her machine more and her tongue less.
"I must get something more to do. Oh! I know. There's poor old
half-blind Mrs. Long. She is left to herself terribly, they do say, and
I'll go and tidy her up, and see to her and read to her every day. I
could do it before my work and after. Maybe I might get her to be a
better old woman than she ever has been. Books say that nothing so
softens an old woman as a nice, bright young girl coming in to make much
of her, and I'm sure I'm nice and bright--not so much in myself, but
compared with the whole lot of Longs."

So Amy told her plan to her aunts, as soon as Florence and Jessie had
gone home to dinner.

The two aunts looked at one another, and Aunt Charlotte said, "Did the
sermon make you think of that?" in rather a doubtful tone.

"Yes," said Amy. "One seemed to long to be doing some good, not be only
an empty flower, as he said."

"Mrs. Long," said Aunt Rose; "she ain't a very nice person to fix
upon."

"But no one wants it so much, aunt," said Amy.

"That's true," said Aunt Charlotte. "Well, Amy, we must think about it,
and speak to your father. Run out now, and gather a bit of parsley for
his cheese."

Amy knew it was to get her out of the way, and felt rather disappointed
that the proposal was not seized upon at once, and applauded.

"She's a good girl," said Aunt Rose.

"Well, so she is, and I don't like to stand in her way," said Aunt
Charlotte.

"But to pitch on old Sally Long of all folk in the world!" said Rose.

"There's no doubt but she does want something done for her; but I
misdoubt me if she will choose our Amy to do it. Besides, I don't like
her tongue. That's what daunts me most."

"Yes. If she took it kind of the girl, she would never be satisfied
without talking to her of all the old backbiting tales that ever was!
And we that have kept our girl up from hearing of all evil just like a
lady--"

"What is it?" said Ambrose Lee, himself coming in, after putting up his
cart.

"Why, that sermon last night has worked upon our Amy, so that she wants
to do something extra," said Aunt Rose.

"A right down good sermon it was," said the father; "a bit flowery, to
suit the maidens, I suppose."

"And she said it all off to me, quite beautiful," said Rose, who had
stayed at home.

"And what does the child want to be doing? I won't have her go back to
her books again, to worry her head into aching."

"No, that's not what she wants. Her notion is to run in and out and see
to old Widow Long."

"Widow Long!" exclaimed the baker. "Why, she's got as slandering a
tongue as any in the parish! Give the poor old soul a loaf or a sup of
broth if you like, but I'll not have my girl running in and out to hear
all the gossip of the place, and worse."

"I knew you would say so, Ambrose," returned Charlotte. "All the same,
the child's thought shames me that I've never done anything for the poor
old thing; and she won't harm me."

Ambrose chuckled a little. "I don't know but aunt likes a spice of
gossip as much as her niece. 'Tis she tells us all the news."

"Well, I can get plenty of that in the shop, without going to Dame Long
for it," said Charlotte, laughing. "I like the real article, genuine and
unadulterated."

They were laughing at Aunt Charlotte's wit when Amy came in, and she
looked from one to the other, afraid they were laughing at her project,
and ready to be offended or hurt. She did not like it when her father
said, "Look here, my girl, Aunt Charlotte says Dame Long's dish of
tongue is too spicy for you, and she must have it for herself."

"I don't know what you mean, father," said Amy, nearly crying, "I didn't
want it for that."

"No, you didn't, child," said Charlotte; "but come along here, I want
you to help me dish up."

Amy came with the tears standing in her eyes into the back kitchen,
vexed, angered, and ready to be cross. Her aunt set her to prepare the
dish for the Irish stew, while she said, "Father was at his jokes with
me, Amy. He don't like you to be running in and out to old Sally Long by
yourself; no more does your Aunt Rosy nor I; but the poor old body
didn't ought to be neglected, and the sermon was just as much for me as
for you, so I've made up my mind to look after her a bit, and you may
come in with me sometimes if you like."

"That was not what I meant," said Amy, rather fretfully.

"I dare say not. There, mind what you are about, or you'll have that
dish down. Where's the flour? Come, now, Amy, don't be daunted, if you
can't do good quite in your own way; why shouldn't you ask Miss Dora
now?"

Amy muttered and pouted. "I'm not such a child now!"

"Ain't you then, to be making such a pout at not getting just your own
way."

Down came the dish with a bounce on the table, and away ran Amy up the
stairs, where she cried and choked, and thought how hard it was that she
should be hindered, and laughed at, and scolded, when she wanted to do
good, and bring forth the fruit of good works.

She heard Aunt Rose ask where she was, and her Aunt Charlotte answer,
"Oh! she will be down in a minute."

She felt it kind that no one said that she was in the sulks. The relief
did her good; she could not bear that any one should guess what was
amiss. So she washed her face in haste, tidied her hair and collar, and
hoped that she looked as if she had gone up for nothing else.

Perhaps her father had had a hint, and she was his great pet, so he took
care that the apprentices should not suspect that Amy had been "upset."
So he began to tell what had made him late at home. He had overtaken
poor Widow Smithers in much trouble, for she had had a note from the
hospital to say that her little boy, Edwin, must be discharged as
incurable. It was a hip complaint, and he could not walk, and she had
not been able to find any way of getting him home.

It so happened that all the gentlefolks were out for the day, and she
did not get her letter in time before the market people set off. She was
indeed too poor to hire a conveyance, and was going in, fearing that she
might have to carry this nine-year-old boy herself five miles unless she
could get a lift. So Mr. Lee had driven her into the town, and after
doing his work there, had come up to the hospital, and had taken her in
with poor little Edwin, who was laid on a shawl in the cart, but cried a
good deal at the jolting. The doctors said that they could do no more
for the poor little fellow, and she would have to take him home and do
the best she could for him.

It fell very hard upon her, poor woman, for she was obliged to go out to
work every day, since she had four children, and only Harry, the one who
was older then Edwin, earned anything--and indeed he only got three
shillings a week for minding some cows on the common. The two girls
_must_ go to school, and indeed they were too young to be of much use
and the boy would have to be left alone all day, except for the dinner
hour, as he had been before the hospital had been tried for him.

"There, Amy," said Aunt Charlotte, as they were clearing away the dinner
things after the menfolk had gone out, "there's something you could do.
It would be a real kindness to go in and see after that poor little
man."

"Yes," added Rose; "you might run in at dinner time, and I'd spare you a
little time then, and you might read to him, and cheer him up--yes, and
teach him a bit too."

"Edwin Smithers was always a very tiresome, stupid little boy," said
Amy, rather crossly, from her infant school recollections.

"Then he will want help all the more," said Aunt Rose, and it sounded
almost like mimicry of what Amy had said of old Mrs. Long.

She did not like it at all. It is the devices of our own heart that we
prefer to follow, whether for good or harm, and specially when we think
them good. And yet we specially pray that we may do all such good works
as our Lord hath _prepared for us to walk in_, as if we were to rejoice
in having our opportunities set out before us, yet the teaching a dull
little boy of whom she had had experience in the infant school, did not
seem to her half such interesting work as converting an old woman of
whom strange things were said.

However, Amy was on the whole a good girl, though she had her little
tempers, and did not guard against them as she ought, thinking that what
was soon over did not signify.

By and by, Jessie came back radiant with gladness, and found a moment
to say, before Florence Cray came in, that her mother was quite
agreeable to her teaching in the Sunday school, if Miss Manners liked
it. She had gone there herself for some years when she and Miss Manners
were both young, and she was well pleased that her daughter should be
helpful there.

Amy, who was fond of Jessie, was delighted to think of having her
company all the way to school, and her little fit of displeasure melted
quite away. But when Florence was heard coming in, both girls were
silent on their plans, knowing that she would only laugh at their
wishing to do anything so dull.



CHAPTER III.

THE WORKING PARTY.


"ARE these fruits of the sermon on Friday night?" said Miss Manners to
Mr. Somers, as they finished winding up their parish accounts on Monday
morning. "Not only, as you know, here is Grace Hollis wanting to join
Mrs. Somers's Tuesday working parties, Jessie begging to help at the
Sunday school; but I find that good little Amy Lee went and sat with
poor Edwin Smithers for half an hour on Sunday after church, showing him
pictures, and she has promised his mother to come and look in on him
every day. It is very nice of the Lees to have thought of it, and to
spare her."

"Yes," said Mrs. Somers, "the Lees are always anxious to do right."

"I had a talk with Charlotte just now. She came to get some flannel for
Mrs. Long. She says she will make it up for her, if the old woman can
have it out of the club. Well, she says it is quite striking how all
those girls have been moved by Mr. Soulsby's sermon on Friday evening.
Amy came home and nearly said it all off to her Aunt Rose, and the girls
were all talking about it in the workroom in the morning, full of
earnestness to make some effort."

"I saw they were looking very attentive," said Mr. Somers. "Shall you
accept Jessie Hollis's help?"

"I think I can make a class up for her."

"I suppose it would be a pity to check her, but do you imagine that she
knows anything?"

"I don't know; but she is not at all a stupid girl, and she cannot go
far wrong with the questions on the Catechism and Gospels that I shall
give her. Indeed I had thought of asking her and Margaret Roller, and,
perhaps, Amy Lee, to come and prepare the lessons here on Friday
evenings after church."

"A good plan," said Mr. Somers, "if it be not giving you too much to
do."

"Not a bit, especially at this time of year, when nobody wants me in the
evenings. My only doubt is whether it is not keeping the girls out too
late, but I will see whether it can be managed. The children might be
better taught, and the teachers might learn something themselves in this
indirect way."

Perhaps this was Miss Dora's way of acting on the sermon, but she could
not begin that week, as a friend was coming to spend the Friday with
her.

Meantime Grace Hollis had joined the working party that met every
Tuesday afternoon for an hour to make clothes for a very poor district
in London. She had been sometimes known to say that it was all waste of
time to make things and send them away to thriftless, shiftless folk;
but she had heard something of the love of our neighbour, and our
membership with the rest of our Lord's Body, which had touched her
heart. So she brought her thimble and needle, to join the working party
who sat round the Rectory dining-table. Mrs. Somers and Miss Manners
shook hands, made her welcome, and found her a seat and some work. Grace
looked about her to be sure who the party were. Mrs. Nowell, the
gardener's wife, sat next to her. Then came little Miss Agnes from the
Hall, sewing hard away, and Lucy Drew from Chalk-pit Farm, who was about
her age, next to her, and old Miss Pemberton knitting.

"A mixed lot," said Grace to herself, and then her eye lit upon deformed
Naomi Norris, of whom she did not approve at all. Did not the girl come
of a low dissenting family, and had not her father the presumption to
keep a little shop in Hazel Lane which took away half the custom,
especially as they pretended to make toffee? Meanwhile here was Miss
Wenlock, the governess at the squire's, and Miss Dora reading aloud to
the party in turn. It was the history of some mission work in London,
and Miss Lee, who was there, listened with great pleasure, as did many
of the others. Indeed she well might, for her eldest sister's son hoped
one day to be a missionary. But Grace was not used to being read to,
and, as she said, "it fidgeted her sadly," and she was wondering all the
time what mistakes mother would make in the shop without her, and she
began to be haunted with a doubt whether she had put out a parcel of
raisins that Farmer Drew's man was to call for. The worry about it
prevented her from attending to a word that was read; indeed she could
hardly keep herself from jumping up, making up an excuse, and rushing
home to see about the raisins!

Then she greatly disapproved of the shape of the bedgown she had been
set to make, and did not believe it would sit properly. It was ladies'
cutting towards which she felt contemptuous, and yet she would have
thought it impolite to interfere. Besides, it might make the whole
sitting go on longer, and Grace was burning to get home. At last the
reading ended, but oh! my patience, that creature Naomi was actually
putting herself forward to ask some nonsensical question, where some
place was, and Miss Agnes must needs get a map, and every one go and
look at it--Grace too, not to be behindhand or uncivil to the young
ladies; but had not she had enough of maps and such useless stupid
things long ago when she left school at Miss Perkins's?

When at last this was over, Mrs. Somers came and spoke to her while she
was putting on her hat, and thanked her pleasantly, saying that she was
afraid that beginning in the middle of a book made it less interesting,
but that one day more would finish it. Then she added "I don't like the
pattern of that bedgown, do you?"

"No, Mrs. Somers, not at all," replied Grace. "It quite went against me
to put good work into it."

"I wonder whether you could help us to a better shape next time," said
Mrs. Somers. "We should be very much obliged to you. This pattern came
out of a needlework book, and I am not satisfied about it."

Grace promised, and went away in better humour, but more because she had
been made important than because she cared for what she had been doing.
She was glad no one could say she had been behindhand with her service,
but it was a burthen to her, and she did not open her mind to enter into
it so as to make it otherwise.

Indeed, her mind was more full of her accounts and the bad debts, and of
the cheapest way of getting in her groceries than of anything else. As
she walked back through the village she wondered whether Mrs. Somers and
Miss Manners would send to her mother's for their brown sugar this
summer. That would make it worth while to go to a better but more
expensive place, and have in a larger stock; and Grace went on reckoning
the risk all the time, and wondering whether the going to the working
parties would secure the ladies' custom. In that case the time would not
be wasted. It did not come into Grace's head whether what she had
thought of for the service of God she might be turning to the service of
Mammon, if she only just endured it for the sake of standing well with
the gentry. But then, was it not her duty to consider her shop and her
mother's interest?

She was quite vexed and angry when she saw Jessie go and fetch the big
Family Bible that evening, turning off the whole pile of lesson-books to
which it formed the base.

"Now what can you be doing that for?" she said sharply.

"I want to prepare my lesson for to-morrow," said Jessie.

"And is not a little Bible good enough for you, without upsetting the
whole table?"

"My Bible has got no references," said Jessie.

"And what do little children like that want of references? If you are to
be turning the house upside down and wasting time like that over
preparing as you call it, I don't know as ma will let you undertake
it."

"I have ironed all the collars and cuffs, Grace," said Jessie; "yes, and
looked over the stockings."

Grace had no more to say; she knew Jessie had wonderful eyes for a
ladder or a hole; but it worried her and gave her a sense of disrespect
that the pyramid which surmounted the big Bible should be interfered
with, or that the Book itself should have its repose interfered with
"for a pack of dirty children," when it had never been opened before
except to register christenings, or to be spread out and read when some
near relation died, as part of the mourning ceremony.

It really made her feel as if something unfortunate had happened to see
the large print pages on the little round table, and her sister peering
into the references and looking them out in her own little Bible, then
diligently marking them.

Her mother, too, asked what Jessie was about, and though she did not
say anything against her employment, their looking on, and the
expression on Grace's face, worried Jessie so much that she could not
think, and only put a slip of paper into her own book at each she found.
The chapter she had chosen was the Parable of the Sower, on which she
had once heard a sermon. She was amazed to find how many parallel
passages there were, and how beautifully they explained one another when
she made time for comparing them on Sunday morning. She saw herself
beforehand expounding them to the children, and winning their hearts, as
her friend in the hospital had described, and she was quite ready in her
neat black silk and fur jacket, with a little blue velvet hat, when Amy
Lee came to call for her, in her grey merino, black cloth coat, and
little hat to match.

They met Miss Manners at the school door, and were pleasantly greeted,
and taken into the large cheerful room, all hung round with maps and
pictures, where the classes were assembling, and one or two of the other
teachers had come.

The bell was heard ringing, and while the children trooped in, Miss
Manners showed Jessie a chair with some books laid open upon it, the
class register on the top, and said:

"I am sorry there has not been time to talk over your work this week;
but I have laid out the books for you, and if you are in any difficulty
come and ask me."

By this time the children had come in and taken their places, and Jessie
was pleased to see that her class was of children of eight or nine years
old--not such little ones as Amy had threatened her with. Miss Manners
went to the harmonium and gave out a Sunday morning hymn, which was very
sweetly sung, and then she read prayers, everybody kneeling, and making
the responses, so that Jessie enjoyed it greatly, and felt quite
refreshed by the prayer for a blessing on the teachers and the taught.
Then Miss Manners told the eight little girls who stood in a row that
Miss Hollis would teach them, and she hoped they would be very good and
steady and obedient, and say their lessons perfectly.

Jessie knew all but two who came from the other end of the parish, and
were not customers of her mother--at least she knew what families they
belonged to, and had only to learn their Christian names from her list.

"Collect, please teacher," said the first girl, Susan Bray, very much in
the voice in which she would have said "Candles, please miss," in the
shop.

The Prayer-book was uppermost, and Jessie found she had to hear the
Collect for the day repeated by five perfectly, by two rather badly, and
one broke down altogether. The question-book lay open under it. Some of
the questions were very easy, but of others Jessie was not sure that the
children were right when they replied to some quite glibly, and she was
not sure how to help them in others.

Then followed the opening of books again. Jessie was longing to give out
all she had to say about the Sower, and began bidding them turn to it in
St. Matthew, but Susan Bray stopped her most decisively. "Oh! please
teacher, we've done that ever so long ago. We always reads the Gospel
for the day, and here's the question-book, and it's got answers." And
she thrust it right under the nose of Jessie, who by this time did not
quite love Miss Susan Bray. She had plainly been sharp enough to see
when her teacher was at fault.

The children read the Gospel for the day. It was Refreshing Sunday, so
it was not a difficult one; the children were ready with the answers
till the application came, and then Jessie had again to help them, which
she did by reading the printed answers and making them repeat them after
her, word for word. While she was doing this with Mary Smithers, who
certainly was dulness itself, at one end of the class, there was a
whispering at the other, and she saw two children trying on each other's
gloves, and she quickly put an end to that, and went on with another
question and answer. The moment her eye was off Susan Bray and Lily
Bell, however, they began comparing some gay cards. Jessie turned on
them: "You are playing with those things. Give them to me."

Lily Bell began to cry, and Susan pertly said, "It's our markers,
teacher."

"I don't care. I won't have you idle. Give them to me, this instant."

Just then the church bell began to ring, and there was a general
moving; but Jessie would not be beaten, and caused the two cards to be
given up to her. The girls both cried with all their might while she was
marking the class down, and, as they no doubt intended, Miss Manners
came to see what was the matter.

"Please, ma'am, teacher has taken away our markers, and we shan't know
where our Psalms is."

"They were playing with them," said Jessie.

"We wasn't. We was finding our Psalms," said Susan.

"You should not have done so while Miss Hollis was teaching," said Miss
Manners. "I hope, if she is good enough to give them back to you, that
you will attend better in the afternoon."

Jessie felt it all a little flat and disappointing, all the more so that
Amy Lee joined her, and talked all the way to church about the
children, who had all passed through her hands when she was a pupil
teacher, telling all their little tiresome ways. It seemed to rub off
all the gloss, and to change her scheme of feeding the young lambs for
the Great Shepherd's sake into a mere struggle with tiresome, fidgety
children.

Still her hopes and her spirits rose again at church. She had her
expounding of the Sower on her mind, and hoped yet to deliver it when
she went to afternoon school; but there proved to be the Catechism and a
whole set of hymns to be said, and questions to be asked about them.
These questions did not come very readily to such an unpractised tongue
as hers, and she thought she could lead off into the discourse she had
thought out over the Bible. But she had hardly gone through twenty words
before she saw a squabble going on between Lily Bell and Mary Smithers,
and she had no sooner separated them, and taken up the thread of her
discourse about grace being sown and watered in our hearts, than Susan
Bray popped up up with "Please, teacher, it's time to read to us--Its
_Miss Angelina_," pointing to a little gay story-book.

"You should not be rude, and interrupt," said Jessie; whereupon Susan
pouted, the two idlest began to play with each other's fingers, and, as
soon as she paused to take breath, Lily Bell jumped up, and brought her
the book open.

She had to give up the point, and begin to read something that did not
seem to her nearly so improving as her own discourse, as it was all
about a doll left behind upon a heath; but the children listened to it
eagerly.

Was this all the good she was to do by sacrificing all her time on
Sunday? Like Grace, she felt much inclined to give it up, and all the
more when Florence Cray came into the work-room the next morning,
laughing and saying--

"Well, the impudence of some folk! There was that there little Bray! I
hear that she should say that Miss Hollis was put to teach her, and she
warn't agoing to care for one as wasn't a lady."

"I can make her mind me fast enough," said Amy.

"O, you are bred to be a teacher," said Florence; "that doesn't count.
Nobody else should trouble themselves with the tiresome little
ungrateful things. I'm sure I wouldn't; but then I don't set up for
goodness, nor want to be thought better than other folk."

Jessie had known that something of this kind would be said, and was
prepared for it; but the child's speech vexed her sorely. However, she
said--

"I'm not going to be beat by a chit like that," and at that moment Miss
Lee came in, and that kind of chatter ceased.

But Jessie's cheeks burned over her work, and she thought how foolish
she had been to let her fancy for doing good, and trying to live up to
the sermon, lead her where she was allowed to do nothing, but get
herself teased and insulted, right and left.

Should she give up? That would look so silly. Yes, but would it not
serve Miss Manners right for giving her such stupid, unspiritual kind of
teaching to do, and also serve the children right for their pertness and
ingratitude?

No, she could not give up in this way. She had begun, and she must go
on, at least till she had some reason for giving up respectably and
civilly--only she wished she had known how unlike it was to what she had
expected before she had undertaken it!

Then she was sensible of a certain odd, uppish, self-asserting feeling
within her. She used to have it in old times, but she had learnt to
distrust it, and to know that it generally came when she was in a bad
way.

Was she thinking of pleasing herself, or of offering a little work to
please God, and try to let the good seed turn to good fruit? Ah! but was
it all a mistake? Was becoming a mark for Susan Bray to worry, doing any
good at all?



CHAPTER IV.

TEACHER AMY.


IT was a pleasant sight for Amy when poor little Edwin Smithers's pale
face brightened up, as she opened his door.

He was not like the rough little monkey she had known at the infant
school, who had only seemed to want to learn as little, and to play as
many tricks, as he could. In the hospital, the attention kind people had
paid him had quickened up his understanding, and mended his manners. He
had been petted and amused there, and the being left alone in the dull
cottage was a sad trial to him. His mother had regular work, and so had
his elder brother, but this kept them out all day from eight till five,
except that Mrs. Smithers kept Friday to do her own washing in. She was
obliged to be away even at dinner time, as her work lay far from home,
and she gave her next-door neighbour, Mrs. Rowe, a shilling a week to
keep up the fire, look in on the sick boy, and give him his dinner.

She was unlucky in her neighbour. Many women would have gladly given far
more kind service for no pay at all, but they were too far off, and Mrs.
Rowe made it a rule to "do nothing for nothing."

His brother and sisters came in for a little while at twelve, their
dinner time, but they wanted to go out to play, and had no notion of
amusing him; indeed he was glad when they went away; Charlie clumped
about so, and made such a noise, and little Jenny would take away his
picture books or the toys that had been given him in the hospital.

Then Polly would call her a naughty girl, and snatch them from her, and
so his little wooden horse lost its head, and his railway train was
uncoupled, and one wheel pulled off; and when old Mrs. Rowe found him
crying, all she said was, "Dear! dear! don't ye fret now, don't ye!" and
when that did not make him stop crying, she said he was a bad boy to
make such a work about nothing. When she was a girl, nobody had frail
trade like that, all painted and gaudy, to play with; a bit of an
oyster-shell or a crab's claw was enow for them. He had got into such a
caddle as never was too!

So she began to shake up his couch, not in the least guessing how she
was hurting and jarring his poor hip; and when he cried out and tried to
drive her away, she thought it was all naughtiness, and declared that he
was such a bad boy that she should go away and leave him to himself.

The Lees dined at one, and work did not begin till two; so Amy had a
good half-hour to spend on the little boy before she was wanted again.

"Going to see Ted, be ye?" said Mrs. Rowe, as she stood at her door,
while Amy opened the wicket. "A proper fractious little to-äd he be,
upon my word an' honour! They do spile children in them hospitals, so as
one can't do nothing with 'em."

Amy looked at Mrs. Rowe, a very clean woman, but with a face and fists
that looked as if they had been cut out of the toughest part of an old
pollard ash, and a mouth that shut up like the snap of a gin. "Poor
little fellow!" said Amy, and in she went.

She was on her knees at once by the poor little boy, coaxing him and
comforting him, and feeding him with some of the stew that Aunt
Charlotte had kept warm for him. Then he told how Polly had taken away
his horse and his train and broken them. Amy looked about, and
presently found the wheel. A little hooking together was all the repair
the train wanted, and Edwin was soon happy with it; while, as to the
horse, he was past Amy's present mending, but she would take it home,
and next time father had out the glue-pot she would put on the head.

Then Amy brought out a little book with the early Bible history in
pictures. She showed Edwin one every day when she came, and told him
about it whenever he did not know the story before, or helped him to
enter a little more into it. She was surprised sometimes to find that he
had carried notions away from school even when she had thought him only
dull and giddy. Then he was pleased to say over the hymns he had learnt
in the infant school, and to talk a little about it. Amy was quite
surprised to find how his mind had grown since he had been ill, and how
pleased he was to be taught a little verse of prayer to say when he was
in pain.

She made him quite comfortable, filled up his mug of water, which the
other children had upset, put some primroses in a cup where he could
look at them, wrote a copy on his slate, and ruled some lines, caught
the cat and put her before him, found the place in his easy story-book,
and left him with a kiss, promising to come again to-morrow.

It was very pleasant to be the bright spot in that poor little life; and
Amy that afternoon stitched into little Miss Hilda's tucks, to the whirr
of her machine, a whole pensive castle in the air about the dear little
fellow who was not long for this world, and whose pillow was cheered and
his soul trained for Paradise by his dear teacher, who came day by day
to lead him in the path to Heaven. The tears came into her eyes at the
thought of how beautiful and touching it would all be--how she would
lay a wreath of white roses on his coffin, and----

"What are you winking about, Amy? Go nearer the window if you want more
light," said Aunt Rose, in a brisk, business-like voice, not at all like
her dreams.

Amy was glad to move, feeling a little ashamed of being detected in
crying beforehand about her own good works; and as she approached the
window, she looked out over the lemon-plant and exclaimed--"There's Miss
Manners!"

Miss Manners was really coming into the shop, and her little Skye
terrier was already running on into the work-room, for he was great
friends with Amy; he sniffed about, sat up, and gave his paw, and let
her show off his tricks while his mistress was talking to Aunt
Charlotte.

Then she came on, nodded kindly a little greeting to each as they all
rose, and said that she had been thinking that it would be a good thing
for all the teachers to meet for half an hour before evensong on Fridays
and look over their Sunday work together, so as to make it chime
together. She said she found it was done at Ellerby, and was very
helpful to all; and perhaps, when he had time, Mr. Somers would come in
and help them. If they looked over the subjects beforehand, they could
note the difficulties, and then she could refer to books, or ask Mr.
Somers.

Amy and Jessie both uttered some thanks, and Aunt Rose observed that it
was very kind in Miss Dora, and that it would be very nice for the
girls. Florence did not speak, but they saw her face and the gesture of
her foot, and when Miss Lee walked out with the lady through the garden,
Florence broke out--

"Well, how fond some folks are of being put to school, to be sure!"

"'Tisn't school," said Amy, "it is reading with Miss Manners in her
drawing-room."

"O yes; she makes you think yourselves ladies just to keep on grinding
you at the teaching for ever; but I likes my fun when my work's done. I
don't wonder at Amy Lee--she knows nothing better than sitting poked up
and prim in Miss Manners's room; but for you, Jessie Hollis, who have
seen a bit of the world, I should have thought you'd have more spirit
than not even to be let to teach half a dozen dirty children without
having your instructions."

Here Miss Lee returned, and Florence applied herself to tacking in the
lining again, while Jessie muttered to herself, "If I'm to teach them at
all, I'd rather do it properly."

Jessie really wished it. Perhaps the notion of seeing the inside of Miss
Manners's drawing-room made it doubly pleasant, for Jessie had eyes that
really could not help taking note of everything, though there was no
harm in that when she kept them in due control. She had been in the
dining-room before, and she hoped much that the class would be in the
other room, though she was half ashamed of caring.

Grace came home better satisfied on Tuesday, because her patterns had
been much appreciated, though she still said the reading worrited her,
and Naomi Norris gave herself airs.

Jessie and Amy, however, went together on Friday, and found Margaret
Roller, the pupil teacher, and Miss Pemberton, an elderly farmer's
daughter, who always taught the little ones on Sunday, were ready there,
and in the drawing-room.

How pretty it was, with fresh delicate soft pink and white cretonne
covers, and curtains worked with--was it really a series of old nursery
tales? And coloured tiles, with Æsop's fables round the fireplace,
pictures, books, and pretty things that all looked as if they had a
history. Jessie's bright eyes took note of all in a flash, and then she
tried to command them. Miss Manners gave them all their greeting,
settled them all comfortably, and then began by reading to them a short
paper in a little book upon the spirit of the whole Sunday, asking them
in turn to look out and read the texts referred to, which Margaret and
Amy did with a rapidity that astonished Jessie.

Once she lost the thread in wondering what was looking out of a
half-opened basket; but she caught herself up, and found that there was
infinitely more connection and meaning in the passages appointed for the
Sunday than she had ever guessed.

Then Miss Manners asked whether they had any questions to ask; Margaret
had one or two, which sounded very hard to Jessie, and she would never
have thought of. It was the Fifth Sunday in Lent for which they were
preparing, and they were respecting the unusually long and difficult
Gospel for the day. Margaret wanted to know whether the words "By whom
do your sons cast them out?" really meant that devils were actually cast
out by the Jews. Miss Manners thought they were, and she looked out, and
showed Margaret, a very curious account of the seal and sacred words of
exorcism which were supposed to come from Solomon; but she advised the
teachers not to dwell much on this branch of the subject, but to draw
out most the portion about the strong man armed, and the warning against
the return of Satan to the soul whence he had been once driven out.

Then Jessie observed that she had not thought such things happened in
these days, and Miss Manners had to explain to her how the possession
then permitted was here treated as an allegory to all times, of the
evil once cast off returning again if not resolutely excluded by prayer
and a strong purpose blessed by the grace of God.

It soon became plain to Jessie that she was ignorant of much which the
others knew quite well, and when the Church bell began to chime, and all
rose to go, she obtained a moment in which to say, with something like a
tear in her eye--

"Indeed, Miss Manners, I ought not to have undertaken it. I see I am not
fit to teach."

"I do not think you can tell without a longer trial," was the answer,
kindly given.

"But I am so ignorant!" said Jessie. "There is so much in these things
that I never thought of, and the others seem to know all about it."

"It has been their regular Sunday school round for years," said Miss
Manners, "so it would be strange if they did not. But perhaps you will
do all the better for coming to it fresh; and I am sure you are willing
to take pains and prepare."

"Yes," said Jessie, slowly, "if----You'll excuse me, Miss Manners,
but----"

"Please say it, Jessie," said the lady; "or shall I say it for you? This
asking idle children very simple questions does not seem to you to be
spiritual enough to be doing much good?"

"Yes, ma'am, if you will excuse me. I thought there was to be more
expounding of Scripture."

"We must do what we can to get the children to attend to," said Miss
Manners. "Even if we could get them to sit still while we expounded, I
am afraid they would not attend or take in what we said. Nothing is of
use with such young things but keeping them on the alert with
questions, and trying to keep up their attention by being alive with
them ourselves. We must try to put into them the sense of God's love to
them, of their own duty, and so on; but rather by the tone of our
questions about the lessons they learn than by discoursing long to them.
You can only fill a little narrow-mouthed pitcher with a few drops at a
time put right in. If you pour a great stream over it, most will splash
over, and very little go in. I am afraid the children were tiresome last
Sunday. It is their nature always to try their strength with a new
teacher; but if you are firm and gentle, and show them that you _will_
be minded, and keep them interested, they will soon be manageable. Then,
Jessie, there is good hope that you may be sowing good seed, though you
and I may not always see the fruit here, and it is nearly sure to be
long before we can even trace the green blade."



CHAPTER V.

THE TROUSSEAU.


MISS MANNERS'S words stayed with Jessie. She had plenty of sense and
spirit, as well as a real wish to do right, and a yearning to spread the
great Light round her. To be sure, the going to some mission in a
dreadfully ignorant and wicked place would have seemed more like a good
work than just taking a class who would be taught and cared for even
without her help.

But she could see that if she could not keep these tidy little trained
children in order, she would not have much chance with the street Arabs
she had read of.

She got on much better the next Sunday. She kept the children interested
almost all the time, all except the two lowest, who were determined to
chatter till she made one stand on each side of her, and then one of
them, Emma Lott, chose to howl till Miss Manners came to see what was
the matter; but she did not get much by that, for she was only told that
she was very naughty not to mind Miss Hollis, and desired to stop crying
directly, which she did; and then Miss Manners asked Miss Hollis to be
so kind as not to take away her ticket, if she would try to behave well
for the rest of the day.

Once more Lily Bell was so kind as to inform "teacher" that Susan said
"she didn't care, not for she." To which Jessie coolly answered that she
hoped Susan would soon learn to care for being a good girl, taking care
not to look the least mortified, so that the information fell very
flat. After that she had no more trouble with sauciness from the
children; she began to find that Susan was clever and bright, and that
Kate May and Lucy Elwood were very nice little maidens, who seemed to
care to be good. They brought her flowers, told her funny little bits of
news about baby beginning to walk, and mother going to Ellerby, and she
found the time spent at school a very pleasant part of her Sunday; while
as to the hours of preparation with Miss Manners, she enjoyed them so
much that it was quite a blank if that lady had any engagement to
prevent her from receiving her little party of teachers.

Jessie found herself learning much more than she taught. Her quick
nature could not but look into everything thoroughly, and when she had
been once shown how to throw all her mind as well as her soul into the
study of the Bible and Prayer-book, she found ever new delight in them.
She began to find it helped her to pray with her understanding, as well
as with her spirit at Church; to care more for her prayers at home, and
to feel more on the times of the Holy Communion. She made her last
year's hat serve again with a fresh tulle trimming, that she might buy
herself a "Teacher's Bible," and not worry her mother and Grace any more
by disturbing the big one, since they thought it honouring such a Bible
to let it alone.

Mrs. Hollis did read the Psalms and one Lesson every day. She said she
had once promised Amy Lee, aunt to the present Amy, and she had hardly
ever missed doing so.

But Grace had not time. Just after Whitsuntide the daughter of a very
rich farmer in the neighbourhood was engaged to be married, and wanted a
quantity of fine work to be done for her, making underlinen and
embroidering marks to handkerchiefs.

She came with her mother to offer the work to Miss Lee, giving six weeks
for it, but it was more than Aunt Rose thought right to undertake in the
time. She said she could not get it done without disappointing several
persons, and that she was very sorry, but that she could only undertake
two sets of the things in the time.

Mrs. Robson, the mother, was vexed and half angry. She said she hated
common shop-work, and ready-made things, and she had taken a fancy to
what she had seen of Miss Lee's work. She even offered to increase the
payment, but Rose Lee stood firm. She said there was no one at hand whom
she could hire and entrust with such work, and that she could not feel
it right to undertake it, as it would only lead to breaking her
engagements.

"O, very well; I see you don't care to oblige me," said the lady,
twirling off with her very tight skirts, and whisking up a train like a
fish's tail. "No, I will not break the set. I am not accustomed to
refusals."

And off the two ladies drove, and Jessie told the story at home with a
great deal of spirit.

"Now that's just like Rose Lee," said Grace. "She won't make a bit of
exertion for her own good!"

"Well," said Jessie, "you know we should have to work awfully hard if
she took it in hand."

"I suppose she would have paid you for extra hours," said Grace sharply.

"Miss Rose said it was the way to ruin a girl's health to set her to do
such a lot of work," said Jessie.

"And quite right too," put in her mother. "I knew a girl who was
apprenticed to a dressmaker, and sat up five nights when they had two
black jobs one after the other, and that girl's eyes never was the same
again!"

"Besides," added Jessie, "there's so much in hand."

"Well, it might not do to offend Mrs. or Miss Manners, but--"

"O, it is not that! The children's things were sent home yesterday. I
wish you could have seen them, they were loves; and Miss Manners has got
a new dress from London. She let Miss Lee see it, and take the pattern
of the trimming. No, but Mrs. Drew has sent her Swiss cambric to be made
up for Miss Alice, and Miss Pemberton has a new carmelite to be
finished, and there are some dresses for the maids at the hall, all
promised by Midsummer day."

"Pooh! Customers like that can wait."

"I don't see that it is a bit more right to disappoint them than any one
else," said Jessie sturdily.

"Old Miss Pemberton, to be compared with a lady like that!" exclaimed
Grace.

"It doesn't make much odds as to right or wrong," said Jessie, "but I
don't think Mrs. Robson is much of a lady, to judge by the way she gave
her orders and flounced off in a huff."

"A lady," said Mrs. Hollis, contemptuously, "I should think not. Why,
her father kept the 'White Feathers' at Ellerby; and Robson, he rose up
just by speculations, as they call them; but I've seen him a little
greengrocer's errand-boy, with a face like a dirty potato."

"They can pay, any way," said Grace. "Folks say Robson could buy out our
squire, ay, and my lord himself, if he chose."

"And I'm sure," said Jessie, "she and her daughter had clothes on that
must cost forty or fifty pounds apiece. Such a fur cloak, lined with
ermine; and the young lady's jacket was sealskin, trimmed ever so deep
with sable, and a hummingbird in her hat. They say little Miss Hilda saw
her and cried for pity of the poor dear little bird."

"Well, I'll tell you what," said Grace, "I'll set off this minute to
Newcome Park, and see if I can't get the work, or at least some of it.
You and I can do plain work as well any day as Rose Lee, Jessie."

"Yes," said Jessie, "but I have my time at Miss Lee's all the same."

"Of course, child; but there are the evenings, and I can sit to it while
mother minds the shop."

"Don't undertake more than you can manage, Grace," said Mrs. Hollis.

"Trust me for that, mother. You can wash up, Jessie; I can get there
before they go to dress for dinner. It is a capital thing! It will just
make up for that bad debt of Long's, and help us to get in a real
genteel stock of summer goods."

Grace managed the house, and her mother, who durst not say a word when
she was set on a thing; and as to Jessie, her sister always treated her
as a rather naughty, idle child.

The girl had struggled hotly against this, but it had always ended in
getting into such a temper, and saying such fierce and violent things,
that she had been much grieved and ashamed of herself, and now felt it
better to let Grace have her way than to get into a dispute which was
sure to make her do wrong.

But when Grace, as neat as a new pin, had tripped out of the house, Mrs.
Hollis and Jessie looked at one another, as if they had a pretty severe
task set them.

"Well, I think we could have managed without," said Mrs. Hollis, "but to
be sure it is as well to be on the safe side; though I'd rather be
without the money than be at all the trouble and hurry this work will
be!"

"I am sure I had," said Jessie. "I wish I had said nothing about it.
Grace can't bear to hear of anything going that she has not got."

"Any way," said Mrs. Hollis, "you shall not be put upon, Jessie, after
all your work at Miss Lee's. You shall not be made to sit at your needle
all the evening. It is not good for your health, and so I shall tell
Grace."

Jessie thanked her mother, but had little hope that she would be able to
hold out against one so determined as her sister. Neither mother nor
daughter would have broken her heart if Grace's application had come too
late, but no such thing! It had been dark about an hour when she was
driven up to the door in a dog-cart, out of which huge rolls of linen
were lifted, enough, as it seemed, to stock the shop. Grace shook hands
with the smart groom who had driven her, thanked him, and came in in
high spirits.

Mrs. Robson had been most gracious! She said she had feared being
obliged to put up with mere warehouse work, and that she could not bear;
but country people were so lazy and disobliging. It was not what she was
used to.

Grace had been taken up into the young lady's own room, and oh! what she
had to tell about tall cheval glasses, and ivory-backed brushes, and
rose-coloured curtains, and marble-topped washhand-stands, and a bed and
wardrobe of inlaid wood, with beautiful birds and flowers, and
gold-topped bottles and boxes, and downy chairs! The description was
enough to last a week, and indeed it did, for fresh details came out
continually. It almost made Jessie jealous for Miss Manners. Once when
she had been caught in a sudden shower and arrived wet through she had
been taken up to Miss Manners's bed-room to take off her boots and put
on slippers.

And there was only a plain little iron bed, uncurtained, and the floor
was bare except for rugs at the hearth and bed-side, and the furniture
was nothing but white dimity. The chimney ornaments and the
washhand-stand looked like those in a nursery--as indeed they well
might, for they had belonged to Miss Dora nearly all her life; they all
had stories belonging to them, were keepsakes from dear friends, and she
would not have given one, no, not the shell cat with an ear off, nor the
little picture made of coloured sand, for Miss Robson's finest gilded
box, unless indeed that had come in the same way.

And there were two prints on the walls, very grave and beautiful, which
made one feel like being in Church, and so did the illuminated texts,
though all were not equally well done, some being painted by her little
nieces. Jessie had a feeling in her mind that there was something finer
and nobler in not making one's own nest so very splendid and luxurious,
but she knew Grace would laugh at the notion, so she said nothing of
the difference, while her mother said, "Dear, dear!" and "Think of
that!" at each new bit of magnificence she heard of.

Grace had her patterns and materials, and the fineness of them, and
beauty of the lace provided for the trimming, were quite delightful to
look at.

The payment was to be very handsome, and Grace felt secure of carrying
through the work in time, with the help of her mother and sister.

"You shall have your share, Jessie," she said. "See, here are some sweet
French cambric handkerchiefs to be marked in embroidery. 'I have a
sister who can embroider beautifully,' says I, and they just jumped at
it. 'Nina' is the name to be worked in the corners."

"Oh, I like embroidery," cried Jessie. "Thank you, Grace."

"There's six dozen," said Grace, "and you'll be able to do one a day.
Four pence a letter. Why it will be quite a little fortune to you," said
Grace, overpowered with her own generosity; and Jessie on her side
thought of the many things 4_l._ 16_s._ would do for her.



CHAPTER VI.

STITCH, STITCH, STITCH.


IT must be confessed that Mrs. Hollis and Jessie had a hard time of it
while those wedding clothes were being made!

There was no time for anything, certainly not for cooking. They ate the
cold Sunday joint as long as it lasted, and lived the rest of the week
on bread and cheese, and Australian meat now and then.

Grace got up before four every morning, and there was not much peace in
bed for any one after that.

Of course the shop had to be minded, and that Mrs. Hollis did, but she
was expected to be at her needle at every spare moment; and for the
needful cleaning and rougher work, Grace got a woman for a couple of
hours who came cheap, because she did not bear a very good character.
Mrs. Hollis did not much like having her about, but, as Grace said, one
or other of them always had an eye upon her, and she was only there for
a couple of hours in the morning.

It was lucky kettles could boil themselves, or there might not even have
been tea, and as to going to Mrs. Somers's working parties, Grace
declared it to be impossible.

"I've got something else to do," she said, decidedly. "The lady can't
expect me to stand in my own light."

And when she saw Jessie on Friday evening put away her work and fetch
her hat and books, she cried out against such idling, and said it must
be given up.

"No," said Jessie. "I can't give up my Church and my preparation with
Miss Manners."

"Nonsense! You see I've given up my working party."

"Yes; but I can't give up mine," said Jessie. "Oh, Grace, we thought so
much about trying to do what we could."

"And so I am!" said Grace. "No one can say I am not doing my duty to my
family, and that's better than throwing away my time on a lot of
beggarly folk that don't deserve nothing. And you ought to know better,
Jessie."

"I must have my lesson prepared," said she in return.

"As if you couldn't teach that there Bell girl without going to read
with Miss Manners first! You'll never have those handkerchiefs done!"

"I did two letters extra this morning," said Jessie.

"Ah, that's very fine, but if you get one of your headaches----"

The sound of that word alarmed Mrs. Hollis. Jessie had had a bad illness
about a year ago, and the mother could not part with her anxiety about
her. In she came, with the tea-cup she was washing in her hand.

"Has Jessie got a headache?" she inquired.

"Oh no, mother, thank you. Grace is only putting a case."

"Yes; I am asking her what she thinks will become of the work if she is
to go and take her pleasure whenever she likes. She talks of working
extra; but supposing she had a headache, she'd be sorry she had thrown
away her time."

"Dear, dear," said Mrs. Hollis; "'tis the very way to make her have a
headache to keep her poor nose to the grindstone. The doctor, he says to
me, 'She've had a shock, and she'll require care, and not to be
overstrained.' And I tell you, Grace, I won't have Jessie put upon, and
kept muzzing over her needle like a blackamoor slave, without a taste of
fresh air. So run away, Jessie, and get your walk."

"Thank you, mother."

And Jessie, who did not feel bound to obey her sister, ran lightly off,
hoping poor mother would not be very fiercely talked at by Grace. She
herself was clear that work undertaken for God's sake should not be
dropped when one's own gain began to clash with it; while Grace, who had
always been held up as the model, helpful good daughter, plainly
thought, "working for one's family," and securing something extra, was
such a reason as to make it a sort of duty to throw over all she had
taken up under the spur of that sermon in the spring. Jessie had no
headache, but she was weary, vexed, and teased, and

          "Stitch, stitch, stitch,
           Seam and gusset and band,"

rang in her ears, so that she specially felt rested and soothed by the
calm and quiet of Miss Manners's pretty room, with the open windows and
the scent of flowers coming in from the garden.

The subject was next Sunday's Gospel, about the Great Supper and the
excuse-making guests. Miss Manners read out part of Archbishop Trench's
comment on the Parable before she talked to the teachers about what they
were to say to their classes; and Jessie felt deeply that to let herself
be engrossed by this undertaking, so as to allow no time for her
religious duties, would be only too like the guests who went "one to his
farm, and another to his merchandise." She was advised to make it a
lesson to her class against false or insufficient excuses, such as
saying they were late at school because mother wanted them to take a
message, when they had dawdled all the way instead of hastening to
school. Miss Manners lent the volume of Miss Edgeworth's _Rosamond_ to
Jessie, to read the chapter on Excuses to her girls, so as to bring home
the lesson, though she was to carry it higher, and put them in mind that
if they put their duties aside for these little things now, they would
be learning to forget their Heavenly Master for earthly matters, and
would never taste of His supper.

It made Jessie doubly and trebly determined that she would not take a
lie-a-bed on Sunday morning to make up for loss of rest before, and thus
miss the early Celebration on her monthly Sunday. Indeed, she felt drawn
to come oftener, if it would not be presuming.

She came home from Church in the summer twilight, when even Grace could
not work, and was standing a moment at the door before lighting the
lamp.

"Well, miss, I hope you have wasted enough daylight," she said.

"I hope it wasn't quite wasted," said Jessie, cheerfully. "I shall work
ever so much quicker for the rest I have had."

And she was as good as her word, and spent an hour in her pleasant
embroidery of the pretty white letters of the name which she really
delighted in doing, only she would have liked a fresh pattern instead of
making all the seventy-two Ninas exactly alike.

She was at work before half-past six the next day, and had three more
letters done before it was time to go to Miss Lee's, where it was a busy
day of finishing work; and when at three o'clock the last stitch was put
to the dress that had been made out of Mrs. Drew's cambric, Miss Lee
asked Jessie to carry it home, suspecting that the walk would be good
for her.

It was rather hot, but Jessie did enjoy the lanes, with their flowery
banks, and the sweet smells of the hay, and she felt much brightened
and refreshed. When she came near the house, she saw some one sitting in
a basket-chair in the porch, and knew that it was Miss Needwood, a poor,
sickly orphan relation of Mrs. Drew's, who was always trying situations
as nursery governess, or reader, or the like, and leaving them because
her health would not serve; and then she had no home to go to but
Chalk-pit Farm. She was not so much above the Hollises as the farmer's
own family, and was always friendly with them. She came to meet Jessie,
shook hands with her, and explained that Mrs. Drew had been summoned to
speak about some poultry, but would return in a moment if Miss Hollis
would sit down.

"Are you stopping here for long?" asked Jessie.

"I don't know," said the poor girl, sadly; "I hoped I was settled in a
nice situation; but my asthma was bad there, and the lady found it out,
and it made her nervous, so here I am again. Mr. Drew, he is kind, and
says I may make myself useful with teaching the children; but oh, dear!
I don't know enough for that."

"I thought you had gone out for a nursery governess."

"Yes"--the tears came in her eyes;--"but I'll never try again. The elder
young ladies made game of my French, and said I didn't spell as well as
the little nursery girl. And it was true, Miss Hollis. I tried being a
sewing-maid last, though Mrs. Drew didn't want folk to know it; but, you
see, I hadn't health for that. They are very good here, and will keep
me; but I am nothing but a burthen. If I could but hear of something to
do--if only to keep me in clothes. I can do fancy-work, if I could get
any."

"Can you embroider?" asked Jessie.

Miss Needwood took out her pocket-handkerchief, where her initials, H.
N., were beautifully worked. Jessie had admired her own work, but this
was much better. It was just such an N as she wanted, and she
exclaimed--

"If you would be so kind as to lend me one of those for a pattern, I
should be so much obliged."

"Do you embroider?" asked Miss Needwood. "I wish you could tell me if
there is any shop at Ellerby or Carchester that would employ me; I
should be so much happier."

Here Mrs. Drew came back, and looked over the dress which was to be sent
to her daughter at her boarding-school, and thanked Jessie, and gave her
the money for Miss Lee.

Miss Needwood had fetched the handkerchief, and Jessie took leave and
walked home, thinking over what shops might possibly employ the poor
girl. What a pity she had not those handkerchiefs to do, and why should
she not do some of them?

Oh, Grace would never consent. Besides, Jessie had spent her 4_l._
16_s._ in fancy already on the Offertory, savings bank, a present for
mother, a pair of spectacles for old Dame Wall, a pretty new dress and
hat for herself. Oh no, she must work on; it was such pretty work, and
Grace would scorn her so if she gave up any part of it.

Jessie came home to find Mrs. Hollis in all the hard work and worry of a
Saturday evening, alone in the shop, with people waiting and getting
cross. She had to hasten behind the counter and help as fast as she
could. It was well that the Lees had given her a cup of tea when she
brought in the money, for there was no quiet for more than an hour, and
then the fire was found to have gone out while Grace was putting in
gathers. Moreover, Jessie saw, with dismay, that the beefsteak-pie,
which was to serve for the morrow, was not even made.

"Oh, I'll do that to-morrow morning," said Grace.

And when Jessie proceeded to tack in her clean collar and cuffs, Grace
called out, raising her hot face from her work, that they might be
pinned in on Sunday morning; it was only waste of time to do so now.

"I don't think that is using Sunday quite well," said Jessie.

"Well, I never heard there was any harm in sticking in a pin of a
Sunday! Come, sit down, do, and don't keep fiddling about. You'll be
behind with those handkerchiefs. Here, mother, you can finish this seam
before dark."

"The place is in such a caddle," said poor Mrs. Hollis, looking ruefully
round at her kitchen, which certainly did not wear at all its usual
Saturday evening's aspect. "That Jenny Simkins, she do so stabble in
and out, she only wants some one to clean after her."

"Oh, well, I'll see to that," said Grace, "when it gets too dark for
work. One must put up with a little for such a chance as this."

Jessie felt that her poor mother was putting up with more than a little,
as she saw her sit down with a sigh and try to thread her needle by the
window. Jessie went across and did it for her, and put back the muslin
blind so as to let in more light; then sat down to finish the "na" of
her sixth Nina, rather wearily, and with an uncomfortable thought that
Miss Needwood's satin-stitch looked better than her own.

Little "n" was done before the twilight tidying, which did not amount to
much, for Grace soon lighted the lamp; but Jessie, in putting up the
shop shutters, made the arm, which had once been crushed, tremble so
much that she could not work without pricking her finger, and Mrs.
Hollis really could not see. So Grace let them both go to bed, and
Jessie half waked to hear her bustling about, and coming up herself just
after the clock struck twelve. She would not have set a stitch on any
account after that!

Jessie was up early enough to light the fire, and set out the breakfast
things, and put on the kettle, while both her mother and Grace were
still in bed. She had a peaceful, happy time then, but otherwise she had
never known such an uncomfortable Sunday.

Mrs. Hollis was down when she came back, but was fretting over the very
large bit that had gone out of the cheese. Jessie thought they had eaten
it for want of meat; her mother suspected Jenny Simkins. Then she had
not been allowed time to copy out her accounts into the book, and there
had been a great puzzle between a three and a five on the slate last
night, which seemed to have been worrying her all night in her dreams;
and the uncleaned look of the house vexed her. She was tired and not
like herself, and Jessie only left her for school and church on hearing
Grace's step on the stairs.

At school she could forget all about it in the interest of teaching, but
the worry returned when her mother's place was empty at the beginning of
the service; and when Mrs. Hollis did come posting in at the end of the
_Venite_, she was so hot and panting that she had to sit down and fan
herself with her pocket-handkerchief all through the Psalms, and Jessie
even feared she might be going to faint.

"Oh dear," Mrs. Hollis mourned, when they came out of church, "she had
never been so upset before, but she had been so put about to get off,
with none of her things ready, and she was _that_ tired and sleepy she
had not heard a word of the sermon. Grace really had undertaken too
much. The house was in such a mess there was no sitting down quiet and
respectable, and there was threepence in the till that would not be
accounted for, and she was sure that the cheese was going too fast." She
fretted all the way home, and Jessie could not comfort her, by promising
to look over the accounts the first thing on Monday.

However, on coming home they found the whole house tidied, dinner laid,
the pie made and just ready to come out of the Dutch oven, and the
accounts balanced and written out fairly. Grace was just finishing the
arraying herself in full Sunday trim outside, but how was it with the
inner Sunday raiment of her heart?

She did nothing but talk about "seam and gusset and band," and how fast
she was getting on, and how good the linen was, and what sort was the
best, till Jessie thought she might almost as well have been sewing all
day as with her thoughts running on nothing else.

When Jessie went to afternoon school, both Mrs. Hollis and Grace were so
tired that the one went to sleep in her chair, and the other on her bed;
and thus Jessie found them on her return.

Poor mother! how weary and worn her face looked after this week of
worry. The sight of it settled Jessie's mind. She went up softly to take
off her things, and as she was doing so, Grace awoke. Jessie went up to
her and showed her Miss Needwood's cipher.

"Bless me! whose is that? It is real genteel," said Grace.

"It is Miss Needwood's at Chalk-pit Farm."

"What! that poor helpless thing that never can keep a situation! Did you
get it for a pattern, Jessie?"

"Yes," said Jessie; "she lent it to me."

"It is beautiful," said Grace, examining it minutely. "You ought to work
like that, Jessie."

"I would if I could," said Jessie, "and I mean to try; but, Grace, I
shall only finish this first dozen. I shall send the other five dozen to
Bessie Needwood. She is in great want of work, and will do them much
better than I."

"Well I never!" cried Grace. "I never thought you'd turn lazy, and give
up what you had undertaken--when I had asked for the handkerchiefs on
purpose for you, because I thought a little pocket money would come in
convenient!"

"So it would. It was very kind of you, Grace; but Miss Needwood will do
them better than I."

"Not than you if you chose to take the pains and trouble."

"No," said Jessie, "if I don't hurry them too quick to try to do those
finest stitches, I sha'n't have time to do them at all, in these after
hours of mine."

"Well, that you should choose to confess yourself not able to do as well
as a poor dozing thing like that! It's all laziness."

"No, that it is not," said Jessie, rather hotly. "I thought if those
were off my hands I could help you, and then mother need not have any of
this work to do, or be so driven and put about."

"You don't expect to be paid for any part of mother's work," said Grace,
with some sharpness. "I've got my own use for that in the business."

"No, I don't!" and Jessie went suddenly off in a little bit of temper
for which she was sorry afterwards, wishing she had said that her real
reason--besides the helping Miss Needwood--was the hope to save her
mother from being over driven, and not to have another Sunday so
cumbered with worldly matters.

Grace came down to tea grumbling, and appealing to her mother about
Jessie's laziness; and Mrs. Hollis, for whose sake the girl had resigned
five-sixths of her hoped-for gain, was inclined to be vexed at any of
the work going out of the family, or her Jessie allowing herself to be
beaten.

It was very vexatious, and Jessie was glad when Uncle Andrew dropped in
to tea, and to change the current of their thoughts.

She was to stay at home to guard the house while the others went to
evensong, and this gave her the quiet opportunity of packing up five
dozen handkerchiefs, and writing a note to send with them to Bessie
Needwood the first thing in the morning, by any child who came early to
the shop.

Then she felt much more at ease, and was able to have a comfortable
study of her next Sunday's Gospel and its references, in case she should
be too busy on the week days; and so she was peaceful and refreshed, and
able to enjoy a quiet little wander in the twilight garden with her
hymn-book. This lasted till the others came home, brim full of reports
they had picked up about the splendour of the coming wedding. The
gentleman, Mr. Holdaway, was staying at Newcorn Park, and, what was
more, he had sent his horses and grooms down to the Manners Arms,
because the stables at the Chequers were not well kept.

The head groom had actually been at Church, and looked quite the
gentleman, though to be sure he did stare about wonderfully.

Mrs. Hollis shook her head, and said no good came of that sort of folk.



CHAPTER VII.

WANDERING EYES.


"I ASSURE you he said he had never seen a place with more pretty young
ladies in it."

"Who?" said Jessie, coming suddenly into the light closet of the
work-room, where Florence Cray was taking off her hat, and Amy Lee
seemed to be helping her.

"Why, Mr. Wingfield, Mr. Holdaway's head groom, who has come over with
another man and a boy, and three of the loveliest horses you ever did
see."

"Oh, yes, I heard," said Jessie; "and how he stared about at Church! He
ought to be ashamed of himself."

"Oh! that's what Grace says, of course," said Florence; "and she's a
regular old maid. She needn't fear that he'll stare at her."

Wherewith both Florence and Amy giggled, and before Jessie's hot answer
was out of her mouth, one of the aunts called out--

"Girls, girls, what are you doing? No gossiping there."

Florence came out looking cross, and observing in a marked manner that
Miss Fuller, at Ellerby, always spoke of her young ladies.

"I like using right names," said Aunt Rose in her decided voice.

Florence was silenced for the time, but at the dinner hour she contrived
to get Amy alone. Jessie was in haste to get home to see if there were
an answer from Miss Needwood, and also to try to get enough sewing done
to pacify Grace, and purchase a little leisure for her mother. And
Florence, instead of going home, stood with Amy, who had sauntered into
the garden to refresh herself and gather some parsley.

"I assure you, Amy, he was quite struck. He said yours was such a style
that he would hardly believe me when I said you belonged to Mr. Lee, the
baker. It was the refinement, he said."

"Nonsense, Florence; don't," said Amy, blushing as crimson as the rose
she tried to gather.

"I'm not talking nonsense; I never did see a poor man so smitten."

"Now, Florence, you shouldn't say such things; father and aunts would
not like it. I shall go in."

"Fathers and aunts are all alike; they never do like such things.
But----"

However, Amy was safe indoors by this time, all in a glow, very much
ashamed that such things should have been said to her, and yet not a
little fluttered and pleased. She had been most carefully brought up
and watched over, and she had come to the age of sixteen without hearing
more about herself than that a young lady, who once came into the school
with Miss Agnes Manners, said something that sounded like lovely, and
was speedily hushed up and silenced.

All the other girls thought the young lady meant Henrietta Coles, who
was tall, with bright dark eyes, red cheeks, and black hair, under a
round comb; but Amy had always been sure that the speaker's eyes were
upon her, though she had been ashamed of the belief, and indeed had
nearly forgotten all about it, till it was stirred up by Florence's
talk.

She went up to her room to smooth her hair before dinner. Yes, it was
very nice light-brown hair, with a golden shine; and her eyes were very
clear and blue, and her skin very white, with a rosy flush; and her
nose was straight, and the shape was a pretty delicate one. Amy really
did think Mr. Wingfield was right, and had better taste than the people
who thought her a poor washy, peaky thing, as she had more than once
heard herself called.

She put her head on one side, smirked a little, half shut her eyes, and
studied herself in different positions, till she heard one of her aunts
on the stairs; and then, in a desperate fright lest she should be
caught, she darted out so fast as to run against Aunt Charlotte coming
up stairs with a basket of clean linen from the wash. There were three
pairs of stockings rolled up on the top, and these tumbled out, and one
pair went hop, hop, from step to step all the way down stairs, just as
Father was coming in, and he caught it up and threw it like a ball
straight up at his sister.

The confusion drove the nonsense out of Amy's head for the present. She
ate her dinner, and then went off as usual for her visit to little Edwin
Smithers, carrying him only a few strawberries, as she knew he always
had soup from the Hall on a Monday.

For Edwin had not died. He had rather grown better than worse, and if
the truth must be told, Amy had begun to get a little tired of him. He
was not a quick child, and in this hot weather he often failed to do the
sums or learn the verses that Amy set him.

To-day he was nursing a great piece of stick-liquorice with which he had
painted a dirty spot on the central face in the picture of the number of
the _Chatterbox_ which she had lent him. She scolded him for it, and he
turned sulky, and would not try to repeat his hymn, nor answer any
questions, and looked at his book as if he had never seen one before.

Amy grew angry, told him he was a naughty boy, and she should not stay
with him nor give him any strawberries; and off she went, carrying away
the injured _Chatterbox_, and never bethinking herself that the hot day
and the weariness of the dull untidy room might not be the cause of the
naughty fit, and whether it would not have been kinder and better to try
to soothe him out of it.

But instead of this she paused to hear Mrs. Rowe declare he was a bad
'un, with a nasty sulky temper that no one could do nothing with, and
just then she saw Florence Cray crossing the village green.

"I've just been to get a little red pepper at Hollis's," she said, as
she put her arm fondly into Amy's. "Mr. Wingfield do like something
tasty for his breakfast, and ma is going to do him some devilled kidneys
to-morrow morning. He is quite the gentleman in all his tastes, you
see! I wanted Jessie to walk back with me, but they are all so terrible
busy over that there wedding order, that she could not come till the
last minute."

"Working all through the dinner hour!" said Amy. "What a shame!"

"So I say. But that Grace Hollis is a one! I wouldn't have her for my
sister. Here, come in, Amy, I must just give mother the pepper."

"No, I can't do that," said Amy, uneasily, for she knew her father would
be displeased if she went into a public-house; though as Florence said,
"Gracious! You needn't go near the bar. It's only the back door! As if I
would ask you to do anything you ought not! But I suppose our house
ain't good enough for you."

"Oh! don't be angry, Florence dear, I'll come some day when I've got
leave."

"Leave indeed, at your age; but you're a poor-spirited thing, Amy, to
be so kept down by a couple of old aunts."

Amy was flurried at the displeasure, and wanted to make it up. "Oh!
don't be offended, Florence. Look here."

"Strawberries! oh my! already! Thank you," and Florence had soon
swallowed up poor little Edwin's strawberries.

"Wait here one moment then," she said, "and I'll be back with you in an
instant."

Amy stood under her parasol, trying to make the most of the small
shelter afforded by Mr. Cray's garden hedge, and recollecting rather
uncomfortably something she had once been told about the loitering of
the disobedient Prophet being what brought him into temptation. But,
having promised to wait, she could not move away, though she had to stay
longer than she liked, especially as the children were going by to
afternoon school, and some of her own class began to stare at her.

However, at last Florence came out, quite excited. "Oh, Amy, if you'll
only wait a minute, you'll see him come out."

"I can't! I can't! Let us go," cried Amy, quite shocked and shy.

"Nonsense! Poor man, he need never see you. He is just going to take the
horses up for his master to ride out with Miss Robson. Such sweet
horses! Mr. Holdaway gave 120 guineas for his. Think of that, Amy! Here
now, come round the corner of the hedge, and he'll never see you."

So Amy followed and peeped, very shy and frightened, like a guilty
thing, and she did see two horses, much more beautiful than she knew,
one ridden by a common-looking groom, the other by a very smart, well
set-up person, with a belt round his waist. That was all she saw, for
they were gone in a flash, and she was too uncomfortable to see much, or
to do more than hurriedly answer Florence's exclamation--

"Ain't he quite the gentleman? Bain't his horses real darlings?" before
Jessie's voice was heard--

"Why, whatever are you two doing here?"

The two girls both giggled, and each pushed the other to make her tell,
and Florence laughed out--

"Oh, 'twas Amy wanted to see Mr. Wingfield pass by."

"No, 'twasn't. 'Twas you," said Amy.

"I don't see why you should get into a corner about it," said Jessie,
rather gravely. "I've just met him straight upon the road, horses and
all."

"O yes, _you_!" said Florence.

"Well, why not me?"

"O, you know, you'll soon be an old maid like your sister."

Jessie had not grown so wise as not to be nettled at this silly
impertinent speech, but she was much more vexed to see that Florence was
teaching Amy her own follies--Amy, who had always seemed like a pure
little innocent wild rose-bud in its modest green leaves. So she
answered, rather shortly--

"If you mean that I don't want to be right down ridiculous, I hope I am
an old maid."

This seemed to be very funny, for Florence went off in fits of laughing,
and kept shouldering Amy to make her see the joke, but Amy had by this
time grown ashamed and frightened and only answered, "Don't."

So the three girls went in together, and no one took any special notice
of Amy's hot face and uncomfortable gestures. It was the first time
since she had been a very little child that she had shrunk from her
aunts' eyes, or feared that they should ask her questions; and the
sense that she had been undeserving of the trust they placed in her made
her very ill at ease, though the silly girl did not do the only thing
that would have set her right again, and made her safer for the future.

Jessie meanwhile had forgotten the little vexation. She had something to
brighten her up in Miss Needwood's little note.

It was written on pink paper, edged with blue, as if nothing could be
too good for Jessie; and it said no words could tell how glad she was,
and what a comfort it was to have this real work to do. "It is really
like a ray of hope in the darkness," said poor Bessie, in her little
thin weak writing, with a very hard steel pen.

But that note warmed up Jessie's heart, although her finger was getting
severely ploughed up with the stitching she had been doing to save her
mother's eyes.

"There was not to be an inch of machine work," Mrs. Robson had said, and
the Hollises were people who fulfilled all they undertook.

But Jessie's hour at home had helped and freshened her mother, who
looked much less worn and worried than she had done the day before.
Jessie felt she had done well to send away the handkerchiefs, and lessen
the burthen Grace had taken upon the family.



CHAPTER VIII.

AMY'S VISITS.


NOBODY could say any great harm of Florence Cray, or she would not have
been bound to Miss Lee.

But she was one of those silly, vulgar-minded girls who think life is
nothing without continually chattering either to young men or about
them. She was in no hurry to be married, for then she knew she must give
up all her lively pastime with the lads around her. Not that she
frequented the bar, or had anything to do with the customers--her mother
kept her carefully from that; but she had plenty of acquaintance, and to
her mind nothing else was so amusing. She was not pretty, and knew it
well enough, but she was very good-natured, and free from jealousy, and
next to diverting herself with some youth, she liked nothing so well as
teasing other girls about them.

She considered Amy Lee quite old enough and pretty enough to have a
young man, and to begin to have some fun, and she thought all the care
taken of the girl by her father and aunts only so much stupid old fidget
and jealousy, which it was fun to baffle and elude. Thus she was a very
dangerous companion for Amy, perhaps more so than a really worse person,
who would have been more shocking and startling to Amy's sense of
modesty and propriety. It was such a new sensation altogether to be
always popping about and peeping to admire the handsome stranger and his
fine horses, and then to whisk giggling out of the way, in terror lest
they had been seen.

It was more amusing than sitting by a fretful boy, trying to make him
read and say hymns, and though conscience was half awake, it was easily
satisfied. And then there was the pleasure of being told that she was
admired--though Amy would not have liked it as well if she had guessed
that Florence used to amuse herself on the other hand by telling Mr.
Wingfield how a certain young lady admired him, and teasing him by
declaring that, "Oh no! she could not tell him who, she should be
nameless. Did he like best fair or dark?"

So time went on, and the needlework with it. Grace Hollis's whole brain
seemed to be turning into thread and cotton, for she was able to think
of nothing else except what she should do with the money, when she got
it; but she did not scold Jessie, as she had been inclined to do at
first, for giving up the handkerchiefs, for she had begun to find that
without her sister's help there would have been no chance of finishing,
without overworking her mother, and neglecting the business of the shop.

Indeed, as it was, when the last week came there was so much still to be
done that she was obliged to ask Miss Needwood to come and help, which
she was very glad to do, when she had finished the handkerchiefs most
delicately and beautifully.

Jessie gave all the time she could. She was glad to have something to
think about, for Miss Manners was from home, so there were no readings
before the Sundays; and her sharp eyes could not help seeing that there
was something underhand going on between Amy and Florence--where she did
not know whether to interfere or not.

She had seen Amy and Florence come hastily round the corner of the lane,
which had a stile into a large shady path field at the back of Mrs.
Smithers's cottage, and Mr. Wingfield hovering about. It did not look
well--and indeed what she would have thought nothing of in such a girl
as Florence was a very different thing in Amy. Then stories that she
disliked were afloat about the man. He was said to be teaching the young
men at the Manners Arms new gambling games, and to be putting them up to
bet on race-horses; and once she heard a very unpleasant laugh about
very good, closely-kept girls being as ready to carry on as other folk.

Once when she asked Amy after little Edwin Smithers, the answer was
rather cross. "Oh! just as usual. He is the most tiresome fractious
child I ever saw!"

"Children are often like that when they are going to be worse," said
Jessie.

"Well," returned Amy, "I've always heard that children are most fretty
and fussy when they are getting better."

"Then I hope he is better."

"O dear yes, of course he is, or he would not be here now," said Amy,
impatiently, and getting very red.

"How does he get on with his reading?"

"There never was such a one for questions as you, Jessie!" cried Amy,
getting quite cross.

And as Jessie knew curiosity to be her failing, and was really trying to
break herself of it, she was silenced.

No doubt Amy was angered because her conscience was very far from being
easy, though she never failed to pop into the Smithers's cottage every
day, sometimes to bring the little dainties her aunts provided,
sometimes to say a few words and begin a lesson with Edwin; but her
heart was not in it, the boy would seldom attend, and often turned away
his face and said "No," or began to cry; whereupon Amy told him he was
very naughty, and marched off, excusing herself by the fact that the
girl Polly was generally in the house, and seemed to be attending to him
much better than she used to do.

No wonder Amy was in a hurry, for Florence was waiting for her outside;
and by and by not only Florence.

It began one windy day when Amy's sunshade flew out of her hand. She ran
after it, as it went dancing along on its spokes over the village green,
jumping up just as she neared it, and whisking off just as if it had
been alive, or like one of those gay butterflies and birds in allegories
that lure the little pilgrims out of the narrow path. Alas! it was only
too much like such a deluder.

For some one came round the corner, caught the wild sunshade, and
restored it to the owner. She was tittering and breathless, she blushed
all over, and never raised her eyes while Mr. Wingfield hoped, in
elegant language, that she had not fatigued herself, and paid a
flattering compliment to the lovely colour with which exercise had
suffused her complexion. This made her giggle and blush all the more.
She did not know whether she liked it or not, poor silly child!

She often "wished he would not;" she was in a dreadful fright whenever
it happened, and yet the day seemed flat and tiresome and not worth
having when he had not joined her and Florence, and walked down the path
below Hornbeam Wood, behind Mrs. Smithers's cottage, with them.

He never said or did anything to startle her. He saw she was a modest,
well-behaved girl, and he knew how to treat such a one. He talked
chiefly about the preparations for the wedding, or made the two simple
country girls stare by wonderful stories of the horses he had ridden and
driven, or by descriptions of the parks and the theatre. Now and then
he was complimentary, but Florence told Amy much more of his admiration
than she ever heard herself. As to letting her father or aunts know of
the acquaintance, Amy was half afraid, half ashamed. One day she heard a
talk between her father and Mr. Nowell, the gardener at the Hall, who
was vexed about an under gardener.

"I shall have to speak to the Squire about him, I am afraid," said Mr.
Nowell; "he don't do his work with half a heart, and instead of spending
his evenings at the club, or at cricket--wholesome and hearty like--he
is always down at Cray's."

"I hear," said Mr. Lee, "the club was never so badly attended."

"They say it is all along of that there smart groom, Wingfield, as they
call him, who is all for gambling games, and putting up our young lads
to betting tricks and the like."

"Ay, ay," said Mr. Lee, "one of them idle, good-for-nothing servants
loafing about at a public will do more harm in a place than you can undo
in a day."

"That's true," added Aunt Rose; "I can't bear the sight of the fellow
lounging about with his little stick, as if he was saying to all the
place, 'Here I am; it's just improvement to you all to see how I switch
my legs.'"

"And he stares so!" added Aunt Charlotte. "Last time Amy and I met him
on the road, I really thought he would have stared the poor child out of
countenance. I had a great mind to have spoken to him, and told him to
mind his manners."

"You are too young and too good-looking to do that sort of thing,
Charlotte," said her brother, laughing. "May be 'twas your aunt he
looked at, so you needn't go as red as a turkey-cock, Amy girl."

"Me, indeed!" said Charlotte, in hot indignation. "I should hope I was
_past_ being stared at by a whipper-snapper monkey like that."

The elders all laughed heartily, and Mr. Nowell said something about
Miss Charlotte being a fine woman of her time of life, which made her
still more angry, and set her brother and sister laughing the more.

Amy squeezed out a weak little giggle, but she was both angered and
frightened. She could never tell her aunts now. What would they say? The
time of the wedding was drawing on; Mr. Wingfield would be going. Little
flutters moved her breast. Would he say any more before he went, or did
she wish it? Florence said he was dying for her. Florence thought he was
a gentleman in disguise, like one she had read about in a novel; but
Amy, though she liked to dream of something sweet and grand years
hence, did not want to be startled by love-making now, or to have the
dreadful disturbance at home there would be if this were more than a
summer acquaintance. How would the aunts look, when they found she had
concealed all this--she who had never hidden anything from them before?

And yet she took the stolen pleasure in trembling every day, and tried
to believe Florence when she said there was no harm in it, that every
one did so, and that young people must be young!



CHAPTER IX.

AWKWARD MEETINGS.


"WELL, to be sure, who would have thought of such a treat! This is a
pleasure indeed! Rose, Rose, whom do you think we have here?"

"How natural it all do look to be sure. There, Ambrose, there's the very
rose tree I have so often told you of."

"Why, mother has described it all so well, I could have found my way
blindfold."

The speaker was a tall, fair-faced young man, looking, in Charlotte
Lee's eyes, like one of the young gentlemen from the university, but
with something grave and deep about his face, and by him stood his
little mother in the neatest of black silk dresses, with something
sweet and childlike about her face still, though there were some
middle-aged lines in it. She had once been the Amy Lee of Langley. She
had married a schoolmaster, Mr. Cuthbert, and this was their only son.
He had distinguished himself in all his examinations, and at the same
time had shown so deep an interest in missions to the heathen, and had
done so much to make the boys of the school care for them, that when
there was a question of choosing a lad as a missionary student, whose
expenses would be paid by subscriptions of the clergy in the diocese, at
the great college of St. Augustine's at Canterbury, the vicar of his
parish had three years ago proposed Ambrose Cuthbert as the fittest
youth he knew. He had just finished his terms at the college, and was on
his way home before going out to Rupertsland, having met his mother at
the house of his father's brother in London. They had found out that an
excursion train would enable them to run down to Langley and spend a few
hours there; and Mrs. Cuthbert, who had always said her son must not
leave England without having seen her old home, her brother and sisters,
was delighted with the opportunity, and here they were, the brother and
the three sisters all together, hardly knowing what they said in their
eager joy.

"And my little Amy, where is she? You have not seen your namesake, Amy,"
said the father, who had come in bare armed and floury.

"She is not come back yet from poor little Teddy's," said Aunt Rose.
"The child goes to teach, and see to, a poor little sick lad in a
cottage every day, Amy. We like her to do such things," she added,
pleased that her sister should see that their child was likewise
something superior in goodness. "Ah! is it you, Jessie? This is Clemmy
Fielding's daughter, Amy. Did you see our Amy as you came along,
Jessie?"

"I will run back and call her," said Jessie, who had seen the top of
Amy's sunshade over the hedge, and in good-natured sympathy wanted to
spare all the shock of discovery.

"No, no," said Miss Rose, "thank you all the same, Jessie, but if you
would not mind sitting down to the machine, I would walk out that way
with my sister, just while my brother is finishing his batch of bread,
and you are getting ready a bit of something to eat, Charlotte. I know,
Amy, you would like just to look round the hill, and see where the
squire's new cottages lie. Wouldn't you?"

Jessie saw there was no help for it. Mrs. Cuthbert was delighted to go
and to show her son her old haunts; but first she spoke very kindly to
Jessie, and inquired for her mother, saying she remembered her well; and
on her side Jessie recollected that her mother always said she owed
more to Mrs. Cuthbert's kindness when she was a little girl than to any
one else.

So off set the two elder sisters and the pleasant looking young man
together. Amy always was late, and Jessie felt one hope, that they might
meet the two girls coming in together. Yet, as she whirred her machine,
she reflected that after all it might be best for Amy in the end that
all this folly and concealment should be put a stop to.

Out they went, talking; Mrs. Cuthbert asking questions, and pointing
everything out to her son, and Aunt Rose delighted to answer.

"We do not hurry the maid," said Aunt Rose, as they drew near. "You see
it is such a blessing to that poor little afflicted child to have her
with him."

Perhaps Rose Lee, who had had her dreams and fancies like other people,
was thinking of the tales where some one looks in at the window and
sees the good young person bending over the sufferer's couch, and
reading good books to him; but it was certainly not Amy whom she saw as
the door stood open. There was the little boy on the old couch under the
window, moaning a little, but it was his sister who was standing by him
with a cup of something, coaxing him with "Now Teddy, do be a good boy,
and drink it, do'ee now."

"Why, Polly," said Aunt Rose, "are you here?"

"Please, Miss Lee," said Polly, in a high squeaky voice of self-defence,
"Our Ted is so bad, I couldn't go to school, not this afternoon."

"And where's Miss Amy? Not gone for the doctor?" asked Rose, seeing
indeed that the poor child looked very ill.

"No, miss," said Polly. "Teacher Amy don't come now for more than a
minute."

"Where is she then?" asked Rose, to whom the world seemed whirling
round; while Ambrose Cuthbert stood at the door, and his mother was
feeling the poor child's hands, and looking with dismay at the grease
gathering on the half cold broth with which his sister had been trying
to feed him.

But Polly's answer was quite ready--"Down the mead along with that there
Wingfield and Cray's gal."

"Who?" asked Rose, severely, for the girl's tone had that sort of pert
simplicity, or simple pertness, that children can put on when they know
they are giving unpleasant information, but will not seem to understand
it.

"With Mr. Wingfield, the gentleman's groom up at the Arms," said she.
"He be her young man."

Ambrose Cuthbert turned his head outwards to hide a smile. Rose said
hotly, "Hold your tongue, child! don't be saucy! Come, Amy, here is
some mistake."

"Stay, Rose," said Mrs. Cuthbert, "the child is really very ill. Has he
a mother? Something ought to be done."

Rose did not feel as if she could care for the boy at such a moment, and
just then old Mrs. Rowe, brought by the sound of voices, came in by the
back door.

"Ay! Rose Lee," she said. "If you wants to know where your fine niece
is, just look here. I never knew no good come of bringing up young folks
to be better than their neighbours, going about a visiting as if they
was ladies."

Rose had reached the back garden, and over the broken-down little gate
she saw--in the path shaded by the coppice--three figures whom she knew
only too well, sauntering towards the stile leading into the lane.

She felt quite giddy, as she called out sharply, "Amy Lee!"

There was a great start. The three stood still, and looked about as if
to see where the voice came from. Rose, recollecting the old woman's
malicious eyes, got over the stile and came towards them. They had seen
her by this time; she perceived that they were whispering; then the man
retreated, and Florence and Amy came towards her, Florence holding Amy's
hand, and pushing to the front.

"Miss Lee," she said, "we weren't doing no harm. Only taking a walk
before coming in."

"Florence Cray," returned Miss Lee, "I don't want to have anything to
say to you. If you have been teaching Amy to deceive her father and me,
so much the worse. You need not come to work this afternoon. My sister,
Mrs. Cuthbert, is come to see us, so I shall not require you. Come here,
Amy."

"You'll not be hard on her, Miss Lee," entreated good-natured Florence,
feeling Amy's fingers cling to her. "I do assure you there's been
nothing no one could except against. It's been all most prudent and
proper all along."

"I said I don't wish to hear nothing from you," said Rose. "If you call
it prudent and proper to be walking with young men, when she is trusted
to read to a sick child, I don't know what I shall hear next. Come here,
Amy; come home with me."

"Indeed, aunt," sobbed Amy, "I've been in every day to see him."

"Come home now, Amy," said her aunt; "I can't talk to you now! No, don't
cry--don't speak! I won't have you making yourself a show to the whole
place any more than you have done already. That you should have deceived
us so!" she sighed to herself. She was taking Amy in, not by the garden,
but round the corner of the lane, to give a little more time for her to
recover herself, and also to avoid facing Mrs. Rowe's eager eyes.

"Please don't tell father," once sighed Amy.

"Do you think I am going to be as deceitful as yourself?" was all the
answer she got.

Amy's was a meek nature, and she knew she had been doing very wrong, so
she uttered no more entreaties; indeed, she was in such a trembling,
choking state, that her aunt had to wait, and walk slowly, while the
girl tried to control herself enough to appear respectably--in a little
lurking hope that perhaps Aunt Rose would be better than her word, and
at least not tell Aunt Amy, her godmother, or Cousin Ambrose. She, who
had been always reckoned so good a girl, and had never been in disgrace
before! That it should have happened at such a time!

And when the garden gate was opened, there was a further shock. More
people were in the house! Miss Manners, who had come home the night
before, had come to inquire for little Edwin, and there was a buzz of
voices, as she and Mrs. Cuthbert had most joyfully greeted one another.

Miss Manners was delighted to see the young missionary, and the only
drawback was that poor little Edwin was evidently so much worse. He had
been gradually growing worse and weaker for the last ten days or a
fortnight, Polly and Mrs. Rowe said, and his mother had sad nights with
him; but the parish doctor had said it was only feverishness caused by
the heat, when he saw the boy last week, and did not seem to think it of
consequence. The family depended on the mother's work, and in hay-making
time she could not stay at home. Mr. Somers was gone from home, so was
Miss Manners, and no one had thought much about the poor child; but he
had become so much worse in the course of the morning, that it was plain
that his mother and the doctor must both be sent for without loss of
time.

Miss Manners came out into the garden with Mrs. Cuthbert, and as the
aunt and niece came up, said she would find the messenger.

"Had not you thought him so well, Amy?" she asked.

"Oh, ma'am!" exclaimed Aunt Rose, always an outspoken person, "that's
the worst trouble of all! Who would have thought this sly deceitful
child could have made as if she was sitting all the time with that poor
boy, while she was just walking all the time with that good-for-nothing
groom up at the Arms. How I shall tell her poor father, I don't know. It
will be enough to break his heart!"

"It was all Florence Cray!" sobbed Amy.

"Well," said Miss Manners, "of course her father must know about it; but
since Amy the elder is only to be here three or four hours, don't you
think it would be better not to spoil her visit for him? You can have it
out in the evening, you know; but it would be a great pity to give him
such a shock at once. Don't you think so, Amy?"

"Indeed I do, ma'am," said Mrs. Cuthbert; "I am afraid the poor girl may
have been to blame, but it will not be the worse for her to wait a
little while, and my brother would be so much taken up with the matter,
that I am afraid my Ambrose would never know his uncle as I should
like."

"I'm sure it will all be spoilt to me, any way," said poor Aunt Rose,
half choked.

"But you will bear the burthen alone, for your brother's sake and
Charlotte's," said Miss Manners, cheerfully; "besides, you have your
own dear old Amy to help you to bear it, and that is like old times."

This comforted Rose a good deal. Miss Dora--as she and her sister Amy
still called her--said she would not say good-bye, she would look in
before the Cuthberts went, and say how the child was.

The younger Amy was glad at first of the respite, but altogether it was
the most dreadful day she ever spent. There was her father in his Sunday
best coming out to meet them, wondering what had made them stay so long.
Mrs. Cuthbert answered, to save Aunt Rose, that they had found the child
much worse, and that Miss Manners had come in. This satisfied him, and
they went in to the meal Aunt Charlotte had prepared--a very late
luncheon, or early and solid tea, whichever it might be called--in the
parlour, with the best china, and everything as nice as possible.

Really Amy felt as if it would have been less dreadful to have been
locked up in her room, or sitting sewing with Jessie in the workroom,
than sitting up in the parlour with the rest, and hearing her father
show his pride in her, making her fetch her prize for the religious
examination, and talking of her almost as if he wanted to compare her
with Aunt Amy's missionary son.

And then when Ambrose Cuthbert was questioned about his plans, and told
in a very modest quiet way where he was to go, and the work he was to do
under a missionary to the Red Indians, Amy saw more and more how foolish
she had been. What was that conceited groom whose boast was of the
horses he had ridden, and the bets laid on them, compared with this
young man? Which was the gentleman of the two? And this was her own
first cousin, and she had forfeited the respect and esteem which he
might have carried out with him! He would only--in those far
countries--think of his cousin, Amy Lee, as a giddy, deceitful,
hypocritical girl, who had carried on a flirtation under cover of a good
work.

Amy burnt to tell all the excuses she thought she had, and how she had
been led on, and that it was not so bad as no doubt Aunt Rose thought;
but she must keep all back. Only at last her father remarked that his
darling was very silent--shy, he thought, with her grand scholarly
cousin. He said he should like them to hear what a pretty voice she had,
and told her to sing one of her hymns, such as "Abide with us;" but Amy
could not do that. She put her face in her hands, choked, and began to
cry.

"Ah!" said Aunt Charlotte; "poor dear, it has been a great shock to her,
the poor little boy being taken so much worse."

It was a comfort to every one that at that moment Miss Manners came in
through the shop, asking for Jessie Hollis.

"The poor little boy is very ill," she said. "The only thing that seems
to soothe him is a bit of a verse that his sister Mary says her teacher
taught her. That was you--is it not, Jessie? Mary can only say half, and
we can't make it out; but she says, 'If teacher was but here.'"

Of course Miss Lee was ready to spare Jessie for such a reason, and she
folded up her work while Miss Manners had a little talk with Mrs.
Cuthbert, on the mingled pain and sweetness of the giving up her only
son to be one of those sent forth "to sow beside all waters."

"I am so glad he should have seen you, ma'am, before he leaves us," said
his mother, the tears rising in her quiet eyes. "I only wish he could
have seen Miss Edith--Mrs. Howard; for indeed, ma'am, I always feel that
whatever good my children have learnt at home, was owing to the way I
was brought up and the way Miss Edith used to talk to us."

"Nothing will make my sister so happy as to hear it, Amy," said Miss
Manners. "Somehow it seems to chime in with what I had ventured to bring
as a little remembrance of your old home for your son. I had prepared it
to send the St. Augustine's scholar, before I knew I should see him."

She gave him a beautiful little _Christian Year_ and _Lyra Innocentium_
in a case together, and as the book-marker was the illuminated text--

          "In the morning sow thy seed,
           And in the evening withhold not thine hand,
           For thou knowest not which shall prosper."

Ambrose Cuthbert thanked the lady in a very nice way, telling her that
he should value her gift much, and that he hoped to make the poems his
companions and often his guides in his work.

So with a warm pressure of the hands of both mother and son, Miss
Manners walked away with Jessie.

"I think," she presently said, "some of your bread on the waters is
coming back to you, Jessie. They say that little Mary Smithers has been
such a comfort to her little brother, by repeating to him what she
learns on Sundays, and that she has been so much more good and attentive
to him of late."

"I am sure, ma'am," said Jessie, "I never thought Mary Smithers seemed
to understand anything."

"We can never judge where the seed we sow will prosper," said Miss Dora,
thinking within herself of the different results with Amy and Jessie.

The little boy had been carried up to the bedroom. Old Mrs. Rowe was
there, and his mother, who was trying to help him to lie more easily,
while he moved feebly, but restlessly, and still looked at little
Polly, who was repeating over and over some verse in which "Shepherd"
was the only word that Miss Manners, well as she knew the children's
tones, could make out. Jessie, however, knew it directly, and repeated--

          "Gracious Saviour, gentle Shepherd,
             Little ones are dear to Thee,
           Gathered in Thine Arms and carried,
             In Thy Bosom may we be
           Sweetly, fondly, gently tended,
             From all want and danger free."

She could say the whole hymn, but the child grew restless as soon as she
had passed beyond the first verse. She returned to it, once, twice, and
then Polly got back what she had partly forgotten and went on with it,
which was evidently what quieted the boy best. He seemed too far gone to
attend to anything else; the sense of other words did not reach his
ears, but these evidently gave him pleasure. The doctor had said he was
dying, and the women thought he would sleep himself away. There seemed
no more to be done. Polly had her verse to say to him, and no help
seemed needed; so Miss Manners and Jessie went down the stairs again,
and out into the garden, Jessie shedding many tears, but very far from
sad ones. When she could speak, she said that the young woman in the
hospital to whom she owed so much knew the hymn, and had so often
repeated it, that Jessie had learnt it. She had used the first verse one
Sunday when teaching the children about the Good Shepherd, and, having a
little more time than usual, had tried to teach it to them--little
thinking how she should thus meet it--but using it because she had grown
fond of it for the sake of her friend, and of the new and higher
feelings that were linked with the first learning of it.

There was a great peace and thankfulness in her heart at having thus
tasted a sort of first-fruits of her little attempt at sowing. It was
soothing a death-bed! Might not she well rejoice that she had
persevered, in spite of the temptation of gain, in not letting her head
and heart be carried away with the fever of work, but giving the best
part of herself to the task she had undertaken?

Not that Jessie saw or thought that this had been the case. Yet if she
had let herself be swept away with Grace's vehement desire to engross
all the needlework, she must have given up her preparation; she would
have been wearied, hurried, and very likely fretful and impatient. At
any rate, there would not have been that kindness and earnestness which
leads others to be good far more than the actual words of teaching.



CHAPTER X.

THE RECKONING.


"IT is a right punishment for our sinful pride in her," said Aunt Rose,
as she had a few last words alone with her elder sister.

"Well, Rose," said Mrs. Cuthbert, "I would not be so very hard on the
poor child. I've been watching her, and I think, though no doubt she has
done very wrong, it was in a childish sort of way, and that you won't
find there's been any real love-making or nonsense of that sort."

"I'm sure, now I find the child could deceive us so, and act such a
part, there's nothing I could not believe," said poor Aunt Rose.

"That is sad enough, but I think you'll find it the worst, and that she
was led into it by others."

"That Florence Cray!" exclaimed Rose; "and what to do about her? How
hinder her from spoiling our child, when she's bound apprentice to me? I
wish I'd never listened to her father!"

Here came Amy herself, sent up to say that the trap was ready, and her
aunt must not be late for the train. She felt as if the last protection
was gone when she saw her aunt and cousin driven away in the conveyance
they had hired at Ellerby.

Girls bred up like Florence Cray would have thought it all a great fuss
about nothing. First and last Florence had seen nothing but fun in Amy's
cheating her strait-laced aunts and getting a little diversion, while
they wanted to shut her up with a cross child; but Amy had been bred up
to a very different way of looking at things, and the whole afternoon
had only been setting more fully before her how she had fallen from what
she had imagined of herself last Lent!

After all, the delay had made it better for her. Aunt Rose did not tell
the story quite so hotly and violently as it would have come out in the
first shock of wrath, but it was dreadful enough to hear her father
say--

"Amy, child, what is this? I never thought you would go for to do such a
thing."

"You that we had trusted from a baby," added Aunt Rose.

Aunt Charlotte said nothing, but her looks were the worst of all to
bear, they were so gentle and so sorrowful. And when Amy had sobbed out
her story they told her that she had been so sly that they did not know
how to believe her word.

"Oh, father! you may believe me. I never told a story--no, I never did!"

"And yet you could make as if you were going day by day to sit with that
poor little chap, only that you might be tramping about the lanes with
that there scamp!"

It was what he took as the hypocrisy of the thing that chiefly wounded
Mr. Lee, and when Amy declared she had always gone into the cottage and
spoken to the boy, she was told, "Much she could have attended to him,
since she had never seen that the poor child was dying."

The fact was that Florence had hurried her a good deal, because Mr.
Wingfield was to show them the rosettes the horses were to wear on the
wedding-day.

After all, Amy had to go up to her room only half believed and
unforgiven. Her father had a great mind to have gone to have had it out
with Florence Cray that night, but as some holiday people were there,
he doubted whether he could see her alone, and waited till the morning.
Then he called her into the parlour and said:

"Florence Cray, what have you been doing with my girl?"

"No harm, Mr. Lee," said Florence, frightened, but therefore pert, and
resolved to stand up for her friend. "You may trust me for that! I know
what is proper."

Mr. Lee made an odd sort of noise, and said: "You do, eh! Proper to
deceive her friends--"

"Oh! now, Mr. Lee," said Florence, looking up in the droll, saucy way
that served her instead of beauty, "it was only two old aunts. One
always reckons it fair play by an old aunt."

"Have done with nonsense like that," said Mr. Lee. "Now, Florence Cray,
mine is a girl with no mother. My sisters, and I have done our best to
keep her a good, innocent girl, and we can't but feel it a hard thing
that you should come leading her to keep company, without our knowledge,
with a fellow that you must know is not such as we would approve."

"I'm sure I meant no harm," said Florence, beginning to cry; "I only
thought it was dull for her, and took her for a walk. And you needn't be
afraid, Mr. Lee, I never left them alone not one minute, nor he never
said one word; nor did more than just shake hands. You may trust me, Mr.
Lee."

On the whole the Lees were satisfied that the mischief had not gone as
far as such imprudence might have led. Mr. Wingfield would be gone in a
few days, for the wedding was coming on, and Amy was certainly not in
love with him. When she compared him with Ambrose Cuthbert, she felt
sick of having been flattered for a moment by his attentions, and
looked on the whole with the bitterest shame, as having led her away
from all her good resolutions, and made her thus deceive and disobey her
father and aunts. And when the knell rang for poor little Edwin Smithers
she cried more than ever, feeling almost guilty of his death.

She never wished for a moment to accept the invitation for which she had
once been so eager, to see Miss Robson's wedding clothes and wedding
presents. Grace Hollis went and took Jessie, and Florence Cray went too.

These were a sight! Such gilt clocks! Such extraordinary contrivances
for ink-stands, toilette apparatus, dinner services, and every service
that could be thought of! Such girdles, chatelaines, rings and
bracelets! Such silks and satins! such garments for morning, noon, and
night, and even afternoon tea! And oh! such dressing-gowns!

They sent Florence Cray home thinking over all the novels she had ever
seen, where a girl at an inn married a rich man, and also thinking how
to alter her best hat.

They sent Grace Hollis home deep in plans how to get another order for
plain work.

And they sent home, Jessie very happy indeed, for a lady's-maid had
asked whether a dozen more handkerchiefs could be marked with "Maude" in
the same style as the Nina.

Miss Needwood was really getting quite prosperous.

The next day, almost every one, who could, went to see as much as
possible of the wedding; so Aunt Rose had not yet to endure the presence
of Florence, and to keep watch that she did not chatter to Amy, who was
drooping and shame-stricken enough.

That morning came a letter from Mrs. Cuthbert. She said she should be
lonesome without Ambrose; and would her brother lend her his Amy for a
few weeks, when she would do her best for the child, and not let her
forget her needlework? This made things much easier to all; but Amy knew
it was a very different going from home from what it might have been.

Before she came back, Florence Cray had found what she called "working
at Old Lee's" so dull, that she had teased her parents into requesting
the return of part of her premium, and binding her to the chief milliner
in Ellerby.



CHAPTER XI.

WHICH SHALL PROSPER?


MR. SOMERS had come home from his six weeks' holiday, and was talking
over the village news with Miss Manners.

She told him of little Edwin Smithers's death, of the summons to Jessie
Hollis, and of the visit of Mrs. Cuthbert.

"Of course it is wrong to judge," she said, "but do you remember that
Lenten sermon, and the impression I told you it made?"

"I remember well. It was on the seed, and on bringing forth fruit."

"Well, when we had the Parable of the Sower the other day, I could not
help thinking how it had worked out. There were some, like that Cray
girl, who never seemed to take it in at all, but left it as something
outside of them. Then three distinctly were moved to undertake
something, the two Hollises and Amy Lee. Well, Grace dropped her
missionary needlework as soon as that wedding order come in her way----"

"Don't be hard on her, Dora."

"No; but I'm afraid I can't help seeing that she does not seem to keep
up her Sunday ways as she used. Then there's a sharp, worn, fretted way.
I am very much afraid she is getting choked with the thorns."

"I don't know Miss Hollis well," he said, thoughtfully, "but I am afraid
she does not look much beyond her shop."

"And my poor little Amy Lee responding so readily--seeming all that
could be wished, and then showing herself so little able to stand
temptation from that silly girl."

"I hope there was no more than silliness."

"I don't think there was; but still, after all the care Rose and
Charlotte have taken to bring up that girl really refined, it was very
disappointing to find her ready to be led away in an instant by foolish,
vulgar admiration; above all, when it led her to neglect the good work
she was supposed to be doing, it showed such shallowness."

"It is a comfort that often trials, and even falls, do deepen the soil,
so that the roots may have a better hold another time," said Mr. Somers.
"I think there is good hope that so it will be with poor little Amy. And
I think you have some good soil to tell me of."

"Indeed I have. I am sure Jessie Hollis has shown herself good soil, and
her work upon that very unpromising Mary Smithers showed itself
remarkably. But that was not all I was thinking of. It seems to me that
we have had a glimpse of what the hundredfold produce may be. Think of
my dear sister Edith, working away at her class when there was much less
help than now, and see what some of them have grown up, especially Amy
Cuthbert. I know she had a good home, and other helps; but still I heard
what she said of Edith's teaching and training. It has helped her to
make that young Ambrose Cuthbert what he is,--and what may not be his
harvest!"

"As though a man should cast seed into the field," said Mr. Somers,
thoughtfully. "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn
in the ear."

"Ah! I am leaping on too fast. We only see a little of the
first-fruits," said Miss Manners, "and take it for an earnest of the
rest." And then she repeated Bishop Heber's hymn, which she had often
taught the children:--

          "O God, by Whom the seed is given,
             By Whom the harvest blest,
           Whose Word, like manna showers from heaven,
             Is planted in our breast.

          "Preserve it from the passing feet,
             From plunderers of the air,
           The sultry sun's intenser heat,
             And weeds of worldly care.

          "Though buried deep or thinly strewn,
             Do Thou Thy grace supply:
           The hope in earthly furrows strewn
             Shall ripen in the sky."


THE END.



          LONDON:

          R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR,

          BREAD STREET HILL.



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       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Page 62, word "to" added to text (we can to get)

Page 141, "neet" changed to "meet" (out to meet)





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